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Columns - Magazine

The Gambling Solution: Week 9

by Jeff Baldwin
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Both Jeremy and Jeff started with a 1,000 unit bankroll as they go head to head all season long.

 

Jeremy went 3-1 last week as he had winners on the Raiders, Cowboys and over CLE/NYJ.  His only loss came on the Chargers.  Jeremy finished the week at plus 50 units.  Jeff split his selections as he nailed the Saints and over TB/OAK, but came up empty with the Falcons and Chargers.  Jeff finished the week down 10 units.  Jeff currently has a 300 unit lead on Jeremy in the season long contest.  Can Jeremy keep it going and cut into Jeff's lead?  Let's get to the picks for Week 9.

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Baldwin

Record: 18-13-1

Units: 1,190

 

Jeremy Wardwell

Record: 14-17-1

Units: 890

 

Eagles at Giants (-2.5) - 50 units
The Eagles suffered a tough defeat in Dallas as they lost in overtime 29-23.  The Giants were on a bye as they currently are tied with the Eagles at 4-3.  The last time we saw the Giants it was in London versus the Rams where the offense struggled to do much of anything.  This unit has had its issues all season long.  Their offensive line's inability to protect QB Eli Manning and struggles establishing a running game will once again be on full display as they host the Eagles.  I think this is a very bad matchup for the Giants.  Going against an aggressive Eagles defense that gets after the quarterback is going to make it difficult for Manning to get into any type of rhythm in the passing game.  The Eagles are near the top of the league in sacks with 22.  Offensively, QB Carson Wentz will rely on the short to mid-range passing game as he did against the Cowboys defense.  WR Jordan Matthews will be targeted heavily yet again coming off an eleven catch, 65 yard effort with a touchdown last week.  The Eagles turned to RB Darren Sproles in the running game as he led the team in carries over RB Ryan Mathews 15-4 respectively.  Look for that kind of split this weekend as Sproles averaged 5.7 yards/carry versus the Cowboys.  The Eagles are getting less than a field goal in this contest which I don't think they'll even need.  The Eagles defense’s primary concern is obviously to ensure WR Odell Beckham doesn't get loose and make big plays.  With that said, I don't see that happening as I expect the Eagles defense to dominate the line of scrimmage causing havoc all day for the Giants offense.  The Eagles have had great success recently against the Giants as they have covered the last four games in the series including four straight up wins in that streak as well.  The Eagles come up with a great effort on both sides of the ball as they'll get the outright win. 
Pick: Philadelphia Eagles +2.5

Steelers (+1.5) at Ravens - 35 units
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens renew their bitter rivalry this Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens have won the last three meetings but Pittsburgh leads the all-time series having won 24 of 44 games. Pittsburgh is coming off their bye and will be getting several key players back. QB Ben Roethlisberger is expected back after missing two games with a knee injury. He will be facing a Ravens defense dealing with injuries to several key players. The good news for the Ravens is that it looks like LB Terrell Suggs will be back after tearing his bicep and missing last week's game. Suggs' return will be a huge boost for the Ravens who have lost four in a row and allowed 24 PPG over that stretch. Even with Suggs back, I'm expecting the Steelers to have success moving the ball, especially through the air. The Ravens are tough against the run which will mean more action for Le'Veon Bell in the passing game especially as a safety valve to protect Roethlisberger. Antonio Brown also appears to be over the hip pointer he suffered in Week 7 and will be pivotal in getting the Steelers the win. Pittsburgh will also be getting an important defensive player back as Cameron Heyward returns from a hamstring injury. Baltimore's offense has been inconsistent all season. They rank near the bottom of the league in rushing yards per game and points scored while Joe Flacco has more interceptions (6) than touchdowns (5). Part of that can be attributed to injuries to several skill position players but the issue dates back to last year when Flacco struggled to string solid games together. With Heyward back, look for the Steelers to be more effective against the run and limit Terrance West's production forcing Flacco to throw more often. It is unclear if Flacco will have Steve Smith back for this game. Smith has missed the last two games with an ankle injury and has been limited in practice this week. Even if he plays, he will be less than 100%. While there are several wild cards in play in this game, the fact remains that the Steelers are healthier than the Ravens and have better talent at key positions. The games between these two rivals are always intense, highly competitive games. Look for this one to be very much the same with Pittsburgh getting the outright win. Take Steelers getting 1.5.
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers +1.5

