More than half of the league has reached the midway point in their 2019 NFL season and we have learned a lot.
The Patriots and Saints are once again among the elites, Kyle Shanahan is a really good football coach, Aaron Rodgers is back as a legitimate MVP candidate and the Bears wish they did not trade up to get Mitchell Trubisky in the 2017 draft.
Hopefully the second half of the campaign is as entertaining as the first half.
Onto my Week 9 NFL Six Pack:
Once upon a time playing against the Seahawks in CenturyLink Field was extremely uncomfortable, but that is not the case any longer. Seattle is 0-4 against the number at home to start the year despite a 6-2 record heading into Week 9.
Pete Carroll’s team has been led by MVP candidate Russell Wilson and the ninth best rushing attack in the league (130 yards per game), but unlike in years’ past they have struggled to stop the forward pass. The days of the “Legion of Boom” are gone. Seattle is yielding over 273 yards per game through the air, good for sixth worst in the National Football League.
On Sunday, the Seahawks meet a Tampa Bay offense that should be able to stay in the game by exploiting the Seattle pass defense. Jameis Winston continues to struggle with turnovers, including a league high 12 interceptions through seven games, but he also is quite capable of moving the ball consistently on the road like he did in the Buccaneers 55-40 upset victory in late September against the Rams. I expect his dynamic duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin to win early and often against the subpar Seattle secondary.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 27, 2019
Tampa has won two of four away from home and their two losses were tight ones to New Orleans and Tennessee. The Bucs may not get out of the Pacific Northwest with a much-needed victory, but they are desperate and should be able to keep this one close.
The back door will be open all day. Take the points.
Pick: Tampa Bay (+6)
The Bills defense looked like one of the best units in the league before their bye in Week 6, but have been far from impressive over their last two games. They gave up 21 points in their divisional battle against lowly Miami and then were gashed on the ground in their Week 8 31-13 loss to the Eagles. The good news for Buffalo is they take on a Redskins team that is weak on the offensive line and is likely to start a rookie quarterback that has been terrible thus far.
With Case Keenum likely to miss Week 9 with a concussion, Washington will to turn to first round pick Dwayne Haskins. The former Ohio State signal caller has not shown the ability to read NFL defenses and quite frankly looks like a deer in headlights at this point. Look for the Bills to get consistent pressure on the first year QB and force him into multiple turnovers in a get right spot for Sean McDermott’s squad.
If Keenum plays I am not in love with laying over a TD, but with Haskins in there I expect the Redskins to struggle to find the end zone.
Bills in a rout.
Pick- Buffalo (-9.5)
The Eagles have been disappointing through the first half of 2019 as my preseason choice to win the Super Bowl, but they earned a huge victory in Week 8 versus the aforementioned Bills. They now head back to the City of Brotherly Love to host a Bears team that has really struggled on the offensive side of the ball.
Chicago ranks 29th in the league in total offense (281.4 yards per game) and 21st in the NFL in red zone offense. They will try to exploit a porous Eagles secondary, but their offensive line has been a major issue. Even when they have given Mitchell Trubisky ample time, he has struggled with his accuracy.
1. People can blame the play calling all day long. Mitch Trubisky got 162 yards out of his ground game. He had six cracks at the end zone in goal-to-goal situations and the best he could muster was 16 points against an average defense.
— Erik Lambert (@ErikLambert1) October 29, 2019
The Eagles had success running the ball right at the Buffalo defense in Week 8 and they are likely to use a similar strategy against a Bears group that has not been nearly as good against the run since they lost Akeem Hicks to an elbow injury in Week 5.
Look for Philly to control both lines of scrimmage and get another big win before their bye week.
Pick- Philadelphia (-5)
Sunday’s action gets started early in Week 9 with an important AFC South clash in Wembley Stadium between the Texans and Jaguars.
The Jaguars matchup well in this one against a Houston team that has major issues in the secondary and now will be without their best defensive player, J.J. Watt. The future Hall of Famer left last week’s contest against the Raiders with a torn pectoral muscle. The injury will end Watt’s season and debilitate the Texans defense.
This game can be beautiful and it can also be brutal. Absolutely gutted that I won’t be able to finish the season with my guys and give the fans what they deserve. I truly love this game and can’t stand letting you guys down. Thank you for all of the thoughts & well-wishes.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) October 28, 2019
Deshaun Watson has proven he can carry the Texans with his arm and legs, but with a subpar defense and an offensive line that is likely to struggle against the Jaguars front seven, I expect Gardner Minshew to make it three in a row for Jacksonville.
Jags move to 5-4 with a big win in the U.K.
Pick: Jacksonville (+1.5)
The Titans have been fortunate to come away with victories in both of their recent games in Nashville. They found a way to keep the Chargers out of the end zone in a controversial goal line stand in Week 7 and then got a lucky whistle to hold off Tampa in Week 8. They now head to Charlotte to take on a Panthers team that was embarrassed in San Francisco last Sunday.
Look for Carolina to rebound with a strong defensive performance in Ryan Tannehill’s first game on the road since taking over starting duties.
Panthers by two scores.
Pick: Carolina (-4)
I do not see a ton of scoring in this AFC tussle between two teams that play at a below average pace according to situation-neutral snaps per second via Football Outsiders.
— Kyle Cox (@KyleCoxPFB) October 29, 2019
Steelers QB Mason Rudolph got the job done against one of the league’s worst defenses on Monday night, but he played too slow and often looked uncomfortable in the pocket. He got away with it against Miami, but the task will be much tougher against the Colts.
Look for the defenses to control things and keep the game in the high teens much like the Colts Week 8 contest against the Broncos.