National Football League
NFL odds Week 9: Betting edges on Vikings-Commanders, Rams-Buccaneers and more
National Football League

NFL odds Week 9: Betting edges on Vikings-Commanders, Rams-Buccaneers and more

Updated Nov. 4, 2022 11:03 a.m. ET

This week's NFL slate features some great matchups, including the Vikings-Commanders game on FOX. 

I ran my models to give you my favorite betting edges and predictions for Week 9 of the season. My goal for this weekly column is to always provide you with nuggets you didn’t know before reading this piece.

A couple of matchups stuck out from a betting perspective, so let's look at my favorite edges of the week, with odds courtesy of FOX Bet.

Herd Hierarchy: Seahawks, 49ers make big leap in Colin's Top 10 of Week 9

Colin Cowherd shares his Top 10 teams heading into Week 9.

Panthers at Bengals (1 p.m. ET Sunday, FOX and FOX Sports App)

Carolina had the game vs. the Falcons right there for the taking and couldn’t seal the deal. Blame D.J. Moore all you want for removing his helmet, but this is on the kicker for missing not only that extra point but an FG in overtime that would have won them the game.

Now, they must travel to play a Bengals team, reeling off a Monday Night Football road loss.

We know that Joe Burrow has shown tremendous splits when playing two-high safeties.

On the year, he’s averaging +0.20 EPA/att against non-two-high safeties, which ranks No. 2 best in the NFL.

But vs. two-high safeties, he averages -0.01 EPA/att, which ranks slightly below average.

We also know that the Carolina Panthers are capable of playing with two-high safeties.  

They haven’t done it as much, given some injuries in the secondary, but in Weeks 1-4, they played the No. 6 highest rate of two-high coverage and ranked top-15 in EPA/att allowed when playing two-high coverage.

I believe they will utilize it more in this game vs. the Bengals, and it will see success.

In Burrow’s first game without Chase, Burrow averaged just 6.6 YPA.

A massive 37% of his attempts were behind the line of scrimmage (No. 3 highest last week) after being less than 26% on the season before last week.

Keep a focus on the availability of Bengals DT D.J. Reader. If he’s out, unless the Bengals massively alter their strategy on a short week (something you have to have a lot of trust in their offensive coaches to do, and I do not), I’d be looking into backing the Panthers here.

PICK: Panthers (+7 at FOX Bet) to lose by fewer than 7 points (or win outright)

Vikings at Commanders (1 p.m. ET Sunday, FOX and FOX Sports App)

When we look to bet on a game featuring Kirk Cousins, the first thing we have to ask ourselves is, is this game after 1 p.m.? The second question is, is the defense capable of getting pressure on Cousins?

This game is at 1 p.m., so Cousins has that going for him. But he will be going up against a very strong pass rush.

At home, Cousins is -0.33 EPA/att when pressured and +0.06 EPA/att when clean.

But on the road, Cousins is -0.68 EPA/att when pressured and +0.09 EPA/att when clean.

These are some of the largest splits in the NFL.

Look at Cousins on the road when pressured this year:

-0.72 EPA/att, 25% success, 6.2 YPA, 1 TD, 2 INT

It’s not great.  

It ranks No. 29 out of 33 QBs this year, ahead of only the benched Matt Ryan, Year 2 QBs Zach Wilson and Mac Jones, and Kyler Murray.

The other factor at play is that Washington is a great pressure team.

They rank No. 3 in the NFL, getting pressure on 37% of opposing QB dropbacks. And they blitz at a below-average rate, which does help coverage to an extent.

Look at the defenses the Vikings have faced since Week 3 and where they rank in pressure rate:

Week 3: DET - No. 26
Week 4: NO - No. 31
Week 5: CHI - No. 28
Week 6: MIA - No. 21
Week 8: ARI - No. 22
Week 9: WAS - No. 3

The Vikings haven’t played anyone remotely close to Washington.

One of the staples of looking to back teams, particularly road teams, is asking yourself two questions:

Will this pass rush impact the passing offense? And can this run defense slow down the rushing attack?

We already answered the first question.  

The answer to the second question is the same as the first one: yes.

Washington’s run defense ranks No. 4 in the NFL.

The Vikings have played the NFL’s No. 1 easiest schedule of opposing run defenses this season.

From Week 1-5, they did nothing but play bottom-half run defenses.

