I was going to start off this week by handing out some midseason awards, but then Hue Jackson got fired, so I thought it would be be way more fun to talk about that.
First, let me just say that the Browns are the most dysfunctional team in football and it's not even close. If I were going to fire Hue Jackson, I would have done it after he went 1-15 in 2016 or after he went 0-16 in 2017. Instead, the Browns literally waited until he won multiple games in a season before firing him. Imagine getting fired in the one year where you doubled the production of your prior years, which is kind of what Jackson did with two wins in 2018 vs. one win in 2016 and 2017 combined.
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That being said, Jackson definitely deserved to be fired. I mean, the guy didn't win a SINGLE ROAD GAME during his entire Browns career. I don't even know how that's possible, it would be like going an entire year without using the letter 'E.'
Hue Jackson's final record with the Browns: 3-36-1— John Breech (@johnbreech) October 29, 2018
His record in Sunday games: 1-35-1
His record against AFC North: 1-13-1
His record in road games: 0-20
Basically, this might've been the most easily justifiable firing in the history of firings #Browns https://t.co/nhYpYUyGLT
Jackson was so bad as a head coach that I'm fully convinced any of the three following people could have done a better job for the Browns:
1. The Rally possum
2. Someone who's never played football
3. Bernie from Weekend at Bernie's
Would there be a language barrier with the possum? Possibly.
Would you have to explain multiple things to the person who's never played football? Most likely.
Would Bernie have to be propped up by two assistant coaches as he stands on the sideline every Sunday? Almost certainly, but the payoff would be that he would likely be able to win more than the three games that Hue Jackson won during his time in Cleveland.
Alright, that's enough about Hue Jackson, let's get to the picks.
Actually, before I get to the picks, here's your weekly reminder to check out all the picks from every NFL writer here at CBSSports.com.
The reason you should click over and check out the other experts this week is because our resident Fantasy guru, Dave Richard, was perfect in Week 8 with a 14-0 record. That is not a typo: Dave predicted every single game correctly and I am now convinced that he owns a DeLorean that he uses to travel through time solely for the purpose of finding out who wins NFL games being played in the future. He could use it to solve world problems, but no, he's only using it for NFL picks.
Dave's entire life basically consists of giving out advice for Fantasy Football and when he's not giving out advice, he's thinking about giving out advice. As a matter of fact, Dave gives out so much advice that I actually have no idea where he finds the time to make his NFL picks.
Anyway, if you want to use Dave's picks this week, I suggest following him on Twitter. Alright, let's get to the Week 9 picks and see if I can top Dave, which I don't even think is possible since there are only 13 games this week.
NFL Week 9 picks
Pittsburgh (4-2-1) at Baltimore (4-4)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
I'm not sure what Le'Veon Bell's ultimate plan is this year, but whatever it is, it's not working. I mean, any plan that costs you $6.8 million in salary definitely isn't a good plan and that's how much money Bell has already lost out on by sitting out for the past eight weeks. As a matter of fact, Bell has lost out on more money than any running back in the NFL will MAKE this season.
I'm only mentioning Bell because he literally only has a window of two more weeks where he's allowed to return. If Bell doesn't sign his franchise tender by Nov. 13, then he can't play this year. Of course, if I were the Steelers, I would actually be hoping that Bell doesn't play this year and that's because James Conner is giving them twice the production at half the cost. Conner's base salary this year is $578,000 for the entire season, which is slightly less than the $855,000 per WEEK that Bell will make once he signs his franchise tag.
The only player in the NFL in a weirder situation than Bell might be Joe Flacco and that's because I think Ravens fans are now actively cheering for the team to lose just so Flacco will get benched in favor of Lamar Jackson. As a matter of fact, Ravens fans are even going on Twitter and politely asking the team to bench Flacco ...
There are also a few other fans who are kind of demanding that Flacco be benched.
Joe Flacco sucks bench him and put in Lamar Jackson— Majah_Navy (@Fenndiii) October 28, 2018
I'm not sure Lamar Jackson is the answer in Baltimore, but I'm also not sure that Joe Flacco is. One thing I am sure of though is that the Steelers are going to get revenge for their 26-14 loss to the Ravens in Week 4.
The pick: Steelers 26-23 over Ravens
L.A. Chargers (5-2) at Seattle (4-3)
4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
In theory, this should be the easiest game to pick in Week 9 and that's mainly because Russell Wilson has NEVER lost at home to an AFC team. Since his rookie year in 2012, Wilson has gone 12-0 against AFC teams in Seattle, which means he's four games away from sweeping the ENTIRE conference. At first, I didn't believe this stat, but it's definitely true because I looked it up on the internet and nothing on the internet is ever wrong.
The thing about the Seahawks is that no one was actually sure if they would be any good this season. To put their offseason in a nutshell: They cut every player you've heard of except for Russell Wilson and they traded up to take a punter in the fifth round of the NFL Draft, which I'm pretty sure was the first time anyone ever traded up to grab a punter in the fifth round. Somehow though, these moves are all now paying off on the field, because the Seahawks have won four out of their past five games. The most amazing part of Seattle's transformation is that Wilson doesn't have to run for his life anymore, because the team's offensive line is actually good this year. As a matter of fact, Wilson has had so much time to throw this season that he's had to come up with a hobby.
I'm 99 percent sure he's kidding, but if you see Wilson eating a steak on the field this week, that's why. Besides the offensive line playing 55 times better than they did last season, the Seahawks also have something that resembles a running attack this year, which was also unexpected. They also like to beat each other up after touchdowns, which would mildly frighten me if I were on the opposing team.
As I was saying before, in theory, I should be all over the Seahawks here. However, I'm horrible with theories: I still don't understand quantum theory, I fell asleep once trying to comprehend game theory and the only theory I somewhat understand is chaos theory, which says the Chargers are going to win, or maybe it doesn't, I'm not sure, but I'm picking them anyway.
That's right, I'm putting my perfect Seahawks record (7-0) on the line by picking against them in Seattle, where Russell Wilson has never lost to an AFC team. This seems like a horrible idea, but then again, so did moving the Chargers to Los Angeles and that's worked out well for everyone. Wait, no it hasn't. Crap. Maybe I need to rethink this.
The pick: Chargers 33-30 over Seahawks
L.A. Rams (8-0) at New Orleans (6-1)
4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
If I were making this pick based on which quarterback will be wearing the best costume for Halloween this year, then I would definitely be picking the Rams to win and that's because Jared Goff is going as B-Rad from "Malibu's Most Wanted."
If you've never seen "Malibu's Most Wanted," you should probably click here and stream it now so you can fully appreciate just how accurate Goff's costume is. Not to mention, if there's one Malibu-based film about a white suburban teen trying to emulate urban street culture that you should definitely see before you die, it's Malibu's Most Wanted. No one plays an aspiring white rapper better than Jamie Kennedy.
As for this game, the Saints have won several times this season without getting much help from Drew Brees, which is somewhat weird, because Brees had been carrying the Saints to victory for so long that I forgot they could win in any other way. During their Week 8 win over Minnesota, Brees threw for just 120 yards and he also threw his first interception of the season, but the Saints still won by double digits. The win was especially impressive because it came on the road against a team that's supposed to be one of the NFC's best.
The Rams are in the middle of their roughest stretch of the season (Packers, at Saints, Seahawks, Chiefs) and there's just no way they're going to win all four of those games. The trip to New Orleans is their only true road game, which is why I think it's going to be the one they lose.
As an added bonus in this game, we finally get to find out who the best coach in the NFL is named Sean, and I've decided I'm going with Payton on that one.
The pick: Saints 37-34 over Rams
Green Bay (3-3-1) at New England (6-2)
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Do you know who won the last time Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady played each other at Gillette Stadium? NO ONE, because it has never happened. Although Rodgers has been in the NFL since 2005, he's never started a game at New England. I've written Roger Goodell a letter every year for the past 10 years asking him if the Packers and Patriots could play in the regular season more often, but he has never written me back, so I think it's safe to say that there's likely a restraining order in place for all those letters. It's also probably safe to say that the Packers and Patriots will be sticking to this once every four years thing.
Due to the way the NFL schedule rotation is set up, these two teams only play at Gillette Stadium once every EIGHT years and the last time it happened back in 2010, Rodgers missed the game with a concussion.
