Week 10 Football Pick’em Strategy & Advice (2021)
The Week 10 value picks include several upset options as the public overreacts to last week's results, including the Saints versus the Titans.
Alvin Kamara and the Saints will face Tennessee in Week 10 (Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire)
Here, we’ll track Week 10 news and discuss the implications for maximizing your edge in NFL and college football pick’em contests. We’ll also provide some of the rationale behind picks potentially recommended by our Football Pick’em Picks product.
Week 10 Pick’em Updates
We will continue to add to this post until Sunday of NFL Week 10, so check back for daily updates. Here’s what’s available now:
- Sunday 11/14: Reviewing the Week 10 Dynamics Entering Sunday
- Saturday 11/13: College Football Value Picks
- Friday 11/12: QB Uncertainty Rundown for Week 10
- Thursday 11/11: Tua Tagovailoa’s Status Still in Question for Thursday Night Football
- Wednesday 11/10: Rams Lead As Most Popular Spread Pick
- Tuesday 11/9: Week 10 Early Value Picks Outlook
- Tuesday 11/9: Week 9 Results Summary
- FYI: Important Notes About Picks We Highlight
- FYI: About Our Pick’em Pool Advice
Week 10 Early Value Picks Outlook
Here’s our early look at some potential value plays in NFL pick’em pools for Week 10.
New Orleans Saints (at Tennessee Titans)
TR Win Odds: 44%
The Titans are coming off a big prime-time Sunday night win over the Los Angeles Rams, while the Saints are coming off an upset loss to the Atlanta Falcons. So the public is heavily on Tennessee in this one, but the betting odds are far closer.
The Titans won last week with less than 200 yards of total offense in their first game without star RB Derrick Henry. They did so with great play by the defensive line, and a short stretch where they intercepted two Matthew Stafford passes and converted them into 14 points on one offensive play (the second score was a pick-six).
It’s still unclear whether the Titans offense will run smoothly without Henry, and the Saints’ defense should play better after a letdown performance against the Falcons. Two weeks ago, they frustrated Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in the underdog role.
Philadelphia Eagles (at Denver Broncos)
TR Win Odds: 46%
The Broncos are coming off a big performance at Dallas where they jumped out to a big lead.
Denver has the NFL’s second-best turnover/miscue margin on the season, as summarized in our Betting Recap. However, it could be a little overvalued coming off a big turnover performance against Dallas (the Cowboys went 0-for-4 on fourth down in addition to two turnovers).
The Eagles came up just short against the Chargers, in a game that was tied late. Philadelphia’s win odds suggest this one is close to even as well, but the public is heavily on Denver.
Buffalo Bills (at New York Jets)
TR Win Odds: 86%
Yes, the Bills just put up a stinker against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But stick with Buffalo as a high-value pick in confidence-point pools.
This week features a lot of teams with high popularity, and the Bills have better win odds than all the rest.
Four other teams have higher popularity than the Bills this week, including the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Detroit Lions. As a result, sticking with the biggest favorite on the board and slotting it at high confidence is a value play if the public is more split on the top plays of the week.
Minnesota Vikings (at Los Angeles Chargers)
TR Win Odds: 45%
The Vikings and Chargers are virtually even in our predictive power ratings. The biggest difference between the 5-3 Chargers and 3-5 Vikings is close-game results, as the Chargers are 4-2 in games decided by one score and the Vikings are 2-5 in such games.
That includes last week, where the Vikings lost in overtime and the Chargers won at the end of regulation.
The public is heavily on the Chargers here, but this is a pretty even matchup. That means there’s value in taking Minnesota in weekly contests.
Kansas City Chiefs (at Las Vegas Raiders)
TR Win Odds: 58%
The Chiefs aren’t a huge value play, but they’re a solid pick in both season and weekly pools based on relative value.
There are four other teams favored by between 2.5 and 3.5 points this week, and between 78 and 87 percent of the public is picking those teams. So of this group, pool entrants are relatively more comfortable making the Raiders their upset pick.
As a result, you should go the opposite way to differentiate. Take the Chiefs as the favorite while sprinkling in some other upsets in weekly prize pools.
Week 9 Results Summary
Week 9 featured several large favorites falling, as the first- (Buffalo), third- (Dallas), and fourth- (LA Rams) largest upsets by betting-market win odds all happened in the same week.
