NFL Predictions Week 9: Odds, Predictions and Advice for Ideal Underdogs
Featured Columnist October 31, 2018 Comments Comment Bubble Icon
In NFL Week 9, upsets are back on the menu.
They briefly left it the week prior, with contenders like Philadelphia, Kansas City, Washington, Pittsburgh, Carolina, New Orleans, New England and the Los Angeles Rams all taking care of business against mostly inferior competition.
But Week 9 isn’t so cut and dry, not with some of these teams tasked with head-to-head matchups or other difficult encounters.
With would-be bettors likely distracted by all the news from a chaotic trade deadline, let’s take a moment to glance over the entire schedule and sketch out some upset picks to target.
Week 9 NFL Odds
Oakland at San Francisco (-3) | O/U 46.5
Chicago at Buffalo (n/a) | O/U n/a
Pittsburgh at Baltimore (-3) | O/U 47
Atlanta at Washington (-1.5) | O/U 47.5
Detroit at Minnesota (-5) | O/U 50.5
Kansas City (-9) at Cleveland | O/U 51.5
N.Y. Jets at Miami (-3) | O/U 45
Tampa Bay at Carolina (-7) | O/U 54
Houston at Denver (-2.5) | O/U 46
L.A. Chargers at Seattle (-1.5) | O/U 48
L.A. Rams at New Orleans (-1) | O/U 60
Green Bay at New England (-6) | O/U n/a
Tennessee at Dallas (-6.5) | O/U 41a
Pittsburgh at Baltimore (-3)
Here we go again with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It makes sense oddsmakers like the Baltimore Ravens over the Steelers—to a degree. These AFC North rivals met in Week 4 and played to a 26-14 win for the visiting Ravens, who now turn around and host the rematch.
But it is never so simple with the Steelers.
Pittsburgh has won three games in a row since the loss to Baltimore, even going to Cincinnati and picking up a win and also whipping Cleveland 33-18—the latter retribution for a 21-21 tie with the Browns to start the season.
The lack of Le’Veon Bell hasn’t hurt the team in the slightest, as James Conner has seemingly only gotten better as the season progresses:
James Conner leads the AFC with 599 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns and is tied for the NFL lead with 100-yard rushing games (4) and runs of 20+ yards (7)
Baltimore has gone in the complete opposite direction since beating Pittsburgh, taking a 12-9 overtime loss to Cleveland, then beating Tennessee before getting dropped by a pair of contenders in games against New Orleans and Carolina.
Now 4-4, the 36-21 loss to the Panthers is the biggest signal things continue to head in the wrong direction without a clear-cut stopping point.
Joe Flacco couldn’t respond when the Ravens needed him to take flight, going 22-of-39 with 192 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. And the defense fell apart, coughing up three total touchdowns to Cam Newton and 154 rushing yards and two scores.
While these two usually play each other tough, the better team has more momentum right now and mistakes to learn from thanks to the first encounter. Look for Conner to carry the Steelers through a close one.
Prediction: Steelers 27, Ravens 24
Houston at Denver (-1)
Bettors need to grab this one while they can.
The Houston Texans are one of the NFL’s hottest teams right now, winning five straight since starting the season 0-3. It seemed bad at first, but the reality is the Texans dropped games against solid New England and Tennessee teams before an unacceptable hiccup against the New York Giants.
But now the Texans have gritted out wins over the likes of Dallas and Jacksonville, with star quarterback Deshaun Watson sitting on 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions while his defense ranks among the top 10 with just 20.9 points allowed per game.
As always, it is the high-upside quarterback who makes all the difference, both on a week-to-week basis and over the long term:
Deshaun Watson in perspective: • 34 pass TD in first 15 games (2nd-Most in NFL history) • 4 games with 4+ pass TD since 2017 (T-Most in NFL) • 2 games with 5+ pass TD since 2017 (Most in NFL) • 4 games with 4+ pass TD in first 15 career games (T-Most since 1950, Mahomes)
Even better, Watson just got a reliable target at the trade deadline with the Texans striking a deal for wideout Demaryius Thomas, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Where to even start with the Broncos? Shipping away Thomas to their same-week opponent seems to say quite a bit. They have dropped five of their last six, with the only win over that span a triumph over a two-win Arizona team.
As mentioned, a team lives and dies by the quarterback. The front office decided to gamble it could replicate the coaching that produced a strong year from Case Keenum one season ago. Instead, he’s thrown as many touchdowns as interceptions at 10 apiece and opponents have exploited the Broncos on the ground, where they rank outside the top 25 against the rush.
This is a lost season for Denver, a team without the firepower necessary to counteract Watson and only doing more work at the deadline to set itself back in this area. Look for Watson to have another smooth performance while jumping out to an early lead and then riding the ground game to a win.
Prediction: Texans 23, Broncos 17
L.A. Chargers at Seattle (-1.5)
This is one of the tougher matchups of the week, yet it’s hard to ignore just how great the Los Angeles Chargers look this year.
Philip Rivers’ team is 5-2 and winners of four in a row, with the only losses coming at the hands of Kansas City and the Los Angeles Rams.
For whatever reason, Rivers’ accomplishments don’t get any national attention despite the fact he’s sitting on 17 touchdowns with just three interceptions, completing 69.1 percent of his passes in the process.
It helps Rivers is quietly surrounded with an elite supporting cast. Melvin Gordon is averaging north of five yards per carry with six rushing scores already. Keenan Allen is one of the game’s best outright receivers, and Tyrell and Mike Williams have combined for eight touchdown catches.
.@Chargers QB Philip Rivers passed for 306 yards, 2 TDs & a 137.7 passer rating in today’s win at Wembley Stadium in London. Rivers joins Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Dan Marino & Brett Favre as the only QBs in @NFL history with 60+ career 300-yard passing games. https://t.co/N0XG8H5Hdj
The result? A stellar 26 or more points in five games so far with a fifth win looking probable.
That isn’t to say Seattle has been bad this year, but the Russell Wilson-led Seahawks have been far less consistent. They started the season in typical Seahawks fashion at 0-2 before correcting to 4-3, but losing to Denver and hardly beating Arizona by three points isn’t a good sign.
Wilson himself is one of the last men standing from the Super Bowl squad at this point, but 16 touchdowns and four interceptions haven’t been enough to consistently escape tough games with wins.
Seattle has benefited to this point from playing a lack of coherent offenses, which simply won’t be the case with the Chargers in town. Rivers has a balanced attack and enough talent to carry the unit on his own when necessary, so look for him to exploit a few miscues by the Seattle secondary to squeak this one out.
Prediction: Chargers 28, Seahawks 24