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Part of what makes every NFL Sunday so special is that every single week there seems to be at least one result that no one saw coming.
In Week 8, there were multiple.
The New Orleans Saints lost their starting quarterback midway through the game and took out the defending Super Bowl champions. Cooper Rush replaced Dak Prescott and helped the Dallas Cowboys to a road victory over the Minnesota Vikings in primetime. And finally, and most shockingly of all, Mike White, in his first-ever start, led the 1-5 New York Jets over the 5-2 Cinncinati Bengals.
New York has just two wins this season, but they are against two teams with a combined record of 11-5.
It is true what they say: truly anything can happen on any given Sunday — someone should probably consider making a movie about that...
Luckily for the Bengals, they get a chance to shake off the bad loss this coming Sunday in a huge divisional matchup.
Plus, Patrick Mahomes takes on the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers, while the top seed in the AFC goes on the road to battle the Los Angeles Rams and their new prized possession.
Here is everything you need to know about what is sure to be a drama-filled Week 9 in the NFL:
Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday, Nov. 7 at 1:00PM ET | Live Stream
Spread: Bengals -3.0
Over/Under Total: 47.0
Moneyline: Browns (+130), Bengals (-150)
Will the real Cincinnati Bengals please stand up?
Just a week after many anointed the Bengals legit contenders in the AFC, they go and lay an egg against the Jets. To make matters even more unbelievable, it was the Jets with a backup quarterback.
White, making his first NFL start for New York, carved up the Bengals’ defence to a tune of 405 yards and three touchdowns. The same Cincinnati defence that frustrated Lamar Jackson the week before and sacked him five times en route to a blowout victory.
The Bengals were clearly drained from an emotional divisional victory against the Ravens, but the truly elite teams find ways to win games even when they don’t have their best stuff. Especially when it is against a bottom-feeder like the Jets.
Thankfully, Joe Burrow and company have a chance to wash the bad taste out of their mouth with another divisional matchup this Sunday against a team that is in desperate need of a win.
That team is the Cleveland Browns, who currently find themselves in last place in the AFC North at 4-4.
This season was supposed to be the Browns’ year. They throttled the division-rival Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs last season, and were showered with legitimate Super Bowl hype coming into 2021-22.
But all that hope has slowly dissipated, and Cleveland fans are now asking more questions than they ever anticipated asking at this point in the season.
The injuries have piled up and the offence is struggling to score points — just 41 total over their past three games. And where is Odell Beckham Jr.? The former All-Pro receiver has just 17 catches and 232 yards in 6 games this year, a far cry from what he used to be.
But no worries, Browns fans, LeBron James has spoken on the matter:
LeBron is right about one thing, both Cleveland and Beckham Jr. do still have time to make this a special season. However, a loss in Cincinnati could very well be the nail in the coffin for a Browns team that was filled with so much promise to begin the year.
Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, Nov. 7 at 4:25PM ET | Live Stream
Spread: Chiefs -7.5
Over/Under Total: 48.0
Moneyline: Packers (+260), Chiefs (-335)
During the offseason, the narrative around both of these teams could not have been more different.
The Chiefs were the odds-on Super Bowl favourites and were bringing in whatever pieces they possibly could to put their franchise quarterback in a place to succeed.
Green Bay, on the other hand? Well things were a mess, to put it politely. There was major tension between Rodgers and ownership, and at one point there was legitimate belief out there that Rodgers had played his last game in a Packers uniform.
But oh, how things can change.
Fast forward to Week 9, and things were sitting hunky-dory in Wisconsin. Green Bay is 7-1, and Rodgers just led them to a victory over the undefeated Arizona Cardinals without his top three receivers in Week 8.
Then, just when things seemed perfect, NFL insider Tom Pelissero dropped this bombshell Wednesday morning:
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 3, 2021
Rodgers is also said to be unvaccinated, which is why he will not be able to return until Nov. 13 at the very earliest, per NFL-NFLPA protocols.
Therefore, it is now Jordan Love's time to shine, at least until Rodgers returns. Love will make his first-ever start on the road against Mahomes in one of the loudest stadiums in the league.
Thankfully for the second-year pivot, the Packers' defence has turned it around since its Week 1 laugher against the Saints, especially when it comes to creating turnovers.
Green Bay currently sits second in the league in turnover differential, causing eight more than they have given up as a team. And this week they go up against the team tied for dead last in the NFL in turnover margin with an abysmal minus-11 mark.
Yes, that is the Chiefs. Just imagine the money you could have made if you bet someone that Mahomes would be leading the league in turnovers through the midway point of the season.
It has been that kind of year for Mahomes and the Chiefs, who just don’t look like the team the league has grown accustomed to over the past few seasons with him calling the shots. The defence gets gashed on a nightly basis, the playmakers are not helping out, and the former MVP and Super Bowl champion quarterback has just looked off.
There would be no better time for the Chiefs to find the switch than against the Packers, and maybe the Rodgers news was the exact break they needed to get this season turned around.
Tennesse Titans vs. Los Angeles Rams
Sunday, Nov. 7 at 8:20PM ET | Live Stream
Spread: Rams -8.0
Over/Under Total: 54.0
Moneyline: Titans (+290), Rams (-380)
Over the course of just four hours, the entire outlook of this game changed.
If you looked ahead on Sunday night, this was one everyone had circled as must-see TV. The Titans, the current No. 1 seed in the AFC, fresh off a grind-it-out overtime win over a divisional opponent, headed to Inglewood to take on the 7-1 Rams. How could this not be the best game of the day?
Well, things began to change in a hurry on Monday morning.
First, Tennessee was dealt a devastating blow when it was announced that NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry would need foot surgery and be sidelined for at least six weeks. The current MVP candidate was placed on Injured Reserve, and the team brought in a former MVP to replace him in Adrian Peterson.
But at his age, Peterson is not nearly the back he used to be, and not nearly ready to carry the load that Henry had been for the Titans.
Then, to make matters worse for Titans fans, the Rams went out and made a blockbuster trade to acquire former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller to add to their already star-studded defence.
Miller, lining up next to Aaron Donald and Leanord Floyd, with Jalen Ramsey holding things down on the back end? Yikes.
Miller is expected to make his debut Sunday night in Los Angeles, against a Titans team that has given up 24 sacks through eight games - the fourth-most in the league.
Von Miller: most sacks in the NFL since he entered the league in 2011 (110.5)
Aaron Donald: most sacks in NFL since he entered league in 2014 (90.5)
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) November 1, 2021
Oh yeah, the Titans also have to try and stop Cooper Kupp, who is the first receiver in the Super Bowl era with over 900 yards receiving and 10 receiving touchdowns through the first eight games.
It truly is Super Bowl or bust for this Rams team now.
So does this game suddenly look like it could be a blowout between two teams who were on the opposite ends of the NFL news spectrum to start the week? Maybe.
However, the Titans have proved they are a scrappy bunch under head coach Mike Vrabel and the last thing they are going to do is go down without a fight.
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