NFL Week 9 Picks: Bengals bounce Bills, Chiefs sink Fish in Germany, Cowboys upset Eagles

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BEST BETS

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (4-4) at ATLANTA FALCONS (4-4)

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LINE: Atlanta by 4.5

CHEWABLE: The QB matchup has fifth-round pick Jaren Hall, who is stepping in for the injured Kirk Cousins, versus Taylor Heinicke, who replaces Desmond Ridder after the latter had a concussion along with 12 giveaways in eight games … Thanks largely to an improving defence under DC Brian Flores, the Vikings have won three in a row and four of their last five, losing only to the Chiefs (by a touchdown) during that stretch … Minnesota also does a fine job against the run, which Atlanta’s game plan is generally based around … The Falcons have trouble defending tight ends and now they face one of the best in T.J. Hockenson, whose 473 receiving yards is second only to Travis Kelce among men who play the position … While Falcons have an experience edge at QB, they could also be without their best receiver, Drake London, who is dealing with a groin injury and didn’t practice Thursday …  Should Hall struggle, the Vikings will have the competent Joshua Dobbs coming out of the bullpen.

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TAKING: MINNESOTA +4.5

SCORE (O/U 37.5): Vikings 23, Falcons 21

ARIZONA CARDINALS (1-7) at CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-3)

LINE: Cleveland by 8

CHEWABLE: Either Kyler Murray will be making his first start in 11 months or Clayton Tune will be making his first NFL start in 24 years, and neither the ‘welcome back’ or just plain ‘welcome’ would be a warm and friendly from Myles Garrett or the inhabitants of the Dawg Pound — especially with the Browns coming off a 24-20 loss to Seattle when they led in the fourth quarter. Cleveland’s defence is still first in total yards allowed, first in passing yards allowed and seventh in rushing yards allowed, and whether Deshaun Watson actually decides to play or the Browns’ QB will again be P.J. Walker, it’s hard not to back this solid home side against the line versus visitors who have lost five in a row, all by double digits. Survivor Pool pick of the week.

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TAKING: CLEVELAND -8

SCORE (O/U 37.5): Browns 27, Cardinals 10

LOS ANGELES RAMS (3-5) at GREEN BAY PACKERS (2-5)

LINE: Green Bay by 3.5

CHEWABLE: The line has been adjusted significantly because of the sprained finger that might keep Matthew Stafford sidelined, but even with Brett Rypien at the controls the Rams just might be the better team. They have better receivers and, with Aaron Jones not yet himself in two games since returning from injury, a better running attack with Royce Freeman and Darrell Henderson Jr. Rypien, who had a 2-1 record as a starter over three years with the Broncos, is the nephew of Mark Rypien, the first Canadian (Calgary) to be a NFL starting quarterback and Super Bowl MVP. He might also be better, right now, than Jordan Love, who through the first half of the season has been one of the league’s worst starters. He has led the Packers to 25th in total yards as well as four straight losses, a stretch over which they have averaged 15 points and failed to score more than 20. The Packers’ banged-up defence has not played well and didn’t get any better trading CB Rasul Douglas to the Bills. Getting Rams as the dog is a no-brainer, especially when there’s still a chance Stafford plays.

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TAKING: L.A. RAMS +3.5

SCORE (O/U 38.5): Rams 24, Packers 20

BUFFALO BILLS (5-3) at CINCINNATI BENGALS (4-3) 

LINE: Cincinnati by 1.5

CHEWABLE: Breathe easier, Bills fans, as Josh Allen was back as a full participant at Thursday’s practice after missing Wednesday altogether with a sore throwing shoulder. Even though he has struggled on the road — throwing six interceptions and fumbling twice as Buffalo has gone 1-3 — the Bills would have zero chance in this one without him. They’re not a good bet even with their fearless leader, however. Joe Burrow proved his aggravated calf is 100 percent when he returned to dismantle the Niners 31-17 in San Francisco, Cincy’s third win in a row. Joe connected on his first 19 passes and 28-of-32 for 283 yards and three touchdowns … Ja’Marr Chase has 31 catches for 372 yards and four touchdowns over the last three games … The Bengals defence is among the best in the league at swinging momentum. They are tied for fifth with 13 forced turnovers and tied for third with 10 interceptions. One trend we expect to end: Bengals are 0-9 on Sunday Night Football.

