Observer Roundtable Week 3: Week 9 NFL matchups
Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars (+2.5) [In London]
Tennessee Titans @ Carolina Panthers (-3.5)
New England Patriots @ Baltimore Ravens (+3.5)
With multiple offensive weapons including Deandre Hopkins and a dynamic quarterback in Deshaun Watson, the Texan will prove to be too much for the Jags and quarterback Gardner Minshew. I expect the Texans to win and cover across the pond.
The Panthers will be looking to bounce back after an ugly blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers and with an offense powered by running back Christian McCaffrey, the Titans will have a tough time slowing them down. Although Tannehill has stepped in for the struggling Mariota, the Titans still have their issues and I expect them to play a factor in this game. The Panthers will win and cover.
Despite a knockout performance in a tough place to play against Seattle, the Ravens have been an up-and-down team with two tight division wins and a loss to the struggling Browns. The Patriots have been a steady team, however, and a shut-down defense will help them contain the speedy and talented quarterback Lamar Jackson just enough. I expect the Patriots to win and cover.
After getting to see the McCaffrey show earlier this season, London will see young stud quarterback Deshaun Watson and take in Minshew Mania for the first time. The Texans squeaked by 13-12 in the first matchup between these squads. It’s a small spread but I like another tight game as the Texans win but don’t cover.
With Ryan Tannehill under center, the Titans have improved their offense from abysmal to slightly below average. For Carolina, Kyle Allen finally took a loss as a starter in extremely ugly fashion, but for now, I consider that performance an outlier. The Titans boast a great defense, but their offense is not trustworthy. Should be a close and defensive battle. Panthers win but don’t cover.
The only thing that would keep me from betting on the Ravens after their thorough beatdown of the Seahawks is the Patriots. Their defense is simply ridiculous; to put this in perspective: The Patriots would be 3-4-1 if their offense hadn’t played a snap. The defense alone is a better team than eight other AFC teams. The Ravens looked great against Seattle, but have also lost to the Browns and pulled out one-possession wins against the Bengals, Cardinals and Steelers. Too inconsistent to bet on: Patriots win and cover.
Deandre Hopkins, Deshaun Watson and Will Fuller V provide an array of offensive assets that will overpower the Jags, even with a lethal Leonard Fournette and the rise of Minshew Mania. Expect an offensive shootout in London, but the Houston will showcase what “real football” looks like late in the game. The Texans win and cover.
Coming off a horrendous loss at the hands of San Francisco, the Panthers are now trending downwards. The production of MVP candidate McCaffrey continues to serve as the saving grace of the team’s tumultuous offensive woes. Granted, the Titans offer a compelling offensive basis at the helm of red-hot quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but the Panthers will recover with a strong performance by quarterback Kyle Allen. The Panthers win and cover.
So far this season, teams have found the greatest success against the Patriots on the ground, as evident by the Browns’ generation of nearly 160 rushing yards last week. Consistent back Mark Ingram looks fit for the task, and Jackson showcases speed in his own right, a dynamic duo that will defuse the New England defense for its first loss. The Ravens upset.
This AFC South matchup will be very competitive, and I expect it to be a close game well into the fourth quarter. The Texans, however, have more explosive players on the offensive side of the ball, and that will be the difference. Look for a late Deshaun Watson to Deandre Hopkins touchdown to seal the victory. Texans win and cover.
The Ryan Tannehill-led Titans are riding a two-game winning streak into a critical matchup against the Panthers. The Titans are trending upwards with Tannehill under center. The Panthers, on the other hand, are coming off of a brutal beatdown last week to the hands of the 49ers. It will be a close game, but I like the Titans to win this one outright.
The Patriots defense will face arguably its biggest test of the year against the Jackson-led Ravens. I think they are up for the challenge. This Pats defense to this point in the season has shown they are one of the best defenses the NFL has seen in the past decade. I expect the Pats defense to get a key turnover late that will seal the victory. Patriots win and cover.
This is a very tough one to pick. The Texans are obviously more talented, but the Texans have been trending down in the last few weeks, while the Jaguars are a confident team right now. The Texans’ defense will have to be demoralized after defensive end JJ Watt’s season-ending injury, and weird things happen in games across the pond. Watson has looked great this season as has the Texans’ offense, but the Jaguars play tough, and I think they will win this game on the back of their defense.
The Panthers are coming off a bad loss, but the 49ers are arguably the best team in the league, so a blowout loss can be overlooked. The Titans have looked better on offense since benching quarterback Marcus Mariota, but are not talented on offense. McCaffrey and the Panthers offense will bounce back in a major way. Panthers win and cover.
If anyone can beat the Patriots this year, it is the Ravens this week. Coming off a dominant win against a very good Seahawks team, and a bye last week, they are rested and ready to challenge the Patriots. However, the Patriots have looked unbeatable this year, and even on the road, I expect them to make some key adjustments in order to slow down Jackson, who hasn’t faced a defense like this yet in his young career. It won’t be a blowout like many other Patriots wins this year, but they will win and cover.
Watson has disproved all of my doubts and is emerging as one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He is ranked fifth in total touchdowns and passing yards, which makes him the biggest offensive threat in the AFC South. Jacksonville has exceeded expectations and will have a serious home field advantage in London; however, the Texans will earn a huge victory covering the spread behind Watson’s golden arm.
When Cam Newton was injured, most people thought that Carolina would set their sights on next season. Fortunately, the Panthers hit the jackpot in their backup, Kyle Allen, and are currently firmly in the hunt for a wild card spot. The Titans have played inconsistently despite having a weak opening schedule but can compete in most games due to their strong defense. Carolina will win but not cover in a low-scoring affair.
The Ravens are riding high after a shocking drubbing of Seattle, in which Jackson had a staggering 116 rushing yards. Baltimore’s horrible defense even managed to look average as newly acquired cornerback Marcus Peters caught an interception. Though things are looking up for the Ravens, New England is unquestionably the best team in the NFL. I foresee Jackson struggling against the Patriots’ mighty defense as New England easily finds victory and covers.
Upset of the week
Dominic Gibson: The last time I picked a New York team to beat the Cowboys, my upset pick turned out in my favor, so I’m back at it again and selecting the Giants to beat Dallas in the Meadowlands. While the Cowboys did beat the Giants earlier in the year, this came during the three-game win streak that has suddenly halted as of late. The Giants also rolled out quarterback Eli Manning to lead the offense last time the two teams met. Quarterback Daniel Jones helps bring a new mobile element to the offense and generally speaking, it is very difficult to beat a team twice in a season in the NFL.
Aidan Thomas: Army football has not looked good recently. But this team still has talent and they were inches away from upsetting Michigan at the Big House earlier this year. They are 14.5 point underdogs to Air Force, who has looked far better this year. It’s not looking good for the Black Knights, which is why this is an upset call; I like Army to play with some pride and take a step towards a bowl game and their third-straight Commander-in-Chief trophy.
David Kramer: Following its win against Miami, Georgia Tech faces a Pitt team that mustered only 12 points against the Hurricanes last week. With Clemson running away with the ACC, the 7.5 spread in favor of Pitt seems inconsistent with respective performances against The U. I believe that Pitt’s weak schedule after its upset of UCF has lulled them to sleep, leaving them vulnerable for an upset against a well-rested Georgia Tech offense. Look for the Yellow Jackets to craft a victory this weekend.
Nate Moller: Nothing can seem to go right for Northwestern this year. The Pat Fitzgerald-led Wildcats sit at a disappointing 1-6 record with no Big Ten wins. In a year where many expected the Wildcats to make a run at the Big Ten West title, the Northwestern offense has not been able to generate much of anything on the offensive side of the ball. Despite this, I expect the Wildcats to pull off the victory at Indiana this weekend. Indiana has squeaked by against some inferior opponents, and I expect the Northwestern defense to keep them in the game and allow them to pull off the victory.
Liam Coolican: UAB football has continued to trend upwards since their program was reinstated in 2017. This season, they are quietly 6-1 and head to Knoxville to face Tennessee this week. Tennessee looked atrocious at the beginning of the year, losing three of their first four games, but have looked much better as of late, with a convincing win against a solid South Carolina team last week. I see this as a trap game for Tennessee, and UAB will show the football world they are one of the best non-Power Five teams this year, and beat Tennessee on the road.
Patrick Gallagher: Though Wake Forest trails only Clemson in the Atlantic division, the Demon Deacons have benefited from an extremely weak ACC schedule and are not as good as their record suggests. NC State has been disappointing coming off a 9-4 season in 2018. Huge losses to Boston College and Florida State have caused most to disregard the Wolfpack. Despite a lack of clear talent, NC State has a solid coach in Dave Doeren, who led the program to five consecutive winning seasons before this year. I believe that Doeren will inspire his players to pull off the upset and return Wake Forest to reality.