Ray Rice and the Ravens could be a solid bet in what should be a low-scoring affair with the Browns. Ray Rice and the Ravens look like be a solid bet in what should be a low-scoring affair with the Browns on Sunday. (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Week 9 of the NFL season is here. Time to place your bets.

Which games should you pick and which should you avoid? Joe Fortenbaugh and Tom Mantzouranis break down everything you need to know entering this weekend’s NFL action.

Best Bet

Joe Fortenbaugh: Ravens -2.5 at Browns.  Since 2003, road favorites coming off the bye to play a divisional opponent are 20-2 straight-up and 18-4 (.818) against the spread.   Baltimore is 8-3 ATS over its last 11 games against the Browns, 5-0 ATS in its last five trips to Cleveland and in desperate need of a victory here to keep pace with the Bengals in the AFC North.  The Browns have dropped three straight, losing by an average of 12.6 points per game, and are already looking to the college ranks for their next franchise quarterback.

MORE COVERAGE: Week 8 Power Rankings | Week 9 picks |  More betting advice, analysis 

Tom Mantzouranis: Ravens at Browns, under 41.5. The two teams combined have averaged 39.9 points per game this season, and AFC North battles are usually physical, low-scoring affairs. When the two teams met in Week 2, there was a grand total of 20 points scored, and they haven't topped 41 points combined since Nov. 2, 2008. The Browns may not be very good, but their defense is excellent, and Ray Rice is only on pace for 553 yards this year. Meanwhile, you know all about the Browns offense. Points are going to be at a premium in this one.

NFL Week 9 Betting Odds

Matchup Date & Time Line Over/Under
Kansas City at Buffalo 11/3 1:00 p.m. ET Kansas City -3 40.5
Tennessee at St. Louis 11/3 1:00 p.m. ET Tennessee -3 39.5
San Diego at Washington 11/3 1:00 p.m. ET San Diego -1 51
Atlanta at Carolina 11/3 1:00 p.m. ET Carolina -7.5 44
Minnesota at Dallas 11/3 1:00 p.m. ET Dallas -10 47.5
New Orleans at NY Jets 11/3 1:00 p.m. ET New Orleans -6 45.5
Tampa Bay at Seattle 11/3 4:05 p.m. ET Seattle -14.5 40.5
Philadelphia at Oakland 11/3 4:05 p.m. ET Oakland -2.5 45
Pittsburgh at New England 11/3 4:25 p.m. ET New England -6 43.5
Baltimore at Cleveland 11/3 4:25 p.m. ET Baltimore -2.5 41.5
Indianapolis at Houston 11/3 8:30 p.m. ET Indianapolis -2.5 44.5
Chicago at Green Bay 11/4 8:30 p.m. ET Green Bay -10.5 49.5

(Odds courtesy of COVERS.com)

Stay Away From

Fortenbaugh: Saints -6 at Jets.  This is an inflated line due to the overreaction that occurred following New York’s humiliating 49-9 defeat at Cincinnati last Sunday.  But it’s worth noting that after the Jets’ previous three losses, New York came back the following week to win and cover against Buffalo (-2.5, 27-20), Atlanta (+10, 30-28) and New England (+3.5, 30-27).  All that being said, how do you get in front of a Saints train that is 5-2 ATS this season with its six wins coming by an average of 13.1 points per game?

Mantzouranis: Saints -6 at Jets. It seems like a low line at first glance, and it may wind up being a low line in hindsight, but there are too many warning signs for a potential upset to feel good betting on the Saints. Most importantly, the Jets might have the best defensive line in football, and the Saints' porous offensive line has already struggled to protect Drew Brees or create much room for the run game. The Saints under Brees and Sean Payton have historically struggled with physical 3-4 defenses, and I can see the Jets' front pressuring Brees into a couple of turnovers. There's also the Chris Ivory revenge factor, as he'll be motivated to prove the Saints made a mistake in trading him (and really, when you look at what Mark Ingram's done, it's hard not to agree with Ivory). Add in the fact that the Jets have alternated good and bad weeks (coming off a terrible one against the Bengals) and New Orleans is far from a lock. On the other hand, it's too risky taking the Jets in a game in which, on paper, they're clearly outmatched. So I'm avoiding this one altogether.

Best Of The Rest

Fortenbaugh: Titans -3 at Rams.  This season, no team in the league has covered the spread the week after playing Seattle, save for the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8 (last week’s best bet), who had three extra days of rest following their Thursday night tilt with the Seahawks.  St. Louis, who played its guts out in a heartbreaking 14-9 defeat to Seattle on Monday night, has to turn around on short rest to get ready for a non-conference opponent coming off the bye.  Note that since 2003, road favorites coming off the bye to play a non-conference foe are 17-4 straight-up and 14-6-1 ATS (.700).

Bills +3 vs. Chiefs.  Only if Thad Lewis plays and only if you can get +3.5 (as some outlets are giving them).  Otherwise, this matchup is a pass.  Each of Buffalo’s four home games in 2013 have been decided by three points or less, with outright wins coming against Carolina and Baltimore and down-to-the-wire losses coming against New England and Cincinnati.  Undefeated Kansas City could get caught looking ahead to next week’s bye, which precedes a trip to Denver in Week 11.

Mantzouranis: Panthers -7.5 vs. Falcons. The Panthers defense is for real, and the offense has scored 30-plus points in three straight games. Atlanta's offense should miss Roddy White again, and even if Steven Jackson begins rounding into form, Carolina's linebacking crew is more than capable of keeping him in check.

Raiders -2.5 vs. Eagles. I learned last week after picking the Steelers that the Raiders can be pretty damn good at home. Plus, the Eagles have to fly cross-country. Oakland is quietly excelling on defense, particularly with it pass rush, so do you trust Nick Foles in a raucous road environment against the No. 10 D in the league? Chip Kelly's team looks like a mess right now.

Chargers -1 at Redskins. This is a tough one to call. The Chargers are coming off the bye and are 5-1-1 ATS on the road lately. Before the bye, San Diego was rolling. Meanwhile, the Redskins started strong against the Broncos, and their defense was encouraging. And the Chargers are making the cross-country hike for this one. Still, there remain troubling aspects of RGIII's play, and Philip Rivers has been electric this season. Eventually, the Redskins' 28th-ranked pass defense surfaced against the Broncos, and I'm confident they'll be similarly incapable of stopping Rivers this week.

BURKE & FARRAR: The Playbook: Previewing Bears-Packers, Saints-Jets, more Week 9 games

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