NFL Picks

Week 9 NFL Picks

Cooper Kupp

Week 9 NFL Picks

This season, I’ll be providing my picks every week for you, our readers. I’ve been Gridiron Experts’ Pick ‘Em columnist for the past few seasons, and I’m glad to be back at it again! We’re hoping to have even more 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. You can also click over to see all our Free NFL picks for the week with more than a dozen Gridiron Experts picking each game.

Welcome back… it’s time for Football!

Just a reminder to anyone placing wagers this weekend, injuries are mounting. We also have players out due to Covid-19. So just as you would research the best online casino payouts, you need to do the same for sports betting and picking games. I have broken down the week 9 slate of NFL games to share my take on game scripts on how I think Sunday is going to go down. Good Luck and remember to use your game sense.

Minnesota @ Baltimore (-6)

Baltimore is fresh off of a bye week, while the Vikings fell to a Dallas team with starting QB Cooper Rush on Sunday Night. Baltimore seemingly has the advantage here on both sides of the ball, but their defense is incredibly polarizing. While they rank 4th against the run on the season, they rank dead last in passing yards allowed. Kirk Cousins will likely be dialing up the deep ball to Justin Jefferson and finding Adam Thielen early and often in this contest. While Cousins, Thielen, and Jefferson will post some yardage, the Vikings’ success will likely hinge on Dalvin Cook’s ability to produce on the ground, and the team’s overall ability to punch it into the end zone. Baltimore will, as always, be led by the dynamic Lamar Jackson, and comes into the game with the NFL’s 3rd ranked rushing offense. With Latavius Murray banged up, we’ll look to see more of Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman in the mix. Also adding some intrigue is rookie WR Rashod Bateman, who is seemingly healthy and looking to produce aside Marquise Brown. I expect Baltimore to exploit this Vikings defense who just lost Daniele Hunter for the season, and to rack up yards on the ground. While the Ravens pass defense is suspect, they haven’t allowed many points this year, and are quite balanced. I’ll take the home favorite to win and cover. Ravens 24-16. 

New England (-3.5) @ Carolina

Both of these teams are coming off a victory last weekend, but the Panthers’ win came with a cost. QB Sam Darnold was sidelined for the end of the game with a concussion, leaving his status for Sunday up in the air. If he can’t go, PJ Walker will step in against a stingy and well-coached Patriots defense. The other question mark for Carolina is the status of RB Christian McCaffrey, who is listed as questionable, but was designated to return from IR this week. If CMC plays, it gives the Panthers a huge boost, not only in the backfield, but it also takes some attention off of elite WR DJ Moore and speedster Robby Anderson. McCaffrey’s presence would undoubtedly open things up for Moore & Anderson, giving Darnold (or Walker) more to work with. The Patriots haven’t set the world on fire this year but have been a remarkably consistent, and tough team. HC Bill Belichick has put a lot of trust into rookie QB Mac Jones, and he’s shown that the spotlight isn’t too bright. Jones has led a measured New England attack, along with breakout RB Damien Harris, and has New England right in the thick of the playoff race. Between the questionable natures of Darnold and McCaffrey, I can’t bring myself to take Carolina here. While the Carolina defense is undoubtedly enough to keep them in the game, I think Belichick will gameplan effectively, and lead New England to a road win and cover. Patriots 25-20.

Cleveland @ Cincinnati (-2.5)

This AFC North showdown has huge division implications. With all 4 teams above .500 in the Division, every game could make or break a team’s playoff chances. Both squads are coming off losses last week. The Bengals fell to the Jets, while Cleveland dropped a close game to Pittsburgh. Cleveland is currently in disarray, as Odell Beckham has been away from the team, Baker Mayfield is injured and not playing to the best of his ability, and Nick Chubb is receiving a partial workload as he doesn’t seem to be at full strength. Cincinnati, on the other hand, is seemingly in a good spot, despite the loss to New York. Joe Burrow & Ja’Marr Chase are the best young QB/WR tandem in the league, Joe Mixon is healthy and producing, and the Cincinnati defense is vastly improved, ranking 8th in scoring defense, 4th in sacks, and 9th in interceptions. I expect this to be a typical blue-collar AFC North battle, but trust Burrow and the Bengals skill players more than I do Mayfield & Co. right now. I’ll take Cincinnati to win this one with a late field goal at home. Bengals 26-23. 

