NFL Picks Week #9 (2019 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #9)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Wednesday October 30th, 2019 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
PICK #1: New York Jets -3 at Miami Dolphins (rated 4 stars)
For the third straight week, the Dolphins came close to winning a game. They failed to convert a 2-point conversion against the Redskins in a 17-16 loss in Week #6. They led 14-9 at halftime in Buffalo before losing 31-21. Last week, they grabbed an early 14-0 lead before collapsing to a 27-14 defeat in Pittsburgh.
Those losses must be very discouraging for Miami and I could see them losing by a good margin this week. Remember they were 6-point underdogs at home against the Redskins. Why are they now just 3-point dogs? Are the Jets that worse than Washington? I don’t think so! To me, the Jets are a much better team.
After turning the ball over five times against the Pats, Sam Darnold threw three more interceptions in Jacksonville last week. But let’s be honest: Miami’s defense is much weaker than the last two opponents Darnold faced! I expect him to rebound nicely and shred the Dolphins, especially with Miami losing their number one cornerback, Xavien Howard, to a knee injury.
Keep in mind the Dolphins lose one day of rest after playing the Monday Nighter last week.
Also, the Jets have the revenge factor going their way since they lost both meetings to Miami in 2018: 20-12 at home and 13-6 in Miami.
I’m gladly taking New York to win by at least 3 points in this one.
PICK #2: Chicago Bears +5 at Philadelphia Eagles (rated 3 stars)
Are you kidding me? I’m picking the Bears again after getting burned several times by them? At least this time they are established as underdogs.
Chicago is coming off three disappointing losses in a row, where they were the favorites in each one (against the Raiders, the Saints and the Chargers). Their motivation level will be extremely high, especially considering they lost at home to those same Eagles in the playoffs last year (by a 16-to-15 score where kicker Cody Parkey hit the left upright and then the crossbar with 10 seconds left in the game).
I also like the fact that the Bears are coming off three consecutive weeks where they stayed at home, whereas Philly had to travel to Minnesota, Dallas and Buffalo during that time span.
Notice that star wide receiver DeSean Jackson returned to practice this week. He has a shot to play, although it seems a bit unlikely. Head coach Doug Pederson might elect to play it safe with the Eagles going in their bye week next.
My prediction is this game goes down to the wire with either team winning a tight one and the Bears ending up covering the spread.
PICK #3: Cleveland Browns -3 at Denver Broncos (rated 3 stars)
One of the things I do when handicapping NFL games is to try to “predict” the line and compare with the actual spread. This week, my projections came within one point of the actual line, expect this one. I thought the Browns would be 6-point favorites.
Quarterback Joe Flacco is out many weeks and he will be replaced by an unproven guy named Brandon Allen. It will be his first NFL start.
Allen is a former sixth-round pick in the 2016 draft. In two preseason games with the Rams in 2019, he completed close to 60% of his passes with no TD pass and 3 interceptions. Back in 2018, he posted a similar completion rate, but this time with 1 TD pass and a couple of picks. Overall, that makes 1 TD pass versus 5 interceptions against probably the 2nd or 3rd string players from his opponents.
It does not bode well for him against a decent Cleveland defense. They are ranked 10th in terms of sacks, so they know how to pressure quarterbacks. Myles Garrett has been terrorizing opposing QBs with already 10 sacks in just 7 games. He’s a beast.
Many people might disagree with me, but I think Cleveland is much better than their 2-5 record indicates. Except the Jets, they faced some tough teams to beat: New England, Seattle, San Francisco, Baltimore, the Rams and the Titans. Their offense moved the ball pretty well against the very stingy Pats defense last week. If not for three turnovers, they might have had a shot at beating the Pats on the road.
Even though the Browns will be traveling through a couple of time zones, I’m still going with Cleveland laying three points.
PICK #4: Oakland Raiders -2 vs Detroit Lions (rated 2 stars)
All right, so the Raiders are sitting with a 3-4 record. Which teams beat them? The Chiefs, the Vikings, the Packers and the Texans. Those weren’t easy games at all. Meanwhile, they managed to beat the Colts, the Bears and the Broncos. In other words, they haven’t had any cake walk game.
I’m a bit worried about Oakland coming off a stretch of six weeks where they had to travel in five of them. However, the Lions will be going through three time zones to head up to Oakland. This game also represents a non-conference road game for Detroit, which is not super motivating for them, unlike the Raiders who will finally play in front of their fans for the first time since Week #2.
