Welcome to our weekly Wednesday column where we give our “takes” on the full NFL schedule.
Regular readers should know the routine by now while we trust newbies will get up to speed with our “dog-or-pass” philosophy. We’re basically looking for the live dogs on each week’s card, but we know everyone isn’t as dogmatic as we are. We also have a lot of readers that play more chalk than we do, but they still check our “takes” each week because they feel that if I’m not able to make a case for an underdog, they see it as tacit approval to lay the points. To each his own. We’re just trying to help in any way we can!
Last weekend, we had a rollercoaster ride as we won our Best Bet on the Packers + 11.5 (early in the week for our regular readers) and + 11 in their 27-17 loss at the Bills on Sunday Night Football, but went 2-3 ATS overall with our top plays. But the good news is we still had a winning weekend as we hit nearly all of our teaser plays, including Buccaneers + 7.5/Over 40 on Thursday Night Football (given out in last Wednesday’s original “takes” column). We then flipped to Ravens + 8/Over 40 on game day when there was a change of favorite and cashed both in the Ravens’ 27-22 victory. So it pays to check back for our daily updates.
Without further ado, let’s go over the NFL Week 9 card. Even if I don’t have an official Best Bet on a game, I still give my “pool play” strategy for those who are in contests where you have to pick every game.
Note: Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of late Tuesday night unless otherwise noted. Check out VSIN.com's live NFL odds page here for current odds.
Philadelphia Eagles (-14) at Houston Texans
I’ll just come right out and say that I believe parity is alive and well in today’s NFL and I'll be on all three double-digit underdogs this weekend, including the Jets + 13 vs. the Bills and Titans + 12.5 at the Chiefs. We know the Eagles have the league’s best record at 7-0 SU as the last undefeated team and Lions’ 1-6 record is the only one worse than the Texans’ 1-5-1. However, we still don’t think any NFL team should be two-TD faves vs. any other on any given Sunday (or Thursday night), plus double-digit dogs – while not the automatic play they once were – are 5-4 ATS far this season with the Panthers’ 21-3 Week 7 home win vs. the Buccaneers being the lone outright upset. In fact, double-digit home dogs (like the Texans here) are 1-0 SU and ATS. For those curious, 9.5-point dogs (just on the cusp of double-digits) are 2-2 ATS with the Steelers’ 20-18 Week 6 home win vs. the Bucs being the next-biggest upset. The Texans are a respectable 3-3-1 ATS and also covered in their lone game as a double-digit dog as they only lost 16-9 at the Broncos back in Week 2 as 10-point dogs. The Texans have been 7-point pups three times and are 2-1 ATS in those games as they tied the Colts 20-20 in the season-opener and beat the Jaguars outright, 13-6, in Week 5, so they’re used to sticking around in games with big spreads.
Best Bet: Texans + 14 (pool play: Texans in all my rare ATS contests using TNF, but Eagles in all my SU pools).
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (-5.5)
I’m actually passing on very few games this week on the short 13-game card as I like five dogs plus the points and another three (possibly four) in teasers, but this is one where I can’t make a case for the dog in any way. The Colts came into the season with such high expectations with Matt Ryan at QB, but that never came to fruition (3-4-1 SU, 3-5 ATS) and now they’ve turned to Sam Ehlinger, who ranks in the bottom 5 QBs in the league. The Patriots (4-4 SU, 4-3-1 ATS) have been up-and-down, but I’m not getting enough points to fade them.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Patriots 55/45 in ATS contests and closer to 75/25 in SU pools).
Buffalo Bills (-13) at New York Jets
As I wrote in my Eagles-Texans “take,” double-digit home dogs are 1-0 SU and ATS heading into Week 9 (we’ll see how the Thursday night game goes) and the Bills – as great as they can be as they do still have the No. offense and No. 3 defense – still have a tendency to play close games, including not covering as 10.5-point faves in their 27-17 win vs. the Packers on Sunday night. Besides, the Jets (5-3 SU, 5-3 ATS) have been more competitive than expected all season, including beating those same Packers 27-10 as 8-point dogs in Week 6 behind their No. defense that has kept them in most games.
Best Bet: Jets + 13 (pool play: Jets 67/33 in ATS contests, though Bills still 75/25 in SU pools).
Miami Dolphins (-5) at Chicago Bears
The Bears (3-5 SU, 3-4-1 ATS) have stepped up a few times as dogs, including a surprising 33-14 upset of the Patriots a week ago Monday night. However, this game looks like it’ll play out like their 49-29 loss to the Cowboys this past Sunday where they weren’t able to keep up, especially after trading LB Roquan Smith, their top defender. The Dolphins’ offense, which is No. 7 in the NFL at 380.6 yards per game despite needing a revolving door of QBs due to injuries, really came together in the 31-27 shootout win over the Lions in Week 8 with Tua Tagovailoa (382 passing yards, 3 TDs) spreading the ball around to all his weapons, including WR Tyreek Hill (12 catches, 188 yards), WR Jaylen Waddle (8 catches, 106 yards, 2 TDs) and TE Mike Gesicki (TD). I liked the opening total of Over 44, but will probably pass there also as it’s up to 45.5 at DraftKings and most other books.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Dolphins 60/40 ATS in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Minnesota Vikings (-3.5) at Washington Commanders
The Commanders (4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS) have quietly won three straight games over the Bears, Packers and Colts to get in the NFC wild-card chase, but you’ll note those teams are offensively challenged. When the Commanders have faced better offenses (or better defenses), they haven’t been able to keep up. I fear that’s going to happen to them here against the Vikings (6-1 with only loss to undefeated Eagles), who also added TE T.J. Hockenson at the trade deadline to make an explosive offense even more potent.
Best Bet: Pass (pool play: Vikings 60/40 in ATS contests and closer to 80/20 in SU pools).
Green Bay Packers (-3.5) at Detroit Lions
We gave this out on “The Greg Peterson Experience” (shameless VSiN plug for my weekly appearance at 12:15 a.m. ET/9:15 p.m. PT Sunday nights, or 15 minutes into archived version). I had just cashed on the Packers + 11.5 at the Bills on Sunday Night Football, but we’re back to fading them as faves as they’re 1-4 ATS in that role this season. We didn’t take the Lions as 3.5-point home dogs vs. the Dolphins on Sunday (and that ended up being the right decision despite the Lions jumping out to a lead before losing 31-27), but at least they showed the offensive firepower from earlier in the season (they’re still No. 4 with 394.9 yards per game, compared to No. 17 Green Bay at 339.9 ypg), so I definitely believe Jared Goff and Co. can outshoot a down Packer team, though we’ll take the 3 and the hook just in case. Even though we’ve been documenting how home-field advantage has been pretty negligible across all sports since the pandemic -- even with the return of fans in the stands -- we're also encouraged as NFL home dogs are 24-20-3 ATS (54.5%) so far this season.
Best Bet: Lions + 3.5 (pool play: Lions 67/33 in ATS contests and we’ll call for outright upset at Lions 55/45 in SU pools).
Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5) at Atlanta Falcons
We also love that we’re getting the hook with the Falcons (4-4, but leading NFC South by a game) in this interconference matchup between two teams in the playoff hunt (though a big surprise with Atlanta). The Falcons started the season 6-0 ATS, but have failed to cover two straight games, with the last one being their 37-34 OT win vs. the Panthers as 4-point home faves. They’re now in their more comfortable role as underdogs as they’re 6-1 ATS when getting points. The Chargers are coming off their bye week, but are just 3-3 ATS as faves. We also like that both teams have played three games apiece that have been decided by a field goal or less, so again that makes the 3.5 more valuable.
Best Bet: Falcons + 3.5 (pool play: Falcons 60/40 in ATS contests, but Chargers still 55/45 in SU pools).
Carolina Panthers at Cincinnati Bengals (-7.5)
We hope regular readers were able to grab the Panthers + 9 that we gave out before the Bengals’ 32-13 loss to the Browns on Monday Night Football that has caused this line to drop, though we still think + 7.5 is playable. Most bettors were already down on the Panthers and then really thought they were giving up on the season when they traded star RB Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers, but all they’ve done since then was pull the biggest upset of the season so far in a 21-3 rout of the Buccaneers as 13-point underdogs and then go toe-to-toe with the Falcons before losing 37-34 in OT but covering as 4-point road dogs. Now they’re getting more than a TD vs. a Bengals (4-4) team that was already suffering from the dreaded Super Bowl loser hangover and now is without WR Ja’Marr Chase. They still have plenty of weapons and should win this game, but the Panthers – with D’Onta Foreman and Chubba Hubbard filling in admirably for McCaffrey – should be able to stay within one score.
