Want to know the latest trends, matchups and injury news in football? We’ve got you. Want to know where the public has money this week? We’ve got you. Want to know which teams to play, whom to roster in DFS or whom to pick in your Eliminator pool? We’ve got you there, too. Here’s everything you need to know as you prepare for your fantasy football matchups and potential bets on the games this weekend.
David Purdum’s Action Report
The over/under total on the Iowa Hawkeyes–Northwestern Wildcats game Saturday at Wrigley Field opened as low as 29.5. By Thursday, it had ticked up to a consensus 30.5 at sportsbooks. At 30.5, the total would match the lowest over/under for a college football game in ESPN Stats & Information’s data set, which goes back to 2000. (Minnesota-Iowa, Oct. 21, 2023). There have been five games since 2000 with a total under 34. The Hawkeyes have been in four of those games. “When going to make this number, the question always is, ‘How low is too low?'” Joey Feazel, who oversees college football odds for Caesars Sportsbook, said on a company podcast. Bettors were backing the under on Saturday’s game, with 66% of the money wagered on the total on the under, as of Thursday at DraftKings.
The No. 14 LSU Tigers opened as high as a 6-point underdog against the No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide, but the line moved quickly in favor of the Tigers and has been sitting at Crimson Tide -3 most of the week. “We’ve seen some LSU money come in,” Feazel said on the podcast, noting the line movement.
Other notable line movement this week at influential sportsbook Circa Sports: The No. 17 Tennessee Volunteers opened as a 30-point favorite over the visiting UConn Huskies. The line had grown to Tennessee -36 as of Thursday. The No. 3 Michigan Wolverines opened as a 28-point favorite over the visiting Purdue Boilermakers. The line had grown to -32.5 as of Thursday.
Seth Walder’s biggest edges from ESPN Analytics
No. 18 Utah Utes (-11) vs. Arizona State Sun Devils: FPI, which favors the Utes by almost 18 points, sees this as an overreaction to last week when Utah was blown out by Oregon and Arizona State upset Washington State. It should be a defensive battle with both teams above average on that side of the ball and below average on offense, but Utah is substantially better in each case, per FPI.
No. 5 Washington Huskies to NOT reach the College Football Playoff (-190): The Allstate Playoff Predictor gives Washington just a 78.5% chance (-365) to miss the playoff despite being undefeated. Why? Major challenges on their schedule ahead. The Huskies have losable games at USC, vs. Utah and at Oregon State all left on their regular season schedule, not to mention a potential Pac-12 conference championship game.
Will Missouri vs. Georgia hit the over?
Joe Fortenbaugh joins “First Take” to break down the projected points total between Missouri and Georgia.
Joe Fortenbaugh’s confidence picks
No. 12 Missouri Tigers at No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs OVER 55 points: People have been questioning whether something’s wrong with Georgia. Trust me, the Bulldogs are fine … they’re just bored. Kirby Smart’s crew has been asked to play exactly two big games this season, and in those two performances, against Kentucky and Florida, the Bulldogs hung 51 and 43 points. Georgia is averaging 39 points and is set to host a Missouri outfit that has posted 30 or more points in six straight contests. This total should be closer to 59 points, in my opinion.
Arkansas Razorbacks +6 at Florida Gators: This game is all about the spot. For Florida, the Gators are off a monster game against Georgia with a road date at LSU on deck. For Arkansas, the Razorbacks are off their bye week. This is a terrific buy-low situation with Arkansas, thanks to its six-game losing streak, but what do you expect from a four-game stretch that featured LSU, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Alabama? This one will be tighter than expected.
South Carolina Gamecocks -15.5 vs. Jacksonville State Jaguars: The Gamecocks have had a brutal run during their current four-game losing streak suffered at the hands of Tennessee, Florida, Missouri and Texas A&M. But this is where coach Shane Beamer’s unit takes out its frustrations on an overmatched Jacksonville State squad that hasn’t played or beaten anybody of note this season.
Why Fortenbaugh is expecting lots of points between Bills and Bengals
Joe Fortenbaugh says Josh Allen and Joe Burrow will throw plenty of touchdowns and Bills vs. Benglas will hit the over on Sunday night.
Stephania Bell’s injury update
Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay confirmed the diagnosis of a UCL sprain for QB Matthew Stafford on Monday, telling reporters, “we were encouraged it was a sprain. … There were potential concerns that it could be worse.” He reported Stafford as day-to-day and has not yet ruled him out for Week 9. We know Stafford is a gamer and might push to play if he’s close, but given the Rams have a bye in Week 10, he might be encouraged to rest until the following week to allow him more optimal recovery time.
Darren Waller had just one reception for four yards with two targets before leaving last Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury. Despite Waller and the New York Giants‘ best effort to manage his chronic hamstring tightness — including limiting him in practice last week — this now appears to be more of a true injury situation. Waller told reporters Tuesday that he could potentially be absent for multiple weeks.
Get all the latest injury news here.
Matt Bowen’s matchups to exploit
Miami Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill vs. the Kansas City Chiefs‘ Cover 2 shells: Kansas City has played Cover 2 on 22.7% of opponents’ dropbacks this season. It’s a staple of coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system. Look for Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel to scheme for Hill with intermediate concepts that allow the wide receiver to settle in zone windows, creating open grass to attack after the catch.
Cincinnati Bengals RB Joe Mixon vs. the Buffalo Bills‘ nickel fronts: In the Bengals’ divisional playoff win over the Bills last season, Mixon rushed for 105 yards on 20 carries. We saw 12 personnel to get extra gaps on the edge and pre-snap motion that created second-level blocking angles. I would expect Cincinnati to use a similar approach to establish favorable numbers and matchups in the box on Sunday night.
