NFL Week 9 Preview
Lions @ Vikings
Luckily, the Lions won't have to play without Matthew Stafford, who has passed through COVID protocols after possibly being exposed earlier in the week. They will, however, be without star WR Kenny Golladay and DE Trey Flowers. The Vikings have turned a bit of a corner lately but will be without a few defensive backs. Detroit can have a big day through the air, while Dalvin Cook could be in for a big day on the ground for Minnesota. Loser falls to last place in the NFC North.
Broncos @ Falcons
Somehow, despite all their injuries, the Broncos are trying to get to .500 with a win this week. A win would keep them in the playoff hunt, and a win with a Raiders loss would pull them into a tie for second place in the AFC West. The Falcons, on the other hand, are just trying to finish the season. They've won two of their last three but have blown way too many leads to be trusted. Raheem Morris has gotten them to play better, and this should be a good game.
Seahawks @ Bills
Two teams that will be in the playoffs. I mentioned in my takeaways from last week that Buffalo has officially taken over the AFC East and should win that division rather easily. The Seahawks are currently a one-loss team and on top of the NFL's toughest division. Russell Wilson is playing at an MVP level, while DK Metcalf is having a breakout season. They will have a tough matchup against Buffalo's defense, but the real question is if Buffalo's improved offense can keep pace with Seattle.
Bears @ Titans
Both teams here are trying to end losing streaks. The Titans started the season 5-0 but have lost two in a row, including last week to the Bengals. The Bears have widely been considered the worst five win team because of their lack of offense. They have an elite defense but don't have guys that can soundly beat you on offense. The Titans have a great running game and a much improved passing game to go with a good defense. It should be pretty easy for the Tennessee defense--giving that offense plenty of opportunities.
Ravens @ Colts
Two of the AFC's better teams. Both enter this game at 5-2. Baltimore has one of the league's best offenses, while Indy suddenly has the league's best defense. Philip Rivers has brought stability to a Colts' offense that is otherwise filled with many unknown commodities. The Ravens' defense is also near the top of the league, so expect a lower scoring affair. I lean toward picking Baltimore in this one, just because they have more firepower on offense.
Panthers @ Chiefs
The Panthers have been a bit of a surprise so far They're just 3-5, but I think just about everyone thought they'd be much worse. This one will honestly be a huge challenge. A Carolina win would be incredibly impressive, but the Chiefs should roll to a victory. The talent gap is still just too big, and Andy Reid's coaching ability and experience is another great advantage.
Giants @ Washington
Sterling Shepard has given New York's offense a shot in the arm since being activated off of IR two weeks ago, but they face a very good defense this week. Daniel Jones still turns the ball over too much, and Washington doesn't miss those opportunities. While Washington doesn't have a great offense, the Giants defense doesn't do enough for them to win games. Should be close, but Washington is the better team.
Texans @ Jaguars
This should be a good one for offense and fantasy purposes. Both defenses have struggled this year, especially against the pass. Dashaun Watson and the Houston offense should be in for a huge game. Jacksonville will have more to overcome if it wants to compete in this one. QB Gardner Minshew is out for this one, leaving rookie Jake Luton to take over. JJ Watt should make things tough for the young rookie, which could cause things to get out of hand. Luton's play is the biggest factor for the Jags in this one.
Raiders @ Chargers
The Chargers are just 2-5, but Justin Herbert has looked like the QB of their future. They're pretty much just playing spoiler the rest of the season, but should be encouraged by the improvements they've seen. There should be plenty for them to exploit, so Herbert, Mike Williams, and Keenan Allen could have big games. The defense should be able to hang with the Raiders' offense, which has struggled recently. Derek Carr has played well most of this season and will look to keep his team in the playoff race. It won't be easy. Expect these teams to play a close one. LA could pull it out with a great effort from the whole team.
Steelers @ Cowboys
Oh, boy. This one could be ugly and get that way fast. The Steelers are 7-0 and look like Super Bowl contenders. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have struggled all season in all phases. Their offense is on its fourth quarterback this season, and they will be without RB Ezekiel Elliott. On defense, they haven't been able to stop anything. The Pittsburgh offense has playmakers at all positions and should take advantage, plus its defense is one of the premier units in the league. Going to be a long day for Dallas.
Dolphins @ Cardinals
This game is filled with intrigue. Not only is it a matchup of two up-and-coming teams, but it's also the first head-to-head matchup between Tua Tagovailoa and Kyler Murray. The Cardinals are out to a 5-2 start, good enough for 2nd in the NFC West, thanks to a potent offensive attack and an improved defense. The Dolphins have surprised behind a surging defense. They've been causing turnovers at rapid rate. If Miami can continue that dominance, they can pull this one out. The Cardinals have struggled in games in which they've turned the ball over multiple times.
Saints @ Buccaneers
The Saints pulled out the win in the first one of these matchups in Week 1. Back then, Tom Brady was still getting used to his new team, and New Orleans didn't have so many injuries. Ironically, the Saints are expected to have WR Michael Thomas for the first time since that Week 1 game. Tampa has won three in a row since a bad loss to the Bears, while the Saints are 5-2, even while looking like just a shade of their usual selves. Should be a close offensive battle with the winner taking over first place in the NFC South.
Patriots @ Jets
Who would've thought a Monday night game featuring the Patriots in November would be between the bottom two teams in the AFC East? We expected some drop off in New England but not this much. The defense has been solid, but their offense has no playmakers outside of Cam Newton and Julian Edelman. Luckily, they're just facing the Jets--who will be without QB Sam Darnold. Even with Darnold, the Jets are by far the worst team in the league. They won't find their first win this week, even against this version of the Patriots.