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

Brandon Brooks restructuring deal for Nick Foles a 'no-brainer'

Brandon Brooks restructuring deal for Nick Foles a 'no-brainer'

A few days ago, the Eagles and Nick Foles agreed to rework his contract.

The restructured deal included a $2 million signing bonus and incentives based on whether Foles starts and reaches certain goals, plus a mutual option for 2019 (see story). Monday, it became clearer how the Eagles were able to get Foles more money up front when Pro Bowl offensive guard Brandon Brooks tweeted this:

Brooks restructured his current deal last Friday to help out his quarterback (see story)

NBC Sports Philadelphia had Brooks and RT Lane Johnson on Quick Slants Monday. Brooks had this to say about the restructure and his tweet:

Whenever it comes to a restructure, I just wanted to throw it out there — one, to clarify as far as exactly what happened and then two, probably the most important thing is look at what Nick did. I literally did whatever it took to get him extra money. I mean, everything he’s done for us as a team, for us as a city. The Super Bowl MVP. You know, going out there, launching that thing every week. The leader he is. The high character guy he is. And when they approached me about it, it was kind of like, 'Nah,' but then after understanding it was for Nick Foles, then I said, 'Without question, let’s go ahead and get it done.' He deserves it, he brought the first championship to the city, so it was a no-brainer, without question for me.

Brooks' close friend and linemate Johnson added:

The man was thrown into the fire and came out on top. I mean, he was really thrown into a tough situation and only had two weeks the last part of the season to kind of get in a rhythm, and you know how those games went. The guy went out there and delivered. I’m just so proud of him. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy. We’re all happy for him.

As it gets closer to the 2018 NFL draft, the rumors continue to swirl that Foles could be traded. If it happens, a number of his teammates have told me Foles deserves his own team.

Will Foles be in Eagles green come September? Only time will tell, but whether he’s here or elsewhere, Foles will always have the respect and admiration from a group of guys who completed a magical season.

Eagles in contact with the White House about possible visit

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Eagles in contact with the White House about possible visit

After winning Super Bowl LI, the Patriots visited the White House on April 19, 2017. 

You might have noticed that April 19 has come and gone this year and there hasn’t been much talk of the Super Bowl champion Eagles visiting the relatively new home of President Donald Trump. 

But on Monday, the New York Times reported that discussions about a possible Eagles trip to the White House have begun.

The Eagles confirmed that report with the following in a statement: “We have been in contact with White House representatives and are currently discussing the logistics of an upcoming visit to Washington. We are honored to receive this invitation and view this not only as an opportunity to be recognized for our on-field achievements, but also as an opportunity to engage in productive dialogue with the leaders of our country."

This is the first time the Eagles have publicly spoken about a trip to the White House and the first time they’ve revealed they have been invited. When asked about the possible trip last month at the annual league meetings, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie didn’t seem very eager to speak about the topic. 

“We just won the Super Bowl,” Lurie said in Orlando last month. “I haven’t had any of those discussions. I have no idea. It’s just … I haven’t had those discussions.” 

The idea that the visit to the White House could be an opportunity for dialogue is an interesting one. Normally, these things are pretty much photo opportunities, but perhaps that’s part of the discussion. 

As you might guess, an Eagles trip to the White House is a pretty tricky trip to figure out. 

The Eagles have several players — Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long, Torrey Smith — who have already said publicly that they wouldn’t attend. And last year when the Patriots won, Long and LeGarrette Blount were not among the group that went. Aside from that, Lurie, who donated money to Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign, is considered one of the more liberal owners in the league. 

“We have been in conversations with the Eagles about timing and are working with them to make it happen,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, via the New York Times. “We hope to have something finalized in the next couple of weeks.”

According to the New York Times story, Lurie had strong criticism for Trump at a private league meeting last October as owners, players and executives met weeks after Trump scolded the NFL and players, which brought more league-wide protesting during the national anthem. During those meetings, Lurie described Trump’s presidency as “disastrous” and reportedly used a vulgarity to emphasize that opinion. 

This is not the first time an Eagle has had harsh words for Trump. Last September, Jenkins said Trump was “no different than a troll on social media.” 

The Eagles are the first Super Bowl-winning team after Trump’s attacks on the league and its players who had chosen to demonstrate during the national anthem. Last September, Trump said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’”

The week after Trump made those comments, protests became more wide-spread throughout the league, with entire teams demonstrating and showing unity. The Eagles — players, coaches and executives, including Lurie — locked arms as the Star-Spangled Banner was performed.