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.
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.
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.
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.
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.