In Week 8, the NFL reminded us to expect the unexpected as underdogs dominated with a 7-6 record straight up and an 8-5 record against the spread. While we can’t overreact to any one week, this has been a season-long trend as road dogs are now 41-29-1 ATS on the season (58.57% success rate). There are a few factors at play here. First, home-field advantage hasn’t been as big of a factor as expected in a season with fans back in stadiums. Second, public bettors have tended to bet favorites up too heavily and underestimated the power of the underdog. Let’s dive into Week 9’s games with an emphasis on this ongoing trend and see if we can identify a few upsets for the slate.
Teams on bye: Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Football Team
My Week 8 record: 5-10 SU, 6-9 ATS, 7-8 O/U
My record overall: 74-48 SU, 65-57 ATS, 58-63-1 O/U
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts
Well, hello Mike White. The Jets won in a result that nobody saw coming as White, a 2018 fifth-round pick who came into this game with 20 career passing completions, completed 82% of his passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns. He did throw a couple of interceptions, but every time it looked like the Bengals were ready to pull ahead, White battled his team back into the game. Rookie Michael Carter had the best game of his young NFL career with 172 yards from scrimmage on 24 touches, while Jamison Crowder caught eight of his nine targets for 84 yards. Those two provided a perfect safety blanket for White while Ty Johnson (5-71-1) and Elijah Moore (6-67) were heavily involved, as well. The Colts’ defense has been far from elite, particularly in the secondary, and it’s hard to write off the effort completely the Jets just put together as it came against a defense that shut down the Ravens the week prior.
Indianapolis, meanwhile, fell to the Titans in a season sweep despite their best efforts and a 14-0 first-quarter lead. Carson Wentz made too many mistakes to keep the offense afloat, and he threw a fourth-quarter pick-six on a head-scratching play that gave the Titans a late lead. The Titans hit Wentz seven times, and he was under fire for much of the game, resulting in him making the kinds of mistakes we grew accustomed to seeing from him last season. The Jets were able to generate three sacks on Joe Burrow on Sunday, and their defensive line should continue to produce against an under-performing Colts’ offensive line. Michael Pittman Jr. is coming off perhaps the best game of his young career as the second-year wideout finished with ten catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Jonathan Taylor, meanwhile, had 112 yards from scrimmage. Those two players are the straw that stirs the drink for Indy.
Carson Wentz has been playing better football lately, and the Colts will be fired up for their first home primetime game since 2007. I trust the Colts’ defense to respond to the film we now have on Mike White and I’ll always be leaning towards backing home, veteran teams on short weeks. I’ll take the Colts to cover as big favorites at home.
New York Jets: WR Corey Davis (hip) Q, OT George Fant (QB Zach Wilson (knee – PCL) O, OT Mekhi Becton (knee – MCL) IR
Indianapolis Colts: OG Quenton Nelson (toe) Q, WR T.Y. Hilton (concussion) O
Matchup To Watch: Quenton Nelson (IND OG) vs. Quinnen Williams (NYJ DT)
My Pick: Colts win 28-13, Colts cover, under 46.5 points
NFL Week 9 Betting Picks Video
Minnesota at Baltimore
Last week brought another game where the Vikings were painfully, detrimentally conservative, and it cost them what should have been a winnable game at home against the Cowboys without Dak Prescott. Kirk Cousins should have performed at a high level against a vulnerable Dallas defense. Still, he averaged just 5.2 yards per attempt as the Vikings showed no interest in pushing the ball downfield to their talented wide receivers. Shockingly, Justin Jefferson finished with just two catches for 21 yards, given the matchup. The Ravens are allowing 7.8 yards per attempt, the fifth-most in the NFL, but I can’t say I have much confidence in the Vikings passing the ball at a high level.
The Ravens are coming off a much-needed bye week following their surprising blowout home loss to the upstart Bengals, and they should be able to get back on track against the Vikings. Baltimore’s offensive tackles would be out of their league against Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter especially with Ronnie Stanley out for the year. Still, Hunter suffered a likely season-ending pectoral injury. Lamar Jackson’s scrambling ability will buy the Ravens’ speedy wide receivers time downfield. Marquise Brown should be able to expose a Vikings’ secondary that hasn’t been able to find its footing, and I expect rookie Rashod Bateman to become a more significant part of the offense moving forward. Outside of Jackson, the Ravens haven’t found a consistent rushing offense presence, which could hold their offense back moving forward.
