SF (7-0) @ ARI (3-4-1) | THU 8:20 PM ET | FOX/NFL Network/Prime
People seem to be chalking this up as another San Francisco victory, but don’t be surprised if they are given a bigger challenge than expected for this Halloween game. Although he only stands at five-foot-ten, Kyler Murray he has the ability to be the scariest player on the field tonight, and Kliff Kingsbury’s offense will feature a quick-strike passing attack centered around Christian Kirk, Larry Fitzgerald, and (depending on how well he knows the offense) Kenyan Drake to neutralize Nick Bosa and the feared defensive front. Fitz in particular has been quiet for too long (three receptions for 20 scoreless yards over the past two weeks), so I think he could put on a vintage performance in what could be the final primetime game of his illustrious career. Defensively, Arizona has the edge rushers (Chandler Jones, Terrell Suggs) to get after Jimmy Garoppolo with left tackle Joe Staley (leg) and right tackle Mike McGlinchey (knee) both still out, so it’s important for Kyle Shanahan to continue featuring Tevin Coleman and the running game. Unlike most teams in the league, San Francisco can be trusted to keep the ball on the ground. Look for Coleman to be a “Treat” for fantasy football owners in a closer-than-expected finish.
Winner: San Francisco 49ers
HOU (5-3) @ JAX (4-4) | SUN 9:30 AM ET (in London) | NFL Network
Daylight savings time in the United States comes at the perfect time for the final London game of the year, as fans can sleep in a bit before watching a key matchup in the AFC South. Deshaun Watson needs to avoid the sub-par performances that we’ve seen a couple of times already this season (including in Week 2 against the Jaguars when he had just 159 passing yards), but if he plays like he did last week and the Texans win the AFC South, I’d say there’s a good chance the former Clemson star wins his first NFL MVP award. The greatness of Watson makes Houston an automatic contender no matter who he’s surrounded by, so I don’t think it was outrageous for the Texans to listen to trade calls about DeAndre Hopkins (as reported by FOX’s Jay Glazer) considering the lack of draft picks they have over the next two years. The absolute top priority in 2019 and beyond needs to be keeping Watson healthy, and while Hopkins is obviously one of the best offensive weapons in football, you don’t need an elite receiver to win a championship. London games are unpredictable, but like I said for Kyle Allen last week with Cam Newton (foot) getting healthier, it will be interesting to see how Gardner Minshew handles the impending return of Nick Foles (collarbone) following the Week 10 bye.
Winner: Houston Texans
CHI (3-4) @ PHI (4-4) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX
The kicking game for Chicago was a big concern entering the season, and their handling of Cody Parkey after January’s playoff loss to the Eagles may be something that haunts them for years. The Bears curiously felt they needed a scapegoat and found one in their kicker, but remember, Parkey was three-of-three on field goals before the final attempt, and it was blocked but still nearly made it through the uprights. Now, the offense is just as worrisome, and Mitchell Trubisky needs to quickly figure things out if Chicago is going to turn their season around. Allen Robinson did most of the damage against Philly ten months ago with a 10/143/1 line on 13 targets, so the passing attack needs to run through him—both on the outside and in the slot—to potentially open things up for Anthony Miller and Taylor Gabriel. For the Eagles, Jordan Howard is going to want to prove his former team made a mistake in trading him, and the Bears have been run on in back-to-back losses since Akiem Hicks (elbow) went down. Doug Pederson has abandoned the run before, but I have much more faith and he and Carson Wentz than I do Matt Nagy and Trubisky.
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles
IND (5-2) @ PIT (3-4) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS
The wild card race in the AFC is wide open, so Colts-Steelers is an underrated matchup that could have late-season implications for both squads. Indianapolis seems primed for a better showing this weekend after barely escaping with a win over the Broncos, but Pittsburgh is 3-3 since Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) went down in the opener, and their losses have come against the Seahawks (28-26), 49ers (24-20), and Ravens (26-23 in OT)—which shows they can compete with basically anyone. This week, the health of James Conner (shoulder) is key, but if he plays with Jaylen Samuels (knee) returning, I expect we will see more wildcat packages to add another dimension to the running game. Either way, the Steelers have re-established themselves as a defensive team, and them trying to stop the Indy offensive line from opening holes for Marlon Mack is arguably the matchup of the week in any game. The Colts won Halloween with this Twitter post, but with T.Y. Hilton (calf) banged up, I’ve got Pittsburgh winning on Sunday in a game that opened with an even line for a reason.
Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers
NYJ (1-6) @ MIA (0-7) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS
I would have personally traded Jamal Adams, Robby Anderson, and even Le’Veon Bell to the highest bidders at the trade deadline to accelerate a rebuild in New York, but general manager Joe Douglas did the right thing by at least listening to calls for them all, and the offseason will give them a chance to revisit any conversations. The main piece to move would be Adams because of the return he will apparently get, but it’s crazy for him to compare his value to that of Tom Brady and Aaron Donald—the former being the greatest football player of all-time and the latter being the two-time reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Things could go downhill fast if multiple players feel disrespected (whether right or wrong), but defensive coordinator Gregg Williams should help keep the ship afloat because you know his side of the ball will play hard. On offense, Bell simply needs more than 12 touches for the Jets to have any chance to making an improbable run over the final two months. Miami has put up a weekly fight with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, but this game is much more important for New York to win.
