NFL Week 9 predictions, game notes, league’s top offenses & defenses, elite team matchups

Titans OL Rodger Saffold III / Credit: Donald Page – Tennessee Titans Media Site

By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports

Each week I’ll bring you this week’s NFL schedule with my predictions followed by some great notes and stats directly from the National Football League Communications Department.

Our Sports Animal NFL programming for Week 9
(Sun) 10am – 12:30pm: The NFL Report with John Wilkerson and two rotating Sports Animal hosts
(Sun) 12:30pm – Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts (Sports Animal)
(Sun) 12:00pm – Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans (News Talk 98.7)


WEEK 9 NFL SCHEDULE
THURSDAY, SUNDAY-MONDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 8-9
(All times Eastern)

Thursday, November 5
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers 8:20 PM FOX/NFLN/Amazon

Sunday, November 8
Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons 1:00 PM CBS
Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills 1:00 PM FOX
Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts 1:00 PM CBS
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars 1:00 PM CBS
Carolina Panthers at Kansas City Chiefs 1:00 PM FOX
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings 1:00 PM CBS
Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans 1:00 PM FOX
New York Giants at Washington Football Team 1:00 PM FOX
Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers 4:05 PM FOX
Miami Dolphins at Arizona Cardinals 4:25 PM CBS
Pittsburgh Steelers at Dallas Cowboys 4:25 PM CBS
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8:20 PM NBC

Monday, November 9
New England Patriots at New York Jets 8:15 PM ESPN

Week 9 Byes: Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles

Vince’s View: The Saints and Bucs on SNF highlight the week. The Seahawks playing early at Buffalo is interesting, but it’s been too long since the Bills were firing on all cylinders to believe they’ll be better than the MVP (in my opinion) Russell Wilson.  The Ravens and quietly good Colts could be fun also. The Jets are the medicine to heal the Patriots wounds, at least in the short-term. Tua’s tour of the NFC West continues vs. the Arizona Cardinals.

Week 8 Prediction Record: 11-3 (79%)
Season Record: 82-37 (69%)


BRADY, BREES COULD TRADE HALLOWED RECORD

DURING GAME AS NFL KICKS OFF SEASON’S SECOND HALF

The NFL’s trade deadline is today. But the trading of the league’s record for the most career touchdown passes could continue for the rest of the season.

Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY (561) and New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES (560) rank first and second, respectively, and could exchange the record multiple times in the same game on Sunday Night Football when the Saints travel to meet the Buccaneers (8:20 PM ET, NBC).

In one of the more exciting chases in sports history, the two quarterbacks this season have already traded the record three times – all in the past two weeks. In Week 8, Brees held the mark for 28 hours before Brady surpassed him again on Monday Night Football against the Giants.

Since Pro Football Hall of Famer BOBBY LAYNE surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer SAMMY BAUGH on Sept. 23, 1962, nine players have held the all-time passing touchdowns mark. Baugh, who served as a key catalyst in evolving the forward pass into more of a staple of NFL offenses, became the all-time leader in 1943. Until Brees and Brady engaged in their chase, the shortest amount of time any player held the mark in the modern era was Layne, who spent one year and 356 days in the lead until Pro Football Hall of Famer Y.A. TITTLE captured it in 1963.​

The players to hold the NFL record for most career touchdown passes, since 1943:

RECORD HOLDER TD PASSES HELD OR SHARED RECORD SURPASSED BY DATE
Sammy BaughHOF 187 18 years, 341 days Bobby LayneHOF 9/23/1962
Bobby LayneHOF 196 1 year, 356 days Y.A. TittleHOF 12/1/1963
Y.A. TittleHOF 212 2 years, 291 days Johnny UnitasHOF 9/18/1966
Johnny UnitasHOF 290 9 years, 93 days Fran TarkentonHOF 12/20/1975
Fran TarkentonHOF 342 19 years, 341 days Dan MarinoHOF 11/26/1995
Dan MarinoHOF 420 11 years, 314 days Brett FavreHOF 9/30/2007
Brett FavreHOF 508 7 years, 26 days Peyton Manning 10/19/2014
Peyton Manning 539 5 years, 58 days Drew Brees 12/16/2019
Drew Brees 558 314 days Tom Brady 10/25/2020
Tom Brady 559 7 days Drew Brees 11/1/2020
Drew Brees 560 1 day Tom Brady* 11/2/2020
*Brady enters Week 9 as all-time leader with 561 career touchdown passes

Brady is tied for third in the NFL this season with 20 touchdown passes. He’s on pace to throw his most touchdown passes since leading the league with 50 in 2007.

Brees, meanwhile, leads all qualified passers in completion percentage (73.1) and is on pace to become the third player ever to lead the league in that category in at least four consecutive seasons, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers LEN DAWSON (six straight years, 1964-69) and STEVE YOUNG (four straight years, 1994-97).

SPEAKING OF LEAD CHANGES: NFL games this past weekend produced 23 lead changes, or 1.6 per game on average. Two games – narrow wins by Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay – had four lead changes. Seven of the 14 games in Week 8 were within one score on the last possession.

The MINNESOTA VIKINGS, one of the teams that prevailed in a close game in Week 8, host the DETROIT LIONS on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Last week, Vikings running back DALVIN COOK became the fifth player in the Super Bowl era with at least 200 scrimmage yards, three rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown in a single game, joining SHAUN ALEXANDER (Week 4, 2002), CLINTON PORTIS (Week 15, 2002), FRED TAYLOR (Week 12, 2000) and Pro Football Hall of Famer MARSHALL FAULK (Week 7, 2002).

COMEBACKS ARE IN STYLE: In NFL annals, 2020 is one of only two seasons in which at least one team has come back to win after erasing a deficit of at least 13 points in each of the first eight weeks. It also happened in 2015. Additionally, at least one team has overcome a deficit of 16-or-more points to win in seven of the first eight weeks of the 2020 season.

There have been 26 games in which a team has overcome a deficit of at least 10 points to win, tied for the most such games through Week 8 in NFL history. Only the 1987 season (also 26 games) had as many. In three games this year, including the Broncos’ 21-point comeback win in Week 8, a team has erased a deficit of at least 20 points to win. Only 2011 (five) and 1999 (four) have had more such comebacks through eight weeks.

FIRST EPISODE OF MURRAY-TAGOVAILOA ON TAP: Returning from their bye, the ARIZONA CARDINALS on Sunday host the MIAMI DOLPHINS (4:25 PM ET, CBS) in a matchup of young quarterbacks. The Dolphins’ TUA TAGOVAILOA, who won his first career start last week, plays his first NFL road game. In Week 7, Arizona’s KYLER MURRAY became the first player in NFL history with at least 350 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, 50 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown in a single game.

  • Miami’s defense is allowing 18.6 points per game, the fewest in the NFL this season. With 13 takeaways, the Dolphins have 1.9 takeaways per game, tied for second in the NFL behind Seattle (2.0). Cornerback XAVIEN HOWARD, tied for the NFL lead with four interceptions, is one of four Miami players with an interception this season, including defensive tackle CHRISTIAN WILKINS. Defensive end EMMANUEL OGBAH leads the team and ranks tied for third in the AFC with a career-best six sacks.
  • Arizona’s DEANDRE HOPKINS leads the NFL in both receptions (57) and receiving yards (704).

GROUNDING OUT PAYDIRT: NFL teams have combined for 245 rushing touchdowns this season, the most through eight weeks in league history. The SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (14) and ARIZONA CARDINALS (12) lead the league in the category, followed by the LOS ANGELES RAMS (11) and MINNESOTA VIKINGS (11). The NFL’s single-season record is 487 rushing touchdowns in 1979.