Baltimore seemed to have turned a bit of a corner defensively before their bye week, and I have severe concerns about Minnesota’s play-calling being so conservative. Kirk Cousins has been excellent this season, and if I knew the Vikings were committed to letting him open up the offense, I’d be picking them to cover as a short road favorite. I’m going to go out on a limb and call for a Minnesota bounce-back as the Ravens come out a little sluggish after their Week 8 bye.
Minnesota Vikings: DT Michael Pierce (elbow) Q, LB Anthony Barr (knee) Q, CB Cameron Dantzler (ankle) Q, C Garrett Bradbury (undisclosed) IR/COVID-19, DE Danielle Hunter (pectoral) IR
Baltimore Ravens: RB Latavius Murray (ankle) Q, WR Sammy Watkins (thigh) Q, WR Rashod Bateman (groin) Q, DT Brandon Williams (shoulder) Q, DE Derek Wolfe (back) IR
Matchup To Watch: Alejandro Vilanueva (BAL OT) vs. Everson Griffen (MIN DE)
My Pick: Ravens win 30-24, Vikings cover, over 50.5 points
New England at Carolina
The Patriots may not have dominated 45-0 as they did in their last road matchup against the Chargers, but they showed out and impressed in a tight win. It wasn’t Mac Jones’s best day as he completed just 51.4% of his passes, averaged just 6.2 yards per pass attempt, and failed to throw a touchdown, but he did enough to keep the chains moving against a solid defense. Damien Harris continues to produce behind a stout offensive line. While the Patriots may not have that elite X-receiver, they have a substantial collection of skill-position talent. The biggest concern for the Pats offensively is a lack of aggressive play-calling from Josh McDaniels, which often hamstrings the offense’s potency. The Panthers’ defense has been hit-or-miss, but it was the driving force in their Week 8 win over the Falcons, and Carolina should be able to keep New England in check.
Deshaun Watson rumors aside; it’s clear that the Panthers don’t have their long-term answer at quarterback in Sam Darnold. He had a solid start to the year, but his poor play following Christian McCaffrey’s injury has shown that he’s not the guy Carolina wanted him to be. Darnold left the game on Sunday briefly with a concussion, and P.J. Walker replaced him. It’s unclear if Darnold will be able to suit up this week, although I’m not sure that changes this team’s projection much as I have minimal confidence in his ability to produce against the Patriots’ defense. Darnold has notoriously struggled against New England in his career. D.J. Moore has a winnable matchup against J.C. Jackson on the outside, but the Panthers’ offensive line won’t be able to compete with a loaded front seven for the Patriots.
There are a few matchups on this week’s slate that will be decided by defensive production, and this is one of those games. Regardless of whether or not Sam Darnold can play, I have lots of confidence in the Patriots’ defense shutting down Carolina and Mac Jones having an efficient enough afternoon to get his team the win.
New England Patriots: OT Trent Brown (calf) IR, K Nick Folk (knee) Q, TE Jonnu Smith (shoulder) Q, OG Shaq Mason (abdomen) Q, LB Kyle Van Noy (groin) Q, DE Chase Winovich (hamstring) IR
Carolina Panthers: CB C.J. Henderson (shoulder) Q, QB Sam Darnold (concussion) Q, WR Terrace Marshall Jr. (concussion) Q, RB Christian McCaffrey (hamstring) IR
Matchup To Watch: Michael Onwenu (NE OT) vs. Haason Reddick (CAR DE)
My Pick: Patriots win 20-16, Patriots cover, under 43 points
Cleveland at Cincinnati
I never know how predictive the look-ahead factor is in the NFL, but the Bengals are a young team that I believe fell into that trap last week. Joe Burrow threw a late interception that sealed the victory for the Jets, and he completed just 61.8% of his passes. The Bengals went just 4-11 on third and fourth down in yardage while they were outgained 511-318 by the Jets. Ja’Marr Chase, who has been one of the most productive receivers in the NFL this year, finished with just three catches for 32 yards, although he did score a touchdown. The Bengals also struggled to get their run game going as they compiled just 41 yards on the ground. Cleveland’s defense will present a different set of challenges, particularly with Myles Garrett, a leading Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
The Browns had an awful offensive game as they scored just ten points in an ugly 15-10 loss to the Steelers in Cleveland. Baker Mayfield was better than his final stats indicate as his receivers struggled with drops all game. However, the offensive line had difficulty keeping Mayfield upright against an elite Steelers’ pass rush as he was sacked four times. Cincinnati doesn’t have quite the same presence on the defensive line, but Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard will be able to generate a pass rush against a banged-up offensive line. Nick Chubb got back in action on Sunday while D’Ernest Johnson scored a touchdown. The pass-catchers underperformed, and they’ll need more from their receivers to beat the Bengals.
