If you were looking for my Week 8 picks on The Turf, there weren’t any. I took a break last week but now I am back to bring you my Week 9 picks. For the record, I went 9-5.
So What Happened in Week 8?
Well we started off with a decent Thursday Night game between the Falcons and the Panthers. Atlanta got payback on Carolina and Matt Ryan scored his first rushing touchdown since Week 5 of the 2019 season. Ryan said after the game that the win in Carolina could be a “confidence builder” going forward. We shall see.
The Fool’s Gold Team
Because you know there’s always one every year. Last year it was the Packers. This year, you don’t have to look outside the division. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the Bears. Sorry Chicago fans, but it’s true.
I saw an article on ESPN that mentioned the Los Angeles Rams could be the worst five-win team in the league.
The Bears are a 5-3 team who could very easily be 1-7, and the Rams smothered the Bears head-to-head just a couple of weeks ago. So I’m not sure where ESPN is coming from there.
With a Little Luck…
In Week 1, DeAndre Swift hangs onto that pass in the end zone, Lions beat the Bears. If Saquon Barkley doesn’t leave the game with a torn ACL in Week 2, Giants probably beat the Bears. In Week 3, the Bears play a Falcons team that doesn’t know how to play football when they lead. Against the Bucs, Tom Brady forgets what down it is for the first time in his life. That’s four games the Bears probably should have lost. The Bears have arguably been the luckiest team in football this season. Go out this week and beat the Titans and you might shut me up real quick.
Bengals Shocked the Titans
This wasn’t a matter of the better team winning. No, this was the case of a bad matchup. Cincinnati is not the better team, but they were a bad matchup for the Titans.
The Titans have the coach…they have the quarterback…they have a monster for a running back…they have good pass-catchers/receivers…but they have NO DEFENSE AT ALL.
The Bengals have weapons all over the place; a deep offense. Joe Mixon goes out and the Bengals backfield doesn’t miss a beat with GIOVANNI BERNARD. Burrow was able to torch that Titans secondary that doesn’t exist with very minimal pressure from the pass rush. Jadeveon Clowney is on an island on that defensive line.
Titans Desperate for Help on Defense
After the loss to Cincy, the Titans went out and traded for cornerback Desmond King, sending a sixth-round pick to the Chargers. The Titans could use all the help they can get in the secondary.
Cleveland Doesn’t Score a Touchdown
How? The Raiders don’t even have a good defense. Cleveland is going to have to make some decisions regarding Baker Mayfield. Is he really their guy at quarterback?
Other Week 8
Yes! Ok…wait…alright fine, enough about what happened in Week 8. But if you’re still curious, Cam Newton fumbled the Pats away from a win in Buffalo, Steelers remain undefeated, Kansas City makes the Jets look like a D3 program, Jimmy Garoppolo gets injured again, Dalvin Cook might be unstoppable when healthy, Cowboys hit rock bottom, and the Dolphins might be legit?
Anyway, let’s move ahead to my Week 9 picks, shall we?!
Week 8 Picks: 9-5
Season Picks Record: 73-32
Packers at 49ers (Thursday Night)
Boy, I’ll tell you what, I’m glad I’m not a Packers fan. Brian Gutekunst and that Green Bay front office are so frustrating. How do you not at least TRY and trade for a wide receiver at the deadline? There were rumors that the Packers were “really interested” in Will Fuller.
I knew the Packers wouldn’t do it. The Packers are like that stubborn guy driving on the highway on empty and you tell him to get off at the exit and find a gas station, but he says, “Nah dude we’re good, I can make it” and then you’re like “No dude, we’re not good…we’re not gonna make it.” Then five minutes later, you run out of gas and are stranded on the highway at 11:30 at night.
Basically, the Packers are the Mayor from Jaws. “Yeah we’re going to open the beaches, because there is no killer shark in these waters.” Which might as well be, “We aren’t going to trade for a quality wide receiver, because we do not have any issues with depth at the receiver position.” Yes you do, you freaking idiot.
OK Settle Down Matt
Anyway where was I? Oh, yes, so the Packers vs. the 49ers. There is one simple rule I follow when picking 49ers games: If Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t playing, I’m not picking them. It’s that simple. When Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t play, the 49ers are 5-21. In addition, star tight end George Kittle will also be out with a fractured foot. As a matter of fact, here’s a laundry list of all the 49ers injuries:
I don’t know what’s longer…The Expendables 3 cast list or the 49ers injury list. But I do know this…I think Green Bay wins this game. Packers win 24-14.
