NFL Week 9 Picks
After a season where I won the Gridiron Experts Staff Pick ‘Em contest, I’ll be providing my picks every week for you, our readers. Last year, I went 64.5% straight up, and 55.4% against the spread… so I’m hoping to replicate that success this year. Each week, I’ll give you my picks for the game, and a short write-up centered around the key reason why I’m making the pick that I am. In Week 8, I had another very strong week. I went 13-2 straight up and 9-4 against the spread. My lock of the week also came through (7-1 for the season). We hope to replicate that same success here in Week 9!
You can also click over to see all our Free NFL picks for the week with the staff.
New England (-3.5) @ Baltimore
– Game of the Week –
The best game of Week 9 will be in Baltimore when the 8-0 Patriots travel to face the 6-2 Ravens. SportsBettingDime.com’s NFL odds show that the Pats opened as 3.5-point road favorites, but this will be the first time all year New England has faced a team that ranks in the top half of the league in DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, an advanced statistic that measures team’s overall efficiency). Containing Lamar Jackson, who leads the NFL’s sixth-most efficient offense, will be by far the stiffest test the Pats’ dominant defense has been faced within 2019.
This could be a preview of a playoff matchup, and I’m very excited about it. Lamar Jackson will certainly have a tall task before him with this Patriots defense. They lead the league in both interceptions and sacks, and knowing Bill Belichick, he’ll be game-planning around the stud youngster from Louisville. The ground game will be crucial for Baltimore. Between Jackson running the ball, and the Ravens feeding veteran RB Mark Ingram, this game will be won in the trenches. On the other side of the ball, the ageless Tom Brady will lean on his trio of RBs to pace the offense, while relying on Julian Edelman in the receiving corps. Aside from Edelman, Brady has the newly acquired Mohamed Sanu and deep threat Phillip Dorsett for the Ravens to contain. In the end, I think that Brady & Co. will pull this one out on the road and that the defense will cause a late turnover to seal it. This will be the greatest test of the season by far, but I’ve learned not to bet against Brady & Bill. Patriots 28-24.
Houston (-1.5) @ Jacksonville
Houston needed a late rally to knock off the Raiders at home last week and did it with one of the season’s most unbelievable touchdowns thrown by Deshaun Watson. Watson is one of the league’s best players right now and gives the Texans a chance to win any game they play. However, Houston will be without their star DE JJ Watt for the rest of the season after he tore his pectoral muscle in last week’s contest. Leonard Fournette is in the midst of his best season and has paced this Jacksonville offense weekly. In the end, call it an upset if you want, but I think the Jaguars’ defense is most capable of a late-game stop. Gardner Minshew II feels the return of Nick Foles looming and I feel that he’ll turn in a clutch performance and win on Sunday. Call it his last-ditch effort to win over the Jacksonville fans, but I feel that Minshew Mania will strike again. Jaguars 28-27.
Washington @ Buffalo (-9.5)
Washington isn’t great. The Bills, on the other hand, come into this game 5-2. However, last week they fell to the Eagles by a score of 31-18 in a game where both Eagles backs lit up the scoreboard. Josh Allen will lead the Buffalo offense at home on Sunday in a pivotal game where the Bills might pick up a game on the Patriots in the AFC East standings. It is certainly unlikely, but the Patriots’ tough road contest in Baltimore raises the importance of Buffalo to pull this one out. Overall, I think the Bills are better on both sides of the ball. The Redskins’ core of offensive players are far from fearsome, while the Bills have a defense capable of driving many mad. I think they’re going to come out with a vengeance after last week’s loss and like them to cover the spread at home. Bills 28-14. (LOCK OF THE WEEK)
Tennessee @ Carolina (-3.5)
The Panthers are sticking with Kyle Allen who was undefeated until last week’s loss to the 49ers. Allen has leaned on the likes of Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, and Curtis Samuel to pace the offense. On the other hand, Luke Kuechly will take responsibility for shutting down the Titans’ offense. With Ryan Tannehill at the helm, the Titans are 2-0 and have played scored 50 points in their last 2 games combined. Tennessee’s defense has been playing at a very high level. I believe that they have the ability to confuse Kyle Allen and force multiple takeaways in this contest. The key will be whether they can limit (not shut down… limit) Christian McCaffrey, which I think they can. Look for Derrick Henry to have a breakout performance and for Ryan Tannehill to build on his efficient start to the season. Give me Tennessee to pull the upset. Titans 24-23.
Minnesota @ Kansas City (-0.5)
This game would certainly be different if it included the league MVP, Patrick Mahomes. As Mahomes rehabilitates from his knee injury, I’ll make this pick assuming Matt Moore will take the wheel yet again. Moore was respectable in his last start, but it will take more for the Chiefs to truly click on offense. The RB committee they’ve been leaning on has been average at best, and their playmakers Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce have had trouble getting the ball from Moore consistently. Mahomes’ arm certainly opens up the deep game, which is a huge asset in Andy Reid’s offense. The Vikings are thriving under Kirk Cousins, having won 4 straight. Stefon Diggs has stepped up recently, and WR Adam Thielen will have a chance to play this week after missing last week’s contest. RB Dalvin Cook has been one of the NFC’s best and possesses the ability to break a game open at any moment. In the end, I trust Cousins to make the throws he needs to late, and for the Vikings defense to step up late in the game. Give me the road underdogs to win here. Vikings 24-23.
NY Jets (-2.5) @ Miami
This isn’t really the most attractive game on paper. These two AFC East teams are a combined 1-13. Something’s got to give, right? Despite a “scary” (it’s a ghost joke… get it?) few starts, I know that there is a quality QB somewhere within Sam Darnold, and this Miami defense is far from formidable. I think that Darnold, Robby Anderson, and Jamison Crowder will pick apart the Dolphins’ secondary, and Le’Veon Bell will finally explode. I’ll take the Jets to win and cover in Miami. Jets 30-25.
