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There is a free $5K Sportsbook Pool for NFL Week 9. You have to pick each of the games on Sunday against the spread, and the higher you finish on the leaderboard, the more money you earn.
Let’s take a look at all the contests slated for Sunday, including my five personal favorites.
Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5)
The Pick: Browns +2.5
This is an interesting matchup between two AFC North rivals coming off disappointing performances. The Browns dropped an ugly game vs. the Steelers, while the Bengals lost to the Jets. The Jets didn’t even have their starting quarterback for that contest, and they lost as 10.5-point favorites.
While that certainly was a bad performance by the Bengals, this team is still held in higher regard than the Browns by the general public. The Bengals have received 67% of the early spread bets, but the Browns have received some sharp support. They’ve actually received the majority of the spread dollars on roughly 1/3 of the bets.
The Browns also stand out as extremely undervalued from a DVOA perspective. They rank sixth in Football Outsiders DVOA, while the Bengals rank 21st. However, the current spread suggests that these two teams are roughly even on a neutral field. That’s not reflected by the numbers.
Finally, the Browns could benefit from some addition by subtraction in regard to Odell Beckham Jr. It’s not all that intuitive that losing a No. 1 wide receiver would make a quarterback better, but that’s the case with Baker Mayfield. Mayfield has averaged approximately 0.75 fewer interceptions when playing without Beckham, and he’s posted a better completion percentage with more yards per game.
Ultimately, this feels like a nice opportunity to buy low on the Browns.
Houston Texans @ Miami Dolphins (-6.5)
The Pick: Texans +6.5
This pick comes down to one man: Tyrod Taylor. He’s expected to start at quarterback in this matchup, which will thankfully relegate Davis Mills back to the bench. Taylor may not be a superstar, but he’s miles better than Mills. The Texans averaged 6.6 yards per play with Taylor under center to start the year, and he averaged 10.8 adjusted yards per attempt. Mills was at 5.4 adjusted yards per attempt, so this is a pretty massive upgrade.
It has also historically been a profitable endeavor to simply take the points when two bad teams are matched up. The Dolphins are probably better than the Texans, but are they this much better than the Texans? I doubt it, at least with Taylor back at quarterback. This line has moved to Dolphins -5.5 on DraftKings Sportsbook, so we’re also getting a smidge of spread value.
Buffalo Bills (-11.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: Bills -11.5
I’m very rarely interested in backing big favorites, but this game smells like a blowout. The Bills have been undoubtedly the best team in football this season. They rank first in both points per game and points per game allowed, and they unsurprisingly rank first in DVOA. Their defense has been especially impressive this season, while Josh Allen remains one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league.
On the other side, the Jaguars are arguably the worst team in the league. Trevor Lawrence has not had the rookie season that most anticipated, and he hasn’t gotten any real help from the coaching staff. The team could also be without James Robinson in this contest, which would give the offense one fewer weapon than usual.
This spread is now more than 14 points on DraftKings Sportsbook, and the Bills have received a whopping 95% of the spread dollars. Even if they don’t bring their A-game to Jacksonville, they should win this game by a comfortable margin.
Green Bay Packers @ Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5)
The Pick: Chiefs -2.5
These last two games feel kind of like layups. The Chiefs have ballooned to 7.5-point favorites following the news that Aaron Rodgers would miss this game due to COVID-19, but we can still grab them at -2.5 in this pool. That’s simply too appealing to pass up.
The Chiefs have been an abomination against the spread recently, going just 3-13 in their past 16 regular-season games, but this is an excellent get-right spot for their offense. The Packers’ defense is extremely vulnerable without Jaire Alexander, so expect Patrick Mahomes and co. to have a big day.
Arizona Cardinals (-6.5) @ San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: 49ers +6.5
This game is even more of a no-brainer than the last one. The 49ers are listed as 6.5-point underdogs in this pool, but they’ve actually moved to favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook.
This is due to the likely absences of Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins. Both players are technically questionable, but neither player is currently expected to suit up.
The 49ers have some injury issues of their own, but they simply should not lose to a team playing Colt McCoy at quarterback.
Here’s who I’m targeting for the rest of the Sunday games. Remember, we’re looking to beat the competition and climb up the leaderboard, so I’ll be looking to gain leverage on the field and fade the public in situations where I don’t see a huge edge on the spread.
Las Vegas Raiders (-2.5) @ New York Giants
Pick: Giants +2.5
Denver Broncos @ Dallas Cowboys (-7.5)
Pick: Cowboys -7.5
Minnesota Vikings @ Baltimore Ravens (-5.5)
Pick: Vikings +5.5
New England Patriots (-1.5) @ Carolina Panthers
Pick: Patriots -1.5
Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints (-4.5)
Pick: Falcons +4.5
Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5) @ Philadelphia Eagles
Pick: Chargers -3.5
Tennessee Titans @ Los Angeles Rams (-4.5)
Pick: Titans +4.5
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