Week 9 NFL Underdogs: Will Favorites Struggle To Cover Spreads Once Again?

Written By Eli Hershkovich on November 7, 2021
Week 9 NFL Underdogs

After favorites went 18-14 against the spread during a recent three-week stretch, underdogs delivered a profitable 10-4-1 ATS record in Week 8. So which Week 9 NFL underdogs should you consider backing?

Let’s run through all of the betting angles, including pregame spread and teaser options. These plays will be updated with injury information throughout the week.

Week 9 NFL Underdogs

New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts

There’s an in-depth breakdown on backup quarterback Mike White and the underdog Jets in my best bets column.

Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals’ offensive line was exposed against the aforementioned Jets, and the Browns’ top-five pressure rate will continue that trend. Although Kevin Stefanski’s team has some notable names on Friday’s injury report, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr., defensive tackle Malik Jackson, and safety Josh Johnson III were taken off.

While the spread is under a key number, I’m willing to back the road underdog — given the market’s overreaction to Cincinnati’s hot start. Keep in mind, the preseason look-ahead line was Cleveland -4.5.

Potential Underdog Angle: Browns +2.5/Teaser Leg (+8.5 or better)
Best Available Line: Browns 

Denver Broncos @ Dallas Cowboys

Even if Dak Prescott (calf) returns, the Broncos‘ secondary matches up well. Expecting them to slow down the Cowboys‘ ground game is another story, though, especially after trading Von Miller to the Rams.

Nevertheless, the market has inflated this spread by 2.5/3 points with Prescott already baked into the number. Dallas is also allowing the 13th-highest expected points added (EPA) per carry, which would set up Denver to grind clock if it can find success with its own backfield.

  • EPA is calculated by expected points scored based on the down, distance, and field position at the start of a play — juxtaposed with the play’s conclusion.

Potential Underdog Angle: Broncos +10.5 or better
Best Available Line: 

Houston Texans @ Miami Dolphins

Despite the Dolphins‘ defense tallying the fourth-lowest expected points added (EPA) per dropback, I can’t back the road team until we know that Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor (hamstring) will start. There could be value in throwing Houston into a teaser if Taylor suits up, depending on the market’s reaction.

Conclusion: Pass for now
Best Available Line: Texans

Las Vegas Raiders @ New York Giants

If Giants wide receivers Kadarius Toney (thumb) and Kenny Golladay (knee) are able to play, teasing Joe Judge’s team beyond a possession presents the most value.

Potential Underdog Angle: Giants Teaser Leg (+8.5 or better)
Best Available Line: Giants

New England Patriots @ Carolina Panthers

The Patriots’ biggest defensive liability is limiting the run, but the Panthers’ offensive line has underperformed in that department. Albeit Chubba Hubbard’s heavy workload minus Christian McCaffrey (hamstring), he’s lacked efficiency overall. Unless McCaffrey returns, relying on Sam Darnold or P.J. Walker is risky.

  • Update: McCaffrey will be active for the first time since Week 3. Albeit his expected pitch count, he should add some explosiveness to Carolina’s attack.

Potential Underdog Angle: Panthers +3.5
Best Available Line: Panthers

Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints

Quietly, the Saints’ defense has been a top-10 unit in their last three games. I like the under here more than any side, but it’s been bet down a bit. With Falcons wideout Calvin Ridley stepping away for personal reasons, the only viable angle is to tease New Orleans down to a pick’em.

Conclusion: Pass, but consider Saints in a teaser
Best Available Line: Saints

Minnesota Vikings @ Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are the fifth-ranked team in my power ratings, which speaks more towards the current state of the league than Baltimore itself. But with John Harbaugh’s team coming off a bye, expect a fresh front-seven to control the line of scrimmage against the Vikings’ struggling offensive line.

Conclusion: Pass

Buffalo Bills @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Although the Bills came out a little flat off the bye, I wouldn’t expect that for a second straight week. Buffalo ranks No. 1 in most defensive metrics, and it should wreck havoc against rookie Trevor Lawrence.

Conclusion: Pass

Los Angeles Chargers @ Philadelphia Eagles

Color me shocked. The Chargers’ defense still rank dead-last in both EPA per carry and rushing success rate (SR).

  • A play is successful if a team gains:
    • 50 percent of the yards needed to move the chains on first down
    • 70 percent of yards to gain on second down
    • 100 percent of yards to gain on third or fourth down

With duel-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts leading the way, the Eagles have a top-five rushing unit in both categories. Nick Sirianni needs to stick to the script, but the opportunity is there on paper to hover within a possession.

Potential Underdog Angle: Eagles Teaser Leg (+7.5 or better)
Best Available Line: Eagles

Green Bay Packers @ Kansas City Chiefs

With Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (reserve/COVID-19 list) out, the spread spiked by a touchdown. The Packers are a hefty underdog with Jordan Love, but I wouldn’t go near the underdog despite the Chiefs’ defensive concerns.

Conclusion: Pass, but consider Chiefs in a teaser
Best Available Line: Chiefs

Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers

Here’s another one of the Week 9 NFL underdogs that’s in my best bets piece.

Tennessee Titans @ Los Angeles Rams

The Titans boast the league’s fourth-highest rushing percentage, guided by Derrick Henry (IR) pacing all running backs in yards after contact by 265 ticks. Adrian Peterson won’t have much of an impact early on — albeit against the Rams’ below-average rushing defense. The aforementioned Miller should help eventually in that department.

Still, the market overreaction (Los Angeles -4 to -7.5) is enough to back Ryan Tannehill & Co. versus a defense allowing the 13th-highest passing SR.

Potential Underdog Angle: Titans +7.5
Best Available Line: Titans

Chicago Bears @ Pittsburgh Steelers

We’ve seen rookie Justin Fields against dominant pass rush in Cleveland, and it wasn’t pretty. The Steelers should present the same issues.

Conclusion: Pass

Eli Hershkovich Avatar
Written by
Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a lead sports betting writer with TheLines and Catena Media, formerly with Audacy and The Action Network. His goal is to provide you with data and information to lead you to winning bets. Eli is an avid college basketball gambler — among many other sports — and still hasn't forgiven Virginia for ruining his 2018-2019 Texas Tech futures.

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