NFL Odds: Games Too Risky To Bet Either Way In Week 9

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 9:33 PM UTC

Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016 9:33 PM UTC

Two of the NFL games I deemed too risky to wager on last week at SBR's best sportsbooks were Green Bay-Atlanta and NY Jets-Cleveland. The favored Falcons and Jets barely won and neither covered. Here are three NFL spreads too risky in Week 9.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (-3)

I am steering completely clear of this AFC North game on NFL picks as both the Steelers and Ravens come off their bye week. And there's one simple reason why: We may not know whether Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, an early-season MVP favorite before getting injured, will play. Big Ben suffered a meniscus tear in the Steelers' Week 6 upset loss in Miami. He underwent surgery and originally was ruled out 4-6 weeks. Sunday would mark a little less than three weeks since the surgery. Roethlisberger has generally returned early from injury in his career. The problem is that the Steelers  are only saying that he has  a "chance to play." If Big Ben can play, he surely will as the Steelers have lost two in a row and have just a one-game lead over Cincinnati and Baltimore, which has dropped four in a row, in the AFC North. Honestly, my worry here is that Roethlisberger dresses as Landry Jones' backup and thus I'm betting the Ravens. Why that worries is me is last year, Roethlisberger dressed as Jones' backup coming off injury in a game vs. Cleveland and I leaned the Browns. But Jones left early with his own injury and Roethlisberger came off the bench to throw for 379 yard and three touchdowns. That was the most passing yards in NFL history for a player who didn't start a game.

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New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers (+3)

Look, the 49ers stink. They have lost six straight games and have probably the worst all-around talent in the NFL -- yes, worse than the winless  Browns. But San Francisco also does come off its bye week and is expecting back its top offensive threat, running back Carlos Hyde, to return from injury. What also concerns me about the Saints is that this game is of course outdoors and Drew Brees historically is a much different quarterback (i.e. not as good) when playing outside a dome. Brees' two lowest-rated games of the year were at the Giants (a loss) and at the Chargers (a lucky win). The 49ers do have the NFL's worst run defense, allowing an opposing rusher to rush 100 yards or more in each of the last six games. But New Orleans isn't a  great running team. In fact, No. 1 tailback Mark Ingram was benched last week vs. Seattle. Tim Hightower rushed 26 times for 102 yards but that was likely a fluke. The Saints haven't had a 100-yard rusher in successive games since 2014. Brees could reach a milestone on Sunday, as with four TD passes he would become the third player in NFL history to throw 450 touchdown passes, joining Peyton Manning (539) and Brett Favre (508).

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Carolina Panthers at Los Angeles Rams (+3)

At first glance, I'd be all over Carolina here. After all, the Panthers finally played like the 2015 version of themselves last week in a 30-20 win over Arizona in rematch of the NFC Championship Game. Maybe the Panthers are fixed in ending their four-game losing streak. Or maybe it was because they were at home and healthy coming out of a bye week. Carolina is 0-3 on the road this season and allowed 99 points combined in its previous two away games. Granted, those were against good offenses in Atlanta and New Orleans. The Rams are not a good offense, but they do come off the bye week so the coaching staff had plenty of time to prepare for this game and the club is mostly healthy. Coach Jeff Fisher gave rookie No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff some time with the first-team offense during the bye but will stick with struggling Case Keenum under center. I'm honestly not sure way. The Rams average only 12.7 points at home, but they have an excellent defensive front led by Aaron Donald and the Carolina offensive line has been an issue all season. Two other Rams defenders, cornerback Trumaine Johnson (ankle) and defensive tackle Michael Brockers (thigh), are likely to be game-time decisions this week.

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