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I Hope I'm Wrong About the Bears - Week 9 NFL Picks

Writer's Note: I'm Carl's intern who went 57% ATS on nearly 250 documented NFL plays over 3 years on an independent blog before hopping onto Barstool, and I'm holding that mark thus far this season.

After what many respected analysts are calling the most accurate betting blog in sports history last week, let's just keep this train rolling. 

Ok, I only went 2-0 but you gotta celebrate the wins. Here we go.

Raiders (4-3) @ Chargers (2-5); 3:05pm CT

Pick #1: Over 52.5

Action: 76% of bets on the Over

I'm not one for public Overs, but sometimes you just need to feel it in your plums. This will be a scorefest.

Don't underestimate Justin Herbert for looking like an All-American version of the creepy brother from Get Out...

…he's the next big gunslinger in this league and you just don't know it yet. It took the Chargers a couple games to figure out what Herbert could handle, but they've learned he's a stud and now they're just letting him rip. He's chucking on early downs, averaging over 8 intended air yards per throw, and indiscriminately slinging to names ranging in recognition from Keenan Allen to Jalen Guyton. The Chargers have a Top-8 passing offense and it's trending up.

And if you think the Chargers D is stout, you're stuck a few years in the past. This year, they're 15th in defensive DVOA, 20th in points per game allowed (26.4), and they just traded away CB Desmond King.

Turning to the Raiders, Jon Gruden continues to regain respect as a top offensive mind in the NFL, as he's churning out a Top-10 passing offense with personnel that isn't exactly bursting with talent. Knowing that the Chargers will torch the horrendous Raiders D, Gruden will have no choice but to air it out with Carr early.

Open wide for a 60 burger.

Pick #2, Teaser: Titans -0.5 (teased from -6.5) and Cowboys +20.5 (teased from +14.5)

Titans -0.5 first…

Bears (5-3) @ Titans (5-2); 12pm CT

Action: 29% of bets on the Titans

Welcome to the 2020 Fraud Bowl brought to you by Enron, Lehman Brothers, and Bernie Madoff.

I've been accused of being a Titans hater for calling them frauds throughout the first half of this season, but now the pendulum has swung too far and the "fraud" take is overblown. Sure, they've lost two straight, but nothing has changed. Their offense is great and their defense is below average.

The order of this season's defensive-minded head coaches with shitty defenses is as follows, ranked by shittiness:

  1. Dan Quinn (dead)
  2. Matt Patricia
  3. Mike Vrabel

In a game continuously evolving to favor the offense, this only emphasizes the importance of hiring an offensive-oriented head coach. Most teams know defensive coordinators are a dime a dozen, and that's why they're looking to lock down the next great offensive mind to lead their team. When Tennessee's OC Arthur Smith gets scooped up by another team as HC this offseason, we'll really see what the Titans are made of. 

But let's focus on this week. The Titans soft D has one big thing working in its favor: the Chicago offense is trash. The Bears can't block, can't run, and can't hit Darnell Mooney on any of the three times he's open by 20 yards each game. And the only thing that's worse about the failing run game is Matt Nagy getting in his head about the failing run game.

Add in Center Cody Whitehair's COVID diagnosis to throw a wrench into this week's activities, and there isn't much to suggest that Chicago hits their stride this week.

It never feels good to bet on a team that just lost by double-digits to the Bengals. That's why the public is saying "TEN -6.5 is just too many points" as we see the Titans only getting 29% of the action. As a Bears fan, I hate the rest of this sentence, but the Bengals have a better offense than the Bears. 

Bets are falling heavy on Chicago, but sportsbooks are completely content to hold this at 6.5.

The Bears D will make the Titans work, but the Titans' offensive strengths (running and play-action) are the Bears defensive weaknesses. In conditions that are the opposite of Bear weather (70's and sunny, low wind), the far-superior offense will ultimately win out.

Cowboys +20.5 second…

Steelers (7-0) @ Cowboys (2-6); 3:25pm CT

Action: 16% of bets on the Cowboys

Dallas is an astounding 0-8 against the spread this season. You'd have to be a certified psychopath to bet on them at this point.

Assuming a 50/50 chance of covering each game, the odds of failing to cover in 8 consecutive games is 256-to-1. This shit hasn't happened in nearly two decades for a reason.

It all comes down to coaching. Mike McCarthy lied about embracing analytics in what appeared to be the Jerry Jones' only head coaching interview this past offseason, then McCarthy brought on Mike Nolan as his DC to repay an old favor. This coaching staff is clueless and the players know it.

Things have changed significantly for the Cowboys this season. At first, their defense was a mess, but motivation was low because they could rely on Dak to bail them out. Then Dak's leg exploded and the defense was not prepared to be relied upon. After an embarrassing blowout to the Football Team two weeks ago, Dallas made some defensive cuts to send a message, and it appeared to fuel a more spirited effort against the Eagles last week. Now, the Cowboys have gone through three QBs, including former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci to finally leave us with Garrett Gilbert. I have low expectations for the offense, but the defense should show some signs of life.

Going up against the undefeated Steelers who just beat the formidable Ravens on national TV last week, there's no wonder why everyone on the planet is running to back Pittsburgh. But taking a closer look at that game, it's hard to believe how the Steelers came out with the dub. The Ravens ran for 265 yards and doubled the Steelers' total yards, but a few crucial turnovers gave the game away. Everyone is looking at it as a validating win for Pittsburgh, but it left me with more questions than answers.

And let's not forget the classic Mike Tomlin dynamic: he's great as an underdog in huge games, and he's pathetic as a favorite in flat spots. I have no idea how the Steelers get up for this game. They'll obviously win, but it feels much more like a "get a victory and nobody gets hurt" game than a "run up the score" game.

The Cowboys ain't pretty, but the bet is as simple as this: you should always take a look at a team getting less than 20% of the bets, and 20.5 is an absolutely ludicrous amount of points to be getting in an NFL game with a projected point total under 45. In a game that is posing the largest liability for sportsbooks this week, I'm siding with the books and adding in teaser insurance.

I don't blame you for hating this pick. If not for me, do it for Zeke's waistline. For a man that has bounced in-and-out of shape over the past few years while fighting for a contract on a playoff-caliber team, he's destined to balloon up to three bills now that the season is lost and he has a fat deal under his belt. Only averaging 3.9 yards per carry (same as Tony Pollard), the Cowboys need to show a heartbeat today before Zeke goes full mailtime and the "Feed Me" tattoo on his belly takes an entirely different meaning.

Alright, enjoy your Sunday and let's ride.