Best Bet: Panthers + 7.5 (pool play: Panthers 67/33 in ATS contests, though Bengals still 65/35 in SU pools).
Las Vegas Raiders (-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday’s last game in the betting rotation of the early session (1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT kickoffs) is where we start the teaser portion of our Week 9 portfolio. We’re not sure how the Raiders (2-5 SU, 3-4 ATS) are still road favorites in this spot as they’re 2-3 SU and ATS as faves overall and 0-3 SU and ATS as road chalk. However, as improved as the Jaguars are in some ways, they’re still a woeful 2-5 SU and ATS themselves, so we can’t trust them taking the short number. But we feel more confident teasing them through the key numbers of 3 and 7 (“Wong teasers,” or as we like to call them, “advantage teasers”). Either way, that’s the play, and our top preference is using them with the surprising Seahawks against the Cardinals in the afternoon session.
Best Bet: Jaguars + 8/Seahawks + 8, plus other 2-team, 6-point teasers (pool play: Jaguars 55/45 in SU and ATS contests).
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (-2)
If anyone told us before the season that this Week 9 matchup would feature the first-place team in the NFC West, most of us would have assumed it would be the Cardinals. However, it’s the Seahawks (5-3 SU and ATS) atop the division and riding a three-game winning streak, including a 19-9 over these Cardinals just three weeks ago. Seattle was a 2.5-point home dog in that game, which would usually means they would be closer to dogs of a TD on the road, yet this line opened Cardinals -3 at DraftKings on Sunday and is down to -2 as of late Tuesday night. Geno Smith (1,924 passing yards, 19 TDs, just 3 INTs) has DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett not missing Russell Wilson at all, while Kenneth Walker III has kept the ground game averaging 130-.8 despite losing Rashaad Penny. The Cardinals received a boost when WR DeAndre Hopkins returned from his six-game PED suspension, so we’re not as confident in the Seahawks covering the short spread or winning outright, but we love taking them in 2-team, 6-point teasers as we can move the line up over a TD.
Best Bet: Seahawks + 8/Rams + 8.5, plus other teasers (pool play: ).
Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5)
There are only two games in the afternoon session (this is not uncommon during the World Series), but we love the 2-point, 6-point teasers on the dogs in both. These teams – the last two Super Bowl champions – haven’t lived up to expectations but are lucky that no one is running away with their divisions. The Rams seem to have the bigger upside, though they might be without star WR Cooper Kupp (questionable, ankle) with the No. 5 defense that should pose plenty of problems for Tom Brady. Still, we’re not confident enough in the Rams to call for the outright upset (which you basically need with a line under a field goal), but love moving the line up over a touchdown.
Best Bet: Rams + 8.5/Seahawks + 8, plus other teasers (pool play: Rams 55/45 in ATS contests, but Buccaneers still more than 50/50 in SU pools).
Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (-12.5)
We get another double-digit dog on Sunday Night Football, just like last week when we cashed with the Packers + 11 at the Bills. Last week, we wrote how dogs were 4-1 ATS the prior five Sunday nights, so now they’re 5-1 ATS. And now we get the Titans, who have won and covered five straight games after their 0-2 start. Granted, those wins were against the Raiders, Commanders, Texans plus the Colts twice, and the last time they faced a team with a winning record they were routed 41-7 by the Bills; however, they’re in much better form now and should be able to stay within two touchdowns. Now, we know KC coach Andy Reid is the king coming out of bye weeks, but he’s actually 2-3 ATS the last five years, so oddsmakers have caught up to him (part of the reason I believe this line is so inflated). Besides, the Chiefs are 4-1 SU as favorites but just 2-3 ATS as they failed to cover in wins over the Chargers and Raiders and those spreads were nowhere near as high as this one, so there’s plenty of wiggle room for the Titans to stick around and get the cover.
Best Bet: Titans + 12.5 (pool play: Titans 67/33 in SU pools, but Chiefs at least 80/20 in SU pools).
