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Insiders predict: NFL week 9 winners

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Jamie Squire // Getty Images

Insiders predict: NFL week 9 winners

As we look upon Week 9 in the NFL we know a few things for certain: The Patriots and the 49ers are undefeated and remarkably good. So are the Packers and Saints, maybe. The Dolphins and the Bengals are winless and truly bad. So are the Redskins and Jets, definitely. And the rest of the teams fall somewhere in the middle.

We also know that the trade deadline was underwhelming—the singular transaction Tuesday was the Rams sending Aqib Talib to the Dolphins in what can only be described as a salary dump.

We’re at the halfway point of the 2019 season—games start to carry more impact and teams either establish their identity or fall by the wayside. Week 8 gave us Drew Brees with no rust, the unprecedented Pats defense doing more scoring, and Aaron Rodgers not-so-quietly enter the MVP conversation. Here is a preview of some crucial Week 9 matchups.

Vikings @ Chiefs: Whether or not Patrick Mahomes II can take the field, this is one of the best matchups of Week 9. The Vikings have ground to make up in the NFC North, while a loss for the Chiefs would give them as many as they had in all of 2018.

Bears @ Eagles: A rematch of last year’s NFC Wild Card game in which the “double doink” was coined and the Eagles upset the Bears advanced. The Bears thought they had overcome their kicking woes, but Eddy Pineiro missed what would have been a game-winner last week against the Chargers.

Packers @ Chargers: Two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks battle in Los Angeles. The Packers have exceeded expectations this season under first-year head coach Matt LaFleur, while the Chargers are in danger of falling out of the playoff conversation.

Patriots @ Ravens: The undefeated Patriots and their historically good defense travel to Baltimore to take on one of the league’s best offenses and the dynamic Lamar Jackson.

Insiders predicts are based on the team that is favored to win, which is based on consensus betting odds and spread on Vegas Insider as of Oct. 30, 2019. Team stats were gathered from NFL.com.

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Christian Petersen // Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers (7-0) @ Arizona Cardinals (3-4-1)

- Gametime: Thursday, Oct. 31, 8:20 p.m. EST

The NFC West has been the best division in all of football this season, with three of its four teams sitting above .500. The Cardinals, while in last place, have been a decent surprise after starting the season 0-3-1. They had their three-game winning streak snapped by one of the NFC’s best teams, the New Orleans Saints, as NOLA returned its Hall of Fame QB to the lineup. Brees didn’t skip a beat in his 373-yard, three-touchdown performance after missing more than five games recovering from a thumb injury.

The division’s best team, the undefeated San Francisco 49ers, might also be the best team in all of football. Nearly all of the Niners’ victories have come in dominating fashion, with Week 8’s 51-13 win over the Carolina Panthers being the most impressive display yet. The defense, which ranks #1 in yards surrendered per game at just 224.4, has been astronomically good. Rookie Nick Bosa might already have NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors locked up, but he’s making a strong case for Defensive Player of the Year as well. His Week 8 performance included three sacks and an interception he nearly took to the house.

San Francisco is a heavy road favorite, and they should be. They’ve shown no signs of faltering thus far, and the Cards are far from a formidable opponent. The Kenyan Drake acquisition will help them for the remainder of the season, but the move only supplements injuries to running backs David Johnson and Chase Edmonds. What Arizona can hope for is San Francisco looking ahead of this matchup on a short week to a much more impactful Week 10 game with the Seattle Seahawks.

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Lachlan Cunningham // Getty Images

Insiders predict: San Francisco 49ers

- Favored to win: San Francisco 49ers
- Spread: -10
- Odds: -450

- San Francisco 49ers team stats:
- Offense: 387.3 yards per game (#6 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 206.1 ypg (#24)
--- Rushing offense: 181.1 ypg (#2)
- Defense: 224.4 yards per game (#1 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 128.7 ypg (#1)
--- Rushing defense: 95.7 ypg (#11)

- Arizona Cardinals team stats:
- Offense: 342.9 yards per game (#22 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 226.4 ypg (#19)
--- Rushing offense: 116.5 ypg (#14)
- Defense: 407.1 yards per game (#29 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 277.0 ypg (#29)
--- Rushing defense: 130.1 ypg (#25)

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Tim Warner // Getty Images

Houston Texans (5-3) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4)

- Gametime: Sunday, Nov. 3, 9:30 a.m. EST

We’re halfway through the season and any of the four teams in the AFC South have a legitimate shot at a division crown, meaning this matchup could carry major significance come December. The Houston Texans received the unfortunate news Sunday that All Pro defensive end J.J. Watt will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn pectoral muscle. Injuries have plagued Watt in recent seasons—the future Hall of Famer has had three of his last four seasons cut short as he’s been unable to remain healthy.

