NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Patriots, Chargers, Vikings, Bears Among Spreads To Target In Pick’Em

NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Patriots, Chargers, Vikings, Bears Among Spreads To Target In Pick’Em article feature image

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Patriots QB Mac Jones

  • The Patriots and Chargers to cover as favorites. Vikings and Bears to cover as underdogs.
  • Find out why, based on NFL odds, those are among the spreads our expert has targeted in pick'em.
  • He also outlines the rest of his card for Week 9, featuring a moneyline bet and teaser.

NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions

I'll be picking five NFL sides each week of the season for DraftKings' Pro Football Millionaire Pick'Em contest.

Note that the spreads for this contest lock on Wednesdays, so some will be stale by the time you read this and thus not readily available outside of the contest. You can check real-time NFL odds here.

I'll also outline the rest of my betting card for the week below (click here to skip ahead).

NFL ATS Picks For Week 9

Here were the five sides for this week's pick'em contest entry:

  1. Patriots -3.5: 1 p.m. ET on Sunday
  2. Vikings +5.5: 1 p.m. ET on Sunday
  3. Chargers -1.5: 1 p.m. ET on Sunday
  4. 49ers +0.5: 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday
  5. Bears +6.5: 8:20 p.m. ET on Monday

1. Patriots (-3.5) at Panthers

With Sam Darnold leaving last week's Panthers win over the Falcons with a concussion, it’s likely we’ll see former XFL star P.J. Walker starting at quarterback against New England.

Darnold isn’t anything to write home about — he ranks 30th in Football Outsiders' DVOA, 25th in ESPN’s Total QBR and has thrown only seven touchdowns to eight interceptions — but unfortunately for the Panthers, Walker is a significant downgrade. In limited action this season, Walker has a DVOA of -98.1, and last season he completed 57.1% of his passes with one touchdown to five interceptions.

To put it bluntly, Walker isn’t good. And against a Bill Belichick-led defense, the Panthers might as well be playing with one arm tied behind their back.

If Belichick could flummox Justin Herbert, what is he going to do to Walker or Darnold, should he return from the concussion protocol?

The Patriots are onto something and will be looking to make a playoff push. I’ll lay the the short number with the Patriots.

2. Vikings (+5.5) at Ravens

With their Sunday night loss to the Dak Prescott-less Cowboys, Kirk Cousins now moves to 8-17 in primetime games in his career, good for a .320 winning percentage. Fortunately for the Vikings, they won't be playing in primetime this week as they're back to a standard 1 p.m. ET start on Sunday.

The Vikings could find some success in this matchup against a Ravens defense that's giving up 296.1 passing yards a game, most in the NFL. This Ravens defense is just 21st in Expected Points Added per play (EPA/play) and 24th in Defensive DVOA, ranking 23rd against the pass and 15th against the run. With that, I'm expecting big games from Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.

They might not replicate the eight-catch 201-yard performance from Ja'Marr Chase against the Ravens in Week 7, but this Vikings offense will score.

Of course, slowing down Lamar Jackson won't be easy without defensive end Danielle Hunter, but I like the Vikings offense to do enough to keep this game close.

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3. Chargers (-1.5) at Eagles

The Eagles have taken sharp money nearly every single week for the past month.

Although they dominated the Lions 44-6 and lucked into covers against the Panthers and Buccaneers with second-half comebacks, I'm still not buying this team — this is an Eagles defense that allowed Derek Carr to complete 31-of-34 passes for 323 yards and two touchdowns while scoring 30 consecutive points while leading the Raiders to a 33-22 victory.

All things considered, the Eagles are just 3-5 on the year, and their three wins were against the Falcons, Panthers and Lions — teams that are a combined 7-16 with a -151 point differential and rank 32nd, 24th and 29th in DVOA. That means Philadelphia has yet to beat a truly good team.

Herbert and the Chargers should find plenty of success through the air against an Eagles defense that ranks 24th in Dropback Success Rate, allowing 51.6% of passing plays to grade out successful.

I have trouble believing the Eagles will be able to keep up with this Chargers offense given the struggles of Jalen Hurts. As my colleague Brandon Anderson covered, Hurts is the worst QB by EPA + CPOE over the last four games. While the Chargers have a leaky run defense, which is dead last in rushing success rate (52.2%), the Eagles will be without Miles Sanders, who is on injured reserve.

This feels like the perfect spot to sell high on this Eagles team after its blowout win over the Lions, as well as to buy low on the Chargers after a home loss to the Patriots.

I'll fade the sharp money on the Eagles and back the Chargers.

4. 49ers (+0.5) vs. Cardinals

The last time the Cardinals matched up against the 49ers, Arizona was out-gained in yardage (338-304) and yards per play (5.7-5.1).

Arizona was fortunate to win because of San Francisco going 1-of-5 on fourth downs, including a stop at the goal line and multiple stops inside Cardinals territory. Looking at the box score, it's clear the 49ers should have won that game or covered at the very least. Nevertheless, variance wasn't on their side.

