NFL Picks Against the Spread for Week 9: 49ers, Falcons and Cowboys

Kevin HansonAnalyst IIINovember 5, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 30:   Frank Gore #21 of the San Francisco 49ers points to the crowd before running onto the field for their game against the Cleveland Browns at Candlestick Park on October 30, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Through the first half of the season, I've done fairly well picking NFL games against the spread (ATS), as I have had a winning record in seven of eight weeks.

Picking what I feel are the best three winners each week, I finished 2-1 ATS in Week 8 and now have a 17-5-2 (77.3 percent) ATS at the midway point of the season.

Here are my three picks for Week 9:

San Francisco 49ers (-4) over Washington Redskins

Fortunately for the Redskins, tight end Fred Davis is no longer in a walking boot and is likely to play this week. That said, Davis has been the team's only offensive bright spot recently.

With Tim Hightower out for the season, the team's top two running backs have been ineffective since their bye. In those three games combined, Ryan Torain has 20 carries for 31 yards and Roy Helu has three carries for five yards total.

Despite getting only limited work, those carries came against three of the worst run defenses in the league: Philadelphia, Carolina and Buffalo. Running the ball won't get any easier against the 49ers, who have the league's stingiest run defense (73.4 yards allowed per game) and are the only team to have yet to allow a rushing touchdown.

Unlikely to establish the run this week, the Redskins will need to better protect quarterback John Beck, who was sacked nine times last week by the Bills. Entering the game, the Bills had only four sacks for the season. Even if the Redskins can protect Beck better, Washington's receiving corps is especially weak without Santana Moss.

For the 49ers, the secret to their success is not really a secret: play solid defense, run the ball well (Frank Gore has four straight 125-yard games) and limit Alex Smith's opportunity to make mistakes. Then try not to create a controversy with the post-game handshake.

Dallas Cowboys (-11) over Seattle Seahawks

As one would expect from the only team in the league to retire the number 12 in honor of their fans, the Seahawks play much better at home than they do on the road. In the past four-and-a-half seasons, the Seahawks are 19-16 at home and 9-27 on the road.

While the Cowboys have a losing record (3-4) and are coming off a 27-point beatdown in prime time against division rivals, there is no doubt that the Cowboys are a far superior team than the Seahawks when it comes to talent. As an example, 33 players in the NFL are averaging at least 61 receiving yards per game. The Cowboys have four of them: Miles Austin (70.0), Jason Witten (68.1), Laurent Robinson (67.2) and Dez Bryant (61.2).

The easiest way to make Tarvaris Jackson look like a legitimate starting quarterback is to need Charlie Whitehurst to play a couple of games. That said, Jackson has not thrown a touchdown in three of his six games played this season—yet their passing attack is even better (or less worse) than their ground attack.

This seems weird to say (or, technically, write), but the only team in the league to have a worse rushing offense than Seattle is Tennessee. Seattle has 77.7 rushing yards per game and Marshawn Lynch has rushed for more than 33 yards in only two of six games this season. Plus the Cowboys have the fourth-ranked run defense.

In their past 30 home games against teams with a losing record, the Cowboys are 21-7-2 against the spread.

Atlanta Falcons (-7) over Indianapolis Colts

Prior to their bye last week, the Falcons won back-to-back games for the first time this season after getting off to a disappointing start. Maybe the bye slows their momentum some, but it also gives the Falcons an extra week to prepare for the Colts and to get healthy.

Atlanta has been without rookie receiver Julio Jones since he suffered a hamstring injury in Week 5. Prior to the injury, Jones posted back-to-back 100-yard games.

The Falcons have relied heavily on Michael "The Burner" Turner in their past two wins. Turner has had 27 carries and more than 100 yards in each game. The Colts have the second-worst run defense in the league, allowing 144 yards per game and are one of three teams to allow double-digit rushing touchdowns this season.

Not only are the Colts winless this year, but they are 1-4 against the spread in their last five home games. Meanwhile, the Falcons are 4-1 ATS in their past five games as road favorites.

Not only do I pick three games against the spread each week, but so do the other two "handicappers" at The Weekly Blitz. To see their picks, click here.

For positional and flex rankings for both standard-scoring and point-per-reception (PPR) scoring formats, check out our fantasy section at

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