NFL
November 5, 2021

Week 9 NFL Game picks: One storyline And Pick for Every Game

Week 9 of the NFL season has already brought some interesting drama. Odell Beckham was released by the Cleveland Browns after the trade deadline, and the Thursday Night Football matchup was an exciting tussle between the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets. Hopefully, this is a sign of a great Sunday to come.

Injuries have hit hard across the league, leaving numerous favorites down important playmakers. The storylines go well beyond the obvious though, and we're going to break down the key question within each matchup in Week 9.

This storyline will determine the matchup's outcome. I'll also provide a pick for each game, with odds courtesy of BetMGM.

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (Sunday, November 7 at 1:00 p.m. ET)

Storyline: Is Taysom Hill the answer?

Much has changed in a flash in New Orleans. Jameis Winston's torn ACL put an end to his tenure, and now the Saints are going back to Taysom Hill. Hill is a great athlete but limited passer, which will be a cap on what was already an underwhelming offensive campaign for the franchise.

Atlanta has been surging of late, even in close losses. New Orleans has an elite roster, but this is a considerable amount of points. Atlanta hasn't lost by more than six since their opening two games. They cover this week.

Pick: Falcons +6.5 (-110)

Denver Broncos at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday, November 7 at 1:00 p.m. ET)

Storyline: How banged up is Dallas?

Dallas has been stellar this season, going 6-1 overall and 7-0 ATS. On paper, they are one of the most well-rounded teams in the NFL despite some issues at corner. Denver should be able to hang with them though, as they have arguably an even deeper roster.

The offensive struggles for Denver have been real. They've scored more than 19 points just once since late September. With Dallas banged up and coming off two close wins, I can see Denver putting enough together to cover this aggressive line that has dropped to 7.5 at some books.

Pick: Broncos +10 (-110)

Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars (Sunday, November 7 at 1:00 p.m. ET)

Storyline: Is this a trap game?

Buffalo has been crushing lesser opponents since Week 1, and have been competitive with similar Tier 1/Tier 2 foes. Jacksonville has been feisty in some matchups but are extremely hard to predict every week. They have less talent than the Bills and no real answer for Josh Allen.

This will be interesting to see how the Jaguars attack the Bills' top-ranked defense, but that won't result in a competitive game.

Pick: Bills -14.5 (-110)

Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins (Sunday, November 7 at 1:00 p.m. ET)

Storyline: Will Tyrod continue to dominate Miami?

Make no mistake about it, this is a game of two bad teams. It's easy to see why Houston is bad; they have poor roster construction and lack playmakers on both sides of the ball. But for Miami, it's not so simple, and it's inexcusable.

This offense finally showed signs of life against Atlanta but has done little else for the majority of the season. Miami has all of the playmaking talent needed to be competitive but their trench play has disappointed. It's hard to win when playmakers are marginalized to this degree.

Houston's offense has struggled as much as their defense, though. I can't see how even Tyrod Taylor's return will be enough to punish Miami's struggling but talented defense.

Pick: Dolphins -5.5 (-110)

New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers (Sunday, November 7 at 1:00 p.m. ET)

Storyline: Can Sam Darnold stop the skid?

New England is coming off two needed wins against the lowly Jets and the sliding LA Chargers. Scoring 71 combined points in those matchups, it's clear the Patriots are doing an excellent job coaching to their strengths and picking apart opponents' weaknesses. There's a reason offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is one of the finest in the NFL.

Carolina, while sliding themselves, will need Sam Darnold to overcome the demons Bill Belichick instilled into him while with the Jets. I struggle to see the Patriots suddenly allowing Darnold to become a solid passer after his regression this year.

Pick: Patriots -3.5 (-110)

Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Ravens (Sunday, November 7 at 1:00 p.m. ET)

Storyline: Can the Vikings' defense step up?

The common opinion is usually that an offense with a $35 million quarterback, superstar receiver Justin Jefferson, rusher Dalvin Cook, and stud receiver Adam Thielen should be a top-eight unit each year. Minnesota has produced efficiently and gains yards like a top-eight group, but is stuck at 18th in scoring this season. Tough outings against Cleveland, Detroit, and Dallas in the last month have exposed their red zone issues.

Baltimore's defense is certainly vulnerable to giving up big plays, but they're coming off a bye week and have a big advantage against a struggling Vikings defense. I think the Ravens re-establish their run game this week and plow through Minnesota at home.

