NFL Week 9 Best Bets: Expert Picks & Predictions For Cowboys vs Eagles, Chiefs vs Dolphins, Bills vs Bengals, & More
NFL Week 9 best bets and expert picks for the Sunday slate. Find best bets for NFL Week 9 featuring Buccaneers vs. Texans, Colts vs. Panthers, Cowboys vs. Eagles, Dolphins vs. Chiefs, Bills vs. Bengals, and Seahawks vs. Ravens.
NFL Week 9 Best Bets
We’re onto Week 9 of the NFL season, and this week’s slate is loaded with exciting matchups. In this article, you can find best bet breakdowns for some of the biggest games of the week. Check out the Lineups YouTube page for coverage of all of the NFL games this week. Let’s get to work.
Jacob Wayne’s Record: 15-9-1 (+6.1 units)
Kody Malstrom’s Record: 9-6 (+2.5 units)
Will Schwartz’s Record: 12-12 (-0.8 units)
Tampa Bay Buccaners at Houston Texans
The Texans handed the Panthers their first win of the season last week, but I like this as a bounceback opportunity for an up and coming Houston squad. Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud hasn’t looked the same in recent weeks, but I believe he’ll bounce back against a defense that has struggled to generate pressure on opposing passers all season.
The Buccaneers rank 5th in blitz rate but just 25th in pressure rate – they send extra rushers often but rarely get home. If this game were a few weeks ago I’d have concerns about Houston’s offensive line holding up, but star left tackle Laremy Tunsil is now back in the lineup, which is crucial to their pass blocking.
If the Bucs continue to struggle to generate pressure, it will be a long day for their corners. All quarterbacks are better from a clean pocket, but that’s especially true for Stroud who ranks 10th in PFF passing grade from a clean pocket and 32nd when under pressure.
Dameon Pierce is out for the Texans this week, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik has been great in most aspects, but he’s been way too overcommitted to the run on first downs for a team that ranks 29th in rushing success rate. More early down passing would further elevate an already above average offense.
The Buccaneers, meanwhile, are coaxing respectable play out of Baker Mayfield, but their run game has been abysmal – they’re dead last in rushing EPA and success rate. That won’t change against a top ten run defense by both metrics. Expect a lot of third down situations for Mayfield, where he’s still due for regression this year.
Tampa Bay coach Todd Bowles has been a horrible bet as an underdog – his 42% hit rate is the worst of all active coaches. Houston, meanwhile, returns home where they haven’t lost since the second week of the season. With a clean pocket to work with, expect a Stroud bounceback against a Bucs team that’s still overvalued in the market after a very lucky start to the season.
Best Bet: Texans -2.5
Indianapolis Colts at Carolina Panthers
Everyone gave up on Bryce Young and the Panthers after their 0-6 start, but I’m buying this team after their first win of the season. Coming out of the bye week, offensive coordinator Thomas Brown took play calling duties from head coach Frank Reich. Brown introduced much more pre-snap motion and we saw a different Young as he set season highs with a 103.6 passer rating and 7.6 yards per attempt.
Young now faces a Colts defense that ranks bottom 12 against the pass by DVOA and EPA and is dealing with major injury issues in an already underwhelming secondary. The Colts don’t trust their corners to hold up, so they blitz at the lowest rate in the NFL, and they rank just 21st in pressure rate. Young should have plenty of time in the pocket.
Meanwhile, I have no issue with fading Gardner Minshew on the road. Minshew is 2-13 straight up in his last 15 starts and is facing Ejiro Evero, a creative defensive coordinator who will send disguised blitzes at him. Minshew is the second-worst quarterback in the NFL against the blitz per PFF and the Panthers blitz at the 11th-highest rate in the NFL.
Right tackle Braden Smith has been out for a few weeks, and his absence is massive here as the Panthers run Brian Burns on that side. Rookie fourth-round pick Blake Freeland has been struggling in his place, and he has allowed a total of 14 pressures through three starts. Burns has five sacks through seven games and will look to add to that total here.
Colts head coach Shane Steichen deserves a lot of credit for holding things together through all of his team’s injury issues, but I don’t see why this group should be favored by nearly a field goal against anyone on the road. Carolina seems to be shaking off their early season struggles, and I’ll back Young to pick up his second career win here as he continues to gain comfort in Thomas Brown’s offense.
Best Bet: Panthers +2.5
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
Dak Prescott is on a heater. Over his last two games, he’s averaging 9.4 yards per attempt and has a 92.8 PFF passing grade – those marks lead the NFL over that span. Prescott gets a prime opportunity to continue that success against an Eagles defense that ranks 23rd against the pass by DVOA. Sean Desai replacing Jonathan Gannon as defensive coordinator seems to have been a major downgrade.
Mike McCarthy took over play calling duties this season after former offensive coordinator Kellen Moore left for the same role with the Chargers, and I had concerns. However, the Cowboys are eighth in early down passing rate and have been emphasizing getting the ball to CeeDee Lamb, their best weapon. He should feast against an Eagles secondary sorely missing slot corner Avonte Maddox.
