When will these NFL coaches stop playing for the chip-shot field goal in overtime of a tie game and go for the touchdown? Playing conservative bit Seattle's Pete Carroll and Arizona's Bruce Arians in a 6-6 tie in Week 7, and the same scenario by Washington's Jay Gruden led to a 27-27 tie last Sunday in London against Cincinnati. At least the "football" fans in London are accustomed to draws.
I give Gruden a bit of a pass as he sent out kicker Dustin Hopkins with 2:13 to go in OT and 3rd-and-7 at the Cincinnati 16. Coaches generally kick the ball on third down in case there's a bad snap and then you get another chance on fourth down -- assuming you recover the snap. But on second down at the Cincinnati 13, the Redskins made no effort to try for a touchdown or even positive yardage.
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So perhaps for the second week in a row, you had someone knocked out of your Survivor Pool even though that player's top choice didn't lose the game. Maybe if your league counts a tie as a loss, and most do because it's not a win, you might want to change the rules next year because the NFL isn't about to eliminate ties. It's the first time the NFL has had two ties since 1997, and it has never had three in one season. Oakland-Tampa Bay in Week 8 was less than two minutes from resulting in a tie as well. As Vince Lombardi famously said: "What the hell is going on out here?"
I did have Cincinnati winning last week, but my top choice was New England over Buffalo and the Patriots won their fourth straight game by double digits since Tom Brady returned from his suspension. The only surprising result of Week 8 was Minnesota losing at my Bears 20-10, but I've repeated over and over that you shouldn't put all your eggs in the Monday night basket if at all possible. And thanks a lot Bears as now you've blown any shot at the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft.
Here are the picks for Week 9 with the recommended team first. It's a pretty strong bye week in terms of 2015 playoff teams off in the Bengals, Patriots, Cardinals, Redskins and Texans. And, the outlier, the Bears.
Kansas City vs. Jacksonville: This will be a popular choice this week as the Chiefs are surging and are the biggest favorites of the week. But what's going on with K.C. quarterback Alex Smith? He did suffer a concussion then he didn't? Is he playing? What about Spencer Ware? Also consider that the Jags are on extra rest after losing last Thursday at Tennessee and they have a new offensive coordinator, which often can lead to a temporary spark. Yeah, I might be talking myself out of this one.
Seattle vs. Buffalo (Monday): The Seahawks simply don't lose at home on Monday night, but their offense is a mess right now. I'd still feel pretty confident as long as Bills top running back LeSean McCoy sits out again. This might see a final score of 6-5 or something.
Carolina at Los Angeles: Did the bye week fix all of the Panthers' problems? They looked almost like the 2015 version in easily handling Arizona last week. The Rams are off the bye week and Coach Jeff Fisher must have some sort of man-crush on Case Keenum as for some reason he's still the starting QB.
Green Bay vs. Indianapolis: This is assuming the likes of Randall Cobb, Ty Montgomery and Clay Matthews return from injury or illness this week for the Pack. Sunday will be the Packers' last home game until Dec. 4, so they must have it. The Colts are not good at all on the road, even losing in Jacksonville.
Miami vs. NY Jets: The Dolphins are off their bye week and Miami running back Jay Ajayi, whom I stupidly cut from my fantasy team early in the season, looks to become the first back in league history with three straight 200-yard rushing games. That's not happening against the NFL's top run defense.
Minnesota vs. Detroit: The Vikings' offense has really looked lost the past two weeks. I'm surprised they didn't trade for an offensive lineman before Tuesday's deadline. In a shocking move, offensive coordinator Norv Turner resigned on Wednesday and was replaced by tight ends coach Pat Shurmur. I know the Vikes are on a short week here, but the Lions rarely play well away from Ford Field.
Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta (Thursday): Could the Bucs win a fourth straight game in this series for the first time since early this century? Basically flip a coin here in a rare interesting Thursday night matchup. I'll care during the first half, but then I'm flipping over to Russell Westbrook's personal crusade against Kevin Durant in Thunder-Warriors.
Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh: Both teams come off the bye week. Just stay away from this game because it might not be known if Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger can play until game time. If he does, I'd favor Pittsburgh.
Cleveland vs. Dallas: Yep, I'm calling the upset here. The Browns played quite well for a half last week against the Jets, and they have upgraded their defense with the stunning trade for New England linebacker Jamie Collins on Monday. This feels like a mega-trap game for the Cowboys after a big win Sunday night vs. Philly.
NY Giants vs. Philadelphia: Giants are off their bye week as they get their first look at Carson Wentz. The Eagles could be a bit flat after basically blowing Sunday night's game in Dallas. The team is also dealing with a Josh Huff arrest distraction. He's an excellent return man.
New Orleans at San Francisco: The 49ers are pretty unwatchable but might have an upset shot here off their bye week and due to the fact that Drew Brees sometimes morphs into Jay Cutler out in the elements.
Oakland vs. Denver: The marquee matchup of the week with first place in the AFC West on the line. Let's see if the Raiders can commit 25 penalties this week and still win. How many teams are kicking themselves for passing on Derek Carr in the 2014 draft? My Bears took Kyle Fuller instead. Sigh.
San Diego vs. Tennessee: Before the 2015 draft, the Chargers dangled Philip Rivers and draft picks to the Titans in hopes of acquiring the No. 2 overall pick and the chance to select Oregon QB Marcus Mariota. The Titans smartly declined. Now Mariota faces Rivers for the first time.
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