By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
Okay, what in the name of Ickey Woods is going on? We were having such a good NFL season, but now injuries, COVID, trades, dissension and (unfortunately) tragedy has turned the league upside down – well, at least for this week. Of course, this makes predicting the outcomes of Week 9 even more of a challenge, but I’ll give it my best shot.
Here are this week’s picks:
♦ DENVER @ DALLAS: The Cowboys managed to get past the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday without the services of QB Dak Prescott, who was held out because of a calf strain. All signs are pointing to his return this week. That would be bad news for the 4-4 Broncos, who this week traded away longtime star Von Miller. Dallas has the league’s top offense, racking up 454.9 total yards per game. They’ve won six straight, and I expect their streak to continue. Pick: COWBOYS
♦ MINNESOTA @ BALTIMORE: Ravens QB Lamar Jackson says he feels “great” after Baltimore’s bye week in Week 9. “110%,” he said. That’s bad news for the Vikings, whose defensive line recently took a hit with the season-ending injury to DE Danielle Hunter. The Vikes should be able to score against Baltimore’s middling defense, but will they be able to contain the dual-threat Jackson? I don’t think so. Pick: RAVENS
♦ GREEN BAY @ KANSAS CITY: This game was supposed to feature a matchup between two of the league’s top quarterbacks. So, to quote a Tina Turner song, what’s Love got to do with it? Well, Aaron Rodgers is out with COVID, making way for former Utah State QB Jordan Love. The Chiefs, meanwhile, are surprisingly struggling. Patrick Mahomes, who threw only six interceptions last season, has already surrendered 12 picks this season. Call it a hunch, but I expect him to bounce back in a big way against the Packers. Pick: CHIEFS
♦ LAS VEGAS @ N.Y. GIANTS: Man, this has been a stressful season for my, umm, I mean, the Raiders. First, the NFL conspires to give their head coach, Jon Gruden, the boot. And this week, the team releases its top receiver, Henry Ruggs, after the senseless DUI incident that took the life of a 23-year-old woman. The Raiders banded together to beat Denver after losing Gruden, but this hits a lot differently. Also, the Giants came thisclose to beating Kansas City this past Sunday. Pick: GIANTS
♦ BUFFALO @ JACKSONVILLE: It’s been a rough year for the 1-6 Jaguars and their first-year head coach, Urban Meyer. And it won’t get any easier this week against the 5-2 Bills, who have the NFL’s top scoring defense (giving up just 15.6 points per game) and an offense led by QB Josh Allen, who has emerged as a strong candidate for league MVP. Buffalo is a 14.5-point favorite to beat the Jags. I’m tempted to give the points. Pick: BILLS
♦ TENNESSEE @ L.A. RAMS: At 6-2, the Titans have the best record in the AFC, but now they’re without the league’s leading rusher, Derrick Henry, who is out for at least six weeks with a foot injury. Tennessee has signed Adrian Peterson to help fill the void, but come on. As for the Rams, the acquisition of Von Miller demonstrates the organization’s commitment to win NOW. Pick: RAMS
Last Week: 3-3 | 2021 Record: 23-25 (.479)