Week 9 Review, TNF Preview

Posted: 11/12/2015 by levcohen in Uncategorized

Week nine served to further clarify things in a lot of ways, as I wasn’t surprised by much of what happened. In the last two weeks, I’ve seen enough to eliminate the Chargers. I’m close to crossing off Dallas, Miami, and Baltimore, but I’ll wait another week to do that.

Eliminated teams: Chicago, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Detroit, San Francisco, Kansas City, Tennessee, Jacksonville

Here are five takeaways from week 9:

    • Tyrod Taylor is really good, and a lot better than I thought. I picked the Dolphins to beat the Bills last week, discounting the fact that Taylor was returning from a two game absence. When Taylor got injured, the Bills were 3-2. They lost the two games he missed and didn’t look particularly good in either game. Sure enough, though, as soon as Taylor came back, the Bills rebounded. Taylor went 11/12 for 181 yards and a touchdown (most of which went to Sammy Watkins, who was coming back from injury himself) and added 10 carries for 44 yards as the Bills hung 33 points on the Dolphins. Granted, Taylor was helped by a great running game (or atrocious run defense), with LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams tearing the Ndamukong Suh-led defense to the tune of 25 carries for 224 yards and three touchdowns. But Taylor, who’s now looking like the best offseason signing of them all at his price, looked calm and composed as he led the Bills on four touchdown drives. Buffalo, now 4-4, has a reasonable chance of making the playoffs, but their schedule toughens up; it’s the third-hardest in football from here on out.
    • With Denver losing in Indianapolis, I think it’s now very fair to say that the remaining undefeated teams — 8-0 New England, Cincinnati, and Carolina — fully deserve their unblemished records. The teams rank first, third, and fourth in DVOA, and each of them has notched impressive wins. The Panthers have beaten Green Bay and Seattle, the Bengals have beaten the Raiders, Seahawks, and Steelers, and the Patriots have drubbed too many teams to count en route to a league-best +133 point differential. It’s looking more and more likely that we’ll have an undefeated team this season, especially since all three teams have reasonable schedules going forward. My prediction: the Patriots go 15-1 while the other two go 14-2.
    • The Raiders are legit. They lost in Pittsburgh by three points, but in doing so they showed that they have a real chance to make the playoffs. Their offense is top-10, with Derek Carr breaking out this season and having plenty of targets around him. Meanwhile, they have a below-average defense, but Kahlil Mack and Co. should improve at least a little down the stretch. At this point, their playoff chances are probably a coin flip.
    • The Eagles are still a confounding team, but it looks like their offense is slowly getting better. Sam Bradford has looked more comfortable in back-to-back competent efforts against the Panthers and Cowboys, while the running game has been one of the best in football since week three. Given their week division and their strong defense (although the loss of rookie linebacker Jordan Hicks, the DROY frontrunner, really hurts), the Birds have to be favored to win the NFC East. Now, they’re unlikely to do much in the playoffs, but they should be able to get that far.
    • It’s kind of creepy how, in many cases, backup players and especially running backs can fill in so well for injured stars. Just look at Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Kansas City, teams that lost Le’Veon Bell, Matt Forte, and Jamaal Charles, three of the best backs in football. All three teams have gotten great games out of their backups, who have looked almost as good as the injured stars. Maybe that tells us that successful running is more due to a good offensive line and system than anything else.

7-6 straight up… 75-43

9-4 against the spread… 57-56-5

6-7 over/under… 59-57-2

Upset picks:

1-2… 14-16

1-0… 6-2

Buffalo Bills (4-4, 4-4) at New York Jets (5-3, 4-3-1):*

Spread: Jets favored by 2.5

Over/under: 41.5

My prediction: total toss up here, but since I just talked up the Bills, I might as well defend them here. Bills win 20-17.

Bills cover

Under

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