Between the Lines: NFL Betting Week 9

NFL Betting Week 9

Every Monday during the NFL season, I’ll be comparing game spreads to my own power ratings and giving my perspective on whether I think the betting lines are accurate or not. Paying attention to the NFL market is one of the single most important aspects of successful wagering. With all the variance and volatility of pro football, placing a bet on the most advantageous side of a number is often the only difference between a winning or losing ticket. 

All lines are consensus numbers across the U.S. Sportsbooks as of Monday morning. Some may not be out yet. Early lines that stick out as great early bets are highlighted in red

Philadelphia Eagles at Houston Texans (+13.5), Total: 43

We don’t need to get into extensive details on this game. The Eagles look like the most consistent team in the NFL not named the Bills. Game-to-game, they’re disciplined, prepared and find ways to get ahead of their opponent. Their dominant 35-13 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers proved as much in Week 8.

After a bye week, the Texans were set up exceptionally well for positive regression on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. It didn’t happen. Even though the whole world knows Houston struggles against the run, the Tennessee Titans still ran for an insane 314 yards on the Texans’ home turf. Derrick Henry had 219 yards by himself. Now, one of the league’s premier rushing teams heads to Houston on a short week, and they’re predictably big favorites.

To make matters worse for Houston, Davis Mills has not shown us anything to believe he’s turned a corner and improved his game this season. Mills is 31st in QBR (31.7), and frankly, we’re sick of waiting for his “breakout game” – I don’t think it’s coming any time soon. Mills still needs work on his anticipation, and he frequently throws egregiously bad interceptions. I lean Eagles here, despite the spot and short week because the Texans are simply extremely hard to trust.

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (+13), Total: 47.5

The Bills scored only three points in the second half and still cruised to a victory on Sunday night. The Green Bay Packers came into that contest desperate, and it showed on the field. Their defense was flying to the ball, and their coverage was tight. It didn’t matter against Buffalo’s potent offense. Right now, the Bills are on a different level on both sides of the ball, and it’s hard to imagine any opposing team succeeding when they’re playing at Orchard Park.

Jets QB Zach Wilson finally showed his true colors against the New England Patriots Sunday, throwing one errant interception after another in a 22-17 loss at home. The Jets outgained the Patriots 387-288 in total yards, but the Patriots controlled the game (35:34 time of possession) with their sustained rushing attack. Wilson was forced to throw way too much (20/41 for 355 yards two touchdowns and three interceptions), and the Jets’ run game took a serious hit. Without rookie RB Breece Hall, they only gained 51 total yards on the ground.

The Jets are a better team this season, but it doesn’t mean they can compete with a team like the Bills. This is a short road trip for a seasoned, humming Bills offense, and this is not a good matchup for the Jets offense. I strongly lean toward the Bills here despite the massive line. I make this line as Bills -13.

Miami Dolphins at Chicago Bears (+4.5), Total: 45.5

This is a tough game. I have the line set at Bears +3.5. Perhaps I still give the Bears too much credit. On the one hand, their defense just got rolled over on Sunday. The Dallas Cowboys totaled 49 points and 442 easy yards against the Bears. On the other hand, the vaunted Cowboys’ defense couldn’t stop Justin Fields and his supporting cast, either.

Fields went up and down the field on Dallas, but a late third-quarter fumble by David Montgomery resulted in a potential 14-point turnaround, all but sealing the contest for the home team. As bettors, we need to sift through the real and the fake. Was the Cowboys’ victory over the Bears as dominant as the score indicates? It was, and it wasn’t. That’s what makes assessing Chicago so difficult heading into Week 9. 

The Dolphins are 5-3 and appear to be back in form after a nice 31-27 win over the Detroit Lions. They totaled 476 yards, including 382 passing yards and three touchdowns from Tua Tagovailoa. Miami’s offense looked as fluid and nuanced as ever. The Lions are statistically the worst defense in the NFL (by far), so we need to put the Dolphins’ success into some context. The Lions are ranked last in so many defensive categories it’s hard to count at this point. Change is in the air in Detroit; there’s no doubt about that.

The Bears can keep this close at home, and I lean over in this matchup, too. I’m not sure either defense can stop the opposing offense.

Minnesota Vikings at Washington Commanders (+3.5), Total: 44.5

Two winning teams face off in Week 9 as Kirk Cousins returns to Washington D.C. to face his former team, the Commanders. The Vikings are still way overdue for negative regression from where I’m sitting. Cousins certainly did enough for his team to win against the Cardinals, but a muffed punt sucked the life out of Arizona’s momentum in the fourth quarter. If you’re a Vikings fan, you’re most excited about Dalvin Cook. He looked explosive against a top-10 run defense.

The Commanders look and feel different with QB Taylor Heinicke in place of the injured Carson Wentz. Heinicke engineered a phenomenal drive in the final two minutes to give his team the win. He went six-for-six and scrambled for critical yards. That’s not something we’ve seen out of Carson Wentz, and it’s an energy that’s given Washington two straight wins. 

I have the Commanders as 3-point underdogs at home, so I don’t show any significant disparity here. Let’s watch this line and see if it moves.

