NFL Week 9 Tips: Bills good money to ruffle Hawks' feathers

Russell Wilson could struggle against one of the best pass rushing units in the NFL
Russell Wilson could struggle against one of the best pass rushing units in the NFL

Our tipster's on a hot streak. Will it continue? Find out why Neil Harvey's siding with Buffalo and Oakland in this week's NFL action...

"While the Hawks have the reputation, it's actually the Bills D that's walking the better walk when it comes to forcing turnovers - both fumbles and interceptions."

Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders
Monday, 01:30

In terms of reputations, this looks a mismatch, but the reality is that reigning Super Bowl champions Denver have the same 6-2 record as the long suffering Raiders. And when you look closer, there are many more reasons to think that there's not too much between these sides in terms of ability. For example, both have earned hard-fought wins over San Diego, while both lost at home to Atlanta by the same seven point margin.

The way they've gone about achieving their results though differs greatly. The Broncos are still totally dependent on their defense, which is still totally awesome - at least against the pass - where it leads the league. Against the run, Denver have looked more fallible, allowing 4.3 yards per carry. That's a full yard more than the Jets for example, but around average for the league. Although the five fumbles Denver have forced shows that you still run on them at your peril.

And this is where things get interesting. Can the dominant Denver pass rushers find their way through an Oakland offensive line that's been outstanding this season? Derek Carr has been getting the kind of protection that quarterbacks dream of. As a result, he's only been sacked nine times - the second fewest in the league. And that extra time on the ball has seen Carr produce his best work - throwing 17 TDs and just three interceptions. So the match up of the Oakland offense against the Denver D should be mouthwatering.

On the other side of the ball it's a very different tale though. Trevor Siemian is a quarterback who's still learning his trade. And cautiously so. His 8 TDs to four picks illustrate how he's making a lot of throws that are low-risk, but equally low in terms of hurting the opposition. If Denver fall behind and he has to start making more ambitious throws then Oakland have the talent in the backfield to take advantage. Yes the Raiders have been giving up big yardage, but they've also come up with plenty of turnovers, one more than Denver in fact. The Oakland D are a boom-bust outfit who could be the key to winning this game for the hosts.

Denver's main offensive weapon should be rookie runner Devontae Booker. I love this guy. A big, deceptively agile runner who I'm sure is going to take his chance in only his second start, by putting up a 100 yards and a score. But it might not be enough to keep pace with Oakland's aerial attack which has produced 30 plays of over 20 yards, compared to Denver's 18. I can see the Raiders winning this one, with some big plays from Carr and Oakland's defense being the difference.

Recommended Bets:
5pts Oakland to beat Denver @ 1.9420/21
5pts Devontae Booker rushing yards to be Over 70.5 @ 1.9620/21
3pts Devontae Booker to score anytime touchdown @ 2.56/4

Buffalo Bills @ Seattle Seahawks
Tuesday, 01:30

I don't expect their to be too much aerial action in this one, with both 4-4 Buffalo and 4-2-1 Seattle having proved more effective on the ground so far this season. Even the quarterbacks of both teams are running QBs, with Tyrod Taylor and Russell Wilson two of the best scamperers in the NFL. It's Taylor who's been by far the better this season though. With three rushing TDs and an average of 40 yards a game, his efforts dwarf those of Wilson, who's rushed for just six yards per game and no scores as yet.

Taylor has also been throwing the ball better, with nine TDs to Wilson's five. Even Taylor's ball security has been superior - despite being sacked more often, he's committed two fewer fumbles.

It's not that Tyrod's been that great though, it's simply that Wilson has been having a stinker this season. His offensive line continues to be hit and miss, as does his confidence, which has been further knocked by niggling injuries to both ankle and knee. And none of that bodes well for Wilson, whose mobility and ball retention should be rigorously tested by a Bill's pass rush that's landed a joint league-high 26 sacks this year. The Buffalo defense hits hard and hits often, and as a result also ranks second in the NFL at forcing fumbles.

Neither side has anyone of note to call upon in the way of receivers, barring Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham who's long overdue a big game. These teams prefer instead to ground and pound. But it's the Bills who also look to have a clear advantage here. For Seattle, Christine Michael bullied the 49ers early in the season, but has failed to produce a hundred yard game since. His production has been in steady decline, down to just 40 yards against the Saints last week. My feeling is his reign is almost over in Seattle and that Thomas Rawls will take over once fit. And even here, I think rookie CJ Prosise will come to the fore in a pass catching role, after he shone with 80 yards from the backfield last week. The Seahawks need to get their passing game going. And Prosise could provide the ideal bridge.

Seattle's defense needs no introduction, especially against the run. But LeSean McCoy will provide their toughest test yet. With 4.9 yards per carry and six touchdowns in seven games, he'll carry the Buffalo attack. And while the Hawks have the reputation, it's actually the Bills D that's walking the better walk when it comes to forcing turnovers - both fumbles and interceptions.

This game should be gritty, high on aggression and low on points. And even though the home side are hot favourites to win it, I like the look of the Bills with a head start, in a game that they could even pinch.

Recommended Bets:
5pts Buffalo (+7) to beat Seattle @ 1.9620/21
5pts Buffalo (+3.5) to beat Seattle at Half Time @ 1.9620/21

Profit/Loss 2016

Staked: 213 pts
Returned: 305.22 pts

P/L: +92.22 pts

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