Week 10 Football Pick’em Contest Strategy & Advice (2023)

Week 10 of the 2023 NFL season gives us a range of matchups, from huge spreads to several toss-up matchups.

Can the Steelers continue their run of wins while getting outgained? (Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire)

Week 10 gives us Dallas as a massive favorite over a Giants team without a QB. Some of the best teams are on a bye (Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia) but we still get lots of close matchups that could swing pick’em contests.

In these columns, we explore strategies to maximize your edge in NFL and college football pick’em contests. We also provide some of the rationale behind picks potentially recommended by our premium product.

We plan to periodically update to this post through Sunday of Week 10, so check back for updates. Here’s what’s available now


Tuesday 11/7

NFL Week 10 Early Value Picks

Here are some early Week 10 value picks in game-winner-based NFL pick’em contests we are seeing as of Tuesday.

Things are bound to change as kickoffs near, but it’s worth keeping an eye on them.

There’s a theme this week, and it’s that a lot of the same faces as last week are back.

Arizona Cardinals (vs. Atlanta Falcons)

Spread: +1
Win Odds: 45%
Pick Popularity: 17%

Kyler Murray is expected to return this week, barring any setbacks, and that is why the point spread this one is much closer. But the public is piling on against the 1-8 Arizona Cardinals, just coming off a shutout at Cleveland. With only 17% of the public on Arizona here, they make for a pretty compelling pick as one of the smaller underdogs this week.

New England Patriots (vs. Indianapolis Colts in Germany)

Spread: +1.5
Win Odds: 52%
Pick Popularity: 28%

Our models like New England this week in the matchup against the Colts in Germany on Sunday morning. But regardless, this point spread is another close one, and the public is heavily on the Colts. Indianapolis is coming off a road win at Carolina where they got two pick-sixes and gained less than 200 yards on offense, so the final score in their 27-13 win is a bit flattering.

New Orleans Saints (at Minnesota Vikings)

Spread: -2.5
Win Odds: 57%
Pick Popularity: 51%

In the game with the most even public split, you want to look to the favorite for the slight edge. That would be the Saints, who face Minnesota coming off their last-second win over Atlanta, with Joshua Dobbs taking over at QB in Minnesota. That excitement of the Minnesota win could be providing enough optimism to allow value on sticking with New Orleans.

Tennessee Titans (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Spread: +1
Win Odds: 49%
Pick Popularity: 32%

The Titans have officially named Will Levis as the starter over Ryan Tannehill. That’s not a surprise, after Levis has looked pretty good in the first two games. Tennessee came within a play of beating Pittsburgh, but is the latest victim of whatever voodoo Mike Tomlin has working.

Tennessee now goes to Tampa Bay, where the public is going with the Bucs by a margin of more than two-to-one, but the odds make this more of a toss-up, where there is a value edge on the Titans.

Green Bay Packers (at Pittsburgh Steelers)

Spread: +3.5
Win Odds: 39%
Pick Popularity: 7%

Speaking of the Steelers’ voodoo, they have now been out-gained by their opponent in every single game this year, but are 5-3. They are 29th in offensive yards per game and 31st in defensive yards allowed per game. It really is something to admire.

But, let’s not get carried away, like the public is. Pittsburgh’s 93% popularity is sandwiched between two 6-point favorites this week. But that lack of dominance means that they probably need to get a little lucky in close game situations, and aren’t quite as safe as the public thinks.

The Packers are the road dog here, and rightfully so, but with extremely low popularity, they make for a reasonable upset play in weekly contests.

 


Tuesday 11/7

Week 9 Results Summary

Week 9 saw 12 of the 14 favorites win the game, and 10 of them cover the spread. Another, Houston, won but didn’t cover when they scored a late TD to go up two, then knelt on the point after attempt (the kicker was hurt, and they didn’t want to risk anything bad happening).

That kind of favorite performance will lead to differing results based on pool type.

Game-Winner Pools

In game-winner pools, the public averaged 9.4 wins in Week 9, out of 14 possible games.

Our game winner picks in season-long gained over 2 more wins over the public, averaging 11.8 wins on average from the “Max Profit” selections, as all favorites, and particularly short favorites with split popularity, won. All five teams favored by less than a field goal won in Week 9.

The weekly picks top options, meanwhile, went the other way, as any leveraged value upset plays missed. They finished with 7.6 wins.

Overall 2023 averages: Season-long Max Profit 90.5 wins, Weekly top option 82.0 wins, Public 81.8 wins

Spread Pools

In a week where favorites covered (and won) at a high rate, the public is going to do relatively better, and we see that as they averaged 7.6 wins in 14 games. Favorites went 10-4 ATS against the most common contest lines.

