Favorites continued to impress across the NFL schedule in Week 9, stringing together a 7-4-2 record against the spread for a third straight winning week.
Looking ahead to Week 10 action – courtesy of the early lines posted by online sportsbook Bovada – the favorites will have their work cut out for them.
Of the 13 games taking place on Sunday and Monday, five involve spreads of a touchdown or more. Throw in three other games with spreads of at least 5 points, and more than half of the weekly schedule leans towards the lopsided.
One team that may be up to the challenge of covering a big number is the Los Angeles Rams (6-2). Under rookie head coach Sean McVay, who at 31 years of age is younger than many of his players, the Rams have shown flashes of brilliance while putting up several blowouts.
Los Angeles opened the season with a 46-9 romp over the Indianapolis Colts (3-6), embarrassed the Arizona Cardinals (4-4) in a 33-0 shutout three Sundays back, and they rolled over the New York Giants (1-7) in a 51-17 laugher last week.
This time around it’s the Houston Texans (3-5) limping into L.A., and with breakout rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson now out for the year, it’s up to much-maligned backup Tom Savage to save the season. He had a chance to do that last week against the Colts, but Savage suffered through a 19-for-44 performance for just 219 yards while leading the Texans’ offense to just a single scoring drive.
The Rams are currently 11.5-point home favorites, but that may not matter much to a team sporting an 111-34 advantage during its current three-game winning streak.
For bettors looking for a more competitive matchup, look no further than the Buffalo Bills (5-3) hosting the New Orleans Saints (6-2).
The Bills are 4-0 at home, and surprisingly enough, the Saints have reeled off a 3-1 road record – so something’s got to give in this one.
After a disappointing 0-2 start on the year, New Orleans has responded with a resurgent six-game winning streak, riding a new-look defense along the way. In five of those six wins, the Saints have surrendered 17 points or less, including a shutout of the Miami Dolphins (4-4).
Buffalo laid an egg in last week’s Thursday Night Football loss to the New York Jets (4-5). Other than that outlier though, first-year head coach Sean McDermott has brought the Bills back into the playoff discussion behind a stingy defense that allows only 18.6 points per game (fifth-best in the NFL).
Two surprising teams, each led by talented defenses playing at the peak of their powers, makes for a close contest – as evidenced by New Orleans’ slim 3-point advantage as road underdogs.
After a surprise stay was handed down by the courts, the Dallas Cowboys (5-3) welcomed second year standout running back Ezekiel Elliott back into the fold last Sunday. He responded with a 27-carry day for 93 yards, while scoring a touchdown, in an impressive 28-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs (6-3).
Once again, the bookmakers don’t know if Elliott’s ongoing suspension saga will be settled by Sunday, when the Cowboys visit the Atlanta Falcons (4-4). A final ruling – well, who really knows at this point – on that matter is expected to be turned in by Thursday.
Even with Elliott sidelined though, the Cowboys should be expected to fare well against an Atlanta team that isn’t exactly the fearsome Falcons of old.
Atlanta has lost four of their last five games, including surprisingly futile offensive efforts against the Dolphins, Bills, and Panthers. The substandard play has even affected legendary wide receiver Julio Jones, who went viral last Sunday when the sure-handed scoring machine dropped a wide-open touchdown toss in an eventual 20-17 loss to Carolina.
Despite that rough run of late, and Dallas’ high-octane offense in three-straight double-digit victories, the Cowboys head to Atlanta as 3-point road dogs.