Week 9 NFL Picks: Saints & Panthers Start To Separate In NFC South

Ryan Mayer

Now things are starting to click. The past two weeks, we’ve gone 23-4 straight up and 15-12-1 against the spread. As teams are starting to show who they really are this season, the picks have started to make more sense each week.  The trade deadline was the most active that we’ve seen in a long time and several playoff hopefuls seemed to get stronger.

We’ll see how those moves work out in the long run, but for now, let’s get straight into the picks and try to once again point you in the right direction.

No way we can lose – locks of the week: As you can guess, these will be the stone-cold locks of the week. The games I’m so confident about that I’d wager my life’s savings on them, if I had a life’s savings to wager.

Feeling pretty… pretty good: Not quite willing to bet the farm on this batch, but as Mr. Larry David would say, ‘I’m feeling pretty… pretty good’ about these games.

Heads or tails: These are your true toss ups: they can go one way or another, and you should pick with caution, even after heeding my expert advice.

All lines courtesy of Sportsline. All times Eastern.

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Credit: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (+3.5), Thursday 8:25 p.m.

Level of confidence: Feeling pretty….pretty good

ATS: Jets

Straight up: Bills

The Jets and Bills met once already this season, in the opening week, and though the score ended at 21-12, the Jets had multiple opportunities to win that game late after being down 14-12. The Jets have played well into the fourth quarter of most of their games keeping it close, but on this three game losing streak they’ve always found a way to lose. The Bills run the football well, which plays to the weakness of the Jets defense (27th 128.2 YPG), and in the end, it feels like another Jets keep it close, fall by a field goal late type of game.

No Way We Can Lose, Locks Of The Week

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers (-2), Sunday 1:00 p.m.

ATS & Straight up: Panthers

Something just feels off with the Falcons offense this year and the Panthers defense has been really good. Like, 3rd in pass defense (182.4 YPG), 5th in rushing (81.6 YPG) and 5th in scoring defense (17.8 PPG) good. Yes, Carolina just got rid of Kelvin Benjamin, but he had caught just 32 of 51 targets this season, continuing to have issues with drops. The Falcons offense just hasn’t made a believer out of me this season, so I’m going with Carolina. Panthers by a field goal at home.

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Credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-7), Sunday 1:00 p.m.

ATS & Straight up: Saints

As good as the Panthers defense has been, the Bucs have been that bad. They rank 24th in scoring defense (24 PPG), 17th in run defense (111.7 YPG), 30th in pass defense (274.7 YPG) and 32nd in sacks with just seven on the year. Now they head to New Orleans to face Drew Brees and an offense that’s averaging 27.3 points per game this season. That seems like a bad combination. It’s made even worse by the fact that Jameis Winston is dealing with a shoulder injury that has him listed as questionable for this game.

Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins (+3), Sunday 8:30 p.m.

ATS & Straight up: Raiders

The Raiders haven’t played to the preseason expectations that people had of them as an AFC contender, largely because the defense remains a mess. They’re the only team in the league without an interception, allow opposing passers to complete 69.5 percent of their passes, and allow 23.8 points per game.

But, the Dolphins looked like they quit last week. Even for a Thursday night game, that was a brutally bad performance getting shut out by the Ravens 40-0. Miami is down to its third choice as QB in Matt Moore, just traded their top running back, and are -4 in turnover differential this year. The Raiders are fighting to keep their season alive and I think they’re able to do so here.

Feeling Pretty…Pretty Good

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Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

Denver Broncos at Philadelphia Eagles (-8), Sunday 1:00 p.m.

ATS: Broncos

Straight up: Eagles

The Eagles are (prepare yourself for a bad pun) flying high (nailed it). At 7-1, they have the best record in the league, and they rank 4th in scoring averaging 29 points per game. Their defense has done a nice job of pressuring opposing quarterbacks with 22 sacks (t-9th). It seems like they are a fairly complete team. But, there’s a big concern for me in this match-up and, it’s the Eagles offensive line against the Broncos pass rush.

You know by now that the Eagles lost left tackle Jason Peters for the year. Now, the offensive line, with backup left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai will have to face Von Miller, Shane Ray,  and Shaquil Barrett off the edge with Adam Gotsis, Domata Peko and Derek Wolfe inside. Wentz has been sacked 22 times and hit 52 times this season and more look to be coming on Sunday. So, I don’t think the Eagles offense will run away this time, but the Broncos offense, with (gulp) Brock Osweiler starting, doesn’t have enough to get the win here.

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Credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks (-7), Sunday 4:05 p.m.

ATS & Straight up: Seahawks

The Redskins injury report is the length of a George R.R. Martin novel at this point and the offensive line in particular has been severely hobbled. That doesn’t bode well against the Seahawks defense. Washington should also get corner Josh Norman back in this game, which will help against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks passing game, but it feels like Seattle is just hitting its stride this year.

Kansas City Chiefs at Dallas Cowboys (-1), Sunday 4:25 p.m.

ATS & Straight up: Chiefs

As of this writing, Zeke Elliott isn’t playing in this game. If that remains the case, the Chiefs win by a touchdown. With Zeke in the game, the Cowboys have a much better shot against Kansas City’s defense that has struggled against the run (28th 131.1 YPG). But, I think Andy Reid is able to get the ball in the hands of Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt, and Travis Kelce for enough big plays to beat the Cowboys at Jerry World.

Heads or Tails…Toss Up

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (-13), Sunday 1:00 p.m.

ATS & Straight up: Texans

Let me start of by saying, any line over 10 and I get scared of the favorite. However, the Colts defense has allowed 23 or more points in each of the last six games and have allowed less than 20 points just once (Week 2 against the Cardinals). That’s bad news for a defense that now faces the highest scoring offense in the league in Houston (30.7 PPG).

Deshaun Watson has been better than any Texans fan could have dreamed when the team drafted him with the 12th overall pick in April’s NFL Draft. He’s tied for the league lead in passing touchdowns (19) and seems to only get better each week. The explosive plays have been a big part of his arsenal with DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller offering elite pass-catching options on the outside. The Colts have allowed 42 pass plays of 20+ yards and 9 of 40+ yards this season. The reason this is in toss up is the line. 13 points is a lot to give, but I do think the Texans are capable of it.

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Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars (-4.5), Sunday 1:00 p.m.

ATS: Bengals

Straight up: Jaguars

The Jaguars defense has two games this season already in which they’ve recorded 10 sacks (Week 1 vs. Texans, Week 8 vs. Colts) and they have added another depth piece to their defensive line with familiarity with head coach Doug Marrone’s scheme in Marcell Dareus. That doesn’t bode well for a Bengals team that has given up 22 sacks and 35 QB hits.

However, the Bengals defense has been pretty good at getting to the QB themselves (22 sacks T-9th) and they have been okay against the run (3.8 YPC, 111.9 YPG). That could mean a long day in the pocket for Blake Bortles as well, which means this one could be tight. In all, the Bengals have played better in recent weeks, and I’d expect them to give the Jags a fight, before Jacksonville puts it away late.

Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans (), Sunday 1:00 p.m.

ATS & Straight up: Titans

There’s no line on this game yet because Joe Flacco remains in concussion protocol and it’s undecided whether he will play on Sunday or not. Regardless of whether Flacco plays, I expect Tennessee to take the win here. The Ravens beat up on a bad Miami team last week, and this Titans team is better than the Dolphins. With the uncertainty at Baltimore’s QB spot, I think Marcus Mariota and the Titans get it done.

Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants (+3.5) Sunday 1:00 p.m.

ATS: Giants

Straight up: Rams

This feels like a trap. The Rams flying cross country for an early afternoon game with both teams coming off of a bye and everyone writing the Giants off as a lost cause. Everyone seems to be buying into the Rams, and it would be the Giants-iest win ever. However, I just can’t pick the Giants to win with Sterling Shepard as their top receiver and Orleans Darkwa as the top running back. I can’t do it.

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (+2), Sunday 4:05 p.m.

ATS & Straight up: Cardinals

Even with Drew Stanton starting, I have more faith in the Cardinals than a Niners team that has been blown out 73-20 in the last two weeks. But, Jimmy Garoppolo’s a Niner now so……yay?

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Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (+2.5), Monday 8:30 p.m.

ATS & Straight up: Packers

Call me crazy, but it feels like this Lions team is starting to fall apart. Since starting the season 3-1, the Lions have lost three straight games. The offense really struggled to finish off drives on Sunday night against the Steelers. The Packers are missing Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley wasn’t particularly effective in his first start against the Saints. Maybe Stafford lights up the Packers in Lambeau. Here’s why I have the Pack. In the last 20 games between these two at Lambeau Field, Green Bay is 19-1. The lone loss came in 2015 by a score of 18-16.

Last Week:

ATS: 8-5

Straight up: 12-1

Overall

ATS: 55-57-3

Straight up: 71-47

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