Week 9 should provide quality entertainment in abundance. The Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers will clash with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in what's sure to be a high-scoring showdown. The AFC North will be well represented when the Cincinnati Bengals meet the disappointing Cleveland Browns. Additionally, the NFC West will play out an intriguing contest between the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers.
The conclusion of Week 9 will officially bring us past the 2021 campaign's midway point. Both the playoff picture and draft order are sharply coming into focus. With an "Any given Sunday" mentality in mind, we've compiled three bold predictions for this weekend.
JORDAN LOVE MARKS IMPRESSIVE DEBUT AGAINST CHIEFS
Sophomore quarterback Jordan Love will make his first career start against the Chiefs following the highly controversial COVID-related occurrence that ruled Aaron Rodgers ineligible to play in Sunday's contest. Love, who was drafted as Rodgers’ eventual successor in 2020, will now make his first noteworthy professional impression against a horrid Chiefs secondary that is allowing opposing offenses to move the ball through the air via the highly effective clip of 269.8 passing yards per contest.
Love has patiently been waiting in the wings for his opportune moment to shine, and the matchup couldn't be any better, as this Chiefs secondary continues to embarrass themselves on a weekly basis. Green Bay's passing offense received some excellent news when star wide receiver Davante Adams returned from his own stint on the Reserve-COVID List on Thursday. The inexperienced Love should be able to find Adams early and often against Kansas City's overmatched and undermanned secondary. This contest has the makings of a high-scoring affair and Love should top 300 passing yards while accounting for multiple touchdowns.
FALCONS UPSET SAINTS
The New Orleans Saints are flying high following last Sunday’s shocking victory over Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Unfortunately for Saints fans, that leaves them ripe for a disappointing showing in what could be a trap game against an improving Falcons team. New Orleans' passing offense suffered several unfortunate blows earlier this week when Jameis Winston was ruled out for the remainder of the season and star wide receiver Michael Thomas announced he wouldn't be healthy enough to return to the field in 2021. In the wake of the unfortunate Winston news, head coach Sean Payton plans to start Trevor Siemian ahead of Taysom Hill on Sunday. It represents a stark downgrade for New Orleans' offense.
Arthur Smith quietly has the Falcons playing a much-improved brand of football as of late and will have every opportunity to upset the Saints on Sunday.
TEXANS DEFEAT DOLPHINS
Losers of seven consecutive contests, the Dolphins have largely failed to meet their lofty expectations in 2021. Quite possibly the league's most surprisingly disappointing unit, Miami, unfortunately, has nothing to play for down the stretch and the injuries are beginning to mount up. They'll encounter an equally horrid team in Houston on Sunday, but one that should receive an injection of energy and talent with starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor returning from injury.
Taylor should represent a monumental upgrade in the quarterback play department from what head coach David Culley was receiving from the raw and inexperienced Davis Mills in recent weeks. The Texans actually won Taylor's lone four-quarter start of the year by a healthy three scores back in Week 1 and were competing with the Cleveland Browns in Week 2 up until Taylor exited that game with what turned out to be a multi-week injury.
Look for Taylor to continue to serve as Houston's good-luck charm on Sunday.