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2022 NFL Game Picks: Week 9

Last week: 10-5

Season: 70-52-1


PHI (7-0) @ HOU (1-5-1)

Thursday, November 3 | 8:15 PM ET | Prime Video


Thursday Night Football will be a homecoming for MVP candidate Jalen Hurts as he heads to Houston, and there is zero reason to believe he’ll be impacted by trying to put on a show based on how level-headed and focused the 24-year-old is. Hurts has been quiet for a couple of games in a row as a runner, but I think—like last week when he threw for 285 yards and four touchdowns—we could see another downfield aerial assault from Philadelphia’s offense; in addition to A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert, keep an eye on Quez Watkins getting behind the defense at some point tonight. Unfortunately for the Texans, it’s highly unlikely that they will be able to make tonight as competitive as the Phillies-Astros matchup in the World Series (especially with Brandin Cooks looking unlikely to play), but maybe they’ll pull off a shocking upset based on how upside-down this year has been in the NFL.


Winner: Philadelphia Eagles


LAC (4-3) @ ATL (4-4)

Sunday, November 6 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


Teams usually get healthier coming off the bye week, but that is not the case with the Chargers as Keenan Allen (hamstring) suffered a setback during individual training and is likely to be out along with other stars Mike Williams (ankle), Joey Bosa (groin), and J.C. Jackson (knee, season). That puts a lot on Justin Herbert and Austin Ekeler versus a scrappy Atlanta team, and veteran runner Sony Michel could also see an increased role with the Falcons having just been rumbled on by D’Onta Foreman for 118 yards and three touchdowns on 26 attempts. For the Los Angeles defense, they didn’t do a great job containing Marcus Mariota when he came off the bench a couple of times against them over the past two years with the Raiders—as he combined to rush 13 times for 111 yards and a touchdown, including a near overtime upset in relief of Derek Carr two seasons ago. The Chargers were my original pick with the bye to figure some things out and hopefully get Herbert healthier coming off his rib injury, but I have more faith in Arthur Smith than I do Brandon Staley, and Atlanta gets them at home for an early kickoff.


Winner: Atlanta Falcons


MIA (5-3) @ CHI (3-5)

Sunday, November 6 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


A rocket-powered supporting cast with Tyreek Hill joining Jaylen Waddle and the creative Mike McDaniel being hired as head coach obviously helped, but a lot of people look foolish for previously writing off Tua Tagovailoa—who went 13-8 in his first two seasons and showed definite signs of promise for Miami. I said multiple times that Tua was the type of quarterback that might take more time to develop because his top trait (elite processing) just needed to fully adjust to the NFL game, and franchises in general failing to give quarterbacks time to develop has become a major problem throughout the league in my opinion. Justin Fields is in a similar boat to the one Tagovailoa was in, but the Bears have wisely decided to unleash him as a runner, and trading for Chase Claypool gives Chicago another weapon that can make things easier on their quarterback with designed touches; if Fields is going to become a top signal-caller, though, it will need to be in the Cam Newton mold rather than being a distributor like Tagovailoa. This week, the addition of Bradley Chubb for Miami’s defense should boost the entire unit, while the Bears could struggle to overcome the loss of Roquan Smith in the middle.


Winner: Miami Dolphins


CAR (2-6) @ CIN (4-4)

Sunday, November 6 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


A disappointing loss to the Browns on Halloween pushed the Bengals down to .500, and Sunday is a very important game to build momentum before a brutal schedule kicks in following their Week 10 bye (@ PIT, @ TEN, v KC, v CLE, @ TB, @ NE, v BUF, v BAL). The absence of Ja’Marr Chase (hip) will be felt again this weekend with Tee Higgins set to draw coverage from Jaycee Horn on the outside, so Cincinnati needs to get Joe Mixon going on the ground after just eight attempts versus Cleveland—which will in turn keep Brian Burns and the Carolina pass rushers from pinning their ears back to get after Joe Burrow. On the other side of the ball, cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (knee) is a massive loss, but the Bengals drafting Cam Taylor-Britt earlier this year at least gives them a capable option to fill in and keep the cornerback group from becoming a weakness. For this matchup in particular, it’ll help that the rookie is an exceptional tackler as Cincinnati tries to keep D’Onta Foreman from setting the tone again following a career day in Week 8.


