Week 9 Football Pick’em Strategy & Advice (2021)

Aaron Rodgers being out for Week 9 has a big impact on the value picks, and we take a look at the value picks and close game performance so far.

Travis Kelce will try to hold on to the ball against Green Bay (William Purnell/Icon Sportswire)

Here, we’ll track Week 8 news and discuss the implications for maximizing your edge in NFL and college football pick’em contests. We’ll also provide some of the rationale behind picks potentially recommended by our Football Pick’em Picks product.

Week 9 Pick’em Updates

We will continue to add to this post until Sunday of NFL Week 9, so check back for daily updates. Here’s what’s available now:


Tuesday 11/2

Week 9 Early Value Picks Outlook

Here’s our early look at some potential value plays in NFL pick’em pools for Week 9.

San Francisco 49ers (vs. Arizona Cardinals)

Line: +2.5
TR Win Odds: 49%
Popularity: 15%

The Arizona Cardinals finally lost their first game last Thursday, and QB Kyler Murray suffered an ankle injury during that loss. Meanwhile, San Francisco is coming off a good performance at Chicago.

When these teams met back in Week 5, Trey Lance started at quarterback for San Francisco, and Arizona won 17-10. However, San Francisco outgained Arizona and failed on four different fourth downs, while Arizona fumbled the ball four times but recovered three of them.

In other words, these teams were a lot closer than the records and result indicated.

The Niners are only a slight 2.5-point underdog, and our models like them relative to the market win odds. With only 15 percent of the public taking the 49ers at home, they are providing some value here.

Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Green Bay Packers)

Line: PK
TR Win Odds: 54%
Popularity: 26%

The Chiefs have continued to struggle with turnovers. Meanwhile, the Packers have now won seven straight and are coming off a big prime-time win over the Cardinals.

This one is pretty much a toss-up, but the public is understandably heavy on the 7-1 Packers here. That means contrarian value on Kansas City in weekly and seasonal game-winner pools.

Philadelphia Eagles (vs. Los Angeles Chargers)

Line: +1.5
TR Win Odds: 48%
Popularity: 20%

These teams are going in opposite directions with recent results, and they’re a lot closer together than the public is crediting.

Philadelphia just blew out Detroit, while the Chargers have now lost consecutively to the Ravens and Patriots after a hot start.

With nearly four out of five entries going with the Chargers right now, the value is on the Eagles in one of the closest matchups of the week.

New York Giants (vs. Las Vegas Raiders)

Line: +2.0
TR Win Odds: 44%
Popularity: 12%

Another NFC East versus AFC West matchup gives us another value upset play for weekly contests.

The Giants have squandered most of their late opportunities, while the Raiders have outperformed expectations so far. But this line is only two points, and the Giants are very unpopular here.

Indianapolis Colts (vs. New York Jets)

Line: -10.5
TR Win Odds: 84%
Popularity: 96%

Finally, we’ll close with a big favorite which is a relative value despite high popularity.

Few entries are picking the Jets to follow up their upset over the Bengals with a win against the Colts. But relative to other choices, the Colts are less risky.

Over 90 percent of the public is picking several other teams with lower win odds. As we see with some of the other value favorites, several teams favored by a small margin are extremely popular.

As a result, stick with the Colts and seek upset picks elsewhere.


Tuesday 11/2

Week 8 Results Summary

Modest favorites took a beating in Week 8, with favorites overall having a losing week (7-8). Teams favored by less than a touchdown went only 4-7.

Game-Winner Pools

In game-winner pools, the public averaged 8.2 wins in Week 8. The biggest outcomes for the public were Dallas getting a late touchdown to beat Minnesota and Tennessee beating Indianapolis in overtime.

The public was heavily on the sides that ended up winning those games, and both were the betting-market underdogs by kickoff.

Our season-long “Max Profit” picks averaged 7.5 wins, and the weekly picks averaged 7.6 wins. The Philadelphia and San Francisco wins were generally value adds against the public, but those were more than offset by the close late losses for the Colts and Vikings.

Those two results combined for a 1.6-win swing for the public and were the difference between a big positive week and being slightly down.

