Welcome to November and the half way point of the NFL 2016 regular season. Although Week 9 loses some luster due to the New England Patriots being off with a bye, there are still some interesting games worth viewing. There are also four games with favorites facing the challenge of winning on the road. Atlanta was the the first to complete that task Thursday, blowing out the Buccaneers in the second half en route to a 43-28 victory.
The best game features the reigning Super Bowl champs versus a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs for 14 years. Denver travels to Oakland in a battle of AFC West rivals on Sunday night. Both clubs are 6-2, tied for the division lead – and one game behind the Patriots for home field in the AFC playoff race. The Raiders won the last meeting in December to snap an eight game losing streak to the Broncos.
Corner Aqib Talib has been ruled out due to a back injury and his backup, Kayvon Webster, is questionable with a hamstring ailment. That could open things up for Oakland’s receiving corps. Amari Cooper (52 receptions for 787 yards, 15.1 yards per catch) and Michael Crabtree (47 receptions for 569 yards, six touchdowns) can cause problems for any defense, and are more than capable of exploiting a depleted secondary.
Week Nine features four other rivalry games in the early time slot that will impact division races. Minnesota has lost two in a row and hosts Detroit. A win by the Lions would create a logjam in the NFC North. The Giants host the Eagles; both clubs are 4-3, two games behind Dallas in the NFC East. Pittsburgh gets Ben Roethlisberger back just in time for their biannual bloodbath with the Ravens. The Steelers are clinging on to a half game lead over the Bengals and a one game lead over Baltimore in the AFC North. Also on tap early is Miami hosting the Jets. Although neither team has a realistic chance at a division crown both are still in contention for a wild card playoff berth.
NFL Week 9 Early Games on FOX
★★★ 4-4 Detroit Lions at 5-2 Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, November 6 at 1:00 pm ET; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Laura Okmin.
Vikings -6½ . . . . over/under 41 . . . . MIN -260, DET +220
Broadcast in Alaska, Fort Myers FL, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Topeka KS, Louisville KY, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Toledo OH, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
After losing their first game of the season two weeks ago, I thought for sure that the Vikings would rebound with a big win against a 1-6 Bears team. Minnesota looked awful, managing to make a pathetic Chicago club look good. Games are still won and lost in the trenches, which is bad news for the Vikes. Their offensive line has not been getting the job done, particularly at both tackles.
All that led to the sudden resignation of Viking offensive coordinator Norv Turner this week. Pat Shurmur was Sam Bradford’s OC in St. Louis, and replaces Turner. Expect a shift to a quick-release passing game with short routes to help keep the pressure off Bradford. Detroit’s defense ranks last in DVOA, which is just what Minnesota needs to get their offense back on track.
Prediction: Vikings 24, Lions 13
Vikings -6½ (one unit) . . . . . under 41 . . . . . Minnesota -260
Final Score: Lions 22, Vikings 16 (OT) x
Vikings -6½ x . . . . under 41 ✓ . . . . Vikings -260 x
★★★★ 4-3 Philadelphia Eagles at 4-3 New York Giants
Sunday, November 6 at 1:00 pm ET; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews.
Giants -2½ . . . . over/under 43 . . . . NYG -140, PHI +120
Broadcast in New England, DC, parts of Florida (Ocala, Orlando, West Palm Beach), Atlanta GA, Salisbury MD, New York, Pennsylvania (except Pittsburgh), Norfolk VA, West Virginia and Seattle WA.
Philadelphia began the season 3-0 thanks in large part to their +6 turnover differential. After zero giveaways in those three games Philly has turned the ball over seven times since, winning just one of their last four games. The Eagle offensive line has struggled and the play calling has become overly conservative. The Giant defense has improved over last year. New York is allowing only 3.6 yards per carry (6th) and 6.3 yards per pass attempt (4th).
Prediction: Giants 24, Eagles 17
Giants -2½ (one unit) . . . . . under 43 . . . . . New York -140
Final Score: Giants 28, Eagles 23 ✓
Giants -2½ ✓ . . . . under 43 x . . . . Giants -140 ✓
★★★ 6-1 Dallas Cowboys at 0-8 Cleveland Browns
Sunday, November 6 at 1:00 pm ET; Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis, Chris Spielman and Peter Schrager.
Cowboys -7 . . . . over/under 49 . . . . DAL -300, CLE +250
Broadcast in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, parts of Florida (Panama City, Tallahassee, Tampa), Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas (except Topeka), Kentucky (except Louisville), Las Vegas NV, New Mexico, Ohio (except Toledo), Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Richmond VA, Washington (except Seattle), West Virginia and Wyoming.