It’s going to be a low-scoring, gritty defensive game like the Steelers-Browns game from last week, and I believe it will be won in the trenches. Even with Jack Conklin out with a dislocated elbow and Jedrick Wills still injured, the Browns are at an advantage in the trenches as Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney will terrorize Burrow. This is a spot I’m looking to target for an upset pick as the Browns are a slight road underdog.
Cleveland Browns: CB Denzel Ward (hamstring) Q, S John Johnson (neck) Q, DE Jadeveon Clowney (ankle) Q, LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (ankle) IR, RB Kareem Hunt (calf) IR, OT Chris Hubbard (knee) IR, OT Jack Conklin (elbow) IR
Cincinnati Bengals: OG Jackson Carman (back) Q, OG Xavier Su’a-Filo (knee) IR
Matchup To Watch: Jonah Williams (CIN OT) vs. Myles Garrett (CLE DE)
My Pick: Browns win 20-17, Browns cover, under 45.5 points
Denver at Dallas
The Cowboys ruled out Dak Prescott just before the game on Sunday, and they won anyway as Cooper Rush performed admirably and finished with 325 passing yards and two touchdowns. Dallas sounds hopeful that Prescott will be able to return in time for this week’s game, but I’m not even sure he’s needed against a Broncos team that should not have won on Sunday. Teddy Bridgwater continues to be underwhelming as the starter and is not the long-term future of the position for Denver. Whether you want to blame poor play-calling, a lack of offensive line protection, or poor play on Bridgewater’s part, Denver should have been able to put up more than 17 points and 273 yards of offense against Washington’s defense that profiles as one of the worst in the NFL. Dallas’s defense is much-improved from last season and is one of the best in the league at forcing turnovers, although we have to wait on Trevon Diggs’s ankle injury to see if he will be available this week.
Denver’s defense performed well against Washington, but it’s hard to give them much credit against Taylor Heinecke and a banged-up offensive skill position group and offensive line. Von Miller’s trade to the Rams is yet another loss for a front seven that is far from the expected dominant force it appeared to be before the start of the season. Injuries have exposed a lack of depth, and the secondary additions of Ronald Darby, Kyle Fuller, and Patrick Surtain have not paid dividends the way they were expected to. Whether it’s Prescott or Rush under center for Dallas, Denver isn’t going to be able to contend with the team’s dynamic pass-catchers. That’s before you factor in the mismatch of an elite Dallas offensive line and a stout run game against a Broncos’ run defense that has continued to get worse every week.
The Cowboys should run away with this game, and I have no problem taking them to cover a large spread against a struggling team at home. I’m waiting to bet on this game to get more of a confidence boost in Prescott’s status because I believe the line will drop if he gets ruled out, but I can’t imagine a set of factors that could push me to the Denver side of the spread here.
