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NFL picks 2018, Week 9: Do the Packers or Ravens have a chance?

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Picks for every game this week from our expert panel.

Green Bay Packers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

These are tough times for the Packers. Usually they can get by just on Aaron Rodgers alone. He’s been more than enough to compensate for constipated coaching and questionable roster building, and this season was supposed to be different. But even having Rodgers isn’t enough these days.

Last week, the Packers snuffed out their own chance at a comeback win against the undefeated Rams. Had that been a win, this week we’d be talking about a rejuvenated Packers, led by the unstoppable Captain Comeback, menacing the rest of the league.

I’d bet we’d have a few more panelists this week picking them to beat the Patriots. Alas, here we are. Two measly picks for Green Bay to topple the defending AFC Champs ... and those picks are from a computer and a coin. Though let’s not be too hasty to write off the computer; it’s got a better record than all but two of our other panelists.

The Patriots have their own above-average quarterback, perhaps you’ve heard of him. For me, it’s more about the matchup between Bill Belichick and Mike McCarthy. Imagine a guy who just picks “C” for every question on the SAT matched up against some savant.

A loss would sink the Packers to 3-4-1. That wouldn’t exactly sink their season, but with the Vikings drawing Detroit and the Bears getting a feebie against the Bills this week, well ... that’s not going to help things much in Green Bay.

It should be noted that our panel is unanimous for the Vikings to win and almost unanimous for the Bears.

Big games aplenty!

There are a couple other marquee matchups on the schedule this week.

The Steelers have won four of their last five, a timely upswing that has them, as usual, in the conversation for being one of the AFC’s best teams. But only one of those wins came against a quality opponent — a 28-21 win against the Bengals in Week 6, a win that maybe got a little help from the officials.

Pittsburgh is in Baltimore this week against the Ravens. On paper, it’s certainly a tougher game. The Ravens have one of the NFL’s best defenses. They also have Joe Flacco, which is sort of the aspirational version of Blake Bortles. The Ravens are riding a two-game losing skid, coming up short against a couple tough opponents (the Saints and the Panthers), but they’ll be up for this game.

Our panel has a decided tilt toward the Ravens, a win Baltimore badly needs.

In the NFC, the week brings us a preview of a potential NFC Championship game between the Rams and the Saints, easily the two best teams in the conference. Both made moves to bolster their defense ahead of the deadline. The Saints dealt for cornerback Eli Apple from the Giants, and he’ll have his work cut out for him against Jared Goff and the Rams.

The Rams defense doesn’t have it easy this week either. The Saints also score 33 points a game. Newly acquired pass rusher Dante Fowler will be tested immediately. Fortunately, he has Aaron Donald down the line from him, demanding double-teams from the blockers.

Our panel is split — four are picking the Saints; five are taking the Rams.

The rules

We pick straight up wins and losses, no spreads here. Everyone is allowed to change up to two picks by Friday to account for injuries, personal whims and changing algorithms.

Our guest this week is Alex Rubenstein, a football savant who also happens to be a pretty dang good video producer. He unfortunately operates under the assumption that Justin Smith is a more impactful defensive lineman than Aaron Donald, but he’s a good person nonetheless.

The computer picks are from OddsShark. The coin is a 2007 U.S. quarter. Heads picks for the home team; tails vice versa.

Week 9 picks

Games RVB Stephen White Geoff Schwartz Charles McDonald Adam Stites Christian D'Andrea Alex Rubenstein Coin flip OddsShark computer
Games RVB Stephen White Geoff Schwartz Charles McDonald Adam Stites Christian D'Andrea Alex Rubenstein Coin flip OddsShark computer
OAK vs SF OAK OAK OAK OAK OAK SF SF SF SF
CHI vs BUF CHI BUF CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI
KC vs CLE KC KC KC KC KC KC KC KC KC
NYJ vs MIA NYJ MIA NYJ NYJ MIA MIA NYJ NYJ MIA
DET vs MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN
ATL vs WAS WAS ATL WAS WAS WAS ATL WAS WAS WAS
TB vs CAR CAR TB CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR TB CAR
PIT vs BAL PIT BAL BAL BAL BAL PIT BAL BAL BAL
HOU vs DEN HOU HOU DEN HOU HOU DEN HOU DEN HOU
LAC vs SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA LAC LAC LAC SEA SEA
LAR vs NO LAR LAR NO LAR LAR NO NO LAR NO
GB vs NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE GB GB
TEN vs DAL DAL TEN TEN DAL DAL DAL DAL TEN DAL
Last week 10-4 13-1 9-5 11-3 9-5 9-5 8-6 7-7 10-4
Season total 71-50 84-37 76-45 76-45 70-51 79-42 70-51 59-62 78-43
So luxurious!