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TAKING: CINCINNATI -1.5

SCORE (O/U 49.5): Bengals 33, Bills 24

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MIAMI DOLPHINS (6-2) vs. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (6-2)

(Game to be played at Frankfurt, Germany)

LINE: Kansas City by 1.5 

CHEWABLE: Not only is this the first NFL game to be played in Frankfurt, Germany, but it’s also the first chance for Tyreek Hill to burn the Chiefs, who elected to trade him to Miami in March, 2022 rather than pay him the four-year, $120 million deal he signed with the Fish. Hill is the first receiver in the Super Bowl era to reach 1,000 receiving yards in eight weeks and, with 1,014, he’s on pace for 2,154 yards, which would be pretty good considering nobody has reached the 2,000-yard mark … Working against “Cheetah” is Steve Spagnuolo, who just so happened to be the defensive coordinator of the NFL Europe’s Frankfurt Galaxy in 1998 and since  2019 has been the highly respected DC of the Chiefs, which means his unit practiced against Hill every day for three years. It figures that if Spags can’t defend against Hill, nobody can, and I’m not saying the latter isn’t more likely than the former  … As good as the Dolphins’ No. 1-ranked offence is, it has not fared well against the strong defences of Buffalo and Philadelphia. In fact, Miami’s only two losses were to the Bills (48-20) and Eagles (31-17), in the only two games the Dolphins have not scored at least 24. Oh, and the Chiefs’ defence is every bit as good as their offence (in both cases they are ranked fourth) and, as Tua Tagovailoa will soon be reminded, is exceptional at pressuring the quarterback, with 28 sacks that is tied for second most in the league … Patrick Mahomes had his worst game of the season last week in the Chiefs’ 24-9 loss to the Broncos, but he also was playing through a bout of the flu, which I can well imagine is difficult as I am writing this through a bout of COVID. My pick for this game is based on A) the Dolphins defence, which is much better than it was now that Jalen Ramsey is back, still only middle of the pack and B) No QB has a better bounce back these days than Mahomes, who has won eight straight games coming off a loss.

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TAKING: KANSAS CITY -1.5

SCORE (O/U 50.5): Chiefs 30, Dolphins 24

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (5-2) at BALTIMORE RAVENS (6-2)

LINE: Baltimore by 6

CHEWABLE: The marquee game in the 1 p.m. window and a sweet follow-up to the Dolphins-Chiefs breakfast. This battle of division leaders has a Ravens team on a three-game winning streak during which it has averaged 31 points per game, and the Seahawks, who have won two straight and brought in former Giants DL Leonard (Big Cat) Williams to a defence that just keeps getting better … While Geno Smith has not played up to the standard he set last season — and he has turned the ball over seven times in his last three outings — the key to this game, like most involving the Ravens, will be the play of Lamar Jackson. He’ll have to be at his scampering best against a team that already was doing a good job pressuring quarterbacks before the addition of Big Cat, and even at that, Seahawks are also good against the run. Numbers of note: Lamar thrives against NFC teams with a 17-3 record that includes 29 TD passes and seven interceptions. He is also 7-17 ATS as a home favourite of 3.5 points or more. This line feels too high in what should be a close one.

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TAKING: SEATTLE +6

SCORE (O/U 44): Ravens 24, Seahawks 21

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (3-4) at HOUSTON TEXANS (3-4)

LINE: Houston by 2.5 

CHEWABLE: The temptation here is to pick the dog, which is 3-0 ATS on the road and had nine days to prepare for this game. But those reasons aren’t enough to back Bucs, who will be the second-best team on the field. Tampa Bay has lost three in a row, averaging 12.33 points in that span. The offence is so bad because the Bucs have a weak running back in Rachaad White leading a poor ground game, Baker Mayfield’s arm is in the bottom half of starting QBs around the league and he has little time behind a line that can’t protect. Last week, the Texans sacked Carolina QB Bryce Young six times and held the Panthers to 224 total yards. C.J. Stroud’s passing yards total has dropped a notch in each of the last four games to the point that the rookie QB had his worst day as a pro last week, completing just 16 of 24 passes for 140 yards. The Texans will rebound from becoming the first victim of the Panthers.

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TAKING: HOUSTON -2.5

SCORE (O/U 40): Texans 17, Bucs 14

WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (3-5) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2-6)

LINE: New England by 3

CHEWABLE: The Commanders defence has allowed the most passing touchdowns and second-most number of points in the league, and that was before trading its bookend heat appliers, Montez Sweat and Chase Young, before Tuesday’s deadline. Even Mac Jones minus his top receiver (Kendrick Bourne suffered a season-ending knee injury last week) should be able to find holes if he has all day to look, right? Washington is coming off a 38-31 loss to the Eagles in which Sam Howell went off, throwing for 397 yards and four touchdowns. He was also sacked only once, which had to be a treat for the most sacked quarterback in the NFL this season. As bad as the Commanders are at defending, and as disillusioned as they must be after trading away two stars, it just doesn’t feel right to back a team that has an AFC worst point-differential as a favourite. Now taking JuJu Smith-Schuster for an anytime touchdown might not be a bad idea, and it has to pay a lot since he’s had just four catches of nine yards in his last two games.

