Week 9 of the NFL season offers some great matchups and interesting odds. Whether finalizing your office pool or preparing to visit your favorite legal gaming spot, here are thoughts on some of the home teams that should cover the spread.
I'm tempted to include the Green Bay Packers in this list as well. Arizona's offensive line and play at quarterback will make it difficult for the Cardinals to score on the Packer defense.
But the Packers have their own concerns, such as a lack of a ground game and a depleted receiver corps.
Here are the games that have more palatable spreads.
Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Texans (-11.5)
Just barely, but 11.5 is easier to swallow than the dozen points the Packers have to eat.
Buffalo will be coming off their bye week but there isn't much they could have done to fix their league-worst run defense. Houston coach Gary Kubiak wants to push his rushing attack which isn't good news for the Bills, according to ESPN:
You try to look at the big picture and say our yards per carry is still not good enough. We need some more big plays.
We've got to find (Foster) some more space and some big plays. If we do that, all that takes a couple big plays and your average goes up.
The Texans will rely on their tough rushing defense to force the Bills to throw. They will attempt to force Ryan Fitzpatrick into a few mistakes.
Score Prediction: Houston 34, Buffalo 17
Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins (-3.5)
The Panthers hope they are at the end of a five-game losing streak, while the Redskins have a two-game skid to bounce-back from.
It looked as though Carolina would put a stop to its losing streak last week but blew a late lead against the Chicago Bears. The team seems to find new ways to lose each week and is lacking the confidence to close out games.
Robert Griffin III has been more consistent than Cam Newton. It helps that the Redskins have been relying on a more balanced offensive attack.
Score Prediction: Washington 27, Carolina 20
Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks (-4)
Speaking of teams on losing skids...
The Vikings jumped out with an impressive 4-1 record but have looked more like the team they were expected to be the prior three weeks. Christian Ponder has been easily rattled and forced into making mistakes.
Seattle has a two-game losing streak but is 3-0 at home this season. Its defense is immensely better in front of the loud 12th man, as opposing offensive linemen don't get the same jump off the snap of the ball.
Put those two together and Seattle could get its first defensive touchdown of the season.
Seattle should be able to ride Marshawn Lynch again in this game, as the Vikings have surrendered 100-yard rushers in each of the last three game. That might not seem that odd, but one of those teams was the rush-deprived Arizona Cardinals and their third-string runner, LaRod Stephens-Howling.
Ponder has seven interceptions in his last four games. The Seahawks should be able to pressure him into testing their secondary, which won't bode well for the Vikings.
For those interested, Seattle has covered the spread in seven straight home games and 11 of their last 13, per Bovada.
Score Prediction: Seattle 24, Vikings 13
Dallas at Atlanta (-4)
There have been stories circulating how the Cowboys are 3-0 in their last three games against teams that were undefeated with at least seven wins. The three teams that lost then went on to win the Super Bowl.
You have to love the ESPN Stats and Info department, but some statistics are better left alone. They have no bearing in this game or the Super Bowl come February.
If Dallas ever puts a complete game on the field and avoids turnovers, it will be dangerous. The problem is that has become the Cowboys' norm. Perhaps when they play the Eagles...
The Falcons are playing consistent football and avoid costly mistakes. That is a solid recipe for success in the NFL and one that will take Atlanta to 8-0.
Score Prediction: Atlanta 31, Dallas 24
Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.
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