  • Rookies have scored 35 of those rushing touchdowns, led by three players with four apiece: Washington’s ANTONIO GIBSON, Jacksonville’s JAMES ROBINSON and Detroit’s DEANDRE SWIFT.
  • Minnesota’s DALVIN COOK (10) leads the league in rushing touchdowns, followed by the Falcons’ TODD GURLEY (8) and the Titans’ DERRICK HENRY (8). Cook’s 10 rushing touchdowns in his first six games this season are tied for the fourth-most by a player in his first six games of a season in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famers JIM BROWN (14 in 1958) and EMMITT SMITH (11 in 1995) as well as SHAUN ALEXANDER (12 in 2005) had more.
  • In addition, NFL games are averaging 238.4 rushing yards through eight weeks this season. That’s the highest mark in 32 years, since NFL teams averaged 240.3 rushing yards per game through eight weeks in 1988. Among players who have appeared in at least four games this season, Henry leads the NFL with 110.7 rushing yards per game, followed by Cook (108.7).

MOVING BACK THE CLOCKS: The NFL’s lone undefeated team, the PITTSBURGH STEELERS, travels to play the DALLAS COWBOYS on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS) in a rematch of three prior Super Bowls (X, XIII, XXX).

  • The Steelers (7-0) are off to their best start since 1978. A franchise that has won six Super bowls, tied with New England for the most in NFL history, can achieve its best start ever with a win on Sunday.
  • Pittsburgh head coach MIKE TOMLIN, who took the reins of the Steelers in 2007, has never had a losing season. With a win on Sunday, Tomlin can tie the NFL record held by MARTY SCHOTTENHEIMER (14 seasons, 1984-97) by beginning his career with 14 consecutive seasons with a record of .500 or better. Pro Football Hall of Famers DON SHULA (13 from 1963-75), GEORGE ALLEN (12 from 1966-77) and CURLY LAMBEAU (12 from 1921-32) are the only other coaches in NFL history without a losing season over at least their first 12 years.
  • The Steelers have 30 sacks and 10 interceptions this season and are the fourth team since 1990 with at least 30 sacks and 10 interceptions in their first seven games of a season, joining the 2019 CAROLINA PANTHERS, 2017 JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS and 2013 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS.

ROOKIES ARE FINDING END ZONE: The DENVER BRONCOS travel to meet the ATLANTA FALCONS on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS) in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIII, the last NFL game played in the Hall of Fame career of JOHN ELWAY, now the Broncos’ president of football operations and general manager. Last week, current Broncos quarterback DREW LOCK threw three fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a 1-yard strike to rookie KJ HAMLER with no time remaining, to win in thrilling fashion. Hamler is one of 36 NFL rookies this season with at least one scrimmage touchdown.

CHARM CITY CONNECTIONS: The INDIANAPOLIS COLTS, who played in Baltimore from 1953-83, host the BALTIMORE RAVENS on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). The two franchises have combined for four Super Bowl titles. Rushing is deeply woven into each franchise’s DNA, and this season is no different. The Ravens enter Sunday’s game leading the NFL with 178.7 rushing yards per game while the Colts’ rushing defense ranks second in the league, allowing 79.9 yards on the ground per game.

  • Baltimore has scored least 20 points in 30 consecutive regular-season games, tied with the DENVER BRONCOS (30 from 2012-14) for the longest streak of regular-season games with at least 20 points in NFL history.

FAMILIAR FOES: Green Bay and San Francisco kick off Week 9 on Thursday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, FOX/NFLN/Amazon) in a rematch of the 2019 NFC Championship Game. The two teams have met eight times in the playoffs since Pro Football Hall of Famers BRETT FAVRE and STEVE YOUNG first squared off in the 1995 NFC Divisional round. Since that game, no other NFL teams have met more often in the playoffs than the Packers and 49ers.

