Week 8 came and went without Derek Carr getting traded, but the trade deadline was exciting all the same. Golden Tate to the Eagles, Ty Montgomery to the Ravens, Eli Apple to the Saints, plenty of faces changed places at the deadline as teams make moves to try to separate from the pack. Jameis Winston finds himself benched heading into week 9 and the Ryan Fitzmagic hype is back on. So let’s dive into week 9 and get that money while we kick back and enjoy football this Sunday.
Scoring the Week
After nailing the Redskins on a great spot on the road, we took a beating with the Chiefs squandering the spread to Case Keenum and the Packers and Rams coming a point short of the over with Todd Gurley falling short of the end zone to kill time. The Vikings fell apart in the second half after playing a tight game early on and came a touchdown short of the over. Variance has been rough recently, but after a good past couple of seasons with the same process, we aren’t flinching now. If it gets any worse, we might have to fade ourselves.
Games to Watch
Chiefs @ Browns
Sure, the Chiefs should win this game in which they are favored by 9 points on the road, and sure, the Chiefs might even cover that spread, but all the same, this game is worth watching. Mayfield vs. Mahomes, a heavy-weight QB showdown we will be tuning in to as a primetime showdown for years to come. With the Browns still developing this might not be an evenly matched game, but it’ll be worth watching the first professional meeting between these two young studs.
Steelers @ Ravens
The AFC North has been bogged down by mediocrity for the majority of the season, and the winner of this game will look to separate as a true contender. The Bengals nearly lost to Ryan Fitzpatrick after picking off Winston four times, nobody is taking them that seriously anymore. The Ravens looked bad against the Panthers after looking strong against the Saints, The Ravens are a quagmire of a team 8 games through the season, hence the 4-4 record. The Steelers are merely looking to continue success coming off of a bye, the Ravens are trying to preserve their season at home.
Side Note: If the Ravens lose this game at home and ultimately miss the playoffs and fire John Harbaugh don’t be shocked if he isn’t the head coach of the Browns next season.
Rams @ Saints
The only game more hyped than this one will be the Rodgers Brady Sunday night showdown. The two best teams in the NFC, and perhaps the NFL, square off in a heavyweight matchup playing out on the fast-track inside the dome in New Orleans. The 8-0 Rams look to slow down a Drew Brees on pace to win the MVP. After beating the Vikings on Sunday night football last week, the Saints are looking like a true Superbowl contender. These two teams are an odds-on favorite to be the NFC championship matchup so round one is worth watching every minute of.
Packers @ Patriots
Rodgers vs. Brady, if you’re reading this preview, I’m sure you’ve heard enough already. Back to back to back great Sunday night football matchups.
Wagers and Props
Steelers @ Ravens -3 O/U 47.5
We begin week 8 with the Steelers visiting the Ravens, and before we dive too far into this handicap we’ll begin by letting you know – there is a lot of money coming in on the Steelers, and for a good reason. However, we’ll be waiting until Sunday to lock our bets in for this one because a lot will depend on whether or not two key defensive players are out for the Ravens.
Marlon Humphrey, the Ravens best cornerback, and Tony Jefferson their safety opposite Eric Weddle are both questionable heading into this game, and their impact on the game here makes all the difference. If these two don’t play I love Pittsburgh +2.5 and the Over 47.5. If they do go however I’ll be putting my money on Baltimore -2.5 at home and have the game hitting the under finishing 24-21 in Baltimore’s favor.
The defense matters in a 1pm road start for Big Ben and the Ravens remain the 6th best defensive team according to DVOA adjusted for strength of schedule. The Ravens haven’t looked like the best defense in the league with two tough losses in back to back weeks, but they have played efficiently despite injuries and tough opponents. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, has looked better than they did against the red-hot Chiefs but remain in the bottom-10 teams defensively. While Flacco didn’t look good against the Panthers, he still has fewer turnover worthy throws than Ben who sits at nearly 5%. As the public hammers the line further away from the -3 mark given to Baltimore initially the value changes more in favor of the Ravens.
Chiefs -10 @ Browns O/U 51.5
Another dependent bet here, if Tyreek Hill doesn’t play AND it is raining take the under in this one. The Chiefs should cover as well with the Browns seemingly falling to pieces in the middle of the season, but the under is a juicy spot against a solid defense and a struggling offense for the Browns. The Chiefs without Tyreek Hill won’t be as explosive, and if it’s raining, I like this one to be a nice, boring, one-sided affair that hits the under.
Texans -1 @ Denver
Quitely, the Texans have climbed up out of the basement and made themselves not only a relevant team but a threat in the AFC. This Texans defense is clicking (5th overall defensive DVOA adjusted for strength of schedule) and the offense just added Demaryius Thomas before this matchup against his former team. Schematically the Texans have about as good as an advantage as a team will get, and metric wise things lean heavily in Houston’s favor. DeShaun Watson is getting his legs back under him and as he does his willingness to trust his arm as he targets Hopkins deep down the field has come back as well. Lamar Miller has found a rhythm as well rushing for 100 yards in back to back games.
