NFL Week 9 Betting Preview & Picks
“Would I play this game if it were part of a normal NFL slate on Sunday?”
Had you asked yourself that question ahead of Thursday night’s Raiders-49ers matchup, what would have been your answer? Chances are you would have said, “Hell no.”
Before last night’s game, a few readers asked me on Twitter if I had a pick for San Francisco-Oakland. I told each one of them that while I didn’t make a prediction, I also leaned Raiders.
Why? Because undrafted free agent Nick Mullens was making his NFL debut. There was inherent value in backing Oakland facing a kid that hadn’t taken an NFL snap before Thursday night. Had you anticipated that Mullens would start earlier in the day, you could have even landed plus odds with the Raiders, who were an underdog before the Mullens announcement was made.
Of course, we didn’t need that 34-3 beatdown or Mullens’ three touchdown passes to confirm what we already knew: The Raiders are a horrendous football team. They don’t play defense, Derek Carr looks lost under Jon Gruden’s tutelage, and the team has been accused of tanking games this season.
Thus, if you find yourself needing action on a Thursday or Monday night, stop and ask yourself if you would bypass the matchup if it were part of a normal Sunday in the NFL. If the answer is yes, understand that there will be other games and move on. There’s no sense throwing good money at a horrible Oakland team just because Raiders-49ers is the only NFL game on that night.
By the way, this isn’t me getting on my soapbox. It’s a reminder to myself that I don’t need to play every game either. I am 27-12-1 against the spread this season with my NFL picks but I am also 0-3 in my last three selections for Thursday and Monday night. Granted, I would have played the over in the Giants-Falcons matchup two Mondays ago, regardless of it were a standalone game. I loved that play and it didn’t hit, but losses happen. That said, would I have played Broncos-Cardinals had it not been a TNF matchup? Probably not. I made a pick on a hunch and got burned when Denver destroyed Arizona as a small road favorite.
So, as we sit here at the midway point of the season, this is as good as time as ever to refocus and ensure that the second half is as profitable as the first. Good luck the rest of the season and as always, thank you for reading.
Week 9 Picks:
455 Pittsburgh Steelers at 456 Baltimore Ravens
- Spread: Ravens -3
- O/U: 47.5
- Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
The Ravens opened as 2.5-point favorites but the line was bet up to the all-important number of 3, which is where it currently sits at most sportsbooks. The total, meanwhile, has not budged after hitting the board at 47.5.
Both the betting tickets (78 percent) and money wagered (71 percent) is on the Steelers Sunday. And both the betting tickets (51 percent) and the money wagered (95 percent) is on the under for this matchup.
The under is 5-2-1 in the last eight meetings between these two teams and 4-0 in the last four meetings in Baltimore. The underdog is also 6-1-1 against the spread in the last eight meetings, which includes the Ravens’ outright victory over the Steelers earlier this season in Pittsburgh when Baltimore was a small dog. The road team is also 4-0 against the spread in the last four meetings, although the Steelers are just 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight games against the Ravens.
While the Chiefs and Patriots receive the attention in the AFC, the Steelers are somehow currently flying under the radar. That’s likely due to LeVeon Bell holding out, coupled with their 1-2-1 start to the season.
That said, these two teams are currently heading in opposite directions. While Pittsburgh has won three in a row, Baltimore is descending quickly. That defense that we hyped for over a month? Yeah, the unit was just shredded by Cam Newton and the Panthers last week, not to mention blew a fourth-quarter lead to Drew Brees and Co. at home the previous Sunday.
On the other side of the ball, Joe Flacco hasn’t had a 300-yard passing day since the Ravens’ win over the Steelers earlier this season. Baltimore hasn’t scored more than 23 points during its past four games and I vastly overrated Alex Collins’ value at the start of the year (he’s on damn near all of my fantasy teams, albeit on the bench).
With the Steelers offense averaging 34 points during their three-game winning streak, I see plenty of value backing the underdog on Sunday. James Conner has made people forget about Bell while racking up 526 yards from scrimmage, with six touchdowns during his past three games. Big Ben has also shaken off his slow start, throwing six touchdowns to just one interception over his last three games, while Antonio Brown has five touchdown receptions and 280 yards receiving over that same span. I like the Steelers to avenge their loss earlier in the season, although it’s never bad to have a field goal in your back pocket when these rivals meet.
Pick: Steelers +3
461 Atlanta Falcons at 462 Washington Redskins
- Spread: Redskins -1.5
- O/U: 48
- Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
The Redskins opened as 2.5-point home favorites but the line was bet down to 1.5. The total, meanwhile, has stayed at 48.
Most of the betting tickets (51 percent) and money (60 percent) are on the Falcons, while 70 percent of the betting tickets and 55 percent of the money wagered is on the over.
The road team has covered the spread in five of the last six meetings between these two squads.
This is a nice matchup for Adrian Peterson, who has rushed for at least 4.0 yards per carry and 90-plus yards in each of his past three games. The Falcons remain banged-up defensively and have already allowed nine rushing touchdowns on the season and 4.81 yards per carry. Without safeties Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal, cornerback Robert Alford (who is out for Week 9), as well as middle linebacker Deion Jones, this Atlanta defense remains one of the worst units in the NFL.
On the other side, Washington has held six of its seven opponents to 21 points or less this season. The one exception came against the Saints, who threw 49 points on the board during Drew Brees' record-setting night. Washington’s defense is underrated and Atlanta isn’t the same offense on the road as it is at home. In fact, the Falcons have been out-scored 59-29 in their two road losses this season (at Philadelphia and at Pittsburgh).