Jalen Hurts, meanwhile, hasn’t followed up his MVP caliber campaign with quite as convincing of a season. He’s putting the ball in harm’s way far more often as his turnover-worthy play rate has nearly doubled, and he’s tied for second in the NFL with eight interceptions, which is more than he had during all of last regular and postseason. Hurts is also clearly hobbled by a leg injury that has zapped his rushing upside.
The Eagles also appear to have suffered a downgrade at offensive coordinator with Brian Johnson. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the red zone, where they rank 18th in efficiency – they were third last season. Dallas has one of the best defenss in the NFL, ranking third in DVOA, and will put pressure on Hurts with Micah Parsons and company.
In his breakdown of his Eagles pick below, Schwartz brings up the Cowboys’ 30th-ranked run defense by success rate, but he fails to mention that Dallas is top ten in run defense DVOA and EPA. Their run defense has also improved in recent weeks with the emergence of Markquese Bell, a 2022 UDFA who is now PFF’s highest-graded linebacker in the NFL.
Much of the Eagles’ offense this season has been allowing A.J. Brown to abuse matchups against lesser cornerbacks, and while Brown remains one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, he’ll draw a tough matchup here against DaRon Bland, who has allowed a league low 22.7 passer rating in coverage per PFF.
Ultimately, in a game that could come down to the wire, I trust a healthy Dak Prescott against the struggling Philly defense much more than I trust a hobbled Jalen Hurts against the elite Dallas defense. Getting the full 3 points on the spread is tremendous value for what might be the better team in this game.
I had to give the counterargument to Schwartz’s pick of the Eagles -3 before I got out of here. Check out his breakdown below of his Philadelphia selection, and decide for yourself which is the right side. Either way, it should be a thrilling game between NFC East rivals.
Best Bet: Cowboys +3
Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs
The NFL international series continues as they make their season debut in Munich Germany when the Kansas City Chiefs “host” the Miami Dolphins. A mega AFC matchup with serious AFC seeding implications are on the line when these two electric offenses battle it out to the pleasure of the international crowd.
The issue for the Miami Dolphins is just that, they are only an electric offense. They have built a common theme throughout the season, beating down on inferior competition solely off the backs of their offense while they have yet to beat an elite team due to not fielding any sort of competitive defense.
That won’t fly against a shockingly well rounded Chiefs team who has made major advancements on defense by ranking top-5 in overall Def DVOA. A scary sight to see as the Chiefs have won Super Bowls solely off the brilliance of Patrick Mahomes and company, now getting an elite defense to compliment them.
Worse yet for the Dolphins outlook, the Chiefs defensive strengths have been off the backs of theri secondary who are playing at a very high rate. As of writing, the Chiefs back end currently ranks fourth in Def Pass DVOA, second in Def Pass Success Rate, and third in Def Pass EPA.
While Miami has certainly established a respectable ground game, it’s safe to say that their backs get the benefit of a stretched out defense selling out to stop the pass. With the Chiefs smothering all three levels of the field, as well as Raheem Mostert potentially missing this game due to injury, the Dolphins offense as a whole will be prone to stalled out drives.
That spells disaster for Miami’s chances of getting the win as their defense will do them no favors in their efforts of trying to get the Chiefs offense off the field. This has been a major weakness for Miami as their defense currently ranks 22nd in Def DVOA. Especially with trying to stop the run, ranking 28th or worse in Def Rush DVOA, EPA, and Success Rate.
With an international game bringing a more conservative game script due to lack of practice, expect Isiah Pacheco to run wild against a weak Dolphins front seven while opening up the rest of the field for Patrick Mahomes to exploit. Back the Chiefs as a short dog and no higher than -3.
Best Bet: Chiefs -1.5
Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals
After starting Sunday morning with a massive AFC matchup, we end our Sunday night with another major AFC showdown when the Cincinnati Bengals host the Buffalo Bills with even more playoff seeding implications on the line. After getting off to a rough start, the Bengals are starting to round back into Super Bowl contender form with a healthy Joe Burrow.
As for the Bills, they are starting to show serious cracks in the armor as their defense is starting to mightily regress due to injury. Once a top-5 unit in Def DVOA, now currently ranks league average. When their front four is unable to generate pressure, their back end has been getting shredded as they lack in coverage.
This spells potential disaster against a Bengals unit who is rounding back into form with each passing game as Joe Burrow gets more mobility in the pocket. That was a major missing component in their early season struggles, now reconnecting with his star studded group of wideouts and moving the ball down the field with ease.
Scarier yet for the Bills defense, their stretched out coverage will be prone to getting bulldozed over by Joe Mixon who is starting to find success in rush production. When Burrow was hobbled, opposing defenses could stack the box and negate Mixon’s ability to hit the open field. Now that they can’t sell out for the run, Mixon is back in a position to succeed and keep the sticks moving.
On the other end, the Bengals front four have started to turn into a formidable unit as they have generated pressure at an above average rate. This may play right into Josh Allen’s struggles with quick decision making, being prone to throwing turnovers when under pressure.