The Browns are surrendering 8.4 yards per pass attempt (31st) and 4.8 yards per rush (29th). Cleveland keeps finding unique ways to lose each week. Dallas on the other hand took a step forward in Week 8. The Cowboys found a way to come back late and win, despite a rather weak performance through the first three quarters.
Prediction: Cowboys 28, Browns 14
Cowboys -7 (two units) . . . . . under 49 . . . . . Dallas -300
Final Score: Cowboys 35, Browns 10 ✓
Cowboys -7 ✓✓ . . . . under 49 ✓ . . . . Cowboys -300 ✓
NFL Week 9 Early Games on CBS
★★ 2-5 Jacksonville Jaguars at 5-2 Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, November 6 at 1:00 pm ET; Spero Dedes and Solomon Wilcots.
Chiefs -7½ . . . . over/under 44 . . . . KAN -300, JAC +250
Broadcast in northern Florida (Gainesville, Panama City, Tallahassee), southern Georgia (Albany, Savannah), Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Fargo ND, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
Nick Foles replaces Alex Smith (head injury) at quarterback for the Chiefs. KC is also down to Charcandrick West at running back since Spencer Ware (concussion) is out and Jamaal Charles (knee) was paced on IR a week ago. Despite that Kansas City is favored by a touchdown, which led me to think that I should pounce on the Jaguars plus the points. On closer inspection the line actually does make sense when you look at Andy Reid’s opponent.
The Jaguars may play with a bit more intensity this week after seeing offensive coordinator Greg Olsen fired. The Jags rank last in third down conversions (30.3%), penalty yards per game (91.3) and takeaways (5, or 0.7 per game). The Jacksonville offensive line can’t open up any holes, resulting in a running game that is averaging just 3.8 yards per carry and 73 yards per game. With TJ Yeldon and Chris Ivory being unproductive the play calling has become predictable. Jacksonville owns the NFL’s most unbalanced offense, with only 19.1 runs per game (last) and the highest percentage of pass plays (69.6%). Tamba Hali and the rest of the Kansas City defensive front seven should dominate this game.
Prediction: Chiefs 27, Jaguars 13
Chiefs -7½ (one unit) . . . . . under 44 . . . . . Kansas City -300
Final Score: Chiefs 19, Jaguars 14 ✓
Chiefs -7½ x . . . . under 44 ✓ . . . . Chiefs -300 ✓
★★ 3-5 New York Jets at 3-4 Miami Dolphins
Sunday, November 6 at 1:00 pm ET; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green and Jamie Erdahl.
Dolphins -3½ . . . . over/under 44 . . . . MIA -185, NYJ +165
Broadcast in western New England, New York and southern Florida (Fort Myers, Miami, Tampa, West Palm Beach).
The Jets struggled to beat the winless Browns last week. Now they face a rested Dolphin team that defeated Pittsburgh and Buffalo in their last two games. Jay Ajayi began the year in the doghouse, inactive for one game and totaling just 18 carries through week four. Aided by a healthier Dolphin offensive line, Ajayi has rushed for 418 yards in his last two games and is now averaging a whopping 6.3 yards per carry.
The Jet secondary has regressed mightily but their defensive front seven is still solid. Defensive ends Leonard Williams and Mo Wilkerson, along with linebackers David Harris and Sheldon Richardson are capable of controlling any game. The Jet defensive line versus the Miami offensive line should determine the outcome. Or at least the lead until Ryan Fitzpatrick throws a pick six.
Looking ahead, both teams teams have interesting second half schedules. Miami plays the Chargers, Rams, Niners, Ravens, Cardinals and Jets before hosting New England in what will probably be a meaningless week 17 game for the Patriots. The challenge for the Dolphins will be that five of their next seven games are on the road. The Jets are on the road just twice the rest of the way, and one of those games is at San Francisco. However, Gang Green has to play the Patriots twice.
Whichever team loses on Sunday will see their already slim chances of a wild card playoff spot shrink dramatically. The AFC West will likely send three teams to the playoffs this year.
Prediction: Dolphins 23, Jets 20
Jets +3½ . . . . . under 44 . . . . . Miami -185
Final Score: Dolphins 27, Jets 23 ✓
Jets +3½ x . . . . under 44 x . . . . Dolphins -185 ✓
★★★★ 4-3 Pittsburgh Steelers at 3-4 Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, November 6 at 1:00 pm ET; Ian Eagle, Rich Gannon, Evan Washburn.
Steelers -2 . . . . over/under 43½ . . . . PIT -130, BAL +110
Broadcast in all markets with the exceptions of western New England, Florida, southern Georgia (Albany, Savannah), Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Fargo ND, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
My first inclination was that I must be missing something. The Steelers should be favored here with or without Ben Roethlisberger, right? Pittsburgh has not looked good at all in their last two road games though, losing to Philadelphia and Miami by a combined score of 64-18. In the past Big Ben has been so-so in his first game back from an injury, but Baltimore’s defense is banged up and may not be able to generate much of a pass rush. The Steelers get DE Cameron Heyward back, which should resolve many of their problems on defense.