Los Angeles Chargers at Atlanta Falcons (+3), Total: 49

After a bad loss in Week 7, the Chargers come off a bye and head east to take on the Falcons. We only have one example of Chargers coach Brandon Staley leading the Chargers after a bye week, and it wasn’t pretty. Last year, the Patriots traveled to Los Angeles and controlled the contest with a steady rushing attack and disciplined defense. We’ll see if Staley’s team looks better this season, but I wouldn’t count on a buttoned-up performance. Staley is among the worst coaches to bet on in the NFL, according to our coaching tiers.

In perhaps the luckiest win of the year, one personal foul penalty (shame on you, D.J. Moore) and two missed field goals catalyzed the Falcons’ win at home against the Carolina Panthers. In a game where the Panthers put up 478 yards, somehow, Atlanta came out on top. The Falcons’ injuries in the secondary were probably part of their collapse on defense. But their rushing attack led by RBs Caleb Huntley and Tyler Allgeier and QB Marcus Mariota totaled 167 yards on the ground. Regardless, Atlanta sits at the very top of the NFC South.

I have this line exactly where it sits, and the total makes sense. I’d consider a play on the over in this matchup. The Falcons will continue to show holes in their secondary, and the Chargers have underwhelmed on defense all season. 

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (-5.5), Total: 39.5

Previous iterations of this rivalry had Peyton Manning squaring up against Tom Brady in an iconic clash of AFC elites. This contest doesn’t have the same feel, but it is the first game I “red-inked” on the Week 9 slate.

The Colts probably should’ve beaten the Commanders on Sunday. Give credit to Heinicke and a great effort by Washington, but the Colts had a 16-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Their defense played well for the majority of the game. I liked what I saw from first-time starting QB Sam Ehlinger.

The kid made good decisions, showed his athletic ability and didn’t seem overwhelmed by the moment. Under pressure with only 22 seconds left on the clock, Ehlinder threw a dime to Michael Pittman Jr. that should have resulted in an opportunity to get in field goal range. Pittman just dropped the pass, sealing the game. 

The Colts showed me a lot, and the Patriots, even in a win, didn’t show me much. Mac Jones made some terrible throws, including a pick-six interception that was overturned because of a “roughing the quarterback” penalty. It was the Patriots’ defense that did enough, and it was mostly Jets’ QB Wilson handing over the game. All three of Wilson’s interceptions were horrid.

The Patriots show real flaws in their passing game, and the Colts can stop the run. They allow only four yards per rush to opponents, good for third in the NFL. Jonathan Taylor is starting to look like himself again, too. Ehlinger is a rookie quarterback, and yes, we realize how successful Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been in these situations, but I like the Colts to fight hard and keep this game close. The Patriots are just too flawed on offense. A total of 39.5 only helps our case if this turns out to be a low-scoring affair.

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (+3), Total: 49.5

This game is challenging to handicap. Eventually, you’d think the Lions’ defense would produce something better than a putrid performance, but this probably isn’t the best spot. Even at home, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have owned the Lions historically. Last year in Week 18, the Lions bested the No.1 seeded Packers. Rodgers sat in the second half, and the Packers didn’t seem to care much for that game. They’ll care about this one.

We alluded to Green Bay’s effort against the Bills on Sunday night, and it’s worth noting again. The Packers came to play, and they’re not giving up on their season just yet. This sets up as a perfect get-right game for the Packers offense. I would look for their team total to go over, which should be set somewhere around 26.5. From a sides-perspective, this line is perfect, but I would also lean toward the over on the full game total. 

Las Vegas Raiders at Jacksonville Jaguars (+1.5), Total: 46.5

Two teams that are increasingly hard to trust match up in the early window on Sunday. Firstly, that’s never an easy spot for the Raiders, who are now on the second leg of their east-coast road trip. Secondly, how can anyone count on the black and silver after what they showed us in New Orleans?

Gaining only 183 total yards and 13 first downs, QB Derek Carr and the Raiders looked absolutely lifeless in Week 8. Josh Jacobs went away, carrying the ball only 10 times for 43 yards, and Davante Adams only caught one pass for three yards. I reckon that’s not the recipe for success, Mr. Josh McDaniels.

On the other side, Travis Etienne Jr. had a fantastic showing (24 carries for 156 yards), but that was overshadowed by an underwhelming performance from Trevor Lawrence (18/31 for 133 yards) and a Jaguars defense that couldn’t stop Russell Wilson in the clutch. I honestly have no idea which side I’d lean toward in this contest, and I probably won’t bet it. My line has this as even, so I show some minor value on the Jaguars at home. Send help.

Carolina Panthers at Cincinnati Bengals (-8.5), Total: 44

The Panthers certainly have some claim they should have snagged a win in Week 8. We won’t cover that example of variance again, but interim coach Steve Wilks has his players ready to go every week since he took over, and they have playmakers on both sides of the ball. Still, I think this line makes sense.

