With Week 9 upon us, that means we are now officially halfway through the 2021 NFL season, which makes right now the perfect time to hand out some midseason awards. Actually, I’m only handing out one award and it’s going to me and I don’t even want it: It’s the award for worst picker from Week 8.
I clearly spent way too much time trying find a Halloween costume last week and not enough time researching my picks, because that’s the only way to explain how horrible I was last week. Next year for Halloween I’m going to go as someone who’s good at picks. The good news for me is that despite going 6-9, I still have the top straight-up record around here at CBSSports.com. However, my lead is now down to one game, so no more making dumb picks. For instance, after picking the Lions to win last week, I can assure you that I will never be picking the Lions to win ever again.
I will take the bye week to cover.
Who else will I be taking to cover this week? Let’s get to the Week 9 picks and find out.
Actually, before we do that, here’s your weekly reminder that you can check out the NFL picks from everyone here at CBSSports.com by clicking here. If you need proof that I have the best picks record, you’re going to want to click here. Also, for the rest of the season, I’ll be podcasting three days per week — Monday, Tuesday and Friday — with Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson. My own family can’t even handle hanging out with me three days per week, so I’m not quite sure how Brinson and Wilson do it. We got together for a show on Tuesday and you can listen to it below. The reason you’re going to want to listen is because we spent an inordinate amount of time debating whether the Chiefs are going to make the playoffs this year. That being said, if you’re a Chiefs fan, you may not want to listen.
Alright, let’s get to the picks because the sooner we do that, the sooner I can get more fans to hate me after I pick against your team.
NFL Week 9 PicksCleveland (4-4) at Cincinnati (5-3)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
If you watched the Browns lose to the Steelers on Sunday, then you already know that there’s only one person to blame for their loss and that person is, yup, you guessed it, TONY ROMO.
Romo is one of the three most likable guys on the planet and I have no idea how anyone could blame anything on him ever, but as it turns out, it seems Browns fans have a decent reason for not liking him. For the past three years, any time that Romo and Jim Nantz have showed up to call a Browns game, the Browns have lost.
Including the loss to the Steelers, the Browns are now 0-8 since 2018 when Romo and Nantz are at one of their games.
As the resident Bengals homer here at CBSSports.com, I made sure to pull a few strings so that Romo and Nantz would be at the Browns-Bengals game this weekend to ensure another Cleveland loss. Just kidding, I don’t have any strings and I wouldn’t even know where to start pulling, so although Romo and Nantz WILL be in Cincinnati on Sunday, I had nothing to do with it. However, if they’re looking for any recommendations on where to get some tasty Cincinnati chili, I can definitely help with that.
Speaking of help, the Browns could definitely use some help at quarterback. Since Baker Mayfield injured his shoulder back in Week 6, Cleveland’s offense has been an absolute mess. Over the past three weeks, the Browns have scored 14, 17 and 10 points, and that 17-point performance didn’t even come from Baker because it came in the only game that Case Keenum started.
I think the Browns pass-rush will give the Bengals some trouble, but not enough trouble for the Browns to win this game. I actually did think about taking Cleveland here, but if Browns fans think a Tony Romo jinx exists, then who am I to argue with them.
The pick: Bengals 23-20 over Browns
Atlanta (3-4) at New Orleans (5-2)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
New Orleans Saints
I’ll be honest here, 10 minutes before I was set to send my Week 9 picks into my editor, I was going to pick the Falcons in this game, but then I remembered that this is a game involving the Saints, which means I’m supposed to do the opposite of what my gut tells me to do. We’re headed into Week 9 of the NFL season and somehow, I’m 1-6 picking Saints games this season and I don’t even feel good about the one game I got right because I picked them to beat a Seahawks team that didn’t have Russell Wilson. Even my 18-month old daughter knew the Saints were going to win that game.
As a mention here every other week, I’m horrible at picking Saints games. The Saints are now officially living rent-free in my head. No matter what I do, my pick always ends up being wrong. I’ve picked the favorite. I’ve picked the underdog. I’ve done the opposite of what my gut told me to do. I’ve done the opposite of what my first instinct told me to do, which was to do the opposite of whatever my gut told me to do. As you can see, I have now completely psyched myself out and there’s now a 97% chance that I’m never going to pick a Saints game correctly ever again.
