NFL Week 9 Picks: Bets for Chargers vs Falcons, Rams vs Bucs, More
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images. Pictured: Atlanta Falcons, huddled.
Week 9 means we’ve reached the season’s midpoint, and it’s the lightest slate of the year with six teams on bye.
We waited on a decision in that one, but it’s time to make final calls on every game. We’ve already made decisions for most, so be sure to check the full explanations there. Let’s recap those Bet, Lean, and Pass decisions now that the lines have shifted and then get to our final three decisions.
- Seahawks +2 at Cardinals
- Packers -3.5 at Lions
- Bears +4.5 vs Dolphins
- Patriots -5.5 (Bet Patriots 1H -2.5) vs Colts
- Raiders -2 (and Raiders TT Over 23.5) at Jaguars
- Ravens -2.5 (Bet Ravens 1H -0.5) at Saints
- Vikings -3 at Commanders
- Panthers +7.5 at Bengals
- Jets +11.5 vs Bills
- Steelers +2.5 vs Saints
- Rams -3 vs Cardinals
- Lions-Bears Over 45.5
I hate this spot for the Chargers. It’s a great situational spot historically for short road favorites off a full bye at 29-13-1 ATS (69%), but that doesn’t account for how nicely this sets up for Atlanta.
The Falcons are still without their two great corners, but the Chargers are far less healthy even after the bye. They’re missing both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, negating the opportunity for Justin Herbert to light up a terrible secondary. Atlanta ranks 5th in DVOA against RB receivers, so if the Falcons can hold Austin Ekeler in check and force the Chargers to run or pass to Josh Palmer and DeAndre Carter, it’s just not that scary.
Defensively, the Chargers are without Joey Bosa and J.C. Jackson and, as always, any semblance of a run defense. Atlanta is as run-heavy as any attack, and this game script sets up perfectly for Arthur Smith. Atlanta ranks second on first down offense versus 27th defensively for the Chargers, and L.A. ranks 25th in first quarter offense and last defensively.
Atlanta should be able to run the ball early and often and stay on the front foot, playing its preferred brand of football. All the better that the Falcons will reportedly get Cordarelle Patterson back for this one; Atlanta ranked third in rushing DVOA in four games with him before dropping to 23rd without him over the last four weeks. The Falcons have been competitive in every game except for the one against Bengals where they got buried early. The Chargers don’t have the weapons or a history of hitting those early punches.
I would’ve loved to get Atlanta +3.5 earlier in the week, but I’ll still take the home dogs and know that the line is shorter because of those key Chargers receiver injuries that offset Atlanta’s corner woes. As aggressive as Brandon Staley is, we’re still getting three, two and one all as possible key numbers. I’ll play the moneyline, too.
If you don’t have a division future yet, this might be your last shot. If the Falcons win, they could be two games up on the division by Monday night with Carolina, Washington, Chicago and Pittsburgh up next. Win here and there’s a real path to 8-5 or 9-4 into the bye. Atlanta is +260 to win the NFC South.
This is the big Game of the Week, but instead it feels like a loser-leaves-town spot for two presumed Super Bowl contenders in serious danger of missing the postseason altogether.
We waited on Cooper Kupp news. It looks like he’ll play, and Van Jefferson is good to go, too. That vertical threat might be just as important against a Bucs defense that’s fallen apart in recent weeks. Tampa ranks 25th defensively in DVOA over the past month, and the Bucs are missing both starting safeties which leaves them vulnerable even against a tepid Rams attack.
Neither offense has been trustworthy, but the best unit on the field is the Rams defense. Aaron Donald’s pressure against a woeful Tampa interior line feels problematic, and the Bucs just haven’t been able to push the ball down the field or create anything after the catch.
Raheem Morris’s defense has had Tom Brady’s number in these matchups. His light boxes dare opponents to run, and Tampa can’t run the ball to save its life right now. The Rams are 3-0 against Brady’s Bucs in part because the defense has held them relatively in check.
I don’t trust either offense here. Neither team can run the ball, and neither QB is playing great. If you play props, both QB passing attempt overs look solid. Both defenses are better than the offenses, so I still like the under 42.5 best here and made the case for it on the Lookahead.
All those historic Brady trends have fallen by the wayside this season, but Sean McVay is 16-10-1 ATS after a loss (62%), and short underdogs who just lost by 11-plus as favorites are 49-31-3 ATS (61%) the following week.
I’m not sure the Bucs are the right favorite here, and I certainly wouldn’t put it at the key number. Every point matters with both offenses struggling, so this is worth a small play if you get the +3. I don’t see the Rams winning a shootout, so you might play the +3 and under together.
We waited on Ryan Tannehill injury news, and the injury report only got murkier.
Tannehill remains questionable and looks like a game-time decision, and the drop from him to rookie Malik Willis is massive. Willis passed for 55 yards and threw once in the entire second half against the Texans. That’s probably not going to work against the Chiefs.
But it’s not just Tannehill; stud defender Jeffery Simmons is questionable too with an ankle injury. Those are two of the three most important Titans players in this game, so it’s impossible to make a call without knowing whether they’ll play .
If I knew that duo was healthy, I’d love Tennessee.
Mike Vrabel is 2-0 ATS against Andy Reid in the regular season, winning as four- and five-point underdogs. His Titans have thrived as big underdogs, and Tennessee’s great defense and run-first-run-second attack are a formula that gives Kansas City problems.
Vrabel is an incredible 20-10 straight up as an underdog of a field goal or more, a ridiculous 102% ROI. We’ve seen Vrabel’s guys win this exact script as big underdogs so many times.
That script includes Derrick Henry smashing the defense, Tannehill dialing up the play-action, and Simmons leading the D though. I want nothing to do with this game if it’s Willis at quarterback.
Keep an eye on the Action app Sunday night and we may make a late Tennessee play if things look good. If Tannehill and Simmons play, that +475 Titans moneyline is far too long.
The Pick: Titans +12.5 (Pass), but sprinkle the +475 ML via FanDuel QuickSlip if health looks good | Previously: Wait for Tannehill injury news