REID CAN SURPASS LAMBEAU: Kansas City head coach ANDY REID (229 wins) needs a victory on Sunday vs. Carolina (1:00 PM ET, FOX) to eclipse Pro Football Hall of Famer CURLY LAMBEAU and take sole possession of fifth place on the NFL’s all-time wins list. Since the Chiefs named Reid head coach prior to the 2013 season, he is 89-41-0 (.685) including the postseason, tied with Seattle’s PETE CARROLL (89-42-1, .678) for the second-most wins in that span behind BILL BELICHICK (101-35-0, .743). Overall during his 22-year career, including postseason, Reid is 229-143-1 (.615).​

The coaches with the most wins in league history, including postseason:

Rk Coach Team(s) Yrs Won Lost Tied Pct
1 Don ShulaHOF Baltimore Colts, Miami Dolphins 33 347 173 6 .666
2 George HalasHOF Chicago Bears 40 324 151 31 .680
3 Bill Belichick Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots 26 306 144 0 .686
4 Tom LandryHOF Dallas Cowboys 29 270 178 6 .603
5 Curly LambeauHOF Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cardinals, Washington Redskins 33 229 134 22 .631
  Andy Reid Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs 22 229 143 1 .615

WILSON CONTINUES WINNING WAYS: Seattle’s RUSSELL WILSON leads the Seahawks into Buffalo Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). Selected by the Seahawks in the third round (75th overall) of the 2012 draft, Wilson has 92 wins during his nine-year career, tied with PEYTON MANNING for the most regular-season victories by a quarterback in his first nine seasons in NFL history. Including the postseason, Wilson has 101 career wins, tied with TOM BRADY for the most victories, including the postseason, by a quarterback in his first nine seasons in league annals.

HERBERT HAS HISTORY IN SIGHT: Quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT on Sunday vs. Las Vegas (4:05 PM ET, FOX) can become the first rookie in NFL history to throw three-or-more touchdown passes in five consecutive games. DESHAUN WATSON (2017) is the only other rookie to pass for at least three touchdowns in four straight contests.

MEETINGS OF LEAGUE ELITES: The 2020 NFL season continues to be the highest scoring in league history, as the marks for total points (5,996) and touchdowns (692) are the most ever through eight weeks. The 50.4 points per game (both teams combined) is the highest total through Week 8 since 1970 while five teams are averaging at least 30 points per game, also the most at this point of a season since 1970.

Additionally, half of the league (16 teams) has a record above .500 entering Week 9. A total of 11 teams have two-or-fewer losses, tied for the second-most such teams through eight weeks in NFL history.

The seasons with the most teams with two-or-fewer losses after eight weeks in NFL history:​

SEASON TEAMS
1996 12
2020 11
1993 11


Three games in Week 9 will feature teams with two-or-fewer losses: the 6-1 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS traveling to face the 6-2 BUFFALO BILLS (1:00 PM ET, FOX), the 5-2 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS hosting the 5-2 BALTIMORE RAVENS (1:00 PM ET, CBS) and an NFC South showdown on Sunday Night Football featuring the 5-2 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS and 6-2 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS in Tampa (8:20 PM ET, NBC).

This will mark the fifth week since 1970 in which there are at least three games between teams with two-or-fewer losses in Week 9 or later.

The weeks featuring at least three games between teams with two-or-fewer losses in Week 9 or later since 1970:​

WEEK GAMES
Week 9, 2020 Seattle (6-1) at Buffalo (6-2)

Baltimore (5-2) at Indianapolis (5-2)

New Orleans (5-2) at Tampa Bay (6-2)

Week 9, 1999 St. Louis Rams (6-1) at Detroit (5-2)

Kansas City (5-2) at Indianapolis (5-2)

Tennessee (6-1) at Miami (6-1)

Week 9, 1997 Green Bay (5-2) at New England (5-2)

Jacksonville (5-2) at Pittsburgh (5-2)

