Besides a crazy finish in London, my picks were right on last week, finishing 4-1 and bringing the overall record back to even, at 19-19-2. Where last week was all about playing the favorites, this week is about the road teams looking to take their edge to the home teams. Let’s get over .500 this week, with these week 9 picks:
Detroit Lions +6 over Minnesota Vikings (1pmET): The Detroit Lions have been a surprise this year, and with a win over the suddenly-exposed Vikings, they get themselves right back in the playoff hunt. The Vikings defense has been faced with some injuries, and their offensive line struggles mean the offense is out of sync. The Lions should come in here and keep it close, so the points look like the better play.
Miami Dolphins -4 over New York Jets (1pmET): The division rivals are both riding a hot streak into this weekend’s match-up, but the Dolphins offense has really been the surprise. With Jay Ajayi at the helm and some excellent wide receiver play by Kenny Stills and the rest of the deep receiving core, the Dolphins should put up a ton of points against a weak Jets defense. The Jets can run up the score too, but the Dolphins should pull this off by at least a touchdown.
Carolina Panthers -3 over Los Angeles Rams (4pmET): The Carolina Panthers looked like the 2015 team rather than the 2016 team last week, and if they’re going to continue to get back on track, it very likely will be at the expense of the vulnerable Los Angeles Rams defense. Expect Cam Newton, Greg Olsen and Johnathan Stewart to put together a punishing victory over the Rams, who have been slipping further after a decent start. I could see this as a 20+ victory for the Panthers.
New Orleans Saints -4.5 over San Francisco 49ers (4pmET): Drew Brees has played like the Brees of old this season, and while he has historically struggled on the road, the 49ers are the road team you want to play to keep the momentum going. Their secondary is a mess, and Brandin Cooks and another of the excellent Saints wide receivers should be able to see the end zone. The running back situation is murky for the Saints, but Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower are both serviceable enough to move the ball and keep the score high. I could see the Saints winning by 10+ but it probably will be six or seven.
Denver Broncos +1.5 over Oakland Raiders (8:30pmET): An excellent Sunday night game between the yin and yang of the NFL – perhaps the best defense versus the best offense (at least, the most exciting). But is the Broncos defense just a little bit better than the Raiders offense? I think so. I’ll take my 6-1-1 record in Sunday night games to Oakland where the Broncos are somehow underdogs, and expect the Raiders high-powered offense to keep it close, but ultimately fall short against a professional, experienced Broncos team.