I went 2-3 in Week 8, with a lucky winner on the Giants — and unlucky losses with the Buccaneers and Chiefs.
As always, my picks will be separated into five categories. Keep in mind that some game theory could factor into my selections because of the large-field NFL “picks” contest I’m in. For example, I might avoid a game in an attempt to be contrarian if I think a large amount of the field will be on a certain side.
Here’s what I’m currently thinking for the Week 9 slate.
Note: My picks could change based on information and any injury news that is not factored into the contest line. I will tweet from @natejacobson1 when I have a change in opinion on a game. I will also discuss and finalize these picks on a Periscope show I host called Weekend Warriors. The show starts an hour before college football games kickoff on Saturday at 11 a.m. ET and can be seen on Stadium’s Periscope or Stadium’s Twitter.
Sides I’ll use unless there’s an injury
Vikings (+2.5) over Chiefs: Chiefs -2.5 is what the line would be if Patrick Mahomes was playing and close to 100 percent health. I’m not a doctor, but all indications point to Mahomes not being at full health, and I would be surprised if he played in this game. If Matt Moore starts at QB, the Vikings will be favored by close to a field goal. You can’t pass up the line value in the contest, but I also like this spot for the Vikings even if Mahomes was ruled active.
Steelers (+1) over Colts: Two weeks ago, the Colts were my favorite play, and they came through against the Texans. But this week, I’m fading the Colts as they hit the road to face the Steelers. The Colts are 5-2, but only have a point differential of +7, so regression will eventually come for Indianapolis. The Steelers started slow on Monday night against the Dolphins, but responded during the second half. I believe the wrong team is favored in this game, so I’m taking the Steelers in a bad spot for the now overvalued Colts.
Buccaneers (+6) over Seahawks: My favorite football pick of the weekend is the Buccaneers plus the points against the Seahawks. I have picked on the Seahawks plenty this season with mixed results, but I truly believe they are the most overrated team in the league, as Russell Wilson’s play covers up a below-average defense and coaching staff. Tampa Bay was an unlucky loser last week, outgaining Tennessee 389-249 but losing the turnover battle 4-1. Jameis Winston is obviously a risk, but I like him and his wide receivers in a matchup against a suspect Seahawks secondary. The Bucs will cover this game and have a good shot at winning straight up in Seattle on Sunday.
Sides I’ll likely use
Panthers (-3.5) over Titans: The Panthers were just embarrassed 51-13 at the 49ers last week. It was a game where late money came in on Carolina, and they let their bettors down. I like Carolina to bounce back here at home against a Titans team coming off two very tight wins at home.
Bears (+4.5) over Eagles: The look-ahead line before Week 8 was Eagles -3. The Eagles had a convincing win over the Bills, while the Bears lost a demoralizing game to the Chargers. Chicago lost 17-16 on the scoreboard, but had a 26-11 first-down edge and 388-231 yardage edge. The line moving to Eagles -4.5 isn’t warranted based on last week’s results, so there’s value on the Bears to bounce back in a last-ditch effort to save their season.
Picks I’m considering
Lions (+2.5) over Raiders: The Raiders are playing their first game in Oakland since Week 2 because their last “home” game was in London. Their stats looked very good in the box score in losses to the Packers and Texans during the last two weeks, which is the main driver for the line going from a pick ’em to -2.5 in the contest. However, the Lions are a solid team and have the passing game needed to exploit a terrible Raiders secondary. I’m not going to bet this game unless it gets to Lions +3, but I’ll consider them as a sixth or seventh pick in a contest at this number.
Chargers (+3.5) over Packers: This game will be in Southern California, but it will feel like a home game for Green Bay. That’s the big narrative surrounding this game, and it’s built into the number. Everyone has written off the Chargers, but I think they have an opportunity to play well in this game against a Packers team I still think is overvalued.
Patriots (-3) over Ravens: This line has dropped all week as serious money has faded the mighty Patriots and backed the Ravens off a bye. It’s by far the best offense New England will face this season, but I think the line has gone down too far. Now that this line is -3, I have to consider the Patriots because the rest of the market is New England -3.5 as of Thursday morning.
Games I’ll likely avoid
49ers (-10) at Cardinals: If this matchup was on a Sunday afternoon I would consider the Cardinals +10. This line is inflated because San Francisco is coming off a 51-13 win over the Panthers, and the Cardinals didn’t look good against the Saints last week. I’m staying away because I am very selective with taking Thursday games.
Jets (-3) at Dolphins: The Jets are trending down, while the Dolphins have covered three straight games. That has factored into the line — which was Jets -6.5 before Week 8’s results. One thing to note in this game is it’s a revenge game for Jets Head Coach Adam Gase who was fired by the Dolphins after finishing a respectable 7-9 in Miami last season. That being said, I don’t feel the need to take the Jets after all the trade deadline rumors engulfed the team earlier this week.
Cowboys (-7) at Giants: If I had to make a pick for Monday night, I would take the Giants catching a touchdown at home. However, I’m going to stay away with Dallas coming off a vital bye week where they were able to get healthy as they gear up for the last two months of the season.
Games I’ll definitely avoid unless there’s a major injury
Texans (-1) vs. Jaguars in London: The Jaguars are used to preparing for their annual London trip and that factor is built into a number that was Texans -2.5 earlier this week. I think this line is correct, so I’m going to stay away from the early game on Sunday.
Redskins at Bills (-9.5): The Bills have been a team I’ve been looking to fade because they aren’t as good as their 5-2 record suggests. But I don’t want any part of a Redskins offense that hasn’t scored a touchdown in the last two games, despite covering the spread in both contests.
Browns (-3) at Broncos: The Broncos were a 1.5-point favorite in this game before QB Joe Flacco was announced out with an injury, resulting in Brandon Allen being named the starter. It shows how bad the market views Allen that he’s that much of a drop-off from a struggling Flacco. I’m staying away from this game because I don’t trust the Browns to cover as a favorite in a tough road environment.