Denver Broncos: CB Bryce Callahan (knee) Q, DT Mike Purcell (thumb) Q, OG Graham Glasgow (hip) Q, OT Garrett Bolles (ankle) O, TE Noah Fant (illness) IR/COVID-19, OLB Bradley Chubb (ankle) IR
Dallas Cowboys: QB Dak Prescott (calf) Q, CB Trevon Diggs (ankle) Q, WR CeeDee Lamb (ankle) Q, WR Amari Cooper (hamstring) Q, LB Jabril Cox (ACL) O, OT Tyron Smith (ankle) O, WR Michael Gallup (calf) IR, TE Blake Jarwin (hip) IR
Matchup To Watch: CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper (DAL WRs) vs. Ronald Darby and Patrick Surtain (DEN CBs)
My Pick: Cowboys win 34-20, Cowboys cover, over 48.5 points
Buffalo at Jacksonville
Well, that went poorly. Last week, I recommended the Jaguars as a road upset, and they didn’t just lose – they didn’t score until there was a minute and 49 seconds left in the fourth quarter. James Robinson suffered a bruised heel early in the game and did not return, leaving his status for this week in question. Jacksonville could not move the ball at all in the game as Trevor Lawrence couldn’t push the ball downfield, and to make matters worse, Carlos Hyde was utterly ineffective in relief for Robinson. On the other side, the Jaguars’ defense had no answer for Geno Smith, in a shocking turn of events, as the Seahawks’ passer constantly kept the chains moving. If Smith could succeed against this Jacksonville defense, I shudder at the thought of what Josh Allen will do to them.
Allen isn’t coming off his best game, but he played turnover-free football and turned it on late to deliver the Bills a win. Cole Beasley was somewhat surprisingly the most productive receiver as he finished with ten catches for 110 yards, but the Bills have arguably the most loaded receiver group in the NFL. Shaquill Griffin, Jacksonville’s best cornerback, will likely see a lot of Stefon Diggs this week, leaving Emmanuel Sanders to get back on track against rookie Tyson Campbell. Buffalo’s rushing offense was not very productive last week, but the Jaguars’ run defense has been bad this season, so Zack Moss and Devin Singletary could have better games this week.
I have no faith in Trevor Lawrence playing efficient football against the Bills’ defense, one of the best in the NFL, and turnovers could give the Bills short fields and even more offensive output. Meanwhile, Geno Smith was excellent against Jacksonville last week, so Josh Allen should have no problems in this matchup. The Bills should cover this line easily.
Buffalo Bills: S Jordan Poyer (shoulder) Q, WR Cole Beasley (ribs) Q, OT Spencer Brown (back) O, TE Dawson Knox (hand) O, OG Jon Feliciano (calf) IR
Jacksonville Jaguars: RB James Robinson (heel) Q
Matchup To Watch: Daryl Dawkins (BUF OT) vs. Josh Allen (JAX DE)
My Pick: Bills win 37-13, Bills cover, over 49 points
Houston at Miami
The Dolphins impressed me as they hung around with the Bills for most of the game until Buffalo finally pulled away in the fourth quarter to earn an ATS win. However, it wasn’t their offense that was impressive – Tua Tagovailoa completed just 53% of his passes for 205 yards and threw an interception. The Miami defense got the job done against Buffalo as Josh Allen was primarily held in check, especially in the first half, as the game was 3-3 at halftime. DeVante Parker was the team’s leading receiver with eight catches for 85 yards, while Mike Gesicki and Jaylen Waddle had a minimal impact. Those players should have a better game against a very beatable Houston defense. This week, Myles Gaskin could also have a much better game as the Texans have been vulnerable against the run all season.
Davis Mills had an impressive final stat line on Sunday, but almost all of it came in the fourth quarter as the Rams had built an impressive 38-0 lead and then took their foot off the gas. However, Mills was sacked five times as the Texans’ offensive line is sorely missing tackles Laremy Tunsil and Marcus Cannon. Brandin Cooks finished with six catches for 83 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown score, while Rex Burkhead was the team’s leading rusher following Mark Ingram being traded to the Saints. This offense struggles to find consistent playmakers outside of Cooks, and while Mills has been better than advertised, it’s hard to trust the offense until they turn the reigns back over to Tyrod Taylor.
I have more faith in these teams’ defenses than their offenses at the moment, although it’s hard to trust either unit. I believe the seven-point line is too large given the state of the Dolphins’ offensive line, and I’m not fully bought in on their defense, even after they held Josh Allen in check for a half of football. I’ll still take Miami to win at home as Tagovailoa is better than Mills and the Dolphins have more talent to work with.
*Update: Tyrod Taylor is going to be starting for the Texans and I’m picking an upset here with a Texans victory. Both teams are struggling, and I’ll roll with the veteran quarterback who looked awesome at the beginning of the season.
