It's usually much more difficult for NFL teams to win on the road than it is at home, and odds makers account for that fact when making betting lines. But 15 teams have at least a .500 record on the road in 2015, and plenty of visiting teams have a chance to win in Week 9.
Five home teams are underdogs on the upcoming schedule at Las Vegas sportsbooks, and a few road teams are favored in their matchups against first-place teams. The Panthers haven’t lost yet this season, but they are getting 2.5 points against the visiting Packers. The Broncos are five-point favorites over the Colts in Indianapolis, where Peyton Manning has yet to win with Denver.
There’s no such thing as a “sure thing” when it comes to betting, but here are the three surest bets for Week 9 of the 2015 NFL season.
St. Louis Rams (+2.5)
The Rams are playing very well, heading into their Week 9 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. St. Louis is emerging as one of the NFC’s best teams, and the Vikings might not be as good as their 5-2 record would indicate, making the underdog Rams a strong play on the road.
St. Louis doesn’t have a great quarterback in Nick Foles, but having a top defense and a top running back have made up for it. The Rams rank fourth in points allowed per game, and they are seemingly getting better every week. Their defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown since Week 6, when St. Louis allowed the Packers’ offense to score only 17 points while intercepting Aaron Rodgers twice in Green Bay. At 4-3, two of the Rams’ losses have come against the Packers and the Steelers, and they have impressive wins against the Seahawks and Cardinals.
Minnesota no longer has the NFL’s best running back, as Todd Gurley has taken that title less than halfway through his rookie season. Gurley is averaging 141.5 yards per game on 6.4 yards per carry in four games as the Rams’ No.1 running back, and he’ll torch the Vikings’ defense, which ranks 25th in yards allowed per carry.
Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5)
A trendy pick by many experts in the preseason to reach Super Bowl 50, the Eagles haven’t lived up to expectations. But they should be able to go on the road and beat the Dallas Cowboys, who are the only NFC team that hasn’t won a game since Week 2.
The Cowboys have gone 0-5 without Tony Romo, and the quarterback will remain sidelined in Week 9. Neither Brandon Weeden nor Matt Cassel has been the answer, but Cassel has been the worse of the two, and it looks like head coach Jason Garrett will keep him as the starter. Cassel might be the worst quarterback that has started an NFL game this season, posting a 58.5 passer rating. In Week 8, he became Dallas’ first quarterback in 12 years to throw for less than 100 yards, and he had Dez Bryant back in the lineup. With a 65.9 rating last year and a 66.7 rating in 2012, this isn’t an aberration, and the Cowboys won’t be able to move the ball against a defense that ranks seventh in yards allowed per play.
The only reason the Eagles aren't favored by more points is because they are on the road, but the Cowboys are just 5-7 in their last 12 home games. Dallas beat Philadelphia in Week 2 because they only allowed seven yards on the ground, but the Eagles’ rushing attack has finally reached its potential, averaging 152 yards on 5.1 yards per carry over the last four games.
New York Giants (-2.5)
The Giants are one of the most perplexing teams in the NFL, but they should be able to move back above .500 on Sunday when they visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Considering New York is laying less than a field goal in the easiest place for any road team to play, the Giants are a pretty safe bet in Week 9.
New York is coming off a 52-49 loss in New Orleans, but their defensive performance was an aberration. Teams can pass on the Giants, but New York leads the league in interceptions, and they'll force Jameis Winston to commit a few turnovers. The rookie hasn’t thrown a pick in his last three games, but two of those Tampa Bay opponents are tied for last in the league in interceptions. Winston still makes rookie mistakes, and he’ll make enough for the Giants to take advantage and win.
Eli Manning is having the best statistical season of his career, and he’ll have another big day against a defense that has just four picks on the season. The Bucs are 1-2 at home, recently beating the lowly Jaguars to snap an 11-game losing streak in Tampa Bay.
Season Record: 13-8