Saturday, November 5, 2016

2016 NFL Week 9 Picks

Another week with six teams on bye leaves limited options for picks, but at least the TV schedule is a bit more balanced than usual with only six 10:00 AM PST games and four late afternoon contests. Also like last week, none of the spreads are too egregious, with all the lines currently at a touchdown or less, making for some interesting teaser opportunities if you so choose.

Vikings -6 versus Lions

This admittedly feels a tough too high considering how badly Minnesota has played since their bye week with their injuries along the offensive front taking a toll and offensive coordinator Norv Turner's startling resignation. However, they are finally back at home for the first time since Week 5, and they have been a dominant 3-0 in their new stadium, outscoring opponents 72-37. A bad offensive line doesn't travel well, so they should do a better job at home against a Detroit defense that ranks last in Football Outsiders DVOA. The Lions have lost their last three on the road after their last second comeback at Indy to start the season, and I think their aerial attack will have a hard time against 4th best pass defense in DVOA.
Sam Bradford will look to get this offense back on track at home under his former OC Pat Shurmur

Panthers -3 at Rams

Carolina got back on track following their bye with a convincing 30-20 win against Arizona last week, and the return to form of star defensive tackles Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei was most encouraging as they combined for 4 sacks and held David Johnson to just 24 yards on 10 carries. Going on the road against an L.A. team coming off their own bye might be more of a challenge, but their struggling secondary (27th in DVOA pass defense) shouldn't face as much pressure against Case Keenum and the Rams' 27th passing attack. Barring Todd Gurley breaking a long run, I don't think L.A. will be able to put up many points in this one.

Chargers -4 versus Titans

San Diego nearly pulled off the comeback in Denver last week but couldn't overcome three Philip Rivers interceptions, including one taken back to the house despite the quarterback's best efforts in pursuit following the tipped ball. He should have an easier time attacking the #24 pass defense in terms of DVOA rather than #2, and with impressive rookie tight end Hunter Henry dealing with a knee injury, Antonio Gates is in line for a big day against a defense that struggles against tight ends. For Tennessee, DeMarco Murray appears to have avoided anything serious after a toe injury scare and will need to carry the load because the Chargers pass defense has been on a roll. Rookie defensive end Joey Bosa is living up to the hype now that he's in the lineup, and having a disruptive force like him should help San Diego hold onto a lead.
Along with Bosa, Melvin Ingram leads an improving pass rush.
Packers -7 versus Colts

This one should be a shootout, but Green Bay's ability to stop the run gives them a huge advantage over an Indy defense that ranks 29th in both pass and rush DVOA and is 31st overall. Getting the ball out of Aaron Rodgers' hand quickly has basically been the Packers' running game due to all of the their injuries, and it seems to have helped gotten him into a better rhythm and looking like his old MVP self. After Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery were late scratches last week, he made it work with 5th round rookie Trevor Davis and practice squad call up Geronimo Allison behind Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams, and I would expect more of the same this week at home no matter who is lining up next to him. Having Donte Moncrief back healthy with T.Y. Hilton will help Andrew Luck against an undermanned Packer secondary, but if the Colts fall behind early, I have a feeling that Green Bay will add to their 19 sacks through 7 games that's already 12th in the league.

Broncos +1.5 at Raiders

I debated about going with Denver or Baltimore for this last pick but ended up going with the better team despite being on the road. For whatever reason, Oakland is only 4-7 at home under Jack Del Rio, and you have to be concerned again about a young team disappointing after a close emotional win in overtime last week like they did after the Saints and Chargers wins. There's a joke to be made about Amari Cooper hurting his back after carrying the team with 12 catches for 173 yards and a score, but the fact that he got the questionable tag with this new injury is a concern. Derek Carr can make the art of passing look effortless at times, but he will need his top threat at full strength against this vaunted pass defense. Conversely, the Raiders' shaky secondary is the type that Trevor Siemian can take advantage of for the Broncos, and and this is also a good opportunity for rookie Devontae Booker to really get going as the featured 'back.
Having Bradley Roby as a third star corner is what leaves no weakness in this defense.
Last week: 3-2
Season total: 27-23-1

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