Week 9 of the 2020-21 NFL season brings us some key matchups, some pitting good teams from opposite conferences against each other, and others unfolding the next chapter in key divisional races.
Thursday Night Football kicks off with a rematch of 2019’s NFC Championship, though with Jimmy Garroppolo on the sidelines, it’s hard to see the San Francisco 49ers blowing out the Green Bay Packers again.
Sunday night, all eyes will be on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints, fighting for effective control of the NFC South.
In the instances of “unrelated but good teams” meeting, the 6-1 Seattle Seahawks take on the 6-2 Buffalo Bills, and the 5-3 Chicago Bears face the 5-2 Tennessee Titans. While these results won’t matter for head-to-head reasons, these four teams are all looking for important wins in Week 9.
MVP Watch: Quarter Season
Week 1: 10-6
Week 2: 11-5
Week 3: 8-7-1
Week 4: 10-5
Week 5: 7-7
Week 6: 10-4
Week 7: 10-4
Week 8: 7-7
Overall: 66-38-1 (63% correct)
Week 8 was rough to me, with unexpected upsets and basically every toss-up not going my way.
Last week I incorrectly predicted:
- Panthers over Falcons (Carolina had been playing well, didn’t think the Falcons actually knew how to win)
- Patriots over Bills (didn’t think New England’s slide would continue, and to be fair, they had a chance)
- Titans over Bengals (thought this would be a no-brainer)
- Packers over Vikings (thought this was safe as well)
- Rams over Dolphins (Miami stayed hot, thanks in large to defense and special teams)
- Ravens over Steelers (a real toss-up, and a close game. I don’t feel bad about my pick)
- Chargers over Broncos (I had one thing right: a one-point margin of victory. Again, not a bad pick. If the game was 10 seconds shorter, Los Angeles would’ve won.
Thursday Night Football
Green Bay Packers (5-2) at San Francisco 49ers (4-4)
Line: Green Bay Packers (-6.0)
The Green Bay Packers have been less than dominant lately, and dropped a matchup with the Minnesota Vikings 28-22. But without Jimmy Garroppolo at the helm in Week 9, it’s hard to have much confidence in the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night. San Francisco did blow out Green Bay in last year’s NFC Championship game, and would probably beat the Packers again at full strength. But in these circumstances, it’s a Green Bay win.
Packers win 27-17, Packers win ATS
Sunday Day Games
Denver Broncos (3-4) at Atlanta Falcons (2-6)
Line: Atlanta Falcons (-4.0)
The Atlanta Falcons are probably favored due to their talented offense as well as coming off a victory over the Carolina Panthers. The Denver Broncos are no offensive juggernaut, but they did put up 31 points in a win over the Los Angeles Chargers. I’m not too sure how these teams match up, but I trust the Broncos to get it done more than the Falcons and their poor defense.
Broncos win 26-23, Broncos win ATS
Seattle Seahawks (6-1) at Buffalo Bills (6-2)
Line: Seattle Seahawks (-3.0)
These two teams have the same amount of wins, but I find the Seattle Seahawks to be far superior when compared to the Buffalo Bills (See where they both land in my Post-Week 8 Power Rankings.) Seattle’s defense is liable to make this game closer than it should be, as Buffalo doesn’t always show up against good teams.
Seahawks win 34-27, Seahawks win ATS
Chicago Bears (5-3) at Tennessee Titans (5-2)
Line: Tennessee Titans (-6.0)
Here we have two five-win teams each reeling on the heels of back-to-back losses. The Chicago Bears have been more competitive in those losses, but the Tennessee Titans had a more impressive peak at 5-0.
This game should tell us a little more about who these teams are going forward, and I’m having a hard time envisioning the outcome. I don’t think the Titans are bad enough to lose three straight, but I don’t think the Bears will be unlucky enough to lose another close one. Chicago edges out a low-scoring win in Tennessee.
Bears win 17-16, Bears win ATS
Baltimore Ravens (5-2) at Indianapolis Colts (5-2)
Line: Baltimore Ravens (-2.5)
In one of the best matchups of the week, the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts both look to push their record to 6-2. This could be an important head-to-head matchup for AFC playoff seeding, especially if both teams end up in the wildcard race.
I don’t know a ton about the Colts, but they did put up 41 points on the Detroit Lions last week. The Ravens have two losses, but to elite Chiefs and Steelers teams. I don’t see any reason the Ravens shouldn’t bounce back from their loss to the Steelers.
