Home / frontnfl / 2023 NFL Game Picks: Week 9
Ben Green/Buffalo Bills

2023 NFL Game Picks: Week 9

Last week: 10-6

Season: 76-46


TEN (3-4) @ PIT (4-3)

Thursday, November 2 | 8:15 PM ET | Prime Video


The schedule-makers tried loading up on big matchups in every window for the first week of November, and Will Levis leading Tennessee to a win over Atlanta last week helped stabilize Titans-Steelers as a game between two playoff hopefuls. For as good as Levis was in his debut, though, Pittsburgh has an aggressive defense that will really test how well he can deal with pressure, so it’s important for Tennessee to lean on Derrick Henry—and this is the time of year where he typically begins to turn into a freight train (career 5.1 yards per carry in November). On the other side of the ball, a banged-up Kenny Pickett (rib) will play on a short week, and I don’t think the Titans will be able to check George Pickens on the outside with second-year cornerback Roger McCreary (hamstring) out again. If Pickett avoids mistakes and the Steelers are able to bottle up King Henry like they did in the last matchup (20 carries for 75 yards and one touchdown), getting to 5-3 should be the result at home.


Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers


MIA (6-2) @ KC (6-2)

Sunday, November 5 | 9:30 PM ET (Germany) | NFL Network


First place in the AFC is on the line in Germany this weekend, and it will be the first time Tyreek Hill faces his former team, so how the Chiefs attempt to defend him will be very intriguing. Through eight games, Hill has already surpassed 1,000 receiving yards on a career-high 11.7 yards per target, but Kansas City obviously didn’t miss him last season on their way to another Super Bowl victory. My guess is that Mike McDaniel will have plenty of new, creative ways to get Hill in single coverage throughout the game, and Jaylen Waddle showing signs of a full-blown emergence could make the Chiefs pay if they put too much attention on their former game-breaking weapon. That said, the bigger concern for Kansas City right now is on offense, and Jalen Ramsey returning last week has Miami’s defense primed to turn into a top unit under Vic Fangio. To break out of the struggles, I’d like to see Rashee Rice featured as the most consistent wideout for the Chiefs, but Ramsey and the Miami defense could be what gives them the edge in a huge conference showdown.


Winner: Miami Dolphins


MIN (4-4) @ ATL (4-4)

Sunday, November 5 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The No. 7 seed in the NFC is wide open as we reach the midway point of the season, and the unfortunate Achilles injury for Kirk Cousins is obviously a crushing blow to Minnesota’s outlook. Personally, I would have loved to see Jake Fromm—currently on the Washington practice squad—get a shot for the Vikings or one of the other quarterback-needy teams around the league, but Joshua Doubs was a very capable option for the Cardinals that has at least been playing real games for the past two months, so he’ll be ready to step in immediately. However, fifth-round pick Jaren Hall will be under center on Sunday and attempt to steady the ship in his first career start, and the rookie can have success if Atlanta doesn’t play better on the backend than they did versus Will Levis. The Falcons will also have a new quarterback under center with Taylor Heinicke getting the nod after entering in relief of Desmond Ridder in Week 8, and the results have been undeniable for the journeyman passer (5-3-1 record last year in Washington). Look for Heinicke to spark Bijan Robinson, Drake London, and Kyle Pitts while also making plays with his legs.


Winner: Atlanta Falcons


SEA (5-2) @ BAL (6-2)

Sunday, November 5 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Again, there is a great game in every window for Week 9, and Seahawks-Ravens features two division leaders with similar styles. The Seahawks probably have more firepower—including on defense—but Lamar Jackson is performing better than Geno Smith so far this season, and Seattle has to be a little concerned about their quarterback’s play thus far; in particular, the connection with DK Metcalf simply hasn’t been there. Another brilliant rookie class has at least made up for Smith not yet playing up to his 2022 level, as Zach Charbonnet (seven touches for 64 yards) and Jaxon Smith-Njigba (game-winning touchdown catch) boosted the offense in last week’s win over Cleveland, and the past two drafts have been franchise-changing for the Seahawks (and proof it shouldn’t take three-to-five years for a team to “retool” or “rebuild”). Still, Jackson has gone 17-1 against the NFC to begin his career, and his mobility could be a problem if the pass rush doesn’t get home for Seattle.


Winner: Baltimore Ravens


ARI (1-7) @ CLE (4-3) 

Sunday, November 5 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Kyler Murray (knee) and Deshaun Watson (shoulder) both remain uncertain for this weekend’s matchup, but the momentum seems to be trending towards one or both suiting up. If so, the advantage might shift to Arizona with Murray being determined to prove himself as the team’s franchise quarterback, and he’s stepping into a very good situation based on how impressive the coaching staff has been under Jonathan Gannon; the wins haven’t been there, but I love what the Cardinals have done by competing and looking more competent than other teams at the bottom of the standings. Coaching has also been boosted for the Browns this year, but Watson has played poorly enough when on the field that I’m not sure PJ Walker isn’t their best option under center. Based on the defensive dominance for Cleveland at home this season (3-1 record and 12.8 points per game allowed), they get the edge if they don’t look ahead to next week’s rematch against the Ravens.


Winner: Cleveland Browns


LAR (3-5) @ GB (2-5)

Sunday, November 5 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The Rams are another team with quarterback uncertainty as Matthew Stafford (thumb) missed practice to begin the week, and it’s easy to picture him playing through the injury but being ineffective with balls sailing for the opportunistic Green Bay defense—needing to step up as Jordan Love struggles—to take advantage of. Whether it’s Stafford or Brett Rypien at quarterback, I’d expect Sean McVay to lean on Royce Freeman and Darrell Henderson Jr. with Green Bay historically struggling to defend the run (despite some signs of improvement), and Cooper Kupp is due for a re-emergence with a combined 50 scoreless yards over the past two weeks. That’s doubly true with rookie Puka Nacua set to see a ton of Jaire Alexander, so increased opportunities for Tutu Atwell might be in the game plan this week. Overall, it’s tough to trust the Packers at this point with how the offense has looked, but the defense should step up in desperation mode with the upcoming schedule being extremely difficult (@ PIT, v LAC, @ DET, v KC).


Winner: Green Bay Packers


TB (3-4) @ HOU (3-4)

Sunday, November 5 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Tampa Bay nearly upset the Bills last week with a Hail Mary attempt falling harmlessly to the ground as Chris Godwin and everyone else failed to locate it, but the game frankly shouldn’t have been close with Buffalo letting them hang around in the second half. As Kirk Herbstreit alluded to, Baker Mayfield was late and inaccurate on some throws, and to me, Mike Evans almost seemed checked out for much of the night, so the Bucs are in a weird spot despite being right in the NFC South race. In general, Tampa Bay will be hoping to make C.J. Stroud uncomfortable early after Todd Bowles’ squad went 0-3 against rookie signal-callers last year, and the No. 2 overall pick might be asked to throw the ball more than last week (24 attempts) with the Texans struggling coming out of the bye. I like the Bucs to force a rare mistake out of Stroud (one interception on the year), and the duo of Rachaad White and Godwin to be featured again.


Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers


WAS (3-5) @ NE (2-6)

Sunday, November 5 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Ron Rivera and the current regime in Washington will be done after the season as team owner Josh Harris brings in his own people, and Tuesday was the start of the new regime leaving their imprint on the roster—with both of Chase Young and Montez Sweat being traded, two headlining pieces of a defensive line that was supposed to be the team’s strength. The organization will now have more draft capital to work with, and although I know many fans are sold on Sam Howell, one of the early selections being used on a quarterback should happen if the new general manager (assuming there is one) believes there is a prospect on the board that can be a franchise quarterback (hint: there will be). For this week, the coaches have suggested other options ready to step up could allow them to actually improve on defense, but I get the feeling that Mac Jones and the New England offense will get rolling and position themselves to make a run.


Winner: New England Patriots


CHI (2-6) @ NO (4-4)

Sunday, November 5 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Chicago was one of the teams involved in Washington’s deadline moves, and I agree with the heavy criticism about them sending a second-round pick (and likely an early second-round pick) for half a season of Montez Sweat. Even the best-case scenario doesn’t maximize the assets for the Bears, as signing Sweat to a long-term deal before he hits free agency would essentially mean a) he got an excellent contract by turning down the chance at free agency, and b) Chicago still traded an early second-round pick for someone they could have signed in free agency. The worst-case scenario? Sweat—who has maximum leverage considering what the team paid for his services—has no intention of signing with the Bears, so general manager Ryan Poles will have burned a premium pick for the second year in a row. One plausible explanation is that Poles feels his seat is heating up and they need to win some games down the stretch, and wanting to be more competitive to establish a stronger culture is at least a decent reason; but the move feels directionless to me (i.e. Poles simply wanted Sweat and acquired him), so it will be very interesting to see what kind of contract the former first-rounder gets… and who he gets it from.


Winner: New Orleans Saints


IND (3-5) @ CAR (1-6)

Sunday, November 5 | 4:05 PM ET | CBS


Bryce Young—who won his first NFL game last week—taking on Anthony Richardson (shoulder) seven days after battling C.J. Stroud would have been fun, but Carolina is probably happy to not face the dual-threat rookie, and the five-day stretch (with a matchup against Chicago next Thursday night) probably needs to be a sweep to have any hope of contending for a playoff spot. This weekend, both the Colts and Panthers could struggle to defend the run as the NFL’s two worst defenses in terms of rushing touchdowns allowed (15 for Indy and 14 for Carolina), and the two-headed backfield in Shane Steichen’s offense has been much more impactful than Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders—the latter of whom rushed twice for zero yards last week and is in the first year of a four-year, $25.4-million contract. This is a close pick because Young could be lights out without the pressure of zero wins hanging over him, but the Colts might know exactly how to defend Frank Reich’s offense.