Deshaun Watson’s three-touchdown performance, which included one of the plays of the year when the third-year pro was kicked in the eye and still managed to complete a game-winning touchdown pass, carried the Texans to victory over the Oakland Raiders.

The Jacksonville Jaguars also found victory last week after besting the New York Jets 29-15 behind a tough performance from the defense, which sacked Jets QB Sam Darnold eight times and collected three interceptions as well. The Jags have won and lost this season in pairs, alternating two-game losing streaks with two-game winning streaks. Currently, at 4-4 and off of two consecutive wins, Jacksonville will try to break that formula and try for three straight.

This is the last for four London games this season—the Jags are technically the home team. Watson, who has proven himself as a promising young QB, and Gardner Minshew who has had an impressive rookie campaign after being thrust into a starting role will battle to keep pace with the first-place Indianapolis Colts in the South.

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Tim Warner // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Houston Texans

- Favored to win: Houston Texans
- Spread: -2
- Odds: -130

- Houston Texans team stats:
- Offense: 395.0 yards per game (#4 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 261.4 ypg (#10)
--- Rushing offense: 133.6 ypg (#6)
- Defense: 362.1 yards per game (#20 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 276.8 ypg (#28)
--- Rushing defense: 85.4 ypg (#5)

- Jacksonville Jaguars team stats:
- Offense: 379.8 yards per game (#10 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 243.2 ypg (#14)
--- Rushing offense: 136.5 ypg (#5)
- Defense: 342.5 yards per game (#13 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 234.2 ypg (#14)
--- Rushing defense: 108.2 ypg (#17)

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Larry French // Getty Images

Washington Redskins (1-7) @ Buffalo Bills (5-2)

- Gametime: Sunday, Nov. 3, 1 p.m. EST

The Washington Redskins have given us little reason to tune in this season. Their only victory came by one point over the winless Miami Dolphins in a game that the Skins easily could have lost. They haven’t scored a touchdown in two games and their offense looks hopeless. The Buffalo Bills, on the other hand, have been a surprise in the AFC. The team is off to an impressive 5-2 start, but showed glaring weaknesses in their 31-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last week, including the three touchdowns allowed to three different running backs. Despite two touchdowns tossed by Bills quarterback Josh Allen, the offense looked flat totaling only 253 yards.

As a double-digit favorite at home, oddsmakers are expecting the Bills to get things back on track against one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Redskins average only 12.4 points per game which ranks them #30 in the NFL, and average only 261.1 yards per game which also ranks at #30. Even if the Bills can’t get things right on offense, don’t expect Washington to do enough to pose a challenge. As things currently stand Buffalo would control a Wild Card position in the playoffs, but they cannot afford to look past the reeling Redskins.

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Bryan M. Bennett // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Buffalo Bills

- Favored to win: Buffalo Bills
- Spread: -9.5
- Odds: -450

- Washington Redskins team stats:
- Offense: 261.1 yards per game (#30 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 176.4 ypg (#31)
--- Rushing offense: 84.8 ypg (#25)
- Defense: 378.4 yards per game (#26 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 240.6 ypg (#17)
--- Rushing defense: 137.8 ypg (#28)

- Buffalo Bills team stats:
- Offense: 345.7 yards per game (#19 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 215.3 ypg (#23)
--- Rushing offense: 130.4 ypg (#8)
- Defense: 303.9 yards per game (#3 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 194.4 ypg (#3)
--- Rushing defense: 109.4 ypg (#18)

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Jamie Squire // Getty Images

Minnesota Vikings (6-2) @ Kansas City Chiefs (5-3)

- Gametime: Sunday, Nov. 3, 1 p.m. EST

This matchup becomes a lot more intriguing if reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes II is able to go. While Mahomes said if the Week 8 contest against the Green Bay Packers was a playoff game he’d have been under center, the third-year phenom quarterback sat as he recovers from a dislocated kneecap. The Kansas City Chiefs would go on to lose 31-24 and drop to 5-3. Kansas City is still in control of the AFC West, but a loss this week to a red-hot Vikings makes a first-round bye come January further out of reach. As things currently sit in the playoff picture, Kansas City would be the worst of the division leaders at a #4 seed behind the Patriots, Colts, and Ravens, respectively.