Broncos at Falcons
Both of these teams are not good. But at least the Falcons have a much better quarterback and basically a much better everything else on offense than the Broncos. Really the only way you lose to the Broncos is if you shoot yourself in the foot; which is exactly what happened last week when the Chargers blew it against Denver. And this is precisely what could happen to the Falcons – a team that likes to blow leads.
But even still, I like the Falcons to win their second straight game. I don’t think Denver keeps up with Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offense. Falcons win 35-30.
Seahawks at Bills
Even with a depleted backfield having both Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde out of the game, the Seahawks managed to rush for over 100 yards last week against the 49ers. D.K. Metcalf had a monster game with 12 receptions, 161 yards, and two touchdowns.
Both defenses have not played well lately. But Buffalo’s offense looked really sluggish against New England last week, and that can’t be good going up against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. I think Buffalo will keep it competitive, but I like Seattle to take it. Wilson could have a big day here. Seahawks win 27-21.
Bears at Titans
Tennessee has lost their past two games, and the Bears are slowly coming back down to earth. Tennessee’s defense has played really poorly and Chicago’s defense is solid. However, the Bears have allowed teams to rush for 120 yards per game this season. I think the Titans will rebound here on a big day from Derrick Henry. Chicago, who doesn’t really have a high-powered offense, is a much better matchup for Tennessee this week. Titans win 23-14.
Ravens at Colts
The Ravens actually outgained the Steelers by 236 yards last week, but still lost the game. Four turnovers is not going to win you many games; no matter how many total yards you have. The Steelers defense, again, gave Lamar Jackson fits. Jackson has not played well against Pittsburgh in his career.
Jackson’s Struggles Against Pittsburgh
In his two career games started against Pittsburgh, Jackson has completed 57% of his passes for just 369 yards, 3 TDs, 5 INTs and just 135 rushing yards with no rushing TDs. He was also sacked nine times, fumbled four times, and never had a QBR over 35 in his those two games. So it has been rough for Jackson when playing the Steelers defense.
And it Doesn’t Get Much Easier
This week, it actually doesn’t get much easier for Lamar and the Ravens. They face a good Colts team with a great defense. Indianapolis is 2nd in the NFL in total defense, 6th in the NFL at defending the pass, and 2nd in the NFL against the run; allowing only 79.9 rushing yards per game. This will be another tough matchup for Baltimore.
Don’t Turn the Ball Over
This will be the key for the Colts. Philip Rivers has to take care of the ball against this Baltimore defense, and if he does, I like Indy’s chances. The Steelers were significantly outgained in total yards by the Ravens, and Baltimore dominated possession throughout the game. But Big Ben took care of the football and the Steelers only had one turnover the entire game. When you take care of the ball on offense AND you have a great defense, that will win you games.
Also, this is a really bizarre fun fact: Teams are 1-6 this season in the week after playing the Steelers. The only team to win the week after playing the Steelers this season? The Cleveland Browns…when they beat the Bengals 37-34 in Week 7. It’s like the Steelers beat the hell out of teams and they go into next week with a physical hangover. Baltimore will be carrying that hangover with them on the road to Indianapolis.
I like the Colts to limit Jackson and stay hot in winning their third straight game. The AFC South stays tight between the Colts and Titans. Colts win 26-24.
Panthers at Chiefs
The Panthers are coming off a long rest, but a bad loss. The good news for the Panthers, Christian McCaffrey may be coming back from the IR this week. The bad news is, it may not even matter.
Even with the Steelers being undefeated, I still think the Chiefs are the best team in football, and their defense is starting to play better too. I think if you want to beat the Chiefs, or have a chance at beating them, you need to be able to do one of two things.
One, you need a big-play or high-powered offense to keep up with Mahomes and the Chiefs offense. Sometimes to beat someone like the Chiefs, you have to go for knockouts. Take big swings, not jabs. Or, two, you need to be able to pressure and get after the quarterback on defense. You need some serious pass rush pressure on Mahomes. I don’t think the Panthers are very good at either. Give me Kansas City to win big at home. Chiefs win 35-17.
Lions at Vikings
The Vikings are coming off a nice win against Green Bay led by a MONSTER performance by Dalvin Cook. When he’s healthy, Cook is one of the most difficult running backs to stop in this league. Cook torched (or should I say “Cooked” hehe) the Packers, rushing for 163 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries. He also added two receptions for 63 yards and a receiving touchdown.
Stafford or No Stafford?