Winner: Indianapolis Colts


NYG (2-6) @ LV (3-5)

Sunday, November 5 | 4:25 PM ET | FOX


A Halloween house cleaning was a shocker because of the timing with Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler being in their second year on the job, but team owner Mark Davis was fed up with the lack of progress—and you can’t really blame him. Last week, pass protection for Jimmy Garoppolo was as bad as I can remember it being for a quarterback, so I’m not sure going with rookie Aidan O’Connell gives them the best chance to win (as said by interim head coach Antonio Pierce), and it’s even a little disrespectful to Jimmy G in my opinion. The entire situation shows the importance of drafting well, though, and the Raiders didn’t do that over the past couple of years (and before that) to make it impossible for them to compete with Patrick Mahomes and others in the AFC West. Unfortunately, my fears about Las Vegas being out of contention by Christmas Day for a matchup against the Chiefs has likely come to fruition, and I’m holding out some hope that New York—with Daniel Jones back—can scrap some wins together ahead of their own Christmas trip to Philadelphia.


Winner: New York Giants


DAL (5-2) @ PHI (7-1)

Sunday, November 5 | 4:25 PM ET | FOX


There have been a couple of late-season matchups where the starters were pulled early, but Dak Prescott is 8-3 against the Eagles in his career—and despite Lincoln Financial Field being a daunting environment, the Philadelphia defense not living up to expectations thus far in 2023 makes it less intimidating than usual. Dallas appears to be clicking offensively with 43 points scored last week against the Rams, and playing through CeeDee Lamb (12/158/2) was a big part of it, so the Eagles need to have a plan to at least slow him down (unlike Round 2 last year when Lamb had 120 yards and two scores). Michael Gallup and Brandin Cooks could also be problems with how Philly has covered recently, but Jake Ferguson is the “X-factor” that I could see consistently finding open space on short-to-intermediate throws for Prescott. On defense, the Cowboys might try to replicate Washington’s success in stopping the “Brotherly Shove,” and I’m sure it’s something Dan Quinn has been thinking about for months. All that said, Jalen Hurts is coming in hot after four passing scores last week, and A.J. Brown is white hot with no signs of slowing down.


Winner: Philadelphia Eagles


BUF (5-3) @ CIN (4-3)

Sunday, November 5 | 8:20 PM ET | NBC


Damar Hamlin might be a healthy inactive with just one appearance this season, but Sunday night will be an emotional game with him and the Bills returning to Cincinnati for the first time since he collapsed on the field last year. Thankfully, it should be an uplifting moment/night considering the remarkable recovery for Hamlin, and the Bills need to spin the emotions in a positive way to play at their best. Josh Allen showed some of that last Thursday night by taking more control both in pre-snap adjustments and during plays, and Dalton Kincaid enjoying a breakout game (5/65/1) can take the Buffalo offense to another level. For the defense, newly acquired cornerback Rasul Douglas will be immediately tested by a healthy Joe Burrow, so this is a game where Von Miller and Greg Rousseau both emerging would be awesome for the Bills with Leonard Floyd (6.5 sacks), Ed Oliver (5.0 sacks), and A.J. Epenesa (5.0 sacks) all already creating pressure up front. Joe Mixon needs to be slowed down after he rushed 20 times for 105 yards and a score in the win last January, but I like Buffalo to start the month by coming out victorious in the playoff rematch.


Winner: Buffalo Bills


LAC (3-4) @ NYJ (4-3)

Monday, November 6 | 8:15 PM ET | ESPN/ABC/ESPN2


As stated, top-tier matchups in primetime were clearly an emphasis for the league to begin November, and Zach Wilson’s play has stabilized New York in the wake of Aaron Rodgers’ Achilles injury to open the year. However, the Chargers do seem to beat up on inexperienced—or less than elite—quarterbacks, so Monday night is a big-time opportunity for Wilson to silence a lot of doubters and extend the Jets’ winning streak to four games. I’d expect a game plan for Los Angeles very similar to last week in the win over Chicago by trying to get an early lead and making Wilson beat them, but the defense needs to stay focused to avoid having Breece Hall pop off a chunk gain like the 50-yard touchdown he had last week against the Giants. If unable to consistently move the ball on offense, New York will need to find a way to stop Keenan Allen—who will be used in a role similar to the one CeeDee Lamb had in Week 2 when he caught 11 passes for 143 yards in a decisive win for Dallas.


Winner: Los Angeles Chargers