Since the Vikings’ 16-6 loss to the Chicago Bears and questions about starting quarterback Kirk Cousins and his lofty contract began to arise, Minnesota has won four straight games and is surging in the NFC.

The Vikings and Chiefs both have top-five offenses, but the Vikings also have a top-five defense. Without Mahomes, Minnesota could have a field day getting after backup quarterback Matt Moore. Even is Mahomes can go, Minnesota’s #3 rushing attack versus the K.C. defense ranked #30 against the run will be the major test.

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Gregory Shamus // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Minnesota Vikings

- Favored to win: Minnesota Vikings
- Spread: -2.5
- Odds: -114

- Minnesota Vikings team stats:
- Offense: 396.5 yards per game (#3 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 236.4 ypg (#16)
--- Rushing offense: 160.1 ypg (#3)
- Defense: 313.9 yards per game (#5 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 224.5 ypg (#8)
--- Rushing defense: 89.4 ypg (#7)

- Kansas City Chiefs team stats:
- Offense: 392.5 yards per game (#5 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 309.5 ypg (#2)
--- Rushing offense: 83.0 ypg (#27)
- Defense: 377.0 yards per game (#24 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 232.0 ypg (#11)
--- Rushing defense: 145.0 ypg (#30)

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Mark Brown // Getty Images

New York Jets (1-6) @ Miami Dolphins (0-7)

- Gametime: Sunday, Nov. 3, 1 p.m. EST

The winner of this AFC East matchup is really the loser, as a better position in the 2020 draft is the only thing either team should be concerned with. It looked like the Miami Dolphins might earn their first victory of the season on Monday night when they got out to a 14-0 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers. But four turnovers by the Phins and 27 unanswered points by the Steelers left Miami at 0-7 and next to the 0-8 Cincinnati Bengals as the only other winless team in the league.

The 1-7 New York Jets are also in the conversation for one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Jets shocked the Dallas Cowboys earlier this season, but other than that 24-22 Week 6 victory, it has been a forgettable season. New York hoped they found a franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold, but his 2019 inconsistency, including his three-interception performance in a 29-15 loss to the Jaguars last week, suggests that may not be the case. In four starts this season—Darnold missed three games battling the mononucleosis virus—the second-year QB has thrown eight picks. Darnold has also been sacked 15 times, eight of which came last Sunday against the Jags.

Miami ranks second-last in rushing defense, so Le’Veon Bell should be poised for a big day. The All Pro running back is due for a big performance—he’s yet to rush for more than 70 yards in a game this season and has scored just one touchdown.

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Julio Aguilar // Getty Images

Insiders predict: New York Jets

- Favored to win: New York Jets
- Spread: -3
- Odds: -160

- New York Jets team stats:
- Offense: 209.6 yards per game (#32 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 145.7 ypg (#32)
--- Rushing offense: 63.9 ypg (#31)
- Defense: 357.4 yards per game (#19 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 262.6 ypg (#24)
--- Rushing defense: 94.9 ypg (#10)

- Miami Dolphins team stats:
- Offense: 254.6 yards per game (#31 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 188.9 ypg (#30)
--- Rushing offense: 65.7 ypg (#30)
- Defense: 414.0 yards per game (#30 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 253.6 ypg (#20)
--- Rushing defense: 160.4 ypg (#31)

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Jonathan Daniel // Getty Images

Chicago Bears (3-4) @ Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)