Add in the other results, and underdogs had a winning record outright for the second week in a row.
In game-winner pools, the public averaged 7.3 wins in Week 9. The biggest outcome for the public was Arizona winning as the betting underdog (5.5-point underdog after Kyler Murray was ruled out). Over 70 percent of the public still went with Arizona.
Our season-long “Max Profit” picks averaged 6.7 wins, and the weekly picks averaged 7.1 wins. Most entries took losses on the biggest upsets. The Arizona result was the biggest swing result. It was the third game in the last two weeks that the public went heavily on a team that was a betting underdog and won.
Not only did underdogs win more games outright than favorites did, but several others got covers against the spread, including the Bears on Monday Night Football.
Of the 14 matchups this week, the more popular side with the public went 5-9 ATS.
The public averaged 6.3 wins out of 14 games in spread pools for the week. Those results could have been even worse for the public if some popular picks that strongly went against line movement had lost. Arizona was the biggest one, as that line moved eight points from its opening number.
Meanwhile, our pick recommendations averaged 7.7 wins in season-long max profit picks and 9.6 wins in weekly recommendations. That 68.6 percent cover rate and over three wins above the public average should likely lead to some higher reported weekly win rates in spread pools for Week 9.
Important Notes About Picks We Highlight
Keep in mind three things about picks we highlight in this article:
- Optimal pick strategy balances risk and potential reward.
Maximizing your odds to win a pick’em pool generally requires identifying the best opportunities to differentiate your picks. You want to fade the public while taking on minimal risk to do so. For example, taking a favorite being picked by less than 50% of your opponents is usually a great opportunity.
- Not all of the picks we highlight are suitable for all pools.
Don’t be surprised if our Football Pick’em Picks product doesn’t recommend several of the picks we mention in this post—especially the upset picks. The best pick strategy for your pool depends on a number of factors such as your pool’s size, rules, and prize structure (a concept that’s covered in part by our article on season vs. weekly prize strategy).
- Picks we highlight may no longer look compelling by game day.
We analyze and write about picks using data (e.g. win odds and pick popularity), but that data can change up until kickoff. A key player being ruled out or a shift in public sentiment about a team can erase the differentiation value that a pick initially offered.
We’ll provide periodic updates in this post if major data changes occur for picks we’ve mentioned, so make sure to check back. However, there’s a much better way to stay on top of changing data trends throughout a week, which all sharp players need to do.
After you generate customized picks for your pool, you can also update those pick recommendations whenever you want via the My Pool Picks screen. The updated picks will incorporate the most recent data we have.
About Our Pick’em Pool Advice
What makes our football pick’em advice different from other sites is that it isn’t generic.
In any given week, the best picks for your football pool depend on a number of variables. Your pool’s size, rules, and prize structure all influence strategy, as do factors like your place in the standings and how many weeks are left.
So many different scenarios exist that it’s impossible to give pick advice that makes sense for every one. An underrated six-point underdog could be a great pick in a big weekly prize pool and a terrible pick for a small season-long pool where you’re currently in the money.
Technology to the rescue
Other sites don’t understand this stuff, or they just ignore it because it’s complicated and hard. We’re the only site that has built algorithms to evaluate these strategy factors and provide you with customized pick recommendations every week.
The result? Every year, an average of 71% of our subscribers win a prize in a football pick’em contest.
So if you want to see all the Week 1 picks we recommend for your football pool, you need to use our Football Pick’em Picks product.
Why we write this column
At the same time, we know our subscribers like to understand the rationale behind picks the product may recommend, especially when those picks go against the grain. So over the years, we’ve started to write more about the “whys” behind our approach.
We also utilize this column to help educate our readers about pick’em pool strategy. We highlight tactics proven to result in more pick’em pool wins over the long term and point out common pitfalls to avoid.
Our goal with these articles is to dig deeper into pick’em pools than anyone else by using an objective, data-driven lens. We’ll recap key results from the previous week, identify the most compelling value picks of the current week, and evaluate the implications of breaking news on pick’em strategy.
We hope you enjoy reading, and we encourage you to check out more of our football pick’em strategy articles.
Rams Lead As Most Popular Spread Pick
The Los Angeles Rams may have turned in a poor performance on Sunday Night Football, but that has not deterred the public when it comes to spread pools. The San Francisco 49ers’ disappointing season is a bigger turnoff, apparently.