Every week, just when I think I’m starting to feel good about my Saints pick for their upcoming game, something crazy happens. This week, the crazy thing that happened is Jameis Winston being out for the season. If Jameis was starting in this game, I would pick the Saints to win by double-digits. However, with no Jameis, that means that Saints will either be starting Taysom Hill or Trevor Siemian. The problem with Taysom Hill is that he’s been out the past three weeks with a concussion. The problem with Trevor Siemian is that he’s Trevor Siemian.
The good news for me (and the Saints) is that it shouldn’t matter who the starting quarterback is in this game because I don’t think the Falcons are going to be able to move the ball on New Orleans’ defense. The bad news for the Saints is that I’m picking them to win this week and if history is any indication, that means they’re going to lose.
The pick: Saints 19-16 over Falcons
Houston (1-7) at Miami (1-7)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
On paper, this is easily the worst game of Week 9 and possibly the worst game that’s ever been on any NFL schedule ever. At this point, Texans fans barely want to watch the Texans play, Dolphins fans barely want to watch the Dolphins play and no one wants to watch them play each other. However, I should probably point out that the watchability of this game will shoot up by roughly 5000% if Deshaun Watson gets traded to the Dolphins this week.
The Texans trading Watson to the Dolphins by Tuesday’s trade deadline only to have to face him five days later would definitely be the most fitting way for Watson’s career in Houston to end. That being said, I have no idea if a trade will actually get done.
The problem with a Tuesday trade deadline is that I turn my picks column in on Monday night, which means I have no idea which team Watson will be playing for on Sunday. To be honest, I have no idea who’s going to be playing for either team on Sunday because there’s a 70 percent chance that one or both of these teams will end up trading away half their roster before the trade deadline hits at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Of course, the good news for me is that neither team really seems to have any idea what they’re doing this season, so I can probably safely assume that if the Dolphins or Texans do make a trade this week, they will almost certainly lose that trade and their team will get worse.
The good news for me is that I was planning on picking the Dolphins whether or not they had Watson, so that makes this pick easy.
The pick: Dolphins 24-16 over Texans
Arizona (7-1) at San Francisco (3-4)
4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
The Cardinals have won seven games this season and in six of those wins, they scored 31 or more points. The only time they didn’t hit the 30-point mark in a win this year came back in Week 5 when they beat the 49ers just 17-10. That game was weird because the 49ers went up and down the field for four straight quarters, but they just couldn’t score any points, which is kind of an issue when you’re playing a sport where the team with the highest score wins. In the first half alone, the 49ers got into Arizona territory on their first three offensive drives, but they scored ZERO points because of an interception and two failed fourth downs.
This time around, there are going to be three big differences and I think they all favor the 49ers.
Kyler Murray is banged up. The Cardinals quarterback sprained his ankle in Week 7 and that’s something that could potentially slow him down. If the injury limits Murray’s mobility, that makes him a much more beatable quarterback. No J.J. Watt. The first time around, Watt terrorized the 49ers. He made several big plays and led the Cardinals in tackles for a loss in the game with two. With no Watt, that’s one less defensive player the 49ers will have to worry about. Jimmy Garoppolo is back. Kyle Shanahan has said all season that Garoppolo gives his team a better chance to win than Trey Lance and at this point, I think I believe him. Lance almost led the 49ers to an upset win over Arizona in Week 5 and I feel like Jimmy might do even better this week.
Also, there’s a chance the 49ers are going have George Kittle back on the field. Kittle didn’t play in the first meeting with the Cardinals and even if he’s not 100% on Sunday, the Cards defense will have to account for him on every play.
I’ve definitely talked myself into taking San Francisco here and there’s no turning back. I’ve got a perfect record picking 49ers games this year and let’s hope I didn’t just blow it by picking them to beat an angry Cardinals team that will be coming off of 10 days of rest.
