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.

Drew Brees, Le’Veon Bell Favorites in NFL Season Leader Props

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When it comes to betting props on NFL individual leaders, the tried-and-true works for picking a passing yards leader while rushing and receiving leaders are a little more random.

With training camps set to open in a matter of days, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a +300 favorite to lead the NFL in passing yards at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Brees has led (or co-led) the NFL in aerial yards five times in the last six seasons, with the lone exception coming in 2013 when Peyton Manning complied a NFL-record 5,477.

Brees will still have Willie Snead and Michael Thomas as outlets for his passes and, assuming the Saints’ defense stays near the bottom of the league, will have the opportunity to get into a few offensive shootouts.

The Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan (+400) and New England Patriots’ Tom Brady (+500) are the next two on the board. Ryan and the Falcons are likely to face a tougher schedule than what it turned out they had in 2016. Brady has only led the NFL in yards once, in 2007, and would be the oldest player to do so if he succeeds this season.

Based on 2016 won-loss records, the Indianapolis Colts and QB Andrew Luck (+1400) have the easiest schedule in the league, which could lead to Luck putting up some big numbers against softer competition. Another valid darkhorse play is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston (+1600), since he will have a 1-2 punch at receiver with Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson and a team that still relies on being pass-heavy.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell (+300) and Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott (+350) are tightly bunched atop the NFL rushing champion futures board. Bell will no doubt be among the leaders in yards from scrimmage per game, but he’s only played 16 games once in four seasons. While there hasn’t been a back-to-back rushing leader in 10 years, Elliott will be running behind an excellent Dallas offensive line.

The Los Angeles Rams’ third-year workhorse Todd Gurley (+2000) will be in a new offensive system and, hopefully for the Rams, will be better complemented by second-year QB Jared Goff in the passing phase. That would give Gurley a fairer shot at breaking big runs on the regular.

Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (+400) and Atlanta’s Julio Jones (+400) are co-favorites on the odds to tally the most receiving yards, with the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham (+500) also coming in highly touted. Brown had two fewer targets per game in 2016 than in ’15, meaning he might be a less high-volume receiver now that he is 29. Jones has a receiving title from 2015, but last season the Falcons were most efficient when they spread the ball around.

Last year, the Indianapolis Colts’ T.Y. Hilton (+1200 this year) led the league in yards after being listed at +3300 in the preseason. Among the potential 2017 replicants are New England’s Brandin Cooks (+3300), who is expected to be the field-stretching target the Patriots have managed to do without since the Randy Moss days a decade ago. The aforementioned Mike Evans (+1200) is also close to a sure thing to get 11-12 targets per game in Tampa Bay and the continued development of Winston could make him a 1,500-yard receiver.

The last 12 league leaders in receiving yardage have been less than 30 years old at the start of the season. That trend has been consistent dating to the mid-1990s, with 19 of the last 21 receiving leaders being players who were no older than 29 at the start of the season.

Internet reacts to O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing

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In case you weren’t aware, O.J. Simpson was granted parole and the internet went crazy.

Cue hilarious tweets.