Baltimore Ravens (-3) at New Orleans Saints
I really want to take the Saints as MNF home dogs (that role is 2-0 SU and ATS so far this year with Seahawks + 6 vs. the Broncos in Week 1 and the Browns + 3 vs. the Bengals this past Monday). However, while the Saints’ defense steps up at times, it’s usually against pocket passers like we’ve seen vs. Tom Brady and then harassing Derek Carr in their 24-0 shutout this past Sunday. They don’t fare as well vs. scrambling QBs (see 42-34 loss to Kyler Murray and the Cardinals in Week 7) and now have to face Lamar Jackson. Maybe I would feel different if we were getting + 3.5, but this line seems to be trending downward. I might eventually add the Saints to my teaser portfolio, so check back for my daily updates throughout the weekend.
Best Bet: Pass for now (pool play: Saints 55/45 in ATS contests, but Ravens 55/45 in SU pools).
Here’s an abbreviated version of our regular daily column with recaps of Tuesday’s action and Best Bets for Wednesday after sweeping our Tuesday plays on the Phillies 1st 5 + 105 as they led the Astros 7-0 through 5 innings on the way to their 7-0 victory and Ball State + 7 as the Cardinals pulled a 27-20 outright upset of Kent State:
MLB: Phillies (+ 110 home underdogs) shut out the Astros 7-0 Tuesday night in Game 3 of the World Series to take a 2-1 series lead (game stayed just Under the betting total of 8 runs). MLB dogs and road teams are also both 2-1 in the series thanks to the Phillies while Over/Unders are tied 1-1-1.
More MLB: Dogs lead 19-17 overall in the playoffs with 1 game closing pick-'em. Home teams improved to 22-15 overall. Unders took 18-17-2 overall lead in totals wagering.
Faves went 3-1 SU and ATS Tuesday with lone upset by the Bulls (+ 2 in 108-99 win at Nets). The Thunder (-3 vs. Magic), Heat (-1 vs. Warriors) and Suns (-4 vs. Timberwolves) covered as home chalk. Home teams also went 3-1 SU and ATS. Unders led 3-1.
More NBA: Faves improved to 67-37 SU on the regular season with 2 games closing pick-’em, but dogs still lead 51-47-6 ATS (52%). Home teams improved to 67-39 SU and also improved to 56-44-6 ATS (56%). Overs dipped to 58-45-3 (56.3%).
NHL: Faves went 8-4 with upsets by the Coyotes (+ 250 vs. Panthers), Kraken (+ 195 at Flames), Ducks (+ 110 SO win at Sharks) and Bruins (+ 100 in OT at Penguins). Home/road teams split 6-6. Overs went 7-5. On the season, faves lead 92-60 with 6 games closing pick-’em. Home teams lead 87-69 with 2 neutral-site games. Over/Unders now tied at 78-78-2 overall.
CFB: Ball State (7-point road dog) upset Kent State 27-20 in MACtion on Tuesday night (game stayed Under 61.5). Ohio (2.5-point home dog) also upset Buffalo 45-24 (went Over 61). MACtion dogs swept 2-0 SU and ATS on the night. Home/road teams split 1-1 SU & ATS. Over/Unders also split 1-1.
Phillies 1st 5 -110 vs. Astros: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Phillies lead the World Series 2-1 (and we feel good about our + 170 series bet) and we’re 2-1 with these 1st 5 plays. I see no reason why not to bet it again with Aaron Nola vs. Cristian Javier. We certainly feel good about going against another right-hander for our favorite Phillies, former Cub Kyle Schwarber and Las Vegas native Bryce Harper, and felt justified in that angle when Harper hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 1st inning Tuesday off Lance McCullers Jr. to start the rout. Schwarber and another lefty, Brandon Marsh, also homered off the right-handed McCullers (though right-handed hitters Rhys Hopkins and Alec Bohn did, too).
CFB: Even though dogs started 2-0 SU & ATS in mid-week #MACtion games last night, I’m going to pass on Wednesday’s two games. Northern Illinois is a 6-point home favorite vs. Central Michigan and I’m not going to fade my alma mater. I have a slight lean on Western Michigan + 4.5 at Bowling Green, but not enough of an edge.