The pick: 49ers 27-24 over Cardinals
Green Bay (7-1) at Kansas City (4-4)
4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
Kansas City Chiefs
Do you know who won the last time Aaron Rodgers faced Patrick Mahomes? NO ONE, because it has never happened before. For the past three years, the Football Gods have been mocking us by not giving us Rodgers vs. Mahomes. I’ve been mocked by a lot of people, but let me just say that nothing is more painful than being mocked by the Football Gods.
We almost got Mahomes-Rodgers in the 2019 regular season, but Mahomes injured his knee and missed the Chiefs’ game against the Packers, which Green Bay ended up winning 31-24. Also in 2019, we almost got Mahomes-Rodgers in Super Bowl LIV, but the Packers lost in the NFC title game we were stuck watching Mahomes play the 49ers. One year later, we almost got Mahomes-Rodgers in Super Bowl LV, but once again, the Packers lost in the NFC title game and we got stuck with Mahomes-Brady. Mahomes-Brady has been done before, I wanted Mahomes-Rodgers.
I’ve written Roger Goodell a letter every day for the past three years asking him if the Packers and Chiefs could play in the regular season more often and he must have read one of those letters because that’s the only way to explain how this game happened. The only reason the Chiefs and Packers are playing each other this year is because the 17th game was added to the schedule. This was one of the games that was added to the schedule as part of the 17-game formula. I’m 57% sure Goodell only added this game so we could finally see Mahomes vs. Rodgers.
Unfortunately, now that we’re getting this game, I’m not sure I even want it. Mahomes hasn’t looked great this year and the Chiefs defense has been terrible. I feel like Rodgers might throw for 500 yards in this game. Also, the schedule-makers clearly hate the Chiefs because the Packers will be going into this game on 10 days rest — because they played on Thursday in Week 8 — while the Chiefs will going into this game on a short week because they played on Monday. I’ll take the well-rested team that’s not giving up nearly 400 yards per game.
The pick: Packers 34-27 over Chiefs
NFL Week 9 picks: All the rest
Colts 27-16 over JetsCowboys 30-17 (If Dak plays)Cowboys 20-17 over Broncos (If Dak doesn’t play)Raiders 30-23 over GiantsPatriots 27-17 over PanthersBills 34-13 over JaguarsRavens 30-20 over VikingsChargers 31-24 over EaglesRams 30-22 over TitansSteelers 20-13 over Bears
BYES: Lions, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Washington
Best pick: Last week, I predicted that the Steelers would upset the Browns in Cleveland and guess what happened? The Steelers upset the Browns in Cleveland. Now, did I know that the game was going to set football back 30 years with a final score of 15-10? Of course, I did. This game featured a one-armed quarterback (Baker Mayfield) going up against a quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) who has the mobility of a baby sloth. Also, Tony Romo was calling the game, so there was no way the Browns were going to win.
Worst pick: It took eight weeks, but I finally hit rock bottom in the picks department. Actually, to say I hit rock bottom would be an insult to both rocks and bottoms. I went lower than that. Last week, not only did I predict that the Lions would upset the Eagles, but I also predicted that the Jaguars would go into Seattle and shock the Seahawks. Those two teams ended up losing by a combined score of 75-13. I knew my overzealous support of cat teams would blow up in my face at some point, but I didn’t think it would happen like this. Even the Bengals lost. I went 6-9 picking games last week and that’s mostly because I went 0-4 picking cat teams. If cats didn’t exist, I would have dominated last week. I hate cats. I am now officially anti-cat.
Please ignore that tweet. I was young and ignorant when I sent that out.
Finally, if you guys have ever wondered which teams I’m actually good at picking, here’s a quick look:
Teams I’m 8-0 picking this year: Texans, Colts, 49ers (7-0).
Teams I’ve been the worst at picking this year: Saints (1-6), Washington (2-6), Falcons (2-5).
Straight up in Week 8: 6-9SU overall: 79-43
Against the spread in Week 8: 7-8ATS overall: 61-58-3
Exact score predictions: 2Exact score, wrong winner: 2
You can find John Breech on Facebook or Twitter and if he’s not doing one of those things, he’s probably emailing CBS to see if Tony Romo can call every Browns game for the rest of the season.