Should the Bengals continue to capitalize on their Havoc style of play and flip the field with a back breaking interception, then they will be in a great position to set a scoring pace too fast for the Bills to keep up with. This is heavily predicated on Trey Hendrickson being available so be sure to monitor his injury status.
With the Bengals offense looking like their former Super Bowl contender selves and a defense that can rattle Josh Allen, take the Bengals at no higher than -3 in what will be a thrilling Sunday Night Football main event.
Best Bet: Bengals -1.5
Seattle Seahawks at Baltimore Ravens
It should be a beautiful day for football in Baltimore this Sunday, as fans and players alike will enjoy a reprieve from the harsh Chesapeake fall weather. The conditions will be particularly excellent for offense, with temperatures in the low 60s and minimal wind around kickoff time. That’s good news for neutral fans, who will get to witness a display from two offenses that take extremely different approaches, but both rank among the NFL’s very best and most interesting.
Before we dig into the offenses, let’s address the elephant in the room, and the reason this total is even set as low as it is; the Ravens defense. They’re tops in the league in DVOA, and also best specifically against the pass. So why are we going to back the Seahawks to produce against them when so much of their offense is predicated on downfield passing?
Well, Baltimore’s defensive achilles heel is pressure rate; they rank 24th in the league, despite blitzing at the 16th-highest rate. Geno Smith is a completely different passer when you pressure him and rob him of the ability to sit back and deliver, he’s made just one big time throw while pressured, compared to six turnover worthy plays on the same snaps. If Baltimore can’t make him uncomfortable and rush his throws, it won’t matter how good their secondary is; DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett will eventually find space, and Smith will hit them in stride.
Baltimore’s run defense is also slightly less elite than their air unit, and Seattle’s ground game has been very solid this year, so they should be able to stay ahead of the chains and set up some really good opportunities for Smith. Kenneth Walker has been much more efficient this year at the heart of the rushing attack, while Zach Charbonnet has been a great change of pace option.
As for Seattle’s defense, it’s been propped up a bit by the easiest schedule in the league so far, so their metrics are a bit inflated. We should trust in the offense after a good performance against a great Browns defense, but Seattle’s own defense hasn’t been as tested.
They certainly haven’t faced anything like the Ravens offense, the league’s fourth-best by DVOA. The next closest thing they’ve seen, in terms of caliber, not style, would be the Lions, who hung 31 on them. The Ravens offense looks incredible with Lamar Jackson playing some of his best ball with easily the best receiving group he’s had yet, led not by Odell Beckham Jr., but rookie phenom Zay Flowers out of Boston College.
The Seahawks will force the Ravens to the air with an elite ground defense, which would be a problem for Baltimore most seasons. However, these aren’t the Ravens of years past, and they’ll still move the ball well by throwing, and it’ll push the pace and help our over. This should be an extremely fun football game, one of the best of the year, and an absolutely perfect spot to invest in some offensive fireworks.
Best Bet: Over 44 Points
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
I’d love to bet the over in this one, as both offenses should absolutely have an edge, but it’s simply too risky of a bet in what will surely be a hard-fought rivalry matchup between two of the league’s most iconic clubs. Instead, let’s back the home team, who just so happens to be the NFL’s only remaining one-loss squad.
That would be the Philadelphia Eagles, who haven’t always looked the part of the team that came a few snaps away from winning the Super Bowl, but they’ve survived and advanced almost each week en route to the league’s best record at the midway point. The defense has underperformed to a degree, with some weak play in the secondary, but the line is still outstanding, which allows them to achieve the league’s seventh highest pressure rate despite blitzing at just the 17th highest rate.
They’re also tops in run defense DVOA, another testament to their ability to own the line of scrimmage. This will come in handy against a Dallas team that already struggles to run the football, as it will force them to become almost completely air-based. The Cowboys can certainly throw the ball, but being one dimensional is rarely a winning strategy, especially on the road in one of football’s most raucous environments.
Then there’s Philly’s offense, which has been excellent as always. Jalen Hurts has taken a small step back production wise but is still a top 10 quarterback by PFF’s standards, and fifth by the EPA/CPOE composite score. Even when he slumps as a passer, he’s an enormous physical threat, and even while limited physically, could have a field day against a Dallas defense that ranks 30th in run defense success rate.
He’s throwing to one of the best receiving combos in the league, headlined by AJ Brown, who is playing some absolutely phenomenal football. He’s gone over 130 yards in five of his last six games, and he racked up 127 in the remaining contest. The other half of that duo is former Heisman winner DeVonta Smith, who has been a tad quieter this year than last, but can explode at any moment. This pair, especially Brown, should go insane against a fairly banged up Dallas secondary.
In a game that could be won on the margins, you have to love the Eagles’ ability to convert short-yardage situations for first downs or scores, using their iconic “tush push” or “brotherly shove” QB sneak tactic. This is a stark contrast to Dallas, the league’s 29th-best red zone offense, so it’s easy to imagine a game that’s mostly even, but where Philly makes the key plays and Dallas does not.
Best Bet: Eagles -3