The Lions are pretty banged up on the defensive side of the ball, although they might get a few guys back this week. I like Oakland’s chances of putting up many points on the board. They have scored at least 24 points in each of their past four games, despite playing fairly solid defenses: Indy, Chicago, Green Bay and Houston.
Detroit’s offense is pretty good too, but I like the Raiders to get the W in their first home game in seven weeks.
PICK #5: Tampa Bay Bucs +6 at Seattle Seahawks (rated 2 stars)
This won’t be a popular pick. Many bettors are falling into the trap of feeling like the spread should be bigger on a 6-2 home team who is facing a 2-5 road team.
A lot of people overvalue how difficult it is to play in Seattle. It has not been such a scary place this year. The Seahawks are 2-2 at home, with their two wins occurring by a one-point margin against the Rams and the lowly Bengals.
I also want to point out Tampa’s strength of opposition. The combined record of their opponents this season is 35-26. The only “easy” game was at home against the Giants, which they lost 32-31. However, they pulled off great wins in Carolina and at the Rams.
The Bucs could very easily hold a 4-3 record. A missed 34-yard field goal as time expired cost them the game against the Giants. And an inadvertent whistle cost them a touchdown on a fumble return against the Titans with less than 4 minutes left last week.
Six of Tampa’s seven games have been against top 10 defenses. In those matchups, they averaged 27.5 points per game. That’s impressive stuff! With Seattle’s defense ranking 30th in terms of yards per play, you can expect the Bucs to light up the scoreboard.
Granted, Seattle also has the weapons to score a boatload of points. I expect a shootout that can go either way, in which case I’ll always go with the underdog.
LEAN #1: Buffalo Bills -9.5 vs Washington Redskins
In my mind, there is a HUGE gap between Case Keenum and any of the other Washington QBs. Dwayne Haskins and Colt McCoy are just awful.
For this reason, I like this play a lot more if Keenum misses the game. He is going through the league’s concussion protocol and we don’t know yet if he going to get thrown into action or not at New Era Field this Sunday.
By the way, I’ll be attending this game in person and I’m looking forward to it! Hopefully, the Bills can rack up their sixth win of the season, so I’ll be just one win away from cashing that big $10,000 bet on over 6.5 regular season wins by Buffalo (a bet I placed back in May – see video here).
The rest factor plays largely in favor of Sean McDermott’s squad. A team staying at home four straight weeks is seldom seen in the NFL, but that’s the case for Buffalo (including their bye week). Meanwhile, the Skins are on the road for a third time in the past four weeks. However, one thing helps Washington: they played last Thursday so they benefit from three extra days of rest.
With a 1-7 record and their bye week up next, I can envision the Redskins giving up easily. In the meantine, after a solid 4-1 start the Bills have looked shaky in their two games since their bye week. They had all kinds of trouble handling the Dolphins at home, and they were gashed big time by the Eagles last week. After allowing just 14 points per game on average over their first five games, they have given up 21 and 31 points in their most recent matchups.
There is no way Buffalo will look past the Redskins after such disappointing performances. I expect their level of motivation to be 100 times higher than Washington’s.
That being said, I’d be cautious if Keenum plays. Like I said last week when I picked the Redskins to cover the spread in Minnesota, I’m probably one of the few that thinks Keenum is not a bad quarterback. He played great in the first half in Minnesota, before exiting because of a concussion. If he is out and Haskins steps in, I’ll jump on the Bills laying 9.5 points.
LEAN #2: Baltimore Ravens +3.5 vs New England Patriots
Boy, I hate fading New England. They often find a way to beat the spread. But let’s give it a try, shall we?
The Ravens are coming off their bye week, which leaves them with plenty of time to game plan against the Pats. They didn’t have to travel very often recently; they will be at home for the third time out of the past four weeks.
The crowd will be fired up for a meeting against the undefeated Pats on national television. It will be deafening at M&T Bank Stadium this Sunday night. That will certainly give the Ravens a boost.
Bill Belichick is obviously a master at game planning against his next opponent. However, it’s hard to replicate in practice facing a QB like Lamar Jackson, who is so elusive. What you see on tape is different from playing him in actual speed.
New England will face a team with a positive record for just the second time in nine games.
I know, I know. Belichick eats young quarterbacks for breakfast. The Pats have won 21 games in a row against first- or second-year signal callers. That’s why this is probably the pick I have the least confidence in.
Best of luck, go get those bookies guys!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)