The "over" continued to be a profitable proposition in Week 8 of the NFL season as nine of the 13 games (69.3 percent) sailed over the posted total. For the season, the "over" has rewarded bettors at a healthy 55.5 percent clip.
With those numbers in tow, it's time to look forward. Below is analysis, predictions and wagering strategies for select games on the Week 9 slate.
Dallas Cowboys at Cleveland Browns (48)
The public is leaning toward the over in this one as the total has risen two full points since opening at 46. Cody Kessler will be back under center for the Browns after missing last week's game with a concussion. The rookie has performed adequately in five starts this season as he's completed 66.9 percent of his throws while earning a 94.4 passer rating.
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But perhaps the most intriguing piece for the Browns in this matchup is the debut of Jamie Collins, who was acquired this week via a trade with the Patriots. The Pro Bowl middle linebacker has to be smarting getting shipped from the Super Bowl favorite to a winless Browns team. Think he might play some angry and inspired football this week?
The addition of an elite player on the defensive side of the ball for the Browns is one of a few reasons that signal this being a bit lower scoring than many apparently are forecasting. Expect a heavy dose of Ezekiel Elliott considering the Browns have the second-worst run defense in the NFL. Long, time-consuming drives could be the M.O. for the Cowboys this week. Furthermore, the Dallas defense is vastly underrated as a result of the two rookie sensations on offense.
Pick: Under, 3 Units
Tennessee Titans at San Diego Chargers (47)
The "over" has gone 12-4 in these teams' combined 16 games played this season. San Diego has scored the third-most points in the league (28.1 per game) while ranking near the bottom in points allowed (26.5 per game). Meanwhile, Marcus Mariota and the Titans offense has started to show real signs of progress in recent weeks. Mariota, who has a 95.1 passer rating for the season, has 10 touchdowns versus just one interception the past four weeks. In each of those games, Tennessee put at least 26 points on the scoreboard.
Then we get to the San Diego defense. All four inside linebackers on the roster are out with injury, which will force OLB Kyle Emanuel to move to the inside for the first time since high school. It's going to be a heck of a challenge for the second-year pro from North Dakota State. Not only must he take on the Titans downhill running game with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, but he'll also be in charge of setting defensive alignments. That's no easy task for even a veteran middle 'backer against a team like Tennessee with all its pre-snap shifting and audible calls. Good luck with that kid.
Pick: Over, 3 Units
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders (43.5)
The winner of this battle between 6-2 teams will sit alone atop the AFC West. This is a matchup of strength-versus-strength as the Raiders rank sixth in scoring (26.9 PPG), while the Broncos have allowed the fifth-fewest points in the NFL (17.0 per game).
Can Derek Carr and the young Raiders offense produce against the vaunted Denver 'D'? Carr was just named AFC Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for a franchise-record 513 yards in a 30-24 win over Tampa Bay. It's the third time in the past four weeks Oakland has scored least 30 points. Carr is quickly elevating himself into one of the league's elite QB's while leading an offense with no discernible weakness. There is talent across the board with this Raiders offense.
Meanwhile, QB Trevor Siemian and the Broncos will be facing a defense that's allowed an average of 410.4 YPG this season. Yes, the Denver attack is pedestrian, but it should at least be able to move the ball. And given the Raiders preponderance for defensive breakdowns, the points will likely come as well. This line seems low.
Pick: Over, 5 Units
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