Houston Texans: OT Laremy Tunsil (thumb) IR, OT Marcus Cannon (back) IR, C Justin Britt (knee) IR, LB Christian Kirksey (thumb) IR
Miami Dolphins: QB Tua Tagovailoa (finger) Q, LB Jerome Baker (knee) Q, WR Will Fuller (finger) IR, S Jason McCourty (foot) IR, WR DeVante Parker (shoulder) IR
Matchup To Watch: Charlie Heck (HOU OT) vs. Emmanuel Ogbah (MIA DE)
My Pick: Texans win 26-20, Texans cover, over 45.5 points
Atlanta at New Orleans
New Orleans earned arguably the upset victory of the season with a resounding home win over the division-rival Buccaneers. Still, they suffered a big loss as Jameis Winston suffered a significant knee injury that sounds likely to keep him out for the remainder of the season. Trevor Siemian stepped up and played well enough to help the Saints hold onto the lead, but I don’t have much confidence in his ability to perform at a high level moving forward. Luckily for the Saints, it sounds like Taysom Hill could return in time for Week 9; it’s still unclear whether or not Michael Thomas will be able to suit up. Alvin Kamara has been somewhat held in check against the Falcons in his career with 88.1 yards from scrimmage per game, but he’ll need to have a big game this week to help the New Orleans offense stay afloat.
Matt Ryan struggled last week against a solid Panthers’ defense as he finished with just 146 passing yards and was hit nine times total. The big news from Sunday is that Atlanta will be without top wideout Calvin Ridley for the foreseeable future as the Alabama product takes time to work on his mental health. Kyle Pitts and Cordarelle Patterson were both held in check against the Panthers. I have serious concerns about this offense moving forward. They were already dealing with an apparent weakness in skill-position talent that opposing teams have been able to expose. The team’s offensive line has also struggled for most of the season, and I’m worried about Matt Ryan being able to stay upright against Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport.
Neither of these offenses is instilling confidence at the moment with their missing pieces, but I am much more confident in the Saints’ defense than the Falcons’. I’m assuming Taysom Hill returns this week, and I’ll take the Saints to win by about a touchdown given the strength of their defense and the presence of Alvin Kamara.
*Update: Trevor Siemian has been announced as the starter, and the line for this game has ballooned to 7 points. I have a hard time trusting Siemian to cover that line, even at home against a beatable Atlanta defense.
Atlanta Falcons: WR Calvin Ridley (personal) O, DE Dante Fowler (knee) IR
New Orleans Saints: QB Taysom Hill (concussion) Q, DE Payton Turner (calf) Q, QB Jameis Winston (ACL + MCL) O, WR Michael Thomas (ankle) PUP, OG Andrus Peat (pectoral) IR, K Wil Lutz (abdomen) IR
Matchup To Watch: Kaleb McGary (ATL OT) vs. Cameron Jordan (NO DE)
My Pick: Saints win 23-20, Falcons cover, under 45 points
Las Vegas at New York Giants
I’m not giving the Giants an enormous amount of credit for their near win over the Chiefs on Monday Night Football as I believe that had more to do with just how broken Kansas City is at the moment. However, Daniel Jones continues to outproduce expectations despite several injuries in the offense. Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney were held back by their injuries while Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay remained out. It’s unclear which skill players will be available for New York this week, but the Raiders’ defense is much-improved, and it’s hard to trust the Giants to produce given the matchup. This team does have some impressive depth on offense. Still, the most significant factor holding it back in this game will be an underwhelming offensive line that will have to face a brutal pass rush, including Maxx Crosby, Yannick Ngakoue, and Carl Nassib.
New York has sustained some major defensive injuries this season as it has lost Blake Martinez and Jabrill Peppers, but it showed up on Monday night. James Bradberry has started to turn things around, and Adoree’ Jackson has proven to be an excellent complement for him. This week, they have some intriguing matchups against Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards, two young receivers with a knack for making big plays. The Raiders will be hopeful that the bye week allowed Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs to get healthier, but I trust Derek Carr to move the ball in this game regardless of the health of those two players. Las Vegas’s new-look offensive line hasn’t been excellent this year, but Carr has been one of the most productive quarterbacks in the NFL, and he ranks second in the NFL in passing yards per game.
The Raiders have the advantage of extra rest coming off the bye week, notably, as the Giants played on Monday night. The strong play of Derek Carr this season compared to the often erratic Daniel Jones is also enough for me to take the Raiders to win, despite the unfavorable East Coast road trip for the West Coast team.
