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01 November 2019 02:38

New England scored just one offensive touchdown in their only road game against a winning team.

NFL expert Week 9 predictions, picks, best bets against the spread

"Obviously, we did our research on him and knew that he had great speed and had great ability to get vertical in the defense," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said. "We knew that he was a really good kid, a kid that wanted to come in and work really hard, and just try to do everything he could to be a part of the team. Stafford's 33 completions of 20-plus yards are the fourth most in the NFL, and he has a lot of trust when he sees Hall is a good matchup down the field. There are not enough good teams in the NFL right now. Scoring is down close to a point per game compared to 2018, and Weeks 8 and 9 are two of the three lowest average Over/Under weeks in the last two years.

Week 17 last year, with a bunch of meaningless games, backups on the field, and cold weather. This week six out of 14 matchups have Over/Under numbers between 40 and 45 points, with a couple sub-40s thrown in. Luckily for us, we don't have to watch all these games (I'll take a pass on Jets-Dolphins thank you) but that doesn't mean there aren't some profitable bets mixed in. We gave the Jets a pass during the Luke Falk weeks, but the fact is their offense hasn't been any good with Sam Darnold at the helm either. I thought he took too much flak for his "seeing ghosts" (all quarterbacks get fooled sometimes) but it's happened far too often for me to have any faith in the Jets Offense.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has shown the ability to put up points (for either team), but that doesn't look to be enough in this battle for irrelevancy in the AFC East. Maybe the craziest stat: through seven games, these teams have scored a combined 155 points, or 22.1 per game. The average NFL team scores 22.4 points per game. But the fact remains that despite Christian McCaffrey putting up video-game numbers, the Carolina offense has struggled in 2019. That's likely to continue as the Panthers go against a Tennessee defense that ranks third by EPA.

It's no fun to watch but it's a reasonable strategy with that defense allowing opponents to score on just over a quarter of drives and keeping them in games despite the offensive struggles. It's a low total by 2018 standards, but we've seen 43 percent of games in 2019 hit 41 points or fewer. The Dallas Cowboys enter Week 9 as the No. 1 offense by EPA and get a great matchup to keep that title for another week. The defense leads the NFL in giving up plays with an EPA of +2 or more (56 through Week 8) and the Cowboys have plenty of weapons to take advantage. On the other side of the ball, the Giants Offense leads the NFL in plays with an EPA of -2 or worse (31).

Big plays and a very good offense against a bad defense. Below are our experts picking the games against the spread this season, along with each of their picks against the spread and best bets for this weekend's slate. The Colts are a significantly better team than the Steelers, who just had to survive the tanking Dolphins in their own building. Mason Rudolph looked atrocious for most of Monday night, and Pittsburgh might be without James Conner and are banged up on the offensive line on a short week. The Colts absolutely have the offensive line to handle the Steelers' pass rush.

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And Indy is 8-4-1 ATS on the road under Frank Reich—that push was the overtime loss to the Chargers in Week 1—and their last two road games were straight-up wins over the Titans and the Chiefs (who still had Patrick Mahomes at that point). Oakland has not played a home game since Sept. Yes, the Raiders have really been on the road (and in London) since Week 2 of the NFL season. Now, after some really tough losses, they come home to face a banged-up Lions team. But last week we cashed fading a team that isn't as good as its record in the Bills, and we'll be using that same formula this time around for the Seahawks. The Seahawks have played just three teams thus far with a winning record—the Ravens, Rams and Saints. Seattle has played all three at home, and still was outscored by 19 points against that trio. Its only other home game came in Week 1 to the Bengals, where Seattle was fortunate to pull off a 21-20 win. Seattle has a 6-2 record and ranks third in Football Outsiders' offensive DVOA. Yet, the Seahawks rank second in passing efficiency and 10th in running efficiency, which is frustrating due to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's addiction to running the football. While they've been running the ball less frequently than last season's 52.4% rushing play percentage, it's still the fourth-highest mark in the NFL in 2019 at 48.3%. Schottenheimer's stubbornness running the football could be costly against the Bucs, as Tampa is tops in the NFL in yards per carry (3.0) and tied for first in stuff rate at 32% (runs stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage). Tampa is a team that's better than its record that has really been undone by turnovers. Matthew Stafford in midst of best season as he aims to 'master' Lions offense Allen Park — In his 11th NFL season, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is peaking. After all, he just had a perfect second half in last Sunday's game against the New York Giants, completing all 12 of his passes over the final two quarters, propelling the Lions to a 31-26 victory. Through seven games, he's on pace for career-highs in yards per attempt, yards per completion, touchdown rate, passer rating and QBR, ESPN's admittedly confusing metric that attempts to assign value to a quarterback's situational, play-by-play performance. "I've been really impressed with just about everything that he's done since I've been here," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said a week ago. Even though Stafford is unlikely to hit the 5,000-yard, 40-touchdown benchmarks of his 2011 campaign, or be called upon to lead an NFL-record eight fourth-quarter comebacks like he did in 2016, this season has the potential to trump them all. Many would say he's an expert at evaluating the position, and he has his own quarterback, Derek Carr, playing the best football of his career. "Well I think the big thing that Matt does a great job of is he protects the offense at the line of scrimmage," Gruden said. The Lions have been competitive week in and week out in 2019, and could easily be 6-1 if a few more breaks went their way, but the lack of a consistent run game or defense, two things that have long been part of the quarterback's narrative, have prevented him from receiving the full attention his performance merits. Where Matthew Stafford ranks in the NFL this season: The Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts could all have big wins as road favorites in Week 9. The Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens both can upset two of the best teams in the AFC. There's no such thing as a "sure thing" when it comes to gambling, but here are the five best bets against the spread for Week 9 of the 2019 NFL season. The Packers are 4-0 against teams that enter Week 9 with losing records. The Chargers essentially have no home-field advantage with a 1-3 record in L.A. All of those losses came by a touchdown, and two came against sub-.500 teams. The Packers won't have trouble outscoring a team that's only put up more than 20 points when facing the Dolphins over the last seven games. The Chiefs have lost three straight home games, unable to slow down the Colts, Texans and Packers. The Vikings are third in both total offense and yards per play. Kirk Cousins continues to torch subpar defenses with 10 touchdowns, one interception and an average passer rating of 132.7 in his last four games. Mike Tomlin's squad remains a mediocre team, despite a two-game winning streak. The Steelers are 0-4 against teams that sit above.500, including two losses at home. The Colts are in the hunt for a playoff bye with a 5-2 record, finding different ways to win each week. Mason Rudolph will struggle against a defense that's allowed an average of 16.3 points during Indianapolis' three-game winning streak. The New England Patriots might be in for their first loss of the season in Week 9. The Ravens are fifth in yards per play and second in yards per game, led by a dynamic quarterback that doesn't need big passing numbers in order to be successful. Lamar Jackson will use his legs—he's ninth in rushing yards per game—to move the ball against a defense that's holding opposing quarterbacks to a 40.6 passer rating. The Patriots' defense has been able to mask the fact that Tom Brady is playing behind a banged-up offensive line with a weakened receiving corps. New England scored just one offensive touchdown in their only road game against a winning team. New York is just 1-3 at home this season, only beating the one-win Redskins. In every other game this season, the Giants have given up at least 27 points. The Giants are 25th in opponents' yards per play and 28th in total defense. The Cowboys are first in both yards per play and total offense. Dak Prescott has recorded 11 total touchdowns, two interceptions and 8.9 yards per attempt against sub-.500 teams.