Halloween proved to be a day for backup quarterbacks as three teams used their QB2 to dial up an unexpected W. Now, as November arrives, the teams on the losing end of those upsets and others who are dealing with injuries to key players will look to regroup and look forward in their quest for the playoffs. So, with Detroit, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington sitting out this week, here are my previews and predictions for all the week nine action in the NFL.
NY Jets (2-6) at Indianapolis (3-5): Just as the November sweeps weeks arrive the NFL provides us with this “clash” between two teams going nowhere in 2021. Unlike the hosting Colts, who saw their AFC South rival Tennessee finish a season sweep last week, the Jets actually beat the Titans earlier this season. New York followed up that win with one over the AFC North leaders from Cincinnati last week, explaining what happened to the betting line from this game. This game opened with Indy as a 14.5-point favorite; yet after last week’s results, bettors have dropped the line to Colts -10.5 in a matter of hours. More than half the early money coming in on this game is being bet on the Jets despite being on the road and a short week. Bettors are clashing with the computers who in some places are prediction a 30+ point win for Indianapolis, which is why the money leveled off in this game. Taking the points is a temping play here since the Jets first year head coach Robert Saleh does have the defense playing well, and with the infusion of QB Mike White, lightning may have been trapped the bottle. I don’t see it however simply because the Colts still have playoff dreams, albeit dim once. My pick is the Colts -10.5 to win and cover Thursday.
Atlanta (3-4) at New Orleans (5-2): The Saints might be the perfect football example of a team winning the battle but losing the war last week against Tampa Bay. Yes, New Orleans did defeat the defending Super Bowl champs; but they did it with a backup QB after Jameis Winston was lost for the season to a knee injury. Even with the Saints playing games with who will be their QB this week, they are a 6-point favorite in this NFC South matchup after what little offense the Falcons had at the start of the season seems to be all but gone. That’s because WR Calvin Ridley decided to take some time away from the NFL for his mental health, and without anyone on the outside, rookie TE Kyle Pitts is being double teamed, taking him away from QB Matt Ryan. New Orleans is a better team who is playing much better right now, so barring any major or frequent mistakes from their QB position, laying the six points, and taking the Saints is the smart play here.
Buffalo (5-2) at Jacksonville (1-6): The horror show that is the return of Urban Meyer to football continues this week as the Jaguars host the AFC East leaders. The Bills are playing well despite slipping to the fourth in the AFC Playoff picture. Continuing to play in the week division they do as well as facing teams like the Jaguars will only make it easier for Buffalo to improve that position over the second half of the season. The Bills Mafia will head to the Florida panhandle as a 14.5-point favorite and not covering this spread should be considered a loss in the standings. Buffalo has no reason to lose this game other than overlooking Jacksonville; Bill -14.5 to win/cover.
Cleveland (4-4) at Cincinnati (5-3): Just as a struggling Browns team needed this week, an angry Bengals squad coming off a loss to the Jets. Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield is playing hurt, and the Browns offense doesn’t look right yet this season, with the team playing up and down football on both sides of the ball, and in the process, not inspiring anyone to believe in them as a Super Bowl contender. Cincy’s loss to the Jets last week allowed the idle Ravens to take over the top spot in the AFC North by a half game, something which won’t be lost on Joe Burrow and company this week at home. The line opened with Cincy -3 and hasn’t slipped much, only down to 2.5-points with both the bettors by a 2-to-1 ratio and the computers all believing the Bengals will bounce back in The Jungle and win. With Joe Burrow making a believer out of me and Baker Mayfield proving to have reached his ceiling as QBs, Cincy is the better team with the better offensive players … and with motivation and focus, the Bengals -2.5 is my play here.
Denver (4-4) at Dallas (6-1): The Cowboys played in Minnesota without Dak Prescott and still beat the Vikings on Sunday night, and this week they play host to the Broncos, who broke a four-game losing streak earlier in the day against Washington. The line for this game is rising, starting at 7.5 and reaching Dallas -9.5 in a matter of two days as fans believe the Cowboys can run their winning streak to seven games. With Denver trading away LB Von Miller right before the deadline, the Broncos appear to understand that 4-4 is closer to the type of team they have rather than the one which started 3-0 in September. So, if Denver knows they are not that good, so should we, that’s why I am taking Dallas -9.5 to win and cover and stay among the teams with one loss.
Houston (1-7) at Miami (1-7): For the two worst teams record wise in the AFC, this is a game of what could have been for both teams as the Texans came close but refused to trade QB Deshaun Watson to the Dolphins last week. That leaves left Tua Tagovailoa to run the Miami offense at home this week as both they and Houston look to end seven-game losing streaks. Clearing this game has more of an impact on next spring’s NFL Draft than this year’s postseason chase, which is why in many circles this is an important contest. Miami comes into this game favorited by 6.5-points and with the computers predicting a three-touchdown win over Houston; something bettors agree with by a 3-to-1 margin. Miami is probably the better team, but in a game only family friends and two cities will watch, the Dolphins are the play by default, even with the 6.5-points being given up in order to cover.
Las Vegas (5-2) at NY Giants (2-6): The Giants AFC West tour continues this week after losing in Kansas City on Monday Night, they host the division’s leaders from the desert. This is one of those unfair scheduling since the Raiders are coming off their bye with the Giants on a short week and coming off a road game. Perhaps that is why bettors are giving up the three points required to pick the Silver and Black in this game, with over 90% of those with betting tickets taking the Raiders. New York played well enough to lose again against KC Monday, and with Daniel Jones doing everything he can to win, it would be nice for Big Blue fans to see their QB get a little support from his teammates, or at least not see them shoot themselves in the foot with mistakes. The Raiders have taking in some fresh air without Jon Gruden in the building anymore, which is why they are winning since their former head coach quit … those winning ways will continue this week with another win over the Giants. Taking Las Vegas -3.0 to win and cover at MetLife.
