Derrick Gunn's NFL Week 9 picks: With Elliott playing, can Cowboys upset Chiefs?

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Derrick Gunn's NFL Week 9 picks: With Elliott playing, can Cowboys upset Chiefs?

Derrick Gunn makes his picks for Week 9 of the NFL season.

Broncos at Eagles (1 p.m. on CBS)   
The Eagles’ last test before their bye week is a big one. Carson Wentz and his offense must solve the rugged Denver Broncos' defense (see key matchups). And this is no ordinary defense. The Broncos come riding into town with the No. 1 overall D, allowing 261.0 yards per game. They are sixth against the pass (188.1 yards per game) and No. 2 against the run (72.9). Von Miller is one of the best in the business at harassing quarterbacks and his sidekick is finally back. Linebacker Shane Ray, who was on IR with a wrist injury, returned this past Monday night against Kansas City. 

As good as Denver's defense has played, the offense has been the opposite, mainly because of quarterback Trevor Siemian’s play. Siemian started the season by tossing six touchdowns and just two interceptions in Denver's first two games, as the Broncos won both. Over the last three outings, he's served up six interceptions and two touchdowns, and the Broncos have lost all three. Head coach Vance Joseph announced Wednesday that he's switching to Brock Osweiler, hoping to jump-start his lethargic offense. The six-year veteran has thrown just four passes this season. 

The Eagles’ defensive rotation up front needs to get after Osweiler to make him as uncomfortable as possible. Wentz cannot afford to hold the ball too long in passing situations or Denver will make him pay. If the Birds can establish their ground game, it will open things up in play action. 

After playing Monday night, getting home early Tuesday morning, traveling this weekend to the East Coast and making a QB change, Denver has a lot to deal with in a short amount of time. That's why I’ll go with the home team in a backyard, knockdown, drag-out brawl.

Pick: Eagles 24, Broncos 23

Ravens at Titans (1 p.m. on CBS)
These two teams have the playoffs on their minds. The Titans are tied for first place in the AFC South, while the Ravens are two games behind the Steelers in the AFC North. Joe Flacco passed his concussion protocol, which is huge for the Ravens. Both teams have been inconsistent on offense. The Titans should get speedy receiver Corey Davis back. I give Tennessee a slight edge at home.

Pick: Titans

Buccaneers at Saints (1 p.m. on FOX)
The Bucs have been one of the biggest disappointments of the season, while the Saints have been a big surprise, winning five in a row. Drew Brees has his offense rolling, and it will roll over the Bucs.

Pick: Saints

Rams at Giants (1 p.m. on FOX)
The Rams are second in the league in points scored (30 points per game). Meanwhile, the Giants are coming off a bye. Big Blue will be without their top cornerback, Janoris Jenkins, who has been suspended indefinitely. The Rams, just a half game behind the Seahawks in the NFC West, have been very creative in finding ways to score. L.A. will be Ram tough on the road.

Pick: Rams

Falcons at Panthers (1 p.m. on FOX)
The Falcons and Panthers were supposed to be at the top of the NFC South, looking down on the rest. Instead, they’re both looking up at New Orleans. Both squads have three losses, and the Panthers traded away Cam Newton’s big target, Kelvin Benjamin. Because Newton has been hot and cold this year, I look for 'Matty Ice' to put the Panthers in a deep freeze.

Pick: Falcons

Bengals at Jaguars (1 p.m. on CBS)
Cincinnati’s offense will have its hands full with one of the best defenses in the league. The Jags are No. 1 in pass defense and scoring defense. Too bad the Bengals can't run the ball because Jacksonville's D is very generous in that department. Andy Dalton is in for a long day. The Jags get it done at home.

Pick: Jaguars

Colts at Texans (1 p.m. on CBS)
Imagine going through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in less than 24 hours. The Houston Astros won their first-ever World Series Wednesday night, then on Thursday afternoon, we learned that the Texans’ sensational rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson tore his ACL and is done for the year. It's Tom Savage’s offense now. Good thing the Texans are playing the hapless Colts. 

Pick: Texans

Cardinals at 49ers (4:05 p.m. on FOX)
What a major disappointment the Cardinals have been. Expected to battle for a playoff spot, they're now battling just to get to .500. Meanwhile, the Niners remain winless and have all kinds of health issues along the offensive line. San Francisco traded for what it hopes will be the quarterback of the future in Jimmy Garoppolo, but C.J. Beathard will be under center Sunday. An Arizona win is in the Cards.

