NFL WEEK 9: Our official predictions for who wins this weekend

The Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints, and Minnesota Vikings make up some of our best bets to cover the spread this weekend. Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Gambling is a cruel game.

For some bettors, that was a lesson learned when Todd Gurley took a knee before the end zone on Sunday, sealing the win for the Rams and stealing a cover for many gamblers who backed Los Angeles.

For me, it’s been a brutal lesson taught week after week by this column. I’ll be honest – I can’t buy a win, folks.

Still, there are 17 weeks in an NFL season, and it’s my duty to bet every one of them. Fade my picks if you like, I won’t be offended, but know that these things always turn around eventually.

Hopefully, this week is the week.

Take a look below at our predictions for who covers this weekend (* indicates home team).

OVERALL: 52-66-3

Byes: Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, Jacksonville Jaguars

Oakland Raiders (+3) over San Francisco 49ers*

Oakland might be looking to next year, but this is still a game they can win. Robert Reiners/Getty Images

The Oakland Raiders have shipped away some of their most talented players, but they still looked solid against the Indianapolis Colts last week. Facing a banged up 49ers team might be their best chance at a win left on the schedule.

The Raiders have a lot of rebuilding to do ahead of next year, but they still have enough firepower to hang with San Francisco.

Minnesota Vikings* (-5) over Detroit Lions


Adam Thielen cannot be stopped, keeping his streak of 100-yard games alive with another astounding performance against the Saints last weekend. While the Vikings fell short against New Orleans, this feels like a solid spot for them to bounce back with a big win over a division opponent.

Cleveland Browns* (+8.5) over Kansas City Chiefs


The Cleveland Browns cleaned house this week, showing head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley the door and leaving their coaching staff significantly short-handed. That flexibility could be a spell for disaster, but it feels like the Browns might play up to the moment, and nothing is more exciting than the prospect of Baker Mayfield set loose to do as he pleases.

New York Jets (+3) over Miami Dolphins*


Both of these teams have lost two straight, and the outcome here feels like a coin flip, but the Dolphins’ defence should give Sam Darnold a good opportunity to make a few plays.

Buffalo Bills* (+10) over Chicago Bears

The Buffalo Bills are a disaster at quarterback, but the rest of the team looks just as solid as the team that made the playoffs last year. If Nathan Peterman can manage less than four interceptions (no guarantee), the Bills can do enough to cover the spread.

Washington Redskins* (-1.5) over Atlanta Falcons


Washington might be for real this year! They have won three straight, and face a Falcons team whose defence has been a liability all year. Atlanta is coming off of a bye, so it’s possible they have addressed some of those issues with the extra week, but the short line here feels like disrespect to a team that has looked like the class of the NFC East so far.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+6) over Carolina Panthers*


Ryan Fitzpatrick is back, and in just a quarter of action, proved he still had some FitzMagic left in the tank. The Panthers look better each week but look for the Buccaneers to keep this one close and threaten a win late in the game.

New Orleans Saints* (-1.5) over Los Angeles Rams


The Rams have come closer and closer to their first loss of the season the past few weeks – three of their last four wins have come by a field goal or less – but they have been able to fight off all challengers they have come across. That changes Sunday with a trip to New Orleans.

Pittsburgh Steelers (+3) over Baltimore Ravens*


The Pittsburgh Steelers have found their stride in recent weeks, with running back James Conner now a fully-formed offensive force, with over 200 total yards and two touchdowns last week.

Denver Broncos* (-1) over Houston Texans


The Broncos have had an impressive two weeks, throttling the Cardinals and keeping pace with the Chiefs better than many expected. They face a Texans team that has won five straight games, none of them all that inspiring. Houston is due to come back down to Earth a bit.

Los Angeles Chargers (+2) over Seattle Seahawks*


The Chargers have only two losses on the season, coming at the hands of the Rams and the Chiefs. I do not expect the Seahawks to be added to that list.

Green Bay Packers (+5.5) over New England Patriots*


I doubted Rodgers could cover the number last week, and it’s not a mistake I will make again. Expect a shootout in New England, but the Packers need this win a little more than the Patriots do, and as long as Rodgers has a chance in the fourth quarter, he’s impossible to doubt.

Tennessee Titans (+6) over Dallas Cowboys*


Amari Cooper should help the Dallas Cowboys offence stretch the field a bit, but this is still too many points to give to a Titans team that despite a recent downturn has proven capable of beating some of the best teams in the league.

Now check out where every team stands heading into Week 9 with our NFL Power Ranks


NFL POWER RANKINGS: Where all 32 teams stand going into Week 9