Week 9 Predictions

Posted Nov 3, 2017

Who are you picking to win the week 9 games?

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Buffalo (5-2) at Newark York Jets (3-5): Ryan Fitzpatrick Bowl! The Bills have been reinforced by Kelvin Benjamin, who rejoins ex-Panthers coach Sean McDermott. Kelvin reported to camp overweight, looks slower this year, was dropping balls and wasn't in sync with Cam, but he is a red-zone target and the kind of guy who can win 50/50 balls, of which Tyrod Taylor throws many. But the real story of this game is a battle of the defenses, and McDermott has Buffalo's playing really well. Muhammad Wilkerson is out for the Jest, which means Shady McCoy and the run game could get untracked and make Taylor's passing life easier as a result. It's hard to win on the road on a short week, but the Bills appear well coached and disciplined something no one accused the Rex Ryan Bills (or late Rex Ryan Jets) of being. Pick (made Thursday and posted @carlsonsports): Bills

FRIDAY MORNING REACTION: I keep telling myself what happens to the road team on Thursday and I keep ignoring myself. The game could be summed up in Nick O'Leary's fumble: goes down under a tackle untouched, stands up and is immediately stripped of the ball. It was the Jets' D who showed up at home; Wilkerson played and made a big play, and turnovers were the story of the game. That and typical Thursday tackling; check out the Bills flailing at Matt Forte and Bilal Powell, I am having a bad Thursday season: I was wrong on home teams in three of the first six weeks, but right on road teams twice. The last three weeks I've picked the visitors and been wrong each time. I ask myself when will I learn but each new season, if not new week, is a learning experience. Because that's what a Typical NFL 2017 Game is like...


Baltimore (4-4) at Tennessee (4-3): Titans coming off the bye at home, while the Ravens coming off a huge shutout of Miami. Marcus Mariota's hamstring ought to be healed by now; his mobility will be important against a Ravens' D that is looking so much better since Brandon Williams returned. A typical NFL 2017 how do you pick em game, in that Joe Flacco is supposed to start despite his being concussed by Kiko Alonzo, while Ryan Mallett, who was only choked by N. Suh, awaits his chance. Assuming Mariota's hammer is sharper than Flacco's processor, pick: Titans

Cincinnati (3-4) at Jacksonville (4-3): The Jags are also playing at home after the bye, a double advantage, but also playing with Blake Bortles which isn't an advantage, unless the Jags can recapitulate their performances in London or Indy. They haven't won in Jacksonville yet this year, but this would appear to be a good chance. Famous last words. Pick: Jags

Indianapolis (2-6) at Houston (3-4): This is a typical NFL 2017 how do you pick em game, exhibit 2. The Colts could have won in Cincy last week, while the Texans lost that amazing shootout in Seattle. This was going to be the week's easiest pick until DeShaun Watson tore an ACL at practice yesterday (in a non contact drill) and is out for the season. Tom Savage steps, v...e...r...y s...l...o...w...l...y, back in QB, and the Texans signed the best available non kneeling free agent QB, Matt McGloin, whose long history of success in Oakland and Philly qualifies him perfectly for the job of Savage's backup. It may still be hard for Jacoby Brissett, though the Texans' secondary showed its weaknesses against Seattle. But I'd rather have Brissett than Savage. If Houston concentrate on stopping Jack Doyle (?!) T.Y. Hilton might break out of his slump. But even without Watson the line only went from 14 to 7 for a reason. Pick: Texans

Tampa Bay (2-5) at New Orleans (5-2): Palindromic Records! The Saints are a mild surprise this season, mostly because their defense has been so much better than expected, and because their running game was good enough to let AP go. The Bucs, who've lost four in a row, have been a major disappointment, partly because their D, so good last year, has been so bad, and their offense, which they spent to improve, has regressed. Pick: Saints

LA Rams (5-2) at New York Giants (1-7): Both teams coming off the bye, but the Giants stay at home while the Red Eye Rams travel coast to coast. McVay and McAdoo are basically trying to do similar things, only the Rams' D under Son Of Bum is playing better than expected while the Giants' D shows only flashes of their dominant form last year. The mesh between Eli and Ben offsensively doesn't seem to be there and their depeleted receiver corps, suspect blocking, and non-extistent run game don't help: moving Justin Pugh to RT made a huge difference, which people outside the Giants had been saying for a while it would. Here's a classic case of a better team on the road in a trap game but I am going to have to pick: Rams

