Each week this season, OutKick will get you primed for an NFL Sunday on the couch by telling you which games deserve the most attention. For Week 9, here we go…
NFL Sunday Games Worth Watching From Opening Kick Until Final Whistle
- Seattle Seahawks (6-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5), in Munich, Germany, 9:30am (NFL Network)
Main storyline: Weekly readers of this column — all 12 of you, mostly my family — know that being an “island game” gives you some leeway. Because if you want to watch an entire game on an NFL Sunday at 9:30am on the east coast — or if you’re a sociopath who’s dying for football at 6:30am out west — you have to watch this game. And, truthfully, this one isn’t that bad.
You get Tom Brady playing in the first ever NFL game played in Germany facing the NFL’s biggest surprise. The Seahawks are a fun team who play a lot of offense and not a ton of defense. Unfortunately, the Bucs are a boring team who play a ton of defense and almost no offense.
But we got some “Brady Magic” last weekend, so maybe this is the springboard to the Bucs taking their place as legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Consequently, that makes it good enough for me to set my alarm — I’m a night owl, get off my back — and watch this game from beginning to end.
- Minnesota Vikings (7-1) at Buffalo Bills (6-2), 1:00pm FOX)
Main Storyline: OutKick’s Jason Cole wrote a detailed piece on why this is the Game of the Week, which you can read here.
- Dallas Cowboys (6-2) at Green Bay Packers (3-6), 4:25pm (FOX)
Main storyline: Yeah, I get it. This is more about name value and history than an actual great football matchup. The Packers and Aaron Rodgers are a complete disaster. And the Cowboys are actually one of the NFL’s top defenses with a mediocre offense. Doesn’t seem like this one will be much fun.
But I’m a sucker for historical matchups between two of the most prominent franchises in the history of the league with two quarterbacks who have the potential to be at the top of their profession on any given Sunday. Plus, as you see when you keep reading — and please keep reading, I have a family to feed — there isn’t a lot to choose from on this slate.
- Los Angeles Chargers (5-3) at San Francisco 49ers (4-4), 8:20pm (NBC)
Main storyline: Going to make a bold prediction here. At least one of these teams will be in the Super Bowl. And don’t rule out both. WHAT DID HE JUST SAY???
You heard me. I think San Francisco should actually be the favorites in the NFC. I believe they have the best team and, by far, the most creative and explosive offense in a league where that’s a must. The Chargers, on the other hand, have been extremely unlucky on the injury front.
Three of their five most expensive players (in terms of cap hit) have missed time this season. That’s both starting wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams along with Pro Bowl defensive end Joey Bosa and big-ticket free agent JC Jackson. In addition, their All-Pro left tackle, Rashawn Slater tore his biceps and is likely out for the season. But, he could return. And he needs to. Jackson is also done for the year, but he was struggling to find his game in this defensive scheme.
The point is that Bosa will be back, as will Williams and Allen, and I think Slater will too. With those guys back in the fold, led by a superstar quarterback in Justin Herbert, this team has a chance to make a run. It’s not a team other AFC opponents want to see in January, I can promise you that.
Games To Flip To During Commercials Of Better Games
- Detroit Lions (2-6) at Chicago Bears (3-6), 1:00pm (FOX)
Main Storyline: I know what you’re thinking. Yes, all of you reading are currently having the exact same thought. Isn’t that trippy?
“How in the world is a game between two teams that are a combined 5-10 ranked this highly?”
I get it. Trust me, I do. But I think this game will be the most exciting of the weekend. I’ve already bet the over, and you can read about why here. Essentially, these are teams that play a ton of offense and virtually no defense. In the Lions’ case, it’s not even virtually — they actively play no defense.
This has crazy shootout written all over it, and I’m here for it. You flip to this game at any given moment and there’s a decent chance you’ll see a big play. Hopefully, I have answered your question in a satisfactory manner.
I Guess It’s OK If This Game Shows Up On NFL RedZone
- Cleveland Browns (3-5) at Miami Dolphins (6-3), 1:00pm (CBS)
Main Storyline: Speaking of fun, that’s exactly what the Miami Dolphins are. They’re another team that plays very little defense but man can they score. In games that QB Tua Tagovailoa has started AND finished, the team is 6-0. They’re 0-3 in the others. Even those he’s got a wet noodle hanging from his left shoulder, he knows how to do his job. What is his job? Get the ball to Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill and GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY!
In those six full Tua games, the Fins average 27.5 points. The Browns are coming off a 32-points performance against the Bengals. The over looks to be in play here, too, and that makes this a great RedZone game. Plus, you want to talk fantasy football? Waddle, Hill, Amari Cooper, Nick Chubb … there are some massive implications in this one.
If You’re A Fan Of These Teams, I Guess You Might Care. But I Don’t.