Denver @ Dallas (-10)

Both teams pulled out victories last weekend, but Dallas’ victory came with an unexpected hero. Backup QB Cooper Rush filled in admirably for the injured Dak Prescott to lead Dallas to a road win. Prescott seems to be trending towards a start on Sunday, after turning in a solid practice on Wednesday. In any event, his return would majorly benefit the entire Dallas offense, which ranks 3rd in scoring, 1st in yardage, and is a well-oiled machine when all of their studs are on the field. With Prescott at the helm, WRs CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper will look to exploit this Denver defense, which ranks 3rd in scoring defense, and top 10 in both rushing and passing yardage allowed. While the defense is Denver’s strength, they’ve received improved QB play from Teddy Bridgewater this year. Bridgewater also received a gift last week with the return of Jerry Jeudy. With Jeudy back in the fold, it should open up more opportunities for WRs Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick, as Jeudy should draw most of the top secondary attention. Despite the improvement, Denver is below average offensively, and that makes things difficult, especially when playing a juggernaut like Dallas. I don’t think the Broncos will be able to keep up with Dak & Co. on the scoreboard, but believe that a 10 point spread is a bit too stout. Look for Denver’s defense to keep the margin of victory below 10, but for Dallas to win this one straight up. Cowboys 29-20. 

Buffalo (-14.5) @ Jacksonville

After a bye week, Buffalo bounced back with a win over Miami. Jacksonville came off of their bye and took a beating in Seattle. A 24-point loss to Geno Smith doesn’t inspire much confidence in bettors, so it’s safe to say most people will be taking the Buffalo Moneyline here. However, a 14.5 point spread on the road does make you think twice about hammering the Bills this weekend. The question is: Can the Jaguars keep it to a 2-score game? I don’t think they can. Josh Allen leads a Bills offense that ranks as the NFL’s top-scoring offense and has a bonafide stud WR in Stefon Diggs. I don’t think the Jaguars have anyone that can shut down, or even limit Diggs. If the Jags were to have any chance, they’d have to slow the game down, play good defense, run the ball, and bleed the clock. Unfortunately, Jacksonville ranks dead last in time of possession, and their top RB James Robinson is day-to-day with an ankle injury. If Robinson is out, rookie QB Trevor Lawrence will need to contend with the Bills’ top-ranked secondary, and the league’s stingiest scoring defense. With his top target sidelined, it’d mean more work for WRs Marvin Jones, Jamal Agnew, and Laviska Shenault. To make matters worse, the Jaguars have allowed the 7th most points in the NFL, despite already having a bye. Give me Buffalo to win by 3 scores, and cover the lofty spread on the road. Bills 32-14.

Houston @ Miami (-6.5)

This battle of 1-7 squads will take place in Miami. While Tua Tagovailoa is back in action for Miami after a string of injuries, the Texans’ QB situation remains a bit murky. Davis Mills has been the team’s starter for their last few games and hasn’t done all that much to help the team. 6 of Houston’s last 7 losses have been by 2 scores or more. QB Tyrod Taylor is back to practice and is considered day-to-day. My best guess is that Taylor will play on Sunday, giving a boost to all of Houston’s skill players. The best of those (remaining) skill players has been WR Brandin Cooks, who has compiled 585 yards so far this year. With the departure of Mark Ingram, the backfield is down to David Johnson and Phillip Lindsay, neither of which have been good at all this year. Miami touts more talent offensively, between TE Mike Gesicki, the healthy DeVante Parker, and RB Myles Gaskin. However, at times, HC Brian Flores seems to forget some of these players exist, leaving them criminally underused. At the end of the day, this matchup touts two teams that are bottom-4 in both scoring offense and points allowed. Being that we have to make a pick here, I do think Miami is the better team, but don’t believe that they’ll cover a 6.5 point spread if Taylor is under center for Houston. If Mills plays, I think it might tip things in Miami’s favor against the spread. But for now, I’ll take Miami straight up but Houston with the points.  Dolphins 25-22. 

Atlanta @ New Orleans (-5.5)

After winning 3 of 4 games, Atlanta fell to Carolina last weekend at home. On the other hand, the Saints were incredibly impressive in knocking off Tampa Bay but lost starting QB Jameis Winston for the season with a torn ACL. It remains to be seen whether Trevor Siemian will get the start for New Orleans, or if Taysom Hill will return from his concussion. Even if Hill comes back, it’s possible that Siemian still sees some action, as Sean Payton hasn’t hesitated to platoon his QBs in the past. Regardless of who is under center, they’ll have the benefit of the electric Alvin Kamara behind them in the backfield. Kamara has come to life in recent weeks, as he’s totaled 736 yards on the season as one of the top dual threats in the league. With the absence of Michael Thomas this season, Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harris have been asked to shoulder a larger load. If the Saints hope to keep their status as a contender, both Callaway and Harris will need to prove that they can produce to take some of the defensive attention off of Kamara. Atlanta’s top weapon this year has been Cordarrelle Patterson, who has played all over the field. QB Matt Ryan has also seen some production from rookie TE Kyle Pitts. However, with WR Calvin Ridley out indefinitely, it certainly puts more attention on the young Pitts. With Ridley out of the lineup last week, Pitts was held to a measly 2/6/13 receiving line and was completely ineffective. With the stellar play of New Orleans’ 2nd ranked scoring defense, I expect them to limit the Atlanta threats, and to beat their familiar foe at home, covering in the process. Saints 27-20.

