NFL Week 9 Betting Guide: Odds, Props and Picks
San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Nick Mullens had not taken a regular-season snap in his two-year career prior to Thursday, but that didn't matter as he dominated the Oakland Raiders with 262 passing yards and three scores in a 34-3 win.
Mullens replaced C.J. Beathard, who suffered a wrist injury that hindered his grip on the football.
News broke during the week that Beathard was questionable to play, so the initial line of San Francisco giving 3.5 points moved toward Oakland's direction. When Mullens was announced as the starter, the pendulum swung even further, with the Raiders becoming two-point favorites in a game when the over/under dropped from 47 points to 44.
Of course, it goes to show what everyone knew (or didn't know, including this writer) as the 49ers cruised to victory.
We'll soon see if any other Week 9 games defy betting expectations, but until then, here's a guide for upcoming games, including notes on spreads, over/unders and the lock of the week.
Moneyline Picks and Picks Against the Spread
Oakland Raiders (-2, 44 O/U) at San Francisco 49ers: Raiders -2 and -130
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-5, 49 O/U): Vikings -5 and -245
Chicago Bears (-10, 37.5 O/U) at Buffalo Bills: Bears -10 and -450
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers (-6, 55 O/U): Panthers -6 and -265
Kansas City Chiefs (-8.5, 52 O/U) at Cleveland Browns: Chiefs -8.5 and -415
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins (-2.5, 43.5 O/U): Dolphins -2.5 and -112
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5, 47 O/U): Ravens -2.5 and -145
Atlanta Falcons at Washington Redskins (-1.5, 48 O/U): Redskins -1.5 and -120
Los Angeles Chargers at Seattle Seahawks (EVEN, 48 O/U): Seahawks EVEN and -112
Houston Texans at Denver Broncos (-1, 46 O/U): Texans +1 and -101
Los Angeles Rams (-2, 59.5 O/U) at New Orleans Saints: Saints +2 and +110
Green Bay Packers at New England Patriots (-5, 56.5 O/U): Packers +5 and Patriots -225
Tennessee Titans at Dallas Cowboys (-5.5, 40.5 O/U): Cowboys -5.5 and -225
ML Season Record: 72-48-2
ATS Season Record: 59-57-6
Steelers at Ravens (-2.5, 47 O/U)
The Ravens won 26-14 in Pittsburgh when these two teams met in Week 4, but who knows what will happen here.
Baltimore and Pittsburgh are now going in opposite directions. The 4-4 Ravens have lost two straight, while the 4-2-1 Steelers are on a three-game win streak.
Baltimore is home, but its offensive line is banged up as starting tackles Ronnie Stanley and James Hurt missed practice Friday with injuries. However, starting cornerback Marlon Humphrey practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday. He missed the Ravens' recent pair of losses.
Pittsburgh is healthier and hotter, and running back James Conner has accrued 526 yards and six touchdowns in his past three games. Baltimore did shut him down when these two teams last met (nine carries, 19 yards), but can the Ravens pull that feat off again?
This is a tough game to judge, and strong cases can be made for both sides to cover. The best bet is focusing on other games.
Falcons at Redskins (-1.5, 48 O/U)
The Washington defense got a boost in the form of safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who was acquired in a trade with the Packers on Tuesday.
The 'Skins now have an incredible ball-hawking secondary, as Clinton-Dix and safety D.J. Swearinger have combined for seven interceptions.
Cornerback Josh Norman makes plays too (he was arguably the team's MVP in a 23-17 win over the Panthers with an interception and forced fumble), and starting cornerback Quinton Dunbar, who has missed two games with an ankle injury, will return.
The defense should be able to at least prevent the high-scoring Falcons from blowing up in this spot, although star wideout Julio Jones will still be tough to contain.
However, can the 'Skins offense get going here? Left tackle Trent Williams is out for Sunday, as are running back Chris Thompson and wideout Jameson Crowder.
