Betting odds, picks, tips: Evaluating trade impact, Bills-Jets and more
7: 00 AM ET
ESPN Betting and Fantasy Analysts
Week 9 kicked off Thursday with the Philadelphia Eagles continuing their perfect start after a 29-17 win over the Houston Texans. Action continues Sunday with 10 more games during the day (six teams have byes). What can we expect from a betting perspective then? What are the best plays to help make smart wagering decisions?
Betting analysts Doug Kezirian, Tyler Fulghum, Joe Fortenbaugh, Anita Marks and Erin Dolan, fantasy and sports betting analysts Eric Moody and Andre Snellings, ESPN Stats & Information’s Seth Walder and Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz offer their insight into the games with tips and picks.
Note: Lines from Caesars Sportsbook unless otherwise indicated.
Two of the most active teams at the trade deadline in Week 9 face off against each other Sunday. The Miami Dolphins (-5, 45.5), who added Bradley Chubb and Jeff Wilson, are 5-point favorites over the Chicago Bears, who traded away Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn and got Chase Claypool. The Bears are coming off an impressive win over the Cowboys. What were your thoughts on the move at the deadline and this matchup.
Fortenbaugh: I think the play here is to bet Miami’s team total over 25.5 points. Chicago ranked 19th in the NFL in both scoring defense and opponent yards per play and that was before they traded away their two best defenders in Quinn and Smith. Miami’s offense is averaging 24 points per game this season, but keep in mind that starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa missed 2.5 of those contests, which skews the numbers in a negative way.
Fulghum: Ryan Poles and the Bears are doing an admirable job of acquiring assets (draft capital and cap room) to make some significant upgrades to the roster for next season and beyond. This Bears team has been much more competitive than I expected. OC Luke Getsy is getting more creative in ways to maximize Justin Fields‘ most dangerous weapon at the moment — his legs. I was surprised at how well the defense has performed. We’ll see if Smith and Quinn are missing.
As for this weekend, I would love to take the points with the Bears as a home underdog, but since the weather looks like it’s going to be very comfortable for a November game in Chicago, I’ll play the total over 45.5. Miami’s offense is clearly the driving force behind this play, but don’t sleep on a Bears offense that just scored 33 points in a win at New England and 29 points on the road in a loss to Dallas and its elite defense. Miami’s defense is rather pedestrian, ranking 22nd in the league in yards allowed per game and points allowed per game, so I think Fields and the Bears offense can contribute their fair share on the scoreboard.
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Walder: Give me Miami. The Dolphins averaged 0. 16 EPA per play. In terms of offensive efficiency, this would be second only to the Chiefs. If Tua hadn’t been hurt, I believe there’s a good chance that we’d consider the Dolphins to be the fourth team in top tier of NFL after the Chiefs, Bills, and Eagles. Although I know Fields and Bears are better, I would still bet on the Dolphins to win the 5 points.
Snellings: I’ll agree with the over 45.5, as well as the Dolphins over 25.5 points. I’d also play a lot of player prop overs, including Fields over 169.5 yards passing and (way) over 48.5 rushing yards, Tyreek Hill over 86.5 receiving yards and Jaylen Waddle over 68.5 receiving yards. The offenses are stronger than the defenses. Fields and the Bears offense are improving; Fields has gone over 169.5 yards passing in four of his past five games and over 48.5 rushing yards in three straight and four of his past five. The Dolphins will trade their best defenders to the Bears, which should help open things up. Hill and Waddle eat on a weekly schedule when Tua is healthy.
Moody: I’d take the points with the Bears as a home underdog. Chicago leads the league with 35.6 rushing attempts and 188.4 rushing yards per game. The Bears offense has been surprising effective in recent weeks thanks to Fields and Getsy. Fields is now more dynamic thanks to Getsy calling more designed run plays. Claypool’s addition to the Bears may have been costly, but it will only help their offense grow. I think the Bears will score some points against the Dolphins after putting up 33 points against the Patriots and 29 against the Cowboys. It is possible that Chicago’s weather may be unfavorable, which could make it difficult for the Bears to score against the Patriots and 670 against the Cowboys.
Tyler Fulghum lays out why he expects the under to hit when the Bills take on the Jets in Week 9.
