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Week Nine Picks

November 1st, 2018

I suppose I should be OK with an 11-3 finish picking straight up in week eight. But I’m not.

I’m definitely not OK with 6-8 against the spread.

But it’s not like me being OK with it matters. That’s where I landed.

For the season, that gets me to 75-44-2 (.628) straight up, and 54-61-6 (.471) with the points.

I’m sure I can do worse.

Here’s what not to expect in week nine.

Oakland (+2.5) at San Francisco
This is the way the Battle of the Bay ends. This is the way the Battle of the Bay ends. This is the way the Battle of the Bay ends. Not with a bang but a whimper. The 49ers should be able to keep the ball on the ground (assuming they can hold onto it), control time of possession, and come away with a six-point victory.

Detroit (+4.5) at Minnesota
I don’t know if the Lions threw in the towel this week, but they sure as hell didn’t throw down the gauntlet. Vikings by a field goal.

Kansas City (-8.5) at Cleveland
Sometimes a team’s first game under a new coach can … or maybe the Chiefs will be looking past the Browns to their big week ten battle with the Cardinals … or maybe the Browns will get some key takeaways … or, um, I don’t know … something. But, yeah, probably not. Chiefs by 14.

Pittsburgh (+3) at Baltimore
I’m not sure the Ravens right now are the team they appeared to be when they handled the Steelers with relative ease back in week four. Baltimore has lost two in a row to good teams and is starting to take on the look of one those squads that feasts on weak and mediocre opposition and fades when faced with an actual challenge. Trouble is, the Steelers look like one of those teams, too. Neither Pittsburgh nor Baltimore can afford to lose this game. But one of them has to. That usually works out to be the visitors. Ravens by a point.

Tampa Bay (+6.5) at Carolina
Fitz was never the Bucs’ problem. But neither is he the solution to their problems. Panthers by 10.

NY Jets (+3) at Miami
Just for fun, let’s say the whole week two experience gets turned on its head and the Jets win 20-12.

Atlanta (+1.5) at Washington
I’m not sure the Racists’ defense needed to get better to secure a win in this game. But it got better just the same. Washington by four.

Chicago (-10) at Buffalo
It’s nice, I suppose, that Nathan Peterman is confident. Chicago by 17.

Houston (+1) at Denver
You think Demaryius Thomas might have a big game here? Actually, you know, he probably won’t. Five days isn’t really sufficient to absorb a new team’s system. Texans still win, but they make it happen mostly on the ground. Let’s call it Houston by three.

LA Chargers (+1.5) at Seattle
I’d pick the host no matter where these two evenly matched teams played. Seattle by a field goal.

LA Rams (+1.5) at New Orleans
No matter how much time I spend looking at this game, I end up at the painfully obvious conclusion that it comes down to whether the Rams can do a better job of slowing the Saints’ passing attack than the Saints do of slowing the Rams’ ground game. I suspect they can. And I suspect that as a result of that, the next meeting between these teams will take place in Los Angeles. Rams by a point.

Green Bay (+6) at New England
Let’s start with the big three predictive stats: Scoring differential, Patriots +3.2; passer rating differential, Patriots +4.6; takeaway-giveaway differential, Patriots +3. That points to a narrow win for New England. But I need to see one more thing before I’ll feel comfortable predicting that result. I need to see a report confirming that Sony Michel is playing. He’s been practicing, which is good news for New England. But practicing and playing aren’t the same thing. And despite the matchup of big name quarterbacks, my strong feeling is that this game is going to be won and lost in the rushing game, which is to say it’s going to be a hard for New England to come away victorious without Michel on the field. I’m gonna assume he plays, as a result of which I’m expecting the Patriots to come out ahead by three.

Tennessee (+6.5) at Dallas
The unbalanced visitors are probably a bit less good (more bad?) than the unbalanced home team. Dallas wins 9-6.

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