Youmans: My five best bets for NFL Week 9

November 6, 2022 07:04 AM

It was supposed to be different this time. In his second swing as a head coach, Josh McDaniels was expected to be a hit. He had learned from failure and would be better for it, right?

So far, it’s another swing and a miss -- and the Las Vegas Raiders are a mess, sitting at 2-5 and reeling after a humiliating shutout loss to the Saints.

When the Jaguars took Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, he was widely considered a lock to develop into an elite NFL quarterback. Halfway through his second season, Lawrence is inching closer to being a bust and Jacksonville (2-6) remains the butt of jokes.

It’s obvious the Jaguars and Raiders each desperately need a win. Las Vegas, a 10-win team that reached the playoffs last season, should be the right side on Sunday in Jacksonville.

A week ago in New Orleans, following a 24-0 fiasco that had McDaniels apologizing for not getting his team prepared to play, quarterback Derek Carr called his offense’s performance “embarrassing” before promising a response against the Jaguars. The Raiders were blanked by a Saints defense that had allowed 28.6 points per game entering Week 8, the second-worst mark in the league. Carr passed for 101 yards with an interception before being pulled, and the Las Vegas offense did not cross midfield until the final two minutes. Davante Adams made one catch for 3 yards. How could the McDaniels-Carr duo be so inept?

Lawrence wasn’t much better last week. He threw two interceptions — one on first-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the first half — in a 21-17 loss to the Broncos in London.

The Raiders spent the week in Sarasota, Fla., to practice before making the quick trip to Jacksonville for what seems to be a bounce-back spot. Over the past eight years, teams off a shutout loss are 27-10 against the spread in the next game.

Pick: Raiders -2

Four more plays for Week 9:

BEARS (+4.5) over Dolphins: If the cold and windy forecast for Chicago is correct, Tua Tagovailoa’s passing accuracy could suffer as Miami’s offense continues to stall. Prior to scoring 31 against a bad Detroit defense last week, the Dolphins averaged 16 points during a four-game stretch. The Bears have suddenly developed the league’s most productive rushing attack (188.4 yards per game), and quarterback Justin Fields has gained confidence, so there are reasons to believe in the home dog.

FALCONS (+3) over Chargers: The running game is alive and well in the NFL this season, and Atlanta (4-4) is atop the NFC South mostly due to its fifth-ranked rushing offense (158 yards per game). Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert is behind a banged-up line and without his top two receivers -- Keenan Allen and Mike Williams -- because of injuries. The Chargers are a favorite to fade until they prove otherwise.

CARDINALS (-1.5) over Seahawks: It’s tough to make a convincing argument for Arizona, a dysfunctional team with a coach (Kliff Kingsbury) and quarterback (Kyler Murray) who are reading from different pages of the playbook. The return of wideout DeAndre Hopkins is the biggest positive for the Cardinals’ case. Hopkins, who had 12 receptions for 159 yards a week ago, did not play in Arizona’s 19-9 loss at Seattle in mid-October. The Seahawks are public dogs this week -- and the public might have it right -- so I’ll hesitantly play the contrarian angle here.

BUCCANEERS (-3) over Rams: Both teams are beat up on the offensive line, unable to run the ball and searching for answers … on both sides of the ball. The Rams struggle to accomplish much offensively unless wideout Cooper Kupp is making plays, and Kupp is hobbled by a sore ankle. Tom Brady simply has more receiving weapons, and a healthier Tampa Bay defense can attack immobile quarterback Matthew Stafford. I prefer to bet on Brady to stop the Bucs’ three-game losing streak.

Last week: 3-2 against the spread

Season: 23-15-2

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