Week 9 Office Pool Advice: Top Picks For Your NFL Pick’em Contest

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The quarterback carousel continues in the NFL, and this week Joe Flacco of the Denver Broncos and Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals are getting off. We also await news on Patrick Mahomes’ status in a key matchup against Minnesota. Which of these situations could provide value for Week 9?

For more background on how to pick for value and maximize your edge in pick’em pools, see our two-part series on NFL office pool strategy. Otherwise, read on to find out about the NFL Week 9 picks that need to be on your radar screen.


FantasyFootballers readers can get a free 3-day premium trial to TeamRankings, including all game predictions plus customized picks for your NFL survivor pools and pick’em contests. Otherwise, you can get all our recommended picks for your pick’em contest by signing up for our Football Pick’em Picks product.

How Last Week’s Value Picks Did

We highlighted two favorites coming at a relatively good value, in Pittsburgh and San Francisco, by comparing them to Indianapolis. The Colts were being picked at the same rate as the Steelers despite being a far riskier favorite and were being picked far more frequently than the 49ers, even though the two teams were favored by a similar amount.

The value favorites both won, while the Colts also survived, though it took a nail-biting 51-yard field goal attempt on the final play to secure the win.

We also said that Tampa Bay was the better value side because the public was so heavily on Tennessee in a game that was closer to a toss-up. The game lived up to that, but the Titans won a close one in controversial fashion when a Tampa Bay defensive touchdown on a fake field goal attempt was nullified by a whistle that blew the play dead.

Good & Bad Week 9 Value Picks In NFL Office Pools

Every week, we highlight three pairs of possible picks. Sometimes, we compare favorites from two different games who have similar odds of winning and discuss where the relative value lies. Sometimes, we compare two teams playing head-to-head in the same game, and discuss which is the better value option. 

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This week, we compare two different favorites to a team that is being over-picked by the public and also highlight a game where the outcome is closer to a toss-up, but the public is more heavily on one side. 

Note: Win odds and estimated national pick popularity data below may change between publication time and kickoff time. If you want to see the latest numbers, our product updates multiple times per day.

Better Value: Cleveland Browns (at Denver)
Worse Value: Green Bay Packers (at LA Chargers)

The Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers are both favored by a field goal on the road this week. But the public is taking the Packers 93% of the time against the Chargers, while only picking the Browns 60% of the time.

Green Bay (7-1) is a far sexier pick than going with Cleveland (2-5), who seem like they are capable of coming up with new and exciting ways to botch a fourth-down attempt each week. But the difference here is the opponents. Sure, the Chargers have struggled to start the year, but they still have Philip Rivers and are 2-5 in games decided by one score, so they aren’t as bad as the record would indicate.

Meanwhile, the Broncos are making a quarterback switch. Officially, the team will start Brandon Allen because Joe Flacco has a back injury. That news of the switch, though, came within a day of Flacco’s critical post-game comments about head coach Vic Fangio’s conservative approach at the end of the Colts’ loss. The 27-year-old Allen has never thrown a regular-season NFL pass.

So whatever concerns the public has about the Browns, they should be offset because the Broncos are the opponent and not the Chargers. You may want to take both favorites, depending on the format, but the Browns are the better option to lock in here across various pool types, while the underdog Chargers could be an attractive upset play in weekly contests, since only 7% of the public is taking them in a spot where they have a realistic chance of victory.

Better Value: Oakland Raiders (vs. Detroit)
Worse Value: Houston Texans (vs. Jacksonville in London)

The Oakland Raiders finally get to play an actual home game in Oakland, something they haven’t done since September 15th. They have played four road games, played a game in London, and had a bye since then. Speaking of London, the Houston Texans travel there this week to play the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

While Houston is the more popular (and better) team, both Oakland and Houston are only slight favorites this week, because of the differences in venue. But the public is picking Houston 69% of the time, compared to 52% for Oakland.

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Getty Images / Lachlan Cunningham

Jacksonville came close to beating Houston on the road back in Week 2 in Gardner Minshew’s first career start and will have a chance to get revenge this time. Jacksonville is only one game back of Houston in the standings so this is a big one for the Jaguars. Given that they are close to a toss-up to win, but are being picked only 31% of the time, the Jaguars are a decent gamble on an upset on Sunday morning. Meanwhile, Oakland is what we call a value favorite. Their actual win odds (56%) currently exceed the percentage of time they are being picked by the public, so you have both win odds and relative popularity in your favor.

Better Value: Pittsburgh Steelers
Worse Value: Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers square off in Pittsburgh, and the public is heavily on the side of the Colts, picking them 75% of the time. It’s easy to understand why based on a cursory look at the standings, where Indianapolis is 5-2 and Pittsburgh is 3-5. But that difference is mostly accounted for by close game performance, as every Colts game has been decided by 7 points or less.

In our power ratings, the Steelers are slightly ahead of the Colts. The point spread opened with the Steelers as the slight favorite and has now moved to the Colts being favored by a point. But either way, this is as close to a toss-up as you will get this week, so the value is in taking the team being vastly underestimated by the public.

Which Of These NFL Week 9 Picks Should You Make?

Once you know the best value picks of NFL Week 9, you can increase your odds to win your pool by making educated gambles on them. There are a lot of potential decisions to make, though, and not all of them will make sense for your specific pool.

Factors like your pool’s size, scoring system, prize structure, and even your current position in the pool standings should all weigh in to your Week 9 pick strategy, and it takes a lot of data and math to get to the right answer.

For the season, our subscribers have reported winning weekly prizes twice as frequently as you would expect, compared to an average entrant. Last year, 80% of our subscribers reported winning a prize in a football pick’em pool

We invite you to give the product a try for free for NFL Week 9. Our NFL Pool Picks are customizable and offer advice for a variety of pool types, including confidence pools and those picking against the spread.

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