I finally did it. I had a good week last week with my picks. Scratch that, I had a great week with my pick, getting 12 of the 15 games right. It may have taken eight weeks, some of which were a little gimmicky, but I got back on track and now I am rolling into week nine on a hot streak. There are six teams on a bye this week, so if you are a fan of the 49ers, Broncos, Browns, Cowboys, Giants, or Steelers, enjoy your week off from the stress of rooting for your team. That means there are fewer games to pick than usual. With just 13 games on the slate this week, it gives statistically the best chance all year to go 100 percent on my picks. Will I do it? Stick around and find out because I now present to you my picks against the spread for every game of week nine of the NFL season.
Philadelphia Eagles over Houston Texans (+14)
I will probably get out to an 0-1 start because of this week but I’m still feeling confident after my great performance last week. Yes, the Eagles are undefeated and look like one of the best, if not the best, teams in the league. But they aren’t invincible. Even in their seven wins, they’ve failed to cover twice. I also have some doubts about how amazing they are going to look on a short week. Plus A.J. Brown must still be tired from absolutely dominating the Steelers. I definitely think the Eagles win this game easily. The city of Philadelphia really needs this one after watching their Phillies get no-hit in the World Series last night. But I think the Texans will get a cover, probably of the backdoor variety, and keep this game just interesting enough to prevent millions of people from exiting their Prime Video app.
New England Patriots (-5.5) over Indianapolis Colts
If you have paid attention to my picks throughout the season, you’re aware that I don’t always use logic when making them. Sometimes I make picks based on a feeling or a hope or basically anything but logic. But this is not one of those picks. This pick is made completely with logic. That logic is that Bill Belichick absolutely owns inexperienced quarterbacks, especially at home. And while Sam Ehlinger isn’t technically a rookie, he may as well be. He actually looked good last week against the Commanders, but this week is going to be a whole different ballgame. The Patriots aren’t a particularly menacing team this year, but with Rhamondre Stevenson running the ball the way he has been lately and a defense that will surely be prepared by Belichick, this should be a win for the Pats.
Buffalo Bills (-12.5) over New York Jets
I’m installing a new rule for my picks. I’m just going to pick the Bills unless I think the other team has a legitimate chance to beat them. The Bills are absolutely incredible and have virtually no flaws. It’s insane. The Jets have been a pleasant surprise, but they’re not the Bills. Even in their wins, they haven’t looked that great. Zach Wilson still struggles to throw passes to his teammates (have they tried putting them in the opponent’s jersey, that might help). Elijah Moore is publicly butting heads with the coaching staff. And their one bright spot on offense, rookie Breece Hall, is out for the season. Meanwhile, the Bills are rolling and have Josh Allen playing arguably the best football of anyone in the league. This game isn’t going to be close. The only way I see the Jets covering this spread is if the teams switch jerseys before the game.
Miami Dolphins (-5) over Chicago Bears
I’m starting to become intrigued by what the Bears are doing. So much so that I picked up Justin Fields in my fantasy league and am starting him this week. But for all the excitement that Chicago’s win over New England two weeks ago brought up, it didn’t help last week when Dallas won in a blowout. And when I say I’m intrigued by what the Bears are doing, I mean the offense. Their defense was bad and then traded away Robert Quinn and RoQuan Smith, which I would assume would now make it really bad. At least they don’t have to face a good offense this week. Just Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, nobody special. I’m expecting the Dolphins to go absolutely nuclear on the Bears this week. Honestly, if they don’t put up at least 40 points I would be disappointed. If Miami wants to be taken seriously as a good team then it has to win this game handily, which is what I think will happen.
Detroit Lions (+3.5) over Green Bay Packers
This pick hurts. Like, a lot. I was a believer in the Packers this offseason but at this point, I have to formally recuse myself as a believer of them and am picking the Lions because of that. Frankly, I see this being a close game. The Lions have a tendency to hang with their opponents for a while but not win. The Packers have a tendency to just not win. If this game ends in a tie I actually won’t be surprised because I think both teams are allergic to winning at this point. With the Lions getting 3.5 points, which is the best line in football because it covers if they lose by a field goal, I can’t resist picking them. Even if the Packers do win, I don’t know if they can do so by more than a few points. And with the Lions getting healthier on offense with guys like D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown back in full, I actually like their chances to win more.
Minnesota Vikings (-3.5) over Washington Commanders
A lot is made of Kirk Cousins and his play throughout the year. I don’t think Cousins has been anything special this season, and has even been downright bad at times, but I still think he is serviceable to win games in this league. Certainly more capable of winning games than Taylor Heinicke. But what truly sets the Vikings apart in this one, and is the reason I am picking them, is what is surrounding Cousins. Justin Jefferson is an absolutely elite receiver. Adam Thielen is a pretty damn good number-two receiver. Dalvin Cook has the potential to be one of the most productive backs in the league and has been so at times. And they just added T.J. Hockenson, who should be one of the most dominant tight ends in the league. The Commanders just can’t compare to that type of talent, even though they have been pretty good on defense. I’m picking the talent to win out in this one do give me the Vikings.
