With nine weeks already in the rearview mirror, the 2021 NFL season is truly flying by faster than we can blink. While we certainly don’t want to inch closer to the end of the year, most are probably happy that Week 9 is over as it looked like we were in the Twilight Zone for a minute. Throughout the slate, there were a number of surprising outcomes, including the Jaguars straight-up defeating the Bills, Arizona blowing out the 49ers without Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins, along with the Titans fending off the Rams in their first game without Derrick Henry. Those all contributed to a strong weekend for underdogs, who went 10-4 ATS in Week 9.
While I was on the opposite end on some of those upsets, I’m looking forward to a nice rebound in Week 10, beginning with my five locks of the week.
Locks of the Week ATS: 26-15-4
The Dolphins may not have quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in this matchup as he’s still dealing with a fractured finger in his throwing hand that kept him out of Week 9. That would again throw veteran Jacoby Brissett into the fold. While Brissett is a solid backup, I don’t expect him or the rest of the Dolphins offense to keep pace with the Ravens in the Week 10 opener. This season, Baltimore is averaging 6.1 yards per play, which is tied for third-highest in the entire NFL. Meanwhile, Miami is tied for dead last in that same category, moving just 4.5 yards per play. The Dolphins also come into this matchup with a -9.7 point differential.
Projected score: Ravens 30, Dolphins 20
The pick: Ravens -7.5
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Rams at 49ers
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams had a surprisingly flat effort against the Titans in Week 9, but I expect a bounce-back showing as they head on the road to face the 49ers for “Monday Night Football,” especially with the possible jolt they could get if Von MIller makes his debut. San Francisco is coming off their own loss in Week 9 to the Cardinals, who were without both Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins. That has me way more concerned than Los Angeles falling to Tennessee. San Francisco’s pass defense ranks 25th in NFL in DVOA, which will be a mismatch against a Rams offense that is averaging 41 pass attempts per game over the last three weeks and is averaging 296.3 passing yards per game this season (third-highest in the NFL).
Projected score: Rams 27, 49ers, 21
The pick: Rams -4
Las Vegas Raiders
While it’s still relatively early in the season, this AFC West matchup does have make-or-break potential with each team in the division entering Week 10 with five wins on the year. Whoever comes out of this game between the Chiefs and Raiders on the losing end would not only fall behind in the win column but would have what could be a critical inner-division loss. Needless to say, the stakes are pretty high here. Two second-half turnovers — including a pick-6 — put the Raiders in a hole they couldn’t dig themselves out of against the Giants last week, but they still had over 400 yards of total offense on the day. They’ll face a Chiefs team that has won two games in a row, but the latest was to the Packers, who were strolling out Jordan Love for his first career start. They are still allowing 6.3 yards per play this season, while the Raiders offense is averaging 7 yards per play over the last three weeks (most in the NFL).
Projected score: Raiders 27, Chiefs 24
The pick: Raiders +2.5
New England Patriots
The Browns are currently dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak and star running back Nick Chubb is one of the players who tested positive. While he could still play in this game if he clears protocols, there’s obviously no guarantee. Naturally, possibly having a limited Chubb in the fold or out of it altogether is a big hit to a Cleveland offense that just saw him rush for two touchdowns last week. Meanwhile, the Patriots are getting hot at the right time and are winners of three straight coming into Week 10. In those victories, Bill Belichick’s club has outscored its opponent 105-43. New England’s defense has also come on strong as of late and is currently a top-five unit in DVOA.
Projected score: Patriots 28, Browns 24
The pick: Patriots -1.5
Los Angeles Chargers
Minnesota is heading to the west coast after a deflating overtime loss to the Ravens last week. That could set them up for a letdown performance on the road against a Chargers team that is coming off a road win in Philadelphia and looking to keep pace in the tightly contested AFC West race. This could prove to be a big day for Austin Ekeler as he’ll face a Vikings defense that ranks 26th against the run in DVOA.
Projected score: Chargers 24, Vikings 21
The pick: Chargers -2.5
Rest of the bunch
Falcons at Cowboys
Projected score: Cowboys 33, Falcons 21
The pick: Cowboys -9
Saints at Titans
Projected score: Titans 24, Saints 20
The pick: Titans -3
Jaguars at Colts
Projected score: Colts 30, Jaguars 17
The pick: Colts -10.5
Bills at Jets
Projected score: Bills 30, Jets 14
The pick: Bills -13
Lions at Steelers
Projected score: Steelers 27, Lions 21
The pick: Lions +9
Buccaneers at Washington
Projected score: Buccaneers 31, Washington 21
The pick: Buccaneers -9.5
Panthers at Cardinals
Projected score: Cardinals 30, Panthers 16
The pick: Cardinals -10.5
Eagles at Broncos
Projected score: Broncos 24, Eagles 21
The pick: Broncos -2.5
Seahawks at Packers
Projected score: Packers 28, Seahawks 26
The pick: Seattle +3