Las Vegas (-2.5) @ New York Giants

The Giants hung tough in Kansas City on Monday Night Football, before ultimately falling to the Chiefs, while the Raiders rested on their Bye Week. New York has lost 3 of 4 and hasn’t impressed many in the process, as they rank 24th in the NFL in points per game. QB Daniel Jones has been decent for the Giants, logging just under 1,950 yards and 7 TD to 5 INT on the season. The problem with New York lies in their injuries. With RB Saquon Barkley nursing an injury and sitting on the COVID list, it seems unlikely he’ll return to play against Las Vegas. With Barkley’s absence, and Devontae Booker getting up to speed, Jones is the team’s leading rusher. This formula doesn’t work for NFL teams unless your QB is Lamar Jackson. In any event, Jones will need more help in the backfield to open up the passing game. With WR Sterling Shepard also injured, the Giants’ top pass catchers will be rookie Kadarius Toney (who has also been quite fragile), the speedy John Ross III, and Darius Slayton. There’s a chance Kenny Golladay could return, but he’s missed most games this season so it’s hard to rely on him. Las Vegas should see the return of RB Josh Jacobs and TE Darren Waller this week, which will bode well for them offensively. QB Derek Carr has thrown the ball quite well this year, logging 2,269 yards, 12 TDs, and only 5 INTs. With Hunter Renfrow and Bryan Edwards also chipping in and catching some balls, the Raiders are a dangerous offense and seem to be fully healthy. While I believe both defenses are solid, I have to give the edge to Carr and Las Vegas on the road here. I do think New York will keep it close, but trust Carr to get the job done late and give Las Vegas a win and cover. Raiders 26-22.

Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) @ Philadelphia

Justin Herbert and the Chargers fell to the Patriots at home last week, and now need to travel across the country to play the Eagles. Philadelphia dismantled the winless Lions on Sunday and looks to be figuring things out offensively, despite the lack of variety in their offensive approach. Currently, the Eagles’ entire offense runs through QB Jalen Hurts, who has played his dual-threat role well this year, passing for 1,819 yards and 10 TD, while rushing for 432 yards and 5 scores. With that said, aside from Hurts, the Eagles have lacked any playmakers. RB Miles Sanders is on IR, and the RB duo of Boston Scott and Jordan Howard is far from a threat to break a game open. Rookie RB Kenneth Gainwell was used sparingly last week, despite the expectation that he’d see increased work with Sanders out. DeVonta Smith has also been decent on the outside but hasn’t broken out as many hoped he would. With Jalen Reagor banged up, and Quez Watkins as the next best option, this Eagles offense could fall flat at any given moment. Los Angeles, on the other hand, has Herbert at the helm and a plethora of elite options. Austin Ekeler is the biggest threat, especially with WR Mike Williams cooling off after a strong start to the season. Williams, combined with WR Keenan Allen, and the pass-catching Ekeler, provides a solid trio of targets for Herbert and keeps defenses guessing. Given the lack of playmakers in Philly right now, I worry about their ability to outscore LA. I think that Philly keeps it close at home, but trust Herbert & Co. to do enough to get the victory on the road. Chargers 27-23.

Green Bay @ Kansas City (-7)

The line shifted drastically on this game with the announcement that Green Bay’s star QB Aaron Rodgers would miss the game after testing positive for COVID-19. As a result, Jordan Love will make the start for Green Bay against Kansas City’s porous defense. While Love has the potential to be competent, it is certainly a devastating blow to the Packers’ offense. Instead, they’ll need to lean on the likes of WR Davante Adams (if he’s cleared from the COVID list), and RB Aaron Jones to pace the offensive attack. Kansas City is seemingly healthy but has been shockingly ineffective. QB Patrick Mahomes just doesn’t seem to be playing like the player we know he can be, and TE Travis Kelce looks to have lost a step in recent weeks. With WR Tyreek Hill on the Chiefs’ side, the game could break open at any moment, but only if Mahomes can get him the ball. If Adams doesn’t play, I just don’t see how the Packers generate enough offense on the road to keep it close. If Adams does play, I think the Packers can keep this one close with their defense and Jones controlling the clock. However, I also think the Chiefs are due to rebound here. Given the loss of Rodgers and the uncertainty surrounding Love’s capability and Adams’ status, I’ll take the Chiefs to win and cover at home. If Adams suits up, though, I think I’d take Green Bay with the points. Note: I’m going to make this pick as if the WR is sidelined. Chiefs 28-20.  