Spread Pools

The public averaged 7.7 wins out of 15 in spread pools for the week, with several potential results depending on the specific pool spread offered. For example, a pick on the Rams would have covered the opening line of -13.5, but would have lost against the closing spread of -16.5.

The two biggest plays of the week were again the Titans and Cowboys. The point spreads in those games moved 4-5 points from the opening lines to kickoff. Yet well over half the public took both of those teams in spread pools, several at the original opening lines.

Those picks going the public’s way were the big swing plays of the week.


FYI

Important Notes About Picks We Highlight

Keep in mind three things about picks we highlight in this article:

  1. Optimal pick strategy balances risk and potential reward.
    Maximizing your odds to win a pick’em pool generally requires identifying the best opportunities to differentiate your picks. You want to fade the public while taking on minimal risk to do so. For example, taking a favorite being picked by less than 50% of your opponents is usually a great opportunity.
  2. Not all of the picks we highlight are suitable for all pools.
    Don’t be surprised if our Football Pick’em Picks product doesn’t recommend several of the picks we mention in this post—especially the upset picks. The best pick strategy for your pool depends on a number of factors such as your pool’s size, rules, and prize structure (a concept that’s covered in part by our article on season vs. weekly prize strategy).
  3. Picks we highlight may no longer look compelling by game day.
    We analyze and write about picks using data (e.g. win odds and pick popularity), but that data can change up until kickoff. A key player being ruled out or a shift in public sentiment about a team can erase the differentiation value that a pick initially offered.

We’ll provide periodic updates in this post if major data changes occur for picks we’ve mentioned, so make sure to check back. However, there’s a much better way to stay on top of changing data trends throughout a week, which all sharp players need to do.

Our Football Pick’em Picks product automatically imports the latest win odds and pick popularity data multiple times per day. You can see the latest information in the Data Grid.

After you generate customized picks for your pool, you can also update those pick recommendations whenever you want via the My Pool Picks screen. The updated picks will incorporate the most recent data we have.


FYI

About Our Pick’em Pool Advice

What makes our football pick’em advice different from other sites is that it isn’t generic.

In any given week, the best picks for your football pool depend on a number of variables. Your pool’s size, rules, and prize structure all influence strategy, as do factors like your place in the standings and how many weeks are left.

So many different scenarios exist that it’s impossible to give pick advice that makes sense for every one. An underrated six-point underdog could be a great pick in a big weekly prize pool and a terrible pick for a small season-long pool where you’re currently in the money.

Technology to the rescue

Other sites don’t understand this stuff, or they just ignore it because it’s complicated and hard. We’re the only site that has built algorithms to evaluate these strategy factors and provide you with customized pick recommendations every week.

The result? Every year, an average of 71% of our subscribers win a prize in a football pick’em contest.

So if you want to see all the Week 1 picks we recommend for your football pool, you need to use our Football Pick’em Picks product.

Why we write this column

At the same time, we know our subscribers like to understand the rationale behind picks the product may recommend, especially when those picks go against the grain. So over the years, we’ve started to write more about the “whys” behind our approach.

We also utilize this column to help educate our readers about pick’em pool strategy. We highlight tactics proven to result in more pick’em pool wins over the long term and point out common pitfalls to avoid.

Our goal with these articles is to dig deeper into pick’em pools than anyone else by using an objective, data-driven lens. We’ll recap key results from the previous week, identify the most compelling value picks of the current week, and evaluate the implications of breaking news on pick’em strategy.

We hope you enjoy reading, and we encourage you to check out more of our football pick’em strategy articles.


Wednesday 11/3

Aaron Rodgers Out for Week 9 After Testing Positive for COVID-19

Big NFL news today: Aaron Rodgers is out for this week after testing positive for COVID-19. Just last week, WRs Davante Adams and Allen Lazard missed the Arizona game after positive COVID-19 tests.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Rodgers is already ruled out because he is not vaccinated. League policy mandates him to miss at least 10 days before he’s eligible to return.

The Packers were an extremely popular pick against the Chiefs before this news, though Kansas City was the slight favorite. Expect the Chiefs to be favored by close to a touchdown when the line without Rodgers gets posted.

Jordan Love, whom the Packers drafted in the first round last year, will now be starting Sunday.


Thursday 11/4

Value Picks Recap for 2021

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