The Court’s Decision – 2021 Week 9 Predictions – Seattle Welcomes Bye Week Following Big Win Vs. Jags

Well, it’s possible. The Seahawks can indeed win with Geno Smith under center. All it took was facing off against the lowly 1-5 (now 1-6) Jacksonville Jaguars. To be fair, Seattle was competitive in its previous three games – all losses – before untimely turnovers spelled the team’s demise. 

Even with the win, the Seahawks will gladly welcome their bye in Week 9, allowing the team to regroup and plan how to attack the second half of the season. Perhaps more importantly, the bye will also allow some key players to heal up and return to action soon – namely Russell Wilson and Chris Carson. The two have been sidelined for each of the last three games, and Carson missed Week 5’s matchup against the Rams entirely – the same week Wilson suffered his injury. There’s hope both could return for Week 10 against Green Bay.

The Hawks’ 31-7 shellacking of Jacksonville in Week 8 not only halted a three-game skid, but it also kept Seattle’s slim playoff hopes alive. The Seahawks are 3-5 and only one game back from the final Wild Card spot, which is currently held by the reeling Panthers. Carolina has gone 1-4 after starting the year 3-0.

Smith completed 20 of his 24 passing attempts against Jacksonville for 195 yards and two touchdowns without being intercepted. He posted a rating of 128.3, easily his highest of the season, besting the 99.6 rating he had in Week 6’s overtime loss to Pittsburgh. Smith also found the end zone on a 1-yard plunge for the game’s first score midway through the first quarter.

Both of Smith’s TD tosses went to DK Metcalf, who finished with 43 yards on six catches. Tyler Lockett hauled in 12 receptions for 142 yards while Alex Collins’ 44 yards on 10 carries led the team in rushing.

The Seahawks defense held the Jaguars to 229 yards, including 160 passing yards. Quandre Diggs picked Jacksonville rookie QB Trevor Lawrence for the game’s only turnover.

A rarity occurred late in the fourth quarter following the Jags’ lone touchdown. Trailing 24-7, Jacksonville lined up for an onside kick attempt with 1:49 to play. The kick went straight to Seattle running back Travis Homer, who broke free for a 44-yard touchdown.

Seattle doesn’t play in Week 9, but 28 other teams do. Bring on the picks.

My season picks record: 8-7 last week, 76-46 overall

New York Jets (2-5) at Indianapolis (3-5) – Thursday

In one of the biggest upsets of the 2021 season, the Jets fought back from 11 points down in the fourth quarter (31-20) to come away with a 34-31 win over Cincinnati. In his first-ever NFL start, quarterback Mike White passed for 405 yards and three touchdowns but threw two interceptions in the first quarter. Michael Carter took 15 carries for 77 yards and a score. Carter also totaled 95 yards on nine catches.

Two of Carson Wentz’s three touchdown passes went to Michael Pittman, who had 86 yards on 10 catches, but it wasn’t enough as the Colts lost 34-31 in overtime to Tennessee. Wentz finished with 231 yards and was intercepted twice. Jonathan Taylor netted 70 yards and a score on 16 totes. Taylor added 52 yards on three receptions. 

The Jets’ win over Cincy was surprising, but Indy is better than its 3-5 record suggests… and New York winning two straight is unlikely.

Pick: Colts 31, Jets 20

Denver (4-4) at Dallas (6-1)

The Broncos’ 17-10 win over Washington took a major back seat to the news of former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller being traded to the Rams. Miller was held out of Week 8’s game against the Football Team, and speculation stirred. Suspicions were confirmed Monday and gone is arguably Denver’s greatest defensive player of all time. Miller racked up 110.5 sacks as a Bronco – the most in franchise history. As for the game, Melvin Gordon III scored both touchdowns for Denver. The first was on a 15-yard pass from Teddy Bridgewater in the second quarter, and the second was a 7-yard run in the fourth. Gordon III had 47 yards on 10 carries. The win broke the Broncos’ four-game losing streak.

No Dak, no problem. In his first-ever NFL start, Cooper Rush threw for 325 yards, a pair of touchdowns, and an interception in leading the Cowboys to a 20-16 win over Minnesota. Rush replaced Dak Prescott, who missed the game with a calf injury. Amari Cooper – who is likely Rush’s favorite receiver based solely on his last name – had 122 yards and a score on eight catches. CeeDee Lamb wasn’t far behind with 112 yards on six receptions. It was rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs’ first game without an interception, although he’s still averaging a pick per contest as he has seven interceptions through seven games.

How Denver reacts to the emotional departure of Miller could play a part in this game. The biggest factor, however, is whether Prescott plays. Signs point to yes, which bodes well for Dallas.

Pick: Cowboys 26, Broncos 20

Cleveland (4-4) at Cincinnati (5-3)

Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb both returned from injury, but the Browns still fell 15-10 to Pittsburgh. Mayfield completed 20 of his 31 throws for 225 yards while Chubb ran for 61 yards on 16 carries. Jarvis Landry led the Cleveland receiving corps with 65 yards on five catches. D’Ernest Johnson scored the Browns’ only touchdown on a 10-yard run in the third quarter. 

The Bengals led 31-20 with 7:29 to play in the fourth quarter, but ultimately fell 34-31 to the Jets. Cincy was outscored 17-7 in the final frame. Joe Burrow had 259 yards and three touchdowns while being picked off once. Tee Higgins caught four passes for 97 yards.

Young teams stumble as they learn. Cincy’s loss to New York was a learning experience and Cleveland isn’t showing the promise it had in the preseason.

Pick: Bengals 20, Browns 17

Houston (1-7) at Miami (1-7)

Brandin Cooks continued to be the best player on a bad team with 83 yards and a touchdown on six catches in the Texans’ 38-22 loss to the Rams. Davis Mills was an efficient 29-of-38 for 310 yards, two scores, and an interception through the air, but both TD passes came in the last five minutes of the game, including a 45-yard scoring strike to Cooks. In fact, L.A. led 38-0 before Rex Burkhead’s 1-yard plunge put Houston on the board with 8:08 to play.

Tua Tagovailoa’s 1-yard scoring run followed by a two-point conversion pass from Tagovailoa to Mike Gesicki made it a 17-11 game midway through the fourth quarter, but Miami fell 26-11 to Buffalo. Tagovailoa finished with 205 yards and an interception passing. Devonte Parker had 85 yards on eight catches. 

Mills is a more proficient passer than Tagovailoa, but Tua is the more dynamic football player. Plus, Miami has a better defense. 

Pick: Dolphins 22, Texans 16

Atlanta (3-4) at New Orleans (5-2)

Cordarrelle Patterson was the Falcons’ offense yet again in a 19-13 loss to Carolina. Patterson had 37 yards on five receptions and gained 35 more yards on nine carries to lead Atlanta. He also scored the Birds’ only touchdown – a 15-yard catch from Matt Ryan that gave Atlanta a 10-3 lead in the second quarter. Ryan totaled a mere 146 yards while being picked off twice.

P.J. Williams’ 40-yard pick-six put the game out of reach, giving the Saints a 36-27 upset victory over Tampa Bay. Starting QB Jameis Winston tore his ACL and is done for the year. Trevor Siemian stepped in with the score tied at 7-7 in the second quarter. Siemian’s 159 yards and single touchdown on 16-of-29 passing might not look impressive, but the fifth-year journeyman led five scoring drives (two touchdowns) and had given the Saints a 29-27 lead before Williams’ game-sealing interception. Alvin Kamara had 61 yards and a score on 19 carries.

It seems to be a theme this year – teams have been winning with backup quarterbacks. Can New Orleans continue the trend?

Pick: Saints 21, Falcons 20

Las Vegas (5-2) at New York Giants (2-6)

The Raiders were on bye in Week 8. Derek Carr’s 323 yards and two touchdown passes led Las Vegas to a 33-22 win over Philadelphia in Week 7. Carr was picked off once but completed 31 of 34 throws. Foster Moreau had six receptions for 60 yards and a TD while Kenyon Drake led the rushing attack with 69 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

So close. The Giants held a 17-14 lead in the fourth quarter, but ultimately lost 20-17 in Kansas City. Devontae Booker led New York with 125 scrimmage yards, including 65 on five catches. Daniel Jones threw for 222 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. While it was wideout John Ross who led the team in receiving with 72 yards on just two grabs, it was the tight ends who did the scoring. Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph each caught TD passes. The two combined for a mere 27 yards on five catches.

Even if Saquon Barkley had been healthy enough to play, his positive test for COVID rids New York of its best player for a fourth straight week.