Winner: Cincinnati Bengals


GB (3-5) @ DET (1-6)

Sunday, November 6 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The Packers were unable to upset the Bills on Sunday night, but the game plan—featuring Aaron Jones (24 touches for 157 total yards) and AJ Dillon (11 touches for 63 total yards)—was exactly what they needed to do for it to be competitive, so there is reason to be encouraged about a turnaround. In addition to feeding their running backs, rookie wideout Romeo Doubs should have renewed confidence after a 4/62/1 line that included a highlight touchdown grab, and the team can only hope that the offense takes off when both David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins are healthy to form perhaps the best LT-LG duo in the league following reshuffling up front. On defense, All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander seemed to be another guy that regained confidence last week—one game after allowing the game-winning touchdown to Terry McLaurin—by simply talking trash to Buffalo’s pass-catchers, which is a good sign at a position you can’t succeed at if you lose confidence. Green Bay is only favored by 3.5 points in this NFC North battle, but it feels like Jared Goff needs to play a perfect game every week for the Lions to have a chance.


Winner: Green Bay Packers


LV (2-5) @ JAX (2-6)

Sunday, November 6 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


They aren’t yet halfway through the season, but optimism about a post-bye playoff push seems to be erased for the Raiders following a shutout loss to the Saints last week, and it’s clear to those that want to look at the situation without bias that Jon Gruden played a huge role in building Las Vegas into a contender before last year’s resignation. Just over a year later, I couldn’t tell you what the identity is for the Silver and Black, but the same could be said for this week’s opponent with the Jaguars losing five games in a row since a 2-1 start. Even with Travis Etienne Jr. handling a career-high 24 carries last week, it didn’t seem like he got the ball enough, and that might be due to the passing attack appearing lost and Trevor Lawrence making too many mistakes. Overall, the Raiders could have the advantage if the Jacksonville secondary that general manager Trent Baalke poured heavy resources into is unable to contain Davante Adams.


Winner: Las Vegas Raiders


IND (3-4-1) @ NE (4-4)

Sunday, November 6 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Carson Wentz. Matt Ryan. Marcus Brady. The blame game in Indianapolis is losing numbers, and soon general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich will run out of scapegoats for a franchise that has zero division titles in the lowly AFC South since Ballard was hired in 2017 and Reich came on board in 2018. The coaching issues are obvious with Jonathan Taylor not being featured correctly and the offense being far too pass happy for extended stretches over the years, but Ballard has received almost no media criticism for failing to find a long-term quarterback, left tackle, or pass rusher—all of which are key for building a championship-caliber roster. While the Colts have often won games they aren’t expected to (like versus the Chiefs earlier this season) to create false hope under the current regime, heading into New England with the inexperienced Sam Ehlinger under center has the potential to turn ugly if Taylor (ankle) is unable to suit up.


Winner: New England Patriots


BUF (6-1) @ NYJ (5-3)

Sunday, November 6 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


One player that no longer needs to deal with the issues in Indy is Nyheim Hines—who wanted to join a playoff contender and landed in the best spot possible with Buffalo being the current Super Bowl favorites. The pure speed of Hines immediately caught the attention of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs at practice, and the Bills will be even more difficult to defend when you have him working underneath with Diggs and Gabe Davis forcing opponents to respect the deep ball; I wouldn’t be surprised to see Allen’s newest weapon become a factor in his first game with the team after New York allowed Rhamondre Stevenson to catch seven passes for 72 yards last week against the Patriots, but the dividends will probably be paid off in future games when the playbook expands to get Hines on the field with Devin Singletary and/or James Cook. A possible blowout loss for the Jets—perhaps positioning themselves for a quarterback change if Zach Wilson struggles (Mike White was promoted to the No. 2 over Joe Flacco last week) and dealing with multiple unhappy players—can’t be something that causes a spiral following a promising start to the season.


Winner: Buffalo Bills


MIN (6-1) @ WAS (4-4)

Sunday, November 6 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


Taylor Heinicke again proved himself as a “gamer” with a win over the Colts last week, and there is no question that he should be named the rest-of-season starter based on what he’s shown whenever given the opportunity. The Commanders playing themselves squarely into the NFC playoff picture has come without star defensive end Chase Young (knee) this season, but he’s nearing a return, and rookie defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis (knee) is also close to returning after going down in the opener—adding those two would really boost a defense that has played much better in recent weeks. However, the Vikings have somehow flown way under the radar as a 6-1 team, and left tackle Christian Darrisaw is turning into a superstar on the blindside, so Washington passing on him in the 2021 NFL Draft is notable as they try to prevent Za’Darius Smith (8.5 sacks this season) from getting to Heinicke on Sunday.


