DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA, November 3, 2016 — Brett Favre is still retired, but there is a new NFL gunslinger. Derek Carr is part wild man, part laser precision, and the best thing to happen to the Raider Nation since 2002. The swashbuckling pirate logo on the Raiders helmets is even starting to look like Carr. Two years after Oakland started 0-10, Carr has willed a team light on defensive secondary help and heavy on penalties to a 6-2 record. NFL analyst Adam Schein has Carr leading the race for NFL MVP. While Tom Brady is playing lights out football, the Patriots were 3-1 without Tommy Terrific. Without Carr, the Raiders are fighting the Cleveland Browns for the top pick.
Jack Del Rio has made some gutsy fourth down calls. Reggie McKenzie has had some incredible draft picks. Khalil is a monster Mack on defense. Yet this team is all about Carr. In last week’s win over Tampa Bay, the Raiders had an NFL record 23 penalties. They won because Carr threw for 513 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions.
While the Raiders are still a year away from being Super Bowl contenders, Carr could have the Raiders in contention for the next decade.
Baseball season is over and the presidential election is on Tuesday. Do not forget to vote, especially if you get to choose the NFL MVP. Vote for Derek Carr.
With that at the NFL midpoint, here is the NFL 2016 Week 9 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com and all times Eastern.
Thursday, November 3, 2016, 8:30 p.m.
Atlanta Falcons (-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — If Tampa Bay cannot win at home against Oakland’s offense, they will get torched again by Matty Ice and Julio Jones. Falcons cover.
Sunday, November 6, 1:00 p.m.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5) — If the Jaguars finally quit on Gus Bradley, Shad Khan will have him join his offensive coordinator on the unemployment line. The Chiefs have a defense, and Nick Foles is an upgrade over Alex Smith. This could get ugly. Chiefs cover.
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-6) – Minnesota offensive coordinator just resigned as the Vikings lost two straight after a 5-0 start. The Lions have the offense and the Vikings have the defense. At home, Give Mike Zimmer’s defense a chance to right the ship. Vikings win but fail to cover.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (-2.5) — Philadelphia gave away a win at Dallas last week with Doug Pederson dunking and dunking his way out of a win. Meanwhile, Bob McAdoo runs the same offense, so expect a flurry of four-yard passes. At home, Eli Manning may do just enough. Giants cover.
Dallas Cowboys at Cleveland Browns (-7.5) — The Cowboys are very good. The Browns are very awful. Sometimes it really is that simple Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott are not the new triplets, but they could resemble Troy Aikman, Emmett Smith and Michael Irvin against Cleveland. Cowboys cover.
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins (-3.5) — The Dolphins have improved in the last couple of weeks while the Jets barely survived Cleveland. The Jets juggernaut winning streak ends at one. Dolphins cover.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (Pick) — While this rivalry has lost some intensity since the glory days of head-knocker defense, the Steelers are the better team. They can run the ball. It will be another tough one, but Mike Tomlin will see his team grind out a tough road win. Steelers win.
New Orleans Saints (-3.5) at San Francisco 49ers — Drew Brees can still throw with the best of them. The 49ers are awful at virtually every position. Brees could shred the 49ers early and often. Saints cover.
Carolina Panthers (-3) at Los Angeles Rams — Despite beating Arizona at home, Carolina still has so many glaring holes. Cam Newton is back to complaining. He will not get any sympathy from Jeff Fisher’s defense, which could use some offensive help to say the least. Upset special, Rams win outright.
Indianapolis Colts at Green Bay Packers (-7) — One week after being out-dueled in the final moments by Matty Ice, Aaron Rodgers competes against Andrew Luck. The difference is Rodgers is finally starting to get some offensive help. Luck is not. At home, Green Bay fans can R-E-L-A-X. Packers win but fail to cover.
Tennessee Titans at San Diego Chargers (-5) After looking awful early on, both of these teams have shown some signs of life in recent weeks. Philip Rivers has far more offensive weapons than Marcus Mariota. Chargers cover.
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders (Pick) — Yes, Derek Carr has been phenomenal. Yes, the Raiders played Denver tough twice last year. Yes, they have the same record and the Raiders are at home. It does not matter. The Raiders got belted at home by Kansas City’s defense. Von Miller and Denver’s defense is even better. This is the reality check game to tell the Raiders to stop believing their own press clippings. Broncos win.
Monday, November 7, 8:30 p.m.
Buffalo Bills at Seattle Seahawks (-7) — After losing two and winning four, Buffalo has now lost two straight again. Expect another loss, since Seattle at home will get the job done. Both Rex Ryan and Pete Carroll are known for defense, but only Carroll’s squad is playing like it. The Legion of Boom will
make life miserable for Tyrod Taylor. Seahawks cover.