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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.