Las Vegas Raiders: TE Darren Waller (ankle) Q, RB Josh Jacobs (chest) Q, CB Damon Arnette (groin) IR, CB Trayvon Mullen (toe) IR, OG Richie Incognito (calf) IR
New York Giants: WR Sterling Shepard (quadriceps) Q, WR Kenny Golladay (knee) Q, RB Saquon Barkley (ankle) O
Matchup To Watch: Henry Ruggs III (LV WR) vs. James Bradberry (NYG CB)
My Pick: Raiders win 28-24, Raiders cover, over 48 points
Los Angeles Chargers at Philadelphia
I’m looking forward to this matchup between the Chargers, who allow the most rushing yards per game in the NFL, and the Eagles, who have one of the best rushing offenses in football. The Eagles ran the ball 46 times for 236 yards and four touchdowns against the Lions, and they should be in for another big game on the ground this week despite being without Miles Sanders. The big question for the Eagles will be whether or not Jalen Hurts can throw the ball against a talented Chargers’ pass defense. Hurts has struggled with passing accuracy all season, and his erratic play has held back the offense in most of their games. Devonta Smith will have an easier matchup this week if rookie Asante Samuel Jr. is ruled out after a concussion this past week. However, Los Angeles is allowing the fifth-fewest passing yards per game.
Justin Herbert had another challenging game against the Patriots’ defense as he threw two interceptions and when a pick-six was thrown to Adrian Phillips, it all but sealed the game for New England. The Eagles’ cornerback trio of Darius Slay, Stephen Nelson, and Avonte Maddox has been perfect this season, making this a compelling matchup for Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Rashawn Slater, Matt Feiler, and Corey Linsley have transformed the team’s offensive line into one of the best in the NFL, and when Bryan Bulaga returns, it will be even better. Austin Ekeler is still dealing with a hip injury, but Justin Jackson ripped off a 75-yard run on Sunday, and the team should still be fine moving the ball with Ekeler not at total health.
The most significant difference between the Eagles and Chargers is at quarterback, and it’s at the most critical position in the NFL. Herbert is worlds better than Hurts as a quarterback, and I’m betting on him to get the Chargers back in the win column for the first time in a month.
Los Angeles Chargers: RB Justin Jackson (quadriceps) Q, CB Michael Davis (hamstring) Q, CB Asante Samuel Jr. (concussion) O, OT Bryan Bulaga (back) IR
Philadelphia Eagles: S Anthony Harris (hand) Q, WR Jalen Reagor (ankle) Q, OT Jack Driscoll (hand) Q, RB Miles Sanders (ankle) IR
Matchup To Watch: Jordan Mailata (PHI OT) vs. Joey Bosa (LAC DE)
My Pick: Chargers win 28-24, Chargers cover, over 51 points
Green Bay at Kansas City
While Patrick Mahomes was busy narrowly escaping with a win over the lowly Giants on Monday, Aaron Rodgers gave out free Bitcoin. No, seriously. He cashed in on a huge upset win over the Cardinals on Thursday with no Davante Adams and got plenty of rest heading into this crucial matchup with the Chiefs. Before the start of the season, this looked like it could be one of the games of the year. However, Kansas City is painfully bad at the moment, and they look like a shell of the team that is coming off two straight Super Bowl trips. Patrick Mahomes goes back and forth from trying to do too much to not doing enough, and he’s making what is a decent offensive line look terrible as he wastes so much time in the pocket. Kansas City doesn’t have any reliable skill position players outside of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, and even those guys aren’t what they used to be.
It’s hard to overstate how impressive it was that Aaron Rodgers went on the road and picked apart an elite Cardinals’ defense while missing his top three receivers. His final stats weren’t impressive, but he led the Packers to 24 points and a 42.9% (6-14) third-down success rate. Of course, that upset win doesn’t happen if Rasul Douglas doesn’t come up with a massive end-zone interception, but Douglas had an excellent game outside of that play and will be relied upon heavily this week. Rodgers should be able to pick apart a struggling Kansas City defense regardless of who the Packers have at wide receiver, and their pass rush should dominate with the way Mahomes is playing football at the moment. The Packers may not be at full strength, but the mojo around that team is just so much better now.