Although we haven’t seen them compete yet on Monday Night Football, the Bengals seem ready to break out as another elite NFL team. Last year, it was Week 11 when they started to obliterate opposing teams. Still an immature squad at that point, they demolished the Raiders, Steelers and Ravens during that 5-2 stretch to end the season. They even bested the Broncos in Denver and the Chiefs at home. Joe Burrow isn’t a rhythm-dependent quarterback, but when he starts to find his flow, this offense can clearly produce at a deadly level for opposing defenses. A top-10 unit in most categories, their defense will only help.

I have this at Bengals -7.5, but I can’t contest this line, and I would still lean toward the Bengals. When the books present a spread like this (over a touchdown), it’s usually a signal they expect a blowout. I wouldn’t be shocked if Cincinnati rocked the Panthers at home.

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (-2), Total: 49

This is one of those spreads that doesn’t make much sense, but you pull the trigger anyway. You may be saying to yourself: How are the Seattle Seahawks possibly the underdog? All the Seahawks have done is prove they’re a formidable team, and the Cardinals have limped through this season so far. You’re not wrong, but the spot is significant, and we expect regression.

The Cardinals had several opportunities to cover the spread against the Vikings on Sunday and possibly win. They just couldn’t make it happen. I give some credit to an amped-up Vikings defense, but that was a lot of raw inconsistency from QB Kyler Murray and an offense that still lacks chemistry. The box score tells us that the game was even; turnovers were the differentiator. This is an ideal spot, coming home, for the Cardinals to ball out against a team that’s been playing over their heads on defense.

The Seahawks are good; there’s no doubt about it now. QB Geno Smith is playing at a high level every week, and coach Pete Carroll is transforming more than a few young players into studs. Seattle is in a great position to make the playoffs at 5-3 and in first place in the NFC West. I just hate they’re coming off a big win against the New York Giants. The Giants have masked their lack of talent with great coaching and creative offense.

We have to give kudos to Seattle for handling New York at home, but that may engineer a false sense of security in Pete’s team. Murray can pull big games out of nowhere, and Deandre Hopkins is starting to gain some real steam. He had 12 catches for 159 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings on the road. I have this game as Arizona -3, but as I said eariler I love the spot. I’d take the Cardinals at -2.5 in case it ticks up.

Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3), Total: 42.5

I have little to say about this game because, quite frankly, I hate it. Maybe I’ll come around and find some edges as the week progresses, but how can I trust either of these fledgling offenses? Once the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense is stifled, they can’t recover. We’ve seen that a few weeks in a row, and we saw that against a subpar Ravens defense last Thursday night. That’s not good.

The Los Angeles Rams still don’t have a run game, and Cooper Kupp, the life source of their offense, got banged up against the San Francisco 49ers. The Rams might have one of the biggest stumbles in NFL history following a Super Bowl at this rate. They just don’t seem as invested and are definitely not as sharp. 

I have the Bucs as 2.5-point favorites here, but I understand why the line sits where it is. It’s very unlikely that I’ll bet on this contest.

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (-12.5), Total: 46.5

Yea, this total is too low. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes create magic after a bye-week, and I don’t see how this is any different. I was on the Houston Texans to cover in Week 8 (shame on me), but I love that they churned out a victory in a tough spot instead. That just means the Chiefs are more likely to blow out the Titans at Arrowhead. 

Derrick Henry ran hard, and the Titans controlled the game with over 300 yards rushing on the ground Sunday. It’s a story we’ve seen before, and it wasn’t all that surprising. Of course, I thought the Texans would make some adjustments and at least somewhat limit the Titans’ rush attack, but here we are.

The bet I really like in this game is the over. Since Patrick Mahomes became starting quarterback, Kansas City has averaged 34.25 points per game after a bye week. And while the Titans have played the Chiefs in big-game situations and found some success before, their defense isn’t built to hang with the speed KC offers. Furthermore, the Chiefs had a full bye week to integrate Kadarius Toney into their lineup, and if he’s healthy, their offense just got even more dangerous. Take it from a Giants fan– Toney has burst and elusiveness reminiscent of Tyreek Hill; I think he could really thrive with his new team.

I have the spread at Chiefs -9.5 and the total at 53. I’d take the over now before it climbs up. If you like Kansas City to cover the spread, I’d wait to see if the line moves down.

Baltimore Ravens at New Orleans Saints (+3), Total: 48

This is a really interesting game that, unfortunately, I don’t have many angles on just yet. The New Orleans Saints are fresh off a shutout win against the Raiders. That was impressive on many levels– Alvin Kamara’s punishing running, how easily the Saints won in the trenches, how Andy Dalton was slinging it all game with accuracy– but the Baltimore Ravens are a different beast. 

Baltimore also comes fresh off a big game on Thursday Night Football against Tom Brady and the Bucs. The Ravens finally closed out a game in decisive fashion, limiting the Bucs to 12 points in the second half and scoring on each of their final four drives in the second half. I’m not sure if the Ravens’ defense is any more dependable– I think Tampa’s struggles were more about Tampa– but they made enough big plays and key stops to keep Brady and the Bucs’ offense in check. The Ravens are still dealing with injury concerns on defense, though, and the Saints can be feisty at home.

I handicapped this game exactly where the spread and total sits now. This game screams: avoid!

WATCH MORE: Betting the NFL Week 8 Recap



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