Breaking Vegas With Garrett Thornton – Week Nine

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The Dallas Cowboys continue to do the improbable and win in situations that a team led by a 4th round rookie quarterback shouldn’t be winning in. Last week it happened in overtime when the Cowboys drove down the field against the Philadelphia Eagles on a 12-play drive.

Patience. Poise. Determination. Dak Prescott has it all.

When the game was on the line, Coach Jason Garrett trusted Prescott and the offense to go for it on 4th-and-1. They converted and then went on to score a touchdown to seal the game. That game showed the league that the Cowboys are legit.

In Week Nine, the ‘Boys go to Cleveland to play the lowly Browns. Dallas is a 7-point favorite, on the road, yet I think that will just so happen to make my picks below.

Another NFC team that is kind of headed in the wrong direction is the Seattle Seahawks. Living in and writing in the Northwest, I am expected to be a Seahawks fan. While I enjoy good football no matter who is playing, I have always kind of rooted against the Seahawks. It might be that I am a contrarian and like to go against the grain, or it may be the fact that the Seahawks are shoved down our throats with weekly television coverage.

I am going to say this right now, feel free to throw tomatoes or whatever you have handy, but the Seahawks are going to be the worst division champions in the league this season.

The NFC West is horrific. The division that was the best in football just a couple years ago is now the worst around.

Arizona has been beat up all season. Carson Palmer has regressed. Now Tyrann Mathieu is out for 4-6 weeks.

Los Angeles is a very mediocre team, all around. The defense has shown flashes of brilliance but has also looked dreadful. Todd Gurley is in one of the cruelest sophomore slumps this league has seen in a while. And for some reason, Jeff Fisher won’t play the number one overall pick, Jared Goff.

San Francisco is flat out the worst team in the league. Injuries have deflated this team. Collin Kaepernick is squandering the last chance to salvage his career. Chip Kelly continues to look like he should still be coaching in college.

So… basically the Seahawks are going to be given the division because no one else is going to take it. The Seahawks are very flawed, however.

The offensive line might be one of the worst in the league. They have no depth up front and are playing guys in positions that they have never played in.

Injuries have hit the Hawks in all of the most important positions. Russell Wilson has been banged up most of the season and has shown just how vital his mobility is to the success of his game and the success of the Seahawks.

There is hope for the Seahawks. They have a winning record at the halfway point of the season. One can assume that Wilson will only get healthier. Their schedule really lightens up to finish the season as they play all three teams in their division to close out the season.

Keep reading to see if I have the Seahawks and Cowboys winning their matchups, as well as 3 other games…

 

Jacksonville Jaguars +7.5 @ Kansas City Chiefs

Games this time of year are decided by injuries. The Chiefs will be without their starting quarterback Alex Smith, their starting running back Spencer Ware, and if their best wide receiver, Jeremy Maclin, plays it will be very limited. Marcus Peters and the defense are going to have to hold the score low to help Nick Foles and the patchwork offense.

On the Jaguars’ side of things, they have been the most underwhelming team in the league. Blake Bortles has been the biggest disappointment at the quarterback position. Bortles has all of the talent in the world but has been terrible. When you look at the stats and see that he has 1900+ yards through the air, you think that is pretty good, but the majority of that has come in garbage time. Bortles is 27th in the league in quarterback rating with 80.3.

The Chiefs are the better team but severely undermanned. Blake Bortles is bad. This will be an ugly game to watch. The spread is too wide. Jags keep it close in probably the worst game of the week.

Chiefs 24 – Jaguars 21

Carolina Panthers -3 @ Los Angeles Rams

Last years’ NFC conference champions have had major issues this season. They are 2-5, are 23rd in the league in points allowed, and have been beat up at skill positions on offense. Cam Newton is getting healthier, Johnathan Stewart is healthy and rolling, and Greg Olsen is the most consistent tight end in the league. While they have been unimpressive, the Panthers are ready to break out, and this is going to be the week.

I feel like I pick against the Rams every week. The reason, they are a bad football team. Case Keenum wouldn’t be a backup on a lot of teams around the league. The defense has been pretty good. Other than that, not a whole lot to say.

Panthers easily cover the spread on the road.

Panthers 29 – Rams 18

Dallas Cowboys -7 @ Cleveland Browns

Halfway through the season and we are starting to see what each of these teams is made of. The Cleveland Brown are 0-8 with a -80 point differential. The Dallas Cowboys are 6-1 with a +58 point differential.

What those numbers tell us is that the Browns have lost each game this season by an average of 10 points per game. The Cowboys, on the other hand have won 6 games by an average of 9+ points per game.

This game shouldn’t be close. The Browns don’t know who is going to be under center, Josh McCown or Cody Kesler. The Cowboys have the ultra-exciting quarterback, Dak Prescott, under center. The Browns give up the 2nd most points in the least, the Cowboys score the 6th most points in the league.

This game is going to get out of hand early and the ‘Boys are going to run away with it.

Cowboys 35 – Browns 17

Buffalo Bills +6.5 @ Seattle Seahawks

This game, at home, the Seahawks must get their offense going. Russell Wilson has been hobbled for the last few weeks and it has shown. So far this season, the Seahawks are averaging 18.7 points per game, 4th worst in the league. The last three seasons they averaged 26.4 (2015), 24.6 (2014), and 26.1 (2013) points per game. They are averaging a touchdown less per game this season! That is a troubling trend that they need to find a way to correct. Luckily for the Seahawks, they play in the worst division in football and have a 4-2-1 record.

I actually like this Bills team. Tyrod Taylor is starting to figure things out and Rex Ryan’s defense looked pretty good, leading the league in sacks. Like I said earlier though, a lot of games in this part of the season are determined by injuries. LeSean McCoy is one of the best running backs in the league and is likely to be very limited against a very good Seattle run-defense. Bills will keep it close but will have a hard time scoring touchdowns in the red zone.

Seahawks 24 – Bills 20

Upset Special of the Week:

Pittsburgh Steelers +2.5 @ Baltimore Ravens

Every week there seems to be a line that makes no sense to me. Whether that is because Vegas knows a lot more than I do, or I am missing something, I don’t know or I’m just not willing to admit.

Ben Roethlisberger looks set to return this week from his two-week absence after a partial meniscus trim. Ben is a tough guy and wants to be on the field to compete for his team, which is something you can look up to. No matter whether Ben is 80% or 100% is yet to be seen, but either way he is an upgrade from Landry Jones. Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell are the best 1-2 punch in the league. This is a team that is going to be hungry coming off of a bye.

The Ravens are a respectable team but just won’t be a match against a rested and somewhat healthy Steelers team in this divisional matchup.

Steelers 31 – Ravens 24

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*All betting lines provided by Bovada.LV on the Thursday preceding particular NFL week.

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Garrett Thornton

Garrett has been a Senior Writer for Oregon Sports News for 4 years. In that time Garrett has primarily covered the Portland Trail Blazers. He has also started his series "Breaking Vegas with Garrett Thornton", picking NFL games against the spread. Along with his coverage of the Blazers and NFL, Garrett covers Oregon Ducks football. 

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