Lions at Vikings (-6) - 25 units
After starting the season 5-0, the Vikings have now dropped two straight games on the road after a dismal performance in Chicago where they were manhandled at the line of scrimmage.  The Lions saw their three-game winning streak come to an abrupt end as they fell to the Texans on the road 20-13.  I think this is a prime, bounce back game for the Vikings.  After getting dominated by a lowly Bears team on Monday night, I expect the Vikings to come out flying on both sides of the ball as they look to get back in the win column.  The Vikings’ running game struggled last week as RB Matt Asiata managed only 42 yards on 14 carries.  The Vikings expect to have RB Jerick McKinnon back in the lineup this weekend after he sat out last week with an injured ankle.  QB Sam Bradford needs to get this offense going again after struggling the past two weeks.  WR Stefon Diggs is in a nice spot here to make some big plays in the passing game.  On the other side of the ball, the Vikings defense needs to get back to what they do best which apply a ton of pressure on the quarterback and create turnovers.  I expect this unit to make it very difficult for the Lions offense to move the ball with much consistency on Sunday.  This is a Lions team that struggles running the football as they average only 85 yards/game on the ground.  This will force QB Matthew Stafford to throw the ball more than the Lions would like against a Vikings’ secondary giving up only 205 yards/game through the air.  The Vikings have been a tremendous home team versus the spread as they are 10-2 over their last 12 games.  The Vikings have also covered three out of the last four games against the Lions.  In the end, look for the Vikings to bounce back in a big way as they'll win this game by double digits.
Pick: Minnesota Vikings -6
Saints (-3.5) at 49ers - 40 units

The San Francisco 49ers will look to get their second win of the season Sunday when they host the New Orleans Saints at Levi's Stadium. New Orleans is coming off a 25-20 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in which running back Tim Hightower rushed for 125 yards in relief of the fumble-prone Mark Ingram. It remains to be seen how snaps will be divided among the Saints running backs but whoever gets the ball should find success against the league's worst rush defense that is allowing 185 yards per game. The 49ers aren't nearly as bad against the pass but they have surrendered the third-most passing touchdowns. I expect New Orleans to have success running the ball which will open up opportunities downfield for Drew Brees to hit his talented group of receivers. Look for Brees to have at least three passing touchdowns in this one. While the Saints have four players with 20 receptions or more the 49ers have only one. Jeremy Kerley is the clear leader in targets and receptions for San Francisco. In the two games since Colin Kaepernick took over under center, Kerley has just four receptions for 27 yards and no touchdowns. Kaepernick has completed less than 50% of his passes and unsurprisingly has struggled. The 49ers should get a boost with running back Carlos Hyde expected to return this week after missing San Francisco's last game with a shoulder injury. I expect him to be one of the lone bright spots for the 49ers offense in this one. The Saints are vulnerable to the run and have allowed 111 yards per game to opposing running backs. Both teams are allowing more than 30 points per game on the year. The difference is New Orleans has the offense to offset some of their defensive weaknesses whereas the 49ers don't have that luxury, especially with Kaepernick under center. The 49ers are 1-6 against the spread while the Saints are 5-2 overall and 3-0 on the road. Look for New Orleans to cover on the road as they win by at least a touchdown. Take the Saints giving 3.5.  
Pick: New Orleans Saints -3.5

Broncos (-1) at Raiders - 25 units
The Raiders return home after a successful two game Florida trip as they defeated the Jaguars and Buccaneers.  QB Derek Carr went off against the hapless Buccaneers secondary as he threw for a whopping 513 yards as they won in overtime 30-24.  The Broncos made it two straight wins as they defeated the Chargers at home 27-19.  The Broncos now travel to Oakland to take on the Raiders for the first time this season.  Both clubs sit at 6-2 as they are in a first place tie in the AFC West.  The Raiders are a team that for whatever reason plays better on the road.  They currently are 5-0 on the road, but 1-2 at home.  I think their struggles at home will continue this weekend.  They take on a Broncos defense that is playing great football.  Things will be much more difficult for this Raiders offense as they face the number one defense against the pass, allowing only 184 passing yards/game.  The Broncos offensively will want to run the football and control the clock with rookie RB Devontae Booker.  There should be plenty of opportunity for Booker to pick up big yardage as the Raiders struggle in this department, giving up 125 yards/game on the ground.  The success of the running game should free up some opportunity in the passing game as QB Trevor Siemian will look to his two favorite targets in WR Demaryius Thomas and WR Emmanuel Sanders.  The Raiders’ secondary has struggled this season defending the pass as I expect this trend to continue versus the Broncos.  The Broncos have fared well against the Raiders covering three out of the last four in the series.  I think the Raiders will feel a lot of pressure in this game as expectations are high for them to come through with the victory.  The Raiders are a dismal 2-9 against the spread over their last eleven at home.  The Broncos will head to Oakland and take care of business as they'll come away with the win.
Pick: Denver Broncos -1

