I went 4-3 last week in a situation where I had to make a lot of decisions on Sunday morning based on line moves. It’s a tough season to pick NFL games due to injuries and COVID-19, so it’s important to be patient and wait for information.
As always, I’ll use lines from the Las Vegas SuperContest, a popular football challenge hosted by the Westgate SuperBook. The point spreads for the contest come out Wednesday evening and are locked at those numbers for the rest of the week.
I’m in a contest where I pick seven sides a week using the SuperContest’s lines, so in this weekly breakdown I will unveil my first impressions of the games and point spreads. I hope this can be a guide for people who are in similar NFL pick’ems or looking to bet games.
Note: My picks could change based on information and any news that is not factored into the contest line. I will discuss and finalize these picks on a Periscope show I host called Weekend Warriors. The show will be live for an hour on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET and can be seen on Stadium’s Periscope channel or Stadium’s Twitter. After the show, I will tweet my seven picks for the contest from my Twitter.
Here are my thoughts for Week 9.
Sides I’ll likely use
Saints (+4.5) over Buccaneers: I can make a case for a lot of sides this week, but the Saints are my favorite as of Thursday morning, so they’ll occupy this category for now. This is a rematch of a Week 1 game where the Saints won and covered a four-point spread against the Buccaneers, meaning there’s been an 8.5-point adjustment between that matchup and this game on Sunday night. I don’t think that’s warranted and believe this line should be Buccaneers -3 when you factor in Tampa Bay’s home-field advantage. There are other elements of this game I want to consider before locking this pick in, including the health of Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, but the math behind this game is enough for me to back the Saints.
Picks I’m considering
Bills (+3) over Seahawks: I’m not buying the Bills in general, but it’s a tough spot for the Seahawks. The common handicap will be the Seahawks’ disadvantage of traveling from Seattle to Western New York for an early kickoff, but where this game falls on Seattle’s schedule is a bigger factor. They had a huge division game against the 49ers last week and have another big NFC West tilt at the Rams next week. The NFC West is arguably the most competitive division in the NFL, so it might be difficult to match the intensity against a physical AFC team.
Falcons (-3.5) over Broncos: I know backing the Falcons as a favorite of over a field goal is probably not wise, but I’m going to make a case for them anyways. They are 2-6, but will be coming off a win on Thursday night, so we know they are still playing with effort for interim coach Raheem Morris. The Broncos are coming off a comeback win against the Chargers where they trailed by 21 points in the fourth quarter. If they didn’t complete the comeback, I think this line would be higher, so I’ll consider Atlanta here.
Bears (+5.5) over Titans: The Titans were setup to dominate the Bengals last week, as Cincinnati was ravaged on the offensive line and coming off a tough loss against the Cleveland Browns. However, the Titans’ defense continued to disappoint and failed to sack Joe Burrow. This line is too high, but the Bears’ offensive line injuries are keeping me from liking this game more. Maybe it won’t matter against the Titans’ pass rush.
Colts (+2.5) over Ravens: I would’ve liked this game a lot more at Colts +3. The Ravens won the box score last week against the Steelers by outgaining them in yardage 457-221 and by averaging 1.4 yards per play more than Pittsburgh. I usually like betting on teams who looked great in the stats department in a loss, but Lamar Jackson’s performance was a concern for me, and he might struggle against a formidable defense in the Colts this week. Baltimore is a team that had COVID-19 issues this week and also just lost star offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley to a season-ending ankle injury.
Panthers (+10.5) over Chiefs: Carolina has played well in the underdog role, going 3-0 against the spread as the underdog with two outright wins since Week 3, but two of their losses since then have been as the favorite. They are back as the ‘dog this week and RB Christian McCaffrey is expected to return. It’s a good matchup for him against a Chiefs defense that is easier to run against than it is to pass against.
Chargers (PK) over Raiders: I mentioned earlier that the Chargers blew another lead and now are 2-5 on the season. They have had a double-digit lead in four of their five losses, including games against the Chiefs, Buccaneers and Saints. That’s why I think there’s a line discount here as they just need to beat the Raiders in LA. This line should be closer to the Chargers being favored by a field goal.
Cowboys (+14) over Steelers: I really wanted to bet against the 7-0 Steelers coming off a hard-fought win against the Ravens to take control of the AFC North. Mike Tomlin’s teams are known for playing down to their competition a couple of times a season and post-Ravens matchups are usually a letdown spot for the Steelers. Unfortunately, they are playing the Cowboys and I don’t have much faith betting on that team without normal backup quarterback Andy Dalton. The point spread is the equalizer here, and I would only be able to consider the Cowboys getting that many points at home.
Cardinals (-5) over Dolphins: The Dolphins were on the right side of a misleading box score when they defeated the Rams in Tua Tagovailoa’s first start last week. They only recorded 145 yards, 3.0 yards per play and had eight first downs on offense. Miami also benefitted from a defensive score and punt return for a touchdown in their 28-17 win. The Rams had 471 yards and the Dolphins defense was on the field for 92 plays. Now they face a Cardinals team coming off a bye week, and I really want to fade the Dolphins early on in Tagovailoa’s NFL career.
Games I’ll likely avoid
Packers (-6.5) at 49ers: The line for this NFC title game rematch on Thursday night has gone all over the place. It opened as a pick’em before Week 8 was played — and then both teams lost. It re-opened Sunday evening at Packers -2.5 because 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo and TE George Kittle left the game with injuries. The line then jumped to Packers -5.5 when the severity of those injuries was revealed. Both teams also have been dealing with COVID-19 issues. Easy pass for me.
Lions at Vikings (-5.5): I was going to include the Lions in the “picks I’m considering” section before QB Matthew Stafford was placed on the COVID-19 list on Wednesday. If Stafford ends up playing, I might consider Detroit.
Texans (-7) at Jaguars: Both teams are off a bye and the Jaguars are handing sixth-round rookie quarterback Jake Luton his first NFL start. I think this number is where it should be due to the downgrade in quarterback play for Jacksonville.
Giants at Washington (-2.5): These two teams played three weeks ago and the Giants closed as a 1.5-point favorite at home. I don’t believe much has changed since then for these NFC East teams and would make Washington a 1.5-point favorite at home. I would’ve considered the Giants at +3, but I will stay away now since they are coming off a Monday night loss against Tom Brady’s Buccaneers. Washington just had a bye week, so there’s a big edge for them in the rest department.
Patriots (-7) at Jets: This is the Monday night game this week, and it’s a lot less interesting with the Patriots now having no real chance at winning the AFC East. The number is probably short against the winless Jets, but I’m worried about what kind of effort we’ll see from New England.