Most bettors had a losing NFL Week 9.
The public was continually on the wrong sides of games, including the Vikings (bet up to -5 at the Chiefs without Patrick Mahomes), Browns (-3 at the Broncos), Packers (-3.5 at the Chargers) and previously undefeated Patriots (-3 at the Ravens). In the biggest handicapping contests here, the Top 5 Most-Selected Teams went 0-4-1 against the spread in the Westgate SuperContest and even worse at 0-5 in the inaugural Circa Sports Million. That’s usually good news for yours truly, Dave Tuley, but unfortunately I went only 2-3 in the SuperContest and 1-3 in The Times, as I avoided those popular losers but didn’t find enough winners in the other games.
However, I know being a contrarian pays off in the long run, so I have five (hopefully) live underdogs for Sunday. As a “dog-or-pass” bettor, I’m passing on the Rams as 3.5-point road favorites at Pittsburgh, though I have a lot of longtime followers who see it as an endorsement of the chalk if I’m unable to make a case for the underdog.
Bills (+3) at Browns
I loved this game when I saw the Browns open as 2.5-point favorites Sunday afternoon at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook and have been pleasantly surprised to see it bet up to a full field goal. I know the Bills aren’t the flashiest team to bet on, as they rely mostly on a No. 3-ranked defense allowing just 296.2 yards and 16.4 points per game and an offense that doesn’t land on many highlight reels. But why are people still betting the overrated and underachieving Browns? I’ll gladly take the points. The money line of +130 to +135 is also a great bet.
Bengals (+10) vs. Ravens
Yes, I know the Ravens are 6-2 straight up and coming off an impressive 37-20 win over the Patriots, while the Bengals are the last winless team at 0-8. But remember that the Ravens are only 3-4-1 against the spread and don’t always win by margin, while the Bengals have stepped up and covered against playoff-bound teams like the Seahawks in Week 1, the Bills in Week 3 and, oh, wait, these same Ravens just four weeks ago in a 23-17 loss. And that was in Baltimore; this is at home. Ryan Finley takes over at QB for the Bengals, and while we don’t want to put too much stock into how well he played in the preseason, first-time starters have done just fine this season. I like the Bengals’ chances even more if WR A.J. Green makes his season debut, though they covered the last meeting without him.
Panthers (+5) at Packers
Even with Kyle Allen filling in admirably for Cam Newton, who was placed on IR this week, RB Christian McCaffery makes the Panthers’ offense purr — and makes them a live dog heading into Green Bay. I’ve been saying since before their Week 4 loss to the Eagles that the Packers’ defense was overrated, and it was exposed again in their 26-11 loss to the Chargers. The Panthers can do the same thing to the Packers. I’m also waiting to see how high the money line goes (+213 at Circa as of late Wednesday night).
Dolphins (+10.5) at Colts
The lowly Dolphins have actually covered four consecutive games, and last week they showed the coaches that they were, indeed, trying to win as they upset the Jets 26-18. The Colts come in off a really tough loss to the Steelers. They were leading 10-3 and driving for another score when a 96-yard pick-six turned the game around, and they still would have won if Adam Vinatieri hadn’t pulled a Ray Finkle (“Laces out!”). Regardless, whether it’s Jacoby Brissett or Brian Hoyer getting the start, I expect the Colts to squeak out another victory but the Dolphins to stay close enough to cover the double-digit spread.
Vikings (+3) at Cowboys
The stats give the edge to the Cowboys — No. 1 vs. No. 6 in yards per game, No. 6 vs. No. 7 in yards allowed. But I keep coming back to trusting the Vikings more offensively, even if Adam Thielen is out again since they still have RB Dalvin Cook and QB Kirk Cousins spreading the ball around, as well as on defense. And Mike Zimmer has a big coaching edge over Jason Garrett.
LAST WEEK IN THE TIMES: 1-3 (plus win on Cardinals +10.5 on “Thursday Night Football” for early online readers).
SEASON (SuperContest): 24-21.
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