The only day matchup of winning teams is in the AFC East, where the division-leading Buffalo Bills (-12.5, 47) are in New Jersey to face the New York Jets. Which team do you prefer in this matchup
Fulghum: I don’t like a side here (I’d lean Bills or no play on the side), but I do think we can attack the total. I’d play it under 47. Six of the seven Bills games this year have been below the total. With this game being at MetLife, I’ll give the Jets’ defense a chance at keeping Josh Allen and the Bills offense from reaching a ceiling game. Whether this game was played in New Jersey, Buffalo or the moon, however, I do not trust Zach Wilson and a Jets offense now lacking RB Breece Hall (plus a couple of key offensive linemen) to move the ball efficiently or find the end zone frequently against the Bills’ smothering defense.
Schatz: I’m also taking under 47, given the quality of these defenses. The Bills currently rank fourth in defensive DVOA, while the Jets are eighth. Both defenses can stop the run and pass. Add to that the Jets’ problems on offense, and you have a recipe for a low-scoring game. The under and the Bills money line are good options.
Snellings: I’ll join the under 47 brigade and supplement that with Jets under 16.5 points. The Jets lost their offensive explosiveness after Breece Hall was injured. I don’t believe they’ll be able move the ball or score consistently against the Bills without that home run threat. While the Bills’ offense is explosive, the Jets have a strong enough defense to keep the score down. This, combined with the possibility of a quiet Jets offense should help.
What are the three most important things that our analytics say?
Walder: I’ll give you three takes on sides via FPI.
Los Angeles Chargers at Atlanta Falcons ( 3)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
FPI prediction: Falcons by 1.1
I was as high as anyone on Justin Herbert entering the season and still believe in him long term, but at a certain point we have to put real stock in what the Chargers are showing this year offensively. It’s not much. They rank 18th in offensive EPA per play. While injuries may partially be to blame for the poor performance, they are still not healthy. Mike Williams is out and Keenan Allen said his hamstring injury worsened. The Chargers could lose their top two receivers in this one. It may not look pretty, but Atlanta’s offense ranks fourth in EPA per play.
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (-5.5)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.
FPI prediction: Patriots by 9.3
FPI holds a pretty strong prior on unproven quarterbacks without serious draft pedigree. And even though Sam Ehlinger had a solid game in his starting debut (67 QBR), it’s going to take more than that to move the model. It assumes that a Patriots team with a strong defense will be able handle the Ehlinger-led Colts.
Carolina Panthers at Cincinnati Bengals (-7)
Sunday, 1: 05 p.m. ET, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford
FPI prediction: Bengals by 10.6
This is definitely an anti-recency play. The Bengals were a total dud against the Browns without Ja’Marr Chase. Although Chase’s loss was devastating, the Bengals should be able to play offensively without him. It’s possible to beat the Panthers at least. PJ Walker‘s bomb to DJ Moore was incredible, but we’re still not buying Carolina’s offense.
Tyler Fulghum suggests taking the under for the Rams vs. On Sunday, the Buccaneers will face off against the Rams.
What is your best bet for Week 9?
Fortenbaugh: Washington Commanders 3.5 over Minnesota. The Vikings may be 6-1, but they are being outgained by an average of 37 yards per game. How is this possible? Washington has won three straight, excels at stopping the run, can generate consistent pressure and has a quarterback in Taylor Heinicke who is 8-2 ATS over his last 10 starts.
Fulghum: Los Angeles Rams–Tampa Bay Buccaneers under 42.5. Two of the most disappointing teams in the NFL will meet in Tampa on Sunday afternoon. Both teams are desperate to win in order to keep their hopes alive for a playoff spot. I expect this to be a physical and hard-fought match, anchored by the strengths of each team’s defenses. The two teams are a combined 11-4 to the under this season. Both offenses have incredibly poor running games. Both offenses are terrible, with both teams displaying poor play on the offensive line. This one should be difficult to score points.
Schatz: Seattle Seahawks 2 at Arizona. The gap between these teams in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings is massive, with the Seahawks now all the way up to sixth and the Cardinals way down at 30th. Seattle is 11th on defense after a big improvement in the last three weeks; if they were one spot higher, that would put the Seahawks in the top 10 for all three phases. The Cardinals are below average across all three phases. When these teams played in Week 6, the Seahawks won 19-9 and Arizona’s only touchdown came on a weird aborted/fake (we’re not sure which) punt attempt by Michael Dickson. Although Vegas is very familiar with the situation, I am not sure why the Cardinals are so favoured.
