Last week‘s big survivor debate became a lot clearer by the weekend. Clayton Tune was confirmed as the quarterback for the Cardinals, Deshaun Watson was deemed healthy enough to play, and the point spread for the game in Cleveland extended out to Browns -13.5. Both Cleveland and the Saints won, so the decision didn’t have immediate consequences. But we’ll bookmark the Week 9 fork in the road for later in the season, particularly in Week 15 – assuming we’re still having these conversations – when both teams become options again.
Every week until we get knocked out, we’ve mapped two paths to make it to the end of the season undefeated. As long as one of our entries still stands, we’ll use the moneylines for our picks to show the odds of making it the distance traveled along the path. Once we’re out, though, we’re out.
We could provide a series of theoretical rules to follow – like never taking a road team – but the moneyline reflects a club’s likelihood of winning each game. We can easily translate that into an implied win probability, listed in descending order in the chart below.
Week 10 moneylines
IMPLIED PROB. (%)
Survivor Path A
Knocked out in Week 3. Thanks, Ravens. The further we get away from the Colts‘ win in Baltimore, the more ridiculous it seems.
Survivor Path B
IMPLIED PROB. (%)
Using the early week win probability from the Browns’ moneyline in Week 9 and the picks for the eight weeks before it, there was a 15.5% chance we’d get this far based on “moneyline math.”
As discussed in previous weeks, we’ve burned some big teams to survive to this point. You would expect the picks to get dicier and dicier later in the season. However, there has been so much attrition with teams falling apart, like the Giants, Panthers, Cardinals, Patriots, and Rams (without Matthew Stafford). For example, we wouldn’t have expected the Giants to be 16-point underdogs at Dallas. Unfortunately, we can’t use the Cowboys, but it means the Commanders become a surprisingly interesting look for Week 11.
We have to get there first, but the good news is we have a rejuvenated top-tier team available. We avoided the Bengals during their tough times, and now they’ve shown they’re back in form, so picking them this week feels less like a leap of faith. The bad news is that a matchup with the Texans looked better before the season than it does now. That’s because C.J. Stroud – partly due to the shrinking competition from his peers – is in the conversation as a top-10 quarterback in the league. However, if we remember that the Texans just lost at Carolina, this selection becomes easy to swallow.
As far as other times to use them, the Bengals’ remaining home schedule includes the Steelers, Colts, Vikings, and Browns. There are decent options in that group, but there aren’t any that’ll definitely be lined higher than this week’s game.
Of course, there’s also the matter of other options – or lack thereof. The Cowboys, Ravens, Seahawks, and Bills are the other teams favored by more than a field goal this week, but all are off the board. So, availability takes some of the decision-making out of it. You’re welcome to take your chances with a pick’em game or with the Bears or Packers as small home favorites, but I’ll stay on I-71 and go from Cleveland to Cincinnati, backing the Bengals’ current form in the hopes that we see Week 11.
Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.