- Gametime: Sunday, Nov. 3, 1 p.m. EST

It’s been like a bad recurring dream for the Chicago Bears when it comes to kicking. Last season when the Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles met in the first round of the playoffs, it was the infamous “double-doink” by then-kicker Cody Parkey with 10 seconds left in the game that kept Chicago from advancing. What would have been a go-ahead 43-yard field goal and a trip to New Orleans resulted in a 16-15 loss to the Eagles and a departure from Parkey, who had struggled all season. Looking to find answers for a struggling kicking game, the Bears tried out nine kickers in the offseason. That’s right...nine—eventually settling on Eddy Pineiro. Last week, Pineiro missed a 41-yard field goal as time expired in what was a 17-16 home defeat to the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Eagles have been sporadic this season, earning impressive victories over the Packers and last week over the Bills, but dropping an early season contest to the Falcons (Atlanta’s only win of the season) and getting blown out by NFC East-rival Cowboys. Averaged out, Philly has been, well, pretty average. The Eagles rank #14 in points per game (25.2) and #12 in points allowed per game (24.9). Their 4-4 record should come as no surprise.

These two teams are desperately trying to get back into the playoff conversation. The Bears, who have more ground to make up in their division than the Eagles, could fall into an inescapable hole with a loss this week in Philadelphia.

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Timothy T Ludwig // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Philadelphia Eagles

- Favored to win: Philadelphia Eagles
- Spread: -5
- Odds: -230

- Chicago Bears team stats:
- Offense: 281.4 yards per game (#29 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 198.3 ypg (#29)
--- Rushing offense: 83.1 ypg (#26)
- Defense: 316.6 yards per game (#7 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 230.6 ypg (#10)
--- Rushing defense: 86.0 ypg (#6)

- Philadelphia Eagles team stats:
- Offense: 343.8 yards per game (#21 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 218.8 ypg (#21)
--- Rushing offense: 125.0 ypg (#13)
- Defense: 346.6 yards per game (#14 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 256.1 ypg (#21)
--- Rushing defense: 90.5 ypg (#8)

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Joe Robbins // Getty Images

Indianapolis Colts (5-2) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (3-4)

- Gametime: Sunday, Nov. 3, 1 p.m. EST

What looked like a lost season for the Pittsburgh Steelers is suddenly a bit less bleak. After losing starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the second game of the season and beginning 0-3, a win over the Indianapolis Colts brings the Steelers to .500 and within striking distance in the AFC North. Backup quarterback Mason Rudolph looked rattled to start on Monday night in Miami and received a round of boos from Steelers faithful after Pittsburgh trailed the winless Dolphins by two touchdowns in the first quarter. Rudolph, who made his first start after a savage hit from Ravens safety Earl Thomas knocked him out of the game Week 5, was rusty initially, but helped lead the Steelers to 27-unanswered points en route to a 27-14 victory.

Even after former Colts QB Andrew Luck announced his retirement just weeks before the start of the 2019 season, Indy was expected to contend in the AFC South this season. Through seven games, they sit atop the AFC South and have certainly exceeded expectations. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett has thrown 14 touchdowns against just three interceptions and has certainly been one of the better starting signal-callers this season. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has been stellar having hauled in five touchdowns already this year.

Oddsmakers have this game as a tossup, but the Steelers have defeated the Colts the last five times the teams have faced off dating back to 2011. Without Big Ben under center for Pittsburgh, Indianapolis will try to break that streak.

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Andy Lyons // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Indianapolis Colts

- Favored to win: Indianapolis Colts
- Spread: -1
- Odds: -110

- Indianapolis Colts team stats:
- Offense: 345.9 yards per game (#18 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 217.4 ypg (#22)
--- Rushing offense: 128.4 ypg (#11)
- Defense: 349.4 yards per game (#15 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 238.1 ypg (#15)
--- Rushing defense: 111.3 ypg (#20)

- Pittsburgh Steelers team stats:
- Offense: 293.3 yards per game (#28 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 205.1 ypg (#26)
--- Rushing offense: 88.1 ypg (#24)
- Defense: 336.6 yards per game (#10 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 233.6 ypg (#13)
--- Rushing defense: 103.0 ypg (#15)

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Joe Robbins // Getty Images

Tennessee Titans (4-4) @ Carolina Panthers (4-3)

- Gametime: Sunday, Nov. 3, 1 p.m. EST

The Panthers were rested and ready to head into San Francisco and pull off what many predicted could be an impressive upset against the undefeated 49ers on Sunday afternoon. Instead, the 49ers defense gave Carolina quarterback Kyle Allen fits, and the Panthers had their worst performance of the season getting walloped 51-13. Allen entered the game without throwing an interception since he stepped in as the starter for the injured Cam Newton, but the 49ers picked him off three times and held him to just 158 passing yards.

Despite his recent bad game, Allen will remain the starter this week for Carolina as Cam Newton continues to rehab from his foot injury, as announced by coach Ron Rivera on Tuesday.

Much like the Panthers, the Titans have found new life in the form of their backup quarterback. After benching Marcus Mariota, Ryan Tannehill has come in and continues to be effective, leading the team to two straight victories, including a 27-23 win over the Buccaneers on Sunday in which Tannehill tossed three touchdowns.

Tennessee may have been a bit lucky to escape with a win, considering a Buccaneers touchdown on a fumble return was wiped off the board due to an inadvertent whistle. Either way, it was a much-needed win for the Titans, who are competing in a log-jammed AFC South that is led by the 5-2 Colts, with the Texans behind them at 5-3 and the Jaguars also at 4-4.

Every game for Tennessee is a vital one, given the status of its division. The same can be said about the Panthers, given the fact that the NFC Wild Card race is already highly competitive and the Saints don’t appear to be slowing down with the NFC South lead anytime soon.

Expect Allen and the Panthers offense to continue to be efficient and careful with the football, rebounding from their road terrors in San Francisco last weekend.

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Ezra Shaw // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Carolina Panthers

- Favored to win: Carolina Panthers
- Spread: -4
- Odds: -210

- Tennessee Titans team stats:
- Offense: 299.0 yards per game (#27 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 200.8 ypg (#28)
--- Rushing offense: 98.2 ypg (#20)
- Defense: 335.6 yards per game (#9 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 239.1 ypg (#16)
--- Rushing defense: 96.5 ypg (#12)

- Carolina Panthers team stats:
- Offense: 335.4 yards per game (#23 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 205.9 ypg (#25)
--- Rushing offense: 129.6 ypg (#10)
- Defense: 350.3 yards per game (#17 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 215.1 ypg (#5)
--- Rushing defense: 135.1 ypg (#27)

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Gregory Shamus // Getty Images

Detroit Lions (3-3-1) @ Oakland Raiders (3-4)

- Gametime: Sunday, Nov. 3, 4:05 p.m. EST

The Lions may still be one of the league’s most perplexing teams through a half of a season of football. Their 3-3-1 record puts them in a difficult situation heading into the second half of the year given the fact that the Vikings (6-2) and Packers (7-1) are both well ahead in the win column. But the way they have competed in every game this season suggests that there is no team they can’t beat and no team that they can’t lose to. Their three losses have come by a combined 17 points and their three wins have come by a combined 11 points. They are a great study on how one or two breaks in a game can make all the difference in an entire season.

Detroit’s ability to produce on offense bodes well for them heading into their matchup with the Raiders, who were just gashed by Deshaun Watson and the Texans for three touchdowns in a 27-24 win. Oakland has been better offensively as of late, and Derek Carr was effective in the loss to Houston, racking up 285 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. He will be tasked with keeping up with Matthew Stafford, who has thrown 16 touchdowns, trailing only Russell Wilson’s 17 touchdowns for the highest total in the league. Stafford has also been protecting the ball well, throwing only four interceptions in his 250 pass attempts.

This game has the makings of a high scoring affair, where the defense that can create a turnover in a big spot or just hold the opponent to field goals on their red-zone trips will likely end up being the victor. With the Raiders being at home, they’re just the slightest of favorites against the always unpredictable Lions.

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Wesley Hitt // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Oakland Raiders

- Favored to win: Oakland Raiders
- Spread: -2
- Odds: -135

- Detroit Lions team stats:
- Offense: 379.6 yards per game (#11 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 282.7 ypg (#5)
--- Rushing offense: 96.9 ypg (#22)
- Defense: 420.4 yards per game (#31 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 289.7 ypg (#32)
--- Rushing defense: 130.7 ypg (#26)

- Oakland Raiders team stats:
- Offense: 371.9 yards per game (#14 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 240.4 ypg (#15)
--- Rushing offense: 131.4 ypg (#7)
- Defense: 378.1 yards per game (#25 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 285.3 ypg (#30)
--- Rushing defense: 92.9 ypg (#9)

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Joe Robbins // Getty Images

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5) @ Seattle Seahawks (6-2)

- Gametime: Sunday, Nov. 3, 4:05 p.m. EST

The Seahawks return home to CenturyLink Field this week fresh off of a 27-20 win over the lowly Falcons in Atlanta. Under Pete Carroll, Seattle has been a team with a reputation of making life miserable for opponents who come into their home field, but this year’s version of the Seahawks has been more dominant on the road, improving their record away from home to 4-0 this season with last Sunday’s win.

It was a fast start that enabled them to avoid an upset against the Falcons. They took a 24-0 lead into the locker room at halftime and withstood a comeback attempt from Atlanta backup Matt Schaub, who started in place of the injured Matt Ryan and threw for 460 yards.

Now, they will try to get their third home victory of the year as they host Jameis Winston and the mistake-prone Buccaneers. Winston turned the ball over four times in Tampa Bay’s 27-23 loss to the Titans on Sunday, throwing two interceptions and losing two of his three fumbles. Those two picks pushed his interception total to 12 this season, which is tied for the most in the NFL with Baker Mayfield.

Even with the turnovers, the Bucs had a chance at a victory in Tennessee, but were unlucky when an inadvertent whistle canceled out a fumble return for a touchdown that could have been the game-winner. Coach Bruce Arians went on to give the officials a piece of his mind when speaking about the incident after the game.

The focus will have to quickly shift to stopping Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense. The Buccaneers are the second-worst pass defense in the league so far this season, and for that reason, this could be a big game for Wilson and the Seahawks offense as they look to try and maintain a one-game lead over the Rams and to chase down the still-unbeaten 49ers in a hotly contested NFC West.

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Todd Kirkland // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Seattle Seahawks

- Favored to win: Seattle Seahawks
- Spread: -6
- Odds: -280

- Tampa Bay Buccaneers team stats:
- Offense: 370.7 yards per game (#15 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 271.4 ypg (#9)
--- Rushing offense: 99.3 ypg (#19)
- Defense: 354.4 yards per game (#18 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 285.9 ypg (#31)
--- Rushing defense: 68.6 ypg (#1)

- Seattle Seahawks team stats:
- Offense: 382.9 yards per game (#9 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 252.9 ypg (#13)
--- Rushing offense: 130.0 ypg (#9)
- Defense: 376.4 yards per game (#23 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 273.2 ypg (#27)
--- Rushing defense: 103.1 ypg (#16)

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Matthew Stockman // Getty Images

Cleveland Browns (2-5) @ Denver Broncos (2-6)

- Gametime: Sunday, Nov. 3, 4:25 p.m. EST

The Browns fell to 2-5 after losing 27-13 to the Patriots in Week 8 and the most disappointing part of it for Cleveland was the fact that many of their wounds were self-inflicted. Three first-quarter turnovers—a pair of Nick Chubb fumbles, including one that Dont’a Hightower returned for a touchdown, and a Baker Mayfield interception—spotted New England with an early 17-0 lead and from there, the Browns could not bounce back.

Turnovers are what have done Mayfield and the Cleveland offense in for much of the season, as the second-year starter has thrown 12 interceptions through his seven starts, tied for the most in the league with Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston. Now, his task is to try and right the ship on the road against the league’s fourth-ranked defense which is allowing just 304.5 yards per game.

Since ripping off back-to-back wins in Week 5 and Week 6, the Broncos have faltered, losing to the Chiefs and Colts by a combined score of 45-19. As good as the Denver defense has been, the offense has appeared punchless at times. Quarterback Joe Flacco has just six touchdowns to his five interceptions through eight games, and now he has been ruled out of this game due to a neck injury and could miss significant time going forward.

Brandon Allen will start against the Browns in Flacco’s place. Allen is a sixth-round draft choice by the Jaguars back in 2016 who was claimed off of waivers by the Broncos on Sept. 1 after he was let go by the Rams. It will be Allen’s first regular-season game action of his career and given the fact that he has a good defense backing him, and that Mayfield and the Browns are more than capable of hurting themselves with turnovers, Allen will be asked to play the role of game manager and just avoid any back-breaking mistakes. If he can do that, the Broncos may be able to get their third win and send the Browns season into a tailspin.

