As votes from the election continue to be counted from across the country, I’ve also been doing some counting this week and I have some bad news for the NFL: The COVID situation seems to be getting a little ugly. 

This week alone, there have been a total of 10 teams that have recorded at least one COVID case, including the two teams playing tonight (San Francisco and Green Bay). On one hand, it seems like the league was kind of expecting this because the NFL has added several new contingency plans over the past few weeks, including adding a potential Week 18 to the regular season and expanding the playoffs from 14 teams to 16 teams. On the other hand, more cases is definitely a bad thing no matter how you spin it and how many contingency plans you have. 

With cases around the country going up, I will be locking myself in my basement until June. The good news for you is that I have an internet connection in my basement, which means I can still pump out this newsletter every day. 

Alright, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover in today’s newsletter, so let’s get to the rundown. Oh and if you want to share this newsletter with your neighbors — and I know you do — be sure to click here to grab the link so you can send it their way. 

1. Today’s Show: Daily fantasy picks and advice for Week 9 

As votes continue to be counted, Will Brinson did another kind of counting on Thursday, he counted all the money he’s going to spend on his Daily Fantasy lineup this week. On today’s episode of the podcast, Brinson was joined by fantasy football guru Frank Stampfl, and they went over all the best fantasy options for the 12 games that are being played on Sunday in Week 9. 

During the podcast, Brinson and Stampfl offered their best value plays for the week, so let’s take a quick look at those (These are guys you can purchase for $4,000 or less). 

  • Brinson: Bears WR Anthony Miller ($4,000). The Bears are going up against the Titans and Tennessee has done a horrible job of stopping the pass this year, so this pick makes sense. Not only are the Titans giving up the sixth-most passing yards per game in the NFL, but they also have no pass rush (their seven sacks this season are tied for the second-worst number in the league). 
  • Stampfl: Lions WR Marvin Hall ($3,800). Not to be confused with his Lions teammate Marvin Jones (the Lions love players named Marvin) Hall is definitely someone you want to keep your eye on this week. Not only did he have a breakout game in Week 8 with four catches for 113 yards against the Vikings, but there’s a chance Kenny Golladay won’t be playing in Week 9, which could mean a lot of extra targets for Hall. 

If you want to make some money in DFS this weekend, make sure you listen by clicking here.

2. Getting you ready for Packers-49ers

Although both teams are dealing with a COVID-19 situation, this game is expected to be played as scheduled, which is mildly surprising, because I’m not completely convinced the 49ers are going to have enough players to field a team tonight. 

Let’s take a look at how bad things are for San Francisco.

The 49ers have lost a total of 23 players to injury this season and if you want to see the entire list, you should click here

The oddsmakers in Vegas have been working overtime to try and to keep up with the point spread in this game. On Sunday, the Packers opened as a 2.5-point favorite, but then that jumped to 5.5 points after Garoppolo and Kittle were ruled out. After the COVID situation came to light, the Packers became a 7.5-point favorite. If you were planning to bet Green Bay tonight, hopefully you got your bet in early. 

Speaking of Green Bay, like the 49ers, the Packers also have three guys on the reserve/COVID-19 list and those players are: Running backs A.J. Dillon and Jamaal Williams along with linebacker Kamal Martin. 

With the status of Aaron Jones (calf) up in the air, the Packers could be starting their FOURTH-STRING running back tonight. If you’re feeling absolutely desperate in fantasy, you might want to see if you can still get Tyler Ervin or Dexter Williams, the two guys who will be taking the brunt of the snaps at running back tonight if Jones can’t play. 

You can get a full preview of the game from Jared Dubin by clicking here.

My pick: Packers 27-20 over 49ers

3. COVID-19 slams the NFL heading into Week 9

The NFL hasn’t had to postpone any games this weekend, but that might be something you want to keep an eye on over the next 48 hours because COVID-19 has been slamming the NFL this week. It’s not even Friday yet and more than 25% of the teams in the league are dealing with at least one case. 

We already covered the COVID situations of the Packers and 49ers, and besides those teams, there are also at least eight other teams dealing with COVID. 

  • Lions: Matthew Stafford was the biggest name to land on the reserve/COVID-19 list for any team this week and he’s one of two Lions players currently on the list, along with linebacker Jarrad Davis.  
  • Ravens: Not only is Baltimore dealing with a positive test from cornerback Marlon Humphrey, but they also had to place linebackers Matt Judon, Tyus Bowser, Patrick Queen, L.J. Fort and Malik Harrison along with defensive backs Terrell Bonds and DeShon Elliott on the reserve/COVID list. The Ravens play the Colts this week. 
  • Texans: The Texans decided to cancel practice and shut down their facility on Thursday after linebacker Jacob Martin tested positive for COVID. The Texans will be traveling to Jacksonville in Week 9. 
  • Cowboys: The Cowboys were hoping that Andy Dalton could play this week, but that won’t be happening, because he’s been placed on the team’s reserve/COVID list. Instead, the Cowboys will be going with either Cooper Rush or Garrett Gilbert to face the undefeated Steelers. 
  • Bears: Offensive tackle Jason Spriggs tested positive for COVID-19, which landed him and guard Germain Ifedi on the reserve/COVID list. Ifedi was placed on the list after the league determined he was a high risk close contact. Offensive lineman Cody Whitehair has also tested positive. 
  • Broncos: The Broncos have placed practice squad tackle Darrin Paulo and defensive end Shelby Harris on the COVID list. Several members of the Broncos front office, including GM John Elway and team president Joe Ellis have also tested positive. The Broncos play the Falcons on Sunday. 
  • Cardinals: Arizona had to place two players on the reserve/COVID list this week in linebacker Devon Kennard and cornerback Byron Murphy Jr., who both tested positive. 
  • Colts: In Indianapolis, the Colts didn’t have any players test positive, but they did have one team employee who came down with COVID. Due to that situation, the Colts will hold practice as normal, but all in-person meeting for Thursday have been changed to virtual meetings. 

