Hey it’s Moneyline Mo, the man in the know, hoping to realign as we look at Week 9. The scariest part of Halloween was me having my first losing week in 2021. I knew when my undefeated Thursday night streak came to an end that I was in for some trouble. If I had to have a bad week though, 6-9 is the nicest version of a losing record.
And now, with my winning momentum temporarily sapped, this is the most challenging week of picks yet for me. There’s a couple games that I consider locks this week, but most of them could go either way. Hopefully my thoughtful analysis and breakdown of each game is enough…and is more accurate than last week. Let’s look at Week 9!
INDIANAPOLIS OVER NEW YORK (A)
What a mysterious Thursday night game! Everyone was thinking Joe Flacco would make his first start, but instead, Mike White had an amazing start last week and New York is riding the hot hand. Will Mike White keep it going? Will Carson Wentz continue his steak of absurd interceptions? Will Indianapolis bounce back after their overtime loss to Tennessee? Will I ever hear the name Mike White and not immediately think of the writer/actor/reality TV star of the same name? Most of these questions will be answered Thursday night!
CINCINNATI OVER CLEVELAND
THE BATTLE FOR OHIO: ROUND ONE! I know it is more of a college football thing, but teams in the same state should have names for their games against each other. Think of the marketing opportunities and one-off sponsorships! I’m always trying my best to come up with new revenue streams for the league. Cincinnati’s time in the catbird seat of the conference was far more short-lived than I thought it would be. Since I only caught the end of their game against New York, I keep looking at the box score and the game summary to understand how they lost last week. That loss stings more than most because I can’t comprehend how it happened.
DALLAS OVER DENVER
In the Sunday night game, when Cooper Rush led Dallas to a win over Minnesota, the broadcast showed his family in the stands and Chris Collinsworth exclaimed “What a moment for a dad!” and then caught himself and added “And for a mom! And for a wife!” Clearly that hadn’t been his intent from the start, but I do appreciate his inclusiveness, I just wish it would have gone further. “And for a sibling! And for a cousin! And for a third cousin! And for a cousin’s cousin! And for Kirk Cousins!” Well, maybe not that last one.
HOUSTON OVER MIAMI
Both of these teams are 1-7 and have been outscored by their opponents by a combined 217 points. Both won their first game of the season but have lost seven straight since then. Both are currently at the bottom of the conference and only Detroit has a worse record in the league. It’s amazing that we didn’t end up with this as a prime time game on Thursday or Monday night.
NEW ORLEANS OVER ATLANTA
If someone is going to make a Taysom Hill/Trevor Siemian combination work, it will be Sean Payton. It seems like it will be the equivalent of how baseball managers have changed how they utilize pitchers in the playoffs. I feel like Payton will initially switch them every few plays instead of a series-by-series approach, and then if someone has a hot hand, he will ride it out. Now, all of this is projection on my part, but maybe I’m also manifesting a new and innovative approach on offense. Bring me in as a consultant, Sean! I think Taysom Hill is the ideal player to run my dream play of a fake kneel.
NEW ENGLAND OVER CAROLINA
If the season were to end today, Carolina would be in as the 7th seed in the playoffs. Meanwhile, New England has gone 3-1 since their overhyped Sunday night game against Tampa Bay and they quietly are back in the mix for the 7th seed in their conference. Who do you think Cam Newton is rooting for in the battle of his former teams? My guess is Carolina. SOUND OFF IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
LAS VEGAS OVER NEW YORK (N)
It doesn’t really seem fair to me that Las Vegas is coming off a bye week, while New York has a short week to prepare for this game after playing on Monday night. The league has a big antitrust case coming up this decade, is there some way for me to get on the docket as an expert pointing out flaws in the schedule? Can I still retain my anonymity as Moneyline Mo or will I have to use my real identity and then get placed into witness protection? I’ll testify in exchange for taxpayers covering my lifetime expenses!
BUFFALO OVER JACKSONVILLE
I wrongly thought Jacksonville would upset Seattle, but they still managed to upset me! Late in the game, Jacksonville was down 24-0 and scored a touchdown with 1:49 left. Instead of going for two and potentially making it a two-possession game, they kicked an extra point to make it 24-7. That to me is a sign that you are conceding the game. However, Jacksonville then tried an onside kick, which Seattle returned for a touchdown. If the plan was to attempt an onside kick, why wouldn’t they go for two on the touchdown? Even if they hadn’t converted, it would still be a three-possession game which is what they got anyways by kicking the extra point. Come on, Urban! No more half measures! This is what Mike Ehrmantraut was talking about!
