Ryan’s Season Totals
- Last Week: 3-0
- Best Bets: 19-9, Up 1158%
We hope you jumped in on our Best Bets from last week, as we enjoyed another 3-0 week. Not only was it a 3-0 week, but a 3-0 week that came from true confidence and not luck. See quote from last week: “We feel good about our selections this week, finding a few plays where our models match our subjective gut (the “holy grail” for handicappers).”
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Best Bet #1: Minnesota Vikings +1 (-115) over the Green Bay Packers
We find this matchup very intriguing. Let’s start with the basics. There is an impression among the public that the Packers are better than the Vikings and that QB Aaron Rogers is better than Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins. Well, starting with the former, according to the Football Outsiders, these teams are pretty much neck and neck:
|DVOA Rank||DVOA||DAVE Rank||DAVE||Variance Rank||Variance|
|Green Bay||12th||7%||10th||10%||19th||+/- 13%|
As you can see, these teams are not only close, but the Vikings have actually performed better this season as a whole, and better yet, FAR more consistent, coming in as the “steadiest” team in the NFL. A far cry from the Packers’ 19th ranked variance.
Now, to the second question. It’s fair to call Rogers the better overall QB during their respective career; Cousins has quietly put together a better 2021 season and ranks in front in most advanced QB metrics, notably SIS’ EPA/play (when eliminating garbage time). Cousins comes in with .218 EPA/play (6th in NFL) and Rogers .205 EPA/play (9th in NFL).
So to start, from a macro standpoint, we have a better team with a better QB playing at home vs. a division rival, getting points.
Additionally, as Sharp Football puts it: “Minnesota should be able to get the running game going, as they’re one of the heaviest zone-blocking teams in the league and the Packers have allowed the second-highest rate of positive EPA plays against zone blocking.”
So, we have a litany of matchup advantages going the Vikings’ way, on top of a situational advantage for a team getting points. This game seems as wise a bet there is. If you want to buy the point to bring it up to +2, there is probably still enough surplus EV to still make it a smart bet.
Bet: Minnesota Vikings +1 (-115)
Best Bet #2: Joe Burrow OVER .5 Interceptions (-105)
We hit on this play once again last week in Justin Herbert’s interception vs. the Vikings. Frankly, this week’s model is even more robust on Burrow throwing 1.5 picks. From a macro standpoint, we have the Raiders winning this game and likely putting Burrow in a negative game script, meaning more passes, and better yet, more forced passes.
Beyond this, for as good as he’s been this season, Burrow comes in with a strong QB Archetype for Turnover Likelihood:
|Time to Throw Rank||24rd|
|Expected Completion Rank||26th|
|+/- Completion Rank||2nd|
*All stats above thanks to NFL Next-Gen
You can read the above chart and Burrow’s 2021 QB Archetype as this: A QB that holds on to the ball, throws deep, is VERY aggressive, despite an offense/WR group that’s not open much but makes up for it with elite accuracy. That last part is what most fans/market has seen this season, but the risk masks, let’s call it, “very interception friendly type of QB.”
Beyond that, there is a good chance Burrow will get pressured heavily in this game. According to PFF, the Raiders Pass Rush grades out at 85 (1st in NFL), while the Bengals Pass Protection grades out at 57.8 (20th in NFL). This kind of pressure is likely to lead Burrow to take even more chances throwing the ball.
Coupled with that is how the Raiders have generated that pressure: without much blitzing. This pressure is critical, as Joe Burrow is ranked 3rd in the NFL in EPA/play WHEN blitzed, yet only 23rd when NOT blitzed (neutral gameplay). Very important, as the Raiders blitz at the 3rd LOWEST rate in the league (while maintaining the best pass rush).
Add all this up, and .5 Interceptions at (essentially an even bet) -105 is a very profitable option.
Bet: Joe Burrow OVER .5 Interceptions (-105)
Best Bet #3: Las Vegas Straight Up over Cincinnati (-105)
According to Football Outsiders, the Raiders come in as the 23rd rated team by DVOA and the Bengals as the 25th. The big separator between the two has been inconsistency. By DVOA variance, the Raiders rank 14th, Bengals at 28th. Translation: Although these teams have performed relatively similar throughout the season, the Raiders have been far more steady week-in-and-week-out.
Before this game’s “onfield” matchups, there are a couple of advantages already in the Raiders’ favor. For one, according to the EDJ Sports Coach Rankings, they have a legit coaching advantage. Second, looking at the referee assignments this week, Jerome Boger heads this staff in this game. And according to the Pro Football Reference, he has called 1-4% fewer penalties on home teams since 2020, lending to an actual home field advantage effect.
From a tactical standpoint, there are a couple of data points that stand out. The Raiders have a strong Pass Rush advantage on BOTH sides of the ball, according to PFF. On the flip side, there has been a well-documented “Carr Deep Ball” resurgence since HC Jon Gruden has been gone, but much of that was based on an ADOT when blitzed (11.0) vs. clean (7.0), and the Bengals only bring 5+ rushers at the 18th highest level.
All of this leads us to believe the Raiders should be the favorite in this game, not the Bengals
Bet: Las Vegas ML (-105)
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Ryan Newman is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Ryan, check out his archive.