We finally have a slate of games worth gluing our eyeballs to multiple screens in Week 9. The Sunday slate includes: Ravens–Colts, Bills–Seahawks, Bears–Titans, the return of CMC vs. the Chiefs, Tua vs. Kyler, Brady vs. Brees–it’s going to be an entertaining day of football. But will it be a profitable one? You bet your ass it will be. Here are my five favorite picks against the spread for NFL Week 9, along with favorite teaser legs.
Baltimore Ravens -1.5 at Indianapolis Colts
Call me Sponge Bob if you want, but I’m sorry, how can you not hammer the Ravens in this spot? I was surprised when this spread opened at -3 and placed a large wager when I saw it go to -2.5. So, what is driving this line move? Not that a move from 2.5 to 1.5 is very meaningful, but it does mean that the Colts are attracting significant attention.
According to Pregame.com, 75% of the money and 85% of the tickets in Vegas are on the Ravens. This is not surprising. What is surprising is that the line has moved down completely through 3. The money vs. tickets split indicates some sharp money on the Colts, but not enough that you would expect such a line move.
At the Action Network, the split is similar, with 62% of the bets on Baltimore accounting for 54% of the handle on the game. So, there is no doubt that the Ravens are the square play. But that doesn’t make them the wrong play.
This is the perfect opportunity to buy low on the Baltimore Ravens. After fading them last week against the Steelers–in a game they lost due to turnovers–it’s time to zigzag back to Lamar and this elite defense.
According to Football Outsider’s DVOA, this is a similar matchup on paper. The Colts rank #22 on offense to the Ravens at #20. On defense, the Colts clock in at #3 compared to the Ravens at #5. But do we really believe that the Ravens are the 20th best offense in the league? I expect positive regression on that side of the ball for Baltimore.
Ultimately, in a game between two “even” teams, I’ll take Lamar Jackson giving up less than three points against Phillip Rivers.
The Bet: Ravens -1.5
New Orleans Saints +4.5 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Come on now, +4.5 is too many points in this game.
Drew Brees has been playing without Michael Thomas the entire season. How has it affected him? He’s #6 in the NFL in QBR. Despite being dead last in the league at 5.8 intended air yards per pass attempt, Brees has found a way to get it done.
Michael Thomas led the league with 149 receptions last season. With a Hall of Fame QB getting one of the three best wide receivers in the league back, I am thrilled to get four and the hook.
Did we forget how bad the Bucs looked against the Giants on Monday night? I don’t want to overreact to one game–and this is going to sound incredibly out of touch with the age of modern analytics we’re living in–but do the Bucs really look like the best team in the league, as DVOA would suggest?
I cite DVOA all the time here, but it is just one factor among many others we should use to evaluate teams. I think the Bucs are getting too much respect here and will happily take this many points.
The Bet: Saints +4.5
Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills +3
This game is going to be a shootout. And in shootouts, I like getting the points.
Home field may not mean a whole lot in this game. But it is worth noting that the Seahawks will be traveling across the country and playing a game at 9 am Pacific time.
The Seahawks are likely better than the Bills, but not by more than a field goal. Both teams have very good offenses and suspect D’s. While I trust the Bills D more than Seattle’s, obviously Russ gets a clear nod over Josh Allen. With that said, this game feels like it will be a back and forth contest, so give me the home team getting a full field goal.
The Bet: Bills +3
Houston Texans -6.5 at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are starting 6th round rookie Jake Luton at quarterback on Sunday. Need I say more?
Seriously, though. The Jags are skipping right over backup QB Mike Glennon and going with a player they know likely gives them a lesser chance of winning the game. I was happy to fade Glennon when I placed this wager early in the week, but I’m even happier now seeing that his replacement looks to be a younger, more inexperienced version of Glennon.
To his credit, Luton sounds like he has the makings of a starting NFL quarterback. As long as he’s in the right system, surrounded by quality pieces. His scouting report seems to perfectly describe Jared Goff. The only difference being that Goff was the #1 overall pick, while Luton was a 6th round selection.
Here’s the Jake Luton Scouting report per Matt Miller at Bleacher Report:
—Big quarterback (6’6″) with massive hands (10 ⅜”).
—Pro-style arm with the ability to push the ball to all areas of the field.
—A lot of play-action passing in his background; played in a pro offensive system.
—Efficient passer who doesn’t turn the ball over.
—Can line up under center or in the gun.
—Good deep-ball thrower; layers the ball well over coverage.
—Arm is good enough to fit into windows.
—A lot of throws go to wide-open receivers without him working through progressions.
—Limited mobility. Has to throw from his spot.”-Matt Miller, Bleacher Report
The guy sounds pretty solid, to be fair. But there is a reason why he lasted until the 6th round.
Imagine how a stationary quarterback that failed to read his progressions in college is going to react to JJ Watt breathing down his neck. Give me the Texans in a blowout as my squarest pick of the week.
The Bet: Texans -6.5
Chicago Bears +6.5 at Tennessee Titans
Nothing makes sense about this pick. Four of the Bears five starting O-linemen are either injured or out with COVID. The Bears defense, while elite, has been gashed for big runs all season. You can imagine the saliva dripping from Derrick Henry’s mouth as he licks his chops in anticipation.
Everything in this game points to the Titans. But 6.5 is a lot of points to give up in the NFL, and the Bears seem to find a way to make every game closer than it should be.
This game has ugly written all over it. In 2020, that has generally meant an improbable Bears victory.
Feel free to fade, but I’ll take the points.
The Bet: Bears +6.5
Favorite Teaser Legs
The first rule of NFL Week 9 teasers is that you must use the Patriots as one of your teaser legs. This is not an original thought, just a public service announcement. Hat tip to Joe Ostrowski for first bringing this up on Monday.
- You are never supposed to tease through zero. But bringing the Chargers from -1.5 up to +4.5 crosses through two key numbers seems attractive.
- Texans down to pick’em vs. the Jaguars feels like cheating.
- Bears up through 7 and 10 to +12.5 is not a bad option with their D and both teams’ propensity to play close games.
- If +3 isn’t enough for you with the Bills, maybe +9 feels a little more comfortable in what should be a shootout.