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TAKING: WASHINGTON +3

SCORE (O/U 40.5): Patriots 23, Commanders 21

CHICAGO BEARS (2-6) at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (4-4)

LINE: New Orleans by 8.5

CHEWABLE: The Bears should roll to victory — if Tyson Bagent celebrates this Nov. 5 like he did the last one, when he completed 32 of 40 passes for 400 yards and five touchdowns against East Stroudsburg. Of course, the Saints defence is better than the one the Division II Warriors put on then field, but it has allowed 132.3 rushing yards per game over the last three weeks, which means D’Onta Foreman and Roschon Johnson can churn up some real estate, especially if guard Nate Davis returns from injury … With duel-threat extraordinare Alvin Kamara now in full stride, the Saints have averaged 27.3 points per game over the last four weeks and at least 407 yards in their last three, including a 511-yard outburst against the Colts last week … The addition of Sweat will help the Bears’ pass rush, which was virtually non-existent, and the run defence, which is Top 3 in the league allowing an average of 78.3 yards per game. There will be no upset here, but the Bears can cover if two of Davis, LB Tremaine Edmunds and SS Jaquan Brisker play, and Bagent can lead through the back door this Nov. 5.

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TAKING: CHICAGO +8.5

SCORE (O/U 41): Saints 28, Bears 20

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (3-5) at CAROLINA PANTHERS (1-6)

LINE: Indianapolis by 2.5 

CHEWABLE: The Colts’ beat-up secondary is at least part of the reason their defence has been so brutal of late, allowing an average of 38 points during the current three-game losing streak. The Panthers are flying high after picking up their first win of the season last week, a 15-13 victory over the Texans. Can Bryce Young pick up his second win? Maybe, if the Panthers can provide him better protection than usual. A better bet is than Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss will have busy, very good afternoons, against a Carolina run defence that ranks 29th, allowing an average of 139.4 yards per game.

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TAKING: INDIANAPOLIS -2.5

SCORE (O/U 44): Colts 23, Panthers 21

NEW YORK GIANTS (2-6) at LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (3-5) 

LINE: Las Vegas by 1.5

CHEWABLE: Raiders interim coach Antonio Pierce just happens to be a former Giant, and what better way for players to ingratiate themselves with the new boss than to give him his first win against his former team. Having Aidan O’Connell at QB instead of Jimmy Garoppolo might give the Raiders a boost as well, although it’s not like high powered cables are needed to get more out of an offence that has failed to score more than 21 points in a game this season. But significant help is on the way for the Giants, and not just the return of QB Daniel Jones, who doesn’t exactly have a tough act to follow after the team finished with net minus-9 passing yards in its 13-10 loss to the Jets last week. Bigger, if in fact it does happen, will be the return of two offensive tackles — star LT Andrew Thomas and RT Evan Neal, the team’s 2022 first round pick. Also, Saquon Barkley is coming off his best rushing game of the season against a Raiders defence that ranks 30th against the run.

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TAKING: N.Y. GIANTS +1.5 

SCORE (O/U 37): Giants 21, Raiders 20

DALLAS COWBOYS (5-2) at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (7-1)

LINE: Philadelphia by 3

CHEWABLE: Already playing through a knee injury, Jalen Hurts has lost two of his three career starts against Dallas, while the Eagles have dropped four of their last five versus the Cowboys. More important, however, is what’s happening in the here and now. The Eagles have the No. 1 run defence in the league, but they’re also 26th against the pass. Dak Prescott, who has been at the top of his game the last two weeks, has completed a career-best 71 percent of his passes this season. Against the Rams last week in the Cowboys’ 43-20 win, he had a season-best passer rating of 133.7, improving his record to 30-0 when his passer rating eclipses 114. And looking into the rear view mirror one more time shows Prescott loves playing Philly. In his last three starts versus the Eagles he has gone 3-0 and, while tossing 11 TD passes compared to one interception, directed the ‘Boys to an average of 44 points per game. A win by the home side in this one would give the Eagles a comfortable three-game lead in the NFC East, while a victory by the visitors puts Eagles and Cowboys tied in the loss column. Expect a second huge game in a row from CeeDee Lamb.

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TAKING: DALLAS +3

SCORE (O/U 46.5): Cowboys 31, Eagles 28

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (3-4) at NEW YORK JETS (4-3)

LINE: L.A. Chargers by 3.5

CHEWABLE: Pegged as an underdog by more than a field goal is a slap in the face to the Jets, who are on a three-game winning streak and playing at home against a team that snapped a two-game slump by beating up on the Bears. Also, Gang Green’s anemic offence gets to face a defence that ranks 31st in total yards allowed and dead last in passing yards allowed, so even Zach Wilson should have success against the Chargers, provided he is bought time by a line that will be facing the rejuvenated Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa. Getting Breece Hall going could be difficult for the Jets, as stopping the run is something the Chargers defence does well with a sixth-best 93.4 yards per game against. Meanwhile, Justin Herbert will be looking at a defence that is fifth against the pass, but Austin Ekeler’s skills as a rusher could be more effective as New York has the second-worst defence in the league against the run. 

TAKING: N.Y. JETS  +3.5

SCORE (O/U 40): Chargers 23, Jets 21

NFL Week 9 picks

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