Sunday’s Essentials – Week 9

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Redskins at Bills (-10.5/37), 1 p.m. ET, FOX: With Case Keenum ruled out due to a suspension, Redskins rookie Dwayne Haskins will make his first NFL start. The Ohio State product has gotten into road losses at the Vikings and Giants and is 12-for-22 with four interceptions. A road atmosphere won’t be anything new, but the hope is that he’ll be able adjust better waking up knowing he’s the starter as opposed to being thrust into a contest. In a related story, the Bills defense is set to be the most expensive to own in daily fantasy despite giving up 218 rushing yards in last week’s loss to the Eagles.

Buffalo must prove it can bounce back from its biggest setback of the season after being overwhelmed by Philly and is a double-digit favorite for the second time in three weeks. The Dolphins actually led in a 31-21 loss on Oct. 20, so Buffalo will have to get off to a better start in order to keep Haskins from finding a rhythm. The Bills have been outscored 35-13 in the second and third quarters of their last two games. Provided safety Kurt Coleman plays, the Bills come into this one relatively healthy. The ‘Skins have ruled out safeties Deshazor Everett and Montae Nicholson, so they could be vulnerable in the back if Josh Allen manages to hit a receiver in stride. Winds are expected to be around 20 miles per hour in upstate New York.

Titans at Panthers (-3.5/42), 1 p.m. ET, CBS: The Panthers have only played one home game since their Sept. 12 Thursday night loss to Tampa, having held off the Jaguars late on Oct. 6. As a result, taking the field in Charlotte without Cam Newton is a relatively new experience, so we’ll see how Kyle Allen responds as he attempts to bounce back from his first pro loss. Carolina got rocked 51-13 by San Francisco last weekend in a game where its defense got ran over and Allen was harassed into multiple turnovers, tasting turf seven times after sacks. Tennessee will look to follow up in being disruptive as it attempts to win a third straight Ryan Tannehill start.

Despite missing tight end and team leader Delanie Walker, Tannehill has looked sharp and has been paying off drives in the red zone, showing nice chemistry with tight end Jonnu Smith and young receivers A.J. Brown and Corey Davis. We’ll see if that holds up on the road since this will be the first time he leads the Titans out on the field outside of Nashville. Protecting Tannehill could be an issue if tackle Jack Conklin can’t go. He was downgraded to questionable. Center Ben Jones has already been ruled out, so the opportunity is there for the Panthers to keep the Titans from finding a rhythm. Christian McCaffrey should continue to be featured considering his elite form but Carolina got great news with Curtis Samuel and Jarius Wright both upgraded to ‘probable’ after overcoming nagging injuries enough to participate.

Bears at Eagles (-4/41), 1 p.m. ET, FOX: Coming off a terrible loss to the Chargers, Chicago hits the road in crisis, in danger of falling two games under .500 at the season’s halfway point despite one of the league’s stingiest defenses. Philly was in a desperate state last week as they took the field against the Bills and it proved to be poised under pressure, rolling to a comfortable win. We’ll see if they can sustain their level of intensity, but it will help that RB Miles Sanders is set to be out there as the change-of-pace back behind Jordan Howard after being questionable earlier in the week. Tackle Jason Peters is out again, and no matter what anyone says about him not being the same guy he was five years ago, missing his experience and his marvelous athleticism even at his age is an obstacle for the Eagles to overcome. Safety Andrew Sendejo (groin) is questionable and DT Tim Jernigan has been cleared to play, so the defense should be up for the challenge of keeping Mitchell Trubisky from finding a rhythm.

The Bears haven’t been able to consistently get any of their weapons off outside of Allen Robinson, who will have a great matchup here given the Eagles’ issues in the secondary. The weather will cooperate since winds aren’t expected to be an issue, so Trubisky will have an opportunity to stave off naysayers since Wentz is likely going to set a pace for him to follow. Both Darren Sproles and DeSean Jackson are slated to return for an offense that has missed his contributions, so Wentz will have all of the Eagles’ toys at his disposal despite not having Peters out there to create space. Khalil Mack will have help back up front with Bilal Nichols in the mix after overcoming an injury. Safety Eddie Jackson is a go as well despite being hampered by a hamstring issue.