Pick: Cardinals

Redskins at Seahawks (4:05 p.m. on FOX)
The Redskins just can't get out of their own way. They’re talented enough to win games, yet they keep finding new ways to blow them. The Seahawks had to hold off the Texans in a shootout to win last week, but that’s the difference between these two teams. Seattle knows how to get it done, and the ‘Skins don't.

Pick: Seahawks

Chiefs at Cowboys (4:25 p.m. on CBS)
It turns out that Ezekiel Elliott will be playing Sunday after yet another twist in his long saga (see story). Dallas has gotten healthier on defense and it showed in its last game. But can the Cowboys' defense control Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and the Chiefs’ offense? Alex Smith is a master at taking care of the ball, with 16 touchdowns and no interceptions. If the ‘Boys couldn't beat the Rams and Packers at home, don't expect them to get by the Chiefs.

Pick: Chiefs

Raiders at Dolphins (8:30 p.m. on NBC)
These are two of the more frustrating teams in the league. Both have playoff talent, yet both haven’t consistently shown it. Miami may have the home-field edge, but the Raiders have the QB edge in Derek Carr. The Raiders will enjoy their trip to South Florida.

Pick: Raiders

Lions at Packers (8:30 p.m. Monday night on ESPN) 
This was supposed to be an NFC North showdown between Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers. Unfortunately, Rodgers is out. His backup Brett Hundley has had a bye week to get his feet on solid ground, but can he put up big numbers to give the Pack a chance? Not on this night, he won’t. Lions leap at Lambeau.

Pick: Lions

Alshon Jeffery listed as questionable vs. Cowboys


Alshon Jeffery listed as questionable vs. Cowboys

Alshon Jeffery will be listed as questionable for Sunday night's game in Dallas. 

The Eagles' receiver popped up on the injury report with an ankle injury on Thursday, when he was limited. 

Head coach Doug Pederson said he expects Jeffery to play and he's optimistic he'll be able to go. On Thursday, Jeffery said he will "most definitely" play against the Cowboys. 

"It's been kind of lingering a little while," Pederson said. "There's no really one particular game or instance. It's hard for me to even put a finger on when it happened or how it happened. 

"It's something too in his case with all the cutting and stopping and starting in practice and games and where we are at that time of the year, you're going to start seeing more and more guys get added to the list or taken some reps off at practice, just so we can keep them healthy for Sunday."

Zach Ertz (hamstring), Ronald Darby (ankle) and Jaylen Watkins (hamstring) were full participants on Wednesday and Thursday, the two most important practice days of the week. The Eagles will practice in their bubble on Friday afternoon. Barring setbacks, Ertz and Darby should make their returns on Sunday. 

Ertz missed the Denver game and Darby hasn't played since Week 1, when he dislocated his right ankle. 

The Cowboys are reportedly going to be without left tackle Tyron Smith and linebacker Sean Lee. They're also missing Ezekiel Elliott, who will serve the second game of his six-game suspension.

Derrick Gunn's NFL Week 11 picks: 2 games that will impact Eagles

Derrick Gunn's NFL Week 11 picks: 2 games that will impact Eagles

Derrick Gunn makes his picks for Week 11 of the NFL season.

Eagles at Cowboys (Sunday 8:30 p.m. on NBC)
Now that their bye week is over, the Eagles are focused on wrapping up the NFC East. Dallas is licking its wounds after getting manhandled down in Atlanta. Ezekiel Elliott is serving his suspension. LB Sean Lee is out with a hamstring injury, and Pro Bowl LT Tyron Smith is ailing with a groin injury. It all sounds too easy for the Birds, but with Dak Prescott on the other side, they’re not about to overlook this one. And they still remember what happened in Dallas last season.

Without Elliott and Smith, trying to establish a ground game against the Eagles’ top-ranked run defense will be near impossible. Dallas is 0-2 in games Lee hasn't played in this season. Carson Wentz will spread the wealth through the air, and now that Jay Ajayi has had extended time to get familiar with the offense, the Birds' running attack should be even more diversified. If the Eagles' defense can make the Cowboys' offense one-dimensional, it's game over.

Pick: Eagles 27, Cowboys 17

Detroit at Chicago (Sunday 1 p.m. on FOX)
The Bears’ defense is actually decent, ranked ninth overall, but the offense is abysmal. In their last two outings, the Bears hung tough, losing by eight to New Orleans and by seven to Green Bay. Chicago just doesn't have enough offensive firepower to hang with Matthew Stafford and the Lions.

Pick: Lions

Jacksonville at Cleveland (Sunday 1 p.m. on CBS)
This is a matchup of feast or famine, and the Jags' defense (first in sacks with 35) should be doing a lot of feasting. The Jags are tied for first in the AFC South and should win their fourth in a row.

Pick: Jaguars

Baltimore at Green Bay (Sunday 1 p.m. on CBS)
Aaron Rodgers’ replacement Brett Hundley has improved each week, but this time he's facing a Ravens defense that leads the league in interceptions with 13. It is likely the Packers will be without their top two rushers. Joe Flacco has been a disappointment this year (eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions) but he will pile up yards against a generous Packers' pass defense. Ravens win a close one.

Pick: Ravens

Tampa Bay at Miami (Sunday 1 p.m. on FOX)
The 3-6 Bucs vs. 4-5 Fins. No one expected both of these teams to have losing records at this stage of the season. Tampa’s list of offensive weapons on paper is impressive but has not lived up to expectations. The Dolphins are a mess, losing the last three and giving up 40 or more points in two of their last three. Somebody has to win this battle of Florida. Bucs get a slight nod.

Pick: Bucs

Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota (Sunday 1 p.m. on FOX)
This clash of division leaders is worth watching as both are 7-2 and behind the Eagles in the NFC. The Rams are the best scoring offense (32.9 points per game) and are facing the Vikings’ No. 5 scoring defense (18.3 ppg). Jared Goff has come into his own and Case Keenum has been solid. It comes down to which defense can get the most stops. The Vikings’ D is really good and playing at home. Advantage Minnesota.

Pick: Vikings

Washington at New Orleans (Sunday 1 p.m. on FOX)
The 'Skins keep losing frontline bodies while the Saints, at 7-2, just keep winning. Drew Brees has completed a minimum of 71 percent of his passes the last four games and the Saints' D isn’t bad, ranked eighth overall. The Redskins will not win in the Bayou.

Pick: Saints

Kansas City at New York Giants (Sunday 1 p.m. on CBS)
Andy Reid's crew is lucky the rest of the AFC West is struggling. The Chiefs have had a bye week to fix the problems they had against Dallas. Meanwhile, the Giants have become a laughingstock. Players are getting suspended, and others are grumbling. The Giants will do a lot of sulking after Kansas City is through with them.

Pick: Chiefs

Arizona at Houston (Sunday 1 p.m. on FOX)
Both teams are without their starting QBs. The Cardinals still don't know who will start this one, Blaine Gabbert or Drew Stanton. Tom Savage has been ineffective for Houston the last two games (46 completion percentage, two touchdowns and two interceptions). All of the Cardinals’ losses have been against teams with winning records. This will be ‘Zona’s first loss to a team under .500.

Pick: Texans

Buffalo at Los Angeles Chargers (Sunday 4:05 p.m. on FOX)
What has happened to the Bills? The defense can't stop anybody. The Bills are losers of two straight and now QB Tyrod Taylor is benched. Philip Rivers is in the concussion protocol. If it’s a battle of backup QBs, I’ll take the Chargers’ Kellen Clemens over the Bills’ rookie Nathan Peterman.

Pick: Chargers

Cincinnati at Denver (Sunday 4:25 p.m. on CBS)
The only thing these two 3-6 teams have left to play for is pride. The Broncos have lost five straight and the last three to the Chiefs, Eagles and Patriots. The Bengals are minus-9 in turnover differential but Andy Dalton, who hasn't thrown a pick in his last three games, will lead Cincy to victory.

Pick: Bengals

New England at Oakland (Sunday 4:25 p.m. on CBS)
Like them or not, the Patriots just keep finding ways to win. Their defense is ranked dead last, yet once again, they control the AFC East. Old Man Brady still has many tricks up his sleeve and will dissect the Raiders’ defense.

Pick: Patriots

Atlanta at Seattle (8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN)
The Falcons were impressive against Dallas, but that was in their dome. This one will be outdoors in the cold with possible rain, and the 'Hawks' 12th man will be out in full force. Seattle can't run the ball but Russell Wilson can carry this team on his back. The Seahawks desperately need a win to stay close to the Rams. They’ll get the W.

Pick: Seahawks