Now they face Washington, who has excelled in two key areas that may make a difference in this game.

Since Week 3, Washington ranks No. 1 in EPA/rush and No. 2 in opponent yards before contact per RB rush.

A quick scan back at the defenses the Vikings have played vs. the run and we see that in yards before contact per RB rush, they ranked: No. 31, 26, 20, 18, 17, 12 and 7. Now they’re playing the No. 2 Commanders.

Secondly, another key here is that Washington is a top-10 defense vs. runs from 11 personnel. And most of the Vikings runs are from 11 personnel.

Look at the defenses the Vikings have faced and their efficiency against 11 personnel runs: No. 29, 28, 26, 24, 22, 20, 8.

The only above-average offense? No. 8 Miami Dolphins. How did that game go?  

In the first 56 minutes of the game, Cook had nine rushes for 17 yards!

That’s right, 1.9 YPC, -0.38 EPA/att and 11% success.

The Vikings led by less than one TD with four minutes left, 16-10, and were taking on the Dolphins third-string QB, Skylar Thompson. And finally, Cook broke free for a 53-yard run with 3:25 left in the game to skew all of his statistics.

But he was terrible in the game vs. the only team he’s played all season which was respectable against 11 personnel runs and good at holding RBs to few yards before contact per attempt.

I think giving Washington 3.5 points at home is too many.

PICK: Commanders (+3.5 at FOX Bet) to lose by fewer than 3.5 points (or win outright)

Chargers at Falcons (1 p.m. ET Sunday, FOX and FOX Sports App)

The Falcons defense ranks dead last in success rate allowed to opposing RB targets on early downs.  

Now they must go up against the team that uses RB targets more than anyone else in the NFL.

The Chargers have played just seven games, whereas all other teams in the top 5 have played eight, but early-down RB routes run:

333 – LAC
281 – IND
265 – WAS
265 – NYJ
263 – TB

And RB targets paint the same picture, as all other teams have played eight games while the Chargers have played only seven.

73 – LAC
57 – IND
56 – WAS
54 – TB
54 – NYJ

It’s the Chargers… and then it’s everyone else. Austin Ekeler should feast in this matchup.

He’s not the only one.

So should Justin Herbert.

Herbert may be getting back the services of his No. 1 WR, Keenan Allen. It’s wild to think this, but Allen has been targeted just six times all season, and that’s because he played only part of Week 1 and part of Week 7. But if he’s back and anywhere close to 100% against the Falcons, it could be a huge boost.

As great as Justin Herbert can be, like most QBs, he is susceptible to pressure. Look at his YTD splits on early downs:

Pressured: -0.33 EPA/att, 29% success, 4.4 YPA, 1:2 TD:INT
Not pressured: +0.16 EPA/att, 48% success, 7.1 YPA, 11:2 TD:INT

And the last three games the Chargers played, look at the defenses they faced ranked by pressure rate since Week 4:

No. 3 – Denver
No. 10 – Cleveland
No. 17 – Seattle

Now they get the worst pressure rate team in the NFL, the Falcons.

We liked the Panthers last week because the Falcons don’t get pressure, they allow the highest completion rate, and they were down multiple starters in their secondary.

They’ll still be down Casey Hayward, for certain. And they already allowed the fourth-most production to WRs from the slot. This would be a huge edge for Herbert if he gets Keenan Allen back.

Lastly, out of 35 QBs, Justin Herbert ranks No. 32 in rate of passes thrown 10-plus yards downfield. This has been a problem with Joe Lombardi’s offense and is frustrating.

However, in this matchup, it’s actually not a bad thing.

That’s because NO TEAM allows more success on early-down passes than the Atlanta Falcons in the first three quarters.

It’s been insane.

The Falcons are allowing:

+0.26 EPA/att (No. 31)
69% success (No. 32)
81% completions (No. 32)

This should equate to a ton of success for Herbert.

On the other side of the ball, the Falcons should be able to rely on their rushing attack, which might get the services of Cordarrelle Patterson back.

But even bigger than that will be the simple fact the Chargers are terrible against the run, and the Falcons have faced a brutal stretch of run defenses.

Over the last four weeks, the Falcons played nothing but top-12 run defenses of the 49ers, Bucs, Bengals and Panthers.

Now they get the Chargers, who rank No. 31 in yards before contact per attempt to RBs.  

Additionally, they rank dead last in yards AFTER contact per rush.

So they get moved off the line AND they struggle to tackle well.

As a result, they rank dead last in YPC allowed to RBs at 6.1 yards.

If allowing 6.1 YPC sounds bad, let’s put it into context.

No team since 2000 allowed over 5.75 YPC to RBs on the season, and the Chargers are at 6.1.  

And even if you look at the first eight weeks of a season only, there is still not a single team that allowed more than 5.95 YPC to opposing RBs (KC in 2008).

The Chargers are the only team since at least 2000 to allow 6-plus YPC to RBs in the first eight weeks of the season.

Marcus Mariota was passing more last week, and while I don’t know that he’ll pass a ton in this game, thanks to the production Atlanta should see on the ground, he should be quite efficient when he does pass.

The Chargers are allowing 9.3 yards per target to TE targets (No. 31), which bodes well for Kyle Pitts.

Additionally, the Falcons passing offense is effectively the anti-Joe Lombardi offense.

They don’t throw underneath at all.

They have the fifth-highest rate of all passes thrown 10-plus yards downfield and the sixth-highest rate of all passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield.

And guess which defense is the worst in the NFL vs. passes thrown 10-plus yards downfield?

The Chargers.

They are allowing +0.59 EPA/att and 52% success on these passes 10-plus yards downfield, allowing 11.6 YPA.

Although it looks unlikely that Keenan Allen will be up for this game, I believe bets on either the game exceeding the total or the Falcons exceeding their team total are decent looks in this game.

PICK: Over 49.5 points scored by both teams combined at FOX Bet

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Rams at Buccaneers (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday, CBS)

The Rams have played either great defenses or terrible defenses this year.  

The good news is, after this week, they play nothing but bottom-half defenses the rest of the season save for a game vs. the No. 3 Broncos and a slightly above-average Seahawks defense.

The bad news is this week, they face the top-10 Buccaneers defense.

Against the top-10 defenses they’ve played this year, here’s how they performed:

10 points vs. Buffalo
9 points against San Francisco
10 points vs. Dallas
14 points against San Francisco

They lost all four of those games.

Against defenses outside that top-10 threshold, they scored 31 vs. the Falcons in a win, 24 vs. the Panthers in a win and 20 vs. the Cardinals in a win.

The problem with the Bucs defense is two-fold.

First, they’re injured in the secondary.

Second, the Rams have a solid history of scoring points in this matchup.

These teams have played four times since Sean McVay became head coach, including twice last year.

The Rams are 3-1 SU and ATS, and the final scores:

2019 – Rams loss 55-40
2020 – Rams win 27-24
2021 – Rams win 34-24
2021 – Rams win 30-27

All four games went over the posted total.

On the other side of the ball, it’s not as if this Bucs offense has been humming, either. They've played one of the easiest stretches of defenses this year (No. 22 Saints, 25 Packers, 26 Chiefs and 32 Falcons). In those games, they scored 18 points against the Steelers, three points vs. the Panthers and 22 points vs. the Ravens, nine of which came in the final five minutes in desperation comeback mode (they had 13 points in the game’s first 55 minutes).

It remains to be seen what the Bucs offense will do with their run/pass balance.

Outside the final three minutes until halftime, the Bucs are 50/50 run/pass on first down in the first half of their games. While this still ranks 10th in the highest pass rate, these runs are literally the worst in the NFL.

They are averaging just 2.93 YPC.

Additionally, these runs are -0.18 EPA/att and 36% success.

The YPC ranks No. 32 and the EPA/att ranks 28th.

Meanwhile, passes on the same downs are averaging +0.17 EPA/att and 58% success and 7.8 YPA. These rank No. 11, 6 and 14, respectively.

It would be one thing to run on 50% of your plays if running delivered adequate efficiency or your passing game wasn’t borderline top-10 in efficiency.

But neither is the case.

Tampa must clean up their playcalling, but I still believe they are the team with more upside, both for the rest of the season and for this game.

I’d lean to the Bucs on Sunday afternoon, but I wouldn’t make a move until you’ve studied the final injury reports for both teams.

Warren Sharp is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He is the founder of Sharp Football Analysis and has worked as a consultant for league franchises while also previously contributing to ESPN and The Ringer, among other outlets. He studied engineering before using his statistical acumen to create predictive football models. You can follow Warren on Twitter at @SharpFootball.


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