NFL Betting: Week 9 Best Picks and Advice

During the NFL season, Stadium sports betting analyst Nate Jacobson will break down every single point spread using lines as of Thursday morning. Here are his thoughts on the Week 9 slate.

Note: Nate will discuss all of his college football and NFL bets on the Sharp Lessons podcast that drops every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.

Sides I’m Considering

Panthers (+3.5) over Patriots: There are currently several NFL games where quarterback injuries are the key factor in handicapping the matchup. The Panthers are dealing with one, as Sam Darnold suffered a concussion in Week 8, and because of that the line opened Patriots -3 after the games were played this past Sunday. The line climbed up to as high as Patriots -4 before ticking down. If Darnold was healthy for this game, I would make the Patriots a two-point favorite, so I believe there could be line value in Carolina at the current number. Former XFL star P.J. Walker would start if Darnold were to miss out.

The current line at Patriots -3.5 makes me think there’s a 50/50 chance Darnold starts on Sunday. If he does play, I’m guessing the line would go to Patriots -2.5, especially since the game has a low total of 41. If Walker starts, then I would guess the line closes Patriots -4 or -4.5. I’m going to wait and see who starts for Carolina, but I’ll likely bet on them as a home underdog regardless of who plays quarterback.

Falcons (+7) over Saints: The Saints are coming off a dramatic win over the Buccaneers in Week 8, but it came at a cost with QB Jameis Winston tearing his ACL. Trevor Siemian filled in and led the team to victory, as normal backup Taysom Hill was inactive because he was in concussion protocol. Hill returned to practice on Wednesday and is expected to be eligible to play. I’m not sure who will end up starting, but I don’t think the betting market has reacted enough to Winston’s injury.

I like the idea of fading the Saints off a huge win and backing a Falcons team that is coming off a loss to the Panthers. The total in the game is 41.5, so it’s a challenge to cover a number like this as a favorite when it’s expected to be low-scoring. I’m interested to see where this line ends up when we know the Saints’ quarterback plan, but for now I have Atlanta circled as a potential bet against the spread.

Packers (+7.5) over Chiefs: I was planning on making one of my bigger bets of the NFL season on Chiefs -1 before we found out Aaron Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the highly-anticipated showdown against Patrick Mahomes. There was a great opportunity to buy low on a premier quarterback at home against a Green Bay defense that can be exploited.

Now that Rodgers is out and Jordan Love will start, the Packers are the only side I could bet on in this contest. We’ve seen multiple examples of backup quarterbacks coming in and beating market expectations in their first start because of overreactions. The drop-off from Rodgers to Love implies a 6.5-point downgrade to the current point spread. I think that’s a fair starting point, but it definitely could be wrong for this game. Love was a player the Packers traded up for in the 2020 NFL Draft. They got a lot of criticism for the selection, including from Rodgers, so I imagine head coach Matt LaFleur will put out his best game plan to show why the organization drafted him. The Chiefs also have a vulnerable defense, so this is a decent matchup for Love.

What’s keeping me away from backing the Packers now is the possibility of more COVID-19 news releasing. Last week, the Packers were without wide receivers Davante Adams, Allen Lazard and DC Joe Barry, so Rodgers might not be the only player unable to suit up this Sunday.

49ers (+1) over Cardinals: In Week 5, I had one of my biggest bets of the NFL season on the 49ers +5.5 at the Cardinals. The 49ers fell 17-10, but they would have covered and won outright if a few fourth-down conversions went their way. We now have their rematch in Santa Clara.

This one also features quarterback questions surrounding Kyler Murray. He injured his ankle at the end of their first loss of the season to the Packers last Thursday and is currently day-to-day. Murray didn’t practice on Wednesday and Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Murray could play in this game even if he doesn’t practice the rest of the week.

I personally hope Murray plays in this game, because I then will likely be able to bet the 49ers as a home underdog. Trey Lance started the earlier meeting between the two teams, but now Jimmy Garoppolo is healthy and he’s the better option between the two. Also if Murray is banged up, I would imagine his mobility would be limited and the 49ers’ defense will be able to contain him just like they did in the previous meeting.

The season hasn’t gone as planned for the 49ers, but winning this game would be huge with a Monday night game against the Rams on deck. There’s at least one Wild Card spot in the NFC playoff picture up for grabs and San Francisco can put themselves in a great position with a win on Sunday.

Bears (+6) over Steelers: Here’s a matchup with a low total just like the Patriots-Panthers and Falcons-Saints tilts. And just like those games, I’m going to make an argument for the underdog on Monday night.

