Big Five Picks for NFL Week 9 (2023)

Week 8 was another weird week for the NFL. Lots of games pushed against the spread or came close to pushing. In fact, 3 of the Big Five Picks pushed. Unfortunately the other two did not cover. The overall record is 17-19-4. Perhaps we switch back to the eye test instead of running the model. Well that is what we will do! Just like the 49ers who have to make some adjustments after a 3 game losing streak, the Big Five Picks will also go through an adjustment.

The eye test likes the following five teams: Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Jets. If you haven't noticed, 4 of those 5 teams are named after birds. The only other bird team I didn't select was the Seattle Seahawks and they are playing the Ravens. Perhaps it's time to be a bit crazy with my picks. After all, the book and movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is based on a hospital for crazy people. Why not select teams with bird names and then fly away with the Jets on Monday Night Football!

Seriously though, I like the teams I have listed. Two of them have seen line movements in their favor. The other two have seen the opposite but I will explain why I like them. And of course we have a great matchup in the afternoon between two NFC heavyweights that could come down to the wire.

Let's get down to my reasons for the Big Five Picks.

  1. Atlanta Falcons -3.5

This line opened at -1 but quickly went to -3.5 when news came out that Kirk Cousins is done for the season. Rookie QB Jaren Hall will start. He was solid at BYU the last two years but I don't think that is saying much. After all, Zach Wilson was even better at BYU (who Hall replaced after Wilson was drafted) but has struggled in the NFL. Hall was drafted in the 5th round so I am guessing he will be mediocre at best in his first NFL start. The Vikings traded for Joshua Dobbs but he was not very successful with Arizona this season going 1-7. Needless to say, Minnesota is in trouble with Captain Kirk on the sidelines. This is a road game in a dome so that doesn't bode well for Hall. Also, where Minnesota struggles is where Atlanta thrives. The rush defense is not great for Minnesota and Atlanta loves to run. Take a look at Minnesota's game against Philadelphia in Week 2. The Eagles are a run first team (yes, the passing game is very good too) and had a great game on the ground with 48 carries, 259 yards, and 3 TDs. I fully expect Falcons RBs Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier to both have a field day. Atlanta 24 - Minnesota 17.

  1. Arizona Cardinals +12.5

I know it's crazy (that is the theme for this week!) to go with a team that is 1-7 and playing against a playoff contender (and a very physical team) on the road. It's even crazier to roll with a rookie QB who is a complete unknown. After all, I have decided to go against Jaren Hall with my previous pick. However, we are getting 12.5 points, not 3.5 points. That is a lot of points. Even though the line has moved 2.5 points in favor of Cleveland, the over-under is at 38.5 points. I don't like teams favored by double digits when the over-under is below 40 points. That just doesn't make any sense. Essentially you are rooting for 24 - 10 or 27-13 outcome. Remember when I took Cleveland to cover against the 49ers in Week 6? It was the same situation but of course the tables are turned now that Cleveland is the double digit favorite. Arizona will lose but not by 2 TDs. Cleveland 24 - Arizona 13.

  1. Baltimore Ravens -6.5

It's fair to say that Baltimore is the hottest team in the NFL right now. They are on a 3 game winning streak and could be 8-0 if not for close losses to Indianapolis or Pittsburgh. This will be a home game for the Ravens and they host a west coast team having to adjust to a 3 hour time zone change in an early game. Seattle has looked good but I don't think they are any match for Baltimore. In fact, I would argue that Detroit is a better team than Seattle (I know, Seattle beat Detroit earlier this season) and Detroit got their asses kicked in Baltimore two weeks ago. The line movement says it all as the betting public likes Baltimore to keep on rolling. Lamar Jackson should have another great day as he proves why he was worthy of that big contract he signed a few months ago. Baltimore 28 - Seattle 20.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles -3

This one is simple for me: Dallas cannot win big games. Actually, Dak Prescott cannot win big games. I still expect this game to be high scoring and Prescott to have a strong stat line today (likewise with CeeDee Lamb). However, when it comes down to crunch time, Prescott folds. There is a reason why he has not beaten the 49ers in his last 3 games against them and each one of those games were on a national stage. Prescott beat Philadelphia once last year but Hurts did not play in that game. The Eagles are arguably the best team in the NFL right now and are at home where they thrive. The Dallas defense is tough but Hurts and his offensive line are pretty much matchup proof. Likewise with AJ Brown, his favorite receiver. Eagles win in the final minute. Philadelphia 27 - 20.

  1. New York Jets +3.5

This line is a head scratcher for me. The Chargers are mediocre at best but they are favored by 3.5 points? In a road game on Monday Night Football in a major US city like New York City?! I will gladly take 3.5 points for the home dog. Lose by a field goal and you still cover. However, I don't think New York loses. First of all, they have a better record than LA. Secondly, New York beat better teams at home: Buffalo and Philadelphia. And they almost beat Kansas City! There is clearly no respect for the Jets but they have proven they can win without Rodgers. I am at a loss as to why the Jets are not expected to win. The defense is solid as well as the run game. Go Joe Namath here. Jets win as a home dog. New York Jets 23 - LA Chargers 20.

There you have it! Two dogs and 3 favors. Or go aviary/crazy this week!