The Broncos move the ball best when they keep it out of Case Keenum’s hands but the Bronco’s face one of the best rushing defense’s in the league Sunday and will have to rely on their turnover-prone QB. Keenum has at least one pick in each of his 8 starts this season and has fumbled the ball an additional six times on top of that. The fault isn’t entirely on Keenum as the Broncos offensive line continually allows him to be under pressure, but it doesn’t bode well against a top-tier defense this week.
The Texans have advantages across the board, -1 is generous to Denver.
Titans +6.5 @ Dallas
We’re betting against the perception in this game, and the perception is that Amari Cooper makes Dallas a touchdown favorite and I’m not buying it. The Cowboys defense has played well through the first 8 games of the season, and the numbers back it up. Dallas is 11th in defensive DVOA adjusted for S.O.S. and 12th in yards per attempt. All of this favors the Cowboys, who should win this game, just not by 6.5 points. Mike Vrable has kept the Titans in close games they shouldn’t be in throughout the season, and while it hasn’t looked pretty, the Titans seem to have overcome an early throwing-arm injury to their QB. Outside of the first game of the season without Mariota, and the Ravens outlier game, the Titans haven’t lost a game by more than 3 points this season. So while Dallas should win this game, a touchdown is just too large a spread, we’ll take the value and bet the Titans this week.
Vance McDonald will have at least five catches and a touchdown against the Ravens. CJ Mosley has been playing with a hurt knee throughout the year, and it shows as teams have picked on him since his return. Tight ends have been able to burn him and the Ravens safety Tony Jefferson who happens to be listed as questionable on the injury report this week.
QB: Kirk Cousins vs Lions| $6,200 DK / DeShaun Watson @ Denver| $ 7,9000 FD
Two different QBs for two different sites, and it’s all about the pricing.
Cousins is more expensive than Watson on FanDuel ($8,400) making his $6,200 DK price which is cheaper than Watson a screaming value. Cousins 21.2 FPPG are good enough to make him a top-10 fantasy scoring QB, and yet the public is mostly down on him after a prime-time pick-six that wasn’t actually his fault. Cousins price is too low on DraftKings for the amount of production he is locked in for this week against a reeling Lions defense.
DeShaun Watson jumps off the page on a much tighter-priced FanDuel site this week. Unless you’re prepared to trust Joe Flacco against the Steelers, or Ryan Fitzmagic in a tough spot against the Panthers Watson is on the more affordable end of the not-so-cheap spectrum. Watson’s rushing upside make him a worthy play against a Denver team that should give him and the offense plenty of time on the field.
RB: Isiah Crowell @ Dolphins| $4,200 DK/$5,700 FD
Crowell is a value play with a great matchup against a middle of the road Dolphins rush defense (16th rushing defense DVOA adjusted for S.O.S) that just lost defensive tackle, Vincent Taylor. Taylor was replaced by veteran free agent Ziggy Hood this week, so expectations for this rush defense are low. As long as the Jets keep this one close Crowell should see plenty of work. Crowell sits on the edge of average and below average statistically as he isn’t a work-horse back and will have games that aren’t complete misses, but if you want to play Todd Gurley in a high-scoring affair with the Saints – Crowell is one of your best bets.
WR: John Brown vs. Steelers $5,800 DK/$6,400 FD
Flacco’s favorite target who torched the Steelers in their first meeting will look to do more of the same against a defense that struggles to stop the pass. The Steelers play a lot of zone defense which is where Brown has thrived finding soft spots and getting open for Flacco. Brown’s 499 air-yards are good for 8th among, and his 8 end-zone targets are good for 4th among wideouts. The opportunity is there for a player that will be a key part of the game plan against a weak Pittsburgh secondary. Specifically Brown should find himself matched up against Artie Burns who hasn’t shown any of his first-round pick potential he was draft for.
If you don’t feel comfortable playing Brown Devin Funchess is in a similar price range and should see a similar opportunity against the Bucs.
TE: Vance McDonald @ Baltimore|$3,700 DK
My play of the week, if I’m playing Vance as a prop, you can bet I’ll have him in at least half my lineups this week. Kelce in cash no doubt but if you’re squeezing Gurley into a lineup this will be a great spot to play Vance. CJ Mosley is gimpy and struggles in coverage, and Tony Jefferson is banged up as well. Vance finds himself in the perfect spot this week and should find his way into the end zone.
Remember what I told you about Keenum turning the ball over? Easy money this week in DFS banks around the Texans torturing Keenum all afternoon.