Miami Dolphins at Chicago Bears: 2022 Week 9 NFL Pick

Miami Dolphins (5-3) at Chicago Bears (3-5)

This is one of the toughest calls of the week because there aren’t any trends related to this game and the line is right about where it should be, favoring the visiting Dolphins by 4.5 points. The Dolphins only have two more wins than the Bears, but they have been significantly better on offense when Tua Tagovailoa is healthy, while the Bears lost the yards per play and first down rate battle in two of their three wins, leading to them ranking 27th in schedule adjusted efficiency, 4.5 points below average, while the Dolphins rank 16th, right about average, despite Tagovailoa missing about two and a half games. With Tagovailoa back, the Dolphins have an eight point edge over the Bears in my roster rankings. I’m taking the Dolphins for pick ‘em purposes, but I don’t have any confidence in them at this number.

Miami Dolphins 25 Chicago Bears 20

Pick against the spread: Miami -4.5

Confidence: None

Minnesota Vikings at Washington Commanders: 2022 Week 9 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (6-1) at Washington Commanders (4-4)

Going into the season, the Vikings were one of my top underrated teams and I expected a significant improvement in win total from their 7-9 and 8-9 finishes from the previous two seasons, due to better coaching on offense and likely better health on defense. So far, the Vikings are 6-1 and exceeding most people’s expectations, but that also haven’t played quite as well as that would suggest, with five of their six wins coming by eight points or fewer and their one loss coming by 17, giving them a point differential of +29, which is good, but not as good as their record would suggest. 

The Vikings have also benefited significantly from turnovers, ranking tied for 2nd best in the NFL with a +6 turnover margin, which is not predictive week-to-week. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, the Vikings rank just 15th, about a half point above average. The Commanders also haven’t played as well as their record though, as their four wins have come by a combined 14 points and their four losses have come by a combined 44 points, giving them a point differential of -30 that ranks 5th worst in the NFL. 

With both teams not as good as their records, I actually think this line, favoring the visiting Vikings by a field goal is about right. My calculated line suggests the Vikings are more likely to cover this number than the Commanders, but not by much and the most likely outcome may be a push, given how many games are decided by exactly a field goal. I’m taking the Vikings at -3, but I would take the Commanders at +3.5.

Minnesota Vikings 23 Washington Commanders 20

Pick against the spread: Minnesota -3

Confidence: None

Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2022 Week 9 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Rams (3-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)

This is a matchup of the previous two Super Bowl winners and a rematch of a divisional round game from a year ago when the eventual champion Rams barely got the best of the Buccaneers, in a matchup between a 12-win Rams team and a 13-win Buccaneers team. However, going into this matchup, both teams have disappointed significantly this season, with both teams sitting below .500, the Rams at 3-4 and the Buccaneers at 3-5.

The Buccaneers got off to a 2-0 start, but their offense has been middling at best all season, ranking 21st in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency, while their dominant defense that lead them to their first two victories has not been nearly as good since, in large part due to key injury absences, which will continue this week, with stud safety Antoine Winfield and top edge defender Shaq Barrett out for this game, among others. The Buccaneers offense is probably better than they’ve played so far, but they’re not the same in the receiving corps and on the offensive line as they’ve been in recent years and quarterback Tom Brady is starting to show his age, even if only a little bit, with a less impressive supporting cast.

The Rams, on the other hand, have been middling on both sides of the ball for most of the season, falling from 9th in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency in 2021 to 16th this season and falling from 9th to 12th on defense. Their offensive problems largely stem from the off-season losses of wide receiver Odell Beckham and offensive linemen Andrew Whitworth and Austin Corbett, but they’ve also had further injuries on the offensive line that have made things worse. On defense, their dropoff has not been as pronounced, as they do seem to be feeling the effects of losing top edge defender Von Miller this off-season.

Overall, I have both teams about even in my roster rankings, which makes this a tough call. I have the Buccaneers as slightly better and this line favoring them by a field goal is what you would expect when a home team is slightly better than the road team, but my numbers have the Rams slightly more likely to cover at this number than the Buccaneers, so I am taking them for pick ‘em purposes. There’s obviously not nearly enough here to bet on either side though and a push might be the most likely outcome, given that the most likely outcome when two evenly matched teams play is the home team winning by a field goal.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23 Los Angeles Rams 20

Pick against the spread: LA Rams +3

Confidence: None

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs: 2022 Week 9 NFL Pick

Tennessee Titans (5-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)

Both of these two teams are 5-2, but they have arrived at that point in very different ways. While all five of the Titans’ wins have come by close margins, with no double digit victories, the Chiefs have three double digit victories in their five wins, which tends to be much more predictive than close wins. As a result, the Titans actually have a negative point differential at -6, while the Chiefs rank 3rd at +51. 

The gap between these two teams is even bigger than that suggests too, as the Titans have faced a significantly easier schedule and have benefited more from the turnover margin (+2 vs. 0), which is not predictive week-to-week. In terms of first downs and yards per play, which are much more predictive, the Titans rank 26th in first down rate and 20th in yards per play allowed, leading to them ranking six points below average in overall schedule adjusted efficiency, about 15 points behind the Chiefs (1st in first down rate and 16th in yards per play allowed). 

The Titans are underdogs of 12.5 points in this game in Kansas City, despite their record, and they could get regular starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill back from a one-game absence, after he got some limited practice work in this week, but, even if Tannehill plays, I think we are getting some line value with the Titans, as I have this line calculated at Kansas City -15 in that case. My calculated line would shoot up to Kansas City -18.5 if Tannehill sat, leading to third round rookie Malik Willis making his second career start after an underwhelming debut against the Texans last week. Unless we know Tannehill isn’t playing and the line doesn’t move, I probably won’t bet on this game at such a high number, but the Chiefs should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes either way.

Kansas City Chiefs 31 Tennessee Titans 15

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -12.5

Confidence: Low

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots: 2022 Week 9 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (3-4-1) at New England Patriots (4-4)

The Patriots have struggled on offense this season, ranking 28th in schedule adjusted efficiency, but they’re at least somewhat better in my roster rankings, about a half point below average on offense, while their defense and special teams rank 11th and 7th respectively in schedule adjusted efficiency. Overall, the Patriots are two points above average in my roster rankings, significantly ahead of the Colts, who are seven points below average, in large part due to starting an inexperienced late round draft pick quarterback Sam Ehlinger, which will especially be a problem against Bill Belichick and the Patriots, who will have a big advantage in Ehlinger’s second career start. We’re not getting great line value with the Patriots at -5.5, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

New England Patriots 20 Indianapolis Colts 13

Pick against the spread: New England -5.5

Confidence: Low

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets: 2022 Week 9 NFL Pick

Buffalo Bills (6-1) at New York Jets (5-3)

The Jets are 5-3, but are 11.5-point home underdogs against the Bills, the first time a team has been home underdogs of 11 points or more despite a record 5-3 or better since the 2007 Giants were 10-5 against the undefeated New England Patriots in week 17. In some sense that makes sense, as the Bills blow out almost everyone they beat, with an average margin of victory of 21.1 points per game over the past two seasons, as opposed to a margin of defeat of 7.1 points per game.

However, this line still does seem a little high. The Jets have significant problems on offense, missing starting wide receiver Corey Davis, impressive rookie running back Breece Hall, and talented starting right tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker, among other lesser absences, but their defense is legitimately one of the best in the league, ranking 3rd in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency. They could make this game at least somewhat competitive with the Bills and, while they’re still likely to lose by multiple scores, my calculated line has them as just 9-point underdogs, so we’re getting some value with them at +11.5. There’s not enough here for the Jets to be worth betting, but they’re the better side for pick ‘em purposes.

Buffalo Bills 23 New York Jets 13

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +11.5

Confidence: Low

Baltimore Ravens at New Orleans Saints: 2022 Week 9 NFL Pick

Baltimore Ravens (5-3) at New Orleans Saints (3-5)

The Ravens are 5-3 and they could easily be even better than that, blowing big leads in all three of their losses and ranking 2nd in time leading, only behind the undefeated Eagles. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, the Ravens rank 3rd, about 7 points above average, and my roster rankings have them around the same, about 7.5 points above average. Despite that, they are only favored by 2.5 points on the road in New Orleans.