The Los Angeles Rams at minus-4 are the most popular spread pool pick of the week. 79 percent of the public is taking them.
The team that beat the Rams last week, the Tennessee Titans, is the next closest at 75 percent popularity as a 3-point favorite against New Orleans.
So far this year, teams with 75-plus percent popularity in spread pools are 8-12 ATS against the most common (early) contest line and 7-13 ATS against the closing spread.
Tua Tagovailoa’s Status Still in Question for Thursday Night Football
Thursday Night Football this week is Baltimore at Miami. The Ravens are currently a 7.5-point favorite against the Dolphins, but that number could shift slightly based on news about Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa.
Tagovailoa missed last Sunday’s game because of a finger injury, and he’s questionable for tonight. We may not have official word on this one until closer to game time.
Whether he plays or not should not impact the pick in game-winner pools, where Baltimore will most likely be the pick. However, line movement could impact which way the spread picks go and whether there is value on the number in your pool.
Be sure to check back closer to kickoff.
QB Uncertainty Rundown for Week 10
We have several QB status questions that could impact win-odds projections as we head into the weekend. Here’s a rundown of some of the pending situations:
- Ben Roethlisberger did not practice due to a pec and shoulder injury on Thursday and is questionable for the game against Detroit.
- Aaron Rodgers has yet to be cleared and declared the starter for Sunday. He’s eligible to come off the COVID-19 reserve list Saturday if he isn’t still sick, but there’s a possibility that he doesn’t and Jordan Love starts again.
- Kyler Murray hasn’t been cleared yet from his ankle injury and could miss another game, in which case Colt McCoy would again start for Arizona.
- The Saints haven’t officially declared a starter, though the expectation is Trevor Siemian will start and Taysom Hill will also play a role.
Make sure you get your updated picks as close to your submission deadline as possible this week so that you have the best available information on these and more.
College Football Value Picks
Here are some college football value picks for Saturday.
- Arkansas (-3) at LSU (53% popularity)
- Texas A&M (-2.5) at Mississippi (59% popularity)
- Texas (-31) vs. Kansas (98% popularity)
- Nevada (+3) at San Diego State (11% popularity)
- Minnesota (+4) at Iowa (7% popularity)
- NC State (+1) at Wake Forest (20% popularity)
- East Carolina (+4.5) at Memphis (8% popularity)
- Mississippi State (+4) at Auburn (9% popularity)
Reviewing The Week 10 Dynamics Entering Sunday
We’ve already had one big upset this week with Baltimore losing on Thursday to Miami.
There are five other favorites of a touchdown or more this week, all with high popularity. That leaves eight other games where the spreads and win odds are closer.
One of those “other” games is now the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Detroit Lions, as Ben Roethlisberger has been ruled out after getting placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
No Big Value Favorites
There are no notable value favorites this week. The only point-spread favorite drawing a lower pick popularity than its win odds is New England.
But the Patriots have win odds of 55 percent and pick popularity of 52 percent, so the edge there isn’t all that big. It’s basically just more than a toss-up where half the pool is on each side.
Several Strong Upset Values
However, there are some high-value upset plays among teams who are only slight favorites.
Here are the upset plays you might see in weekly pools or in season-long pools where you are taking on a little more risk.
- Philadelphia, 50% win odds and 24% popularity
- San Francisco, 42% win odds and 8% popularity
- New Orleans, 44% win odds and 14% popularity
- Detroit, 37% win odds and 5% popularity
- Minnesota, 40% win odds and 19% popularity
- Seattle, 41% win odds and 20% popularity
Our models gave the Eagles 50 percent win odds (they are +1.5 by point spread), so you could see them in season-long pools as the unpopular pick there. The rest could be part of your pick set in weekly picks.
Detroit has moved into that mix now that Roethlisberger is out. Among those, New Orleans and San Francisco are the most likely to appear in smaller weekly pools and at higher confidence in confidence-point weekly pools.
One popular pick has already fallen on Thursday, as 79 percent of the public has lost with the Ravens.
The only pick more popular than that is the Rams at 82 percent on Monday Night Football, so you will likely see our recommendations heavily on the 49ers.
Tennessee is another popular pick in spread pools, drawing 75 percent of picks against New Orleans.
Our models like the following teams compared to the current market win odds. They’re more likely to be picks depending on your pool’s spread number:
- San Francisco
- New Orleans
- Kansas City