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PIGSKIN PERFECTION: The ‘You Are Looking Live!’ preview for NFL Week 9

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Seahawks-Bills, Panthers-Chiefs, Bears-Titans, Ravens-Colts, Saints-Bucs and Steelers-Cowboys highlight an epic slate for NFL Week 9.

Four years ago, we began honoring radio legend Steve Czaban — who was surprisingly booted from the SB Nation Radio morning lineup in 2016, despite having perhaps the most engaging program in the radio marketplace — with a “You Are Looking Live!” preview of each NFL weekend.

The bit was so well-received, so roundly praised by media pundits (including a few SB Nation writers) and Czabe’s legion of fans alike, that we decided to make You Are Looking Live! a permanent Friday staple of the BATSBY Sports Network programming.

So, without further ado, here’s a print doppelganger to the best 60 minutes in sports radio — Hour #3 of Czabe’s NFL-heavy Friday show (heard daily from 3-7 p.m. in Washington D.C).

As such, it makes perfect sense to include Brent Musburger and Joey Porter into the presentation, via YouTube:

WEEK 9

SUNDAY

CAROLINA (3-5) @ KANSAS CITY (7-1)

TIME: 1 p.m. EST
LINE: Chiefs (-10 1/2) … Over/Under: 52.5
REFEREE: Clay Martin
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Burkhardt, Darryl Johnston, Pam Oliver (FOX)

THE PRODIGAL SON RETURNS: Hey, Christian McCaffrey, welcome back to the exciting world of fantasy football!

For those who’ve been living under a rock for the last two months, McCaffrey hasn’t played since suffering a high-ankle sprain in Week 2; and that’s too bad, since last year’s top playmaker (2,392 total yards, 19 TDs) owned supreme averages of 111 total yards and two touchdowns for Weeks 1 and 2.

What about this week?

**Opposing tailbacks are averaging for 4.7 yards per carry against the Chiefs.

**Charting his last nine road outings, McCaffrey was a perfect 9 for 9 in racking up 130 total yards and/or one touchdown; and during this prolific stretch, the Stanford product absurdly averaged 139 scrimmage yards and 1.1 TDs.

BALTIMORE (5-2) @ INDIANAPOLIS (5-2)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Colts (-1) … Over/Under: 48
REFEREE: Adrian Hill
TV ANNOUNCERS: Ian Eagle, Charles Davis, Evan Washburn (CBS)

THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM: Colts quarterback Philip Rivers has been on a certifiable roll the last two weeks, posting sublime averages of 317 yards passing and three touchdowns.

Which brings us to this:

It’s been six long years since Rivers (then with the Chargers) notched three-plus passing touchdowns in three straight games.

Rivers could match the feat on Sunday, against a Ravens defense which has a top-10 ranking for fewest passing yards and passing touchdowns allowed.

CHICAGO (5-3) @ TENNESSEE (5-2)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Titans (-6 1/2) … Over/Under: 47
REFEREE: Ron Torbert
TV ANNOUNCERS: Dick Stockton, Greg Jennings, Laura Okmin (FOX)

ROLL THE DICE: There’s something fishy about that over-under tally of 47 points.

Yes, the Bears have the NFL’s 8th-best scoring defense, but the Titans are also averaging 33 points per game at home this season.

In other words, surely Chicago’s anemic offense can drum up at least 14 points on Sunday, while taking on the league’s 19th-ranked scoring defense.

Here’s something else to ponder, in terms of potentially exceeding the over:

Citing his last seven home outings, Titans tailback Derrick Henry boasts staggering averages of 134 total yards and 1.3 touchdowns.

WEEK 9 PREP WORK

PASSING FANCY: Allen, Wilson, Big Ben lead the Week 9 passers
RUN TO DAYLIGHT: Cook, C-Mac, Kamara carry the Top 60 tailbacks

CATCH OF THE DAY: Julio Jones headlines Week 9’s Top 60 PPR wideouts

BIG AND BAD: Kelce, Cook, Fant, Waller highlight the Top 30 tight ends
PIGSKIN PERFECTION: The glorious ‘You Are Looking Live!’ preview
GOOD BEATS: 15 sweet betting picks for the NCAA, NFL weekend

SEATTLE (6-1) @ BUFFALO (6-2)

TIME: 1 p.m. EST
LINE: Bills (+3) … Over/Under: 55
REFEREE: Shawn Smith
TV ANNOUNCERS: Chris Myers, Brock Huard, Jennifer Hale (FOX)

FUN FACTOID: Seahawks QB Russell Wilson may be a Washington state jewel at the NFL level, but he’s still an East Coaster at heart (born in Cincinnati, raised in Virginia).

Charting his last 10 regular-season road outings played in the Eastern Time Zone, dating back to 2018, the MVP candidate owns stellar averages of 276 yards passing and 2.4 touchdowns.

DETROIT (3-4) @ MINNESOTA (2-5)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Vikings (-4) … Over/Under: 52.5
REFEREE: Clete Blakeman
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Harlan, Trent Green, Melanie Collins (CBS)

THE COOK’S KITCHEN: Vikings tailback Dalvin Cook (226 total yards, 4 TDs last week) has become the NFC version of Derrick Henry this season, scoring at least one touchdown in all six games.

Digging deeper, of his last 19 regular-season outings, Cook collected 100 total yards and/or one touchdown 18 separate times; and the one clunker involved a serious injury against the Chargers last year.

Does this make Cook a lock for monster numbers against the Lions? The trends suggest yes.

**Detroit has a bottom-10 defense with rushing yards and rushing touchdowns surrendered to opposing tailbacks.

**The Lions have also yielded the most receiving touchdowns to opposing backs this year.

**Citing five career meetings with the Lions, Cook racked up 100 total yards and/or one touchdown each time.

DENVER (3-4) @ ATLANTA (2-6)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Falcons (-4) … Over/Under: 50
REFEREE: Jerome Boger
TV ANNOUNCERS: Greg Gumbel, Rich Gannon, Jay Feely (CBS)

SCHOOLYARD SENSATION: Falcons wideout Julio Jones posted robust averages of 6.3 catches, 97 yards and 0.3 TDs against AFC clubs last season.

This bodes well heading into Sunday’s encounter with the Broncos (NFL’s 8th-ranked scoring defense).

Opposing wideouts have enjoyed a healthy catch-to-target rate of 64.4 percent versus Denver; and Jones has tallied five games of 130-plus receiving yards since last December.

HOUSTON (1-6) @ JACKSONVILLE (1-6)

TIME: 1 p.m. EST
LINE: Jaguars (+7) … Over/Under: 50.5
REFEREE: Brad Allen
TV ANNOUNCERS: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta (CBS)

SAY HELLO TO THE … Smashed Windshield Game of the Week!

For those not familiar with this timeless bit, it’s simple:

Hypothetically speaking, if a random Jaguars or Texans fan left two tickets for Sunday’s game on the dashboard of their car, upon returning to the vehicle, the driver/fan might be startled to see a broken front windshield … along with two additional tickets (four total) left on the dashboard. BOOM!

N.Y. GIANTS (1-7) @ WASHINGTON (2-5)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Giants (+2 1/2) … Over/Under: 43
REFEREE: Shawn Hochuli
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma, Shannon Spake (FOX)

BETTOR’S HUNCH: The over-under number of 43 looks pretty juicy right now (from the over perspective), factoring in Sunday’s picture-perfect weather forecast of sunny and 73 degrees.

But fair warning here: Charting the last eight head-to-head meetings, Washington and New York posted middling combined averages of only 40 points … and that includes a 41-35 thriller from last December.

LAS VEGAS (4-3) @ L.A. CHARGERS (2-5)

TIME: 4:05 p.m. EST
LINE: Pick ‘Em … Over/Under: 52
REFEREE: Brad Rogers
TV ANNOUNCERS: Joe Davis, Mark Schlereth (FOX)

PAYDIRT PAYOFF: Yes, it’s true that Raiders tight end Darren Waller has never scored a touchdown against the rival Chargers.

But we’re not overly concerned about the above nugget, in advance of Sunday’s clash in Los Angeles.

Here’s why:

****In his last four games, Waller has enjoyed a sterling catch-to-target ratio of 74 percent, while scoring twice during this span.

***The Chargers own a bottom-10 defense versus tight ends, citing the category of receiving touchdowns allowed.

PITTSBURGH (7-0) @ DALLAS (2-6)

TIME: 4:25 p.m. EST
LINE: Cowboys (+14 1/2) … Over/Under: 43
REFEREE: Tony Corrente
TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (CBS)

REALITY BITES: At first blush, it seems implausible a Cowboys team that heard whispers of Super Bowl or Bust back in August could be two-touchdown home underdogs this week.

But here we are … the injury-wrecked Cowboys will start their fourth different quarterback in four weeks on Sunday (Garret Gilbert or Cooper Rush); and on defense, Dallas has surrendered 160 points to the opposition through four home games this season (weekly average: 40).

Which brings us to this:

Counting his last five games played indoors (a rarity for the Steelers), QB Ben Roethlisberger racked up 300 yards passing and/or multiple touchdowns all five times.

MIAMI (4-3) @ ARIZONA (5-2)

TIME: 4:25 p.m.
LINE: Cardinals (-4 1/2) … Over/Under: 49
REFEREE: Tony Corrente

TV ANNOUNCERS: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton, Michael Grady (CBS)
POINTS APLENTY? The red-hot Cardinals have won three straight games, while averaging 35 points per game during this span.

Knowing that, you’d think the over-under tally of 49 would be easy to eclipse this week, especially at home. Right?

This is where things get tricky: The Dolphins have enjoyed a similarly stellar boost of three consecutive wins; and during this period, Miami’s defense has surrendered a grand total of 34 points (including one shutout).

And yet, this mini-run of excellence has been obscured by the Dolphins’ high-profile switch of healthy quarterbacks, going from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Tua Tagovailioa.

Will Tua look better in his second NFL start, after recording only 12 completions and 93 yards passing last week? Conventional wisdom says yes, especially when faced with the likely specter of matching Cardinals QB Kyler Murray point for point.

Plus, the Cardinals (19 sacks, 4 fumble recoveries, 6 interceptions) are due for a pick-six or punt-return touchdown this week, which should help both teams crack the 50-point mark.

NEW ORLEANS (5-2) @ TAMPA BAY (6-2)

TIME: 8:20 p.m. EST
LINE: Buccaneers (-4 1/2) … Over/Under: 50.5
REFEREE: John Hussey

TV CREW: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michelle Tafoya (NBC)
LET THE EXPERIMENT BEGIN: Sunday night’s clash of Drew Brees vs. Tom Brady would have produced a boffo TV rating on that quarterback matchup alone, given the Hall of Fame passing pedigrees.

But make no mistake, this game for first place in the NFC South shall be remembered as Antonio Brown’s return to NFL glory, after sitting out the last 14 months of action (not by choice).

Can Brown quickly find his sea legs in the Buccaneers’ aggressive passing offense?

Better yet, will Brown (six straight 100-catch campaigns from 2013-18) be A-OK with sharing touches in Tampa Bay, perhaps lagging behind the likes of Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette, Rob Gronkowski and maybe Scotty Miller every Sunday?

Can’t wait to find out. The only saving grace here: Brown likely won’t encounter Saints No. 1 cornerback Marshon Lattimore for many snaps, if any.

MONDAY

NEW ENGLAND (2-5) @ N.Y. JETS (0-8)

TIME: 8:15 p.m.
LINE: Jets (+8 1/2) … Over/Under: 41.5
REFEREE: Alex Kemp
TV CREW: Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Louis Riddick, Lisa Salters (ESPN)

WHAT’S OUR MOTIVATION HERE? Back in May, when the vast majority of the country had been shut down by the Coronavirus pandemic, hearty NFL fans would have moved mountains to watch a live Jets-Patriots tilt.

Fast forward to the present: This clunker features two big-name quarterbacks (Sam Darnold, Cam Newton), but offers very little else in the playmaker category.

As such, would anyone be surprised if New York (ranked dead-last in scoring offense) and New England (29th in scoring) finished 20 points below Monday’s over-under of 42?

Seriously, this is why we need ‘flex’ scheduling for Monday night games, too.

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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