NFL 2019 Week Nine – Already!
Week Nine is here and for us at least, the halfway stage seems to have arrived in a flash. So what’s been happening?
San Fransisco 28 Arizona 25
Well, Thursday night saw the 49ers move to 8-0 in a game that was not as close as the scoreboard would indicate. They can pretty much sew up the division in November, which may be just as well as their schedule is somewhat backloaded with six of their eight remaining games involving teams with winning records. Jimmy Garappolo showed he can be more than a game manager for a change throwing for a season best 317 yards and 4 TD’s. He also managed to avoid throwing a pick for a change, having been averaging one a game until now. One worry for them was the way they allowed Arizona back into it and their fans had to endure a nervy last few minutes instead of being able to retire to the bar to celebrate.
Sundays games start with the final London game and it should be a good one with both Houston & Jacksonville needing the win The other unbeaten team New England faces their first real test this week when they travel to Baltimore, who look to be their main rival in what has been a slightly mixed AFC so far. They lead the AFC North at 5-2 and are on a three-game winning streak. Last time out they really impressed beating Seattle on the road, and Lamar Jackson is one of the most fun QBs to watch as you never know whether he will throw or take off. He has been their leading rusher in those last three wins and this might be the key to the game as if the Patriots have a weakness defensively it seems to be stopping the run.
The AFC West looks like having quite a pivotal week with Kansas City coming to terms with the fact that they are not great without Patrick Maholmes under centre, while many peoples (ours included) Super Bowl dark horses the LA Chargers suddenly find themselves in a big hole, thanks largely to them finding new and exciting ways to lose games they should win. Neither will find it easy this week despite being at home as the Chiefs face Minnesota and the Chargers entertain the 7-1 Green Bay Packers. Unusually all the AFC West teams are at home this week and what is already a tight division could be a real mess after Sunday nights games.
One game which may not be a spectacle is the All AFC East game, the Jets at the Dolphins. It will have absolutely no bearing on the division or the Wild Cards, however barring a tie they will double their joint wins total. The Dolphins despite being 0-7 have played sort of ok in their last three games and led the Steelers 14-0 last week before collapsing in the fourth quarter. The Jets are pretty awful too this year and Sam Darnold looks to have regressed and is averaging 2 interceptions a game. This one could be an ugly watch for the purist, but fun for the neutral. Looking at Miami’s remaining schedule we are struggling to see a better chance than this for them to avoid going 0-16 and although they still have the winless Bengals to come Cinncinati may have AJ Green back in December which will be a huge boost.
Anyway, enough preamble, here are our predictions, wonder if we can match last weeks 14-1 Straight up and 10-5 against the spread?
Houston @ Jacksonville (Wembley Game) Spread +1.5
Only one win separates these two, and with Indy facing a tricky trip to the Steelers, the AFC South could end the week with all four teams tied on five wins. For that to happen we will need some Minshew magic and given the Texans will be without JJ Watt and key parts of their secondary he won’t get a better chance to shine on the international stage. Texans QB DeShaun Watson is having a great season with 16 TDs and has only thrown 5 picks but we wonder how much longer he can play at this level while taking nearly 3 sacks per game. He will be hoping Laremy Tunsil is fit for Sunday as the Jags defense likes to get after the QB.
Houston 21 Jacksonville 23
Washington @ Buffalo Spread -9.5
Buffalo had their limitations exposed last week by the Eagles and although they are 5-2 none of their victories has been that impressive. Still, they are playing the Redskins who are pretty dysfunctional at the moment. They may have to play Rookie Dwayne Haskins at QB this week as Keenum is under concussion protocol, however the best player on their team Trent Richardson actually reported for work this week so who knows he may suit up now that the trade deadline has passed. Can Washington win this on the road? Probably not but if they can stop their typical second-half collapse (they have been outscored 101-46 after half time so far) they could keep this one close.
Buffalo 27 Washington 21
Minnesota @ Kansas City Spread -2
The Vikings are finally starting to show their potential and Dalvin Cook’s return has given Kirk Cousins an extra outlet he badly lacked last year. The Chiefs will be without Patrick Maholmes again and there are question marks over key parts of the D-Line. The Vikings two losses have both came on the road this year and if backup QB Matt Moore can repeat his efforts of last week then this should be close.
Kansas City 21 – Minnesota 18
New York Jets @ Miami Spread +3
The game of the week – in the race for the 2020 no 1 pick draft pick anyway. As mentioned above this is between two of the worst teams in the NFL and it might not be a great spectacle. Miami has been playing a bit better of late, as the bevvy of new faces have started to gel and they might just edge this.
Miami 20 – NY Jets 17
Chicago @ Philadelphia Spread -4.5
A repeat of last seasons playoff game which will be best remembered not for the 16-15 scoreline but for Cody Parkey’s last-second 43-yard field goal attempt which bounced off an upright and the crossbar so giving Philly the win. neither side has looked like playoff contenders this time around, although with the NFC East being so bad the Eagles are in the thick of it even at 4-4. The Bears after a bright start have lost their last three, and QB Mitchell Trubisky is coming under a bit of fire. Mind you, these losses have been by a combined 15 points and that included losing to the Saints, which is no disgrace. However, it’s hard to see the Bears taking this one on the road.
Philadelphia 31 – Chicago 24
Indianapolis @ Pittsburgh Spread +1
Before the season started this looked like being a clash of divisional leaders, and although the Colts are still ahead in the South they are far from secure there, while Pittsburgh continues to reel from the loss of Big Ben. Tough one to call but we think home advantage might tell.
Pittsburgh 26 Indianapolis 20
Tennessee @ Carolina Spread -3.5
Both teams have a lot to play for in this one, with the Titans having clawed their way back into contention in the AFC South, while the Panthers will want to bounce back from last weeks beat down at the 49ers. Both are on four wins which in the AFC is fringe wild card form, however, dropping to 4-4 looks like being curtains in the NFC this year. This one could end up being close with defenses on top.
Carolina 24 Tennessee 20
Detroit @ Oakland Spread -2.5
The Loins are good this year but they have had a tough schedule. Their three losses have been by one score and this looks like the type of game they can win. Oakland started 2019 in tear-down mode and swung an missed with the Antonio Brown trade, however, given they are in early-stage rebuild they have done quite well. This could be a good game to watch.
Detroit 34 Oakland 27
Tampa Bay @ Seattle Spread -4.5
Seattle are going well in the NFC and at 6-2 they are nicely on course for at least a playoff place. They never really looked in trouble at the Falcons last week and with home advantage, they should win this one easily enough. Tampa is capable of pulling off a shock, as we saw against the Rams however that would involve Russel Wilson having a rare bad game, and of course, Jameis Winston not throwing any picks. Can’t see it happening.
Seattle 31 Tampa Bay 21
Cleveland @ Denver Spread +4
Things haven’t quite panned out as expected for Cleveland, who were hyped almost to the point of Super Bowl contenders after all the pre-season trades. Still, compared to where they were three seasons ag they can still be quite happy with their lot. Denver is 2-6 but four of these loses have been one-score games and two have been by only 2 points. Still, they are down to their third-string QB this week with Joe Flacco finally succumbing to injury thanks to his dysfunctional offensive line. On that basis, we think the Browns can take this one.
Cleveland 31 – Denver 20
Green Bay @ LA Chargers Spread +3.5
The Packers have finally found their offensive mojo, and with their defense looking better than it has since.. oh, 2010 when they won the Super Bowl it is not too surprising to see them at 7-1 and well placed in the NFC. The Chargers just keep finding ways to lose, with all five losses being by one score. Rivers is having another good season but silly mistakes are costing them. They beat Chicago on the road last week, but Green Bay in this form is a different proposition. This could be close but we see the Packers defense holding up.
Green Bay 20 Chargers 17
New England @ Baltimore Spread +3
The Game of the night and one which will let the world know if the Patriots are for real. They are 8-0 but only Buffalo has a winning record and they got shown up by the Eagles last week. Still, all you can do is win. Baltimore are 5-2 and showed they were contenders with a very impressive win at Seattle, in which Lamar Jackson showed his rushing potential. Overall he has more yards rushing than the Patriots main Running Back Sonny Michel and is no 9 overall in the NFL in average yards per game on the ground. With both defenses playing at an elite standard points might end up at a premium in this one and Tom Brady’s experience and ball management might end up the difference. Those with long memories will remember that back in 2007 the Ravens came closest of anyone to ending the Patriots unbeaten start eventually losing 27-24 after looking all over the winners at one stage. Will this be an omen if the Patriots prevail?
New England 21 Baltimore 19
Monday Night Football
Dallas @ New York Giants Spread +7.5
The NFC East is not great this year comprising two inconsistent teams and two who look odds on to be picking in the top 10 of the draft in 2020. The Cowboys stopped the rot last time up, ending a three-game skid with a comprehensive win over the Eagles and in what is being billed by some as the battle of the star running backs, this could actually be won by the line which protects its QB better. Rookie Daniel Jones has looked more assured of late and will hopefully have WR Sterling Shepard back. He had a big night at Detroit last time out and although they might not win this one the spread looks a bit big to us.
Dallas 23 – Giants 20
Atlanta, Cincinnati, LA Rams, New Orleans.