Arizona @ San Francisco (-0.5)

Last Thursday night, Arizona fell for the first time this year, while the 49ers ended their losing skid with a win over Chicago. It seems that Kyler Murray has a legitimate ankle injury, leaving his status up in the air for Sunday’s game. It looks like he’ll sit out of practice this week and be a game-time decision for Sunday. The Cardinals will be without WR AJ Green due to COVID-19 and might be missing DeAndre Hopkins who seems legitimately questionable with a hamstring injury. If they’re missing both pass catchers, the burden will fall on WRs Christian Kirk and Rondale Moore to pick up the slack. However, I think they’ll transition to a more run-heavy attack regardless, given how effective Chase Edmonds and James Conner have been in the backfield this year. San Francisco has lost quite a few one-score games this year, so their 3-4 record is a bit deceiving. WR Deebo Samuel is on a torrid pace this year, logging 819 receiving yards in only 7 games. With that said, RB Eli Mitchell is banged up and listed as questionable. If Mitchell misses the contest, it’d be a big blow for San Fran. The 49ers are also hoping for the return of TE George Kittle. Should Kittle return, it’ll certainly give the 49ers a boost offensively, and will give Kyle Shanahan one more weapon in his arsenal. At the end of the day, Murray’s status will tip the scale in this game for me. If he plays, I think the Cardinals will take the win on the road, but if he missed the contest, I don’t have as much confidence in Colt McCoy. If Kyler plays, which I think he will, I’ll take the Cards here. Cardinals 25-22.

Tennessee @ Los Angeles Rams (-7.5)

After a win in Week 8, Tennessee’s party was cut short with the devastating news that RB Derrick Henry would miss 6-10 weeks with a Jones fracture in his foot. Henry might make it back for the playoffs, but also might have seen his last snaps of the season. It’s all up in the air at this point after the elite RB had surgery earlier this week. In any event, Tennessee holds a 3-game lead in the AFC South, and holds the tiebreaker, giving them a 95%+ chance to take the division. At this point, they’re hoping to keep things rolling without King Henry, and hope to welcome him back for a playoff push. The daunting task at hand this week, though, is the 7-1 Rams on Sunday Night Football. LA is regarded by many as the best team in football, as they’ve been truly impressive in all facets of the game this year. Their defense has been especially impressive, as they rank 1st in interceptions, and 1st in sacks. However, they do rank in the bottom third of the league in total yards against and passing yards allowed. Offensively, they boast a top 5 passing attack behind their rejuvenated QB Matthew Stafford. Stafford has thrown for almost 2,500 yards this year and boasts the game’s best receiver at the moment- Cooper Kupp. The veteran Kupp has logged 63 catches for 924 yards and 10 TDs. He’s on pace to break some records and will look to continue his success on Sunday night. Aside from Kupp, LA also touts Robert Woods and RB Darrell Henderson, who has impressed many this year in relief of the injured Cam Akers. Tennessee has also impressed many with their play, and their vastly improved pass rush. Harold Landry, Bud Dupree, and Denico Autry have been disruptive, and have changed the tone of a formerly sloppy Titans defensive front. The Titans are not only the Henry show, though. They have one of the league’s best WRs in AJ Brown, who was unstoppable last week in Indianapolis. They also look to be getting WR Julio Jones back from a hamstring injury. With Brown and Jones catching passes from Ryan Tannehill, this offense does have the capacity to stand tall and punch with any offense in the league. Tannehill has thrown for over 2,000 yards this season and will need to shoulder more of the load in Henry’s absence. The key for Tennessee will be if their RBs can do enough to give Tannehill the ability to throw the ball and to use play action effectively. Jeremy McNichols and the newly signed Adrian Peterson won’t be able to replicate Henry’s game-breaking ability, but if they can do enough to keep defenses guessing, and pick up decent yardage when they do touch the ball, I think it’ll allow Tannehill to keep getting the ball to Brown and Jones for big chunks in the play-action passing game. Everyone’s dismissing Tennessee right now with the loss of Henry, and I get it. But, this team plays its best football with a chip on its shoulder. The key to the game will be the pass rush. If Landry, Simmons, and Dupree can get to Stafford, I think they can affect his rhythm and force him to turn the ball over. With ballhawk Kevin Byard in the secondary, and rookie DB Kristian Fulton possibly making his return, I think Tennessee can do enough to get to Stafford, cause some turnovers, and make a few big plays to shock the world and pull the upset. Titans 30-29.

Enjoy the games! Until next week…

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