Ravens win 28-24, Ravens win ATS
Carolina Panthers (3-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-1)
Line: Kansas City Chiefs (-11.0)
Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City covered their season-high 19.5-point spread against the New York Jets, and this week, Vegas hands them 11,0-point favorite status against Teddy Bridgewater and a competitive Carolina Panthers team. The Panthers could definitely cover the spread. But against the Chiefs, a 12-15 point loss feels kind of close.
Chiefs win 31-17, Chiefs win ATS
Detroit Lions (3-4) at Minnesota Vikings (2-5)
Line: No Line
This NFC North matchup could easily go either way: both the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings have good and bad days. Minnesota is arguably hotter after upsetting the Green Bay Packers, but Detroit has been the more consistent force so far.
Lions win 26-17
New York Giants (1-7) at Washington Football Team (2-5)
Line: Washington Football Team (-2.5)
I understand why Washington is the favorite, as the home team, but I think the New York Giants come into this game as the better and hotter team. The Giants 25-23 loss to the Buccaneers was more inspiring than anything, and New York has been playing better as of late. They only beat Washington by one point in their last meeting, so don’t expect a blowout though.
Giants win 23-20, Giants win ATS
Houston Texans (1-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6)
Line: Houston Texans (-7.0)
The 1-6 Houston Texans earned their lone win of the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and will have a great chance to do so again with Jaguars Gardner Minshew out for the game. I don’t think Houston should have much trouble here.
Texans win 27-13, Texans win ATS
Las Vegas Raiders (4-3) at Los Angeles Chargers (2-5)
Despite the disparity in records, this is a good game, as the even spread suggests. The Los Angeles Chargers just can’t hold on to late leads, and have dropped one-score game after one-score game this season. The Las Vegas Raiders haven’t been the most consistent team, but have already proved they can play with anyone. I didn’t love the Raiders 16-6 win over the Cleveland Browns, and honestly I think I just want to give the Chargers and overdue win.
Chargers win 28-26
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-6)
Line: Pittsburgh Steelers (-14.0)
The Chiefs 11-point spread isn’t even the biggest of the week, as the Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves as 14.0-point favorites against the Dallas Cowboys. Since the injuries to quarterbacks Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton, Dallas has been abysmal, failing to score a touchdown in the past two weeks. I don’t think Pittsburgh is the type of team to make this an ugly 30 or 40-point win, but they will cover the spread.
Steelers win 35-13, Steelers win ATS
Miami Dolphins (4-3) at Arizona Cardinals (5-2)
Line: Arizona Cardinals (-4.5)
One of the most exciting matchups of the week is the red-hot Miami Dolphins taking on a strong Arizona Cardinals team. Miami relied largely on defense and special teams to down the Los Angeles Rams last week. I’m not saying it was a lucky win, but Tua Tagovailoa will have to produce more offense to keep up with Kyler Murray’s Cardinals.
Cardinals win 30-22, Cardinals win ATS
Sunday Night Football
GAME OF THE WEEK: New Orleans Saints (5-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2)
Line: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6.0)
The New Orleans Saints spoiled Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers debut with a Week 1 win. Since then, Tampa Bay has gone 6-1, while the Saints have gone 4-2. This will be a heat check for both teams, and an important matchup in the NFC South. Regardless of the long-term ramifications and historic quarterbacks set to duel on Sunday night, this is the best pure football matchup of the week.
I expect a back-and-forth, high-scoring affair, where the winning team’s quarterback will make fewer mistakes. I don’t know who would win this matchup if the stakes were higher, but in Week 9, I think Tom Brady gets his first win over the Saints in a Buccaneers uniform.
Buccaneers win 36-33, Saints win ATS
Monday Night Football
New England Patriots (2-5) at New York Jets (0-8)
Line: New England Patriots (-7.0)
I have no idea why the NFL insists on making this a prime-time matchup every year. I suppose without Tom Brady, and if the New York Jets weren’t literally winless, it could have been an intriguing matchup with the New England Patriots.
It’s no guarantee this struggling Patriots team turns things around completely on Monday night. But I just can’t see any scenario in which they lose to the Jets at MetLife Stadium.
Patriots win 24-16, Patriots win ATS
Teams on Bye
- Cincinnati Bengals (2-5-1)
- Cleveland Browns (5-3)
- Los Angeles Rams (5-3)
- Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1)
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Travel and Hiking
Header Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports