Shapiro's Week 9 NFL picks: Bucs will handle Saints
We have reached the midway point of the 2020 season, and the Steelers are the lone undefeated team in the NFL. Pittsburgh gave up 265 yards on the ground and struggled to move the ball consistently in its 28-24 victory against the Ravens, but the Steelers made big plays when needed and ran their record to 7-0.
The defending-champion Chiefs are still the team to beat, but a tip of the cap to Mike Tomlin’s squad for a great first couple months.
Unfortunately, it was another losing week for yours truly, with my selections on BetAmerica. My first quarter of the season, where I went 9-5-1 against the number, feels like ages ago. Hopefully, I can get back to my winning ways.
On to Week 9!
New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mon, November 9 2020, 1:20 AM
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New Orleans Saints
Tampa was not at its best Monday night against the Giants, especially in the first half, but the Buccaneers found a way to eke out a victory in a potential look-ahead spot. The Bucs should be more focused Sunday, in their NFC South showdown against three-time defending NFC South champion New Orleans.
Tom Brady has received a lot of the praise for Tampa’s 6-2 start, and there is no doubt the six-time Super Bowl champion has made a major difference, but the Bucs defense has been just as responsible for the team’s strong start. Todd Bowles' unit is extremely tough to run against, has one of the best secondaries in the league, and ranks first in Football Outsiders' DVOA. Moving the ball regularly against Tampa is a chore.
The biggest change in Tampa’s offense is turnover differential. Brady and his crew have just eight giveaways through the first half of the season. In 2019, the Bucs led the league, with 41. With their defense and a plethora of options for Brady to work with, especially once they get Chris Godwin back and get Antonio Brown into game shape, the Bucs are one of the favorites to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LV.
The Saints head east to Florida just a half-game behind Tampa and have won four in a row, but they have been far less impressive than the Buccaneers. Their top cornerback, Marshon Lattimore, has struggled covering top pass catchers, and the Saints have been unable to regularly creative explosive plays. Getting star wide receiver Michael Thomas back in the lineup will be a huge plus, but they still do not match up well with Bruce Arians’ squad.
The Buccaneers will take control of the NFC South.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Buffalo Bills
Sun, November 8 2020, 6:00 PM
Seattle and Buffalo both head into a key inter-conference battle off of key divisional victories in Week 8. The Seahawks and Bills both hold the lead in their divisions, but it is has little to do with their ability to play quality defense. Points should be plentiful Sunday in Upstate New York.
Russell Wilson has been overlooked in years past, despite some fantastic seasons, but barring an injury, he appears poised to capture his first Most Valuable Player Award. Wilson has already thrown for 26 touchdowns and has led Seattle to an NFC-leading 240 points through seven games. Look for the 5-foot-11 signal caller to exploit a Bills defense that has taken a major step backward, after it was one of the better units in 2019.
Josh Allen was almost as impressive as Wilson through the first quarter of the season, but he has not been anywhere near as good over the Bills' last four games. However, he should get right in Week 9, with a matchup against one of the league’s worst pass defenses. Buffalo should be able to throw it to Stefon Diggs, John Brown, and Cole Beasley early and often against a Seattle defense that struggles to get pressure on the quarterback and cover opposing receivers.
Buffalo and Seattle both rank in the top six in total plays run and should have no problem scoring regularly.
Chicago Bears vs. Tennessee Titans
Sun, November 8 2020, 6:00 PM
After a 5-0 start, the Titans have dropped two in a row, including a disappointing ,31-20 defeat a a touchdown favorite in Week 8.
Tennessee’s offense has played extremely well over the first half of the season, but its defense has struggled, in large part due to a non-existent pass rush. This was particularly noticeable in the Titans' loss to Cincinnati on Sunday, when they only managed to get two pressures on Joe Burrow, against a depleted Bengals offensive line. They need to figure out a way to rush the passer if they want to make another run in the playoffs.
Chicago is in the hunt in the NFC North, almost solely because of its defense. The Bears are able to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks without blitzing and have been the best red-zone defense in the league.
Counting on Nick Foles to move the ball consistently, even in a plus matchup against the Titans, is a nerve-wracking proposition, but the Bears should be able to do score enough to hang in this one from start to finish.