The Saints are better than their 3-5 record, having a -1 point differential despite a -9 turnover margin and ranking 14th in schedule adjusted efficiency, about a half point above average, but we’re still getting great line value with the Ravens in a game in which they basically just have to win to cover, with less than 10% of games being decided by two points or fewer. My calculated line has them favored by 4.5, which is a significant difference, given that 1 in 5 games are decided by 3-4 points. That assumes Ravens stud tight end Mark Andrews is going to play, which is not a guarantee right now, but we should know that before gametime. I’m leaving this as a low confidence pick for now, but I will increase this to medium confidence if and when we know Andrews is playing.

Baltimore Ravens 24 New Orleans Saints 20

Pick against the spread: Baltimore -2.5

Confidence: Low

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions: 2022 Week 9 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (3-5) at Detroit Lions (1-6)

The Packers have started 3-5, a year after going 13-4, but their drop off isn’t all that surprising. Despite their record last season, the Packers finished just 10th in point differential and 11th in overall efficiency, despite an MVP season from Aaron Rodgers who, as good as he is, was no guarantee to play at quite the same level in 2022, now in his age 39 season. Add in the loss of by far their top wide receiver Davante Adams this off-season and some regression was to be expected from them, especially on offense.

In many ways, things have gone how you might expect, given the circumstances. The Packers’ defense has remained middling, ranking 17th in defensive efficiency in 2021 and 16th in 2022, but their offense has fallen off significantly, falling from 4th in offensive efficiency a year ago to 15th this season, while their horrendous special teams that ranked dead last efficiency a year ago has only been slightly better this year, ranking 31st. All in all, the Packers rank just 20th in overall efficiency when adjusted for schedule, about 1.5 points below average, and my roster rankings only have them slightly higher, about a half point above average. Despite the big name at quarterback, this team isn’t much more than a slightly above average team any way you look at it.

The Packers get to face the one-win Lions this week, but this isn’t as easy of a matchup as it seems, as the Lions are just 4.5 points behind them in my roster rankings and 2.5 points behind in schedule adjusted efficiency, with four of the Lions’ six losses coming by four points or fewer. Making matters worse, the Packers are on the road and they just haven’t had the same success away from Lambeau in Aaron Rodgers career, in large part due to Aaron Rodgers having a 10 point drop in QB rating on the road in his career, well above average. My calculated line has the Packers favored by one and, while they should still be favored to win this game, they could easily lose and, even if they don’t, about 1 in 4 games are decided by three points or fewer, so we’re getting good line value with the Lions at +3.5. They’re bettable at that number.

Green Bay Packers 31 Detroit Lions 30

Pick against the spread: Detroit +3.5

Confidence: Medium

Carolina Panthers at Cincinnati Bengals: 2022 Week 9 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (2-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-4)

The Bengals have been better than their 4-4 record this season, with a +22 point differential and an 8th ranked schedule adjusted efficiency, three points above average. However, they are one of the most injury affected teams in the league right now, missing top cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton, top wide receiver JaMarr Chase, and top interior defender DJ Reader, all of whom are among their most important players. 

Fortunately, the Bengals are in a good spot heading into their bye week, as big home favorites over the lowly Panthers. Home favorites of 6 points or more cover the spread at a 63.5% rate all-time before a bye and the Bengals are favored in this game by 7 points. Missing the key players they are missing, I have the Bengals a half point below average in my roster rankings, but the Panthers rank 6 points below average in schedule adjusted efficiency and 5 points below average in my roster rankings, so this line is actually a little short, with my calculated line at 8.5. It’s not great line value, but between that and the great spot the Bengals are in, they are bettable this week at -7.

Cincinnati Bengals 27 Carolina Panthers 16

Pick against the spread: Cincinnati -7

Confidence: Medium