NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tennessee Titans

It's going to be another weird week in the NFL, as we will have to either bet on or against quarterbacks that we've never seen play before. As we saw last week, Will Levis hurt us with a historic performance against the No. 3 defense in the NFL. Any given Sunday, right?

Jaren Hall of the Minnesota Vikings and Clayton Tune of the Arizona Cardinals are expected to start this week. If they do, they would be the 8th and 9th different rookie starting quarterbacks this season, which would tie an NFL record. By the way, it's just Week 9!

Here's a look at what I'm thinking this week. As always, credit to the CBS Sports research team for making me sound smart. 

All odds come courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook

Top five picks ATS record: 16-22-2
Overall ATS record: 51-67-4
Straight up record: 70-52

Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons (-5)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox, fubo)

The Vikings downgraded at quarterback while the Falcons upgraded. Kirk Cousins of course tore his Achilles last week, which pushes the rookie Jaren Hall into the lineup for now, while Falcons head coach Arthur Smith benched Desmond Ridder for Taylor Heinicke.  

Ridder leads the NFL in giveaways with 12, and last week showed why Heinicke should be an upgrade. Ridder completed 8 of 12 passes for 71 yards in the first half vs. the Tennessee Titans, and lost one fumble. Heinicke came in to start the second half, and completed 12 of 21 passes for 175 yards and one touchdown. 

Atlanta's defense looked good this year up until Will Levis surprisingly shredded them. I'm not expecting Hall to throw four touchdowns against the Falcons like the kid from Kentucky did last week. 

The pick: Falcons -5
Projected score: Falcons 24-13

Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers (-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox, fubo)

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has been diagnosed with a UCL sprain in his right thumb, and Sean McVay says he's day-to-day. I'm going to take this line right now and predict he does not play. Even if Stafford does suit up, he can't be 100% throwing the football.

The Packers have not been good, I'm very aware. Jordan Love and Co. are looking to avoid the third five-game losing streak for the Packers since 1992, and something has to give. Matt LaFleur has to get this offense going, and this is a good opportunity to get back into the win column in front of their home fans against who I think will be Brett Rypien

The pick: Packers -3
Projected score: Packers 16-10

Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns (-8)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)

NFL Media reporters are talking like Clayton Tune will be starting on Sunday despite the fact that Kyler Murray has been a full participant in practice. For the Browns, Deshaun Watson is back at practice as a limited participant, which is good news. But I'm more focused on the Cardinals' QB situation, because I would hate to make my NFL debut against this Cleveland defense.

The Browns rank first in the NFL in opponent third down percentage (28.3%) and total defense (260.0 yards per game). We haven't seen Tune yet, but you have to imagine he's a downgrade from Joshua Dobbs, who is now a Viking. If you were curious, the Over/Under for Cardinals points scored is 14.5 at BetMGM with the Under juiced.

The pick: Browns -8
Projected score: Browns 21-10

If you want a more analytical approach to your NFL picks, then I highly suggest that you check out the SportsLine Projection Model, which has been on fire this year. Check it out if you want to know which side to bet. 

Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints (-8.5)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)

I guess the Saints are back on the right track. I actually made fading New Orleans a best bet last week, and it blew up in my face. I didn't expect Derek Carr to drop 38 points on the Indianapolis Colts, and it's clear that Taysom Hill and Rashid Shaheed have developed into legitimate weapons in this offense. I picked the Los Angeles Chargers to cover 8.5 points against the Bears last week, but should have made it a best bet. L.A. coasted to a 17-point victory, and Justin Herbert didn't have to do anything special on offense. Tyson Bagent on the other hand struggled against a Chargers defense that isn't considered to be one of the best in the league. Now, he faces his stiffest test against a top five defense on the road.

The Bears are 0-7 ATS in their last seven Sunday road games, and have lost 11 straight Sunday road games. 

The pick: Saints -8.5
Projected score: Saints 30-14

Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals (-2)

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC, fubo)

The Bengals are on fire while the Bills are still figuring things out. So I'll ride the hot hand of Joe Burrow, as he looks to show out in front of his home fans in prime time. The Bills are tied in having the longest active ATS losing streak, having failed to cover the spread in four straight games. They allowed a backdoor cover against Baker Mayfield and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, were upset straight-up by the inferior New England Patriots, barely got by the Tyrod Taylor-led New York Giants and lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. The injuries of Tre'Davious White, Matt Milano and DaQuan Jones have clearly hurt.

The Bengals have covered in three straight contests, and just went into San Francisco and beat Brock Purdy and the 49ers by 14 points. I was impressed with how Burrow marched the offense right down the field against San Francisco's defense and scored touchdowns on Cincy's first two possessions, and then how the defense forced three 49ers turnovers. Maybe statistically this Bengals defense isn't one of the best in the league, but they play tough. 

The pick: Bengals -2
Projected score: Bengals 28-23

Other Week 9 picks

Titans (+2.5) 20-17 over Steelers
Dolphins (+1.5) 27-26 over Chiefs
Ravens 23-20 over Seahawks (+6)
Patriots 27-24 over Commanders (+3.5)
Buccaneers (+2.5) 21-17 over Texans
Panthers (+2.5) 26-20 over Colts
Giants (+2) 17-16 over Raiders
Cowboys (+3) 28-24 over Eagles
Chargers (-3.5) 26-19 over Jets