Week 9 in the NFL has only 13 games on the slate, including no marquee matchups and overall a lack of potential for many great games. That said, this season has consistently surprised me along with the rest of the NFL world, so who knows. Last week I came out with a solid 12-3 record, hitting on a Commanders upset but missing on the Texans pick. I considered changing my pick to the Browns Monday night — my formula determined they would win after Sunday’s lack of upsets — but unfortunately was too confident in the Bengals. Never have confidence in the Bengals. That puts me at 84-38 for the season, tied for 11th in the country on ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em straight up leaderboard. This week is tough to pick due to a general lack of clear upset picks, but they always happen — I need to pick at least one. Let’s get to it!
Indianapolis Colts (3-4-1) @ New England Patriots (4-4)
This could certainly be one of this week’s upsets, but I don’t see it. Bill Belichick is known for shutting down young quarterbacks making one of their first starts. Sam Ehlinger fits that description, and is not an elite talent at the QB position. Additionally, RB Jonathan Taylor is in danger of missing this game along with defensive studs Kwity Paye and Stephon Gilmore. New England has a chance to run away with this one.
Prediction: Patriots 26, Colts 13
Green Bay Packers (3-5) @ Detroit Lions (1-6)
Shockingly, Green Bay made no moves at the trade deadline despite being in desperate need of a receiver. One would think that future Hall of Fame QB Aaron Rodgers would be able to overcome poor performances at the position, but thus far this season he has not. Quite a few key Packers players are listed as questionable for this game; offensive line studs David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins did not practice Wednesday. Starting linebacker De’Vondre Campbell has been ruled out while WRs Allen Lazard and Christian Watson along with Preston Smith all turned in limited performances. With the Packers seemingly in free fall after four straight losses and injuries mounting, I’m taking the Lions in a shocker that effectively ends Green Bay’s season — revenge for the many years Rodgers has beat up on Detroit.
Prediction: Lions 33, Packers 28
Los Angeles Chargers (4-3) @ Atlanta Falcons (4-4)
The Chargers, a team I have consistently been low on this season, and the Falcons, who I have an 8-0 record picking, meet in what may be the best game this week. Earlier this week, I had the Chargers penciled in as winners here — Atlanta is bottom 3 in pass defense, something the Chargers could exploit. But as the week’s injury report came out, the Chargers are missing: Their top 2 WRs, 1st and 2nd string kicker, a starting defensive lineman and linebacker, and Joey Bosa and J.C. Jackson are still on injured reserve. They are too injured, and a random kicker off the street may hurt them on either field goals or extra points. The Falcons win in another upset.
Prediction: Falcons 35, Chargers 34
Buffalo Bills (6-1) @ New York Jets (5-3)
I think the jet has deviated from the flight path in New York. Losing Breece Hall hurts in a big way, and the Jets were certainly early season overachievers. Zach Wilson has looked far from great, and they will not be able to keep up with Buffalo’s firepower.
Prediction: Bills 27, Jets 17
Minnesota Vikings (6-1) @ Washington Commanders (4-4)
Washington has won 3 games in a row, and is clearly a much better team under Taylor Heinicke than they were under Carson Wentz. I just can’t see them winning 4 in a row, especially against a Vikings team that just finds ways to win. Minnesota’s offensive line has quietly improved significantly from last season, so Washington’s primary strength — their defensive line — will not be able to carry their defense. The Vikings finally get a dominant win.
Prediction: Vikings 31, Commanders 10
Carolina Panthers (2-6) @ Cincinnati Bengals (4-4)
The Bengals are a team that I have had faith — a LOT of faith — in all season, despite a few weak performances. After a brutal blowout loss at the hands of a bad Cleveland Browns team, the Bengals conveniently have a get right game against a Panthers team that knows their season is over. If Cincy can’t win this one, they are in real trouble. They need Ja’Marr Chase back. Don’t expect the Panthers to roll over, however — they’ve been quite competitive the last two weeks.
