A quick glance through the NFL Week 9 Over/Under odds tells a pretty compelling story. There are not enough good teams in the NFL right now.
Scoring is down close to a point per game compared to 2018, and Weeks 8 and 9 are two of the three lowest average Over/Under weeks in the last two years. The third? Week 17 last year, with a bunch of meaningless games, backups on the field, and cold weather.
This week six out of 14 matchups have Over/Under numbers between 40 and 45 points, with a couple sub-40s thrown in. Luckily for us, we don’t have to watch all these games (I’ll take a pass on Jets-Dolphins thank you) but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some profitable bets mixed in. Let’s get straight to the picks.
NEW YORK JETS AT MIAMI DOLPHINS (+3, 40.5)
Well, maybe I will have to watch it after all. We gave the Jets a pass during the Luke Falk weeks, but the fact is their offense hasn’t been any good with Sam Darnold at the helm either.
Darnold is having a terrible year, averaging just 4.8 yards per drop back and a 66.2 quarterback rating. I thought he took too much flak for his “seeing ghosts” (all quarterbacks get fooled sometimes) but it’s happened far too often for me to have any faith in the Jets Offense.
Miami, unsurprisingly, hasn’t been much better. The Dolphins rank 31st by EPA, 30th by success percentage and 31st by scoring percentage (the Jets rank 32nd in all three stats). Ryan Fitzpatrick has shown the ability to put up points (for either team), but that doesn’t look to be enough in this battle for irrelevancy in the AFC East.
Maybe the craziest stat: through seven games, these teams have scored a combined 155 points, or 22.1 per game. The average NFL team scores 22.4 points per game. Yikes.
PREDICTION: Under 40.5
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TENNESSEE TITANS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS (-3.5, 41.5)
Which offense is better: Tennessee or Carolina? Seems obvious, it’s the Panthers. Right? Shockingly, EPA gives the Titans the slight edge at 22nd compared to the Panthers 26th.
Diving deeper, we see this is mostly due to last week’s flop against the 49ers. But the fact remains that despite Christian McCaffrey putting up video-game numbers, the Carolina offense has struggled in 2019. That’s likely to continue as the Panthers go against a Tennessee defense that ranks third by EPA.
And while Ryan Tannehill has been an upgrade for the Titans, they remain an extremely conservative offense. Lots of Derrick Henry, not a lot of points scored. It’s no fun to watch but it’s a reasonable strategy with that defense allowing opponents to score on just over a quarter of drives and keeping them in games despite the offensive struggles.
The overall story here is straightforward: two Top-10 defenses face two Bottom-10 offenses. It’s a low total by 2018 standards, but we’ve seen 43 percent of games in 2019 hit 41 points or fewer. This looks to be another one.
PREDICTION: Under 41.5
DALLAS COWBOYS AT NEW YORK GIANTS (+7, 48)
The Dallas Cowboys enter Week 9 as the No. 1 offense by EPA and get a great matchup to keep that title for another week. Apart from a Week 4 game against the hapless Redskins, the Giants have allowed at least 25 points in every game, including 35 points to these Cowboys in Week 1.
The main issue for the Giants has been big mistakes on both sides of the ball. The defense leads the NFL in giving up plays with an EPA of +2 or more (56 through Week 8) and the Cowboys have plenty of weapons to take advantage.
On the other side of the ball, the Giants Offense leads the NFL in plays with an EPA of -2 or worse (31). Daniel Jones has had moments of brilliance in his rookie campaign but has made a habit of taking clueless sacks and making careless turnovers.
Big plays and a very good offense against a bad defense. This one could easily turn into a shootout.
PREDICTION: Over 48
Week 8: 2-1
Season to date: 11-13