I don’t trust the current version of the Steelers to cover games as a big favorite. Earlier this season, we saw Pittsburgh lose outright as a 5.5-point favorite to the Raiders in Week 2, and in Week 6 they needed overtime to beat Geno Smith’s Seahawks by three points as 5.5-point favorites. Now they are in a similar point-spread range against the Bears in a game with a total of 40. I expect Chicago’s defense to play better after getting gashed by the 49ers last week. Justin Fields also has the ability to keep the Bears close throughout.

Sides I Plan to Use in a Six-Point Teaser

Browns (+2.5) over Bengals: The Browns have burned me a few times this season, but I have them as a slightly better team than the Bengals. My line is Bengals -1 (because they are the home team), so there was value at Browns +3, which was the number earlier in the week. Now that it’s Browns +2.5, I’m going to key them into teasers, but I still hope I can bet the Browns at +3 if the number returns.

Rams (-7.5) over Titans: The theme of this week has been handicapping quarterback injuries, but this game has a key running back injury that is grabbing most of the headlines. Titans running back Derrick Henry is out after undergoing foot surgery. Henry is among the handful of running backs in the NFL that impact point spreads. He’s a great player and also his presence helps Tennessee’s passing game. I think the proper adjustment of Rams -6.5 to -7.5 was made for the Henry injury, so there isn’t line value on the Titans.

I want to fade the Titans this week because of the situational spot. The Titans just won three straight games against the Bills, Chiefs and Colts as underdogs, and now have a commanding lead in the AFC South and the best record in the conference. Traveling to Los Angeles for a Sunday night game and getting up to play this game is a big ask for a team that has won three big games in as many weeks. Maybe the Titans can cover this number, but I’m very confident the Rams will win this game, which is why they’re a very strong teaser leg for me.

Game-Time Decisions

Jets at Colts (-10.5): There has been a sustainable adjustment from the look-ahead line for this game that was Colts -14.5 before Week 8. Mike White and the Jets pulled off an upset over the Bengals as an 11.5-point home underdog and the Colts lost to the Titans in a pivotal AFC South matchup. 

I’m not going to overreact to the Jets winning and White throwing for 405 yards. At the same time, I don’t feel comfortable betting the Colts off a tough loss on a short week. Indianapolis is now three games behind Tennessee in the AFC South standings and the Titans hold the head-to-head tiebreaker for winning the regular-season series.

Texans at Dolphins (-5.5): It’s not very often we see a 1-7 team as this big of a favorite in the NFL, but we have that situation here. The line for this game has been sitting at Dolphins -6.5 for most of the week. It started to move toward the Texans with the announcement that QB Tyrod Taylor will start for Houston for the first time since Week 2. I’m going to wait to see where the line goes from here before making a decision if I should bet on this game.

Broncos at Cowboys (-10): This line indicates that Dak Prescott will be starting after being inactive for Week 8’s game at the Vikings. The Cowboys closed as a 4.5-point underdog with Cooper Rush starting and won the game outright. When the Cowboys are playing well, they will usually be overvalued in the market because they are a public team that casual bettors gravitate toward.

I believe the spread is too high in this game, but I can’t bet on the Broncos after they traded Von Miller this week. Miller doesn’t impact the point spread much, but trading a player that has been an integral part of the organization since he was drafted in 2011 doesn’t send the best message to the coaching staff and players.

Vikings at Ravens (-6): I’ll keep this short: My numbers say to bet the Vikings at +6. But after they let me down last week — and several other times this season — I’m going to take a break from Mike Zimmer’s team for at least one week.

Bills (-14.5) at Jaguars: The Jaguars greatly disappointed me last week in a spot I thought they would play well. They were coming off their first win of the season and then a bye week, and were playing a Seahawks team off a tough Monday night loss. Instead, Jacksonville failed to show up, so I can’t bet on Urban Meyer’s team even if there’s line value on the home squad.

Raiders (-3) at Giants: I initially wanted to bet the Giants at +3 or tease them if the line hit +2.5. I still might do that, but need a little more time to think about this game. The Giants have had some impressive results of late, but they are constantly injured on offense. The Raiders just had a bye week and there’s a potential look-ahead game next week when they host the Chiefs on Sunday night. The unfortunate factor that has to be considered in this game is the release of WR Henry Ruggs III after his DUI and fatal car crash. I’m just not sure how the Raiders will handle what happened to their former teammate.

Chargers (-2) at Eagles: I was fully prepared to make a case for the Chargers to bounce back after losing to the Patriots in their first game after the bye week. I also thought the Eagles were getting too much credit for beating an untalented Lions team 44-6. I eyed the Chargers at -2.5, but money came in on the Eagles and the line got as low as Chargers -1 before there was some resistance. I still would bet the Chargers if I had to make a play, but the respected money on the Eagles is keeping me away for now.