NFL Predictions Week 9: Odds, Predictions and Advice for Ideal Underdogs

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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 29: Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons in action against the New York Jets in a heavy rain storm during their game at MetLife Stadium on October 29, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

Al Pereira/Getty Images

Those who play NFL picks and like to roll with underdogs have an increasingly shrinking margin of error heading into the Week 9 slate.

The upsets didn’t come as often in Week 8 as they had the weeks prior. The Houston Texans came close to knocking off the Seattle Seahawks on the road, sure, but overall, the schedule didn’t offer up many major surprises.

One can take a single glance at the Week 9 schedule and its lines to see experts think this will become a trend now the league has started to even itself out.

Still, what fun would it be without upset picks? We’ll highlight a few of the top potential upsets below after reviewing the entire schedule and spreads. 

          

NFL Week 9 Schedule, Odds

Buffalo (-3.5) at N.Y. Jets | O/U 42.5

Atlanta at Carolina (-2) | O/U 43.5

Baltimore at Tennessee (-4.5) | O/U

Cincinnati at Jacksonville (-4.5) | O/U 39.5

Denver at Philadelphia (-7) | O/U 43.5

Indianapolis at Houston (-13) | O/U 49

L.A. Rams (-3.5) at N.Y. Giants | O/U 42

Tampa Bay at New Orleans (-7) | O/U

Arizona (-2.5) at San Francisco | O/U 39.5

Washington at Seattle (-7) | O/U 45

Kansas City at Dallas (-1) | O/U 51

Oakland (-3) at Miami | O/U 44 43.5

Detroit (-2.5) at Green Bay | O/U 43

          

Atlanta at Carolina (-2)

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An NFC South battle between the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers looks like it could go either way, hence the small line here.

These Falcons have looked inconsistent at best, losing three of their past four games, though they seemingly turned things around by most recently taking down the New York Jets on the road in sloppy weather conditions.

It’s a similar story for these Panthers, who have lost two out of three, though most recently picked up a road win by swatting away the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 17-3 fashion.

It makes sense oddsmakers would favor the home team here, but the Panthers have an odd outlook for this one. Despite sitting on a 5-3 record, the front office decided to trade leading receiver Kelvin Benjamin, a move the Buffalo Bills ended up announcing.

Now take into account something Jeremy Igo of Carolina Huddle pointed out:

Jeremy Igo @CarolinaHuddle

Pssst…. The Atlanta Falcons have the 11th ranked defense, the second best the Carolina Panthers have faced so far this season.

2017-10-31 13:18:18

Atlanta’s struggles have come on the offensive side of the ball, which would explain why quarterback Matt Ryan has only nine touchdowns against six interceptions and Julio Jones has one touchdown outright.

But this looks like a chance for Atlanta to right a few wrongs in this area while catching up in the division. Carolina has been even more erratic offensively, with signal-caller Cam Newton throwing more picks than scores and having just lost his top target.

Prediction: Falcons 27, Panthers 23

          

Baltimore at Tennessee (-4.5) 

Gail Burton/Associated Press

This is another matchup between odd-looking teams bettors could exploit.

On paper, it makes some sense to trust the Marcus Mariota-led Tennessee Titans coming out of a bye against the visiting Baltimore Ravens. Those Ravens, after all, have lost two out of their past three games and only sit on a .500 record.

But dig a little deeper. The Titans are only one game above .500. And while they have won two in a row, beating up on the miserable Indianapolis Colts and escaping the winless Cleveland Browns in overtime isn’t the best outlook—and especially not after Mariota rushed himself back from injury, throwing one touchdown and interception over the course of the odd two games.

The Ravens at least seemed to rediscover their identity in a 40-0 thumping of the Miami Dolphins in Week 8 despite losing starting quarterback Joe Flacco to an injury. A defense allowing just 18.5 points per game tallied two interceptions returned for touchdowns while the offense found a breakout star in the backfield, as Alex Collins rushed 18 times for 113 yards, good for a 6.3 yards-per-carry average.

“We coached a lot better, obviously,” John Harbaugh said, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). “And we played a lot better. It was just a much better game for us.”

A veteran team like the Ravens rounding into form wouldn’t register as much of a shock. The offense hasn’t been perfect, but the ball-control ways of leaning on a back like Collins and a strong defense are enough to keep a struggling Mariota in check just enough to squeak out a win.

Prediction: Ravens 20, Titans 17

            

Tampa Bay at New Orleans (-7)

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There’s a lot to like about the New Orleans Saints, but something about a matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers says this spread is too big.

The Buccaneers look miserable on paper, losing four in a row. But it would be remiss not to point out the team lost by five points to the New England Patriots to start the skid and that three of the four outright have been losses by no more than five points.

Contrast that with a Saints team that has won five in a row yet done so against iffy Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears squads, not to mention an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers team. It’s hard to knock the Saints too much for taking care of business, but strength of schedule has to enter the conversation at some point.

These two like to play close encounters too, hence the series getting split a year ago in games decided by five and seven points.

These Saints still struggle defensively and rank 21st by allowing 120.3 rushing yards per game. Quarterback Drew Brees has been solid, with 11 touchdowns against four interceptions, but if his defense has problems getting off the field because of Tampa Bay’s running game and mismatch threats like Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, he’s going to have a hard time making this spread look good.

Granted, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston has struggled through an injury as of late, throwing no scores and two interceptions in Week 8 after three and one respectively the week before that. But the surrounding talent and an exploitable defense fielded by a common opponent mean the Buccaneers can keep this one close enough to cover the spread and make Tampa Bay a nice upset pick.

Prediction: Saints 30, Buccaneers 27

           

Stats courtesy of NFL.com. Odds according to OddsShark.



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