The Falcons have lost three defensive starters to injuries this season but will get defensive tackle Grady Jarrett back. He's a fantastic interior presence who is adept at creating pressure and stopping the run, so he could be a problem for the 'Skins as they try to establish the rushing attack with Adrian Peterson.
This one is simply too close to call. Maybe Jones goes off for a breakout game, or maybe the 'Skins create a bunch of turnovers. Maybe Peterson continues his hot streak, or maybe the Falcons run defense shuts him down. This game could go either way.
Prop Bets You Can Take to the Bank
More Turnovers: Bills vs. Bears (-120)
The Bills are starting quarterback Nathan Peterman since Josh Allen and Derek Anderson are injured. Over his career, Peterman has a career interception rate of 11.1 percent. To put that number in contest, only one other signal-caller has a pick rate of more than 4.2 this season (the Bucs' Jameis Winston, at 6.8).
Peterman faces a Bears team that ranks No. 2 in takeaways with 17 (in just seven games) and tied for second in interceptions (11). Chicago also may get edge-rusher Khalil Mack back; he missed last Sunday's game versus the Jets but is listed as questionable for the Week 9 battle.
The Bills are second in giveaways (18), while the Bears offense does a decent job taking care of the ball (just 10 turnovers).
Overall, this looks like a dangerous spot for Buffalo, which is also tasked with facing the No. 1 defense in defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA), per Football Outsiders. All signs point to the Bills having more turnovers than Chicago in what could be a blowout loss.
Anytime Touchdown Scorer: Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (even)
The Cleveland Browns are without middle linebacker Joe Schobert, who will miss his third straight game with a hamstring injury. Schobert was the team's leading tackler when he suffered the ailment.
Without Schobert, the team is getting crushed against opposing tight ends, per Evan Silva of Rotoworld, as they "have caught 16 of 22 targets (73 percent) for 161 yards against Cleveland."
That could mean a huge day for Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who has 44 catches for 642 yards and four touchdowns.
Kelce, who is Kansas City's leader in red-zone targets with 12, should get more looks Sunday against a Browns defense that has allowed point totals of 38, 26 and 33 in its last three games.
The Chiefs average a league-leading 36.3 points, so this is a great matchup for Kelce. Props backing his Week 9 success could be profitable bets.
Spreads to Bet
Lions at Vikings (-5)
The Lions traded No. 1 wide receiver Golden Tate to the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday for a third-round pick. Tate led the team in receiving yards as well as catches and will be difficult to replace.
Running back Kerryon Johnson is arguably the team's best weapon, and he has sprung to life thanks to added touches in recent weeks. However, this is a tough game script for him as Detroit is a road underdog. If the Lions can't get the run game going, the edge goes to Minnesota.
The Vikings defense has also turned things around in recent weeks, most notably holding the hot Saints to just 270 scrimmage yards (119.9 below their season average) on Sunday.
Defensive end Everson Griffen (team-leading 13.0 sacks last season) is back, although cornerback Xavier Rhodes (ankle) and safety Andrew Sendejo (groin) have been limited in practice this week and are questionable.
Lastly, Vikings wideout Adam Thielen is a significant matchup problem for the Lions secondary (and pretty much every NFL team). Cornerback Darius Slay is coming off an All-Pro year, but Detroit ranks just 30th in pass defense-adjusted value over average, per Football Outsiders. That will be a problem against Thielen, who has amassed 100 or more receiving yards in all of his eight games.
Minnesota may be without No. 2 wideout Stefon Diggs (questionable with a rib injury), and comments from Vikings wide receiver Aldrick Robinson implied Diggs could be downgraded to out.
However, the Thielen/Kirk Cousins combo should dominate. Take the Vikings minus the points.
Chiefs (-8.5) at Browns
The Chiefs defense is a bad matchup for the Browns offense. Of note, the Kansas City pass rush may overpower Browns offensive tackles Desmond Harrison and Chris Hubbard.