Snellings: I like Vikings-Commanders over 43.5 points. The Vikings are top 10 in the NFL in scoring average with 24.7 PPG. The Commanders have a lower scoring average on the season, but Taylor Heinicke has moxie and a strong relationship with wide receiver Terry McLaurin and should put up enough points to make the Vikings work. I could see this one going well over 43.5 points.
Marks: Falcons 9 and Jags 7.5 in two-team, 6-point teaser. I will tease two teams that should be favorites Sunday. The Chargers defense ranks last in yards allowed following contact. Atlanta should be able run the ball, take control of possession, and win at home. The Raiders’ defense ranks 28th in the red zone, where Trevor Lawrence has had issues. Travis Etienne Jr. should have his way against a Raiders run defense that allows 150 yards per game.
Moody: I like Chargers-Falcons under 49.5. Los Angeles is averaging 23.4 points per game this season and the Falcons 25.0. The Chargers are coming off of a bye week. They will be without Mike Williams, and most likely Keenan Alley. Atlanta is averaging the third-most rushing attempts per game (33.5) this season and the fifth-most rushing yards (158.1), which also could contribute to a low-scoring game. In the Falcons’ last 39 games against teams with a winning record, the under is 29-10 and 7-2 after straight-up wins.
Tristan H. Cockcroft explains why Zach Ertz is primed for another big performance for his Week 9 matchup against the Seahawks.
What is your favorite player prop?
Fortenbaugh: Zach Ertz over 38.5 receiving yards (-133). We’re getting a cheap price because Ertz has caught just six passes for 55 yards in two games since DeAndre Hopkins returned from his six-game suspension, but take note that no team in the NFL has surrendered more receiving yards to opposing tight ends than the Seattle Seahawks (595 total, 74.3 per game). With a game total of 49.5, we should see plenty of offensive movement in this game.
Fulghum: Austin Ekeler to score a TD (-160). This is a more expensive bet than I prefer, especially when it comes to something as variable as a touchdown. However, I love this spot for Ekeler. The Chargers are 3-point favorites in a domed game against Atlanta with a total of 49.5. The Falcons are also one of the worst defenses in the league, allowing 427 yards of offense per game and 25.6 points per game. The Falcons just allowed Panthers RB D’Onta Foreman to score thrice last week. Now consider the fact that WR Mike Williams is out with an ankle injury and WR Keenan Allen re-aggravated his hamstring injury and Ekeler is looking at something like 20-30 touches in this environment.
Walder: Aaron Jones under 28.5 receiving yards (-106). The Lions play man coverage 57% of the time, the fourth-highest rate in the NFL. Running backs are less likely to be targeted against man coverage and convert targets into receiving yards less often. With that as a key factor, my model puts Jones at a mean of 24.3 receiving yards this week.
Schatz: Kyle Pitts over 39.5 receiving yards (-119). We all have memories of that game last year when Derwin James had Travis Kelce shut down until James got hurt and then Kelce went off. The fact is that the Chargers surrender yardage to tight ends regardless of James’ health. Five tight ends have topped 40 yards against the Chargers this year in seven games. It’s frustrating that the Falcons seem not to recognize Pitts’ presence in their offense. However, when they want to throw it in the game, he’s the one who’s most likely to be open.
Snellings: Amon-Ra St. Brown over 72.5 receiving yards (-117). With T.J. Hockenson no longer playing for the Lions, his 6.1 targets per game are up for grabs. Last season, when Hockenson missed the past five games, St. Brown vacuumed in his targets and exploded to average 11.3 targets, 8.3 receptions and 91.7 receiving yards over those five outings. I expect Jared Goff to have tunnel vision for St. Brown when he puts the ball in the air every game moving forward.
Marks: Etienne over 104.5 rushing/receiving yards (-117). As I said earlier, the Raiders rush defense is allowing 150 yards per game on the ground and are ranked 31st against RBs in the passing game. Etienne is just so explosive; he has a run of 30-plus yards in each of the last four games.
Moody: Jared Goff over 0.5 interceptions (-133). Goff averages 0. 86 interceptions per game this season and has five INTs over his last five games. The Packers secondary has allowed the second-fewest passing yards per game this season (174.8). Green Bay’s defenders match up well against the Lions’ receivers, including St. Brown, who will be covered by Jaire Alexander.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.