Week 9 of the NFL season is already here as we head toward the meat of the schedule. Most teams have played eight games already, which means they'll be passing the midway point of their schedule at halftime of this weekend's games. There are some intriguing games on the Week 9 slate, and these games have added intrigue due to all of the injuries and situations piling up around the league. Lying about being vaccinated, having your dad release hit videos on your quarterback, star players being injured ... this week has had it all.
We'll be taking a look at six different games on this week's schedule and deciding which side we'd rather be on. By talking through our thought process, the hope is that we can discover something that gives one side the edge over another. All lines are as of Friday morning and courtesy of BetMGM.
Would you rather lay 6 points with the Ravens or 6.5 points with the Steelers?
The Baltimore Ravens are coming off their bye week, and they're giving six points to the Minnesota Vikings at home. The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a huge win over the Browns to breathe life into their season. The Steelers are laying 6.5 points at home against the Bears. Which home favorite would you rather back?
Pete: There comes a time in every situation where you've had enough and you become fed up with something. I think I reached that point with the Vikings offense last weekend. When you have Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook, you should not be featuring C.J. Ham in your offense in a game at home against Cooper Rush. Mike Zimmer needs to go. On the other side, it's hard to back the Bears but I'm also far from impressed with the Steelers offense. Maybe Chicago keeps it close and loses a 20-16 type of game. I can see Baltimore rolling the Vikings coming off their bye, so I'm going with Baltimore.
Greg: Baltimore has morphed into a passing team, but the Vikings have been formidable against air attacks. Only two of the teams they’ve faced have thrown for more than 300 yards against them. Through seven games, Minnesota’s defense has given up nine touchdowns through the air, six by land, and zero by sea. The Ravens haven’t been able to generate consistent pressure on quarterbacks, and Kirk Cousins is one of the best QBs in the league when provided a clean pocket. That could be a deadly combination for a Baltimore team that’s surrendering nearly five deep completions per game. The Bears are the most-sacked team in the league, have thrown the least number of touchdowns, own the lowest QB rating, and are playing a prime-time game in Pittsburgh. Ummm, yeah, I’ll take the Steelers on this one.
Would you rather back the Saints as a 6.5-point favorite or the Dolphins as a 5.5-point favorite?
The New Orleans Saints have lost their starting quarterback, and they're coming off a huge win. New Orleans is a 6.5-point favorite at home against the Atlanta Falcons. The Miami Dolphins haven't won a game since Week 1, but they're still laying 5.5 points against the Houston Texans. Which ugly favorite are you backing?
Pete: This is a pretty easy one for me. I don't like laying points with awful teams. Miami is an awful team. New Orleans is not. With Tyrod Taylor back for the Texans, I think they can win this game outright. On the other side, Atlanta will likely be without Calvin Ridley, so the Saints just need to shut down Kyle Pitts and then there's not much else on the Falcons offense. Hopefully Trevor Siemian can move the ball enough, so give me the Saints.
Greg: This Texans-Dolphins game is already setting up to be a wild one. Miami is 1-7 but doesn’t own their first-round draft pick in 2022, so tanking doesn’t benefit it. The 1-7 Texans, who should be tanking at this point, announced that Tyrod Taylor is going to start. Taylor had the highest QBR in the league when he suffered a hamstring injury in Week 2 and gives them a much better shot at winning than Davis Mills. The worst scenario for both teams is a Houston win, which I think is going to happen.
Atlanta’s three victories this season are against teams who have a combined record of 5-19. Even if the Falcons had Calvin Ridley, I don’t think they would be able to do much against the Saints’ defense. I expect Sean Payton to take advantage of the Falcons’ many deficiencies. I’m marching with the Saints.
Would you rather back the Eagles as 1.5-point home underdogs or the 49ers as 1.5-point home favorites?
The Philadelphia Eagles are just 1.5-point home underdogs against the Los Angeles Chargers this weekend in a line that's hard to explain. On the other side, the San Francisco 49ers are favorites against the 7-1 Arizona Cardinals as Kyler Murray's status is in question. Which ugly line would you rather bet?
Pete: There's definitely something I'm missing with this Chargers-Eagles game because I absolutely love the Chargers here. I think these teams are not in the same class. The Chargers' offense has been disappointing, but the Eagles defense is only good against bad teams. On the other side, the 49ers gave the Cardinals a challenge earlier this season and probably could have won that game if Trey Lance performed anywhere near average. I like both of these sides, but with the chance Kyler is out, I'll take the 49ers here.
Greg: Both of these lines look like traps, except the Niners line movement seems to be indicating that Kyler Murray isn’t going to play. At the very least, he’ll be limited with a bad ankle. George Kittle looks like he’ll be active for San Francisco, which is a boost for both the passing game and the run game. Elijah Mitchell has rushed for over 100 yards in each of his last two outings and will face an Arizona defense allowing the second-most yards per carry.
There’s only been one contest this year where the Chargers held a backfield to less than 107 yards rushing. Over the last three weeks, they’ve been gashed by running backs for an average of 156.3 yards per game. I’m not sure how much that will matter against Philly, though. Brandon Staley can afford to stack the box a little more on defense and make Jalen Hurts beat the Chargers with his arm. The real X-factor in this game is how much pressure the right side of Los Angeles’ offensive line will allow to reach Justin Herbert. The Eagles' defense is ranked dead last in completion percentage, so if Herbert is granted time to throw, he’ll carve Philly like a bird. Give me the Niners.