NFL Week 9: What To Expect

Jan 9, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) avoids a tackle by New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (95) in the first quarter at Highmark Stadium.
Photo Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Week 9 marks the new halfway point of the NFL season, and looking around the league, some developments are totally unsurprising. No football fan would bat an eye seeing the Bills and Chiefs atop the AFC standings, for instance. But few people could’ve predicted the Vikings off to a 6-1 start, or the Bucs and Rams both ranking among the league’s worst offenses this far into the season.

But those unexpected developments will not stop us from previewing what’s to come. We have best-in-class research in the form of Elias Insights, and we fully intend to use them. So let’s take a look at some of Week 9’s biggest matchups.

Buffalo Bills (6-1) at New York Jets (5-3)

Scenario A: Buffalo Prevails in AFC East Defensive Showdown (Bills Win + Jets Cover)

Points might be hard to come by in this matchup of AFC East rivals. The Bills currently sport the best scoring defense in the league, and no team has mustered more than 21 points against Buffalo so far this season. The Jets aren’t too shabby on that side of the ball either, allowing the sixth-fewest yards per game to opposing offenses. But it’s on offense where Buffalo separate themselves—quarterback Josh Allen leads all players in fantasy points per game (PPR scoring rules) and has a record of 11-1 as the Bills’ starter when favored by double-digit points. However, the team’s record against the spread in those games is just 7-3-2, so while Buffalo should improve to 7-1 this week, covering a point spread that opened at 13.0 might be too much to ask.
Oct 16, 2022; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner (1) celebrates following a play during the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Scenario B: Bills Ground Jets In Easy Road Win (Bills Win + Cover)

The 5-3 Jets have already found more success this season than many predicted in large part because they’ve faced backup quarterbacks in several games. They won’t be so lucky this Sunday, instead drawing Josh Allen, who leads the league averaging 314 passing yards per game. His main weapon remains receiver Stefon Diggs, who is averaging eight catches for 119 yards each time he takes the field. Only the Chiefs score at a better rate than Buffalo, and while the Jets defense ranks sixth in points allowed per game, Gang Green’s offense as led by Zach Wilson is in no position to run with the Bills. If Buffalo grabs an early lead, it will force the Jets to lean more on Wilson, which hasn’t proven to be a winning formula, and the Bills defense will have a field day against the second-year pro.

Scenario C: Jets Stun Bills at Home, Tighten Race in AFC East (Jets Win + Cover)

Since the start of the 2021 season, underdogs of 10+ points playing at home are 11-5 against the spread, winning seven of those games outright. To knock off a team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations, the Jets will need their 2022 draft class to continue to shine. New York’s defense, ranked dead last in the NFL last season, is now sixth in yards allowed per game, and boasts perhaps the league’s best cornerback duo in rookie Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed. On offense, first-year wideout Garrett Wilson just went off for six catches and 115 yards in Week 8, his second game of the season with 100+ receiving yards. Losing running back and fellow rookie Breece Hall was a blow to the Jets’ preferred style of play, but if Wilson can make some plays in the passing game, this defense has proven up to the task—just ask Aaron Rodgers.

Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates his first down against the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Vikings (6-1) at Washington Commanders (4-4)

Scenario A: Cousins, Vikings Improve To 7-1 (Vikings Win + Cover)

The Vikings have ripped off five straight victories, winning by an average margin of six points during this streak. Washington too has won three straight, though by a combined eight points, illustrating they might have some luck on their side. Minnesota will be favored on the road in this matchup, comfortable circumstances for Kirk Cousins. Since he joined Minnesota, Cousins has led the team to a 11-3-1 record when giving points away from home, covering in nine of those 15 games. The Vikes have already won twice this season as road favorites (1-1 against the spread), and their winning streak seems more likely to continue than the Commanders’ one does.

Scenario B: Commanders Keep Win Streak Alive at Home (Commanders Win + Cover)

The Vikings currently rank in the top 10 of scoring offenses in the NFL, but a road game poses a major risk to several Minnesota players. Quarterback Kirk Cousins is averaging 40 fewer passing yards per game on the road versus home; running back Dalvin Cook sees a similar drop in his rushing totals playing at home vs. away. Taylor Heinicke, starting for the injured Carson Wentz, has passed for over 200 yards in his two starts this season and will face a Minnesota defense that ranks 29th against the pass in the NFL. If Heinicke can make use of his top playmakers (Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel have each had a standout performance in the last two weeks), the Commanders will end Minnesota’s winning streak while extending their own.

Jan 23, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) runs the ball against Los Angeles Rams defensive back David Long (22) during the second half in a NFC Divisional playoff football game at Raymond James Stadium.
Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams (3-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)

Scenario A: Rams Offense Wakes Up In Much Needed Win (Rams Win + Cover)

The Los Angeles Rams will get going offensively this week to secure a win that they sorely need against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Cooper Kupp left the field with an ankle injury last week in the Rams’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers, but coach Sean McVay has said that he expects Kupp to play this week. With their running game struggling this year, the presence of Kupp will be vital to the success of the Rams in this game and going forward this season.

Scenario B: Bucs Defense Does The Job Against Rams (Buccaneers Win + Cover)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have relied on their defense to make up for their sputtering offense this season, and that will continue to be the case this week against the Rams. Tampa Bay is allowing 18.9 points per game on the season, which ranks sixth in the NFL entering Week 9. They will continue to cover for Tom Brady, who is struggling personally and professionally of late, to help the Buccaneers get to 4-5, which inexplicably makes them an upper-echelon team in the NFC South.
Oct 24, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) attempts a pass during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium.
Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee Titans (5-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)

Scenario A: Titans Run Over Chiefs For Upset Win (Titans Win + Cover)

The Tennessee Titans will continue to use their top weapon to keep the ball away from the Kansas City Chiefs. Derrick Henry is coming off of a 219 yard rushing game against the Houston Texans last week, and his ability to move the ball on the ground will provide the Titans with much-needed time of possession, leaving Patrick Mahomes to watch from the sideline. With the Titans ranking in the bottom-10 in the NFL in pass defense, the Titans will likely need to outscore the Chiefs in a high-scoring contest, and they will do just that.

Scenario B: Chiefs Sweat Out Another Tight Home Victory (Chiefs Win + Titans Cover)

When all is said and done in this game, the Kansas City Chiefs will simply be too much for the Tennessee Titans defense to overcome. Patrick Mahomes is 17-7 in primetime games in his career, and will move to 18-7 with a victory here. But Derrick Henry and the Titans running game will take care of the ball and chew up the clock in order to limit the number of possessions that Mahomes and the Chiefs can use to score. As a result, the Titans will cover the double-digit spread, even with the Chiefs winning the game.

Scenario C: Chiefs Dominate Clash With Titans (Chiefs Win + Cover)

The Tennessee Titans simply do not have the offense to compete with that of the Kansas City Chiefs. Whether quarterback Ryan Tannehill is able to suit up or Malik Willis makes his second straight start, the Titans are 31st in the NFL in passing yardage, ahead of only a Chicago Bears team that has a love-hate relationship with the very concept of the forward pass. The Chiefs will key in on Derrick Henry and the Titans rushing attack and slow Henry down en route to a blowout win at Arrowhead Stadium.


If you can’t get enough of these game previews, fear not! Each week we examine the biggest games of the weekend, so tune back in next week for another round of What To Expect and more research from the team at Elias.

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