Week 9 Football Pick’em Contest Strategy & Advice (2023)

Week 9 of the 2023 NFL season gives us a lot of close matchups and plenty of quarterback uncertainty that will keep things interesting.

Can the Patriots pull one out against the Commanders in Week 9? (Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire)

Week 9 is a wide-open week with lots of quarterback uncertainty. Is Kyler Murray going to return this week? Will the Giants get Daniel Jones back, after Tyrod Taylor suffered an injury last week? Matthew Stafford had a thumb injury last week, will he be able to play? Those are just some of the things left to be determined, and they could shift the odds, so check back throughout the week.

In these columns, we explore strategies to maximize your edge in NFL and college football pick’em contests. We also provide some of the rationale behind picks potentially recommended by our premium product.

We plan to periodically update to this post through Sunday of Week 9, so check back for updates. Here’s what’s available now:

Tuesday 10/31

NFL Week 9 Early Value Picks

Here are some early Week 9 value picks in game-winner-based NFL pick’em contests we are seeing as of Tuesday.

Things are bound to change as kickoffs near, but it’s worth keeping an eye on them.

There’s a theme this week, and it’s that a lot of the same faces as last week are back.

Green Bay Packers (vs. LA Rams)

Spread: -3
Win Odds: 62%
Pick Popularity: 31%

Right now, we await word on Matthew Stafford’s thumb injury and whether he will play. This line reflects some uncertainty, as this spread would likely be closer to a pick’em at Green Bay if Stafford was fully healthy. But that means this line could move either way with some news.

Even with movement, though, the current popularity has the Rams as an extremely popular side on the road, and the Packers are a big value favorite right now, and would still be a value play at a pick’em-type spread as well.

Atlanta Falcons (vs. Minnesota Vikings)

Spread: -5
Win Odds: 69%
Pick Popularity: 71%

Kirk Cousins is out of the year, which is why the Falcons have moved to a five-point favorite. Minnesota just traded for Josh Dobbs from Arizona, and has fifth-round rookie Jaren Hall. Atlanta could also be making a quarterback switch, as Taylor Heinicke replaced Desmond Ridder in the last game, though that could be an upgrade.

Atlanta is a relative value this week, in a week where there aren’t many teams favored by more than a field goal, because they are the fourth-largest favorite but seventh-most popular favorite right now.

Carolina Panthers (vs. Indianapolis Colts)

Spread: +3
Win Odds: 41%
Pick Popularity: 17%

The Panthers got their first win of the season against Houston, and turn around and now get the Colts at home as a slight underdog. Similar to last week, the Panthers are reasonable value upset at lower popularity.

New England Patriots (vs. Washington Commanders)

Spread: -3
Win Odds: 60%
Pick Popularity: 47%

The Patriots are the betting favorite at home over Washington, but the public is coming down (in a split vote) on the side of Washington this week. The Commanders have been up-and-down on offense, but pretty consistently poor on defense, and just traded DE Montez Sweat to the Bears. Washington is 29th in yards allowed and 31st in points allowed, which explains why they are the road dog here, so you can get a little value going with the favored Patriots in most pools.

New York Giants (at Las Vegas Raiders)

Spread: +2.5
Win Odds: 46%
Pick Popularity: 20%

Daniel Jones said he was cleared and ready to play next week, and the Giants will need him after Tyrod Taylor’s injury. The Raiders have been one of the most underperforming teams, and right now the public seems to be off the Giants in what looks like a game closer to a toss-up.


Tuesday 10/31

Week 8 Results Summary

Week 8 had several big favorites, and there were no major upsets (other than Kansas City) so we should see higher overall win totals across the board in game winner. Before we get to the Week 8 results, though, a quick note on Week 7, where in this summary last week we said we expected to see high total weekly win rates.

The final number, across all NFL pool types (game winner, spread, confidence, etc) was that 33% reported winning a weekly prize. That’s our sixth-highest subscriber weekly win rate in the last decade, and the results were consistent across all pool types.

Week 8 won’t hit those high marks, but here’s a summary.

Game-Winner Pools

In game-winner pools, the public averaged 10.6 wins in Week 8, out of 16 possible games.

