nfl upset picks week 9

Last weekend produced the biggest upset of the 2021 NFL season, as the New York Jets defeated the Cincinnati Bengals as double-digit underdogs. In that spirit, we scoured Week 9’s slate of Sunday games and isolated three underdogs we think could make some noise against favored opponents this weekend.

Let’s take a look at our three best underdog NFL upsets picks for Week 9 action, with ATS predictions.

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Three Best NFL Upset Picks for Week 9

Browns vs. Bengals

Not much has gone to plan for the 4-4 Cleveland Browns, but this meeting with the Bengals in Cincinnati could prove the turning point they need to steer the second half of the season in the right direction. Put injuries to their quarterback, running backs, and wide receivers aside, as well as the recent Odell Beckham Jr. drama, and this is still an immensely talented football team, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Through all the adversity, Cleveland still boasts the league’s third best defense, one allowing just 304.9 yards per game and holding opponents to the seventh fewest passing yards and third fewest rushing yards per game. The Browns are able to help ease the burden on that defense with their league leading rushing attack that averages 161.1 yards per game. This rushing dominance makes the Browns dangerous with a second half lead and has helped Cleveland lead the league in regulation time of possession, holding the ball 55.1 percent of the time.

Cincinnati ranks ninth worst in the NFL in that category, holding the ball just 47.9 percent of the time during regulation. As such, the Bengals’ opponents are running 67.6 plays per game, fifth most in football. Cleveland’s opposition runs the third least plays in the league at 59.9 per game, meaning the Browns should have a chance to wear down Cincinnati’s defense in this one, while keeping its own fresh. This could help the Browns create a couple turnovers in the second half, an area where Cleveland has been unlucky this far, despite solid defensive play.


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Trends to Know

Cleveland’s quarterback Baker Mayfield is 12-5 ATS on the road in his career, as well as 13-8 ATS entering this season against an opponent off a SU loss. The Browns are on a current 4-1 ATS run on the road and have covered four straight away against opponents with winning home records.

Cleveland is also 4-1 ATS in its last five games as road dogs and has bounced back to cover six of its last eight following an ATS loss.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati has covered just two of its last seven games as a home favorite. And after the Bengals 34-31 disappointment at the Jets last Sunday, it’s worth noting they are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games after allowing more than 30 points previously.

What’s more, the Bengals are owners of a pathetic 1-12 ATS record in their last 13 games as favorites of less than seven points when coming off a double-digit ATS loss.

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Browns vs. Bengals Pick

This promises to be a closely fought affair with two solid run defenses squaring off in a divisional rivalry. Having a couple points in our back pockets in a head-to-head series that has seen the underdog cover four of the last five meetings is a stellar play.

With Cincinnati going just 3-15-1 SU in its last 19 one-score games since the start of the 2019 season, take the hungry Browns as dogs to get the job done.

Our ATS Pick: Browns +2.5 over Bengals

Vikings vs. Ravens

After coughing away a fourth quarter lead to backup Cooper Rush and the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, the Minnesota Vikings find themselves on the outside of the NFC playoff picture. They also now face a critical road test against a rested Baltimore team which was buried at home by Cincinnati in its last outing.

You would not expect this from a 5-2 division-leading team, but Baltimore owns the NFL’s No. 25, including the league’s worst pass defense, allowing 296.1 yards per game through the air.

Kirk Cousins and Minnesota’s No. 8 passing offense will look to exploit the Ravens in a similar fashion to what Joe Burrow and the Bengals did two weeks ago when they amassed 409 yards passing in their 41-17 victory over the Ravens.

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Those poor defensive yardage numbers may speak to a larger problem for this Ravens team. Remember, Baltimore got a fortuitous fumble to help them squeak past Kansas City in Week 2, had Justin Tucker boot an NFL record field goal at the final whistle to beat Detroit in Week 3, and mounted a late comeback against a depleted Colts’ defense to edge Indianapolis in overtime in Week 5. This 5-2 team could very easily be 2-5 right now.

And, even as it stands, the Ravens only have two wins by more than one score this season.

In that same vein, Minnesota (3-4) has not lost a game by more than one score in 2021.

They may look mediocre defensively, with just the league’s No. 20 defense in terms of yardage, but the Vikings have a bit of a bend-don’t-break element, giving up the 12th fewest points per game.

Trends to Know

The Vikings are also the team you want in your pocket coming off a loss. They are 40-18 ATS in their last 58 games following a SU loss under head coach Mike Zimmer, and Kirk Cousins owns a a 31-20 ATS record in his career after a SU loss.

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Perhaps more interestingly, Minnesota is 23-7-1 ATS in their last 31 non-division games off a SU loss and are an electric 16-1 ATS when those games did not follow an ATS loss of more than eight points.

Yes, Baltimore is off a bye week and is enjoying its fourth straight home game. However, the Ravens have only covered one of their last five games as favorites and quarterback Lamar Jackson is just 9-14 ATS in his career as a home favorite.

As mentioned, the Ravens got smoked 41-17 in their last outing against Cincinnati and are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games after allowing more than 30 points previously. Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh is just 6-8 ATS with Baltimore after allowing more than 35 points.

Vikings vs. Ravens Pick

The Ravens have failed to cover all three of its prior games this season as favorites of more than three points and have serious problems in the secondary. Minnesota has covered both of its games as dogs of more than one point and should be able to keep this one close with its season on the line.

Our Pick: Minnesota +6 (FanDuel Sportsbook -106)

Atlanta vs. New Orleans

The Atlanta Falcons catch the New Orleans Saints in a letdown situation after the latter’s victory against Tampa Bay. The Saints exacted some revenge from their playoff loss to the Super Bowl Champions, earning their third straight victory. But, they may have a difficult time getting up for this one against a 3-4 Falcons team, especially with a road test at Tennessee on deck.

New Orleans will be sending out Trevor Siemian under center for this one after losing starter Jameis Winston to a torn ACL last week. With New Orleans’ other quarterbacking option, Taysom Hill, still not 100 percent after suffering a concussion nearly a month ago, Siemian will be asked to guide one of the league’s worst offenses here.

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Atlanta bettors should feel better knowing New Orleans is laying such a big number here while owning the league’s worst passing offense and 11th worst passing defense. The Falcons should be able to move the ball through the air against the Saints, as Matt Ryan has guided Atlanta to the No. 14 passing offense. This despite missing Calvin Ridley in two of their last three games.

Trends to Know

New Orleans has failed to cover four of its last five games as a favorite, including all three this season when laying at least a field goal. The Saints, who covered last Sunday in their outright underdog win, have also dropped four straight ATS following an ATS win, alternating ATS wins and losses since the start of the season.

Atlanta enters off a tough 19-13 home loss to Carolina last week, but the Falcons are a stellar 25-12 ATS in its last 37 games after failing to score 15 points or more previously. In fact, the Falcons are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games off a SU and ATS loss where they allowed less than 20 points.

Falcons vs. Saints Pick

Atlanta has won both of its road games this season when not listed as more than a touchdown underdog. With New Orleans off a quarterback change and an upset divisional road win that followed a west coast Monday Night Football game the week before, expect Matt Ryan to keep it close here to steal an NFC South cover or outright victory.

Our Pick: Atlanta +6.5 (PointsBet +100)

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Bob Wankel is a credentialed Phillies writer for Crossing Broad. He is also Vice President of Sports Betting Content at XL Media and co-hosts Crossed Up: A Phillies Podcast. A South Jersey resident and graduate of Monmouth University, his past work includes 12+ years in education and six seasons as a freelancer at NFL Films. On Twitter: @Bob_Wankel E-mail: