Paul Higham has the latest NFL preview as the Packers visit the Chargers and the unbeaten Patriots face their biggest test to date in Baltimore.
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Green Bay Packers @ Los Angeles Chargers
Aaron Rodgers has really found his mojo again, and there are few better than the Packers quarterback when they’re on song – and he heads home to California facing a Chargers team who’ve just not clicked this term.
The Bolts have talent, but they’re 3-5 for a reason and a main one is the fact they average under 20 points a game and that sort of production just won’t cut it against Rodgers.
Even more so with top receiver Davante Adams due to return to action and with a defence that has kept better attacks than this to 24 points and under in their four straight wins.
You can drill down and scour through page after page of facts and stats looking for that one little pointer, but at times it’s OK to say that the Packers are just better than the Chargers – they’re certainly 3.5 points better so take that and run.
Best bet: Packers to win -3.5pts at Evens
New England Patriots @ Baltimore Ravens
Tom Brady 42-22 Lamar Jackson is not the score prediction but the ages of the respective quarterbacks in their inter-generational battle, which is probably the most intriguing one of the entire weekend.
Brady had pocketed three Super Bowls by the time Jackson turned 10, and the difference in their styles shows the evolution of the position and today’s quarterbacks have to do it with their legs as well as their arm.
Jackson is an extreme example as he’s re-written history as the only quarterback to throw for 1,600 yards and run for 500 in the first seven games of a season.
It’s unbeaten New England’s biggest test of the season by far, with their historically good defence which is yielding just under eight points a game and under 100 yards rushing will be stretched to the limit trying to maintain those standards against both Jackson and his side’s power running.
The Pats are 8-1 historically against the Ravens in the regular season, but that one loss was in Baltimore and their unique attack, which is on pace to break the team rushing record. Watching how Bill Belichick plans to deal with them will be one of the highlights of the weekend for us real NFL geeks.
It’s not often Belichick has a new challenge but you just know having something unique to plan for is something he’ll absolutely be relishing. Expect Jackson to have a big game but not as big as we’re used to.
In a game this close it’s all about fine margins – perhaps the fact New England lead the league with 27 turnovers could be key, and the 276 yards passing allowed by the Ravens secondary could also just tip the balance with Brady around.
It’s intriguing and exciting to think that the Ravens could get this done, and they may well do, but they’ve not proved it yet, and we’ve learned a long time ago not to doubt the Patriots in games like this.
NFL - Behind the scenes
New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins
You wonder sometimes why they play these games – the epitome of a ‘two bald guys fighting over a comb’ match-up – as this is statistically the worst game in half a century as the last match between sides mustering just one win between them from 14 came 50 years ago.
It’s an impressive level of underachievement from Jets head coach Adam Gase, who was fired by the Dolphins so has had a hand in both of these sides’ stinking seasons. At least the good thing here is that somebody has to win, right?
It’s a definite ‘under’ game on the points total of around 43.5, with both sides averaging an embarrassing 11 points a game, but if looking for a winner it’s the shambolic Dolphins defence which provides the key. They’ve only kept two teams under 30 points this season.
Miami are also 31st in rush defence and in running back Le’Veon Bell the Jets have the only true attacking star on show. Even Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, who’s been throwing interceptions for fun of late, can deal with handing the ball off to Bell more often than not. If he gets enough ball the Jets actually win a game here.
Best bet: Jets to beat the Dolphins -3.5 at Evens
Indianapolis Colts @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The oddsmakers can’t split these two, but a lot of that comes with the fearsome home record the Steelers have at Heinz Field, only two sides have a better one of the last two decades and the Colts haven’t won there since 2008.
The Steelers, though, are yet to convince with two of their three victories coming against winless teams and the third against the Chargers (three wins). The Colts by contrast are 5-2 and leading the way in the AFC South.
It’s a superb return from Frank Reich’s side after losing QB Andrew Luck just before the season, and wins over the Chiefs and Texans in their current three-game streak are far more impressive.
Missing receiver TY Hilton is a blow, but they’ve got a running game and defence that can do damage, and have edged most of their close games this season – this one will be close but they again have enough to prevail.
NFL Week Nine schedule
Sunday, November 03, 2019
- Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (London)
- Washington Redskins at Buffalo Bills
- Tennessee Titans at Carolina Panthers
- Minnesota Vikings at Kansas City Chiefs
- New York Jets at Miami Dolphins
- Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles
- Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers
- Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Seattle Seahawks
- Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos
- Green Bay Packers at Los Angeles Chargers
- New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens
Monday, November 04, 2019
- Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
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