The Coin Toss: NFL Week 9

Welcome to The Coin Toss, where I make bold predictions about your favorite professional sports.
Nothing to recap from last week, as I made some NBA award predictions. This week, we’ll get back to football for the NFL’s week nine. Let’s do it…

Saints take down undefeated Rams

The Rams escaped with a win last week, 29–27 over the Packers to go to 8–0. Next week, they’ll face the Saints in New Orleans for a matchup of NFC powerhouses. No one is counting the Saints out here, but they did open as 2.5-point underdogs. This makes sense in a game against a team that’s undefeated, but I predict they won’t come out of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with a perfect record.

We know this game will be a shootout, despite the strength of the Rams’ defense. Two great offenses will be playing in this game; the Rams and Saints are second and eighth in the league in offensive yards per game, respectively.  The Saints have ran the ball well this year but have tended to air it out more at home in their domed stadium. They’ll need to do so again this week to beat Los Angeles, and I think Drew Brees and company can pull it off.

Chiefs blow out Browns (win by more than 17 points)

We all know how great the Chiefs are and how bad the Browns have been despite new hope from their rookies. The reason some might not expect this game to go so poorly for Cleveland is the firing of head coach Hue Jackson. You might think that, with new leadership, they can put up a fight at home against a beatable Chiefs defense.

Here’s why the game won’t be close: The Browns’ defense will not be able to contain Patrick Mahomes and his squad. Gregg Williams has taken over as the interim coach, the same Gregg Williams that has allowed Cleveland’s defense to underachieve so badly as the defensive coordinator. Don’t expect much to change for that unit, the one you really need to step up to beat Kansas City. The Chiefs are 8.5-point favorites in this game. Don’t bet on the Browns to cover the spread. My prediction: Kansas City by 17-plus points.

Steelers beat division-rival Ravens on the road

Here’s a betting line I don’t understand: The Ravens are favored by three points over the Steelers. Why, exactly?

Maybe you’re looking at their Week 4 game in Pittsburgh where the Ravens took the win, 26–14. James Conner carried the ball nine times for just 19 yards in that game. The second-year running back has been on a tear since then, and he’s done it against good defenses. I expect him to continue his pace, even against Baltimore’s front seven.

Maybe you’re not confident in the Steelers’ defense. They haven’t been great this year. But Joe Flacco has been ineffective lately and Pittsburgh’s defense knows him very well. The Steelers (4–2–1) are the better team in this matchup with a better record than the Ravens (4–4). There’s no reason Baltimore should be favored here. Give me Pittsburgh for the win.