Prediction: Steelers 24, Ravens 20
Steelers -2 . . . . . over 43½ . . . . . Pittsburgh -130
Final Score: Ravens 21, Steelers 14 x
Steelers -2 x . . . . over 43½ x . . . . Steelers -130 x
NFL Week 9 Late Games on FOX
★★ 3-4 New Orleans at 1-6 San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, November 6 at 4:05 pm ET; Chris Myers, Ronde Barber, Jennifer Hale.
Saints -4 . . . . over/under 52½ . . . . NOR -200, SFO +170
Broadcast in northern California, Louisiana (except Shreveport) and Mississippi.
The Saints are 1-2 outside the loud and friendly confines of the Mercedes Dome, but let’s not overthink this. The Forty Niners are horrible. There is no valid reason to be placing any money on a team that is as bad as San Francisco is if you are getting less than double digit points.
Prediction: Saints 34, Niners 20
Saints -4 (three units) . . . . . over 52½ . . . . . New Orleans -200
Final Score: Saints 41, Niners 23 ✓
Saints -4 ✓✓✓ . . . . over 52½ ✓ . . . . Saints -200 ✓
★★ 2-5 Carolina Panthers at 3-4 Los Angeles Rams
Sunday, November 6 at 4:05 pm ET; Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch and Pam Oliver.
Panthers -3 . . . . over/under 44½ . . . . CAR -155, LAR +135
Broadcast in southern California, Jacksonville FL, Miami FL, Georgia (except Atlanta), Baltimore MD, Kansas City MO, Springfield MO, North Carolina, Pittsburgh PA, South Carolina and Roanoke VA.
When healthy the Ram defensive line can cause nightmares, with too many capable players to block. Carolina had a nice win last week, but that was against an Arizona team traveling cross country after an overtime game. It’s just too difficult to put much faith in Jeff Fisher and the LA offense to wager on this game though.
Prediction: Rams 20, Panthers 17 x
Rams +3 . . . . . under 44½ . . . . . Los Angeles +135
Final Score: Panthers 13, Rams 10
Rams +3 -push- . . . . under 44½ ✓ . . . . Rams +135 x
NFL Week 9 Late Games on CBS
★★★★ 3-5 Indianapolis Colts at 4-3 Green Bay Packers
Sunday, November 6 at 4:25 pm ET; Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Tracy Wolfson.
Packers -7 . . . . over/under 54½ . . . . GNB -320, IND +260
Broadcast in all markets with the exceptions of Huntsville AL, Yuma AZ, southern California, San Francisco CA, Bowling Green KY, Tupelo MS, Cape Girardeau MO, Reno NV, Eugene OR and Tennessee.
Green Bay’s pass coverage could not stop Mohamed Sanu nor Taylor Gabriel in last week’s loss to the Falcons. Now they get to face T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief. Hilton looked bad last week due to a hamstring injury, so the Pack may catch a break there. Green Bay has injury concerns as well, with RB James Starks and TE Jared Cook out, and WR Randall Cobb dealing with his own hamstring injury. If Nick Foles and the KC receivers could make Indy’s pass defense look as bad as they did last week, I’ll bank on Aaron Rodgers being able to do the same.
Prediction: Packers 28, Colts 17
Packers -7 (two units) . . . . . under 54½ . . . . . Green Bay -320
Final Score: Colts 31, Packers 26 x
Packers -7 xx . . . . under 54½ x . . . . Packers -320 x
★★ 4-4 Tennessee Titans at 3-5 San Diego Chargers
Sunday, November 6 at 4:25 pm ET; Kevin Harlan and Dan Fouts.
Chargers -4½ . . . . over/under 47 . . . . SDG -200, TEN +170
Broadcast in Huntsville AL, Yuma AZ, southern California, Bowling Green KY, Tupelo MS, Cape Girardeau MO, Reno NV, Eugene OR and Tennessee.
Both of these defenses have vastly improved since last year. Rookie Joey Bosa has been a positive influence for the Chargers. Tennessee is allowing 4.0 yards per carry (10th) and 83 rushing yards per game (5th), though their pass defense still has a ways to go. That’s not good when going on the road to face Philip Rivers, Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin.
Prediction: Chargers 27, Titans 17
Chargers -4½ (one unit) . . . . . under 47 . . . . . San Diego -200
Final Score: Chargers 43, Titans 35 ✓
Chargers -4½ ✓ . . . . under 47 x . . . . Chargers -200 ✓
NFL Week 9 Sunday Night Football on NBC
★★★★★ 6-2 Denver Broncos at 6-2 Oakland Raiders
Sunday, November 6 at 8:30 pm ET; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya.