To be entirely honest, the NFL Sunday slate is pretty terrible. I struggled to figure out what to do with the majority of these games because I mostly couldn’t figure out what to write. So, I decided to put a giant chunk of them in this category. The “I don’t really care unless I have fantasy players or bets on these games” category. Which is probably what I should have named it in the first place. Oh, well.
- Denver Broncos (3-5) vs. Tennessee Titans (5-3), 1:00pm (CBS)
Main Storyline: We go from the fun games to the opposite of fun. The Over/Under for this contest is set under 40 points (39, currently, at DraftKings), which tells you most of what you need to know here. The Broncos have a Top 3 defense this season. Their offense … well, their offense is completely broken. But because the Titans are leading the AFC South and the Russell Wilson train-wreck is worthy enough of coverage, this game avoids the dreaded “punt” tier. Barely.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-2), 1:00pm (CBS)
Main Storyline: Basically, this entire tier is going to be explaining how these games avoided being on the bottom. For this one, it’s simple: Patrick Mahomes. I will never punt my TV off my deck because someone put Patrick Mahomes on it. It’s just not going to happen.
This has all the making of a blowout — KC coming in angry after a near-loss (20-17 OT victory over Tennessee) in primetime as double-digit favorites; a mediocre Jags team coming in off a win over an even more mediocre Raiders team; and, the game is being played at Arrowhead. Yeah, I expect a big bounce back from KC in this spot, which will be fun to watch for their fans. Just not the rest of us.
- Houston Texans (1-6-1) at New York Giants (6-2), 1:00pm (CBS)
Main Storyline: How in the world the Giants are just four-point favorites over the NFL’s worst team — at home, no less — is mind-boggling. And, it might be a trap, but I’m backing the Giants. That’s the only reason I have interest in this game TBH (that stands for “to be honest,” Boomer).
Houston is terrible, not fun to watch and have virtually no players that even make them remotely interesting. But the Giants have Saquon Barkley, and he is damn fun. That, and the G-Men sitting at 6-2 with a chance to get to seven wins keeps this game out of the basement from a watchability standpoint.
- Indianapolis Colts (3-5-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (2-6), 4:05pm (CBS)
Main Storyline: I flirted with the idea of making this a basement game. But, it’s kind of like that car crash that you can see coming. You know it’s going to be bad and you know you should look away … but you can’t. The Colts literally hired an ESPN Analyst with no real coaching experience to be their head coach. He’ll make his debut here. Plus, Sam Ehlinger was a downright disaster last week against New England, barely cracking 100 yards passing and taking a ridiculous 9 sacks.
On the other side, the Raiders seemed poised to coast to an easy win over Jacksonville after taking a 17-0 lead. Alas, they would get outscored 27-3 the rest of the way en route to another defeat. That loss came a week after getting SHUTOUT by NEW ORLEANS. Additionally, star tight end Darren Waller and slot man extraordinaire Hunter Renfrow are on IR.
The Raiders are a disaster. But so are the Colts. I will officially dub this “The Disaster Bowl.” And sadly, as a human being, my nature is to watch that disaster and not look away like I should.
- Arizona Cardinals (3-6) at Los Angeles Rams (3-5) at 4:25pm (FOX)
Main Storyline: This could be John Wolford’s second-career NFL Sunday start. The other one, coincidentally, came last season … against the Arizona Cardinals. And guess what? He won!
In a weird way, this game is more interesting if Wolford starts. We’ve already seen what Matthew Stafford (concussion protocol) can do in this year’s Rams offense. Spoiler alert: it ain’t much.
On the other side, a lot of people are trashing Kyler Murray because he doesn’t study game film, plays too much Call of Duty and got a $160 million guaranteed contract. But I’m going to give Kyler Murray a pass. Why? Because this is what his offensive line looks like:
Yeah, tough to play quarterback when your entire offensive line has spent the season dealing with injuries. I actually think the Cardinals can make some noise if they get healthy. They’ had a really difficult schedule so far this season; the combined record of the opponents they’ve faced is 44-31. Their remaining opponents are 32-35. Don’t write this team off just yet.
If This Game Shows Up On My TV, I’m Punting It Off My Back Deck
- New Orleans Saints (3-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6) at 1:00pm (FOX)
Main Storyline: The truth is that I actually bet on this game. So I won’t punt my TV off my back deck when I’m sweating it out in the fourth quarter and ignoring far more important contests to watch this garbage. However, setting my personal interests aside, this is a terrible matchup.
Neither team has much on the line — yes, I know the Saints are still technically in the thick of the NFC South race, but I’m still on team ‘Tom Brady’ and the Bucs figure it out and walk away with the division at some point” … yeah, weird name for a team, I know. Try finding a logo for it. OK, that was an unnecessarily long digression — and it’s a matchup between Andy Dalton and a guy who one day hopes to be Andy Dalton. Yeah, that’s Kenny Pickett’s ceiling. Don’t @ me.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