Scott Shapiro's Week 9 NFL 4-Pack
It is hard to believe we are nearly halfway through the season, but it is onto Week 9 in the National Football League after going 2-2 with my Week 8 4-Pack.
A solid set of games is on tap, including a clash between arguably the league’s two best teams in the Rams and Saints. I lack a strong opinion in the game in the Louisiana, but here are the games I like this week.
Denver Broncos (-1) vs Houston Texans
Houston heads into Mile High Stadium on a five-game winning streak after beating the Dolphins last Thursday night 42-23. The Texans have not wowed me with their play during the first 3 victories, but admittedly they have performed at a solid level in their two most recent wins when I was on the other side.
Houston sits atop a weak AFC South, but did lose a key player to injury last week in deep threat Will Fuller. Fuller made life easier for both Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins with his ability to stretch the field. They still should be able to win the division, but I think they are in a tough spot on the road this week.
The Broncos have played better over the past couple of weeks after it appeared head coach Vance Joseph was on the “hot seat.” They buried the Cardinals in Week 7 45-10 and then gave the division leading Chiefs a battle before losing 23-30. At 3-5 they are in a must win spot on Sunday and I expect them to play well, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Look for Denver to continue to run the ball with success and make enough plays to win their third home game of the 2018 season.
Week 9 NFL Pick- Denver Broncos (1 unit)
Baltimore Ravens (-3) vs Pittsburgh Steelers
These two AFC North powers have had some great battles over the years and meet for the second time this season in an extremely important game, especially for the home team.
Baltimore looked like a legitimate Super Bowl contender during the early part of the season, but a 24-23 loss at home to the Saints, and a 36-21 defeat in Carolina, has them at 4-4 heading into the showdown with the Steelers. The ball did not bounce their way last week in Charlotte, but they also did not establish the same defensive level they've shown off throughout the first half of the 2018 campaign. They will need to get back to an elite level on that side of the ball if they want to get the job done on Sunday.
On the other side, did not have a good start to the season, but they have turned things around as of late. They lead the division with a 4-2-1 record and look to avenge a 26-14 loss to the Ravens on September 30th. Running back James Conner has filled in extremely well for Le’veon Bell and the defense has really picked things up.
The Steelers have definitely been the better team over the past couple of weeks, but Ben Roethlisberger continues to play at his worst in early afternoon road games. I expect the Ravens to play with emotion at home and find a way to sweep the season series against their arch rivals from Pennsylvania.
Baltimore gets themselves back into the divisional race with a big win at home.
Week 9 NFL Pick- Baltimore Ravens (1 unit)
Cleveland Browns (+8.5) vs Kansas City Chiefs
The finally had enough and fired head coach Hue Jackson. I guess at 3-36-1 it was time. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams takes over and faces a tough task as Pat Mahomes and the high-powered Kansas City offense come to town on Sunday.
The Cleveland offense appeared to be moving in the right direction early in the season with rookie Baker Mayfield at the helm, but they have struggled over the past few weeks. Perhaps new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens can make a difference.
The Chiefs enter Sunday with a record of 7-1 and hold a two-game lead over the Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC West. Their offense has carried them this year posting a league high 290 points through the first eight weeks. Their defense has been a bit better of late, but still makes them vulnerable to cover big numbers, especially away from home where they have given up over 32 points a game.
The common angle is to bet against the team that's amid turmoil, but Cleveland shed some significant dead weight. They're a team that has shown plenty of resolve, and that quality will allow them to respond positively and hang in this one. It feels like a big number but Cleveland will cover.
Week 9 NFL Pick- Cleveland Browns (1 unit)
Tennessee Titans (+6.5) at Dallas Cowboys
If you have read my work before you know I am quite high on the Dallas defense this year. You also know that I think their offense is limited due to a modest passing game. They did acquire former Oakland Raider wide receiver Amari Cooper during their bye week and that should help, but I still expect them to struggle to make big plays down the field with regularity.
The Titans also come off their bye week after losing a tough one in London to a good Charger team. Much like Dallas, the strength of their team is on the defensive side and they struggle to move the ball consistently through the air. However, quarterback Marcus Mariota has shown signs of life of late and should be able to do just enough to keep the Titans in this one throughout.
Dallas should pick up their fourth win, but I think it will be a dogfight in “Big D.” Take the points.
Week 9 NFL Pick- Tennessee Titans (1 unit)
Scott Shapiro’s 2018 NFL Record 22-15-3 (+4 units)