Raiders -1½ . . . . over/under 43½ . . . . OAK -125, DEN +105
Broadcast in all markets.
A rare treat for NFL fans: two teams well above .500 in prime time. Denver has the better defense, Oakland the better offense. With Aqib Talib out I like the Raiders here.
Prediction: Raiders 27, Broncos 24
Raiders -1½ . . . . . over 43½ . . . . . Oakland -125
Final Score: Raiders 30, Broncos 20 ✓
Raiders -1½ ✓ . . . . over 43½ ✓ . . . . Raiders -125 ✓
NFL Week 9 Monday Night Football on BSPN
★★★★ 4-4 Buffalo Bills at 4-2-1 Seattle Seahawks
Monday, November 7 at 8:30 pm ET; Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden and Lisa Salters.
Seahawks -7 . . . . over/under 43½ . . . . SEA -300, BUF +250
Broadcast in all markets.
Seattle’s defense is not as strong as in years past. Could they get caught looking ahead to next week’s game at New England?
Prediction: Seahawks 20, Bills 17
Bills +7 . . . . . under 43½ . . . . . Seattle -300
Final Score: Seahawks 31, Bills 25 ✓
Bills +7 ✓ . . . . under 43½ x . . . . Seahawks -300 ✓
NFL Week 9 Byes
New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans and Washington Redskins.
NFL Week 9 Thursday Night Football
With two bad defenses, I expected this to be a high scoring game. It did not start out that way, but the Falcon passing game gashed Tampa Bay from the last drive of the first half on. Atlanta being a road team on the short week was not a factor in large part due to the relatively short distance that needed to be traveled. Sweeping a division rival is always difficult, but the biggest factor was that Atlanta is simply a far superior (and healthier) team right now.
Prediction: Falcons 35, Buccaneers 24
Falcons -3½ (one unit) . . . . over 50½ (three units) . . . . Atlanta -175
Final Score: Falcons 43, Buccaneers 28 ✓
Falcons -3½ ✓ . . . . over 50½ ✓✓✓ . . . . Falcons -175 ✓
3-Team Parlay (one unit): x
Saints -4 at Niners ✓
Cowboys -7 at Browns ✓
Packers -7 vs Colts x
4-Team 6-Point Teaser (one unit): ✓
Saints +2 at Niners ✓
Cowboys -1 at Browns ✓
Bills +13 at Seahawks ✓
Giants +3½ vs Eagles ✓
Tale of the Tape
Last week was one of those rare instances where everything just fell in to place. I had full confidence that the Patriots would continue their history of soundly defeating a team they had lost to earlier in the season. In my first five-unit play of the year the Pats came through, winning easily and covering the spread by 9½ points.
Similarly I took the Broncos (only -4 at home) for three units to beat San Diego in a revenge game. Things looked dicey when Philadelphia was still up by 10 in the fourth quarter though. I not only had two units on Dallas -4½, I also had two units on the Cowboys in a parlay and two more on a teaser. Dallas not only rallied, but rather than win by a field goal (and not cover the spread) they forced overtime. The Cowboys then perfected the comeback by winning with a touchdown to cover those 4½ points.
Week 8 Results:
8-4-1 Straight Up
8-5 Against the Spread
5-unit plays: 1-0, +500
3-unit plays: 2-0, +600
2-unit plays: 3-1, +380
1-unit plays: 3-1, +190
3-Game Parlay: 2u, 1-0, +1200
4-Game Teaser: 2u, 1-0, +600
27 units invested
11-2, +3470 on $2970 risk
Year to Date Results:
67-51-2 Straight Up
67-50-3 Against the Spread
5-unit plays: 1-0, +500
3-unit plays: 4-5-1, -480
2-unit plays: 20-11, +1630
1-unit plays: 29-12-1, +1570
Parlays: 2-4, +1360
Teasers: 4-2, +2070
60-34-2, +6760 on original $2310 risk.
292.6% ROI on original $2310 bankroll.
38.7% ROI on $17,490 (159 units) of total weekly investments.
11-2, +3470 on 27 units (+116.8%) in Week 8.
3-6, -480 on 12 units (-36.4%) in Week 7.
9-3-1, +1300 on 17 units (+69.5%) in Week 6.
7-7, +50 on 22 units (+2.1%) in Week 5.
9-2, +1910 on 18 units (+96.5%) in Week 4.
3-9-1, -1280 on 22 units (-58.2%) in Week 3.
9-3, +950 on 20 units (+43.2%) in Week 2.
9-2, +840 on 21 units (+36.4%) in Week 1.
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