Week 9 in the NFL kicks off on Friday morning in Australlia with a bit of a lackluster clash between the Jets and Colts from Indy. As always, Tom Kelly is back to preview the key games of the week as well as give his betting tips for every clash below.
After a strong start to the week, things turned bad in the alter games to see the Week 8 tips go 7-8. Our season record is now 64-58. We have 14 games in Week 9, with four teams on the bye. Remember to head to our NFL Tips page for regular updates throughout the season.
NFL Week 9 Betting Tips
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts
Lucas Oil Stadium, Friday 11:20am AEDT
The Jets are the talk of the town this week, thanks to a thrilling upset of the Bengals engineered by fourth year QB Mike White in his first NFL start. While the stats were impressive, White mostly got the job done by back-pedalling furiously once the ball was snapped to buy time, and then dumping off short passes to his running backs. It’s hardly a recipe for sustained success in the NFL, and we can expect tougher days ahead. One bright light is the emergence of rookie RB Michael Carter, who is thriving on being the main target of these short passes. Jamison Crowder is another who thrives in the short passing game. The defensive unit continues to struggle to slow opposition teams down.
The Colts surging momentum was slowed in a tight loss of the Titans last week, but there was enough positive signs to think this team has plenty left to achieve in 2021. Playing behind a healthy and dominant offensive line, Carson Wentz is continuing to move in the right direction, and his growing connection with Michael Pittman is proving invaluable. Stud RB Jonathan Taylor is also blossoming, continuing to prove himself as one of the best backs in the NFL. The middling defensive unit should be able to handle the limited offense the Jets will throw at them. While this game is unlikely to be a massive blowout, I do think the Colts is comfortably the better side of the spread.
Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Rams
SoFi Stadium, Monday 12:15pm AEDT
The Titans were dealt a hammer blow this week, when the centrepiece of their entire team was ruled out for the season with a foot injury. That would be Derrick Henry, who despite the signing of Adrian Peterson simply cannot be replaced. We’ll see if the team shifts focus to more of a passing emphasis as a result, or tries to use a committee of Peterson, McNichols & others to replace Henry’s production. It would be very helpful if Julio Jones can stay fit, and it does look like he’ll be back on the field this week. The team has a 6-2 record and has beaten strong opposition each of the last 3 weeks. They’ve also scored 24+ in each of their last 7 games. The Rams could be their toughest test yet, so there has to be plenty of doubt if they can continue that streak without Henry.
Meanwhile the 7-1 Rams continue to impress, having scored 20+ points in every game this season and 26+ in 7/8. They only got stronger this week by adding Von Miller via a trade from the Broncos, creating an even more fearsome pass rush alongside Aaron Donald. Matt Stafford is in the conversation for MVP thanks to a much better team environment than he ever experienced in Detroit, and his connection with Cooper Kupp in particular is set to break a number of records this season. The supporting cast of Woods, Henderson & Higbee are all consistent and can pop for big games at any time, and the defensive unit boasts several stars including Donald, Miller and Jalen Ramsey. All this to say that as much as the Titans have impressed so far, they are about to run into a unstoppable train in their colosseum at SoFi stadium, and I don’t think they’ll get particularly close.
Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers
Heinz Field, Tuesday 12:20pm AEDT
The week finishes with a fairly low profile game, with perhaps the only excitement in this one entering around the performance of much-hyped rookies Najee Harris and Justin Fields. The Bears are close to irrelevant in their current form, only able to truly compete with other bad teams. While Justin Fields has shown enough flashes to confirm that he is the teams future, it will likely require a new coaching staff to allow him to use all his talents within a proper scheme. This training wheels version has led to players like Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet failing to produce anything of note so far. The formerly dominant defence is now middling at best.
The Steelers are in a similar position, relying on the sharply declining skills of 39 year old Ben Roethlisberger to power the offense. While the team has managed to grind out three straight wins, grinding is about the limit of their upside. A highest team total of 27 this season is one indication of that. Najee Harris is performing as expected, more due to be on the field almost every snap than being especially efficient. The struggles of the offensive line are part of the reason that Big Ben is unable to facilitate the kind of production that talented receivers Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and Juju Smith-Schuster could have in a better environment. Nevertheless, the defence is still good enough to keep games close, also conceding a highest total of 27 this season. With the match total already low at 40 points, I’m going to leant towards the unlimited upside of Fields after his best game last week, and trust that the Bears defence still has enough juice to handle Big Ben and Najee.
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts - See Above
Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins - Bet Coming Soon
Denver Broncos at Dallas Cowboys - Broncos +9.5 ($1.90 at Sportsbet)
Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Ravens - Vikings +6 ($1.90 at Sportsbet)
New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers - Panthers +3.5 ($1.90 at Sportsbet)
Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars - Bills -14.5 ($1.87 at Sportsbet)
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals - Bengals -2.5 ($1.90 at Sportsbet)
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints - Saints -6 ($1.90 at Sportsbet)
Las Vegas Raiders at New York Giants - Raiders -3 ($1.96 at Sportsbet)
Los Angeles Chargers at Philadelphia Eagles - Chargers -1.5 ($1.77 at Sportsbet)
Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs - Chiefs -7.5 ($1.90 at Sportsbet)
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers - Cardinals -1 ($1.90 at Sportsbet)
Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Rams - See Above
Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers - See Above