Jaguars (+9.5) at Chiefs - 25 units
The 2-5 Jacksonville Jaguars travel to Kansas City to take on the 5-2 Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Jacksonville is coming off a 36-22 loss to Tennessee last week while Kansas City beat Indianapolis 32-14. That victory came at a price as quarterback Alex Smith and running back Spencer Ware will both miss at least this game with injuries while starting LG Parker Ehinger is lost for the season with a torn ACL. Nick Foles will get the start under center for the Chiefs and will be making his first start since a Week 12 loss to Arizona last year. Foles filled in nicely for Smith last week and I expect him to be able to move the ball effectively against Jacksonville's limited defense. Charcandrick West will get the majority of the work for the Chiefs out of the backfield with Ware and Jamal Charles out. West has shown at times that he can be a dominant back and he has another opportunity to show that in this one. Jacksonville is allowing 125 yards per game to opposing backs and gave up 214 to the Titans last week. The Jaguars’ underachieving offense will be under new leadership this week as the team fired offensive coordinator Greg Olsen and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Nathaniel Hackett. Quarterback Blake Bortles has been awful all year as he has completed just 60% of his passes while throwing nine interceptions. Hackett will have the unenviable task of trying to turn Bortles around against the Chiefs who lead the league in interceptions. The Jaguars have virtually no running game to speak of and will likely be playing from behind most of the game. Look for Bortles to give the Chiefs’ secondary plenty of opportunity to add to their league-leading interception total. I'm expecting Kansas City to jump out to an early lead but, due to injuries to several key offensive players including receiver Jeremy Maclin who will play but won't be at 100% with a groin injury, they won't be able to pull away from the Jaguars. Kansas City wins the game outright but a late fourth-quarter touchdown gives Jacksonville the cover. Take the Jaguars getting 9.5.
Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars +9.5

Lions at Vikings (Total: 41 points) - 20 units
The Vikings dropped their second straight game as they were defeated by the Bears on Monday Night 20-10.  The Vikings defense clearly played their worst game of the season as they were dominated at the line of scrimmage.  The Lions failed to make it four straight wins as they lost to the Texans 20-13.  As stated above in my side selection, look for the Vikings defense to rebound here as they face a Lions offense that struggles running the football.  The Lions lack of productivity in the run game will force them into the strength of the Vikings which is defending the pass.  Look for QB Matthew Stafford to be pressured all day as he'll struggle getting anything going offensively.  The Lions defense will face an offense that struggles at times to move the football.  I'm not expecting this game to be high scoring.  I can see both teams settling for field goals as they'll struggle in the red zone at times.  I think the big reason this game stays under is because of this Vikings defense.  Look for them to feed off the home crowd as they'll make it very difficult for the Lions to move the ball with any type of consistency.  The under has hit three out of the last four times these two teams have met.  I expect that trend to continue this weekend.
Pick: Under 41
Titans at Chargers (Total: 47.5 points) - 20 units
The Tennessee Titans travel to San Diego to take on the Chargers in an AFC matchup. San Diego will look to get back on track after a 27-19 loss to Denver last week in which Philip Rivers threw three interceptions. The Titans are coming off a 36-22 beat down of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Tennessee's running backs combined for 214 yards on the ground in the win with DeMarco Murray leading the way with 123 yards and a touchdown. Murray and Derrick Henry will have a more difficult challenge ahead of them in this one as the Chargers rank sixth against the run and have allowed just 86 yards per game. Quarterback Marcus Mariota is coming off perhaps his best game of the year after completing more than 80% of his passes throwing two touchdowns and no interceptions. Over the last four games Mariota has now thrown 10 touchdowns and only one interception and the Titans are averaging 30 points per game over that stretch. The Chargers are averaging 28 points per game on the season and despite his struggles against Denver, I expect Rivers to bounce back against a Titans defense that ranks 25th in the league against the pass. The posted total for this game has been set at 47.5. Each team has seen six of their eight games on the year go over the total and I expect that trend to continue here. The Chargers are averaging 31 points per game at home this year and Philip Rivers has shown an ability to put up points despite a rash of injuries to his offensive weapons. Mariota is playing at a high level and has two dynamic backs at his disposal which should open up options downfield either with his arm or with his legs. Look for the total in this one to end up in the low-to-mid 50s. Take over 47.5.
Pick: Over 47.5

Editor's note: Both Jeremy and Jeff started with 1,000 units as they go head to head all season long.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffBaldwin4 and Jeremy @jdwardwell5.

Jeff Baldwin
Jeff Baldwin has written Rotoworld's 'Gambling Solution' on Season Pass since 2011. He can be found on Twitter @JeffBaldwin4.