Winner: Minnesota Vikings


SEA (5-3) @ ARI (3-5)

Sunday, November 6 | 4:05 PM ET | FOX


I’m already excited to watch the Cardinals on HBO’s Hard Knocks next Wednesday night, and the current regime—even after signing extensions in the spring—must be feeling the pressure with Arizona in danger of falling to 3-6 if they’re unable to cool off Geno Smith this weekend. The first meeting between these teams was essentially the start of Seattle’s defensive turnaround (15.0 points per game allowed during the three-game winning streak; 30.8 points per game allowed over the first five weeks), and Kyler Murray was sacked six times in a 19-9 loss for Arizona, so we’ll see how much of a difference DeAndre Hopkins makes in the rematch. I get the feeling it will be more high-scoring on Sunday, but the Seahawks have shown they can win in multiple ways, and the day Tyler Lockett had last week perfectly encapsulates what Pete Carroll’s squad is about with the wideout having two crucial mistakes (a lost fumble and a dropped touchdown) that were erased when Geno trusted him to catch what turned out to be the game-winning score.


Winner: Seattle Seahawks


LAR (3-4) @ TB (3-5)

Sunday, November 6 | 4:25 PM ET | CBS


The Rams and Buccaneers both being sub-.500 teams as we start November is a shock, but they haven’t looked like Super Bowl contenders this season and are deservedly fighting to get their way back there—with Sunday’s loser finding themselves in a very bad spot. Tampa Bay being without outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (Achilles) puts the spotlight on Joe Tryon-Shoyinka to breakout this week and beyond to prevent Todd Bowles’ defense from declining even further, and last year’s first-rounder at least has experience in this matchup after playing 78% of the defensive snaps in the 2021 regular season meeting. To make up for the loss of Barrett, I’d expect Devin White to be used more as a blitzer, and the athletic linebacker has always been at his best when able to attack, so it’s not a surprise that his play has declined with the team underperforming in general. I have definite concerns about the secondary being unable to contain both Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson II in man-to-man coverage, and rookie running back Kyren Williams could provide a spark in multiple ways for Los Angeles. However, Tom Brady is not only desperate to avoid a 3-6 start, but also seeking revenge for how last season ended… and I’m not betting against an angry TB12.


Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers


TEN (5-2) @ KC (5-2)

Sunday, November 6 | 8:20 PM ET | NBC


Two teams tied with the second-best record in the AFC facing off on Sunday Night Football is about the best you can ask for as a football fan, but oddsmakers have Kansas City as a double-digit favorite—which is understandable considering Andy Reid’s history coming off the bye (20-3 record) and the Chiefs being at home. Still, Derrick Henry has helped power the Titans to a victory in four of his five career matchups against Kansas City (including 1-1 in the playoffs), and the late October meeting last year was pure domination by Tennessee with a 27-3 victory; the unique situation gives Mike Vrabel the ability to play both the underdog card and the we-know-we-can-beat-them card, but the health of Ryan Tannehill (ankle) is crucial. At the same time, the Chiefs have more depth than ever on offense, so “the others” might be able to exploit the Titans if they are too focused on stopping Travis Kelce. Similar to Christian McCaffrey last week for the Niners, I’d be on alert for a pass from Kadarius Toney in his Kansas City debut.


Winner: Kansas City Chiefs


BAL (5-3) @ NO (3-5)

Monday, November 7 | 8:15 PM ET | ESPN/ESPN2


With a little help from this week’s opponent, the Saints quickly went from possible sellers to being right in the NFC South race, and the commitment to Andy Dalton under center—as Amazon’s Kirk Herbstreit pointed out a couple of weeks ago—seems to have steadied the offense because of his ability to get them in the right looks. Particularly when Michael Thomas (foot) and Jarvis Landry (ankle) are back, New Orleans has plenty of firepower, so Dalton just needs to hit the open man to support a defense that showed their potential with a shutout win in Week 8. The Ravens have an improving defense of their own, though, and Roquan Smith is a true superstar who provides the intimidation and playmaking ability that’s arguably been lacking since Ray Lewis retired. The Superdome environment will be a challenge, but Lamar Jackson’s ability as a runner and increased snaps for James Proche II can help overcome Baltimore having Gus Edwards (hamstring), Rashod Bateman (foot), and Mark Andrews out or at less than full health.


Winner: Baltimore Ravens