Pick: Raiders 29, Giants 19

New England (4-4) at Carolina (4-4)

Adrian Phillips’ 26-yard pick-six gave the Patriots the lead, but Nick Folk’s 30-yard field goal put things out of reach as New England held off the Chargers 27-24. It was the second of Phillips’ INTs on the day after the safety came away with one in the second quarter as well. Damien Harris had 80 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. 

The Panthers ended a four-game losing streak in their 19-13 win over Atlanta. In a game that featured six field goals (four from Carolina kicker Zane Gonzalez), Chuba Hubbard’s 6-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference as it put the Panthers up 19-10 with 6:30 to go. Hubbard totaled 82 yards on 24 carries.

New England’s defense just bothered one of the league’s best young play-callers. Let’s just say Darnold isn’t viewed in the same light.

Pick: Patriots 34, Panthers 17

Buffalo (5-2) at Jacksonville (1-6)

It was the Josh Allen show as the Bills downed Miami 26-11. Allen threw for 249 yards and a pair of touchdowns while adding 55 yards on eight carries, including a game-sealing 7-yard scoring run with 1:07 to go. His favorite target was Cole Beasley, who finished with 110 yards on 10 catches. Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis each caught TD passes for Buffalo. Diggs finished with 40 yards on five grabs while Davis had 29 on four receptions. 

The Jaguars were handled easily in their 31-7 loss to Seattle. Trevor Lawrence hit Jamal Agnew for a 9-yard scoring strike to get Jacksonville on the board with 1:49 left in the game, but the Jags trailed 24-7. (The following was mentioned earlier, but Jacksonville didn’t do much, so here’s a brief reiteration)… In a somewhat surprising decision, the Jaguars went for an onside kick following their touchdown, which was returned for a 44-yard trip to pay dirt by Seattle’s Travis Homer. Lawrence finished with 238 yards, the TD, and a pick.

In the biggest upset of the season… just kidding. It’s Buffalo.

Pick: Bills 41, Jaguars 10

Minnesota (3-4) at Baltimore (5-2)

The Vikings lost to a backup QB-led Dallas squad, 20-16. Kirk Cousins couldn’t quite get into a rhythm as he netted a fairly pedestrian 184 yards through the air. He found Adam Thielen on a 20-yard scoring strike in the first quarter to give Minnesota a 7-0 lead. Thielen finished with 78 yards on six catches. Dalvin Cook had 78 yards as well, but on 18 carries. The Vikes didn’t trail until a touchdown gave Dallas the final score of 20-16 with 51 seconds left to play.

The Ravens were on a bye in Week 8. Baltimore was humbled 41-17 against Cincinnati in Week 7. Lamar Jackson did all he could to carry the Ravens with 257 yards and a touchdown through the air while running for 88 yards on 12 carries. Jackson only completed 15 of his 31 pass attempts. Marquise Brown netted 80 yards and a score on five catches.

Two teams are coming off bad losses, but Baltimore had an extra week to get over it.

Pick: Ravens 27, Vikings 23

Los Angeles Chargers (4-3) at Philadelphia (3-5)

Justin Herbert threw two interceptions, including a 26-yard pick-six that broke a 17-17 tie in the fourth as the Chargers ultimately lost 27-24 to New England. Herbert finished with 223 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Keenan Allen found the end zone for the first time since Week 3 as he racked up 77 yards on six catches. Austin Ekeler had 64 yards and a score on 11 totes.

Boston Scott and Jordan Howard had two touchdowns apiece in the Eagles’ 44-6 dismantling of Detroit. Scott tallied 60 yards on 12 rushes while Howard added 57 on 12 as well. Jalen Hurts netted 71 yards on seven carries while adding 103 yards on just 9-of-14 passing. Dallas Goedert took in six catches for 72 yards. Darius Slay took a fumble recovery of 33 yards to pay dirt in leading a Philly defense that racked up six sacks, including two from Josh Sweat.

Herbert is having the worst stretch of his young career. If Philadelphia’s defense continues playing at a high level, expect a third straight loss for L.A.

Pick: Eagles 30, Chargers 24

Green Bay (7-1) at Kansas City (4-4)

Rasul Douglas intercepted Kyler Murray’s pass in the end zone with 15 seconds to play, sealing the Packers’ 24-21 win over previously unbeaten Arizona. This was without top receivers Davante Adams and Allen Lazard, who both missed the game due to COVID protocols. Aaron Jones ran 15 times for 59 yards and a touchdown. He also finished as the team’s leading receiver, totaling 51 yards on seven catches. Two of Randall Cobb’s three receptions went for scores and he totaled 15 yards. Aaron Rodgers, who netted 184 yards and the pair of scoring tosses to Cobb, tested positive for COVID and will miss Week 9. 