BALTIMORE OVER MINNESOTA
Each of Minnesota’s losses so far this season have been by one possession. As a fan, that would bother me so much. I always prefer a blowout over a close loss, because with a blowout, you can just accept that you got beat. With a close loss, I always reexamine the handful of plays, penalties, and decisions that led to losing the game. So, add this to ongoing list of reasons why I’m glad that I’m not a Minnesota football fan. You were keeping track of them for me, right?
LOS ANGELES (A) OVER PHILADELPHIA
There was a time in my life when I could name and visualize every head coach in the league, but sadly those days are gone. I know Brandon Staley is the head coach of Los Angeles and kind of looks like a cross between Colin Hanks and Jim Harbaugh (with some Dylan Baker tossed in). However, my memory has no recall of who is now in charge at Philadelphia beyond the fact that his first name is Nick. I know that much, but I can’t tell you what he looks like. If you were expecting me to call him out by his complete name and describe his appearance by referencing two or three faces you might know, I’m sorry that I couldn’t fulfill your expectations. It probably isn’t the first time and certainly won’t be the last.
KANSAS CITY OVER GREEN BAY
If my Thursday night streak had to end, I’m glad it was at least in exchange for a Green Bay win. Unfortunately, I’m still worried about how Green Bay will hold up against offensive juggernauts. I can see Travis Kelce having 140+ receiving yards in this game, and maybe Byron Pringle having a breakout game with 100+ receiving yards for him too. As always, I hope I’m wrong but I’m not fully onboard the hype yet.
I’m still adjusting to the concept of the 17-game season. The structure of it creates an imbalance having a split between some teams having 8 home games and some teams having 9 home games. With the formula of how schedules are created, this is the bonus game added for the season so when it was announced I thought it was unfair that Green Bay had to play such a tough opponent in an extra game on the road. My solution would be to have 8 home games, 8 road games and 1 game at a neutral site such as London, Mexico City, Canada and stadiums across the country. Turns out, that’s exactly what Green Bay ended up getting since the New Orleans game ended up in Jacksonville. So, all my whining was for nothing…at least for this year.
Make the most of this bonus game on the schedule and join Milwaukee Record at the Cactus Club this Sunday! In addition to the game, enjoy a special halftime performance by Mertles Acres. I feel way too proud of myself for knowing that’s a Sandlot reference!
SAN FRANCISCO OVER ARIZONA
Nobody is giving Kliff Kingsbury the appropriate amount of criticism he deserves after botching the clock late in the game against Green Bay. Let’s flash back to the end of the game! Kyler Murray scrambled to pick up a first down at the eight-yard line with about 40 seconds left. On the next play, Arizona had a huge playcalling blunder and ran the ball which forced them to use their final timeout with 15 seconds left on the clock. With that limited amount of time, Green Bay could play for the pass because it was too risky for Arizona to run since they’d have no way of stopping the clock if they came up short and inbounds.
Arizona should have called a pass play on first down. If the pass had been incomplete, on that second down play they could have gone with either a run or pass with the intent of using their final timeout to ensure that they’d have the opportunity to kick the field goal as a contingency plan. By burning all their timeouts, they put themselves in a precarious position (don’t forget that they had fumbled a snap earlier in the drive) and ultimately paid the price for that recklessness. Oh, and I think San Francisco is better than we’re giving them credit for and will surprise Arizona.
LOS ANGELES (N) OVER TENNESSEE
Folks, Moneyline Mo has some real conflicting feelings at the moment. As dedicated Moneyline Mo readers know, I’ve been fond of Tennessee since the beginning of the season. Currently, they have the number one spot in the conference, but they just lost Derrick Henry for an extended period and now they’ve just signed Adrian Peterson. I don’t throw this word around freely, but I despise Adrian Peterson. So, I guess I’m now rooting for my championship prediction to be wrong. This is a real bummer for Moneyline Mo, let’s not talk about it anymore!
PITTSBURGH OVER CHICAGO
Do you think Matt Nagy was rooting for or against his team when he was unable to coach last week? Obviously if they win, that helps your effort to try to remain in contention for the playoffs, but does that also show the team can win without you at the helm? Since they lost, Nagy can now justify it as they just weren’t able to execute without his leadership and guidance.
Also did you see how Chris Boswell got hurt last week for Pittsburgh? It was such a terrible play that Mike Tomlin, perhaps the most confident and unwavering coach in the league, publicly admitted that the fake field goal was a bad call. See, I wasn’t the only guy that had a bad Week 8.
Fingers crossed for a better Week 9 for Mike and me! Otherwise, I’ll find a kicker to put in harm’s way!
LAST WEEK: 6-9
SEASON TO DATE: 77-45