Vikings (-3.5/47) at Chiefs, 1 p.m. ET, FOX: The expectation is that Kansas City will wisely sit Patrick Mahomes, holding him out to heal for at least another week. Matt Moore will try and pick up a victory in what is set to be the Chiefs’ fourth home game in five weeks. If they fall as an underdog, they’ll have gone 1-4 in those games. Kansas City faces a long road ahead of it in needing to step up on the road just to make the playoffs, but it’s hard to argue that they face an uphill battle here. Veteran former defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and his brain trust will have a strong defensive game plan in place against Moore after Andy Reid put everything he was looking to accomplish on display in attempting to pull off an upset against Green Bay. The ‘over’ is 5-3 in their games.

Safety Jayvon Kearse is considered questionable after being charged with DWI, but corners Xavier Rhoades and Holton Hill are going to be available in the secondary. Minnesota will look to keep everything in front of them so there could be short throws available to Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and tight end Travis Kelce. The Vikes have upgraded Adam Thielen to probable and will therefore have their entire offense available. Dalvin Cook has been the league’s most productive running back and should have a big day since wind could be a factor at Arrowhead. Kansas City’s defense has had issues containing opposing running backs.

Lions at Raiders (-2.5/51), 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX: Oakland is hosting a football game again, something that wasn’t promised last season and won’t be in play when the Raiders finally move to Las Vegas. The crowd showed up and supported the team on Opening night and against the Chiefs in early September, so there’s hope that they can help make a difference in helping the Raiders snap a two-game losing streak. The Lions are looking to avoid slipping under .500 while Oakland hopes to move to 4-4 despite coming into this contest having given up 41 more points than they’ve scored, the fifth-worst point-differential in the entire AFC.

Matthew Stafford hopes to take advantage of a Raiders’ defense that has surrendered at least 21 points in all but one game this season, giving up an average of over 29 through their last six contests. Oakland traded top corner Gareon Conley to Houston and has suffered through rookie safety Jonathan Abram being lost for the season and top LB Vontaze Burfict to suspension, so it’s no surprise to see it having issues on that side of the ball. Center Rodney Hudson has a chance to play after being questionable all week, so Jon Gruden’s team is definitely vulnerable. The Lions held off the Giants last week to snap a three-game losing streak and will have run-stuffer Damon Harrison and top CB Darius Slay available to participate. Guard Graham Glasgow isn’t expected to play and RB Tra Carson has landed on IR, so Ty Johnson should get the bulk of the work here.

Packers (-4/48.5) at Chargers, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS: I wrote a few weeks ago that it would be foolish to try and fade Aaron Rodgers at the moment and he’s been able to help the Packers overcome the absence of Davante Adams with his brilliance. The expectation is that Adams is returning for this game, so riding Rodgers in Southern California seems like a no-brainer since he’s about to play in front of Green Bay West with Packers’ fans set to invade Carson for this game. The Chargers are have WR Keenan Allen in the mix to improve their chances but limited him last week due to a hamstring injury and aren’t likely to over-extend him here.

RB Aaron Jones leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns despite splitting red-zone work with Jamaal Williams of late and dropping a sure touchdown catch on a wheel route a few weeks ago. Rodgers has been able to rely on a running game to help him navigate the absence of Adams and has also seen tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga remain active, the latter playing through a broken finger. L.A. lost safety Derwin James in the preseason and hasn’t been able to adequately replace him. Roderic Teamer is now doubtful due to a groin injury, complicating matters. Top run stuffer Brandon Mebane was hoping to return after missing multiple games but he’s considered doubtful. Justin Jones is dealing with a shoulder issue and is also unlikely to play, while DT Cortez Broughton and safety Nasir Adderley have been ruled out.

Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA

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