The 2018 NFL trade deadline didn’t feature an overwhelming amount of movement, although the Eagles and the Rams emerged as clear winners after bolstering deep rosters with key acquisitions. Los Angeles grows to +275 favorites to win the 2019 Super Bowl, while Philadelphia remain longshots at +2500 at the halfway point, according to odds sourced by CanadaSportsBetting.ca. The best against the spread picks in week nine of the NFL features the Rams and the Saints battling for NFC supremacy, along with the Steelers looking to cement control of the AFC North against the rival Ravens. Minnesota, Kansas City, Chicago, Denver and Dallas round out the best spread picks this weekend.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
This divisional clash features a pair of clubs headed in the opposite direction. Baltimore started with a strong 3-1 record before losing to the Browns, Saints and Panthers over the past month. Pittsburgh started their campaign with an embarrassing tie against the Browns and a loss to the Chiefs and Ravens, before pulling off three consecutive victories to lead the AFC North.
Baltimore and Pittsburgh have created a superb rivalry over the past couple of decades. In their past seven meetings, the Ravens have won four, including the recent week four victory at Heinz Field.
The Steelers have gained a rep as a poor road club over the past few years – especially Big Ben – but Pittsburgh’s current trajectory suggests that the Ravens should be considered underdogs. The Steelers should be able to cover the spread as an AFC favorite facing an overrated defense and a pop-gun offense.
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Turnovers decided the Vikings disappointing loss to the New Orleans Saints, with a baffling Kirk Cousins pick six to seal the deal last Sunday. Minnesota’s stumbled to a 4-3-1 record after the halfway point of the regular season, an underachieving mark which doesn’t match the prodigious talent across the lineup.
The Vikings have been decidedly average on both sides of the ball, while the Lions have been a sieve on defensive end. Detroit allows the seventh most scoring in the NFL, giving up 26.6 PPG, a number that Matthew Stafford and the offense can’t keep up with.
Minnesota and Detroit have split their last six meetings over the previous three seasons, but the Lions trading Golden Tate signals acceptance of their maddening inconsistency and lack of playoff participation this season. Expect the Vikings to cover with a seven-point win on Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns
The Kansas City Chiefs are the greatest show on turf over the first half of the season, dismantling every defensive unit with a mix of spectacular athleticism and genius play-calling. Sure, the Chiefs defense reduce their odds of winning a championship, but most teams simply cannot complete with Kansas’s elite attack.
Cleveland certainly showed a lot of heart this year, struggling through adversity to finally put up a couple of wins. Unfortunately for Browns fans, the team traded offensive sparkplug Carlos Hyde and fired coach Jackson, throwing the white flag for 2018.
There’s no doubt that the Browns will put in the effort, but Cleveland’s still a year or two away from competing with AFC heavyweights. This game might be over before halftime, so select the Chiefs to blowout the Browns.
Houston Texans at Denver Broncos
The Houston Texans were all but written off after losing to the Patriots, Titans and Giants over the first three weeks of competition. Incredibly, the Texans won two consecutive overtime games after their three-game losing streak, beginning a five-game streak to the top of the AFC South division.
Denver’s played better than their record suggests – three of five losses this season were by one possession, including two losses to their Chiefs and a three-point loss to the Rams. As usual, it’s the Broncos defense which keeps the club close, while QB Case Keenum underwhelms under center.
It’s tempting to select the Texans as strong underdogs, but the Broncos are better than they appear. Houston’s main weakness – a porous offensive line – will crumble under the pressure of Denver’s pass rush, the Broncos main strength. Denver should be able to defend home turf at Mile High.
Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints
The Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints headline the biggest clash in week nine, with a single loss among these two teams after eight weeks of competition. A close contest is the most likely outcome, especially with New Orleans hosting at the ultra-loud Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Los Angeles features the third-best offense and sixth-best defense in terms of points per game, while the Saints feature the second-best offense and a 23rd-ranked defense. New Orleans also enjoys a bit of good luck to remain unbeaten since their week six bye, with the Ravens failing to convert a PAT and the Vikings literally giving away a victory.
Bet on the Rams superior defense, which should be able to lead Los Angeles to their ninth consecutive victory. A +1.5 margin for Los Angeles also covers a one-point win for the Saints, adding extra value to this wager.
Tennessee Titans at Dallas Cowboys
A much-needed bye week interrupted a three-game losing streak for the Titans, who desperately need a win to remain in the hunt for the playoffs. Dallas seems to have turned a corner after a frustrating season and a half, lifting themselves back into the NFC playoff picture despite a tough loss to Washington last week.
Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott average 122.2 yards per game on the ground, while Prescott has played well in three of his last four games. The Cowboys defense has been outstanding, allowing only 17.6 PPG, second-best in the NFL.
Tennessee also deploys an outstanding defense, holding opposing teams to 18.1 PPG. Unfortunately, the Titans offense scores only 15.1 PPG, second-worst in the NFL. Expect the Cowboys to leverage home and rest advantage into a big win on Monday night.
Chicago Bears at Buffalo Bills
The Bills feature the worst offense and least inspiring lineup of QBs in the NFL, scoring only 10.9 PPG (!) over the first half of the season. The defense isn’t getting it done either, allowing 25.0 PPG.
Compare Buffalo with the surprising Bears, who lead the NFC North division over the Packers and Vikings. Chicago’s ranked top ten in offense and defense, leading to a healthy +7.1 point differential.
Betting against the awful Bills is a terrific idea this season. A 10-point spread is large, but the Bears have proven themselves as a quality club, capable of slapping around weak clubs like Buffalo.