Minnesota (3-4) at Baltimore (5-2): To the Vikings gave their Sunday night game away to the Cowboys after allowing Cooper Rush to beat them late on their own home field. This week they travel to Baltimore for a game against the Ravens, who are coming off their bye week back in first place in the AFC North. Despite how close these teams look on paper, the stats have not shown in the standings, which is why the Ravens are a 5.5-point home favorite against a desperate team once again hoping to save their season with a win. The bettors and computers are in lockstep here with over 80% of those laying down some cash are taking the Ravens and the hard drives seeing a two-score win for Baltimore. Minnesota lost when Cooper Rush and the Cowboys passed the ball, not when they ran it; that’s why I am taking the Vikings +5.5 to keep things close in this game.
New England (4-4) at Carolina (4-4): If the season ended after last week the Panthers would have played their way into the postseason with their win over Atlanta. This week they play host to the Patriots, who posted an impressive win at the Chargers last week to get back to .500 on the season. The Patriots are favorited by four-points in this road game with over 90% of bettors giving up those points to try and win with QB Mac Jones and head coach Bill Belichick, who knows Carolina QB Sam Darnold well from his time with the Jets. The Panthers haven’t done much against good team except for their Week Two win over the Saints; but they are not the same team they were in September, they are worse, while the Patriots are getting better, as they often have under Belichick. That’s why taking New England -4 feels like the smart play in this contest.
LA Chargers (4-3) at Philadelphia (3-4): Despite their loss to New England last week, the Chargers would be the last team in the AFC Playoffs if the season ended last week. This week they travel east to take on the Eagles, who are still among the also-rans in the NFC despite their win last week over the Lions. By midweek the Chargers were a 1.5-point road favorite in this game with the computers seeing an equally close game under the early evening lights. The small spread has bettors jumping on LA by better than a 4-to-1 margin, perhaps knowing the Eagles have been a bad team to bet with this season, covering the spread in just two of their seven games. The Chargers are a better team and need to stay in the AFC West chase, something a win would help them do here. That’s why I am taking the Chargers -1.5 to pull out a close game and win.
Arizona (7-1) at San Francisco (3-4): How will the Cardinals take to losing their first game? They will find out in this NFC West matchup where they are a 2.5-point favorite at the 49ers. Three of the ‘Niners’ four losses this season have come on at Levi’s Stadium, the different between being in the playoff chase and being three games behind in the division and a half-game out of the final Wild-Card spot. Playing a divisional game is exactly what Arizona needed after losing to Green Bay two Thursdays ago; it will help refocus them and give them a chance to correct the mistakes they have made all season, mistake that were overlooked when they were undefeated. I have lost what little trust I had in ‘Niners’ head coach Kyle Shanahan this season; and it looks like the team has decided that Trey Lance is a sideshow to Jimmy Garoppolo at QB, with even the head coach knowing they have gone too far in trying to get Lance involved in the offense. Taking Arizona -2.5 points to win and cover to stay atop the NFC West at the season’s halfway mark.
Green Bay (7-1) at Kansas City (4-4): Will anyone have the guts to call this a potential Super Bowl preview after Kansas City struggled to beat the Giants at home Monday night and the short-handed Packers handed Arizona their first loss of the season? Most NFL insiders believe this was not slated to be a Sunday Night game for NBC because people didn’t believe Aaron Rodgers would play for the Packers this season; that’s why this is a late-afternoon windfall for Fox. The computers see a close game here, which is why the point spread only sees Green Bay as a one-point underdog; but the bettors, after seeing what they saw in their last games, are all over the Packers, with well over 90% of those betting taking the Packers and the point. As much as I hate to be in the overwhelming majority, it is difficult to say KC can defeat any above average team, something the Packers clearly are … that’s why the bet here must be Green Bay +1 to win outright.
Tennessee (6-2) at LA Rams (7-1): This game probably lost its best player when Titans RB Derrick Henry was lost to a foot injury last week; an injury that will keep him out of action anywhere from mid-December until 2022. Tennessee completed a season sweep of the Colts last week, making it difficult for Indy to surpass them in the AFC South standings, while the Rams moved into a virtual tie with the Cardinals last week after the Packers handed Arizona their first loss of the year. Without Henry in the lineup, and despite Adrian Peterson in the fold for the Titans, the computers are lined up against the Titans in this game, prediction a huge win for the hosting Rams even without the newly acquired Von Miller. Oddsmakers have this game at Rams -7.5 points, a line I would expect to rise over the weekend since, sadly, the Titans lost their best player just as they were getting ready to make a second half push towards the postseason. LA is the play here, so I am giving up the 7.5-points and taking the Rams by at least two scores.
Chicago (3-5) at Pittsburgh (4-3): What probably looked like a great game over the summer has landed on ESPN’s airwaves this week in what is only an important game for the Steelers. Pittsburgh would be the AFC’s sixth seed right now and with games against Chicago and Detroit over the next two weeks, have a chance to improve that positioning in a deep conference. The Bears travel for this Monday night game a 6.5-point underdog with a rookie quarterback who has created some highlight moments but has done much to impact Chicago’s play in the standings. That quarterback, Justin Fields, has played under the spotlights of primetime before, but never in Pittsburgh or in a game to save his team’s season; both of which he will face Monday night. Not a spot where I want to bet on an inexperienced player who as much to learn and little to offer his team. Taking Pittsburgh to win by at least ten points, covering the spread and keeping pace in the AFC North and the conference playoff picture.
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NFL Week Nine Previews And Predictions | TooAthletic.com