K.C. has 24 sacks (eight from Dee Ford), which is tied for the second-most in football. Meanwhile, the Browns have allowed the most sacks (33). You can connect the dots: The Cleveland offense may not have a chance to get much going, especially if it's forced to pass more to keep up with the high-flying Chiefs' scoring attack.
Also, the Chiefs have covered the spread in seven of eight games, per OddsShark. Betting against Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes (the league leader in passing touchdowns with 26) is a risky proposition.
Add all that with the ongoing turmoil in Cleveland (the team just moved on from head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley), and this could turn this into a blowout.
Buccaneers at Panthers: 53.5 O/U to 55 O/U
An already massive point total has gotten even bigger this week.
The announcement of Ryan Fitzpatrick as the Bucs starter could be part of the reason why. In five games played, Fitzpatrick has 13 touchdown passes in addition to two performances of 400 passing yards or more. He's an upgrade over Winston, who has 10 interceptions in five games.
Tampa Bay is facing a Carolina defense with some stout weapons such as middle linebacker Luke Kuechly but one that has encountered trouble rushing the passer (18 sacks, tied for No. 22 in NFL).
If the Panthers can't get much going on that front, Fitzpatrick has a litany of weapons to target.
The one who could see the most success is tight end O.J. Howard, who has averaged 65.7 yards per game in his last three contests and plays a Carolina team that has allowed the second-most receiving yards to tight ends in the league, per Football Outsiders.
On the other side, the Bucs simply have little to no shot of stopping the Panthers offense. Tampa gives up the most points per game in the NFL, and the Panthers offense ranks No. 5 in DVOA. Quarterback Cam Newton is a matchup nightmare, so he and tight end Greg Olsen could have monster games. Tampa is also No. 1 in yards allowed to tight ends.
Overall, the Panthers have the clear edge, but a game in the neighborhood of 60-70 total points isn't out of the realm of possibility.
Titans at Cowboys (-5.5, 40.5 O/U): Cowboys -4 to -5.5 and 42 O/U to 40.5 O/U
Sharp bettors have no respect for the Titans offense (or maybe a lot of respect for the Cowboys defense). Not only has the spread jumped 1.5 points in Dallas' favor, but the 40.5-point over/under now means Tennessee has the second-lowest implied team total on the Week 9 slate (17.5 points).
Tennessee's offense has been awful of late, with just 31 points in its past three games (all losses). Now the Titans are tasked with facing a Dallas team that has one of the best front sevens in football (it has allowed the sixth-fewest yards per carry to running backs).
This could be a game when Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott rushes 25 to 30 times and the defense leads the team to a plodding, low-scoring victory.
The addition of ex-Raider Amari Cooper could also help quarterback Dak Prescott, as the former fourth overall draft pick is now the team's most talented wideout.
Texans at Broncos: Over 46 Points
The Texans offense is firing on all cylinders. The run game is on a roll, as Lamar Miller has 233 rushing yards and two scores in his past two weeks.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson, who battled a chest injury that limited him for a few weeks, tossed five touchdowns against the Dolphins in Week 8. Two of them went to wideout DeAndre Hopkins, who led the league with 13 receiving touchdowns last year and has six this season.
The team unfortunately lost wideout Will Fuller V, a fantastic deep threat who suffered a torn ACL in Week 8. In response, Houston traded for Broncos wideout Demaryius Thomas, who has 36 catches for 402 yards and three touchdowns.
The Houston offense is hot right now, but the Denver offense can do damage as well.
Rookie Courtland Sutton will step into Thomas' place: He's an excellent deep threat with 17 catches for 324 yards and one touchdown. He and No. 1 wideout Emmanuel Sanders (50 catches, 660 yards, three scores) should be a problem for a Houston secondary that has suffered injuries to seven cornerbacks (three of which are on injured reserve).
Couple those two with rookie running back Phillip Lindsay, who has rushed for 5.7 yards per game this year, and you have the makings of a sneaky shootout.
Jets at Dolphins: Under 43.5 Points
Both offenses are banged up. Miami's best receiver (Albert Wilson) is out for the year with a hip injury. Kenny Stills is battling a groin injury and is questionable for Sunday. Quarterback Brock Osweiler has replaced the injured Ryan Tannehill and has done fairly well.