Chicago @ Philadelphia (-4.5)
I’m just not convinced that Mitchell Trubisky can be a good NFL quarterback. The Eagles have impressed me lately, and Chicago’s offense has been everything but impressive. That’s a bad combination for the Bears on the road in Philly.
Carson Wentz will look to overcome the strong Chicago secondary and get the ball to the likes of Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz in this one. Look for Ertz to have a bounceback game, as he’s been pedestrian so far this year. While the Bears’ front rushes at an elite level, they’re more vulnerable against the run. I think that Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders continue to produce. I have trouble picking Chicago to beat a quality team right now… and I won’t do it today. Eagles will pull this one out at home. Eagles 33-27.
Colts @ Steelers (-1.5)
I think that Indianapolis has something special brewing. Last week, they edged out the Broncos in Denver. Jacoby Brissett has filled in admirably for Andrew Luck, and this team has a strong offensive line protecting him. But, let’s not forget… this is the same Steelers team that served up a lead to the lowly Dolphins just days ago. While they won the game, it wasn’t exactly a blowout, and it showed that there are some issues in Pittsburgh. It’s of concern for Indy that TY Hilton looks questionable for this contest. If TY misses the game, the Colts will have to zero in on targets like Zach Pascal, Jack Doyle, and Eric Ebron to produce through the air. Marlon Mack might find his paths clogged up, as TJ Watt and the Steelers’ front are among the AFC’s best. In the end, I think that Indianapolis is a more well-rounded team. Plus, James Conner will be limited (at the very least) and that’s a major damper on the Pittsburgh Offense. Ultimately, I think Indianapolis will make enough plays to pull this one out on the road. Colts 23-20.
Detroit @ Oakland (-2.5)
Last week, Detroit edged the lowly Giants, while Oakland fell victim to some Deshaun Watson’s magic in Houston. Jon Gruden & Co. have battled to a respectable 3-4 record, while the Lions sit at 3-3-1. Matt Stafford has had one of his best years ever and has relied on the likes of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones to produce. However, the loss of Kerryon Johnson still looms large and the Lions will have to establish a ground game to keep the Raiders honest. Look for TE TJ Hockenson to thrive in this game, as the Raiders are notoriously awful at defending the opposing tight end. Derek Carr has held his own, while rookie RB Josh Jacobs has paced an above-average rushing attack. This is a tough one, but I think the Black Hole will play a part in this game and the Raiders will win by the slimmest of margins. Derek Carr has been playing decent football, and the Lions secondary is reeling at the moment. With the return of Tyrell Williams, I think Oakland will be able to move the ball in this game and make a stop or two late. I’m taking them to win straight up, but I like Detroit with the points here. Raiders 28-27.
Tampa Bay @ Seattle (-5.5)
Last week, Seattle knocked off the Falcons in Atlanta, while the Buccaneers fell to the Titans in Nashville. Jameis Winston will have to do his best to make this offense run effectively and get the ball to WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin early and often. Tampa Bay was awful last week when it came to protecting the football. While Seattle’s defense isn’t the Legion of Boom from years ago, I think they’re still formidable enough. On the other side of the ball, Russell Wilson is a candidate for league MVP. He’s thrown the ball well all year, avoided turnovers, and led Seattle to a 6-2 record. RB Chris Carson and WR Tyler Lockett have experienced breakout campaigns and are among the NFC’s best at their respective positions. I think that the Seahawks will keep the pressure on Winston throughout the game and that Russell Wilson will turn in a workmanlike performance at home, lighting up the Tampa Bay secondary all afternoon. Give me Seattle to cover at home. Seahawks 30-23.
Cleveland (-2.5) @ Denver
This is a must-win game for Cleveland and Baker Mayfield. The second-year Quarterback has been all over the news this week as tensions are clearly running high for the Browns. He’ll need to rely on his stud skill players, Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, and RB Nick Chubb. These are some major weapons and Baker’s job is to get them the ball without doing stupid things like throwing shovel passes directly to defensive players. Although Denver’s defense is solid, I think Baker will put it all together eventually. With the loss of Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen will be making his NFL debut. The Broncos will have to lean on their duo of Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay to get the job done, as we can’t expect much out of Allen at this juncture. I think Allen will see a lot of Myles Garrett on Sunday, and that he’ll make a few mistakes along the way. Give me Cleveland to win on the road. Browns 23-17.
Green Bay (-3.5) @ LA Chargers
The Packers are hot right now, and Aaron Rodgers is playing fantastic football. With Aaron Jones running (and catching) better than he ever has in his career, I think the Chargers defense is in for a tall order. Rodgers can break the pocket and make fantastic plays, and he’ll need to be at his best with Joey Bosa chasing after him. Los Angeles will continue to deploy their dynamic duo in the backfield with Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon. On the outside, they have WRs Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, providing a strong 1-2 punch. In last week’s win over the Bears, Rivers, Allen, and Williams were all far from spectacular. They’ll all have to pick it up to get a win over Green Bay. Don’t get me wrong… LA does have a chance to pull the upset, but I won’t be the one to pick against Green Bay during this hot streak. Packers 30-24.
Dallas (-6.5) @ NY Giants
The Giants are getting some of their weapons back to full form, but Dallas is well-rested, and Zeke is ready to eat. For me, this matchup comes down to defensive quality. I think that Daniel Jones has shown some promising flashes and that Saquon Barkley is the league’s best offensive player. However, in the end, I feel that the Cowboys are better offensively and defensively. Look for Dak and Zeke to control this game, and for the Cowboys to take this one in East Rutherford, covering the spread in the process. Cowboys 30-21.
Enjoy the games! Until next week…