Meanwhile, the Lions could be without their starting quarterback Matthew Stafford, as he has been placed on the reserve/COVID list. The thing is Stafford’s last contact with someone was on Monday which would technically allow him to be eligible to play in the game against Minnesota this Sunday, assuming he continues to test negative.
Whether Stafford plays or not, it might not even matter if they can’t stop Cook from running all over the place. And Detroit’s defense has not been very good this season. The Lions have allowed opponents to score 29.4 points per game this season.
I think Detroit will keep it fairly close, but I like Minnesota to grab their second straight win against another NFC North opponent, and creep up the division standings. Vikings win 31-24.
Giants at Washington
The Giants have actually been competitive in most of their games this year. They have lost to opponents by an average of 7.8 points this season, and that number is skewed from their 27-point loss to the 49ers. If the Giants lost to the 49ers by, say, 10 points, that average drops to 5.4 points.
When Washington loses, they lose to opponents by an average of 12.8 points per game this season. But I tend to go with teams who have good coaches coming off a Bye week; especially when they play teams that aren’t very good. So I think I like Washington’s chances in this game.
Daniel Jones Has a Turnover Problem
Daniel Jones is third in the NFL in interceptions, and fourth in the NFL in fumbles among ALL players. He goes up against a well-coached team with a good defense. Last time these two teams played, Giants barely escaped with a win. They won’t this time. Washington wins 24-21.
Texans at Jaguars
This is really weird. Because both these teams are 1-6 and in the same division, but I feel like the Texans are a MUCH better team. Also, it seems like Deshaun Watson is playing better as the season progresses:
|Week||Completion %||Pass Yards||TDs||INTs||Rating|
It’s also worth noting that Texans former head coach and GM (I know, it’s weird) Bill O’Brien was fired after Week 4. So it seems like Watson might be playing at least more loosely since O’Brien’s firing. And that can’t be good news for the Jaguars.
|Per Game||With O’Brien||Without O’Brien|
|Pass Yards per Game||273.0||334.3|
It’s really quite fascinating. Since Bill O’Brien left, Watson has doubled in touchdown passes per game, boosted his rating and yards per game, increased his completion percentage, cut down on interceptions, and has even been sacked less. He actually has overall been a better quarterback without O’Brien on the sidelines this season.
But Matt, What About Strength of Competition?
Ah yes, I’m glad you asked. With O’Brien, Watson has faced four teams who have a combined record of 21-8. Without him, he faced three teams with a combined record of 12-10. But really that’s because one of those three games was against the Jaguars. The other two, however, were good teams – Packers and Titans. So yes, the competition when O’Brien was coaching was stronger. But Watson has played well recently against good competition despite having lost those games, and I still don’t think it takes away from the fact that Watson is playing better without Bill O’Brien. I project that he will continue to play at a high level, and he will here against Jacksonville. I like Watson as a DFS play this week as well. Texans win 26-13.
Raiders at Chargers
This might be the toughest game of the week to predict. Justin Herbert, along with Joe Burrow I’d have to imagine, will most likely be in the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
You wanna talk about teams that are always in it in games? Remember previously when I said the Giants lose to opponents by an average of 7.8 points per game? Well the Chargers losses this season have been by an average of 3.8 points.
I have been going back-and-forth with this game, but even though Herbert has been playing well, I think I like the Raiders to nip the Chargers in this one. Again, another very close loss for the Chargers. Raiders win 23-21.
Steelers at Cowboys
I’ll put it to you this way, the Cowboys are starting a quarterback I’ve never even heard of. And he’s about to go up against the best defensive line in football. How about that for a Cowboys debut?
Who is Garrett Gilbert?
Dallas will go with Garrett Gilbert at quarterback after rookie Ben DiNucci struggled hard against the Eagles last week. Gilbert has actually been in the league since 2014 and has been a bit of a journeyman. He’s been with the Rams, Patriots, Raiders, Panthers, Browns, and now he is with the Cowboys. The last time he started a football game was actually when he was playing in the Alliance of American Football (AAF) League in 2019.
Gilbert played for the Orlando Apollos in the AAF league. Through eight games, he completed 60.6% of his passes, threw for 2,152 yards, 13 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
The Steelers offense will probably get off to their typical slow start when playing on the road. But I’m starting to think that this game could get real ugly. Tom Brady or Joe Montana could be quarterbacking this Cowboys team on Sunday and it might not even matter. The Dallas defense is embarrassingly bad. Steelers win 35-20.
