Here is a 5-Pack of NFL value plays for Week 9 to help build your bankroll Sunday, highlighted by Payton Manning and the Broncos visiting Andrew Luck and the Colts at 4:25 ET.
This Week 9 marks the exact midway point of the 2015 NFL season, as eight weeks are in the books already and there will be eight weeks of games remaining once this weekend is over. And what is interesting this year is that there are still more undefeated teams than usual at this point in the season with the total such teams standing at four, and one of those is in the featured game of our weekly 5-Pack of NFL picks for this week.
One of the undefeated teams remained that way when Week 9 began with Thursday Night Football as usual, as the Cincinnati Bengals improved to 8-0 and covered the point spread as 13-poing favorites with an easy 31-10 win over the rival Cleveland Browns in an NFL North battle. Unfortunately, ‘over’ players were not pleased when Browns’ quarterback Johnny Manziel was not able to produce a touchdown from the red zone in the final minute as the total closed at 45½.
And now we move on to Sunday, where our 5-Pack this week has a bit of everything. We have three sides comprised of two underdogs and one favorite, and we have two totals which are split between one ‘over’ and one ‘under’ And as has become our custom in recent years, all of these NFL odds come from Pinnacle Sports.
Sunday, November 8th
Oakland Raiders +4 (-103) over Pittsburgh Steelers (1:00 ET): Do not look now but the oft-maligned Raiders are legitimate playoff contenders with a very nice young nucleus on offense in quarterback Derek Carr, running back Latavius Murray and wide receiver Amari Cooper, and that troika is more than capable of taking advantage of what is a suspect Pittsburgh defense this year, potentially giving Oakland great underdog value. Most notably the Steelers are 26th in the NFL in passing defense allowing 269.5 yards per game through the air, and should they choose to focus their efforts in stopping Cooper, then it would opening things up for veteran Michael Crabtree to have another big game on the opposite side, much like in a 34-20 upset of the New York Jets last week when Crabtree caught seven passes for 102 yards with a touchdown. The Raiders enter this game one-half game ahead of the Steelers in the wild card chase as Pittsburgh has lost two straight games to fall to 4-4, and more importantly they lost one of the best all-purpose running backs in the NFL in Le’Veon Bell for the season last week to a serious knee injury. That will now put more pressure on DeAngelo Williams, who filled in ably for Bell while the latter was suspended the first two games of the year but who is not as good a receiver out of the backfield. Also, the Steelers are now paper thin in running back depth after releasing Dri Archer this week.
Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets ‘under’ 42 (-105) (1:00 ET): Both of these teams come off of weird occurrences in their last game. The Jets led the NFL in total defense entering last week, but they allowed 34 points and 451 yards to the Raiders in a loss in Oakland. And what was weird about the Jaguars’ last game in London two weeks ago before their bye? Well, they won the game! That “improved” Jacksonville to 2-5 on the year as it won for the first time since nipping the Miami Dolphins, then coached by the now fired Joe Philbin, 23-20 way back in Week 2. So what can we expect here? Well for starters, we are looking for a relatively low scoring game. Remember that Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is taking the start here despite suffering ligament damage in his left hand last week. Luckily Fitzpatrick is right-handed, but he will want to keep the left hand out of harm’s way regardless of his threshold for pain, as even backup Geno Smith suffered a shoulder injury last week. The Jets do rank seventh in the league in rushing offense though, so the best way for Fitzpatrick to avoid further harm is with a run-heavy offense featuring Chris Ivory, which would use up clock. As for the lackadaisical performance of the defense, we will just chalk that up to having to travel to the West Coast after a tough battle with the undefeated New England Patriots the previous week. If the Jets return to normal defensively, then this could be a long day for Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles, who despite posting nice fantasy football numbers this year has never responded well under pressure.
Miami Dolphins +2½ (+104) over Buffalo Bills (1:00 ET): The Dolphins have been a different team since firing Joe Philbin and replacing him with interim coach Dan Campbell, and they now have a great chance to avenge a terrible earlier loss to the Bills, who went down to Miami while Philbin was still in charge and annihilated the Fins 41-14. In their first two games under Campbell, the Dolphins went into Tennessee and crushed the Titans 38-10 and then won his home coaching debut over the Houston Texas 44-26 in a game that Miami led 41-0 at halftime! Sure, reality then set in with a 36-7 loss at New England last week, but the Patriots will do that to anyone on a short week as that was a Thursday night game that gave Miami limited preparation time. The flip side of that of course is that the Dolphins have now had extra preparation time as they plot revenge against the Bills. Buffalo suffered the indignity of losing to Jacksonville in London two weeks ago and the Bills still have a very long injury list even with a bye last week. One positive is that quarterback Tyrod Taylor is back, but the problem is he may not have much to throw to with Percy Harvin out and Sammy Watkins doubtful.
Atlanta Falcons -7 (-103) over San Francisco 49ers (4:05 ET): The major news out of San Francisco this week is the benching of Colin Kaepernick, a well deserved benching given how awful a guy that guided his team to a Super Bowl in his second season has looked this year. And yet, we are still in no rush to put any money on the 49ers because his replacement is Blaine Gabbert, who was one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL when given a starting opportunity by the lowly Jaguars. Gabbert is a notorious “ghost jumper,” often reacting to pressure that is not even there, thus making many question his intestinal fortitude. So this looks like a lateral change at best that figures to do nothing to turn around the 49ers’ fortunes, and Gabbert could be seeing many ghosts again as the Falcons Coach Dan Quinn is very familiar with game planning to defend the Niners as he was the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl teams the past two years. Quinn has also greatly improved an Atlanta defense that was awful last year. Now the Falcons were great offensively early in the year while looking like one of the best teams in football, but they have suddenly lost two of the last three games due to slow offensive starts in their last three contests that has seen them score no more than seven points in the first half of any of those games. Some of that had to do with Julio Jones being banged up though, and with him now the healthiest he has been in a while, look for a stronger start offensively by the Falcons here en route to an easy double-digit victory.
Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts ‘over’ 45 (-113) (4:25 ET): The Broncos are one of the four remaining unbeaten teams at 7-0 and they come off of perhaps their best win of all as they “upset” the also previously undefeated Green Bay Packers decisively 29-10 as small home underdogs, the first time Denver was ever a home underdog with Peyton Manning at quarterback. Granted Manning had been showing his age while looking mostly dreadful prior to last week, but then suddenly out of the blue he exploded vs. the Packers completing 21-of-29 passes for 340 yards, and with Peyton looking like himself again forcing the Green Bay defense to play honestly, it also allowed the running game to perk up with C.J. Anderson rushing for 101 yards on 14 carries in his best game of the season. If that performance by Manning was not a mirage but rather a sign of things to come, then the Broncos can do more damage here vs. the 30th ranked Indianapolis total defense. As for the Colts offense, it looks stagnant in the heavy rain of Carolina for three quarters Monday night, but once it stopped raining Andrew Luck also looked like his old self again by leading three fourth quarter scoring drives to force overtime in an unfortunate 29-26 loss. Weather will obviously not be an issue here indoors, and Luck did appear to be over the shoulder and/or rib injuries that had been plaguing him all year during the fourth quarter comeback Monday. Also, with offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton getting fired after that game in favor of Rob Chudzinski, look for a more aggressive game plan for the Colts here with perhaps some plays they have not run all year.