Atlanta (4-3) at Carolina (5-3): The Falcons won ugly in the monsoons in New Jersey last week, while Carolina won ugly in Tampa. It's hard to figure what the Panthers' offense is supposed to be, apart from Cam passing to big receivers and Cam running when his backs can't. One of those big receivers is gone, Greg Olson is out injured, and the two draftees who were supposed to ignite a more wide-open game have been used mostly in short-stuff and trick plays, and as anyone who watched Christian McCaffrey make a great leaping one-handed grab on a SCREEN PASS BEHIND THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE THAT WENT SIX YARDS IN THE AIR knows that a dink and dunk game is not Cam's Matt Forte. Meanwhile the Falcons, who shouldn't be winning ugly, haven't yet been able to put both halves of their game together. When Keuchely is playing the Carolina D gets much better, and held Tampa to three last week. Meanwhile it's starting to look like Atlanta's good run on D to the Super Bowl was like Indy's on the way to SB41, not to be repeated. Pick: Panthers

Denver (3-4) at Philadelphia (7-1): This may not be the slam dunk the punditariat think it is. But, and it is a big BUT. Denver played Kansas City fairly evenly after Andy Reid foolishly threw away a potential 21-0 lead: from the point of Tyreek Hill's interception they outscored Reid 19-14. But of course five turnovers, especially Jason Peters' fumble recovery TD made the big difference as the Broncos lost their third in a row. A change to Brock Osweiler at QB is not necessarily a cure for a turnover hangover, but Matt McGloin was already snapped up. Osweiler's performance in 2015, before he was benched for the creaky Peyton Manning, is supposed to give Denver hope (they were 5-2 with the Heist starting) but his form since then should negate that. The Eagles weren't that impressive crushing the Niners, but with Denver on their second road trip in as many weeks, pick: Eagles

Washington (3-4) at Seattle (5-2): Washington Derby! After the Sunday Shootout with Houston, Seattle may be tired out, but the addition of Duane Brown at LT ought to make a big difference to their offense, against a Skins team that can rush the passer. At home, the Washington Staties beat the Beltway Bandits. Pick: Seahawks

Arizona (3-3) at San Francisco (0-8): This is a typical NFL 2017 how do you pick em game exhibit 3. Arizona with Drew Stanton against the Niners with CJ Beathard? I'd be tempted to put Jimmy G in right away and let him learn the system on the fly. The Cards have had the bye week to prepare, and to get Stanton up to whatever speed you might expect, so a good game by him is more likely than from Beathard, though CJ could all of a sudden discover his game now he's got some competition. Pick: Cards

Kansas City (6-2) at Dallas (4-3): This one's exciting, especially if the refs allow La'el Collins to get away with a sleeper hold as a viable pass blocking technique as they did against Ryan Kerrigan last week. The Broncos after a shaky start at Arrowhead held the Chiefs pretty much in check, apart from Travis Kelce, and it will be a bit tougher for the Cowboys, though the story remains the same: keep Alex Smith in the pocket and make him hit longer throws under pressure. The Chiefs allowed Denver's three tailbacks to combine for 29/157 running, though some of that was because they knew the Broncos needed to pass and were afraid to. But, because this is a Typical NFL 2017 how do you pick em game, exhibit 4, I am assuming Alfred Morris starts at tailback for the Cowboys. Now they should still be able to run effectively, and they are at home. People will make too much of Elliott's loss (assuming the lawyers don't overturn it) but I was leaning toward picking the Chiefs anyway. Pick: Chiefs

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Oakland (3-5) at Miami (4-3): Typical NFL 2017 how do you pick em game exhibit 5. If it weren't for recency bias, I'm not sure I would be picking either of these teams ever. The Raiders of course should be making the red eye but instead they've stayed on the East Coast though smartly not in South Beach but cross state in Sarasota at the IMG Academy. Which is better than the Ringling Bros. Circus Museum which is also in Sarasota and might be more appropriate. Miami will be without Ajayi, but really, how will you notice if Damian Williams runs 20 times for 39 yards? Cutler Mania is the answer. Pick: Raiders

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Detroit (3-4) at Green Bay (4-3): Typical NFL 2017 how do you pick em game exhibit 6. Mike McCarthy was saying he was fine with Brett Hundley at QB cause they'd spent three years developing him. Well, that didn't work against the Saints. Now he's had the bye week to, uh, develop him, and to prepare for the Lions, who tore up the Steelers almost everywhere except where it counts, inside the 10. Jim Caldwell was in fine form making the wrong decisions, and for a team that can't run the ball, they were amazingly quiet on the Jay Ajayi market. The bye means the Packers might have some of their offensive line back and fit to go maybe a quarter or two. Martellus Bennett will be game time, and they may have most of a starting D, though little depth, available. Ziggy Ansah will likely be game time for Detroit. It used to be how much to believe in Aaron Rodgers when you picked the Pack, now it's how much do you believe in McCarthy and Prime Time Brett. Pick: Pack

BYE WEEK: LA Chargers (3-5) Chicago (3-5) Minnesota (6-2) New England (6-2)

Pittsburgh (6-2)

BYE BYE WEEK: Cleveland (0-8)

LAST WEEK: 11-2 SEASON: 72-47

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