The possible absence of Kyler Murray means the Arizona Cardinals will likely go in vulnerable against the San Francisco 49ers after having their perfect start disrupted by The Pack in Week Eight.
In his main column this week, our NFL expert Nat Coombs delivers his verdict ahead of Sunday’s matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the red-hot Green Bay Packers, with Aaron Rodgers absence adding a different outlook.
For more on those and the rest of Week Nine’s games, check out Nat’s predictions below.
NFL Week Nine predictions
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New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons
With starting quarterback Jameis Winston out for the season — and star wideout Michael Thomas confirming he’s done for the year too — the Saints’ chances of a deep playoff run have been dented, if not totally derailed. With Alvin Kamara, there’s always a chance, and the New Orleans defense is legit. But whether it’s Taysom Hill or Trevor Siemian under the gun, they’ll have enough for the Falcons.
Prediction: New Orleans Saints
Dallas Cowboys vs Denver Broncos
Is this Dallas’s year? A defense that’s surprised many — not without flaws, but playmaking ability to offset and one of the most balanced and potent offenses in the NFL. What’s the over-under on high-fives in Jerry Jones’ corporate box if the Cowboys make the Super Bowl?
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys
Carolina Panthers vs New England Patriots
Listeners to my podcast will know I’ve been banging the Patriots playoff drum for quite a while, despite the haters. The offense is finding an identity — it may be unashamedly unreconstructed and old skool in the freewheeling, high falutin’ modern NFL, but it’s starting to work.
Prediction: New England Patriots
Baltimore Ravens vs Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota’s defense has been increasingly effective but will have to battle on without standout edge rusher Danielle Hunter, whose torn pec takes out his season, and possibly the Vike’s playoff chances with it. The Ravens D is fallible, as Cincy proved, but the Vikings can’t seem to find a groove offensively to be able to exploit. Lamar Jackson & Co bounce back here.
Prediction: Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals vs Cleveland Browns
Cleveland never seems to be able to escape themselves — a season full of promise, nosediving into chaos. Odell Beckham is the latest protagonist in the seemingly perennial dysfunction in Ohio, missing practice, spurring the talking heads into overdrive. Conversely, the Bengals have moved from upstart insurgents to genuine contenders, the wild loss to the Mike White Jets something of an outlier.
Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals
More on Squawka NFL
- Coombs: Why you can’t write off Kansas City
- NFL division standings: 2021/22 season
- NFL 2021/22 schedule
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Buffalo Bills
Just when Jax had picked up a bit of swagger post-their sensational last-gasp win in London, they fall back down to earth with a hapless performance against the Russell Wilson-less Seahawks. This spot is the equivalent of going 12 rounds with Canelo the week after getting manhandled by Tyson Fury.
Prediction: Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins vs Houston Texans
Tyrod Taylor gets another shot starting — one of the unluckier, and underrated quarterbacks in the NFL — whilst Tua breathes again after the trade deadline came and went without a deal for Deshaun Watson. It may be a stay of execution, but the sophomore quarterback knows he can control the narrative with a string of solid performances. I’m backing him to start that re-election campaign right here.
Prediction: Miami Dolphins
New York Giants vs Las Vegas Raiders
This is my lock of the week. Raiders off a bye week, Giants off a short week. Las Vegas have had another emotional few days following the tragic situation surrounding Henry Ruggs, and will come together. New York lurch from bad luck to misstep to mediocrity.
Prediction: Las Vegas Raiders
Philadelphia Eagles vs Los Angeles Chargers
LA have lost their shine a little, with back-to-back defeats. But this is still a potent offense with improving second-year quarterback Justin Herbert and his top-tier tag team of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, underpinned by the effervescent Austin Ekeler. Who cares if they don’t have any other receivers and a run D that ranks dead last in the league?
Prediction: Los Angeles Chargers
Kansas City Chiefs vs Green Bay Packers
With Aaron Rodgers out and the unknown quantity that is Jordan Love in, this becomes one of the hardest games to pick this week. I wrote about the matchup in my main Squawka column here. Despite the widespread pessimism, I think the Chiefs will be fine this year, and a playoff side. But this is a solid Packers side, and there’s a chance that Love goes off, a star is born, and the Chiefs are on the ropes.
Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs
San Francisco 49ers vs Arizona Cardinals
The Cards are banged up. At the time of writing, it’s unclear if Kyler Murray (ankle) will be suiting up, and it’s clearly a game-changer if he’s out. Even if he does play, the nature of his injury will most likely limit his mobility. Veteran back-up Colt McCoy stands by in the wings, hardly setting fear in the hearts of the 49ers, who should have George Kittle and Jeff Wilson back.
Prediction: San Francisco 49ers (if no Kyler)
LA Rams vs Tennessee Titans
Losing Derrick Henry may not completely derail the Titans’ season, but it’s changed the trajectory of a team who’ve lost their equivalent of a knockout punch but could still hold on for 12 rounds and eke it on points. Not against the Rams though, who’ve gone all in (again!) with the Von Miller deal and are fast looking like the most dangerous side in the NFL.
Prediction: LA Rams
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Chicago Bears
Justin Fields seems to be on track, winning a lot of fans with his best performance to date against San Francisco last weekend. But Mike Tomlin likes to confuse first-year quarterbacks — he’s 24-4 against rookies, as per Pitts Post-Gazette. And this Steelers defense is keeping them in contention, improbably at 4-3 and battling. Najee Harris will exploit the declining Bears run D, and Steelers win a bruising encounter.
Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers
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Nat Coombs is a British writer, broadcaster and NFL expert who has been anchoring live sport across UK TV & radio for over ten years. Nat will be providing Squawka with predictions for the 2021 NFL season.