There are thirteen games on the schedule again with six teams on bye. There are only two more weeks of byes and then we are back to a full 16-game schedule.
The slate of games last week was very enjoyable. I especially loved the Seattle/Houston game. Hell, the Colts/Bengals game was even unexpectedly close in the final minutes.
We pick ever NFL game against the spread and throw out a few upsets in Week 9 of the 2017 NFL season.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (+3) – My pick is Buffalo Bills
I’m a big fan of Bills QB Tyrod Taylor this season. He’s consistent and he just doesn’t commit dumb turnovers. Trade deadline addition of former Carolina WR Kelvin Benjamin could be huge for the Bills. They needed a big, physical receiver on the team. The Jets are 3-5 outright, but have been really good against the spread (5-2-1 ATS). They’ve actually won or tied against the spread every week since Week 2. Their defense has been ‘good enough’ so far, but I feel like this line is a few points too light. The Bills have been very good, but did have two road game stinkers against the Bengals and Panthers. I’m sure those outcomes affected this line. I’m still going to take the Bills to cover on Thursday.
Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants (+3) – My pick is Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have won their three previous road games this season. They are coming off a bye and arguably played their best game of the season the week before against the Cardinals. RB Todd Gurley is one of the most improved players in the NFL. The Rams actually have a passing game to back him up. QB Jared Goff has been efficient and had found success with wide receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. I would like to see them get WR Sammy Watkins more involved, but it’s hard to nitpick when they are winning games. The Giants struggled to start the year and just when they were starting to play better, they lost nearly their entire wide receiver corps to injuries. QB Eli Manning is getting destroyed by pass rushers every week. I also worry about the Giants secondary since they just suspended starting CB Janoris Jenkins for showing up late after the bye week. Remember, they suspended DB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie a few weeks ago as well. The Giants are in turmoil and I don’t want anything to do with them. I’ll take the Rams to cover.
Denver Broncos at Philadelphia Eagles (-8) – My pick is Philadelphia Eagles
I really want to give Denver the benefit of the doubt here, but the more I watch them, the more their offense appears to be a total mess. QB Trevor Siemian was a disaster against the Chiefs on Monday night and Denver could have won that game if he was just smart with the ball. Their defense is the only reason they weren’t completely embarrassed the last few weeks. They Eagles added to their backfield this week when they traded Miami a fourth-round pick for RB Jay Ajayi. I already liked the Eagles backfield, but Ajayi will be a better long-term replacement for injured RB Darren Sproles. Eagles QB Carson Wentz has become an MVP candidate with his excellent play in the first-half of the season. I wish this line was under a touchdown, but I’m still taking the Eagles to cover this spread.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-7) – My pick is New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston re-injured his shoulder last week and there’s a chance QB Ryan Fitzpatrick could actually start this game. The Bucs have been a disappointment this season and they are 1-5-1 ATS this season. The Saints are a superior running team this season. Running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are the best running back tandem in the NFL. They are versatile and both are also weapons in the passing game. I also need to mention the Saints defense, since they have been overlooked this season. They are really good and have been the key to the Saints covering their last five games. I have to take the Saints to cover at home.
Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars (-4.5) – My pick is Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags are coming off their bye week and have been playing great. RB Leonard Fournette and CB Jalen Ramsey are their two MVPs this year. As long as they limit the damage QB Blake Bortles can do, they will always be in games. The Bengals beat the Colts 24-23 at home last week. The game was way closer than it should have been and I worry about QB Andy Dalton this week. The Jaguars secondary are young and hungry. They are making a name for themselves and Dalton is known to force passes. I don’t think he will have a very good day and the Jaguars should cover at home.
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers (-2.5) – My pick is Atlanta Falcons
I’m not sure why this game has been bet up from a pick’em. Carolina hasn’t looked good on offense for most of the year. They have zero, ZERO, running game and and they have to use short passes as their ‘run game.’ They also made an interesting move by trading WR Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo for a draft pick. That move is made by a team that is packing it up. They now have to rely almost exclusively on WR Devin Funchess for receiving yards. The Falcons were able to get their passing game figured out while on their bye week. They then beat the Jets 25-20 with QB Matt Ryan throwing two touchdowns and no interceptions. He was able to get WR Mohamed Sanu involved in the game, which needs to happen in order to get WR Julio Jones beneficial coverage. I don’t trust the Panthers right now, especially if Matt Ryan is back to his old form. I have to take the points.