This line doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. The Chiefs are working on an eight-game home losing streak ATS and have not covered at home since November 1, 2020. That’s not changing against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who have a 7-1 ATS record this season. I’m incredibly confident in backing Green Bay in this spot.
*Update: Aaron Rodgers has been ruled out of this game after testing positive for COVID-19 and I’m picking the Chiefs to win at home. However, I’ll take the Packers to cover with Jordan Love playing surprisingly well in his first career start and plenty of offensive talent to support him.
Green Bay Packers: OT Dennis Kelly (back) Q, CB Kevin King (shoulder) Q, WR Davante Adams (COVID-19) IR, CB Jaire Alexander (shoulder) IR, OT David Bakhtiari (knee – ACL) PUP, QB Aaron Rodgers (illness) COVID-19/IR
Kansas City Chiefs: OT Mike Remmers (knee) O, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (knee – MCL) IR
Matchup To Watch: Travis Kelce (KC TE) vs. Adrian Amos (GB S)
My Pick: Chiefs win 26-23, Packers cover, over 48 points
Arizona at San Francisco
The Cardinals finally suffered their first loss of the season as regression came to haunt them in turnovers and third-down rate. Kyler Murray struggled as he threw two interceptions and no touchdowns while DeAndre Hopkins missed significant time – he only played on 25% of snaps. Still, Arizona almost got the win as they turned the ball over at the very end on the goal line. However, the Packers’ pass rush put pressure on Murray all game and he has suffered from Rodney Hudson’s continued absence. The last time Murray played the 49ers earlier this season, he struggled under pressure and that was with Hudson in the lineup. The Niners’ secondary may not be what it would have been with Jason Verrett, but their pass rush will be capable of making it difficult for Murray to wait to pass downfield until his receivers have gotten open.
Rookie Elijah Mitchell is coming off his best game of the season with 18 carries for 137 yards and a touchdown, and at this point, it’s evident that Kyle Shanahan trusts him over any of the team’s other running backs. Arizona’s run defense has been vulnerable this season, so Mitchell should be in for another big game. The 49ers let Jimmy Garoppolo be the full-time starter against the Bears, and he played an efficient if unspectacular game, more than enough to get San Francisco the win. Deebo Samuel continues to make huge plays, and he finished with six catches for 171 yards last week. Byron Murphy is a fine cornerback, but the Cardinals struggle to hold up in coverage when they cannot quickly get after the quarterback. Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey should hold up against Chandler Jones and Markus Golden, especially with J.J. Watt out for the remainder of the season.
I was hoping this line favored the Cardinals as I want to bet on the Niners to cover in this divisional game. Still, a 3-point line is low enough that I’m rolling with Arizona to bounce back following a defeat ten days earlier. DeAndre Hopkins should be healthy, and Kyler Murray should have an excellent recovery after his worst game of the year against the Packers.
Arizona Cardinals: QB Kyler Murray (ankle) Q, LB Zaven Collins (shoulder) Q, WR A.J. Green (illness) COVID-19/IR, DE J.J. Watt (shoulder) IR
San Francisco 49ers: WR Deebo Samuel (calf) Q, RB Elijah Mitchell (ribs) Q, CB Deommodore Lenoir (personal) Q, S Jimmie Ward (quadriceps) O, DE Dee Ford (back) IR
Matchup To Watch: Trent Williams (SF OT) vs. Chandler Jones (ARI DE)
My Pick: Cardinals win 27-23, Cardinals cover, over 47.5 points
Tennessee at Los Angeles Rams
After games against the Lions and Texans, the Rams have a big matchup to contend with in primetime against an ascendant Tennessee team that currently sits in first place in the AFC. Matthew Stafford is on a tear lately, and he threw for another 305 yards and three touchdowns against the Texans last week. Cooper Kupp has been the best receiver in the NFL this season, and there’s simply nobody in the Titans’ secondary who has a hope of covering him. Kevin Byard has been one of the best safeties in the league, but the cornerback room is dealing with injuries and wasn’t particularly great, to begin with. Darrell Henderson should also have a solid game after scoring two touchdowns against Houston last week. With Robert Woods and Tyler Higbee also playing solid football, the Titans have a lot of work to do to slow down the Rams’ offense.