Winner: New York Jets
MIN (6-2) @ KC (5-3) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX
I highlighted the history between Matt Moore and Damien Williams last week as something that could benefit Kansas City’s offense with Patrick Mahomes (knee) out, but it took a LeSean McCoy fumble to get them on the field together for an extended period of time, and Williams ended up finding the end zone in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs essentially ditching a guy that scored eight touchdowns in five starts down the stretch in 2018 (including playoffs) for McCoy—who has already had two costly fumbles in eight games—makes zero sense to me, but we’ll see if the latest mishap by the veteran flips the backfield pecking order. Besides the turnover by McCoy, the offense wasn’t an issue at all on Sunday night, and Moore was probably overlooked as a capable backup that has seemed to play well whenever called upon throughout his 13-year career. Minnesota will be a bigger challenge, but they’ve shown vulnerability on the backend, so Week 9 could be another high-scoring affair. The Chiefs almost certainly won’t leave Dalvin Cook out in space against a linebacker after what Aaron Jones did to them, but the Vikings should at least test that early to add another option for Kirk Cousins as he plays the best football of his career. I just don’t see the Chiefs dropping to 1-4 at Arrowhead Stadium.
Winner: Kansas City Chiefs
TEN (4-4) @ CAR (4-3) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS
Ryan Tannehill deserves credit for two narrow victories at home since taking over as the starter, but I still believe the Titans made a mistake in benching Marcus Mariota, and the short window before the bye (@ CAR, v KC) will be telling for Tennessee and their quarterback. In general, the offensive line playing better has been the biggest difference, and as the weather gets colder, Derrick Henry should only become more of a monster like we saw down the stretch in 2018. The Panthers were just destroyed by San Francisco’s rushing attack for five touchdowns, but while an angry Luke Kuechly is going to do his best to bounce back (you could see him frustrated in the background of replays in Week 8), the defense allowing opposing runners to have success has been going on for the better part of year. Of course, Carolina has their own dominant back in Christian McCaffrey, and he may have a bit of a chip on his shoulder “against” Derrick Henry for the first time since being edged out for the Heisman Trophy a few years ago. At home, I trust McCaffrey to lead the way on offense with Kyle Allen avoiding mistakes coming off a three-interception performance.
Winner: Carolina Panthers
WAS (1-7) @ BUF (5-2) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX
I know Josh Allen immediately answered with a touchdown drive, but it felt like the Bills were punched in the mouth on Miles Sanders’ 65-yard score to start the second half and never really got up in last week’s loss to the Eagles. However, Sean McDermott’s squad is a resilient group, and they remain in excellent position in the crowded wild card race as we head into November. This week, it sounds like Buffalo may face Dwayne Haskins in his first NFL start with Case Keenum still in the concussion protocol, so Adrian Peterson will surely be fed touches to protect the rookie from more turnovers (he’s already thrown four interceptions on just 22 attempts). A worst-case scenario for the Redskins would be Josh Allen having a breakout game on the ground to jump out to an early lead, as Haskins doesn’t need his confidence to get drained any more than it already is by playing catch-up against a stingy, opportunistic secondary. Even if Washington decides to start Colt McCoy over Haskins (which I think would be wise with the bye in Week 10), Buffalo should take care of business.
Winner: Buffalo Bills
TB (2-5) @ SEA (6-2) | SUN 4:05 PM ET | FOX
Turnover issues plagued Jameis Winston in college and have plagued him through five years in the NFL, so I don’t know how much more of him the Buccaneers need to see before they pull the plug. Through seven games this season, Winston has tossed 12 interceptions, and there are plays every week where you can see that he is either a) second-guessing himself, or b) just doesn’t process information fast enough to pair with his pure talent as a thrower. Being a former No. 1 overall pick gives him more leeway, but Tampa Bay needs to upgrade the quarterback position if they want to avoid wasting the twilight years of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans while they are young, healthy, and relatively cheap. On the other side of the field, Russell Wilson is basically the antithesis of Winston, as he takes care of the football and puts up numbers despite not having the same pass-first system or skill-position talent around him. Against the league’s best run defense this week, though, Seattle may decide to open things up by letting Wilson work his magic. I actually think the Bucs can keep up in a shootout, but at some point, there is a good chance Winston will erase any numbers he previously put up with a costly mistake.