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Kirk Irwin // Getty

Insiders predict: Cleveland Browns

- Favored to win: Cleveland Browns
- Spread: -3
- Odds: -170

- Cleveland Browns team stats:
- Offense: 345.3 yards per game (#20 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 219.9 ypg (#20)
--- Rushing offense: 125.4 ypg (#12)
- Defense: 365.4 yards per game (#21 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 222.1 ypg (#7)
--- Rushing defense: 143.3 ypg (#29)

- Denver Broncos team stats:
- Offense: 312.6 yards per game (#26 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 202.6 ypg (#27)
--- Rushing offense: 110.0 ypg (#16)
- Defense: 304.5 yards per game (#4 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 194.8 ypg (#4)
--- Rushing defense: 109.8 ypg (#19)

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Harry How // Getty Images

Green Bay Packers (7-1) @ Los Angeles Chargers (3-5)

- Gametime: Sunday, Nov. 3, 4:25 p.m. EST

Since losing to the Eagles on Thursday night back in Week 4, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense have kicked their performance into a higher gear and rattled off four straight victories to push their record to 7-1 at the halfway mark of their season. Things continue to go their way, and after beating the Chiefs 31-24 in Kansas City on Sunday night (albeit, with Matt Moore starting in place of MVP Patrick Mahomes II), they now have a favorable road matchup against the Chargers at Dignity Health Sports Park, which may as well be Lambeau Field West on Sunday afternoon.

The Packers travel well all throughout the country, but it’s expected that a large number of cheeseheads will infiltrate the Chargers’ home field and create a comfortable road environment for Rodgers and the Packers offense as they continue to try to roll.

Running back Aaron Jones has played a large part in the Packers recent hot streak, and was the focal point of their passing game again in the win over the Chiefs. With top receiver Davante Adams still out, Jones caught seven passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns. He is a matchup nightmare for defenses, but the Chargers are much better against the pass (sixth-ranked pass defense) than the run, so Jones may get back to running more than receiving this week.

Even with the Chargers beating the Bears 17-16 on Sunday thanks to Eddy Pineiro’s missed field goal from 41-yards out, L.A. is still in disarray offensively. Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt has been let go as they search for answers on how to put up more points to be competitive week in and week out.

With the Packers in a groove and desperate to keep pace with the 49ers and Saints in a loaded NFC, the Chargers are going to need to score a lot of points to contend with Matt LaFleur’s flourishing offense. In a week where they’re undergoing a coaching change at the playcalling position, it seems improbable that now would be the time they get things right on offense.

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Jamie Squire // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Green Bay Packers

- Favored to win: Green Bay Packers
- Spread: -3.5
- Odds: -180

- Green Bay Packers team stats:
- Offense: 373.5 yards per game (#13 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 271.9 ypg (#8)
--- Rushing offense: 101.6 ypg (#18)
- Defense: 375.5 yards per game (#22 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 251.8 ypg (#19)
--- Rushing defense: 123.8 ypg (#24)

- Los Angeles Chargers team stats:
- Offense: 350.6 yards per game (#17 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 281.1 ypg (#6)
--- Rushing offense: 69.5 ypg (#28)
- Defense: 340.1 yards per game (#12 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 217.4 ypg (#6)
--- Rushing defense: 122.8 ypg (#23)

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Maddie Meyer // Getty Images

New England Patriots (8-0) @ Baltimore Ravens (5-2)

- Gametime: Sunday, Nov. 3, 8:20 p.m. EST

One could argue that the Patriots have made it through half of the 2019 season without truly being tested. If that is your stance, that will certainly end on Sunday night as Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense will present the dominant New England defense with its most difficult challenge to date.

This is a case of an unstoppable force meeting the immovable object in terms of the matchup between the Ravens offense and Patriots defense. Baltimore’s offense, sparked by the dynamic Jackson’s ability to shred opponents through the air and on the ground, is averaging 434.9 yards per game, just three yards less than the league-leading Cowboys. New England’s defense is second in the league in yards per game allowed, as they surrender an average of 234 yards per contest this season. Where the Pats have been most dominant is in creating turnovers. They have a league-high 25 takeaways this season (19 interceptions, six fumble recoveries), and an NFL-best +17 turnover differential.