Carolina Panthers (+7.5) over Cincinnati Bengals
In the NFL it is all about who’s hot. As odd as it sounds to say, the Panthers are hot right now and the Bengals are not. Even though they lost last week, the Panthers had a fantastic performance against the Falcons and P.J. Walker looks like a legitimately good quarterback. The Bengals, on the other hand, are coming off an absolutely whooping on Monday Night Football against the Browns. That game was so bad that the Manning Cast basically turned into a podcast because everyone stopped paying attention to what was happening on the field. The Bengals may be in serious trouble without Ja’Marr Chase, as Joe Burrow and that offense seems to have reverted to the team that was bad enough to earn the fifth overall pick that allowed them to draft Chase. I don’t think the Panthers are better than the Bengals at all but in a sport that is heavily influenced by momentum, I think the Panthers are the hot hand and that gives them the upper hand.
Los Angeles Chargers (-3) over Atlanta Falcons
I have been wrong about plenty of my preseason predictions, but the one I’m not ready to give up on just yet is the Chargers being an elite team. I still have faith that this team can figure it out, and the game right after the bye week would be the perfect time for them to demonstrate that. I know this team is dealing with a ton of injuries but if they would just let Justin Herbert loose, which the coaching staff seems to be actively not doing at this point, then they could still be one of the best teams in the league. I also still believe that the Falcons are not that good, despite what their place at the top of the NFC South would suggest. If the Chargers are who they, and I, believe they are, then they will come out and destroy the Falcons. Herbert will throw for 300-plus yards, Austin Ekeler will have another top-tier fantasy performance, and Joshua Palmer will catch three touchdowns (I may also have him on my fantasy team this week). If the Chargers are not who they, and I, believe they are, then they will come out flat and lose to the Falcons. I’m rooting for scenario number one.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+1.5) over Las Vegas Raiders
I don’t know if I have ever formally declared this as a rule, but I prefer not to pick teams that got shut out the week before. The Raiders got goosed by the Saints last week, and the Saints probably won’t even make the playoffs this year. I think the talent on the Las Vegas squad is very good but something is preventing that talent from winning games. Meanwhile, the Jaguars are probably the team with the most misleading record, because I truly believe they are much better than 2-6. They have lost a ton of close games, some of which because they blew the game, but the point still stands that they should have more than a pair of wins. This is the type of game that I think the Jaguars don’t give away, mainly because the Raiders probably wouldn’t even take the win if the Jaguars handed it to them. Trevor Lawrence should be able to air the ball out against a bad secondary and Travis Etienne looks really good as a starting running back. It may not take too many points to beat the Raiders, so I think the Jaguars should be able to accomplish that feat.
Seattle Seahawks (+2) over Arizona Cardinals
If the two quarterbacks were playing based on their contracts, I would be picking the Cardinals. But right now, the $42.5 million difference in their average salaries should belong to Geno Smith, not Kyler Murray. Smith is leading the Seahawks so well that they have essentially already surpassed all the preseason expectations for this team. The offense looks legitimately good while the defense has been slowly improving each week. Seattle’s defense did look pretty good three weeks ago when it held Murray and the Cardinals’ offense without a touchdown. Given the fact that these two teams played just last month, I find it hard to go against the outcome that happened then. And then if you’re telling me that I can pick the team that won that last game and also get points in the process then I’m sold. The Seahawks should be able to win this game, and even if they don’t, the two-point spread should give me enough cover in a super-tight game.
Los Angeles Rams (+2.5) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When the NFL laid out the schedule they assumed this game was going to be a must-watch, marquee matchup. Well, they were wrong. The wheels have fallen off the Rams Super Bowl parade bus while the tennis balls have fallen off Tom Brady’s old-man walker thing. Both teams have been struggling big time this year. I don’t have faith in either of those teams to score very many points against a good defense, which each of these teams has. If I have to pick one of them, which I do, then I’d go with the Rams. They did just get killed by the 49ers, but the offensive line didn’t look completely atrocious, so maybe that’s a step in the right direction. But really, I’m choosing to side with the team with the better players, and in this matchup that would mean picking the team that has Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, and Cooper Kupp.
Kansas City Chiefs over Tennessee Titans (+12.5)
I really like the Chiefs and think they are a very elite team but this spread seems a little too much. The shade that the oddsmakers are throwing on the Titans with this line is insane. The Titans are a good team. Sure, they aren’t on the same level as the Chiefs but they are far from the same level as the Jets, who have the same line against the Bills. Tennessee is the type of team that can keep this game low-scoring enough to get the cover. They are going to lean on Derrick Henry, who is unstoppable, in the run game. Meanwhile, the defense is full of enough good players to stop the Chiefs a couple of times. I severely doubt that Tennessee can score enough points to actually win this game, but enough points to keep this within 12.5 seems reasonable.
Baltimore Ravens (-2.5) over New Orleans Saints
I’m not going to buy into the Saints’ big, shutout win over the Raiders last week because it was the Raiders. And the Ravens are not the Raiders, even though they are listed right next to each other in the alphabetical order of teams. The Ravens will need to be healthy for this game but the extra day before this Monday Night Football game might be just enough to make that happen. Mark Andrews’s availability will be crucial because Lamar Jackson is a far better passer when he has one of the best tight ends in the league (crazy how that works isn’t it?). Although Isaiah Likely did look really good filling in for Andrews last week, the offense will look even better with both of them in it. If Jackson is able to do his normal, MVP-worthy thing on Monday, I highly doubt the Saints can keep up. Alvin Kamara had by far the best game of his season last week but even that isn’t enough to make up for having Andy Dalton at quarterback. At the end f the day, one of these teams is likely headed for the playoffs while the other should be booking flights for an early vacation. I’m going to pick the team that will make the playoffs so give me the Ravens.