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NFL Week 9 predictions: Our picks against the spread

Tennessee Titans running back Adrian Peterson (8) and wide receiver Julio Jones (2) ran sprints with teammates Wednesday.

By Emmanuel Morgan

The NFL’s trade deadline was as notable for the players who didn’t get moved as for the players who did. The Los Angeles Rams added Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller to an already tremendous defense, but the long-rumored Miami Dolphins trade for Deshaun Watson did not come to pass, and Odell Beckham Jr. is still (at least nominally) a member of the Cleveland Browns.

This week’s injured/COVID-list designations have had a greater effect on betting lines than the league’s trades: The Tennessee Titans will try to remain relevant without Derrick Henry, and Aaron Rodgers’ positive coronavirus test has tremendously swung the odds of Kansas City beating his Green Bay Packers.

Below is a look at NFL Week 9, with all picks made against the spread.

All times are Eastern.

Last week’s record: 4-11

Byes: Buccaneers, Seahawks, Lions, Washington


Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Rams

8:20 p.m., NBC

Line: Rams -7.5 | Total: 53.5

Derrick Henry’s foot surgery is expected to keep him out at least six weeks, a devastating absence for the Titans (6-2), who have fed their workhouse running back a league-high 237 touches. His replacement, veteran Adrian Peterson, 36, probably won’t find success against the Rams (7-1), who just added Von Miller to an already formidable defensive front. Throwing against Los Angeles won’t be any easier, with the Titans’ Ryan Tannehill having to account for Jalen Ramsey in the secondary.

Tennessee can still be a playoff team if receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones get healthy (the status of Jones’ hamstring injury makes him questionable to play), but this is not a game that will help the Titans’ case. Pick: Rams -7.5

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

1 p.m., CBS

Line: Bengals -3 | Total: 46.5

This is essentially a must-win for the Browns (4-4), who are in last place in the AFC North and face a pretty insurmountable standings battle if they lose again to a divisional opponent. They declined to trade Odell Beckham Jr., and the organization’s stalemate with the unhappy receiver puts into question his availability for Sunday.

The Bengals (5-3), though, will be eager to show that their upset loss to the Jets was a fluke. After rushing for a mere 41 yards last week — its lowest total this season — Cincinnati will find a particular challenge against the Browns’ sixth-ranked rushing defense. Cleveland pass rusher Myles Garrett, the league’s sack leader (10.5), will be motivated to add Joe Burrow to his quarterback graveyard, and the Browns’ sense of urgency about moving out of last place should compel them to at least keep the score tight. Pick: Browns +3

Green Bay Packers at Kansas City

4:25 p.m., Fox

Line: Kansas City -7.5 | Total: 54.5

Kansas City (4-4) is not a good team at the moment. The defense has been atrocious, allowing the fourth-most passing yards (2,158) and the eighth-most rushing yards (974) in the NFL, and Patrick Mahomes has thrown a league-high 10 interceptions while trying to compensate for the team’s other mistakes.

But Kansas City, playing at home, went from +2.5 underdogs to -7.5 favorites with the news that Aaron Rodgers would miss this game after testing positive for the coronavirus. Still, the Packers (7-1) should have receivers Davante Adams and Allen Lazard back, and even with tight end Robert Tonyan out with a knee injury, backup quarterback Jordan Love should have more than enough targets to cut through a meager defense in his first NFL start. Pick: Packers +7.5

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers

4:25 p.m., Fox

Line: 49ers -1 | Total: 45

What a difference a week makes. The Cardinals (7-1) were undefeated through seven games, but a loss to the Packers last week and injuries to cornerstone players forced oddsmakers to downgrade Arizona to an underdog for this matchup. Quarterback Kyler Murray (ankle) and center Rodney Hudson (rib) are questionable, while defensive end J.J. Watt (shoulder) is done for the year.

Even if Colt McCoy has to step in for Murray, the Cardinals have enough offensive firepower to handle the 49ers (3-4), especially if Arizona’s defense makes quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo struggle. Pick: Cardinals +1


Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins

1 p.m., Fox

Line: Dolphins -7 | Total: 45.5

The trade deadline passed, and Tua Tagovailoa is still the starting quarterback of the Miami Dolphins (1-7). At least until March.

That’s the earliest an official swap with the Texans (1-7) for Deshaun Watson could be processed, if by then Watson has resolved the 22 accusations of sexual misconduct against him. The actual football contest between these teams will be overshadowed by that saga, with a win not proving much for either.

