Early NFL Betting Picks for Week 9
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) at M&T Bank Stadium.
- Bettors should always been aiming to beat the closing number, and oftentimes the best way to do that is to bet early in the week.
- Our staff made two picks in Week 9, with plays on Buccaneers-Seahawks and Patriots-Ravens.
NFL spreads usually open up on Sunday evenings for the following week — and after they do, they’re almost immediately on the move. The early bets serve as a signal to bookmakers for what the “true” odds should be, and sportsbooks aren’t shy about adjusting on the fly if the market is telling them they missed the mark.
Betting earlier in the week is a key way you can beat the closing line, which should be your goal as a bettor.
Our NFL experts hopped on three bets early in an attempt to beat the market on the following games:
- 49ers at Cardinals (Odds: 49ers -10)
- Buccaneers at Seahawks (Odds: Seahawks -6.5)
- Patriots at Ravens (Odds: Patriots -3.5)
Odds as of Monday evening and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).
Below, they’ll detail what led them to make their wagers — and the thresholds at which they still have value.
Let’s dive in.
John Ewing: Cardinals +10 vs. 49ers
The 49ers have moved from 7-point favorites to -10 on Thursday Night Football. San Francisco is undefeated while Arizona was blown out in Week 8. It is easy to understand why the line is moving.
However, it has been profitable go against big line moves in primetime games.
Since 2003, a $100 bettor would have won $2,133 backing teams that see the line move at least two points against them (+3 to +5 or -3 to -1, for example) on Monday, Thursday and Sunday Night Football, according to our Bet Labs data.
Big line movement is often an overreaction to a piece of information. In this case, that’s the recent performances from both teams. According to our Bet Labs sims, the 49ers are projected to win by 4.4 points on average.
History and our sims suggest the Cardinals are being undervalued by the betting market. With the odds on the move, we can wait to place a wager until closer to kickoff and hope for a better line. I would take Arizona at any price +9 or better. [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]
Matthew Freedman: Seahawks -6.5 vs. Buccaneers
4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday
The home-field advantage the Seahawks have at CenturyLink Field with the famed “12th Man” is legitimate.
Under HC Pete Carroll (since 2010), the Seahawks at home have on average scored 7.5 points more than their opponents. They are No. 3 with that differential, trailing only the Tom Brady-led Foxborough Patriots and Aaron Rodgers-led Lambeau Packers over that time.
Defensively, the Seahawks are a handful at home. In the Carroll era, they are No. 3 with just 18.8 points per game allowed. Only the hard-nosed Ravens and Bill Belichick-disciplined Pats have held visitors to fewer points.
And they are also significantly better at CenturyLink on offense. On the road, they have averaged 21.7 points per game. At home, 26.4. That home/road offensive differential of +4.7 points is No. 3 in the league.
With Carroll, the Seahawks at home are 46-33-3 against the spread, good for a 13.7% return on investment (per Bet Labs).
And most importantly, I like the matchup for the Seahawks. They’re not a throw-first team, but the Seahawks have a good passing game. Quarterback Russell Wilson is aggressive with his 33 end-zone attempts (first) and 10.2-yard average depth of target (aDOT, fourth).
The Seahawks should be motivated to throw against the Bucs funnel defense — they are No. 1 against the run but No. 25 against the pass (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA) — and I don’t see the Bucs corners being able to stop wide receivers Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf.
When you add in the interceptions that Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston is almost certain to throw, it’s not hard to like the Seahawks.
I’d bet them to -7. [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]
Stuckey: Ravens +3.5 vs. Patriots
8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday
What an AFC treat this will be in Charm City on Sunday night. A battle of first place teams between the class of the conference and one of the few real contenders to the Super Bowl Champions.
And what a spot it is for the Ravens, who are coming off a much needed bye before facing the 8-0 Patriots. For what it’s worth, John Harbaugh has been one of the most profitable coaches against the spread during his tenure at Baltimore.
The Patriots are the best team in the NFL right now and my clear No. 1 team in the league as they should be for everyone. But they’ve certainly benefited from an extremely favorable schedule.
The defense, which has scored as many touchdowns as it has allowed (four), is also the best in the league, which I’ve claimed since Week 1 this season.
But I don’t think it’s historically dominant.
The Pats showed some cracks last week against the Browns — the first offense with a pulse they’ve honestly faced all season long. Despite winning by 14 against Cleveland, the Patriots had just eight more yards (318-310) and allowed 5.3 yards per play to their own 4.8.
The run defense, which was vulnerable for long stretches last season, looked especially vulnerable against Cleveland’s rushing attack, which averaged 7.7 yards per carry. The Ravens will bring in one of the most explosive rushing attacks in the NFL and a much better offensive line than the Browns.
The defense has also benefited from extreme turnover luck, which should regress as the season rolls along.
And on the other side of the ball, New England’s offense just isn’t the same as we’ve seen in recent years. There have been key injuries along the offensive line, at fullback and a rotating carousel on the outside. I’m sure the offense will be a well-oiled machine come January, but it’s a work in progress right now.
Meanwhile, the Ravens addressed their biggest need on defense with the acquisition of Marcus Peters to play corner opposite Marlon Humphrey. And this week, they should be getting Jimmy Smith back. Having three formidable cover corners allows them to everything they want to do scheme wise: play press man on the outside (with some zone mixed in) and blitz as much as any team in the league.
I personally make this game a pick’em and love the situation and matchup. As a result, I’d happily take anything at +3 or above. The Patriots could certainly win and cover again as I’m sure Belichick will have something special in store for Lamar Jackson and company. But I trust the Ravens here and can’t pass up the line value. [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]
Mike Randle: Ravens +3.5 vs. Patriots
8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday
I am in full support of Stuckey on this one. The Patriots have been on a legendary run defensively, but have faced a less than stellar list of quarterbacks that includes Luke Falk, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Colt McCoy, Daniel Jones, and Sam Darnold. This road game at Baltimore represents New England’s most difficult game this season.
No one has been able to stop Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is averaging 82.3 rushing yards per game. The Patriots pass defense has been superior, but they can be attacked on the ground. Baltimore ranks first overall in run offense DVOA.
The addition of Peters paid immediate dividends in their Week 7 30-16 road win at Seattle. Peters gave Russell Wilson his first interception of the season, which he promptly returned for a touchdown.
The Patriots offensive woes have been masked by their defensive superiority. New England only ranks 20th in run offense DVOA, and just placed wide receiver Josh Gordon on injured reserve. The Patriots offensive line has been limited by injuries, ranking 21st in both pass protection and overall efficiency.
New England has enjoyed a fantastic season, greatly enhanced by a weak schedule. I will gladly grab the Ravens +3.5 coming off their bye week in this ideal upset spot. [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]