NFL Week 9 lines: Falcons, Raiders, Seahawks all primetime favorites

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Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons’ scoring machine stand a good shot at breaking an against-the-spread drought against Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The NFC South-leading Falcons are the three-point road favorite against the Buccaneers in the Thursday Night Football matchup, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The OddsShark NFL Database reveals that Atlanta is riding a dubious streak of being 0-7 against the spread in its last seven games as a favorite of three or fewer points.

Ryan and WR Julio Jones are facing a Buccaneers defense that yields 8.0 yards per pass (sixth-worst in the NFL). Winston is 3-0 in his career against Atlanta. However, the second-year QB has plateaued in recent weeks and did not get on the same page with WR Mike Evans during a Week 8 defeat against Oakland. The favored team is 19-3 straight-up in the last 22 games of this matchup.

The Oakland Raiders are the one-point favorite against the Denver Broncos in an AFC West first-place showdown on Sunday Night Football. Derek Carr and the Raiders’ productive offense face their biggest challenge of the season. The Broncos’ defense, buoyed by sack-happy OLB Von Miller, allows an NFL-low 5.7 yards per pass. Denver’s offense with first-year starting QB Trevor Siemian has been inefficient.

The Baltimore Ravens are the 2.5-point favorite against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That line will move, subject to the Steelers’ QB situation – either Ben Roethlisberger (torn meniscus) coming back from an injury, or backup Landry Jones. The Ravens have beat the Steelers three times in a row at home and have key starters such as OLB Terrell Suggs, WR Steve Smith and LT Ronnie Stanley back following a bye week.

The New York Giants are favored by three points against the Philadelphia Eagles. New York will need to neutralize DT Fletcher Cox to make the Eagles honor the run and open up downfield pass routes for WR Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shephard. The Giants’ rebuilt defense is fourth-best in yards per pass allowed and will pose a challenge for Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz. Whichever team fixes its third-down conversion issues will likely win.

The Green Bay Packers are favored by seven points against the Indianapolis Colts. Aaron Rodgers’ offense put up 32 points in Week 8 with no bona fide running back, and the Colts have a woeful pass defense. As well, Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck has been sacked an NFL-most 31 times, and the Packers have a solid pass rush.

And the Seattle Seahawks are favored by seven points on the Vegas odds against the Buffalo Bills in the Monday Night Football matchup. The Bills, with OLB Lorenzo Alexander leading the NFL in sacks, are capable of putting heat on Seattle QB Russell Wilson. Whether Bills QB Tyrod Taylor can produce against a premier pass defense such as Seattle’s remains to be seen.

Vince Young wants to play again, hires agent Leigh Steinberg

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Vince Young is hoping his football career isn’t over.

Young has hired agent Leigh Steinberg, who announced on Twitter today that Young has a “dream of playing more football.”

That Steinberg used the word “dream” suggests that he and Young realize it will be an uphill battle to get back to the NFL. Young hasn’t played in a regular season game since 2011, when he threw four touchdown passes and nine interceptions for the Eagles. He has spent time with the Bills, Packers and Browns since then but never made it past the preseason.

The fledgling Spring League has already said it would be interested in Young, so he’s got someone interested in him. But the Spring League is a long, long way from the NFL. It’s highly likely that Young has played his last NFL game, even if, at age 33, he’s not quite ready to say definitively that he’s done.

Report: NFL invited Chad Kelly to Combine, then rescinded invitation

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Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly was not invited to the Scouting Combine. Or perhaps he was invited, only to later learn it was a non-vite or an un-vitation.

According to Bill Polian of ESPN, Kelly initially was invited to the Combine, only to have that invitation rescinded by the league office. Polian, who signed Chad’s uncle Jim Kelly in 1986 and has been close to Kelly’s family for decades, indicated that the family isn’t sure why the invitation was rescinded.

It’s obvious why Kelly won’t be at the Combine: The NFL implemented a new rule this year that players who have been convicted of violent crimes won’t be permitted, and Kelly pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct two years ago as part of a case in which he was initially accused of punching two people, threatening to shoot up a bar with an AK-47 and resisting arrest.

What’s unclear is why the league would initially invite Kelly, only to rescind that invitation later. It may be that this new policy hasn’t been thoroughly considered, and the league is still deciding which types of offenses merit exclusion from the Combine. A disorderly conduct plea might not necessarily keep a player from the Combine, but when that plea stemmed from an incident in which the player was initially accused of violence and serious threats, the NFL steers clear.