Dolphins at Cardinals
This could be a really exciting game to watch. Tua Tagovailoa vs. Kyler Murray could be a real treat for football fans.
This past week, when asked about Tua’s future in Miami as a starting quarterback, Brian Flores emphasized that this would not be an “audition” for Tua:
“There’s a couple things out there, let’s call it a source close to Dolphins thinking, saying that we are auditioning Tua. I’m just going to tell you about my thinking. We brought Tua here because we believe in him, same as all the other draft picks. We believe in developing players … and improving players on a daily basis. That would be the opposite of giving someone a 10-game audition. That’s just my thinking on that, just so everybody’s clear.”
Maybe Flores is telling the truth. But I’ll admit, I am actually a little skeptical and here’s why…
1. Houston’s Draft Picks
Adam Schefter at ESPN had reported that one factor into making Tua the starter over Ryan Fitzpatrick was that the Dolphins own the Texans’ first-and second-round picks in this upcoming NFL draft. The first round pick is projected to end up in the top-10, because Houston has been pretty bad this year so far. And this is in addition to Miami’s own first round pick. If the Houston pick ends up being in the Top-5 in the draft, it’s conceivable that, if Tua does not perform this season, the Dolphins could go after Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, or Trey Lance.
2. Why Bench Fitzpatrick in the First Place?
Don’t you find it at least a little odd that after winning three of his last four games, playing well, and staying competitive in the AFC East division, the Dolphins would bench Ryan Fitzpatrick to begin with? If you were serious about competing in the division, winning games, AND having Tua learn behind Fitzpatrick, why would Flores turn to Tua now? Remember, some of the best quarterbacks to play this game took at LEAST a year learning behind their predecessor.
3. The Timing
Look at the Dolphins’ remaining schedule. It’s not so much about the teams that Tua will be going up against. It’s more about the quarterbacks he will be facing. What is a good way to know whether your rookie quarterback has what it takes to be your franchise quarterback? See how he plays against other rookie or young quarterbacks at the NFL level. Tua’s next five games are against these quarterbacks:
And then after those games, three of the next four are against the best team in the league, Chiefs, and two teams in the AFC East Division, Patriots and Bills. So ultimately, Brian Flores may get to see how his rookie quarterback looks against other rookie quarterbacks, young second- and third-year quarterbacks, divisional rivals, and the best team in football. The schedule lays out a very evaluative path for the Dolphins and Tua. To me, this DOES feel like an audition for Tua, but the Dolphins of course are not going to admit that.
So How Does Round 1 of Auditions Go?
Not great for Tua. He goes up against a good Cardinals team on the road, who have been playing better as of late. They are also coming off a Bye, and Tua taking over the starting role is not a surprise anymore. Give me Arizona for the win. Cardinals win 26-22.
Saints at Buccaneers (Sunday Night)
The last time these two teams played, it was all the way back in Week 1. The Buccaneers were a completely different team at the time. Tom Brady was still getting used to the offense and his new teammates. It seemed like the Bucs were still trying to figure some things out. Also, now they have a new weapon in Antonio Brown.
The Saints were a different team too…they were healthy. Now Drew Brees is dealing with a shoulder injury, but seems to be cleared to play on Sunday.
Where in the World is…Michael Thomas?
Michael Thomas…where do I start? I don’t know whether he’s healthy or not… whether the Saints want to trade him or not…does he have any issues with head coach Sean Payton…I just don’t know. Thomas has been an enigma. But I guess he’s going to play? I think? Maybe?
Then Emmanuel Sanders got COVID and was out for some time, but I think he should be back this Sunday? Also, Alvin Kamara has a bone bruise in his foot, but the Saints are saying it is “nothing too serious.”
So basically, I’m not really sure what is going on with the Saints and what is going on in their locker room. The Saints won the first meeting, but I think I feel a split coming. Give me Tampa. Buccaneers win 40-31.
Patriots at Jets (Monday Night)
Woof, this is what we get Monday Night. The worst team in football against a declining Patriots unit, who seem to be on the verge of blowing things up. A lot of Patriots fans may not admit it, but it’s time for them to blow it up. Time for a rebuild.
I actually think the Jets could make this fairly close; especially with Sam Darnold back. But the Jets are still just SO bad. If Bill Belichick and the Patriots lose to THIS Jets team, they will have officially hit rock-bottom. But…I don’t think that happens. I just can’t pick this Jets team to win a football game. Get ready for a Monday Night Snooze Fest. Patriots win 20-13.
Enjoy the games!