Four spreads of note:
Buccaneers +9 @ Saints, 1:00PM ET, Sunday
For the record, I think this line is set right. The Saints have proven to be much better and much more explosive at home than they have on the road this season. But the Bucs just beat the Saints three weeks ago, are coming off a bye and didn’t just lose to the previously winless Rams. So why are they 9-point underdogs? It’s a revenge game for New Orleans in more ways than one but will the betting public be willing to lay nine points in order to take the Saints? It’ll be interesting to see where this line winds up but either way, it’s not falling to the key number of 7 or rising to the key number of 10 so bettors have a tough decision to make if they choose to wager on this game.
Giants +9 @ Patriots, 4:15PM ET, Sunday
I’m starting to develop a very general, very subjective take when it comes to betting on Giants games. If they’re not expected to win, jump on them and be glad to take any points oddsmakers throw your way. If they’re expected to win, either fade them or run like hell. In Week 1 they were expected to beat the Redskins and lost outright as a 2.5-point favorite. Two weeks later when they were 9-point underdogs on the road against the Eagles, they won 29-16. When they were expected to beat the Seahawks in Week 5, they lost outright at home. And when they were expected to run all over the hapless Dolphins last Sunday, they needed a fourth-quarter comeback to win but failed to cover the 9.5-point spread. Granted, they did cover against the Rams in Week 2 and the Cardinals in Week 4 when they were expected to win. But both of those games were a little too close for comfort. What’s my point? I like the G-Men getting 9 points this Sunday, even with Bill Belichick and New England’s win-after-a-loss streak on the line. New York just has a habit of showing up when nobody thinks they will.
Rams +4 at Cardinals, 4:15PM ET, Sunday
I smell a trap. The Rams are coming off a huge upset of the Saints and now they’re 4-point underdogs against a brutal Arizona team? Why isn’t this a 1 or 2 point spread? Even 3 points I can see but 4? This one doesn’t make sense and when a spread doesn’t make sense you either go the opposite way of conventional thinking (in this case, take the Cardinals), or you lay off entirely. I just don’t see how the Cardinals could be favored by anything more than 3 points in a game where both teams are 1-6. Especially seeing as how Kevin Kolb will be a game-time decision with turf toe.
Ravens +3 @ Steelers, 8:20PM ET, Sunday
This game opened at 3.5 but is already down to 3. I think if oddsmakers left the spread at 3.5 they would get more three-way action but I have to believe that public bettors would be all over Pittsburgh with the line sitting at 3. Baltimore has looked like a speedboat without an engine the past two weeks while Pittsburgh has won four in a row, which includes its win over New England last Sunday. The Steelers might suffer a hangover from the Patriot game but I highly doubt it. They’re playing the Ravens; these two teams always get up to play each other. It’ll be interesting to see where this line winds up at kickoff.
2011 NFL Week 9 Point Spreads:
Dolphins +4.5 (39.5)
Buccaneers +9 (50)
Falcons –7 (44.5)
Browns +10.5 (41)
Jets +1 (44)
49ers –3.5 (37.5)
Seahawks +11.5 (44)
Bengals +3 (41.5)
Broncos +9 (42.5)
Giants +9 (51.5)
Rams +4 (44.5)
Packers –5.5 (51)
Ravens +3 (41.5)
Bears +9 (47)