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NFL Game Day, wk 9

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Luciano 11

NFL Game Day, wk 9
Luciano 11
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SUNDAY, NOV. 3

 

Jacksonville Jaguars 31, Houston Texans 30

9:30 a.m. ET (NFL Network) | Wembley Stadium (London) 

Minshew Mania going overseas feels like the Beatles in reverse, if the Beatles had the specter of Nick Foles looming over their shoulder. Minshew’s performance at Wembley could decide who starts for the Jags at quarterback after the Week 10 bye, and he’s got the right matchup to succeed. The Texans‘ defense took a big step back this season even before J.J. Watt suffered a season-ending torn pec last week. Watt was drawing more double teams than any lineman, and opposing offenses don’t have anyone else they need to game plan for now. While it feels wrong to pick Minshew in a shootout over Deshaun Watson, the Jaguars‘ defense presents the far tougher matchup. The Jags fans in London deserve a game like this.

 

Philadelphia Eagles 31, Chicago Bears 14

1 p.m. ET (FOX) | Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia)

Did Philadelphia find an identity during the second half in windy Buffalo last week? Running behind the hosses on the right side of their offensive line, Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks, the Eagles flexed their muscles like it was 2017, finishing with 218 rushing yards, their highest total output of the Doug Pederson era. That could be key against a Bears front that isn’t as dominant as it once was. It helps that the return of Eagles cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby has stabilized the secondary. Avonte Maddox could also be back this week, while DeSean Jackson is set to stretch the field against a Chicago defense getting tired of carrying its organization. Blame coach Matt Nagy all you want, but Mitchell Trubisky has seen more open receivers this season than Carson Wentz. Trubisky just doesn’t know what to do with them.

 

Indianapolis Colts 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 18

1 p.m. ET (CBS) | Heinz Field (Pittsburgh) 

There’s been this weird thing happening around this team for weeks where its fans — and even the area’s best writers — envision Pittsburgh winning nine or 10 games because of magic Steeler pixie dust and another good, not great, Mike Tomlin defense. This version of reality states that Mason Rudolph had to “shake the rust off” against the NFL’s worst defense on Monday, while ignoring that Rudolph’s rust has been a permanent feature to his play. The Colts‘ record is not completely reflective of their play, either. They are 16th in DVOA, 16th in scoring offense, 14th in scoring defense and participants in seven straight one-score games — the gutsy middle of the NFL power structure. The Steelers should land below that middle in the long run because they have one of the league’s shakiest starting quarterbacks and not enough other outstanding qualities, at least until Rudolph or that pixie dust proves otherwise.

 

New York Jets 23, Miami Dolphins 21

1 p.m. ET (CBS) | Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)

This is as big as it gets for a Week 9 game between two teams that have one combined win. Adam Gase’s nightmare first season in New York will start looking like a potential one-and-done if the Jets lose, especially if Sam Darnold continues to struggle. The Jets‘ offensive line is Dolphinian, but Darnold’s eight picks, three fumbles (one lost), 15 sacks and 6.1 yards per attempt in four starts look more statistically significant with every passing week. The remnants of the 2018 Dolphins, meanwhile, get perhaps their best chance for a win in a rare team-wide revenge game against a coach who barely left a mark in three seasons in South Florida. I don’t want to live in Gase’s darkest timeline.

 

Minnesota Vikings 26, Kansas City Chiefs 21

1 p.m. ET (FOX) | Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Mo.)

The Chiefs will have four home losses in early November unless they pull off the upset with Matt Mooreexpected to be behind center Sunday. This is not a death knell to Kansas City’s title hopes, but the chances of another AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead — or even a Divisional Round game at home — get thornier by the week. The Vikings also cannot afford to lose ground in an NFC North that increasingly looks like a two-team race, with the loser facing a brutal path to the Super Bowl. The NFL has been so much worse without Patrick Mahomes the last two weeks that it’s jarring. 

 

Carolina Panthers 24, Tennessee Titans 21

1 p.m. ET (CBS) | Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, N.C.)

Ryan Tannehill has undoubtedly helped, but he’s also faced two of the worst defensive backfields in football. He can make pretty throws, but also tends to be a touch late seeing them. Against the Panthers‘ zone defense, that could lead to interceptions. While Tannehill has rallied the Titans back to 4-4, it’s worth wondering if the vision of general manager Jon Robinson is working. This is his team, his vision. Yet the Titans‘ balanced defense is still reliant on getting its pass rush from its defensive backs. The offense doesn’t have a receiver on pace for 700 yards, and Dion Lewis has one touch in 37 snaps over the last two weeks. It’s a team without great strengths or weaknesses, on the way to 9-7 or worse again, especially if it loses Sunday to a Panthers team that has greater top-shelf talent on both sides of the ball.

 

Buffalo Bills 27, Washington Redskins 17

1 p.m. ET (FOX) | New Era Field (Orchard Park, N.Y.)

Interim head coach Bill Callahan may be losing, but he’s doing it in record time. Washington’s extreme run-first approach doesn’t figure to change if rookie Dwayne Haskins makes his first start this week, and it could even make sense against a Bills defense much better at stopping the pass than the run. That dichotomy is typical of a Buffalo team that can’t put together a complete game, especially at home. Josh Allen is fantastic in the red zone (11 of 16 for 68 yards and six TDs against zero picks), but he doesn’t get there often enough, because he’s tied for second in the NFL in fumbles (eight) and is 27th in yards per attempt. Those traits could keep this game closer than necessary, but winning ugly against bad teams is what this Bills group does best. 

 

Seattle Seahawks 29, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27

4:05 p.m. ET (FOX) | CenturyLink Field (Seattle)

These teams aren’t so different outside of their quarterbacks, which means they are very different indeed. They both like throwing deep and pretending they are better at running the ball than they really are. The Seahawks have as many wins by at least two scores as Tampa (one), but Russell Wilson has bailed his team out with a 5-1 record in one-score games, while the Buccaneers have found creative ways to go 1-3. The Bucs, who last played a home game on September 22, showed off some positive signs after their bye with Jason Pierre-Paul adding juice to their pass rush and better protection of Jameis Winston. That could be trouble for Seattle’s flagging pass rush, which is 26th in pressures and dead last in quarterback hit rate, according to the Athletic. Fear the Seahawks as a heavy favorite and fear Russell Wilson in close games.

 

Oakland Raiders 27, Detroit Lions 24

4:05 p.m. ET (FOX) | Oakland Coliseum (Oakland, Calif.)

It would have been hard to imagine back when the Raiders last played in Oakland on September 15 that they’d return home as the sixth-most-efficient passing attack in football, with their Week 9 opponent (Detroit) one spot in front of them. The Raiders and Lions throw very well in very different ways, with Oakland looking like an early ’80s West Coast outfit, while the Lions more closely resemble a 1960s AFL squad that loves the long ball. Both teams are also trying to hide mediocre defenses that lack a pass rush. In the biggest toss up game of the week, I’m going with sentiment because these Oakland fans deserve to see December football that matters one last time.

 

Green Bay Packers 30, Los Angeles Chargers 20

4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) | ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park (Carson, Calif.)

Anthony Lynn’s decision to fire offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt coming off a win portends stormy times ahead, especially because the Chargers‘ defense has been the far more disappointing unit. Lynn surely wants to run the ball more effectively and has the right matchup to do so this week. But all the 5-yard plunges of Lynn’s dreams won’t keep up with Aaron Rodgers at the peak of his powers, especially if Davante Adams returns this week. If Philip Riverscan’t overcome what figures to be a sea of green in L.A., it’s not too early to wonder if the impending free agent will even make it to the Chargers‘ and Rams‘ new stadium in 2020.

 

Cleveland Browns 22, Denver Broncos 17

4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) | Empower Field at Mile High (Denver)

Bill Belichick tells his teams that more games in the NFL are lost than won. The Browns and Broncos are prime examples, for different reasons. The Browns are minus-9 in turnover margin and minus-253 in penalty yardage differential, with that second number easily being the worst in the NFL. The Broncos‘ offense is more stultifying than sloppy, unable to help out a Vic Fangio defense that improves by the week, with youngsters Justin Simmons and A.J. Johnson balling out. That unit gives the Broncos a fighting chance to make Browns coach Freddie Kitchens’ life truly miserable, but it’s hard to pick the Broncos when their new starting quarterbackBrandon Allen, hasn’t thrown a pass in four NFL seasons. It feels like Week 16 in Denver.

 

Baltimore Ravens 20, New England Patriots 17

8:20 p.m. ET (NBC) | M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore)

The Ravens‘ defense and Patriots‘ offense have been two of the most consistently dominant NFL units of the decade, but they started 2019 looking unwell. Then they began making adjustments, because that’s what good organizations do. Ravens linebackers L.J. Fort and Josh Bynes fortified their middle, with Patrick Onwuasor set to return against New England. The addition of cornerback Marcus Peters via trade completed a secondary where Earl Thomas improves each week and Jimmy Smith is also back practicing.

The Patriots‘ offense still appears undercooked. Left tackle Isaiah Wynn is weeks away from returning from IR, and guard Shaq Mason may miss another week. New receiver Mohamed Sanu will help, but it is disarming to see a Patriots offense rank 23rd in yards per play, 30th in yards per rush and third in punts. As transcendent as Bill Belichick’s defense isLamar Jackson could be the difference Sunday night by exposing New England’s biggest weakness: team speed. The Patriots-Ravens matchups have taught me for most of the decade that the better offense usually wins.

 

MONDAY, NOV. 4

 

Dallas Cowboys 33, New York Giants 24

8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN) | MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)

Ezekiel ElliottDeMarcus Lawrence and Leighton Vander Esch all appeared to be rounding into shape before Dallas’ Week 8 bye. This should be the healthiest the Cowboys have been all season, with Amari CooperRandall Cobb and both offensive tackles fresh. Michael Bennett should make a sneaky-big impact on this squad, especially when lined up against erratic Giants tackles Nate Solder and Mike Remmers. With two weeks to prepare, this is the type of matchup a Super Bowl contender should win with authority. Much like Jerry Jones, that’s exactly how I see these Cowboys.

From NFL.com

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