Prediction: Bengals 27, Panthers 23
Las Vegas Raiders (2-5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6)
Jacksonville has consistently disappointed me ever since they blew out the Chargers. The brutal one score losses have killed me. I have picked them in each of the last 4 weeks, and they lost all 4. At this point I might as well keep picking them, because they won’t lose 6 in a row. Especially not against the Raiders, who last week looked like they forgot how to play football. Right…?
Prediction: Jaguars 23, Raiders 21
Miami Dolphins (5-3) @ Chicago Bears (3-5)
The Bears defense looked completely uninspired last week in a blowout loss to Dallas. Somehow I don’t think that trading away their best defensive player is going to help that, especially considering they are playing one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL this week. Fields has looked better recently, but the Bears have decided they are not competing this year with the trading of two solid defensive players ahead of the deadline. Miami takes this one.
Prediction: Dolphins 36, Bears 22
Seattle Seahawks (5-3) @ Arizona Cardinals (3-5)
When these two teams played just a few weeks ago, Seattle’s defense shut Kyler Murray and Co. down. While Seattle is my favorite story this season, I think their 3 game win streak ends here. I fully expect them to make the playoffs, but it isn’t easy to sweep a division rival. They’ll drop a close one here to a Cardinals team that looked solid offensively on all but two plays last week.
Prediction: Cardinals 23, Seahawks 20
Los Angeles Rams (3-4) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)
Just what everyone was expecting: two of the NFC’s best last season meeting in Week 9 with a combined record of…6-9. Two of the league’s three most notoriously underperforming teams this season, both desperately in need of a win, will fight it out in a close one. The Rams got smoked by the new-look Niners last week, while the Bucs at least looked almost competent against Baltimore. The Bucs will generate enough pressure to throw Matthew Stafford off his game — which has happened to Stafford on a weekly basis this season — and Brady is just a far better QB who I trust much more in a close one.
Prediction: Buccaneers 27, Rams 24
Tennessee Titans (5-2) @ Kansas City Chiefs (5-2); SNF
Considering both teams are 5-2, it’s a shock to see a double digit point spread. The Titans have had Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s number in the regular season in recent years, but this year’s Chiefs team has a much better defense. Not to mention there’s a chance Ryan Tannehill is unable to play again this week, and Titans backup QB Malik Willis looked nothing short of horrible against the Texans, who have a significantly worse defense than the Chiefs.
Prediction: Chiefs 30, Titans 20
Baltimore Ravens (5-3) @ New Orleans Saints (3-5); MNF
This game is quietly this week’s best game. New Orleans, previously a bottom 3 defense, just shut out the Raiders. Baltimore won against Tampa Bay in the team’s most complete victory yet, but is battling injuries with top WR Rashod Bateman out for the season and both starting RB Gus Edwards and superstar TE Mark Andrews trending towards game-time decisions at best. This is a fine upset pick if you’re looking to pair another one with Detroit. However, Chicago blew out New England two weeks ago and Cleveland blew out Cincinnati last Monday. I don’t think the Monday Night Magic continues for a third consecutive upset win.
Prediction: Ravens 27, Saints 26
Key Takeaways & Notes:
Last Week: 12-3; 84-38 on the season
Upset of the Week: Detroit Lions over Green Bay Packers, 33-28
Lock of the Week: Philadelphia Eagles over Houston Texans, 30-15. Well, that’s too easy — I’ll take Minnesota as a second lock of the week, beating the Commanders 31-10.
Note: My formula, which does not factor in betting spreads but rather my own determination of favorites, has two upsets occurring this week. I am picking two in the Lions and Falcons, but other viable upset picks include the Bears and Titans.
Confidence Rankings (1 = Most Confident):
1. Eagles; 2. Vikings; 3. Bills; 4. Dolphins; 5. Bengals; 6. Chiefs; 7. Patriots; 8. Buccaneers; 9. Cardinals; 10. Falcons; 11. Ravens; 12. Lions; 13. Jaguars