Week 8 survivor delivered a level of bloodbath that hasn’t been seen since the elevator doors opened in “The Shining.” Virtually half of all remaining entries were eliminated when the Bengals blew an 11-point lead to the Jets with less than five minutes left. This week isn’t as top-heavy, but 75% of picks are concentrated on the four most popular choices, three of which are double-digit favorites.
Before we jump into this week’s picks, let’s take a look at last week’s:
Week 8 picks
Best Bets: 1-1 (YTD: 14-3)
Leans: 1-0 (YTD: 8-1)
Traps to avoid: 0 eliminations avoided (YTD: 7)
On to the Week 9 picks!
Keep your revenge games, I’ll take a same name game any day of the week. Sunday’s slate brings us our first Josh Allen versus Josh Allen matchup. Jacksonville has been surprisingly decent against the run this year. Unfortunately for them, the Bills are a pass-heavy team and the Jags’ pass defense is abysmal, ranking 31st in completion percentage and yards per attempt, and 32nd in passer rating. They’re also tied for second-worst in allowing passes of 20-plus yards. Odds-on MVP favorite Allen (the quarterback, not the linebacker) is in a prime spot against a secondary that let Geno Smith complete 83.3% of his throws.
As great as their offensive matchup is, Buffalo may have an even better one on defense. The Bills have given up a league-low five passing touchdowns and 61.4 passer rating (second-best is nine TD and 79.0 passer rating). Jacksonville’s best offensive player, running back James Robinson, exited last week’s game against the Seahawks with a bruised heel and is questionable to play this weekend after not practicing on Wednesday.
Buffalo owns the largest spread on the board, yet they’re only the third-most popular pick at 15%. They’re the nut play this week. Their future value lies in a couple of games against the Jets.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen is the odds-on favorite to win MVP. (Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports)
LEANSLos Angeles Rams (-7.5) vs. Tennessee Titans
The Rams and Titans are trending in different directions when it comes to personnel. Los Angeles traded for eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker and former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller this week, while Tennessee lost incomparable running back Derrick Henry to a foot injury. With Julio Jones in and out of the lineup all season, the only reliable weapon the Titans have left is fellow receiver A.J. Brown. The Rams’ offense, on the other hand, is a nuclear-powered buzzsaw. Tennessee has been getting demolished by slot receivers all season and now faces Cooper Kupp, who leads the NFL in receiving yards and touchdowns. In his last three games, Kupp has racked up 401 receiving yards and five scores.
The Rams are the 11th most-popular pick this week at just under 1%, making them an extremely attractive play. They have a Week 13 game at home against the Jaguars.
TRAPS TO AVOIDIndianapolis Colts (-10.5) vs. New York Jets
Indianapolis is the better team, but they don’t match up that well with the Jets. The Colts rely heavily on their run game, anchored by Jonathan Taylor. Offensive lineman Quenton Nelson is questionable to play with a toe injury and New York ranks seventh in yards allowed per carry. The Jets defense is healthier, returning several key pieces like C.J. Mosley back onto the field following their blowout loss to the Patriots. Their secondary has been locking down alpha receivers all year and held Bengals rookie sensation Ja’Marr Chase to 32 yards on three receptions last week, so it’s not a given that Colts wideout Michael Pittman Jr. will enjoy another big game. Indy’s secondary is surrendering the third-highest completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks, which plays perfectly into the Jets’ dink-and-dunk offense.
Twenty-three percent of entries are on the Colts, who play the Jaguars at home next week.
Las Vegas Raiders (-3) at New York Giants
The sixth-most popular pick this week at nearly 6% is a west coast team traveling to the east coast for an early game with their interim head coach and without their star wide receiver who they just released after he was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in death and reckless driving. Nope.
Stats provided by PFF, Pro Football Reference, and nfl.com.