With Week 9 upon us, that means we are now officially halfway through the 2022 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: It's the award for best picker from Week 8.
I didn't just beat everyone at CBS Sports with my 13-2 record, I also almost topped every other media member in the country. According to our friends at Pick Watch, I finished tied for third out of about 250 other pickers. Since this will likely never happen again, I had to make sure to properly document it.
Unfortunately, I feel like I won't be topping that number this week, but let's get to the Week 9 picks to find out if I can.
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 went 13-2, 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.
Brinson and I actually got together for a podcast earlier this week where we went through all our favorite picks from Week 9 and you can listen to that below.
Alright, let's get to the picks because the sooner we do that, the sooner I can give myself another award next week.
NFL Week 9 Picks
Las Vegas (2-5) at Jacksonville (2-6)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
It's probably for the best that CBS is only airing this game in roughly two percent of the country because I'm not sure who wants to watch these two teams play right now. At this point in the season, I don't think Jaguars fans even want to watch the Jaguars play and I'm 90% sure that Raiders fans don't really want to watch their team play, either.
As bad as these two teams have been though, their games have actually been exciting, and no, CBS isn't paying me to say that just because this game is on CBS. Heading into Week 9, these two teams have played in a total of TEN one-score games this year. On the Jaguars' end, all SIX of their losses have come by just one score. As for the Raiders, four of their five losses have come by one score.
The thing that worries me about the Raiders is that they looked like they were playing football for the first time in Week 8 during their 24-0 loss to the Saints. That being said, the Jags didn't look much better last week. Trevor Lawrence, who I'm starting to think has been scarred for life after spending one year with Urban Meyer, threw two ugly interceptions in a loss to the Broncos.
I have no idea who to pick in this game, so I'm just going to look at it like this: I don't trust either team's offense, I don't trust either team's defense, and the more I think about it, the only player I trust on the field in this game is Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson, who is one of just two kickers in the NFL this year to make 100% of his field goals while attempting 10 or more kicks.
Since Carlson is the only player I trust, I guess that means I'm going to pick the Raiders by a field goal.
The pick: Raiders 23-20 over Jaguars
L.A. Chargers (4-3) at Atlanta (4-4)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
If you would have told me before the season that one of these two teams would be in first place heading into this game, I would have put all my money on the Chargers, so it's a good thing you didn't tell me, because then I would be broke and homeless.
This game could get wild and that's because both of these offenses do something well that the other team's defense is not good at stopping. On the Falcons' end, they'll be going into this game with the NFL's fifth-best rushing offense and they'll get to face a Chargers defense that can't stop the run (L.A. is surrendering 137.6 yards per game, which is the sixth-most in the NFL).
Not to be outdone, the Chargers will be going into this game with the NFL's fourth-best passing offense and they'll be facing a Falcons defense that has been the worst in the NFL at stopping the pass this year. The Falcons are surrendering 306.9 yards per game through the air, which is an astronomical number when you consider that no other team is even giving up 280 yards per game.
The other problem for the Falcons is that they just played the Panthers and if I've learned one thing over the past eight weeks, it's that no one ever wins after playing Carolina. Somehow, the Panthers have turned into the equivalent of a 24-hour bender in Cancun. After playing them, you basically look drunk in your next game and you lose. In what might be the most unbelievable stat of the year, NFL teams are 0-7 this season in their first game after facing the Panthers. I repeat, no team has won a game the following week after facing Carolina. It doesn't matter if you win or lose against the Panthers, you just won't be able to win your next game after facing them.
- The Browns couldn't do it: They faced the Panthers in Week 1 and then blew a 13-point lead in the final 90 seconds to lose to the Jets in Week 2.
- The 6-2 Giants couldn't do it: They faced the Panthers in Week 2 and then lost to the Cowboys in Week 3 in a game where they were favored to win.
- The Saints played the Panthers in Week 3, then lost in Week 4. The Cardinals played the Panthers in Week 4 and then lost in Week 5. The 49ers played the Panthers in Week 5 and then lost as a 4.5-point favorite to the Falcons in Week 6.
You probably get the point by now, but I'm so close to running through the entire schedule that I might as well finish. The Panthers hangover even lasts through a bye week. The Rams played the Panthers in Week 6, had a bye, and then lost to the 49ers in Week 8.
I think what I'm trying to say here is that even if I wanted to pick the Falcons, I couldn't. There's no way I can pick against this streak. The Falcons played the Panthers in Week 8, which means they're destined to lose this week.
The pick: Chargers 27-23 over Falcons
L.A. Rams (3-4) at Tampa Bay (3-5)
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
The last time we saw these two teams on the same field together came last January when the Rams beat the Buccaneers 30-27 in the divisional round of the playoffs. If this is your first season watching football, you might be wondering how these two teams made the playoffs last year considering how bad they've looked so far in 2022.
Surprisingly, these two teams are mostly struggling for the same reason: They have no offensive line.
On the Rams' end, their starting left tackle retired (Andrew Whitworth) and one of their starting guards (Austin Corbett) left in free agency. As if that wasn't bad enough, they've been hit by roughly 700 injuries on the offensive line over the past eight weeks, which has left them here:
Rams offensive line right now:— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) October 16, 2022
LT2 - LG2 - C3 - RG5 - RT1
That RG5 means their FIFTH-STRING right guard was starting for them two weeks ago. Based on what I know about string theory, when you're down to your fifth-string anything, you're out of strings.
And no things have not gotten better since the above tweet was sent out on Oct. 16. Here's how they were looking in Week 8 against the 49ers:
Due to the struggles of the offensive line, Matthew Stafford has now been sacked 24 times this year, which is tied for the third-most in the NFL. The Rams are nearly unbeatable when they protect Stafford -- they're 12-1 when he takes one sack or less in a game -- but the offense is horrible when he's facing a lot of pressure (They're 0-4 this year when he takes multiple sacks in a game and 3-8 dating back to last season).
If Stafford is getting sacked, the Rams are likely going to lose and Stafford has been getting sacked a lot this year.
As for the Buccaneers, let's see how things are going with Brady and his offensive line.
Like the Rams, the Buccaneers are also dealing with their own offensive line issues, but the difference is that Tom Brady refuses to take sacks because he's 45 years old and doesn't want his body to break. Brady has only been sacked 13 times this year, which is the second-lowest total for any QB who has started eight games.
I think what I'm trying to say is that I think Brady is going to have slightly more success than Stafford on Sunday.
Defensively, the Buccaneers have given up the seventh-fewest points in the NFL this year, which I'm only noting, because not only are the Rams 0-4 this season when they play a top-10 scoring defense, but they've been outscored in those four games by an average of 16.25 points. I think that means I have to take Tampa Bay.
I don't want to say that the season is over for the team that loses this game, but I kind of feel like the season is over for the team that loses this game and I don't think that Brady is going to let that happen to his team.
The pick: Buccaneers 20-17 over Rams
Tennessee (5-2) at Kansas City (5-2)
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
If there is one team in the NFL that Andy Reid has no idea how to beat during the regular season, it's the Tennessee Titans. On the list of the most inexplicable events over the past few years, the Titans' mastery over Reid is up there with Blake Shelton being named the Sexiest Man Alive in 2017. It's been five years and my wife still writes a daily letter to People magazine asking how that happened.
As for Reid, since the start of the 2014 season, he's gone 0-4 against Tennessee even though his team was favored to win all four games and even though two of the four were played at Arrowhead Stadium like this week's game will be.
Last season in Tennessee, the Titans pulled off one of the most stunning wins of the year when they beat the Chiefs 27-3. THEY HELD THE CHIEFS TO THREE POINTS. Every year, I tell myself that this is finally going to be the year where Reid gets his revenge, and every year, it doesn't happen.
I'll give you one guess on why the Titans have been so successful against the Chiefs, and yup, you guessed it, it's Derrick Henry. Over the course of his career, Henry has played in five games against the Chiefs and he has averaged 111.4 yard per game and 5.4 yards per carry. Think about that: The man has gained an average of MORE THAN five yards every time he's touched the ball against the Chiefs.
That being said, the Chiefs have given up the third-fewest rushing yards in the NFL this season so maybe this will finally be the year where they slow Henry down. Of course, the Chiefs defensive rushing statistics are kind of misleading because they only gave up three yards in Week 4 to a Buccaneers' team that decided not to run the ball at all. Over the past three weeks, the Chiefs are surrendering 127 yards per game on the ground and that sounds like a defense that Henry will be able to bulldoze through.
The only thing that scares me about picking against the Chiefs here is that they're coming off a bye and I hate picking against Andy Reid off the bye. Reid is so good off the bye that I once sang a song about it with Ryan Wilson and Will Brinson.