For more breakdowns, check out Matt Bowen’s Film Room.
Mike Clay’s Eliminator Challenge advice
New Orleans Saints (vs. Chicago Bears): This is a rough week in terms of quality options, as the Saints’ 72% win probability against Tyson Bagent and the Bears is tops in the league. We might end up with better opportunities to deploy the Saints (they have higher win probabilities against the Panthers in Week 14 and Giants in Week 15), but they’re tough to pass on this week considering our underwhelming alternatives. The Saints rank 10th in combined offensive+defensive EPA this season, whereas the Bears rank 25th.
Joe Fortenbaugh’s best bet for Dolphins-Chiefs
Joe Fortenbaugh is backing the Chiefs as a small favorite against the Dolphins in Germany.
Al Zeidenfeld’s DFS plays
With only 10 games on the main slate and a lot of high-powered offenses on bye or island games, the pickings are somewhat slim this weekend. The best receiver value on the board, Demario Douglas ($4,000), should see loads of snaps, routes and targets due to all the injuries in the New England Patriots‘ pass-catching corps. The slew of backup quarterbacks pushed into starting action (potentially nine in total) makes for a wider range of outcomes for pass-catchers, leading me to want to spend more on the value running backs in good spots such as Alvin Kamara ($8,100), Josh Jacobs ($6,900) and Jonathan Taylor ($6,400) in cash games.
More DFS plays here.
Seth Walder’s biggest edges from ESPN Analytics
Chicago Bears DE Montez Sweat UNDER 0.5 sacks (-114): My model prices this at -149, and while that’s accounting for Sweat now being on a substantial underdog in this game, it’s not specifically working, in that he no longer has the benefit of playing alongside Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Chase Young. Chicago’s pass rush is much worse, and that hurts Sweat’s chances to record a sack.
Houston Texans QB C.J. Stroud OVER 0.5 interceptions (+165): Yes, he has thrown only one interception. But he’s still a rookie quarterback playing in what is expected to be a close game. And sometimes picks just happen. My model makes the fair over price to be +121. So while the under should be favored, it believes the over is a value at the price offered.
David Purdum’s Action Report
The sportsbook at The Borgata reported taking early money from influential bettors on the Bills at +3, +2.5 and +2 at Cincinnati. Buffalo was a consensus 2-point underdog to Cincinnati on Thursday. If the line holds, it will snap the Bills’ streak of being favored in 26 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL.
The early line on the Minnesota Vikings–Atlanta Falcons game was Atlanta -1 at Caesars Sportsbook before Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins suffered a season-ending Achilles injury. Atlanta reopened as 3.5-point favorites after the injury, and the line continued to tick up this week, climbing to high as -5 by Tuesday. Minnesota added quarterback Josh Dobbs at the trade deadline, and Atlanta named Taylor Heinicke as its starter, replacing Desmond Ridder.
The line on the Dolphins-Chiefs game Sunday in Frankfurt, Germany, dropped from Kansas City -2.5 to -1.5 this week, and weather is expected to play a factor. Rain and wind are in the forecast for Sunday. The total was sitting at 51 on Thursday.
Erin Dolan’s ‘Trend or Trap’
Are these betting trends something to buy in on or a trap to stay away from?
The Kansas City Chiefs are 18-7 ATS as a favorite of 1-3 points under Andy Reid (Patrick Mahomes: 7-3 ATS). Trend. Chiefs -1 is the play. Do not overreact to the Chiefs’ loss to the Denver Broncos last week. Mahomes was sick and had one of his worst performances of his career. Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins have folded and failed to cover against good competition. Miami lost 31-7 to Philly and 48-20 to the Buffalo Bills. The Dolphins have beat up on weak competition but struggled against good competition. The Chiefs offense may not look as explosive as in previous years, but the defense has stepped up this season, ranking fifth in defensive efficiency. The Dolphins offense could struggle against this defense, while the Chiefs offense could roll against this defense.
The last five meetings between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles have gone over the total. Trend. The total sat at 46 as of Thursday morning. Dallas and Philly average 28 points apiece per game this season, which ranks top 3 in the league. Both teams are top 7 in offensive efficiency. The Eagles played two divisional games against the Commanders with an average of 67 total points. Meanwhile, Dallas put up 40 points in a Week 1 shutout against the Giants. I could see this being a high-flying game rather than both teams leaning on their defenses. I’d look to the over in this divisional rivalry.
Anita Marks’ NFL confidence picks
Carolina Panthers (+2.5) vs. Indianapolis Colts: This is a revenge spot for Frank Reich. The Panthers are coming off a win where they looked better offensively, thanks to a change at offensive coordinator. Bryce Young played well and has an opportunity to pick up where he left off against a bad Colts pass defense. Carolina’s defense is very understated. Take the ‘dog!
Falcons (-3.5) vs. Vikings: The Falcons are flying with Heinicke, whom I believe is better than Ridder. The Ridder experiment hopefully is over. The Vikings traded for Josh Dobbs, but he more than likely will not be ready to start, leaving rookie Jaren Hall to step into some very big shoes, considering how well Cousins had been playing. The Vikings rush defense will have its hands full against the Falcons backfield.
Tyler Fulghum’s Pigskin Pick’em plays
What a great weekend of games in Week 9. How did Germany end up getting what could be an AFC Championship Game preview? The Dolphins bring a historic offense to Frankfurt, and Patrick Mahomes is, well, Patrick Mahomes. What a matchup. Sunday afternoon, a big statement will be made in the NFC East with the Eagles hosting the Cowboys. Philadelphia once again looks like the team to beat in the NFC. Can the Cowboys measure up? Can’t wait to find out. Good luck in Week 9 of Pigskin Pick’em!
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