Miami played the Bills competitively last week, and the Texans traded their best running back, Mark Ingram, angering their top receiver, Brandin Cooks. The discord should be too much for Houston to surmount, even if Tyrod Taylor is able to start for the first time since Week 2. Expect the Dolphins to end a seven-game losing streak. Pick: Dolphins -7

Denver Broncos at Dallas Cowboys

1 p.m., Fox

Line: Cowboys -8.5 | Total: 49.5

The Cowboys (6-1) showed last week they could win without Dak Prescott, and he might take a day off against the Broncos (4-4), too. Denver traded linebacker Von Miller to the Rams this week in a white-flag move for the teetering franchise. Though Dallas cornerback Trevon Diggs and left tackle Tyron Smith are both questionable with ankle injuries, the Cowboys should cover the spread easily. Pick: Cowboys -8.5

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

1 p.m., Fox

Line: Saints -6 | Total: 43

Jameis Winston tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, and he will miss the remainder of the season for the Saints (5-2). If Taysom Hill is still in the concussion protocol, journeyman Trevor Siemian will start at quarterback against the Falcons (3-4). While coach Sean Payton and the offense adapt to yet another quarterback change, the Saints will lean on their defense, which has allowed the league’s second-lowest points total (128).

They will be able to focus on containing Atlanta’s rookie tight end, Kyle Pitts, since the Falcons will be without receiver Calvin Ridley, who stepped away from the team to attend to his mental health. Pick: Saints -6

New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers

1 p.m., CBS

Line: Patriots -3.5 | Total: 41

The Patriots (4-4) are riding a two-game win streak on the strength of an offense that’s found a rhythm, and a schedule that’s hit a weak stretch. Damien Harris has rushed for 100 yards in two of the past three games and has scored a touchdown in four consecutive weeks. Hunter Henry, one of two tight ends the Patriots signed in free agency this offseason, has scored a touchdown in four of the past five games, and rookie quarterback Mac Jones has looked more comfortable under center.

The Panthers (4-4) may be without Sam Darnold, who was concussed in last week’s loss. It’s unlikely that his backup, P.J. Walker, will find much success against a Bill Belichick defense. Pick: Patriots -3.5

Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars

1 p.m., CBS

Line: Bills -14.5 | Total: 49

The spread, while lopsided, is about right. The Bills (5-2) are one of the best teams in the NFL while the Jaguars (1-6) are one of the worst. Josh Allen and the Buffalo offense should have their way with a Jacksonville defense that has allowed the fifth-most passing yards per game (278.1). Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars’ offense will struggle against the Bills’ top-ranked defense (1,883 yards allowed). Bet on Buffalo with confidence. Pick: Bills -14.5

Las Vegas Raiders at New York Giants

1 p.m., CBS

Line: Raiders -2.5 | Total: 46.5

The Raiders (5-2) are talented enough offensively to score frequently against the Giants (2-6), while Daniel Jones could again be without his top targets, who were forced out of last week’s loss to Kansas City by injuries — Sterling Shepard (quad), Kadarius Toney (thumb) and Dante Pettis (shoulder). It’s also unknown if Kenny Golladay (knee) will return from a three-game absence.

Las Vegas should cover the spread relatively smoothly, even without receiver Henry Ruggs III, whom the team released Tuesday because of his role in a fatal car crash. Pick: Raiders -2.5

Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Ravens

1 p.m., Fox

Line: Ravens -5.5 | Total: 49.5

Don’t expect The Vikings (3-4) to contain the Ravens (5-2) after they could not even beat Dallas’ backup quarterback last week. Lamar Jackson is not Cooper Rush, and Jackson should salivate over competing against Minnesota’s defense, which allowed Rush to throw for 325 yards. Baltimore receiver Sammy Watkins (hamstring) and running back Latavius Murray (ankle) could return from their injuries after the team’s bye. Pick: Ravens -5.5

Los Angeles Chargers at Philadelphia Eagles

4:05 p.m., CBS

Line: Chargers -1.5 | Total: 50

Fans of the Chargers (4-3) should start to be concerned. The defense has allowed the second-most rushing yards this season (1,116), a flaw that has been on display in back-to-back losses. The Eagles (3-5) had their best rushing game of the season against the Lions last week, running for 236 yards without starting back Miles Sanders (ankle), who was placed on injured reserve.

Chargers coach Brandon Staley is considered one of the best defensive minds in the league, but expect opponents to exploit his team on the ground until he adjusts. The underdog Eagles could ride Boston Scott and Jordan Howard to an upset. Pick: Eagles +1.5


Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers

8:15 p.m., ESPN

Line: Steelers -6.5 | Total: 40

Justin Fields’ highlight touchdown scramble last Sunday happened because the Bears’ offensive line, which has allowed the most sacks in the NFL (30), again broke down and forced the rookie quarterback to escape the pocket.

The Bears (3-5) drafted Fields 11th overall this year in part because of his ability to make unscripted plays, but Chicago’s faulty pass protection leaves him without other options. The Steelers (4-3) traded pass rusher Melvin Ingram to Kansas City this week, and even without him, Pittsburgh should rattle the young passer and cover the spread. Pick: Steelers -6.5

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