NFL Picks: Week 9
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Minnesota Vikings @ Baltimore Ravens
WHERE: M&T Bank Stadium
WHEN: 1:00pm ET
SPREAD: Ravens -5 | O/U: 49.5
We're getting a very interesting clash in Baltimore this week, with both the Ravens and the Viking looking for success after some disappointing losses in their past matches. Baltimore had two weeks to prepare for this game after that shocking defeat against the Cincinnati Bengals, while the Vikings look to bounce back after the Cooper Rush-led Dallas Cowboys defeated them last week. I expect the Ravens to grab the win at home in this one, but considering their sloppy performance against the Bengals, the Vikings can cover the number.
So, I'd rather look at the total for this one – it's high. Minnesota should struggle to score in this one, as Baltimore has one of the best rush defenses in the league. The Bengals managed to defeat the Ravens with Joe Burrow stretching the field really well and completing some impressive long plays to his wide-receivers. The Vikings should have a similar strategy in this one, but I don’t see Kirk Cousins putting a big performance on the road here. On the other hand, Baltimore’s offense is a “one-man show” so far this season, with Lamar Jackson holding all the cards. I don’t see either team putting a lot of points on the board, take the under on the total in this one.
Pick: Under 49.5 points -106
Los Angeles Chargers @ Philadelphia Eagles
WHERE: Lincoln Financial Field
WHEN: 4:05pm ET
SPREAD: Eagles +1.5 | O/U: 50
After a disappointing loss at home against the New England Patriots last week, the Los Angeles Chargers are going on the road to grab a win for their playoff aspirations. This should be a good spot for Justin Herbet and his teammates to get back to winning ways, as they will face a Philadelphia Eagles team that struggled against top offenses this year.
It hasn’t been hard to have big offensive performances against the Eagles this year, as both the Chiefs and the Cowboys put 40+ on the board against them. Their defense is not as good as it looked against the Detroit Lions last week, and their offense is definitely not good enough to keep up in a shoot-out against the Chargers. So I expect this to be a routine success for the Chargers, and we can grab them to win at an excellent price.
Pick: Los Angeles Chargers to win (moneyline) -126
Tennessee Titans @ Los Angeles Rams
WHERE: SoFi Stadium
WHEN: 8:20pm ET
SPREAD: Rams -7.5 | O/U: 53.5
The Tennessee Titans will be traveling to California this Sunday for their first game without Derrick Henry. I like the Rams in this spot, as they looked great in “big games” so far this season. Matthew Stafford seems 100% locked-in at this point of the season, and I would be quite surprised if they don't grab an easy win against an injury-riddled Titans team. Besides Henry missing from their offensive unit, Julio Jones is also questionable. Even if he plays, I don’t expect him to be 100%.
Without Henry in the line-up, Tennessee will have to look to Tannehill to create a lot of big plays to keep up with the Rams offense, and against one of the best defenses in the country, that scheme could turn into a bloodbath on the scoreboard quite fast. I think the Rams win this match by 10+ points, so I will happily back the home favorite.
Pick: Los Angeles Rams -7.5 -110
Chicago Bears (3-5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)
WHERE: Heinz Field
WHEN: Nov 8th 8:15pm ET
SPREAD: Steelers -3 | O/U: 40
Two post season teams from 2020 meet on Monday night. Pittsburgh, the 12-4, 3rd seeded 2020 AFC North champions are currently the 6th overall seed in their conference. The Steelers are out to a 10% chance to repeat as divisional winners and are a 40% shot to make the post season. The Chicago Bears sneaked into the 2020 playoffs as the 7th seed in the NFC. They’ve fallen to a current 13th seeding and post season participation is down to single percentage points. Both teams have similar offensive problems that revolve around their respective quarterbacks. A 39-year-old Ben Roethlisberger for the hosts and the newly installed Justin Fields in Chicago.
The 2018 season was the last year Roethlisberger featured as a top five QB. He missed most of 2019 with an elbow injury and slid down the ratings thereafter. He’s thrown at just below average efficiency, overall in 2021, but the running game has been sub-par. The Steelers are running nearly half a yard shorter per attempt compared to the average quality of the defenses they’ve faced. Big Ben’s been in the bottom third for quarterback rating for most weeks in 2021, sacks have already surpassed 2020’s total and the days of 7.5 yards per attempt and 30 touchdown seasons have long gone. Pittsburgh are at least committing to their poor, but improving run game, hoping for an occasional big QB play and trusting to typically above par defense to stifle points. They have a top 10 rated defense, but the game plan is still stuttering.
Chicago drafted Fields to learn from Andy Dalton, but injury to the prioritized latter has pushed the unprepared former into an offense designed for Dalton and face to face coaching has also been hampered by Covid outbreaks.
It’s been at times a painful experience. Three times Fields has delivered that week’s worst QB performance, he’s averaging around one and a half fewer yards per pass attempt compared to par and although the ground game is slightly better than average, it is little help in a pass dominated league.
He’s been sacked 26 times on just 158 pass attempts, but he did run for over 100 yards in week 8 as Fields improvised and the Bears now need to evolve to utilize his strengths. The Bears defense is no better than league average, better against the pass than the run, they are also dealing with injuries, particularly in the pass rush and a franchise low performance against San Francisco, last week.
The Steelers’ average 18.9 points per game on offense and the Bears just 15.4 and that obviously points towards a low scoring affair. Scoring rates suggest a final score line of 21 – 13 in favour of the hosts and at the current prices there is a small amount of value in taking Pittsburgh to cover the spread of just below a touchdown, but preference is to side with a heavy dose of running and the total to go under.
Pick: Under 40 points