Over the course of his career, Reid is 20-3 off the bye, but I'm going to say that extra week to prepare for the Titans isn't going to help unless the Chiefs defense spent the week trying to tackle wild horses in an open pasture, because that's the only way to practice tackling Derrick Henry.
The pick: Titans 27-24 over Chiefs (If Ryan Tannehill plays)
The pick: Chiefs 24-20 over Titans (If Malik Willis plays)
Baltimore (5-3) at New Orleans (3-5)
8:15 p.m. ET, Monday (ESPN)
In theory, this should be the easiest game to pick in Week 9 and that's mainly because Lamar Jackson almost never loses to NFC teams (he's 13-1) and Andy Dalton almost never wins prime-time games (he's 6-19 as a starter in his career).
The last time we saw Dalton in prime time came on Thursday night in Week 8 when he was doing this:
In his past six prime-time starts, Dalton is 0-6 and he's thrown nine interceptions compared to just eight touchdowns. Not only that, but in those six losses, Dalton's team has lost by an average of 22 points per game.
The Saints could take this game out of Dalton's hands by giving Alvin Kamara a huge workload, but even that might not work. The Ravens will be going into this game as one of just five teams in the NFL that's surrendering less than 100 yards per game on the ground, so it's not going to be easy for Kamara to find any running room.
On the other hand, the Ravens do struggle to stop the pass, which means if the Saints are going to win, they're likely going to need a big game from Dalton.
CAN DALTON ACTUALLY DELIVER IN PRIME TIME? On one hand, he has 11 years of history that says no. As the resident Bengals homer here at CBS Sports, I should point out that I have personally suffered through 21 of Dalton's prime-time starts since his rookie year in 2011 and when he plays, it usually ends up being a good thing for the other team.
That being said, the last time Dalton won a prime-time game, it came against the Ravens and I think he can lead the Saints to an upset here. The Ravens are extremely banged up -- Rashod Bateman definitely won't be playing while Gus Edwards and Mark Andrews are both dealing with injuries that could keep them out -- and although conventional wisdom says never pick Dalton in a prime-time game, I've decided to throw conventional wisdom out the window this week.
The pick: Saints 23-20 over Ravens
NFL Week 9 picks: All the rest
Eagles 31-20 over Texans
Dolphins 34-24 over Bears
Bengals 27-20 over Panthers
Packers 24-17 over Lions
Patriots 23-16 over Colts
Bills 38-24 over Jets
Vikings 27-24 over Commanders
Seahawks 26-23 over Cardinals
BYES: Browns, Broncos, Steelers, Cowboys, Giants, 49ers
Best pick: Last week, I predicted that the Falcons would beat the Panthers in a crazy game and guess what happened? The Falcons beat the Panthers in a crazy game. If you're wondering just how crazy it got, by my count, it was the only game from Week 8 that had:
- A 62-yard Hail Mary touchdown
- Someone getting flagged for taking their helmet off while celebrating the Hail Mary
- A missed game-winning extra point that was attempted from 48 yards due to the flag on the Hail Mary
- The ugliest overtime interception you'll ever see
- A missed game-wining field goal attempt in overtime from 32 yards away that was missed by the same guy who missed the extra point after the Hail Mary
- A kicker showing mercy to everyone by ending the game with a field goal in overtime, but not the same kicker who missed the extra point and the 32-yard field goal
This is probably recency bias speaking, but Panthers-Falcons might be the greatest rivalry the NFL has ever seen.
Worst pick: When it comes to playing in prime time, there is no team worse than the Bengals. Going into Week 8, the Bengals had lost an NFL-record 12 straight prime-time road games and yet, I still picked them to win on Monday night against the Browns.
The Bengals haven't won a Monday road game SINCE 1990! They didn't have their best receiver! WHY WOULD I PICK THEM TO WIN!? I've thought about it for 24 straight hours and I still have no idea. I clearly know nothing about picking prime-time games, which doesn't bode well for this week since I'm picking the Saints over the Ravens and the Titans over the Chiefs.
Finally, if you guys have ever wondered which teams I'm actually good at picking, here's a quick look at my best and worst teams when it comes to picks this year.
Teams I'm 6-1 picking this year (Straight up): Bills, Vikings, Rams.
Teams I've been the worst at picking this year (Straight up): Jets (3-5), Browns (3-5), Colts (3-4-1), Raiders (3-4).
Every other team is somewhere in the middle.
Straight up in Week 8: 13-2
SU overall: 73-49-1
Against the spread in Week 8: 10-5
ATS overall: 59-60-4