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Five Bold Predictions for Week 9


I know a lot of you hot-takers are going to say, "the Bears defense is going to outscore Nate Peterman" and again, I'm going to need you all to stop it. You all yucked it up when the Bears were set to face Brock Osweiler. How did that work out? I'm not saying I'm going to bench the Bears defense. That would be foolish. But I will tell you that I'm not at the point where I'm taking anything for granted with the Bears. We're not at the Mike Brown era just yet. And I know it's weird that I put Mike Brown as the face of the era that included Hall of Famers Brian Urlacher and Devin Hester. But I just am.

Let's get on to some bold predictions for this week:

Ryan Fitzmagic is the QB1

I love Fitzmagic because he throws the ball to Mike Evans and not the other team. Unlike the other guy. I'm not saying that he doesn't get his fair share of turnovers but look at the numbers for Evans when Fitz plays as compared to when it's Jameis Winston. Evans had 483 yards, four touchdowns and Fitz had a passer rating of 128.5 when targeting him. Winston went for 287, no touchdowns and a 64.9 passer rating.

Plus we're restarting the Fitzmagic cycle of when he comes off the bench to be a superstar for a few weeks before he hits his inevitable regression. Don't forget Fitzpatrick was never lower than QB6 in weekly output in Weeks 1-3, then flamed out in Chicago. The Bears were at peak Monsters of the Midway with a fully healthy Khalil Mack at the time. When it comes down to it, OC Todd Monken is not getting enough love right now for what he's done with this offense.

Aaron Jones will finally be an RB1 for the Packers

Forgive me. I'm going to address this for an audience of one.

Hi, Mike McCarthy. What are you doing!?

You're close to blowing another year with Aaron Rodgers. Why not help him out with a solid running game? Look at the way Bill Belichick uses his running game and how effective it can be. Aaron Jones is averaging 6.2 yards per carry, 4.3 of which is gained after contact. The guy is electric every time he runs the football. Please, McCarthy ... just give him the rock. Actually, don't. I'm a Chicago Bears fan. You do you.

Demaryius Thomas revenge game for three touchdowns

This might be the quickest revenge game in NFL history. Still, I really like what Thomas brings to the Texans offense. While you would have liked a burner like Will Fuller who can really stretch the field, I do believe they are going to be able to make use of what Thomas brings to the field. When you look at the charts from Next Gen Stats, Watson throws a lot of his targets inside the 10-yard window (and behind the line of scrimmage) which is where DT does a lot of his damage. Thomas' YAC efficiency is the fourth highest in the NFL, which is helpful for this offense. I feel like you're going to see KeKe Coutee going deep while DT will be the old man taking those slants from the slot and getting loose after.

Thomas is also going to be an underrated play near the goal line, too. Have you ever noticed how many random tight ends score for the Texans? I mean, they seemingly lead the league in that stuff. That work will end up going to Thomas moving forward. I'm excited to see what he is going to bring to this team.

Ben Roethlisberger will torch the Ravens

I know, Roethlisberger is on the road! Whatever. The Ravens defense is good. A big reason why is that they have blitzed at the second-highest rate this season. But they have been especially blitz-heavy in the past three weeks. Which sounds wonderful. But what you might not realize is Roethlisberger has been among the best quarterbacks against the blitz this season throwing for the second-most touchdowns and having the fourth-highest passer rating (120.7) among 34 qualifying quarterbacks according to Next Gen Stats. Don't be afraid to give him a go this week.

Russell Wilson outscores Philip Rivers this week

Is this bold? I'm curious. Wilson is playing on another level, thanks to his elite play-action success. The Seahawks are coming in at a clip of around 175 rushing yards per game and using play-action 44 percent of the time over the last three weeks, per PFF. Wilson was expected to complete 45.8 percent of his passes in Week 8 against Detroit according to the Next Gen Stats Completion Probability Model, but he completed 82.4 percent, which was 36.5 percent above expectation.

Philip Rivers has been good, but he's got a tough matchup against the Seahawks this week. Rivers ranks fifth in the NFL with a 127.1 passer rating on deep passes. But the Seahawks have one of the best deep pass defenses in the NFL. Instead, watch for Keenan Allen in this game. He's been open a lot this season, and most of his receptions come within 15 yards. He's been itching to break out this year.