Our top model pick was Green Bay, and that hit, but the underperformance of underdogs overall led to a down week.

Our season-long picks finished with 6.5 wins on average. The weekly picks were slightly above that, averaging 7.2 wins.

Overall 2023 averages: Season-long Max Profit 69.5 wins, Weekly top option 67.4 wins, Public 69.8 wins


Tuesday 11/7

Week 9 News and Stats Rundown

At the bottom this week, we also have a summary of adjusted turnovers (not only turnovers, but safeties, missed kicks, and turnovers on downs). These things can often be more random but high leverage in a given week, so seeing which teams have benefited or struggled the most in these categories can be informative.

Key Injuries in Week 9

  • Giants QB Daniel Jones suffered a season-ending knee injury in his return Sunday, and Tyrod Taylor is also on IR for at least three more games, so the Giants are, as the kids say, “down bad.”
  • Eagles TE Dallas Goedert suffered an arm injury and will likely miss at least a month, and be out when the team returns from bye.
  • Vikings QB Jaren Hall suffered a concussion, and was replaced by Joshua Dobbs.

Going Inside the Stats

The public tends to overreact to wins, losses, and scores. But football is a game where a couple of bounces and key plays can swing scoring quite a bit in the moment, but may not be as predictive.

Here are some notes from Week 9:

  • New Orleans beat the Bears by only seven points, despite being +5 in turnovers for the game. The last team to win a game by 7 or less while being +5 in turnovers was the Steelers over the Bengals in last year’s season opener.
  • The LA Chargers and Indianapolis Colts both won games where they had fewer than 200 total yards, but scored 27 points. The previous two times that has happened where a team won with at least 27 points and fewer than 200 yards, the losing team was the Rams (to Tennessee in 2021 and Miami in 2020).
  • Kansas City beat the Miami Dolphins 21-14, behind a great defensive effort that included a fumble return TD, but it might be time to officially worry about the Chiefs offense. They have scored zero second-half points in the last two games, and have scored nine total points in the second half in the last month.
  • The most impressive team was Baltimore, as they crushed Seattle 37-3, and rolled up 515 yards of offense while holding a Seahawks team that was in playoff position to 151 total yards.

Adjusted Turnover Standings, Week 9

Here are the adjusted turnover ranks. Teams at the top have benefited the most, on net, from opponent miscues and fails compared to their own. Teams at the bottom have had a lot of missed opportunities or a lack of mistakes by the opponent. (Safeties are included in turnovers.)

TeamTeam TOTeam TODTeam MFGOpp TOOpp TODOpp MFGNET
PIT741176314
SF612125210
DAL77014639
HOU54110448
JAC127218928
LAC65114608
TB83115317
SEA1054121047
NO84517617
CIN66315415
PHI1342111204
KC183013923
NYJ134114152
DEN124211632
BAL1343121002
GB9728561
BUF144314610
IND148214640
DET1082963-2
TEN830530-3
MIA1382992-3
LV16531172-4
WAS13531150-5
MIN1343762-5
CLE17431324-5
LAR1057844-6
NYG11106865-8
CHI18100964-9
ATL1461750-9
ARI12132952-11
NE15941043-11
CAR11102620-15

 


FYI

Important Notes About Picks We Highlight

Keep in mind three things about picks we highlight in this article:

  1. Optimal pick’em contest strategy balances risk and potential reward.
    Maximizing your odds to win a pick’em pool generally requires exploiting the best opportunities to differentiate your picks from your opponents’ picks. Ideally, you want to fade the public while taking on minimal additional pick risk to do so. For example, taking a betting market favorite being picked by less than 50% of your opponents is usually a great opportunity.
  2. 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 for your pool specifically—especially the upset picks. The best pick strategy for you 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).
  3. 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) current at the time we publish this article, but that data can change before kickoff. For example, 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.

Our Football Pick’em Picks product automatically imports the latest win odds and pick popularity data multiple times per day. You can see the latest information in the Data Grid.

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.


FYI

About Our Pick’em Pool Advice

What makes pick recommendations from our Football Pick’em Picks product 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 current 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 6-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

As far as we know, we’re the only site that has built algorithms to evaluate all these strategy factors and provide you with customized pick recommendations every week.

The result? Every year, an average of 73% of our subscribers win a prize (season-long or weekly) in a football pick’em contest.

If you want to see all the Week 1 picks we recommend for your football pick’em contest, 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 our 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.

This column can also help educate our readers with 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.

We hope you enjoy reading, and we encourage you to check out more of our football pick’em strategy articles.

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