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Three divisional matchups with spreads of three points or fewer highlight the NFL action this week, in addition to the New Orleans Saints’ effort to win their sixth straight contest.
Also, it will be interesting to see what the Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks offenses do for an encore after lighting up the scoreboard last Sunday.
Here’s a look at each Week 9 game along with spreads and odds, per OddsShark. We’ll quickly preview each game and offer a pick.
Buffalo Bills (-3, 43 O/U) at New York Jets
The home underdog is always an enticing selection. It could also be a giant trap, but in this case, the New York Jets have played every team tough except one this year (the Oakland Raiders, in a 45-20 Week 2 loss). Their ability to hang in games might lead to them spoiling a few playoff contenders’ runs.
Look for Gang Green to win outright against the Bills, thanks to the surprising play of quarterback Josh McCown.
Writer Pick: Jets 20, Bills 16
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers (-2, 43.5 O/U)
The Atlanta Falcons’ 25-20 win over the New York Jets Sunday is merely deodorant masking serious issues on both sides of the ball.
This team is suffering from a Super Bowl hangover, and the offense is stuck in neutral. Most notably, their three star players (quarterback Matt Ryan, running back Devonta Freeman and wideout Julio Jones) have underperformed.
Of course, those three are still world-clbad talents and can return to their old form, but until then, it’s hard to bet in their favor. The Panthers, led by linebacker Luke Kuechly, will shut down Atlanta at home.
Writer Pick: Panthers 23, Falcons 13
Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans (no line)
This game has no line with Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in concussion protocol following a vicious hit from Miami Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso Thursday night.
While Ravens head coach John Harbaugh says there is a “good chance” Flacco plays, per Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun, the Tennessee Titans are a tough offense to stop thanks to the multitalented Marcus Mariota, in addition to a two-headed rushing attack and a stout offensive line. That will be enough for the win.
Writer Pick: Titans 23, Ravens 19
Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars (-4.5, 39.5 O/U)
The Cincinnati Bengals were double-digit favorites against the two-win Indianapolis Colts Sunday, but they barely escaped with a 24-23 victory.
A road date with the Jacksonville Jaguars will not be fun, as the hit-and-miss Bengals pbading attack will face a team that intercepted Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times this season.
Look for the Jags to give the Bengals problems all game in an easy win.
Writer Pick: Jaguars 27, Bengals 10
Denver Broncos at Philadelphia Eagles (-7.5, 43.5 O/U)
The Denver Broncos are free-falling after losing their last three games. A 29-19 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs was much worse than the score indicates, as a late garbage-time touchdown cut the deficit to 10.
Now Denver has to travel east and face the Eagles, who are 7-1 and playing well in all three phases of the game.
Denver looks like it’s two or three weeks away from playing out the string, while Philadelphia might be on a Super Bowl track. Take the Eagles to win and cover.
Writer Pick: Eagles 23, Broncos 13
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (-13, 49 O/U)
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson looks like a once-in-a-generation talent right now.
His career has a long way to go, but he’s the most exciting player in football and will keep his team in a game with anyone thanks to his matchup-proof ability, as evidenced by his dominant four-touchdown day against the Seattle Seahawks.
At home against the two-win Colts, Watson and the Texans should have no issues as they strive for the AFC South title.
Writer Pick: Texans 30, Colts 17
Los Angeles Rams (-3.5, 42 O/U) at New York Giants
The New York Giants’ lone win this season, a 23-10 victory against the Denver Broncos, looks less like a big upset and more like one bad team beating another bad team after Denver proceeded to lose by a combined 50-19 in their next two games.
The Rams are a good team rolling into town with a hot offense and the best defensive player in football (tackle Aaron Donald).
It’s always tough for a West Coast team to travel east and play at 10 a.m. PT, but the Rams should be able to come away with the win.
Writer Pick: Rams 19, Giants 13
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-7, 50.5 O/U)
The New Orleans Saints look like they are for real after winning their last five games. Their defense has been sensational, with rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore leading the way.
On offense, running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara form a one-two punch that is taking the pressure off quarterback Drew Brees.
The Saints should beat a disappointing Bucs team that has lost five of their first seven games.
Writer Pick: Saints 31, Buccaneers 20
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-2.5, 39 O/U)
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been traded to the San Francisco 49ers. He’s the signal-caller of the future, but right now, he’ll likely take a seat behind C.J. Beathard as he learns the offense and transitions to the Bay Area.
As for this game between the NFC West’s basement dwellers, look for wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (who has been a thorn in San Francisco’s side more often than not) to lead the Cardinals’ charge in a close win.
Writer Pick: Cardinals 21, 49ers 20
Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks (-7, 45 O/U)
The Seattle Seahawks escaped with a 41-38 win over the Houston Texans Sunday as they had issues with the mobility of Deshaun Watson, who extended plays and found his receivers down the field time and time again.
Although Kirk Cousins has done very well as the quarterback for the Washington Redskins, he doesn’t possess the running kryptonite of Watson. Therefore, this is an easier matchup for Seattle, who should win at home.
Writer Pick: Seahawks 27, Redskins 17
Kansas City Chiefs (even, 51.5 O/U) at Dallas Cowboys
The Ezekiel Elliott suspension saga is still ongoing, but as of now, it looks like the NFL’s six-game suspension is going through.
If that’s the case, the Cowboys are at a significant disadvantage against the 6-2 Kansas City Chiefs, who are coming off a strong win over the Denver Broncos.
Although Dallas signal-caller Dak Prescott is one of the best in the business, it will be hard for him to win a shootout with a dynamic Chiefs offense that could send a handful of players to the Pro Bowl.
Writer Pick: Chiefs 31, Cowboys 24
Oakland Raiders (-3, 43.5 O/U) at Miami Dolphins
The Oakland Raiders laid a big egg in Orchard Park, New York, in a 34-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills Sunday. It was a disappointing defeat, especially after the Silver and Black beat the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs the week before.
Now the Raiders desperately need a win to stay alive in the playoff chase. Thankfully, they are playing the 4-3 Miami Dolphins, who are probably the luckiest winning team in league history given their minus-60 point differential.
They also just traded one of their best players, running back Jay Ajayi, to the Philadelphia Eagles, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.
The more talented Oakland squad should come away with the win, but it won’t be easy.
Writer Pick: Raiders 20, Dolphins 17
Detroit Lions (-2.5, 43 O/U) at Green Bay Packers
We’re going full circle in this article and picking a home underdog to win outright in a divisional matchup.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Hundley is going to improve as he gets more game and practice time with his teammates.
His first two games were challenging tests, as he was thrown into the fire against the 6-2 Minnesota Vikings and their tough defense midgame before facing the 5-2 New Orleans Saints the following week.
Now he faces the Detroit Lions at home. The Lions defense has some excellent talent in the secondary (cornerback Darius Slay and safety Glover Quin), but overall, the team has been up and down all year.
Look for the Lambeau Field crowd, which provides one of the best home-field advantages in sports, to help give Hundley his first career win.
Writer Pick: Packers 20, Lions 17