The New York Jets aren't well off either. Their top two receivers to start the year (Quincy Enunwa and Robbie Anderson) have missed time with injuries and are questionable for Sunday. Running back Bilal Powell suffered a season-ending neck injury.
The two teams played each other in Week 2, with the Dolphins winning an ugly 20-12 battle. The offenses are in worse shape healthwise than they were then, so it's hard seeing this game having 12 more total points to hit the over mark.
Chargers at Seahawks (-112)
The Seahawks are in a groove thanks to a tough Chris Carson-led ground game, the emergence of second-year wideout David Moore (four touchdowns in three games), solid offensive line play, and a young and hungry secondary largely excelling despite the loss of All-Pro Earl Thomas to a lower left leg fracture in Week 4.
The 'Hawks just posted an impressive 28-14 win at Detroit, but the schedule doesn't get easier when they welcome the Chargers to town.
The 5-2 Bolts have won four straight, with their only losses coming against the 8-0 Rams and 6-1 Saints.
However, the Chargers are headed into the lion's den that is CenturyLink Field. They're used to hearing opposing fans cheer in their home stadium, but this is the toughest road environment they'll face all year. The 'Hawks are the pick in a close one.
Rams at Saints (+110)
Saints quarterback Drew Brees has largely been excellent anywhere he's played during his 18-year career, but he's been particularly dominant at home over the past decade.
If you compare his home and road splits, Brees has had a better quarterback rating at home in eight of 10 seasons since the team's Super Bowl-winning year of 2009.
This season has been his home apex, as Brees has put up video-game numbers in New Orleans (83.49 completion rate, 131.1 passer rating and 9.59 yards per attempt).
The Rams do have defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who leads the league with 10 sacks and is the No. 1 candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. That being said, Brees can get the ball out quickly to a talented collection of receivers and keep the offense moving.
New Orleans may simply overwhelm L.A. with a dominant offensive performance en route to a win.
Sucker Bet: Patriots -240 over Packers
Does it ever feel comfortable to bet against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers? He's one of the best NFL players of all time and can make a case for being the No. 1 signal-caller in league history.
Rodgers nearly led his team to an upset win over the undefeated Rams on the road Sunday, but Green Bay fell 29-27.
Of note, running back Aaron Jones received more playing time and delivered with 86 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. With the Packers' three-man backfield down to a duo after the trade of running back Ty Montgomery, Jones should get more looks and deservedly so (he's averaged 6.2 yards per carry this season).
He could be a problem for the Patriots defense, which ranks just 18th in yards allowed per carry to running backs (4.24), per Football Outsiders.
Of course, the powerful New England offense could simply overwhelm a Green Bay defense that has been inconsistent this year and now lost Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in a trade.
However, if the stout Packers pass rush (23 sacks) gets to quarterback Tom Brady, Green Bay can pull off the upset. As is, betting $240 to win $100 isn't a good deal.
Lock of the Week: Bears -10
Regardless of whether edge-rusher Khalil Mack and wide receiver Allen Robinson play Sunday (the two have been out all week with injuries), the Bears should not have any problems against a Bills team that has averaged a league-low 10.9 points per game and is starting Peterman, who has three touchdowns and nine interceptions in seven career appearances.
The Bills defense has been tremendous in adverse circumstances, notably holding the Vikings to just six points on the road. However, the team could be without star rookie linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who suffered a concussion on Monday and is questionable for Sunday. He has not practiced all week. Starting defensive end Trent Murphy (three sacks) has already been ruled out with a knee injury.
Edmunds would be a huge loss for the Bills, as he is the team's leading tackler. Without him, that could mean more room to roam for the Bears' talented RB duo of Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard, who lead the fifth-most efficient run offense in football, per Football Outsiders.
Losing 10 points off the bat is tough, but the Bears may need just two touchdowns to cover.