Now these teams meet again with both Kyler Murray (ankle) and DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) not practicing leading up to Sunday's game. Making matters worse for Arizona is that J.J. Watt is out for the year after season-ending shoulder surgery, while linebacker Zaven Collins and running back Chase Edmonds also appeared on the injury report with shoulder injuries.

With the absence of Watt and potentially Collins, the biggest advantage the 49ers should have in this matchup is their ability to run the ball on a Cardinals defense that's giving up 4.6 yards per carry and is 22nd in rushing success rate (42.0%).

With the impact of home-field advantage decreasing this year, this feels like the perfect spot for the 49ers to avenge their Week 5 loss to the Cardinals.

In addition, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan thrives in the role of underdog, going 27-17 (57.5%) in this spot during his coaching career (per our Action Labs data), so the trends also back up our football handicap.

5. Bears (+6.5) at Steelers

With a spread of 6.5 and a total of just 40, oddsmakers are telling us points will be at a premium in Monday night's matchup between the Steelers and Bears.

Given that we're not likely to see a high-scoring game, I don't like the idea of laying 6.5 points with an offense featuring a washed Ben Roethlisberger that's 23rd in EPA/play, 31st in success rate, 32nd in dropback success rate and 28th in rushing success rate.

Pittsburgh also doesn't generate explosive plays, ranking 20th in explosive run play rate and 28th in explosive pass play rate.

With Justin Fields improving every week, the Bears should be able to do enough to cover against this Steelers team that is 0-3 as a favorite this season. They lost outright as 5.5-point home favorites against the Raiders and as 2.5-point home favorites against the Bengals. They also barely escaped in overtime as 5.5-point home favorites against the Geno Smith-led Seahawks.

I'll back the Bears at +6.5.

More NFL Picks For Week 9

Patriots-Panthers 1H Under 21 (-125)

Walker is a significant downgrade from Darnold, which says a lot about him, and it's tough to imagine him thriving against a Belichick-coached defense that ranks inside the top 10 in EPA/play and is fifth in pressure rate (26.4%).

On the other side of the ball, the Panthers have a defense that's third in EPA/play and second in Success Rate (40.2%). With a back-up quarterback, this defense will have to step up with what I'm expecting will be a conservative offensive game plan.

This total got pounded down from the opener of 43 to where it currently sits now at 41.5 points. While my model does make this 40, the value lies on the first-half under at 21.

Texans (+210) at Dolphins

Texans +7 was one of my lookahead picks on last Friday's Strong Side episode of The Action Network Podcast, knowing that Tyrod Taylor might play in this week's matchup. He's a huge upgrade over Davis Mills, who has started most of this season with Taylor out due to injury.

With this number now down to 5.5 at most sportsbooks, I don't want to give out a worse number than the one I got, but I do believe there's value on the Texans to win this game outright.

This is a Dolphins defense that's giving up the fourth-most points per game (29.1) and is 26th in EPA/play and 23rd in success rate, so I'm expecting this Texans team with Taylor to find some success offensively.

Offensively for Miami, Tua Tagovailoa is just 22nd in EPA + CPOE this season, and he leads an offense that's just 27th in EPA/play and 28th in Success Rate.

These are two equally matched teams with Taylor in the lineup, so I believe we have a positive expected value proposition on the Texans moneyline.

Two Team, 6-Point Teaser: Rams -1.5 & Browns +8.5

Rams -1.5 vs. Titans

This is the ideal Stanford Wong Teaser spot for the Los Angeles Rams, who will face the Titans without Derrick Henry.

Although many running backs won't have an impact on the point spread, Henry is unique in that his combination of power, force and speed means that many teams have to stack the box in order to stop the Titans run game. With Henry's dominance in the run game, the Titans thrive in play action with Ryan Tannehill getting the ball to AJ Brown and Julio Jones.

Without Henry, the Titans not only lost their star running back but an offensive identity that is key given the struggles this team has defensively. The Titans are banged up in the secondary and are just 19th in Dropback EPA/play, so Matthew Stafford and this Rams offense should have no problems scoring against this unit.

I'll back Los Angeles as the first leg of this two-team, 6-point teaser.

Browns +8.5 at Bengals

The Browns come off a disappointing 15-10 loss against the Steelers and take on a Bengals team coming off a loss of its own against the Jets.

In many ways, this game will ultimately determine the Browns' season after dropping to 4-4 on the season and last in the AFC North. Nevertheless, the Browns defense led by Myles Garrett can cause problems for this Bengals offensive line that's just 29th in pass block win rate and 24th in adjusted sack rate.

Even in the absence of Kareem Hunt, the Browns still have a dominant rushing attack with Nick Chubb and D'Earnest Johnson. I expect them to help move the chains and set the stage for Baker Mayfield to make plays in the play action game.

Look for the Browns to keep this within the number possibly win this game outright.

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