Tyreek Hill hauled in 12 catches for 94 yards and a touchdown to help the Chiefs escape with a 20-17 win over the Giants. Patrick Mahomes threw for 275 yards, a TD, and an interception – his league-leading 10th this season. KC trailed 17-14 in the fourth quarter before Harrison Butker nailed a pair of field goals – one from 36 yards out, and the 34-yard game-winner with 1:07 to play.

Overcoming a couple of receivers was impressive, but I don’t think Green Bay will fare as well without its starting future Hall of Fame quarterback. And no, I don’t think I’ll be going with the backup QB (Jordan Love) in this one.

Pick: Chiefs 26, Packers 20

Arizona (7-1) at San Francisco (3-4)

The Cardinals lost their first game of the season, a 24-21 defeat to Green Bay. After a goal-line stand awarded Arizona the ball at its own 1-yard line with 3:23 to play, Kyler Murray and Co. marched down the field to the Packers’ 5. Murray threw a fade to A.J. Green, but Green seemingly stopped mid-play and the pass was intercepted in the end zone with 15 seconds left. Murray was picked off twice in all and had 274 yards passing. James Conner scored on a pair of runs while Chase Edmonds added another rushing touchdown. The two combined for 52 yards on the ground, with 30 of that coming from Edmonds.

Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel are simply racking up yards each and every week. The two combined for over 300 yards in the 49ers’ 33-22 win over Chicago. While Samuel led in yards with 171 (on six catches) to Mitchell’s 137 (on 18 carries), it was Mitchell who found the end zone with his 5-yard run in the fourth that gave San Francisco the lead for good at 23-16. Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 322 yards while running for four yards and a pair of scores on five totes (yes, those are correct numbers).

Divisional games are never easy, but I feel Arizona’s loss may have relieved some pressure and the team will play looser.

Pick: Cardinals 26, 49ers 22

Tennessee (6-2) at Los Angeles Rams (7-1)

They may have won the game, but their season could have just gone up in flames. The Titans escaped Indianapolis with a 34-31 overtime win but lost running back Derrick Henry to a foot injury. Henry underwent surgery and is expected to miss 6-10 weeks, but could very well be done for the season. The early MVP candidate netted just 68 yards on 28 carries but remains the current NFL rushing leader with 937 yards – nearly 300 more than Indy’s Jonathan Taylor, who is next on the list with 649. A.J. Brown picked up the slack, racking up 10 receptions for 155 yards and a touchdown. 

How? How can a defense featuring Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey possibly get any scarier? By going out and getting Von Miller, that’s how. Just as I alluded to earlier in the Broncos’ recap, the Rams’ trading for the Super Bowl 50 MVP also outshined the team’s Week 8 performance. Los Angeles won 38-22 over lowly Houston. Cooper Kupp continued his dominant season with 115 yards and a touchdown on seven catches. Darrell Henderson Jr. had 90 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries while adding another score on a 3-yard catch. Matthew Stafford threw for 305 yards and three TDs. 

With Henry, Tennessee stood a chance at an upset, but without him, L.A. should win its fifth straight.

Pick: Rams 37, Titans 20

Chicago (3-5) at Pittsburgh (4-3) – Monday

The Bears didn’t trail for a second during the first three quarters, but they were outscored 18-6 in the fourth to lose 33-22 to San Francisco. Justin Fields the runner had 103 yards and a score on 10 rushing attempts. Justin Fields the passer finished with 175 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, completing 19 of 27 attempts. Darnell Mooney caught six passes for 64 yards.

Rookie Najee Harris carried the ball 26 times for 91 yards and a touchdown to lead the Steelers to a 15-10 win over Cleveland. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 266 yards and a score. Diontae Johnson had 98 yards on six catches. T.J. Watt was his usual game-wrecking self as he helped the defense come up with four sacks (1.5 from Watt) and two fumble recoveries (one from Watt).

Pittsburgh is finding ways to win, even if it’s ugly. Chicago can’t say that right now… well, not the winning part anyway. 

Pick: Steelers 24, Bears 17

Teams on bye: Detroit Lions (0-8), Seattle Seahawks (3-5), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2), Washington Football Team (2-6)