NFL picks, week 9
N.Y. Jets at Buffalo (-5.5) - Buffalo is 5-2 and tied for the division lead. The Jets are not. The Jets are coming off a narrow escape at home against the woeful Chiefs, while the Bills are recovering from a road loss at the hands of the improving Dolphins. If the Jets are going to be serious competitors this year, they'll find a way to win this game. I rather think that they won't.
Detroit (+13) at Chicago - Have I really got my (entirely theoretical) money riding on the Lions? Again? Apparently. Yes, the Bears scored something like 897 points last week, but sometimes I'm slow - I don't buy them as a 13 point favorite against anyone. Not even the Lions. They'll win, of course, but not by 13 or more.
Jacksonville (-8) at Cincinnati - I asked this last week, I ask it again - "where's the evidence that Jacksonville can beat anyone by a touchdown?" Of course, Cincinnati's not just anyone. I have little confidence in the Jaguars, but I think the Bengals are capable of losing by double digits to anyone.
Baltimore at Cleveland (-1.5) - OK, the Ravens have a better record than the Browns. Ok, they've scored more points and allowed fewer. I think that Cleveland's a team that's starting to figure it out, and they'll win at home.
Tampa Bay at Kansas City (+9) - The Chiefs beat the Broncos at home. They won't beat the Buccaneers, but I think it's a touchdown loss, or less.
Houston at Minnesota (-4.5) - A cursory look at the standings suggests that 47 of the NFL's 32 teams are currently 3-4. These are two of them. Any given Sunday, these teams could win, lose, or beat up on the Colts and lose late. Minnesota's at home, and was more highly thought of in the pre-season. I didn't agree with that, of course, but if there's a compelling reason to pick Houston, I'm not aware of it.
Arizona at St. Louis (+3) - I mocked the Rams coaching change. To quote Arthur Fonzarelli, "I was wr...wr...wr...wr...wr...I was wr...wr...wr..." Despite losing last week, I see St. Louis as a team still on a roll, and the Cardinals as a team that is too up-and-down to count on.
Green Bay (+5.5) at Tennessee - Let down game for the Titans, who are a good team, but not a team that's a threat to go undefeated. They're coming off a big division win on Monday night, and due for a bad week. Green Bay wins outright.
Miami at Denver (-3) - If the only information one had about these two teams were their games in New England, the Dolphins would be favored by 30. That's not the only information we have. The Dolphins will score, but the Broncos will score more. This is another game that's very likely to end in a push, with the Broncos winning by exactly 3, but I don't feel quite certain enough about it to pick it, so I'll pick them to cover.
Dallas at N.Y. Giants (-9) - This is always a marquee matchup, I suppose, but what looked like a great game a month ago looks like a mismatch today.
Atlanta (-3) at Oakland - The Falcons are a better team. The better team doesn't always win, of course, but it's the way to bet.
Philadelphia (-7) at Seattle - Congratulations to the Seahawks, who looked like an actual NFL team last week in San Francisco. Anyone see two in a row? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone? No, I didn't think so.
New England (+5.5) at Indianapolis - I could try to come up with rationalization and justification for this. I could point to New England's superior record (5-2 vs. 3-4), or talk about how easily the Colts could be 1-6, as meltdown's by the Vikings and Texans handed them 2 of their 3 wins. But I won't bother. No one expects the Patriots to win in Indy without Brady, and I'm picking them regardless.
Pittsburgh at Washington (-1.5) - On a scale of 0-Giants, where are the Redskins? If the Steelers lose to New York at home, does that imply that they're likely to lose to Washington on the road? I don't know the answer to those questions, but I'm taking Washington anyway.