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Week 9 Early Game Previews

Photo Courtesy of Robert Robinson

Chicago Bears (4-3) vs. Buffalo Bills (2-6)


The Chicago Bears are coming off a convincing win against the New York Jets, and now face a Nathan Peterman-led Buffalo team that was just defeated by the Patriots by almost 20 points on Monday Night Football. The Bears are leading their division, look great on offense, and are getting their best defender, Khalil Mack, back from injury on Sunday. The Bills have been the most anemic offensive team this year, and a game at home won’t change that. Buffalo will need to pull off some magic to come out on top in this one.

Players to watch

Mitch Trubisky should give Trumaine Edmunds and company fits with his legs this Sunday, and with his arm as well. The Bills, led by Lorenzo Alexander, have a good pass rush, so Tarik Cohen should be able to get a lot of checkdown work due to the ball having to come out quickly.The Bears’ stingy run defense, led by Roquan Smith and Leonard Floyd, will shut down LeSean McCoy in the running game all day. Khalil Mack should take advantage of the Bills’ poor offensive line and force Nathan Peterman to make the turnovers he’s so accustomed to making.

Keys to the game

Chicago Bears

  • Force Peterman into mistakes

  • Get ahead early

  • Get Cohen involved

  • Unleash Mack

Buffalo Bills

  • Contain Trubisky

  • Control the clock

  • Block Mack

  • Put Peterman in a position to win

Injury list

Buffalo Bills

  • Josh Allen, QB - Elbow (Out)

  • Trent Murphy, DE - Knee (Out)

  • Derek Anderson, QB - Concussion (Questionable)

  • Tremaine Edmunds, LB - Concussion (Questionable)

Chicago Bears

  • Kyle Long, OG - Foot (Out)

  • Ben Braunecker, TE - Concussion (Out)

  • Khalil Mack, LB - Ankle (Questionable)

  • Allen Robinson, WR - Groin (Questionable)

  • Bilal Nichols, DT - Knee (Questionable)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Mitch Trubisky, QB (CHI)

  • Tarik Cohen, RB (CHI)

  • Allen Robinson, WR (CHI)

  • Jordan Howard, RB (CHI)

  • Chicago Bears D/ST


This is going to be an easy one for the Bears. They outmatch the Bills in almost every aspect of the game. The Bears look pretty good right now, and with Mack coming back their defense should get an immediate boost. The Bills really have no chance in this one with Peterman under center and should get beaten handily at home.

Final Score: Bears 38, Bills 10

Written by: George Haraktsis

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4) vs. Carolina Panthers (5-2)


Major Ryan Fitzpatrick, reporting for duty, sir! That’s what all of Bucs nation is looking forward to when their squad travels north to the cold Charlotte area for a divisional showdown with the Panthers of Carolina. The Panthers are coming off a trouncing of the Ravens, 36-21, while the Bucs are coming off a heartbreaker against Cincinnati, responding to their Major and coming back from a 18-point deficit only to lose by a field goal, 37-34. Both teams are still trying to keep their spot in the playoff hunt, and a divisional win will go a long way in the tie-breaking scenarios.

Players to watch

It’s the return of Ryan Fitzpatrick to the battlefield, so that means look for Desean Jackson and Mike Evans to eat. Peyton Barber is slowly showing he can be a decent running back in the right system, so he’ll be tasked with getting the ground game rolling. Of course, on the other side, Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey will get their opportunities to eat, and against this Bucs defense, it should be very easy. Also, look for Cam to work the passing game against this secondary, as Greg Olsen, DJ Moore, and Devin Funchess will be given multiple opportunities to put this game comfortably out of reach.

Keys to the game

Tampa Bay

  • Establish the ground game

  • Dash of “Fitzmagic”

  • Generate pressure on the outside

  • Find a new kicker


  • Keep Cam upright

  • Generate pressure inside

  • Pick apart a porous secondary

Injury list

Tampa Bay

  • Gerald McCoy, DT- Calf (Questionable)

  • Evan Smith, C- Hip (Out)

  • Vinny Curry, DE- Ankle (Questionable)

  • M.J. Stewart, CB- Foot (Out)

  • Ronald Jones, RB- Hamstring (Out)


  • Torrey Smith, WR- Knee (Out)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB (TB)

  • Mike Evans, WR (TB)

  • Cam Newton, QB (CAR)

  • Greg Olsen, TE (CAR)

  • DJ Moore, WR (CAR)


This game probably won’t be a close one, despite the return of the man who sparked Tampa Bay to a 2-1 start and was the first to throw for 400 yards in the first three games of the season. One look at Tampa’s and Carolina’s injury report should be sufficient evidence, because the Panthers are coming in with relatively full health. The Panthers are looking to keep pace with New Orleans in the division, while Tampa has more questions about their quarterback situation. Carolina wins comfortably in this contest.

Final Score: Carolina 30, Tampa Bay 17

Written by: Joe Carlino

Kansas City Chiefs (7-1) vs. Cleveland Browns (2-5-1)


The Cleveland Browns limp into their weekend showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs as a heavy underdog. The Chiefs have been one of the best teams in the NFL in 2018, and the Browns have found numerous ways to lose games this season. Not only are the Browns heavy underdogs in terms of the talent on the field, they will also be playing their first game since they fired Hue Jackson and Todd Haley.

Players to watch

As always, the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense will have several players that we will need to keep out eyes on during the game Sunday. Patrick Mahomes is proving himself to be one of the premier young superstars at the quarterback position in the NFL. He will look to exploit the Cleveland Browns’ defense for big plays down the field to his athletic group of wide receivers which includes Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins. They will also target Travis Kelce in the middle of the field, and the Chiefs will utilize Kareem Hunt to salt the game away. For the Browns, the story will be ball control. They will have to establish a run game with Nick Chubb, and the Brownies will have to give Baker Mayfield a clean pocket to work in if he is going to be able to make plays down the field.

Keys to the game

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Get to Baker Mayfield

  • Test Cleveland’s secondary deep

  • Utilize Travis Kelce

Cleveland Browns

  • Keep the clock rolling on offense

  • Extend the field on pass plays

  • Keep Mahomes contained in the pocket

Injury list

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Eric Berry, DB- Heel (Out)

  • Anthony Hitchens, LB- Rib (Questionable)

  • Justin Houston, LB- Hamstring (Questionable)

  • Mitch Morse, OL- Concussion (Out)

  • Frank Zombo, LB - Hamstring (Out)

Cleveland Browns

  • Rashard Higgins, WR- Knee (Questionable)

  • Damarious Randall, DB- Groin (Questionable)

  • Joe Schobert, LB- Hamstring (Out)

  • J.C. Tretter, C- Ankle (Questionable)

  • Da’Mari Scott, WR - Shoulder (Questionable)

  • Tavierre Thomas, DB - Abdomen (Questionable)

  • Antonio Callaway, WR - Ankle (Questionable)

  • Desmond Harrison, OT - Illness (Questionable)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Pat Mahomes, QB (KC)

  • Kareem Hunt, RB (KC)

  • Jarvis Landry, WR (CLE)

  • Travis Kelce, TE (KC)

  • Tyreek Hill, WR (KC)


The Kansas City Chiefs’ will have a huge day on offense. I look for Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins to torch the Browns’ secondary early and often. Baker Mayfield will have a successful day throwing the football, but the Browns will not be able to keep up with the Chiefs on either side of the ball.

Final Score: Chiefs 44, Browns 21

Written by: Jake Leicht

New York Jets (3-5) vs. Miami Dolphins (4-4)


This is a must win game for the Miami Dolphins if they have any plans to save their season after losing four out of their last five matchups. The bright side for the Dolphins in this one is that they’ve won 7 out of their last 11 home games, and should stand a chance with the game being in Miami. The Jets have competed hard in almost every game this year, but have been defeated by double digit points in each of their last three losses. The offense has also failed to score more than 17 points in five of their last seven games, but they luckily face a Dolphins defense that is one of the worst in the league right now. This should be a tough one between two divisional rivals, but a pretty sloppy game at that.

Players to watch

Brock Osweiler has performed admirably in place of Ryan Tannehill, completing 64.1 percent of his passes for 895 yards, 6 touchdowns and three interceptions. He will need help from Danny Amendola and Kenyan Drake to continue to get the offense rolling. Avery Williamson and Jamal Adams will try to stifle both of those players. The Jets will need to establish the run game with Isaiah Crowell if they have any chance of getting the passing game going. Look for Kiko Alonso to put a stop to that. Sam Darnold will need to find Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson in this one, and try to avoid Cameron Wake.

Keys to the game

New York Jets

  • Protect Darnold

  • Establish the run with Crowell

  • Make Brock Osweiler beat you

Miami Dolphins

  • Make Darnold uncomfortable

  • Keep the game close

  • Spread the ball around

Injury list

New York Jets

  • Robby Anderson, WR - Ankle (Questionable)

  • Quincy Enunwa, WR - Ankle (Questionable)

  • Trumaine Johnson, CB - Quadriceps (Doubtful)

  • Frankie Luvu, LB - Neck (Questionable)

  • Steve McLendon, DL - Ankle (Questionable)

  • Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB - Foot (Doubtful)

  • Andre Roberts, WR - Back (Questionable)

  • Neal Sterling, TE - Concussion (Out)

Miami Dolphins

  • Ryan Tannehill, QB - Shoulder (Out)

  • Cordea Tankersley, CB - Knee (Out)

  • Kenny Stills, WR - Groin (Questionable)

  • Xavien Howard, CB - Ankle (Questionable)

  • Charles Harris, DE - Calf (Out)

  • A.J. Derby, TE - Foot (Questionable)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Kenyan Drake, RB MIA

  • Sam Darnold, QB (NYJ)

  • Isaiah Crowell, RB (NYJ)

  • Frank Gore, RB (MIA)

  • Danny Amendola, WR (MIA)


This is just a flat out ugly matchup. The last time these two teams met that’s what we got — a low scoring ugly affair. Miami came out on top in that one on the road, which makes me think they’ll be able to pull it off again. Yes, their defense has taken a huge step back this year, but the Jets offense is struggling immensely as of late. This should be a close one, but Miami will come out on top.

Final Score: Dolphins 17, Jets 13

Written by:George Haraktsis

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2-1) vs. Baltimore Ravens (4-4) Preview

Four weeks ago, the Baltimore Ravens outlasted the Pittsburgh Steelers by the score of 26-14. The Ravens took over the number one spot in the AFC North, and they looked like they were well on their way to having one of their best seasons in recent memory. Fast forward to this week, and the Baltimore Ravens are now fighting for their playoff lives. The Steelers on the other hand are hitting their stride both offensively and defensively. One team is going to come away from Sunday feeling pretty good about their chances of making the playoffs.

Players to watch

As always, the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to rely on Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger to make big plays in the passing game. James Conner has been one of the biggest storylines in the NFL this season. If he can get it going versus the Ravens’ this week, the Steelers may not even worry about getting back star running back Le’Veon Bell. For the Ravens, they will need to hit on short, intermediate passing plays. This means that Michael Crabtree will need to be relied upon heavily in their passing game. Joe Flacco needs to produce this week, or else the Ravens may start looking to get Lamar Jackson more involved in the offense.

Keys to the game

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Get James Conner going early

  • Load up the box and make Flacco throw

  • Get off the field on third downs on defense

Baltimore Ravens

  • Stop the Steelers’ big plays

  • Get to Big Ben

  • Establish intermediate throws

Injury list

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Coty Sensabaugh, DB- Toe (Questionable)

  • Marcus Gilbert, OL- Knee (Doubtful)

  • Artie Burns, CB - Ankle (Questionable)

Baltimore Ravens

  • Bradley Bozeman, OL- Calf (Questionable)

  • Marlon Humphrey, DB- Thigh (Questionable)

  • Alex Collins, RB- Foot (Questionable)

  • James Hurst, OL- Back (Out)

  • Tony Jefferson, DB- Hamstring (Questionable)

  • Alex Lewis, OL- Neck (Questionable)

  • C.J. Mosley, LB- Thigh (Questionable)

  • Ronnie Stanley, OL- Ankle (Out)

  • Jordan Lasley, WR - Hamstring (Questionable)

  • Tim Williams, LB - Ankle (Out)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • James Conner, RB (PIT)

  • Antonio Brown, WR (PIT)

  • JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR (PIT)

  • Alex Collins, RB (BAL)

  • Michael Crabtree, WR (BAL)


The Steelers will have their revenge on the Baltimore Ravens this week, as James Conner will be a major factor out of the backfield for Pittsburgh. I expect this to be a normal, tough AFC North football game for about a half. Then, the Steelers will figure out the Ravens coverage schemes and put up some points to pull away in the second half.

Final Score: Steelers 38, Ravens 23

Written by: Jake Leicht

Detroit Lions (3-4) vs. Minnesota Vikings (4-3-1)


Both the Lions and Vikings are coming off of a week 8 loss and could certainly use a divisional win to get themselves back on track. The entire NFC North is within a game of each other, as the Bears sit at the top of the division with a 4-3 record, while the Lions are in last place at 3-4. This means every game has playoff implications, especially games inside the division. A banged up Minnesota team suffered their 3rd loss of the season at home to the New Orlean Saints, while the Lions were beaten convincingly in Detroit by the Seattle Seahawks. The Vikings will be much closer to full strength come Sunday, while the Lions and specifically Matt Stafford will be without the WR Golden Tate. The Lions now former #1 wideout was traded to the Eagles this week in exchange for a 2019 3rd round pick; it’ll be interesting to see how the offense clicks without the 9-year veteran receiver.

Players to watch

All eyes will be on Matt Stafford and the now WR duo (not trio) of Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay to see how they perform with Golden Tate no longer on the roster. The Lions neglected the run game last week and paid the ultimate price for it against Seattle. Look for Kerryon Johnson to get back on track and receive a much heavier workload compared to week 8. Kirk Cousins, on the other hand, is expected to get back 2nd-year RB Dalvin Cook, who’s been dealing with a lingering hamstring injury. Cousins has an array of weapons offensively, including Adam Thielen, who’s expected to be shadowed by Darius Slay and is only 75 yards away from a 1000… and it’s only week 9!!! Defensively, the Vikings are expected to have the team’s best in Everson Griffen and Xavier Rhodes on the field together for the first time this year.

Keys to the game

Detroit Lions

  • Establish the run (Minimum 15 carries for Kerryon Johnson)

  • Shadow Adam Thielen w/ Darius Slay

  • Pressure QB & blitz a banged up O-line

  • Take advantage of a missing LB Anthony Barr

Minnesota Vikings

  • Exploit the Lions 31st ranked run defense

  • Get both Diggs and Theilen involved (spread the ball around)

  • Limit the turnovers

  • Force Stafford to make tight throws

Injury list

Detroit Lions

  • Jalen Reeves-Maybin, - LB Neck (Doubtful)

  • T.J. Lang, G - Hip (Questionable)

  • Ezekiel Ansah, DE - Shoulder (Questionable)

  • Darius Slay, CB - Knee (Questionable)

Minnesota Vikings

  • Anthony Barr, LB - Hamstring (Out)

  • Roc Thomas, RB - Hamstring (Out)

  • Tom Compton, OT - MCL (Out)

  • Stefon Diggs, WR - Ribs (Questionable)

  • Dalvin Cook, RB - Hamstring (Questionable)

  • Riley Reiff, OT - Foot (Questionable)

  • Xavier Rhodes, CB - Foot (Questionable)

  • Andrew Sendejo, S - Groin (Questionable)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Adam Thielen, WR (MIN)

  • Kirk Cousins, QB (MIN)

  • Kerryon Johnson, RB (DET)

  • Marvin Jones, WR (DET)

  • Kenny Golladay, WR (DET)


This matchup does not bode well for the Detroit Lions, who will need to establish the run game and still somehow win in a shootout against their division rival. Easier said than done with Matt Stafford’s favorite target now in Philadelphia, and the Vikings possessing one of the league’s best run defenses (with or without Anthony Barr). With Kirk Cousins and company averaging over 400 yards of offense a game, and the Lions surrendering 144 yards per game on the ground alone; Minnesota should find success offensively utilizing a run heavy-play action approach. Both teams can put up points, but it will be the Vikings who are able to force key turnovers and hold firm on critical 3rd downs in order to pull off the victory this Sunday.

Final Score: Vikings 31, Lions 22

Written by: Jack Bourgeois

Atlanta Falcons (3-4) vs. Washington Redskins (5-2)


One of the biggest surprises and maybe the biggest disappointment in the NFC face off in what is a pivotal game for the Redskins. With the Eagles on a bye, Washington has a chance to take a two game lead in the NFC East. Their defense has carried the team, ranking 8th in passing yards and 5th in rushing yards, while the offense has done just enough, relying heavily on its running backs. The Falcons, meanwhile, have been ravaged with injuries, creating giant holes in their defense. The offense remains explosive yet inconsistent, scoring under 24 points three times. The Falcons won’t have to put up too many points to win this one, but the Redskins are capable of shutting down almost any offense. This is quite a hard game to predict.

Players to watch

Adrian Peterson is coming off a monster game of 26 carries, 149 yards, and 2 total touchdowns. He can keep Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offense off the field. Peterson can’t do it all himself, however, and Alex Smith will have to get something going with his wide receivers, particularly Paul Richardson and Jamison Crowder. The Washington secondary has been excellent, with D.J. Swearinger leading the league in interceptions, and they just acquired safety Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix. But Josh Norman hasn’t looked the same as in the past, and he will need to step up to slow down Julio Jones. Against an extremely stout Washington rush defense, Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith will have to find some space and open up play action opportunities.

Keys to the game

Atlanta Falcons

  • Get the play action going

  • Force Alex Smith to throw

  • Just pile on the points

Washington Redskins

  • Pound the rock — keep Ryan on sidelines

  • Shut down Julio Jones (as best as possible)

  • Make Atlanta one-dimensional

Injury list


  • Robert Alford, CB- Ankle (Out)

  • Matt Bryant, K- Hamstring (Out)


  • Paul Richardson, WR- Shoulder/Knee (Questionable)

  • Montae Nickleson, S- Neck/Hip (Questionable)

  • Trent Williams, OT- Thumb (Out)

  • Chris Thompson, RB- Ribs (Out)

  • Kapri Bibbs, RB- Shoulder (Questionable)

  • Jamison Crowder, WR- Ankle (Out)

  • Ryan Anderson, LB - Knee (Questionable)

Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Matt Ryan, QB (ATL)

  • Julio Jones, WR (ATL)

  • Adrian Peterson, RB (WAS)

  • Calvin Ridley, WR (ATL)

  • Tevin Coleman, RB (ATL)


Washington is really going to have to work to win this game. Atlanta’s offense can explode at any moment, and the Redskins offense will still have to score some points to win — but they have only scored over 24 points once this season. The Giants held them to just 20 points last week, and would have won the game if they had even half the offensive prowess that the Falcons do. I just don’t trust this Washington offense enough to keep up with high-scoring teams, and Josh Norman hasn’t showed me yet that he can shut down a #1 receiver. Expect Julio Jones to have another big yardage game, and watch the Falcons score just enough points to eke out a win.

Final Score: Falcons 27, Redskins 25

Written by: Alexander Amir

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