Minnesota (5-2) at Tampa Bay (5-2)

Week 9, 1996 Kansas City (5-2) at Denver (6-1)

San Francisco (5-2) at Houston Oilers (5-2)

Carolina (5-2) at Philadelphia (5-2)

Indianapolis (5-2) at Washington (6-1)

Week 9, 1993 Kansas City (5-1) at Miami (5-1)

Detroit (5-2) at Minnesota (4-2)

Dallas (4-2) at Philadelphia (4-2)

 

— NFL –​

PUTTING UP POINTS: The SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (34.3) lead the NFL in points per game, while the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (30.1) rank fifth. They are the only two teams in the league that have scored at least 25 points in each of their first seven games this season.

If Seattle scores at least 25 points at Buffalo (1:00 PM ET, CBS) and Pittsburgh scores at least 25 points at Dallas (4:25 PM ET, CBS), they will become the sixth and seventh teams to score at least 25 points in each of their first eight games of a season in NFL history. This would be the first season in league annals in which two teams accomplished the feat.

The teams to score at least 25 points in the most consecutive games to begin a season in NFL history:

TEAM SEASON GAMES
Kansas City Chiefs 2018 16
Denver Broncos 2013 13
New England Patriots 2015 9
New England Patriots 2007 8
St. Louis Rams 2000 8
     
Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 7*
Seattle Seahawks 2020 7*
*Active streak    

— NFL —

MOVING ON UP: Last week, Indianapolis quarterback PHILIP RIVERS passed for 262 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions in the Colts’ victory and has 1,860 passing yards and 10 touchdown passes this season. In his 17-year career, Rivers has 61,131 passing yards, the sixth-most in NFL history.

With at least 231 passing yards on Sunday against Baltimore (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Rivers will surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (61,361) for the fifth-most passing yards all-time.

The players with the most passing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM(S) PASSING YARDS
Drew Brees San Diego Chargers, New Orleans 79,314
Tom Brady New England, Tampa Bay 76,760
Peyton Manning Indianapolis, Denver 71,940
Brett FavreHOF Green Bay, New York Jets, Minnesota 71,838
Dan MarinoHOF Miami 61,361
Philip Rivers San Diego/L.A. Chargers, Indianapolis 61,131*
*Entering Week 9

— NFL —

100 IN A HURRY: Last week, Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES set season highs in passing yards (416) and touchdown passes (five). In 39 career games, Mahomes has 11,727 passing yards and 97 touchdown passes, both the most by a player in his first 40 career games in NFL history.

With at least three touchdown passes in his 40th career game on Sunday against Carolina (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Mahomes would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (44 games) as the fastest player to reach 100 career touchdown passes in NFL history.

The fastest players to reach 100 career touchdown passes in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM GAMES
Dan MarinoHOF Miami 44
Kurt WarnerHOF St. Louis Rams 50
Johnny UnitasHOF Baltimore Colts 53
     
Patrick Mahomes Kansas City 39*
*Has 97 touchdown passes

Last week marked Mahomes’ 18th career game with at least three touchdown passes. With three touchdown passes against Carolina, Mahomes would also surpass Marino (18 games) for the most games with at least three touchdown passes in a player’s first 40 career games in NFL history.

— NFL —

AMONG THE GREATS: Seattle quarterback RUSSELL WILSON leads the league with 26 touchdown passes this season, trailing only TOM BRADY (27 touchdown passes in 2007) for the most by a player through his team’s first seven games of a season in NFL history. Wilson, currently in his ninth season, has 253 career touchdown passes and has had at least 30 touchdown passes in each of the past three seasons.

With at least four touchdown passes on Sunday at Buffalo (1:00 PM, CBS), Wilson would join DREW BREES (nine consecutive seasons) and Pro Football Hall of Famer BRETT FAVRE (five consecutive seasons) as the only players with 30-or-more touchdown passes in at least four consecutive seasons in NFL history.