Remember, any player who was placed on the list on Monday or Tuesday will have a chance to play Sunday if they record enough negative tests over the next five days.

As for the NFL schedule, it’s unlikely the league will make any changes for Week 9, but if things get any crazier, who knows what will happen.  

4. NFL Week 9 picks

In case you haven’t noticed, we love to make picks here at CBS Sports. As a matter of fact, I even love to make picks about who’s going to have the best picks each week. Two guys who almost always do a good job with their picks are Tom Fornelli and Jordan Dajani. Dajani is currently 67-46-3 against the spread on the season, which means if you had been betting his picks every week, you now have enough money to pay off my school loans (PS thanks for using your money to pay off my loans. Very generous). 

With that in mind, let’s check out one pick from each guy for Week 9. 

Dajani: Seahawks (-2.5) at Bills. “Seattle is 7-1-1 against the spread since 2018 when playing in the Eastern Time Zone and 9-0 straight up.” I’m sold. Dajani’s pick: Seahawks 36-27 over Chiefs. 

Fornelli: Dolphin at Cardinals (-4.5). “A Dolphins team that can’t stop the run and has a rookie QB making his first career road start will be facing an Arizona offense that ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing DVOA.” That’s a recipe for disaster for the Dolphins. Fornelli’s pick: Cardinals win and cover. 

For a look at Fornelli’s three “Best Bets” for Week 9, be sure to click here. If you’re looking for the rest of Dajani’s Week 9 picks — he picks every game — be sure to click here.   

5. NFL midseason predictions: Chiefs heading for repeat

The problem with a 17-week season is that there’s no true midpoint, but based on my math skills, the middle of the year falls somewhere between Week 8 and Week 9, which is why you’re getting some midseason predictions RIGHT NOW. Yesterday, Cody Benjamin gave you the rundown of our midseason predictions for all the big awards like MVP and rookie of the year (You can check that out by clicking here). Today, we’re going to give you a rundown of our midseason predictions for who will make the playoffs and who will win the Super Bowl. 

We had seven writers making predictions and here’s what the majority of us agreed on: 

  • AFC playoffs teams: Chiefs, Steelers, Colts, Bills, Ravens, Titans, Raiders, (Dolphins). 
  • NFC playoff teams: Buccaneers, Seahawks, Packers, Eagles, Saints, Cardinals, Rams (Bears). 

If you’re wondering why there’s a team in parentheses, that’s because the NFL is thinking about expanding the playoffs to 16 teams this year. If that happens, we see the Dolphins and Bears getting those new spots.

Super Bowl prediction: Chiefs over Buccaneers

Out of seven writers, five of us had the Chiefs in the Super Bowl and four of us had the Buccaneers. To find out which other teams got a playoff and/or a Super Bowl vote, be sure to click here.  

USA Today Sports Images

6. 2021 Mock Draft: Five quarterbacks go in first round

If my countdown calendar is right, that means we only have 175 days to go until the 2021 NFL Draft. If you’re wondering how fast that can go by, just consider that 175 days ago was May 14 and that feels like it was yesterday. However, I should point out that since this pandemic started, I have had no concept of time. 

With the draft right around the corner, I thought right now would be a perfect time to check out Ryan Wilson’s latest mock draft. Wilson has FIVE quarterbacks going in the first round and that’s what we’re going to focus on here. The crazy part is that Wilson sees two of those quarterbacks going to teams that have played in the Super Bowl within the past two years. 

1. Jets: Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence. This will be the easiest pick of the 2021 draft unless Lawrence opts to say in school, which he might actually do once he finds out who’s coaching the Jets. 
3. Jaguars: Ohio State QB Justin Fields. Minshew Mania was fun while it lasted. 
9. Patriots: BYU QB Zach Wilson. IF you’ve never heard of Wilson, Ryan describes him as a guy who will remind you of “all the good things we loved about Johnny Manziel and Baker Mayfield when they were in college.” I think that’s a compliment, but I can’t be sure. 
15. 49ers: North Dakota State QB Trey Lance. Lance won’t be playing in college this year because he’s decided to spend his time prepping for the NFL Draft. He also has a name that’s perfect for a boy band. 
18. Bears: Alabama QB Mac Jones. If you’ve watched the Bears play a single game this year, then you know why they will likely be drafting a quarterback here. 

To check out how the rest of the first round shakes out, be sure to read the rest of Wilson’s mock draft by clicking here. 

7. The Kicker!

If you like to watch NFL games just for the missed field goals, then you’re probably not going to watch tonight’s game, which will feature two of the NFL’s most accurate kickers in 2020. On the Packers’ end, they have Mason Crosby, who is 9-for-9 on the season, which makes him one of only three kickers in the NFL who have hit every single one of their field attempts this season. 

As for the 49ers, Robbie Gould is 10-of-11 on the year and hasn’t missed a single kick inside of 50 yards, making him one of only nine kickers in the NFL with more than five attempts who can say that. Basically, these guys are so good that if you need to take a bathroom break tonight, you’re probably safe to to do it during field goal attempts. 

As for me, I’ve vowed not to take a bathroom break until America is done counting votes, so if I end up in the hospital this month, it’s because my bladder exploded. See you guys Friday!


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