Pick: Ravens -6 (-110)

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (Sunday, November 7 at 1:00 p.m. ET)

Storyline: Was Odell just a scapegoat?

The Browns continue to disappoint offensively. Now without Beckham and a bevy of injuries that have usurped their upside, it's time to bet against the Browns' once-promising talent. The Bengals have plenty of offensive firepower to put up against an inconsistent defense but not enough to clear the total themselves.

This line is set based on Cincinnati's massive offensive explosions lately, and the fact they allowed 34 to New York. However, this is a rivalry game, so expect a lower-scoring affair where the home team wins.

Pick: Under 47 (-110)

Las Vegas Raiders at New York Giants (Sunday, November 7 at 1:00 p.m. ET)

Storyline: How do the Giants score?

The Raiders have been without several playmakers throughout the year and the status of Darren Waller is in the air for Sunday. Waller needs to play for this bet to be attractive. Otherwise, the Raiders' offense will be stretched even thinner.

With Waller and Josh Jacobs, the Raiders have created a top passing attack as Derek Carr is playing the best football of his career. The Giants' secondary has struggled despite the raw talent and is vulnerable to any decent quarterback. I don't see how they'll match up with the Raiders and slow them down.

On the other side, the Giants' injuries at receiver and lack of talent at quarterback have been glaring. The Raiders have a solid pass defense and will constrict on the Giants' passing game. I don't see the Giants staying within a field goal of the Raiders as their offense continually bogs down in key moments.

Pick: Raiders -3 (-115)

Los Angeles Chargers at Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday, November 7 at 4:05 p.m. ET)

Storyline: Do the Chargers wake up?

The Chargers have been struggling over the last three weeks as Justin Herbert and the passing game have slowed down. The good news is they're facing a Philadelphia team that isn't overly good and is not well-coached. Los Angeles may have to travel across the country but they are the better team and has the motivation to get on track.

The Eagles' offense will struggle against the versatile Chargers' defense. Jalen Hurts still needs to prove he's a winning, difference-making quarterback. I expect the Chargers to win comfortably, so getting two points is an automatic play.

Pick: Chargers -1.5 (-110)

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (Sunday, November 7 at 4:25 p.m. ET)

Storyline: Who plays for Arizona?

Both Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins are likely out for Arizona, meaning we're seeing a highly limited version of the Cardinals this week. If Kyle Shanahan loses this game with the majority of Arizona's top talent out, he should start feeling the hot seat. It's as simple as that.

Pick: 49ers -1.5 (-110)

Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, November 7 at 4:25 p.m. ET)

Storyline: Is Jordan Love ready?

The bizarre Aaron Rodgers situation aside, this will be a fascinating matchup. Kansas City needs this game to get over the .500 hump and get to tee off on Jordan Love. Love, who has looked both good and awful at times in the preseason, gets a grand audition for the 2022 starting job.

Kansas City isn't normally better than the Packers, and I had Green Bay penciled in as my pick until Rodgers was ruled out. I think Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid overcome their self-inflicted mistakes and pull out a solid win at home.

Pick: Chiefs -7 (-110)

Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Rams (Sunday, November 7 at 8:20 p.m. ET)

Storyline: Does Adrian Peterson take over?

Some projections have this game as a blowout in favor of the Rams but the Titans are still a team with plenty of offensive firepower. The question is how ready their aging cast of stars is to compete with the mighty Rams? Adrian Peterson will be thrust into a role he's taken on before and shined, so if he takes over this game, they can cover.

More likely, Peterson and Julio Jones are solid but not enough to slow the Rams from throwing all over the Titans' injured secondary. I like the Rams to cover, but don't love this line over one touchdown.

Pick: Rams -7.5 (-110)

Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday, November 8 at 8:20 p.m. ET)

Storyline: Where did the Bears' defense go?

There's no question the Bears' offense has been struggling this year, but the defense has been notably awful over the last two weeks as well. They've allowed 38 and 33 points to the Buccaneers and 49ers, respectively. Pittsburgh certainly lacks the overall talent to easily replicate that output, but they can take advantage of an undisciplined and struggling unit.

Instead of a tough spread, I like the over. Justin Fields has David Montgomery back this week and their speed can overcome some of their schematic issues.

Pick: Over 39.5 (-115)

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