Our game winner picks in season-long gained another 0.8 wins over the public, averaging 11.4 wins on average from the “Max Profit” selections, with New Orleans as a small, unpopular favorite accounting for some of the difference there.

The weekly picks top options finished even with the public, hitting 10.6 wins. The top upset play of Carolina over Houston hit for many of you, but that was counteracted by some other value plays, like Green Bay, not winning.

Overall 2023 averages: Season-long Max Profit 78.7 wins, Weekly top option 74.4 wins, Public 72.4 wins

Spread Pools

The public bounced back after a bad week, hitting 8.4 wins in 16 games. Favorites went 9-7 ATS against the most common contest lines, and even though the popular Chiefs lost, several favorites got late plays that provided a cover and swung things.

Our top model picks went 1-3, with only Carolina covering (New England, Las Vegas, and Atlanta were the others).

Our season-long picks finished with 8.0 wins on average. The weekly picks dropped back after a spike week, averaging 7.5 wins.

Overall 2023 averages: Season-long Max Profit 63.0 wins, Weekly top option 60.2 wins, Public 62.2 wins

Tuesday 10/31

Week 8 News and Stats Rundown

At the bottom this week, we also have a summary of adjusted turnovers (not only turnovers, but safeties, missed kicks, and turnovers on downs). These things can often be more random but high leverage in a given week, so seeing which teams have benefited or struggled the most in these categories can be informative.

Key Injuries in Week 8

  • Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is out for the season with an Achilles injury.
  • Rams QB Matthew Stafford suffered a thumb injury and his status is unknown for the next game.
  • Steelers QB Kenny Pickett suffered a rib injury and was replaced by Mitch Trubisky against Jacksonville.
  • Giants QB Tyrod Taylor left the last game, and we’ll see if Daniel Jones is ready to return from his neck injury this week. Otherwise the Giants could have major QB issues.

Going Inside the Stats

The public tends to overreact to wins, losses, and scores. But football is a game where a couple of bounces and key plays can swing scoring quite a bit in the moment, but may not be as predictive.

Here are some notes from Week 8:

  • Patrick Mahomes was revealed to be battling flu symptoms on Sunday, and the Chiefs offense had one of its worst games, losing at Denver while failing to score any touchdowns.
  • The Giants and Jets combined for 34 possessions and 24 punts, in a 13-10 OT thriller, as the offenses ground to a halt, as the Giants played with third-string QB Tommy DeVito and had negative passing yards for the game.
  • Jacksonville and Detroit both won despite having three turnovers each, becoming the sixth and seventh team this year to win with that many turnovers in the same game (no team has won with four turnovers yet this year).
  • San Francisco lost their third straight (and now has a bye) but did so with three turnovers as the fortunes changed there, but the offense still rolled up 460 yards against Cincinnati.
  • The Eagles gave up a season-high 472 yards in the win over Washington, after three straight solid defensive games, and now will see a dramatic rise in offensive opponent quality over the next six weeks (Dallas 2x, Kansas City, Buffalo, and San Francisco).

Adjusted Turnover Standings, Week 8

Here are the adjusted turnover ranks. Teams at the top have benefited the most, on net, from opponent miscues and fails compared to their own. Teams at the bottom have had a lot of missed opportunities or a lack of mistakes by the opponent. (Safeties are included in turnovers.)




Important Notes About Picks We Highlight

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

  1. Optimal pick’em contest strategy balances risk and potential reward.
    Maximizing your odds to win a pick’em pool generally requires exploiting the best opportunities to differentiate your picks from your opponents’ picks. Ideally, you want to fade the public while taking on minimal additional pick risk to do so. For example, taking a betting market 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 for your pool specifically—especially the upset picks. The best pick strategy for you 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) current at the time we publish this article, but that data can change before kickoff. For example, 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.


About Our Pick’em Pool Advice

What makes pick recommendations from our Football Pick’em Picks product 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 current 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 6-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

As far as we know, we’re the only site that has built algorithms to evaluate all these strategy factors and provide you with customized pick recommendations every week.

The result? Every year, an average of 73% of our subscribers win a prize (season-long or weekly) in a football pick’em contest.

If you want to see all the Week 1 picks we recommend for your football pick’em contest, 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 our 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.

This column can also help educate our readers with 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.

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

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