The players with the most consecutive seasons with at least 30 touchdown passes in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM SEASONS
Drew Brees New Orleans 9 (2008-16)
Brett FavreHOF Green Bay 5 (1994-98)
     
Russell Wilson Seattle 3* (2017-19)
*Has 26 touchdown passes in 2020    

— NFL —

PAIR OF PLAYMAKERS: Arizona quarterback KYLER MURRAY leads all quarterbacks with 437 rushing yards this season, while Baltimore quarterback LAMAR JACKSON ranks second (411). This marks the first time in league history that two quarterbacks each have at least 400 rushing yards entering Week 9.  ​

Last season, Murray joined CAM NEWTON (2011) as the only rookie quarterbacks to record at least 3,500 passing yards (3,722) and 500 rushing yards (544) in NFL history. With at least 63 rushing yards on Sunday against Miami (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Murray will become the fourth quarterback to rush for at least 500 yards in each of his first two seasons in NFL history, joining JOSH ALLEN (2018-19), Jackson (2018-19) and Newton (2011-12).

With at least 89 rushing yards on Sunday at Indianapolis (1:00 PM, CBS), Jackson will join Newton (first five seasons) as the only quarterbacks to rush for at least 500 yards in each of their first three seasons.

— NFL –

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Entering Week 9, New Orleans running back ALVIN KAMARA leads the NFL with 987 scrimmage yards (556 receiving, 431 rushing). He also leads all running backs in receiving yards and receptions (55).

With at least 69 rushing yards at Tampa Bay on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC), Kamara can become the first player with at least 500 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons in NFL history.

He will also become the sixth running back with four-or-more consecutive seasons with at least 500 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in the Super Bowl era.

The running backs with the most consecutive seasons with at least 500 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in the Super Bowl era:

PLAYER TEAM(S) SEASONS
Marshall FaulkHOF Indianapolis, St. Louis Rams 5 (1998-2002)
Lydell Mitchell Baltimore Colts, San Diego Chargers 5 (1974-78)
Charlie Garner San Francisco, Oakland Raiders 4 (1999-2002)
Thurman ThomasHOF Buffalo 4 (1989-92)
Brian Westbrook Philadelphia 4 (2004-07)
     
Alvin Kamara New Orleans 3 (2017-19)*
*Has 556 receiving yards and 431 rushing yards in 2020    

— NFL —

HOPKINS CATCHING HISTORY: Arizona wide receiver DEANDRE HOPKINS leads the NFL with 57 receptions and 704 receiving yards this season. Hopkins, who will be 28 years and 155 days old on Sunday, has 689 receptions for 9,306 yards in his eight-year career.

With at least 11 receptions against Miami (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Hopkins will surpass current teammate LARRY FITZGERALD (29 years, 23 days) as the youngest player to reach 700 career receptions in NFL history. Hopkins will also become the fifth player to reach 700 receptions in his first eight seasons in league annals. ​

The youngest players to reach 700 career receptions in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM(S) AGE
Larry Fitzgerald Arizona 29 years, 23 days
Antonio Brown Pittsburgh 29 years, 129 days
Brandon Marshall Denver, Miami, Chicago 29 years, 267 days
     
DeAndre Hopkins Houston, Arizona 28 years, 155 days*
*On Sunday    

The players with at least 700 receptions in their first eight seasons in NFL history:

PLAYER TEAM(S) RECEPTIONS
Marvin HarrisonHOF Indianapolis 759
Antonio Brown Pittsburgh 733
Torry Holt St. Louis Rams 712
Brandon Marshall Denver, Miami, Chicago 712
     
DeAndre Hopkins Houston, Arizona 689*
*In eighth season    

With at least 96 receiving yards, Hopkins can join GARY CLARK (1985-92) as the only players with at least 50 receptions and 800 receiving yards in each of their first eight seasons in NFL history.

— NFL —

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