Midpoint hits the NFL with plenty of team still in the hunt

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Following this past Monday night’s game between Denver and Kansas City 119 of the NFL’s 256 game regular season schedule will have been played with the mathematical midpoint of the season occurring this week.

But for 14 of the 32 teams the midpoint of their seasons will have already occurred, having played 8 of their 16 games.

Another 6 teams have Byes this week as Chicago, Cleveland, the Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England and Pittsburgh will have their Byes at the exact midpoint of their seasons, having already played 8 games and playing 8 more when they resume play a week from Sunday.

Here are looks at the 13 games that make up the Week 9 schedule.

Thursday

Buffalo -3 at New York Jets (43): The Jets could easily be 4-4 or even 5-3 with their tight losses to Miami and Atlanta and this would normally be a good spot for the home underdog. But this is not difficult travel for the Bills but their excellence in running the football and avoiding turning it over – both of which have been weaknesses of the Jets – suggest the better team prevails again. BUFFALO

Sunday

Denver NL at Philadelphia: The Eagles may not yet have been properly priced by the linesmaker as their 7-1 SU mark is almost matched by their 6-2 ATS record. Over the second half of the season the Eagles could be expected to regress in ATS terms but it may not begin here as the Eagles play a third straight game at home and a Bye up next whereas the Broncos are on the road for a third straight week with a more important AFC contest hosting New England up next. PHILADELPHIA

LA Rams -3.5 at NY Giants (42.5): The Giants have past class with a veteran roster. Rams QB Jared Goff is still just in his second season and with extra time to prepare the Giants defense should be able to apply pressure to Goff and force quick decisions. It’s one thing for the Rams to win at Dallas as road underdogs. It’s another to ask them to win on the road laying a FG or more. NY GIANTS

Tampa Bay +7 at New Orleans (50): The Saints’ defense, while improved, has still struggled against the run, holding just Miami and Detroit under 119 rushing yards. The Saints have won 5 of their last 6 home games against Tampa Bay. But with both offenses in the top 5 in yards per play and their defenses ranking in the bottom 7 in ypp this shapes up as a high scoring contest. OVER

Cincinnati +4 at Jacksonville (39.5): The Jags still have issues with Blake Bortles at QB but Cincy’s Andy Dalton has struggled even more. Jacksonville’s defense has been a major strength that should pressure Dalton with a likelihood of forcing turnovers. Especially with the Bengals averaging just 78 rushing yards per game, third worst in the league. JACKSONVILLE

Atlanta +2 at Carolina (44): There appears to be value in looking towards the Total in this game. Atlanta’s games are averaging 43.6 total points per game whereas Carolina’s are averaging just 36.3 with their last two games having identical 17-3 scores in a loss at Chicago and their win at Tampa. UNDER

Indianapolis +12 at Houston (49): The Colts nearly upset the Bengals but lost on a late interception return. But there are signs of an improving offense as QB Jacoby Brissett continues to get comfortable with his new team. The defense remains vulnerable and ranks last in average points allowed and next to last in average yards allowed. Houston has now allowed over 40 points in 2 of its last 3 games. OVER

Baltimore NL at Tennessee: The advance line, prior to Flacco’s injury, had the Titans favored by 4.5. Baltimore’s defensive strength has been mostly against the pass with Tennessee’s strength its running game. The Ravens have allowed 4 teams to rush for over 160 yards, something Tennessee has done in all games in which it topped 30 points. TENNESSEE

Arizona -2.5 at San Francisco (39): In the earlier OT loss at Arizona the stats were not one sided and the 49ers had the better rushing game. There will not be many chances for the 49ers to earn a win but this is one such spot for a team that, though short on talent, plays hard. And here they will face backup QB Drew Stanton making his first start following the season injury to Cardinals starter Carson Palmer. SAN FRANCISCO

Washington +7 at Seattle (45): Both teams have offensive line issues but have very similar rushing stats. And, despite Seattle’s superior reputation, both are allowing the same 5.3 yards per play. Seattle has played 3 home games, winning 2 by a FG and the third, a Sunday night 46-18 win over lowly Indianapolis, saw the Seahawks trailing 15-10 at halftime. WASHINGTON

Kansas City at Dallas: The Chiefs have already won at New England and Houston this season, both Playoff teams last season. Both teams excel in two areas critical to success – they run the football and avoid committing turnovers. But, statistically, Dallas has a huge edges in defensive yards per play, allowing just 5.05 ypp (number 11) as compared to Kansas City allowing 6.11 ypp (number 30). DALLAS

Oakland -2.5 at Miami (44): Oakland opened the season with a road win at Tennessee but is 0-3 both SU and ATS on the road since. Which makes it tough to defend making them a road favorite. Miami had won 3 straight prior to last Thursday’s loss at Baltimore. The Dolphins do have extra rest but do note that Oakland is spending this week practicing on the east coast, negating any travel considerations that would otherwise impact this handicap. MIAMI

Monday

Detroit -1.5 at Green Bay (43.5): Detroit is favored for just the second time this season. In their first such role they lost at home 27-24 to Carolina as 2 point home chalk in a game not as close as the final score suggests. With the extra time to fully assimilate Hundley into the offense we can expect a much better effort. GREEN BAY

Last week: 5-7

Season: 61-54-3

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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