The reason I know this is a big game is because Michael Jordan did a promo for it, which was a big deal, because Jordan generally doesn't talk about anything that doesn't have to do with basketball, shoes or cigars.
I'm not sure who the greatest of all-time is, but I will say that Brady definitely has an advantage in the coaching department. There might be some tension between Brady and Belichick, but at least they have a 6-2 record and five Super Bowls to show for it. As for the Packers, I'm 90 percent sure that Rodgers has grown completely sick of Mike McCarthy and would gladly give up his only Super Bowl ring if it meant McCarthy was no longer the coach in Green Bay. Every time I see Rodgers on the Packers sideline, he has a look of total disdain on his face. It's the type of "how do I get out of this relationship" look that Britney Spears basically gave to Kevin Federline during their entire three-year marriage.
There's no way McCarthy is going to out-coach Belichick in this game, but Rodgers does get to go up against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, which means he might throw five touchdown passes and I"m guessing that's the exact number he's going to need to make up for the coaching difference between Belichick and McCarthy.
The pick: Packers 38-34 over Patriots
NFL Week 9 picks: All the rest
Raiders 34-31 over 49ers
Chiefs 31-20 over Browns
Best pick: Last week, I Eli Manning was going to play so badly that every Giants fan on the internet was going to call for him to be benched after the game? Of course I did. That's basically been the formula for every Giants game this season: Eli throws for 300 yards, looks horrible doing it, and then everyone in New York calls for him to be benched.would beat the Giants by seven and then the Redskins went out and beat the Giants by seven. Now, did I know that
Eli manning needs to hit that bench, he’s arguably the worst QB in the league.— Caͥϻeͣrͫon ✰ (@cammschaetzle) October 28, 2018
Although I'm generally not a fan of letting people on Twitter decide when it's time to bench a quarterback, I think this might be the one case where it makes sense for people on Twitter to decide whether or not it's time to bench the starting quarterback. Now we all just have to talk Pat Shurmur into letting Twitter make the Giants' QB decision.
Worst pick: Last week, I picked the Jaguars to beat the Eagles, and I'll be honest, if I had known the Jags were going to try and start an international incident less than 36 hours before kickoff, then I probably wouldn't have picked Jacksonville to win.
I was actually 100 percent convinced that the Jags were going to beat the Eagles until Saturday night when I saw that they decided to take a team field trip to a London bar, where they ran up a $64,000 tab as part of a drunken eight-hour bender that ended with four players being arrested. I mean, I'm all for player bonding activities, but I feel like you should probably draw the line at getting arrested together on foreign soil. I've seen enough Austin Powers' movies to know that London police don't mess around.
Also, after thinking about the Jags' bar trip for the past 48 straight hours, I'm still not sure if I'm more impressed by the fact that they ran up a $64,000 tab or by the fact that they drank $64,000 worth of alcohol. I went to a wedding in Florida over the weekend that was serving alcohol for roughly 200 people and I'm pretty sure that tab didn't even reach $64,000, so I have no idea how 10 Jags players managed to pull off a $64,000 tab. If the Jags had put as much effort into the Eagles game as they did at running up that tab, I'm pretty sure they would have beat Philly by at least 40 points.
The good news here is that there seems to be a lesson in this story for all of us and that lesson is that you should never walk out on a $64,000 bar tab in a foreign country, even if you thought that tab was supposed to be comp'd.
Finally, if you guys have ever wondered which teams I'm actually good at picking, it's that time of year where I start sharing that inside information with you. Through eight weeks, I'm still perfect picking two teams: the Rams (8-0) and the Seahawks (7-0), and of course I'm picking them both to lose this week. I might have drank too much at the wedding.
Anyway, I'm also 6-1 or 7-1 picking the 49ers, Chargers, Patriots, Raiders, Bears and Bills. On a related note, you should basically just ignore my Eagles and Panthers picks. I'm just 2-6 and 2-5 picking those two teams.
Straight up in Week 8: 11-3
SU overall: 79-40-2
Against the spread in Week 8: 9-5
ATS overall: 55-62-4
Exact score predictions: 2