NFL Picks Week 9 Against the Spread: Which Underdogs Will Cover?

Jeff Grant@@JeffGrantSportsContributor IOctober 31, 2011

NFL Picks Week 9 Against the Spread: Which Underdogs Will Cover?

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    The 2011 NFL regular season will be moving past the halfway point in Week 9 and underdogs are 52-57-6 against the spread.

    Favorites held a slight 6-5-1 ATS advantage heading into Monday night's contest between the San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs to close out the previous round of action, while the "under" cashed in eight of 12 games.

    Let's take a closer look at 14 games from a betting perspective.

Atlanta Falcons at Indianapolis Colts

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    Not surprising that the sharp bettors bet down the Indianapolis Colts as eight-point home underdogs, likely due to their 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 25.

    Some casual bettors will likely mention that the Atlanta Falcons will get caught looking ahead to an NFC South showdown with the New Orleans Saints.

    I don't find that to be the case, especially with the team coming off a bye, while also covering both games leading into a division tilt against the Saints last year.

    Indianapolis may be the one caught looking ahead, facing the Jacksonville Jaguars before heading into its bye week.

    Atlanta gets the prize due to its 8-3 ATS mark as a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points, winning all 11 of those games in straight-up fashion.

    Pick: Atlanta Falcons (-7)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

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    A very intriguing line due to the New Orleans Saints dropping a 31-21 contest to the St. Louis Rams as 13.5-point home favorites.

    The only explanation is simply the oddsmaker figuring the public will back the host due to its 62-7 blowout of Indianapolis on "Sunday Night Football" two weeks ago.

    From a betting perspective, New Orleans was a six-point road favorite when it dropped a 26-20 decision to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers three weeks ago, which simply places three points on top of this line to account for homefield advantage.

    Tampa Bay was dealing with some key injuries in the first meeting at Raymond James Stadium, including starting running back LeGarrette Blount being out.

    Backup Earnest Graham picked up the slack, but he's now out for the year with an Achilles injury.

    Third-year head coach Raheem Morris must be respected in this spot, posting straight-up road victories as an underdog when coming off the bye in this career.

    Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+9)

Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans

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    Both teams could potentially get star offensive players back in the huddle, with Houston expecting wide receiver Andre Johnson (hamstring) to play for the first time since missing four games, while Cleveland's Peyton Hillis is suffering from the same injury and hasn't carried the football in two games.

    Oddmakers have sent out the Browns as a higher underdog than the Jaguars last week when playing inside Reliant Stadium, something that I don't agree with.

    Jacksonville is a division rival to Houston, which is far different than this scenario on Sunday.

    Definitely not interested in backing Texans coach Gary Kubiak when he came into this year with an 0-11 ATS mark when facing an opponent that's off a road loss and failed to cover the spread.

    The Browns suffered a 20-10 loss to the 49ers on Sunday as 9.5-point road underdogs.

    Pick: Cleveland Browns (+11)

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills

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    I definitely did a double take when looking at this particular line, considering the New York Jets absolutely dominated the Buffalo Bills last year.

    Many professionals will likely state that the visitor may be in a look ahead situation here, with a revenge game upcoming against the New England Patriots.

    Do you know who would win the AFC East division if the season ended today?

    The Buffalo Bills.

    New York dominated this series on the ground in 2011—expect the team to build off its 162-yard performance against the San Diego Chargers before the bye.

    Pick: New York Jets (+1.5)

Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs

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    The Kansas City Chiefs will find themselves in a nightmarish scheduling spot next week, coming off a "Monday Night Football" tilt against the San Diego Chargers, looking ahead to hosting another AFC West opponent the following week.

    Miami is desperate for a win.

    More on this game when the betting odds are released.

    Pick:  Miami Dolphins (+4.5)

San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins

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    In the world of the National Football League, motivation is one of the key factors in handicapping.

    Who needs this game more?

    The Washington Redskins is the clear-cut answer.

    San Francisco is officially on cruise control with a four-game lead on the Seattle Seahawks, potentially wrapping up the NFC West division with Sunday's win over the Cleveland Browns.

    Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has a banged up football team, but he was supplied with plenty of motivation after being blanked for the first time in his career in a 23-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

    Every dog has its day.

    Pick: Washington Redskins (+3.5)

Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys

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    Welcome to the land of the inflated line when it comes to "America's Team" playing off a high-profile loss.

    Dallas has been an extraordinary home favorite when playing lesser competition, especially during the month of November, tallying an 18-3 ATS mark in that situation.

    I figure that this line has been juiced up by three points due to the perception that this is a "must-win" game for the Cowboys.

    From a betting perspective, such a situation would normally put me on the underdog, but Seattle has failed to cover the number by at least 10 points in road losses to Pittsburgh and San Francisco.

    Lay it, if you play it.

    Pick: Dallas Cowboys (-12)

Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders

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    Don't think for a second that oddsmakers didn't get the press release that Oakland's offensive was going to spend some time together during the team's bye week.

    This is a very tough situation for first-year head coach Hue Jackson to get in order during the middle of the season.

    He's also facing a revenge-minded division rival and has the San Diego Chargers on deck.

    Quarterback Carson Palmer will certainly have a better grasp of the playbook Sunday, while also knowing that the running game pounded the Broncos in the first meeting.

    Casual bettors will not be as eager this week to wager on Denver's Tim Tebow.

    That's enough for me.

    Pick: Denver Broncos (+9)

Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans

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    From a betting perspective, the Cincinnati Bengals may get caught looking ahead to playing the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens in consecutive weeks after this one.

    That's enough for me to fade a young team that came out of Seattle with a win, but was out-gained by a 411-252 margin in total yards.

    Oddsmakers knew they would draw heavy underdog action on the Bengals in sending out this line, causing the line to fall early, but now it's time to bury the other side.

    Pick: Tennessee Titans (-2)

St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals

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    No real opinion at this time due to both starting quarterbacks dealing with injuries.

    Will revisit this game once a line is sent out.

New York Giants at New England Patriots

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    The New England Patriots have tallied a 1-2 ATS mark over their past three games, which could easily be seen as three spread losses if you wagered on the New York Jets early enough on Oct. 9.

    All three of those opponents were able to get to quarterback Tom Brady, compiling at least three sacks in each of those games.

    New York leads the league in the category and will dial up the pressure on every play.

    Brady certainly wants to gain revenge against Eli Manning, who stole a Super Bowl ring away from him, but the defensive pressure will be enough to stay within the number.

    Pick: New York Giants (+9)

Green Bay Packers at San Diego Chargers

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    The Green Bay Packers are the only undefeated team in the National Football League, but that distinction will be tested against a San Diego Chargers squad that is on a 7-0 ATS run in November.

    San Diego's 23-20 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs as three-point road favorites was a forgettable contest, which could make this one memorable.

    Pick:  San Diego Chargers (+6)

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

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    I'm definitely aware of the turnover fest that the first meeting turned into in the season opener, but not about to lay the points on the Pittsburgh Steelers here.

    Baltimore possesses the league's best defense in terms of total yardage, something that I'll consistently back in any situation when receiving points.

    From a betting perspective, one of my favorite angles is playing a good team that is receiving points for the first time all season.

    It certainly outweighs any revenge factor.

    These two know each other like the back of their hand.

    Pick: Baltimore Ravens (+3.5)

Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles

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    The Philadelphia Eagles land in a very favorable spot in terms of scheduling, coming off their bye with a resounding victory over the Dallas Cowboys, only to get an extra day off to host the Chicago Bears on "Monday Night Football."

    It's important to note that the edge is lessened a bit due to the Chicago Bears coming off a week of rest.

    I suspect the Bears may be caught in hibernation, as the franchise came into the season with a 3-16 ATS mark as single-digit underdogs when facing an opponent with revenge outside of the division.

    Philadelphia is also an awesome 12-4 ATS when dressing up as favorites for this prime time event.

    Pick: Philadelphia Eagles (-7)