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (-7) – My pick is Houston Texans
The Texans have been monsters on offense since they put QB Deshaun Watson in the game. Their defense has been a little suspect since they lost linebackers J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus for the year. They played in one of the more exciting games last month in their 41-38 loss to Seattle. Watson and Seattle QB Russell Wilson was showing all of their talents. It was impressive seeing Watson go right at Seattle’s ‘Legion of Boom’ secondary. Granted, Seattle was without safety Earl Thomas at that point, but still…Watson is legit. As far as the Colts are concerned, they are competitive for three quarters and then either cough up the game late or even fail to show up in the first quarter. Even thought QB Tom Savage is starting for the injured Watson, I don’t trust the Colts offense to be able to match scores with the Texans, so I’ll take Houston to cover at home.
Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans (-3.5) – My pick is Tennessee Titans
It looks like Ravens QB Joe Flacco will be able to play after suffering a concussion last Thursday. They are coming off a 40-0 win, but I wouldn’t read too much into that win. The Dolphins played like garbage, so it’s hard to take anything away from that contest. The Titans should have RB DeMarco Murray and rookie WR Corey Davis on Sunday. They will probably be without stud TE Delanie Walker, which might hurt the passing game. The Titans have laid a few stinkers offensively in the last few weeks, but now that QB Marcus Mariota is healthy and he has a few of his weapons back, I have to take the Titans to cover at home.
Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks (-7) – My pick is Seattle Seahawks
The Redskins have some great players, but the huge gaping hole at wide receiver just kills them. They put way too much pressure on RB Chris Thompson and TE Jordan Reed. Reed is expected to miss this week, so QB Kirk Cousins will have to rely on backup TE Vernon Davis. The Seahawks have won their last four games and are 3-1 ATS in that stretch. They have also scored 41 and 46 points in their last two home games. I would like this spread to be less than a touchdown, but I just think Seattle head coach Pete Carroll will out-coach the Redskins and cover at home.
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (+2) – My pick is San Francisco 49ers
It appears that this game will be the battle of Arizona QB Drew Stanton versus San Francisco QB C.J. Beathard. Newly-acquired QB Jimmy Garoppolo won’t start this game. This game could be really ugly. Arizona will need to ride on RB Adrian Peterson’s back. I’m not sure if that will be good enough for the win. I have to take the points since this game is a coin flip.
Kansas City Chiefs at Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) – My pick is Dallas Cowboys
Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott will be serving his suspension for the next six games, but the Cowboys are still a really good team (looks like Elliott will be playing now). The Chiefs started the season like they were shot out of a cannon, but their offense is now being stymied. If Dallas can get out to a quick lead, we have found out they have issues trying to come back from even a small deficit. I doubt they would have beaten the Broncos last week if they didn’t score on a fumble and force a few more turnovers. I don’t see the Cowboys turning the ball over very much. I have to take the Cowboys to win at home.
Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins (+3) – My pick is Oakland Raiders
The Dolphins were drawn and quartered by the Ravens in London last week. QB Matt Moore started for the injured Jay Cutler and then they traded away their starting running back. Cutler is expected to start this week, but I am soooo down on the Dolphins right now. The Raiders do have a soft run defense, so Miami should have success running the ball when Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams. Oakland are coming off a bad loss to Buffalo last week. The game was never really close. I will chalk it up to just having a bad game. Oakland QB Derek Carr should have a good game against the Dolphins secondary. They also get RB Marshawn Lynch back from suspension. I don’t trust Miami at all right now, so I’ll take Oakland to cover on the road.
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (+2.5) – My pick is Green Bay Packers
The Packers are coming off bye and QB Brett Hundley was able to have another week of study coming into this game. He did have some success in their 26-17 loss to the Saints in Week 7 and most of it came with his impromptu decisions while scrambling. He learned that by watching QB Aaron Rodgers every single day. I expect a lot of carries from rookie RB Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery may even get in on the action. Lions QB Matthew Stafford have been the only offensive option for the Lions. They aren’t getting the kind of production from their running backs as they hoped. I believe the Packers will force a costly turnover late in the game to keep this game within a field goal. I may even put a few jellybeans on the upset moneyline.
*These picks are for entertainment purposes
Sweetbob’s NFL picks against the spread record in previous seasons:
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob