Week 9 NFL Picks: Sides & Totals

Justin Herbert #10 of the Los Angeles Chargers runs for a first down during a 34-28 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at SoFi Stadium on December 16, 2021 in Inglewood, California.
Image Credit: Harry How/Getty Images

Each week, BetPrep NFL Sharp “Tommy The Hitman” discusses every game through the eyes of a professional sports bettor with host and 30-year sports talk radio vet Jody McDonald of CBS Sports Radio.

Here are some recent highlights from the latest episode of Hot Read Hits, the official NFL podcast of BetPrep:

Here are Tommy’s best bets for NFL Week 9.

Chargers (-1.5) at Eagles, Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET

My Power Rank has the Chargers by 2.75. This is the difference between the two offenses. When taking out garbage time, the Chargers offense is eighth in EPA (Expected Points Added) per play and Philly is 22nd. The Chargers’ run defense was slightly better after bye week. They did make the Patriots work, just 3.7 yards per carry to backs last week, but still allowed 131 rushing yards. The Chargers’ offense matches up well against the Eagles’ defensive style. The Eagles defense primarily sits back in a Cover 2 and Cover 4 zone. Chargers are averaging 0.27 EPA per play against those two high coverage types. Their receivers rank first in yards per route run against those coverages as well.

The Chargers’ offensive line allowed 17 pressures against NE. These teams played three common opponents in DAL, KC, LV. The Chargers won two and could have easily gone 3-0, while the Eagles were beaten easily in all three. The Eagles have struggled versus other good teams such as Tampa as well and have only played well against the soft teams on their schedule. Back the Chargers.

Patriots at Panthers (Under 41.5), Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Both teams not throwing much anymore: These two teams rank 30th and 31st in situation-neutral pass rate over the past four weeks.

Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker are both struggling. In relief of Darnold the past two weeks, Walker has completed just 3-of-15 passes. This after Walker completed 57.1% of his passes a year ago. Darnold has been trending downward since the open of the season. Over his past four games, Darnold is averaging just 4.9 yards per pass attempt while completing 52.8% of his passes.

The Panthers are a good defensive football team. Carolina is allowing just 3.8 yards per play on third downs this season, second in the NFL behind Arizona (3.7 yards). Carolina is third in the league in expected points per pass attempt defensively. Also playing to the Under is that the Patriots are 10th in EPA per pass play.

Carolina coach Matt Rhule came out saying, “People are going to have to accept that we are a defensive football team”. He also spoke about running the ball more in recent weeks. According to BetPrep, since 2020, Pats are Under 15 out of 24 games. RB Christian McCaffery is probably not back this week. And Sam Darnold is questionable with his concussion.

The Panthers have been a dead-nuts Under team the last two weeks, since Rhule came out saying he wanted to run more. He’s made it known this is a defense and running football team. New England is an Under team as well. So take the Under.

Falcons at Saints (Under 42), Sunday 1 p.m. ET

Cordarrelle Patterson is playing more wideout without Calvin Ridley, who is sidelined indefinitely with mental illness. Patterson is getting 3.3 more carries, 1.6 more targets, four more RB snaps, seven more WR snaps.

The Saints lack explosive plays, producing a gain of 20 or more yards once every 28.3 offensive plays, the lowest rate in the league. (League average is one every 17 plays.) Bbig passing plays are not likely for the Falcons either; The Saints are fourth in EPA against the pass and fourth in passing points allowed per attempt (0.36). Matt Ryan is averaging 9.8 yards per completion, 32nd in the league, ahead of only Davis Mills (9.7 yards), Jared Goff (9.7), Jacoby Brissett (8.5), and Andy Dalton (7.3).

Ryan has struggled against teams with good pass rushes: Atlanta’s offense scored 19 combined points against two teams that dominated them in the trenches (Philly and Carolina). The Saints rank sixth in pressure rate.

All the indicators in this game support the Under.