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DraftKings is offering up a new free-to-enter pool for the 2022 NFL season. It runs for the first 17 weeks of the season, and users are allowed to pick their five favorite spreads each week. You’re also allowed one self-appointed bye week, meaning each player will pick 80 games by the end of Week 17. The players who do the best will have a chance to take home part of a $100,000 prize pool, plus millions in bonus prizes.
Let’s take a look at my five favorite picks for NFL Week 9.
The Pick: Falcons +3.5
2022-23 is going to go down as another classic Chargers season. They entered the year with as much talent as anyone in football, but for one reason or another, they never seem to live up to their potential. They haven’t been bad this season – they’ve posted a 4-3 record and are still in the Wild Card hunt – but their underlying metrics aren’t pretty. They rank just 27th in point differential, giving them a Pythagorean win expectation of just 2.9-4.1. They also rank just 16th in Football Outsiders DVOA, putting them behind teams like the Patriots, Packers and Broncos.
Of course, it isn’t entirely their fault. The Chargers have been hit as hard by injuries as any team in the league. They’re going to be without Joey Bosa, Rashawn Slater, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams this week, so this is hardly the squad that they opened the year with. They still have Justin Herbert, but that’s basically all they’re working with on the offensive side of the ball.
The Falcons’ offense has been better than expected this season, so I like their chances of putting up points against a depleted Chargers defense. I will gladly back them as 3.5-point home dogs.
The Pick: Lions +3.5
The Packers have fallen to the point where they’re favored by just 3.5 points against the Lions. What’s even crazier is that I like the Lions in this spot. The Packers seemed like they waived the white flag last week vs. the Bills, opting to continue to run the ball deep into the fourth quarter down by 17 points. Aaron Rodgers has no confidence in his pass catchers, so it’s been up to Aaron Jones to carry the load on a weekly basis.
He should be able to do that this week vs. the Lions, who have been an abomination on defense this season. However, the Lions’ offense is frisky enough to put up some points themselves. With Amon-Ra St. Brown and D’Andre Swift back in the fold, the Lions are going to threaten a Packers’ defense that ranks just 22nd in defensive DVOA.
The Lions failed to cover in a similar spot last week, losing by four points to the Dolphins, but they held a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. This team has been unable to close out plenty of games under head coach Dan Campbell, but they have also displayed an ability to cover as underdogs. The team is 15-11 as an underdog since he took over as head coach, including 8-4 as a home dog.
The Pick: Panthers +7.5
This is my favorite spot of the week. The Panthers have shown massive improvement since switching to P.J. Walker at quarterback. He’s far from Patrick Mahomes, but he’s averaged 7.9 adjusted yards per attempt with just one interception. Baker Mayfield had four picks and six fumbles in his five games, so the upgrade to Walker cannot be overstated.
He should be able to put some points on the board against a decimated Bengals’ secondary. Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton have both been ruled out, and they’re easily the team’s top two corners. Tre Flowers is also questionable, so they will be incredibly thin if he’s unable to go.
Defensively, the Panthers have held their own this season. They’ve been particularly good against the run, so the Bengals will have to lean on Joe Burrow. That’s not a bad thing – Burrow is one of the best QBs in football – but he struggled last week without Ja’Marr Chase. The Panthers pass rush isn’t nearly as good as the Browns, but they have some talent in their back seven. Ultimately, I think this game stays within a touchdown, and it wouldn’t shock me if the Panthers pulled off the upset.
The Pick: Commanders +3.5
I attempted to fade the Vikings last week, and I’m still mad about how it ended. They were down two points with 10 minutes left to go in the fourth quarter, but Greg Dortch muffed a punt and allowed the Vikings to grab an eight-point lead. The Cardinals still had their chances after that, but a turnover on downs and an interception resulted in a Vikings cover.
That said, I remain undeterred in my quest to fade Minnesota. They are an incredibly fraudulent one-loss squad, ranking 28th in the league in yardage differential. You are simply not supposed to win games when you’re being outgained so heavily, but the Vikings have managed to do it.
However, they will not have the benefit of home field this week vs. the Commanders. They’ll have to leave the friendly confines of a dome for the outdoor conditions of Washington DC, and the Commanders have quietly played some good football of late. They’ve limited three straight quarterbacks to less than 200 passing yards, and their offense has looked better since making the switch to Taylor Heinicke. Heinicke has been much more willing to lean on stud receiver Terry McLaurin, who should have a big game against a Vikings squad that ranks dead last in DVOA vs. No. 1 receivers.
The Pick: Seahawks +2.5
Most of the time, my picks focus on fading public perception. If you focused solely on identifying which teams are overvalued and undervalued by the public, you can do very well betting on the NFL.
However, sometimes a line just simply doesn’t make sense. This is one of those occasions. I don’t have any idea how Vegas can look at these two teams and make the Cardinals 2.5-point favorites. That says that these two teams are roughly even on a neutral field, and that’s hard for me to wrap my head around. The Seahawks currently rank sixth in overall DVOA, while the Cardinals are all the way down in 30th.
This line has started to move towards Seattle, which is not surprising given the avalanche of money landing on the Seahawks. It’s always scary to be on a public team, but I’ll take my chances with the undervalued Geno Smith and company.
Year-to-Date Results: 31-9 (3-2 last week)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.