Over the past two years, the Falcons have been able to run the ball effectively thanks to the combination of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. An outdoor game on grass wouldn’t have been an issue over the past two seasons but the Falcons haven’t been able to move the ball on the ground all year. I love only laying 1.5 points with a Redskins team that should at least be favored by a field goal at home. With so many starters out on both sides, this isn’t the same Falcons team that we’ve grown accustomed to watching the past two years.
Pick: Redskins -1.5
469 Los Angeles Rams at 470 New Orleans Saints
- Spread: Saints +1.5
- O/U: 58.5
- Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
The spread in this game has bounced back and forth all week. New Orleans opened as a 1-point home dog but then the line jumped the fence and at least for a day, the Saints were a 1-point favorite. The line has since jumped again and now the Rams are laying 1.5 points as a road favorite. The total, meanwhile, dropped from 59 down to 58.5.
Only 51 percent of the betting tickets an 58 percent of the money are on the Saints to cover the point spread. Most of the betting tickets (57 percent) and money wagered (61 percent) are on the over, too.
The home team is a perfect 6-0 against the spread in the last six meetings between these two teams but the Rams are 6-2 against the number in their last eight games against the Saints. The over is also 4-1 in the last five meetings in New Orleans.
As the only unbeaten team left in the league, the Rams deserve to be Super Bowl favorites. They have an outstanding offense, their defense is opportunistic, and they just improved one of their only weaknesses by adding outside pass-rusher Dante Fowler Jr. in a trade with the Jaguars.
That said, I don’t understand why the Saints aren’t favored in this matchup. The Rams beat the Raiders, Cardinals, Broncos and 49ers, which are some of the worst teams in the league. Their other victories came against the Chargers, Vikings, Seahawks and Packers, which were all impressive to say the least.
Let’s take a deeper dive though. The Seahawks scored 31 points against the Rams in Seattle. The Vikings scored 31 points against the Rams in L.A. The Packers scored 27 points against the Rams in L.A. and had Ty Montgomery not fumbled the ball on a kickoff return in the closing minutes perhaps Aaron Rodgers pushes the Pack into field goal range for the win.
This isn’t to discredit anything that the Rams have done. They’re 8-0 in a league that strives for parity. It’s not as if they’ve only played blood donors. That said, when they have faced a good quarterback, their defense hasn’t been as dominant and outside of the win over Philip Rivers and the Chargers, all of those games in which the Rams’ opponent had a good quarterback the game could have gone either way.
The Saints just won a game in which Drew Brees only threw for 120 yards. They run the ball well with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. They have a legit go-to guy in Michael Thomas. They have one of the best offensive play-callers in the NFL thanks to Sean Payton. And while their defense isn’t great statistically, they remind me a lot of the 2009 Saints team that won the Super Bowl because they get after the quarterback and they cause turnovers.
This game has shootout written all over it and if Brees and Co. have the ball last, then I feel good about New Orleans pulling off the small upset. It’s difficult to beat the Saints in that dome.
Pick: Saints +1.5
471 Green Bay Packers at 472 New England Patriots
- Spread: Patriots -5
- O/U: 56.5
- Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
The Patriots opened as 6.5-point favorites but the line was bet down to 5 at most sportsbooks. As for the total, it also moved off the original number, dropping from 57.5 down to 56.5.
As of this writing, 59 percent of the betting tickets are on the Patriots and so is 65 percent of the money wagered. The betting tickets (69 percent) and the money (64 percent) is also on the over.
The road team is 4-1-1 against the spread in the last six meetings between these two teams and the Packers are also 4-1-1 ATS in their last six games against the Patriots. The under, meanwhile, is 4-1 in the last five meetings between the two teams.
Last week when the Packers traveled to L.A. to face the Rams I suggested to not overthink the line: Take the points with Aaron Rodgers. If oddsmakers were going to hand you 7-plus points with Rodgers under center, take it and say thank you. I then had my heart jump into my throat when Todd Gurley was moving towards the end zone in the final seconds, only to rejoice when he allowed himself to be tackled in efforts to run out the clock.
I won’t be offering the same advice this week. For all intents and purposes, the same argument could be applied this week when the Packers take on the Patriots: Take the points with Rodgers and move on. That said, NFL schedule makers did Green Bay zero favors. After traveling to the West Coast last week to play the Rams, the Packers returned home for a week of practice and now travel to the East Coast to take on the Patriots at Foxborough. Even though Green Bay had its bye in Week 7, that’s a brutal two weeks of travel for a Packers team that was inconsistent in the first half of the season.
Rodgers can overcome a lot but even he had to sit idle as Ty Montgomery fumbled a kickoff in the final seconds last week in L.A. Green Bay’s defense showed up in the first half but was victimized by Sean McVay after the Rams made halftime adjustments.
I think the second half on Sunday night will also be key. Again, the Packers will be coming off two weeks of brutal travel so I expect their defense to tire out and for Tom Brady to take advantage.
Pick: Patriots -5
ATS Season Records
- Week 1: 5-0
- Week 2: 3-2
- Week 3: 4-1
- Week 4: 3-1-1
- Week 5: 3-2
- Week 6: 4-1
- Week 7: 2-3
- Week 8: 3-2
- Overall: 27-12-1
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images.