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  • Three MMQB staffers are very high on an AFC contender covering on the road, while two others are on opposing sides of an AFC North showdown.
By The MMQB Staff
October 31, 2018

A 4-3 record last week was hurt by two staffers picking Bengals -4.5, Cincy was leading the Bucs 34-16 in the fourth quarter, but only won by three. But we'll still take the winning mark, and we're onto Week 9. 

Kansas City Chiefs (-8.5) at Cleveland Browns

The Browns are coming off an exceptionally turbulent week, even by Browns standards. Both head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley were fired on Monday, a very challenging way to start a week of preparation for one of the NFL's hottest teams. To recap, Baker Mayfield will have a new play-caller; the defensive coordinator/play-caller will also have to assume head coach duties on Sunday; and on the opposite sideline is the team that gave the Patriots a run for their money in Foxborough. The Chiefs should win by double digits. — Jenny Vrentas

Kansas City Chiefs (-8.5) at Cleveland Browns

It's surprising to see the Chiefs, even on the road, as only 8.5-point favorites over the dysfunctional Browns. Take Patrick Mahomes & Co. — Andy Benoit

Los Angeles Chargers (+1.5) at Seattle Seahawks

To be honest, I think this week is the toughest board not only of this season, but the toughest I've seen in a long time. I generally think it's a sucker move to put all your stock in a team's offense, but I very much like the thought of this Chargers passing game going up against that green Seattle secondary. That, and I think—even with an improved offense thanks to the upgraded run game—Seattle's turnover luck is bound to regress. The Seahawks have 11 takeaways and one giveaway over the past five games, and they've recovered 15 of the 21 fumbles in their games this year (fumble recovery is not a skill, that number will hover around 50% for any team over the long haul).

With the Chargers coming on, typically playing well against non-elite opponents over the years and 7-3-1 against the spread in true road games since the ill-advised move to L.A., I'll take them getting points in this one. — Gary Gramling

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (-3)

We’re getting value here thanks to two records that don’t quite line up with reality. The difference between the Steelers’ 4-2-1 mark and the Ravens’ 4-4 record is mainly accounted for by Pittsburgh’s tie with Cleveland compared to Baltimore’s 12-9 (OT) defeat to the Browns.

The Ravens’ last two losses have come in the last two weeks to likely playoff teams, the Panthers and Saints. I expect Baltimore—assuming it isn’t out too many players to injury—to return home and keep itself in a tightly contested AFC North race with a comfortable win. — Jacob Feldman

Kansas City Chiefs (-8.5) at Cleveland Browns

The Chiefs finally lost their first game against the spread in Week 8, failing to cover the 10-point mark set by oddsmakers in a 30-23 win over the Broncos. Still, the Chiefs are 7-1 against the spread, and that includes a 10-point win in Los Angeles over the Chargers, a five-point win at the Steelers, a 16-point win over the Jaguars, a 35-point drubbing of the Bengals and a narrow three-point loss in New England. The Chargers, Steelers, Patriots and Bengals are a combined 20-9-1 this season, but 1-3 against the Chiefs, and 0-4 against the spread in their matchups with Patrick Mahomes and company. Outside of a backdoor cover, I can’t envision a scenario in which the Browns, after firing head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley, can possibly stay within 8.5 points against one of the three best teams in the NFL. For all the Browns’ improvements, they’ve surrendered 45 points to the Raiders, 38 points to the Chargers, 26 points to the Buccaneers and 33 points to the Steelers in four of their last five games. The other game that jumped out at me was the Vikings laying 4.5 points at home against the Lions, but I preferred the Chiefs as a best bet. — Michael Beller

Pittsburgh Steelers (+3) at Baltimore Ravens

I’m sticking with a theme I’ve come back to many times this season, as I love picking road underdogs I expect to win outright. The Steelers have won four of their last five games to re-establish themselves as the class of the AFC North, while the Ravens have dropped back-to-back games against Saints and Panthers.

Granted, that one Steelers loss was a 26-14 defeat at the hands of these same Ravens at home in Week 4. But I’ve thought all year that the Steelers are a better team, and I think they’re playing better right now.

I’m sure people expect the Ravens to bounce back, and I know that having the game in Baltimore is baked into the line. But I don’t think Pittsburgh is going to have a let-down game here in an important divisional rematch. (Their letdown games in the Mike Tomlin era have very frustratingly come against much worse competition.)

Of course the Ravens could win, but getting three full three points has me comfortable taking the Steelers. — Mitch Goldich

Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns (+8.5)

No one in their right mind is taking the Browns. A whopping 90% of bets for this game have come in on Kansas City, by far the highest of any side this week (Bears -10 at Bills is second at 80% and Steelers +3 at Ravens at 76% is third) Why would you fade the high-scoring Chiefs against a team that just fired its head coach and offensive coordinator?

Vegas is coming off a week where it was crushed, as the five most heavily bet teams in Week 8 (Eagles -3, Patriots -14, Colts -3, Redskins -1 and Bears -7) all came through. There’s a reason why Vegas is Vegas though: the house doesn’t suffer many losing weeks. I think the pendulum will swing back in Week 9 with several public plays not covering this time around.

Let’s dig deeper. Hue Jackson is the 15th NFL coach to be fired in-season since 2009. In the game right after the head coach’s dismissal, the previous 14 teams went 10-4 against the spread. Jackson was an abysmal head coach, and his ouster, along with OC Todd Haley’s, could end up being addition by subtraction (even with the much-maligned Gregg Williams taking over as head coach).

In last week’s game against the Broncos, the Chiefs surrendered 189 rushing yards on 30 carries (6.3 yards per carry). Expect Cleveland to feed Nick Chubb early and often, an optimal way to move the chains against Kansas City and keep that incredible Chiefs offense off the field by running off as much time as possible.

One other fun fact: The Chiefs fired Haley as a head coach in 2011 after a 37-10 loss to the Jets in Week 14. In the first game under interim head coach Romeo Crennel, Kansas City beat the 13-0 Packers by a score of 19-14 at Arrowhead Stadium.

I have a sneaky suspicion that things are going to get weird in Cleveland. — Max Meyer  

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Eagle (-2)
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