Derrick Henry is likely out for the remainder of the season, and there inarguably is not a running back, which means more to his team. The Titans’ offense showed out last week against the Colts as A.J. Brown caught ten passes for 155 yards and a touchdown to propel the team to the win. Jalen Ramsey has primarily lined up in the slot this season, but the Rams should put him in shadow coverage against Brown as he’s clearly their best receiver. However, the loss of Henry will make it much more difficult for the Titans to pass the ball as their opponents won’t have the need to stack the box nearly as often. The Rams’ defense just added Von Miller, making their already elite pass rush featuring Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd even more dangerous. Those three playing on the same line will be a terrifying sight for opposing quarterback, and Ryan Tannehill has struggled under pressure this season.
The Rams’ defense will dominate a weakened Titans’ offense after the loss of Derrick Henry, and their offense will move the ball up and down the field against Tennessee. I had high hopes for this Sunday Night Football game as a competitive shootout, but the recent news makes the Rams resounding favorites. The Titans have played three straight playoff-type games, and they can’t keep up their elite play; regression comes for us all.
Tennessee Titans: WR Julio Jones (hamstring) Q, WR A.J. Brown (knee) Q, OT Taylor Lewan (knee) Q, OG Nate Davis (head) Q, RB Derrick Henry (foot) IR
Los Angeles Rams: CB Jalen Ramsey (knee) Q, WR Robert Woods (foot) Q, OLB Von Miller (ankle) Q, OT Andrew Whitworth (knee) Q, DT Sebastian Joseph-Day (chest) Q, CB Darious Williams (ankle) IR
Matchup To Watch: A.J. Brown (TEN WR) vs. Jalen Ramsey (LAR CB)
My Pick: Rams win 34-24, Rams cover, over 54.5 points
Chicago at Pittsburgh
Justin Fields’s stat line from Sunday won’t jump off the page, but it was the best he’s looked all season, and I’m starting to believe in the rookie as a long-term starter. The most impressive part of his game was his 103 rushing yards, including a highlight-reel 22-yard run for a touchdown that should have made Bears fans everywhere ecstatic. In this offense, Allen Robinson continues to be overshadowed by Darnell Mooney, and the second-year Mooney has excellent chemistry with his new quarterback. Khalil Herbert had another solid game in a tough matchup, as well. While the Chicago offensive line has struggled, this offense has more pieces than most think, and I’m starting to buy into Justin Fields more. Fascinating was the Bears going 8-15 on third-down last week. Unfortunately, this week presents another tough defensive matchup against T.J. Watt and the Steelers, which will limit this team’s production.
Ben Roethlisberger followed his new directive to succeed again on Sunday in a 15-10 road win over the division-rival Browns. His ability to keep drives alive and not turn the ball over is enough with the talent on the rest of this roster. Najee Harris continues to excel in his rookie season while Diontae Johnson finished with six catches for 98 yards on Sunday as he continues to produce with strong chemistry with Roethlisberger. The Steelers aren’t going to be reliable for explosive downfield plays, and that plays to the detriment of Chase Claypool, but they do enough to keep the chains moving. Chicago is still dealing with some injuries on their defense. Still, if Khalil Mack can play this week, he’ll be dominant in an easy matchup against a struggling Steelers’ offensive line and an immobile Ben Roethlisberger.
Both offensive lines are at a disadvantage in this game, and I have a hard time buying into either offense as such. However, a 40-point line is minuscule, and I’m going to take the over here. I’ll also take the Bears to keep this game relatively close as I don’t trust the Steelers to pull away with their limited offensive potency.
Chicago Bears: OLB Khalil Mack (foot) Q, S Eddie Jackson (hamstring) Q, RB Damien Williams (knee) Q, WR Darnell Mooney (groin) Q, RB David Montgomery (knee) IR
Pittsburgh Steelers: OLB Melvin Ingram (groin) Q, K Chris Boswell (concussion) Q, TE Eric Ebron (hamstring) O, DE Stephon Tuitt (undisclosed) IR
Matchup To Watch: Chukwuma Okorafor (PIT OT) vs. Khalil Mack (CHI OLB)
My Pick: Steelers win 22-19, Bears cover, over 40 points