Winner: Seattle Seahawks
DET (3-3-1) @ OAK (3-4) | SUN 4:05 PM ET | FOX
Following a daunting stretch of the schedule that saw them play in Minnesota, Indianapolis, London, Green Bay, and Houston without a true home game, the Raiders sit at 3-4 and are in prime position to make a move in the AFC—or perhaps even the division. November’s schedule (v DET, v LAC, v, CIN, @ NYJ) is extremely favorable, but as I’m sure Jon Gruden would tell you himself, they just need to take things one game at a time, and that starts with beating the Lions. Even coming off two consecutive losses, Oakland’s offense is rolling with Derek Carr at the controls, and the trio of Josh Jacobs, Tyrell Williams, and Darren Waller can do plenty of damage together. This week, I think Williams can have another solid game because he’s the type of big, athletic receiver that has sometimes given Darius Slay problems, and overall, the Lions have been shredded recently. Matthew Stafford has more than enough firepower to keep up, but the lack of a consistent running game has me leaning towards the Raiders.
Winner: Oakland Raiders
GB (7-1) @ LAC (3-5) | SUN 4:25 PM ET | CBS
The Chargers surprisingly fired offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt this week (despite coming off a victory), and it sounds like the running game not being successful was the main reason why. The offensive line is a far bigger issue than the play-caller in my opinion, but head coach Anthony Lynn becoming more involved in the weekly game plan could spark Melvin Gordon after he handled just ten touches in Week 9, and it’s worth noting that the Packers have allowed the fifth-most yards per carry (4.8) in the league. Aside from featuring Gordon, I believe Los Angeles should drain the clock more like they’ve done in previous seasons, and that’s especially true this week in order to keep Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense on the sideline. Davante Adams (toe) returning should scare the rest of the league, as the Packers getting everyone else involved and going 4-0 without Adams in the lineup is like Happy Gilmore learning how to putt, and now the offense can be fully unleashed in the second half of the year. As a fan, I’m hoping for a shootout similar to Philip Rivers’ other matchups against the Packers (three losses by scores of 31-24, 45-38, and 27-20).
Winner: Green Bay Packers
CLE (2-5) @ DEN (2-6) | SUN 4:25 PM ET | CBS
Remember when Nick Chubb ripped the Ravens for 183 yards and three touchdowns last month? He was fueled by the previous week when he didn’t convert a fourth down run against the Rams, which caused him to admittedly have nightmares because he was tackled by one guy. The Broncos have played stout against the run recently, but I would still hate to be a Denver defender this weekend when Chubb looks to atone for losing two fumbles in a loss to New England. Everyone knows you can’t turn the ball over and expect to win in the league, but excluding the fumbles, Chubb looked great in Week 8, and the thing you have to respect most about him is that he lets his play do the talking. Unfortunately, some teammates—including the guy who is supposed to be the leader in Baker Mayfield—are too volatile to deal with outside noise, and a loss to Brandon Allen and the Broncos might cause irreversible drama if Odell Beckham Jr. has another quiet game (a real possibility facing shadow coverage from Chris Harris Jr.). Chubb needs 30 carries if that’s what it takes.
Winner: Cleveland Browns
NE (8-0) @ BAL (5-2) | SUN 8:20 PM ET | NBC
Baltimore getting healthier on the backend with Jimmy Smith (knee) returning is huge for their chances of handing the Patriots their first loss of the season, but if Tom Brady is allowed to get comfortable in the pocket, they won’t have a shot on Sunday Night Football. Through seven games, the normally fierce pass rush has only generated 12 sacks, and even the celebrated defenses of the past were only able to beat Tom Brady once in seven regular season matchups—and it took a last-second field goal to win 31-30. However, these AFC rivals have actually not squared off since 2016, so the game could look a lot different with Lamar Jackson presenting a new challenge for Bill Belichick’s defense. While first- or second-year quarterbacks have lost 20 games in a row against the Pats, they aren’t without individual success, including Mitchell Trubisky nearly pulling off an upset last season by throwing for 333 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions (with another 81 yards and a score on the ground) in a 38-31 loss. Belichick wants to take away what an opponent does best, though, and there is no confusing what that is for the Ravens. I’m not picking against the Boogeymen after this Halloween hype video.
Winner: New England Patriots
DAL (4-3) @ NYG (2-6) | MON 8:15 PM ET | ESPN
The Cowboys struggled against the Giants to start the Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott era (they lost both games in 2016), but since then, it has been all Dallas with five wins in a row. Being at home will hopefully help New York bounce back—and they clearly feel they can still compete in the NFC East after trading for defensive end Leonard Williams—but the bye for the Cowboys could mean they come out with an aerial attack similar to what we saw in the opener when Dak torched James Bettcher’s overmatched secondary for 405 yards and four touchdowns. Perhaps Daniel Jones being under center to make things happen as a playmaker will give the Giants a better chance of keeping up, but Saquon Barkley needs more than 11 carries (which he turned into 120 yards in Week 1) for Pat Shurmur’s offense to reach its full potential. Williams, Dexter Lawrence, and the suddenly loaded defensive line stopping Zeke (4.0 YPC in five career matchups) will make the game close, but Dak’s arm will prove to be too much in this NFC East clash.
Winner: Dallas Cowboys