Where New England is great, the Ravens counter with the greatness of their own. Jackson and the Ravens have only given the ball away seven times this year, so in terms of protecting the football, they are one of the best teams in the league.

If there is a game where Bill Belichick’s defense could be exposed, one would think that this would be it. After all, Jackson’s 2,226 all-purpose yards through seven games are a testament to just how difficult he is to gameplan for. Plus, the Ravens have had an additional week to prepare for the Patriots, having enjoyed a bye in Week 8. But this is Belichick. And these are the 8-0 Patriots, who seem poised to make a run at perfection this season.

Even home-field advantage isn’t enough to convince Vegas that the Ravens can pull off an upset this week in a primetime game in a playoff-like atmosphere.

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Billie Weiss // Getty Images

Insiders predict: New England Patriots

- Favored to win: New England Patriots
- Spread: -3.5
- Odds: -190

- New England Patriots team stats:
- Offense: 369.9 yards per game (#16 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 274.6 ypg (#7)
--- Rushing offense: 95.2 ypg (#23)
- Defense: 234.0 yards per game (#2 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 148.8 ypg (#2)
--- Rushing defense: 85.2 ypg (#4)

- Baltimore Ravens team stats:
- Offense: 434.9 yards per game (#2 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 230.7 ypg (#18)
--- Rushing offense: 204.1 ypg (#1)
- Defense: 349.7 yards per game (#16 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 265.4 ypg (#26)
--- Rushing defense: 84.3 ypg (#3)

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Tom Pennington // Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys (4-3) @ New York Giants (2-6)

- Gametime: Monday, Nov. 4, 8:15 p.m. EST

This rivalry game may not have as much appeal as it usually does—with the Giants not being in a competitive position in the NFC East—but for the Cowboys, this is still an extremely vital game in terms of the divisional standings. After enjoying a bye week in Week 8, Dallas sits atop the division at 4-3, but after a win against Buffalo, the 4-4 Eagles lurk right behind them.

The NFC East may be a two-team race, and while the Giants would require a miraculous second-half of the season to change that and get into the thick of things, there is nothing they would like more than playing spoiler for the Cowboys.

With Daniel Jones fully entrenched as the starting quarterback and Saquon Barkley back in the lineup, the Giants don’t seem like they will be an easy out for many teams going forward. Against the Lions in Detroit last Sunday, Jones and the Giants offense put up a big fight and fell just short in a 31-26 loss. It was a one-score game early in the fourth quarter when the Lions ended up calling the “Darrell Bevell Special,” a flea-flicker that resulted in a 41-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Kenny Golladay which was ultimately the backbreaker for the Giants.

Jones had 322 yards and four touchdowns with a 124.2 quarterback rating in a losing effort. Though wins are still hard to come by for Big Blue, Jones looks a worthy starter and poised to take the reigns of the franchise moving forward into the post-Eli Manning era. The Cowboys defense presents a greater challenge than that of the Lions, who were in the midst of a three-game losing skid before last weekend’s meeting, so Dallas is the road favorite. And in their meeting in Week 1, Dak Prescott torched the Giants for 405 yards and four touchdowns en route to a 35-17 win. While the Giants are a different, more competitive team this time around, it’s still the Cowboys game to lose.

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Harry How // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Dallas Cowboys

- Favored to win: Dallas Cowboys
- Spread: -7
- Odds: -340

- Dallas Cowboys team stats:
- Offense: 437.9 yards per game (#1 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 291.9 ypg (#3)
--- Rushing offense: 146.0 ypg (#4)
- Defense: 324.9 yards per game (#8 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 228.0 ypg (#9)
--- Rushing defense: 96.9 ypg (#13)

- New York Giants team stats:
- Offense: 333.8 yards per game (#24 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 231.4 ypg (#17)
--- Rushing offense: 102.4 ypg (#17)
- Defense: 386.8 yards per game (#28 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 264.4 ypg (#25)
--- Rushing defense: 122.4 ypg (#22)

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