It seems NFL games ending in a tie are becoming commonplace. For the second week in a row, a game was ended after missed field goals in overtime. Oddly, the last time the NFL had two ties in a season also happened in back-to-back weeks. In Weeks 12 and 13 of the 1997 season, Baltimore and Philadelphia tied 10-10, followed seven days later by the Washington Redskins and the New York Giant’s 7-7 draw. Despite the World Series dominating the ratings, there is still plenty of interesting football left to be played as the NFL enters a week full of entertaining matchups. Here are the Week 9 games you do not want to miss.
Denver Broncos (6-2) at Oakland Raiders (6-2), 7:30 p.m., Sunday, NBC
This matchup will determine who is the real deal in the AFC West. The Raiders are coming off a 30-24 overtime victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. Quarterback Derek Carr broke the franchise passing yard record with 513 yards through the air and the Raiders smashed the NFL single-game penalties record with 23 penalties for 200 yards. Despite the mental mistakes, the Raiders remain unbeaten on the road (5-0) for the first time since 1977.
However, they have yet to win a game at Oakland Coliseum. The Broncos are coming off a smash-mouth 27-19 win over the San Diego Chargers last week.
As the Raiders fight for their first home victory of the season, the AFC West playoff picture is starting to develop. The Denver defense is arguably one of the league’s best even with back-ups Bradley Roby and Corey Nelson filling in for Aqib Talib and Brandon Marshall. Both Talib and Marshall were game-time decisions, so it is possible they will be ready come Sunday.
If Denver’s defense is able to attack Carr’s hot hand like they did to Phillip Rivers last week, they will give Trevor Siemian a chance to prove himself after a shaky week offensively. I predict the Raiders lose their third game at home and the Broncos battle their way to 7-2, especially now that defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has returned to Broncos practice after Melvin Gordon trucked him last week.
Denver 28, Oakland 17
Detroit Lions (4-4) at Minnesota Vikings (5-2), 12 p.m.,Sunday, FOX
After a dominant, undefeated start, the Vikings have lost two straight games, which has opened the door for their main competitors. Luckily, both the Lions and Packers lost as well, so the Vikings did not squander their lead. The Lions will look to quarterback Matthew Stafford to save them from another tough loss. Many argue that he is one of the more underrated players when he plays up to his potential and should be mentioned as a possible MVP. If Detroit is able to knock off the Vikings this week, they would be just a half-game behind Minnesota in the NFC North standings. This game will be a contest between a Stafford-led offensive power and an elite Vikings defense. While the Vikings are favored in this matchup, their offense has failed them these past two weeks in their losses to the Eagles and Bears. The Lions will be the underdogs come Sunday, but I can see Stafford rallying his troops and handing the Vikings their third straight loss in low-scoring fashion.
Detroit 21, Minnesota 17
Buffalo Bills (4-4) at Seattle Seahawks (4-2-1), 7:30 p.m., Monday, ESPN
For the Seahawks, this home game on “Monday Night Football” might be just what the doctor ordered. They have won 10 straight home games against teams from the AFC and 10 straight Monday night games. As the Bills travel cross-country to CenturyLink Field, they hope to wash out the bad taste Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (7-1) left in their mouths during the 41-25 loss. Running back LeSean McCoy missed his first game of the season last week with a hamstring injury and is still listed as “questionable” going into this week, according to ESPN. The Bills rushing attack leads the NFL in rushing yards and still managed to produce 167 yards and three touchdowns without McCoy.
A win for the Bills would be significant as the AFC wild card situation begins to take shape. It is practically a forgone conclusion that the Patriots will win the AFC East once again. If Buffalo has any hopes of snagging one of the two wild card spots and making the playoffs for the first time this millennium, this road win against the Seahawks is crucial.
In order to make that happen, the Bills need to continue being productive on offense and take some pressure off the defense. I predict LeSean McCoy comes back and has a breakout game against the pass-defense oriented Seahawks. Seattle will receive a second consecutive loss to go along with the tie they had against the Cardinals and fall to 4-3-1 on the season.
Buffalo 31, Seattle 24