What goes into an NFL team being put on upset alert?
I get asked this question every week, either on Twitter or in the comments to this recurring column. The answer is never simple, and it's usually different depending on the team in question.
First, Vegas odds are really the only objective way to say who is the favorite and who is the underdog. There is a great example this week. In the Detroit-Minnesota game, I think the Vikings should be the favorite at home, but Vegas favors the Lions. In the end, there are few games in which everyone agrees on a favorite. So rather than quibble about that, odds are the best way to go.
Note, too, that "upset alert" doesn't mean I'm picking the underdog to win. It's called an "alert" for a reason. These games are three days away when I write this every week, and I'm letting fans know who they should be watching out for. If you want to know who I and the rest of B/R's lead writers are picking, you can see that column every Tuesday morning.
So how does one decide which teams need to be worried? Matchups are usually the biggest reason. Can a less talented team win specific battles that would turn the tide? Trends are another reason. Things like home-field advantage, which team has to make a cross-country trip and which team is healthier play a big role.
So which teams need to be worried in Week 10?