A look ahead to Week 9 of the 2017 NFL season:
1. The NFL lawyers suffered a setback last week when they lost their bid to sideline Ezekiel Elliott Sunday, but it is good news for NFL TV types. It means Elliott will play against the Kansas City defense in the CBS doubleheader game that will be shown all over the country. Chiefs have given up 459 yards on the ground the last three games so Elliott may have a big game. Cowboys are also in prime time three of next six weeks. Sidelining Elliott is not a good idea for a league dealing with declining TV ratings, but Roger Goodell is determined to do it.
2. The Miami-Oakland matchup Sunday night is another example that the NFL doesn’t have enough prime time matchups. The Dolphins are coming off a 40-0 loss in Baltimore, their worst loss in 20 years, while the Raiders have lost five of six games. The Dolphins dumped running back Jay Ajayi last week and will give the ball to Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams. The Dolphins are also in prime time next for the next week in a row next Monday when they go to Carolina. Once the Dolphins lost quarterback Ryan Tannehill, they stopped being a prime time attraction.
3. The 7-1 Eagles are likely to continue their march to having the best record in the NFL when they go to Denver for what should be an easy home game, their third home game in a row. The Eagles then have a bye and then play three prime time games in the final seven weeks. The Broncos are so desperate at quarterback that they’ve benched Trevor Simien for Brock Osweiler, who was dumped both by the Texans and Browns in the off season and returned to Denver.
4. The Falcons ended their three game losing streak with a victory over the Jets, but they are likely to fall to 4-4 when they go to Carolina for a key division game. The Falcons aren’t looking like last year’s Super Bowl team. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones aren’t playing up to last year’s standards and new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is getting a lot of flak for his play-calling. The bad news for the NFL is that they have the Falcons down for three more prime time games and they won’t be a prime time team if they lose to the Panthers.
5. What an up and down week for the Houston sports fans. The Astros won the World Series and then the Texans season virtually ended when they lost wunderkind quarterback Deshawn Watson. They host Indianapolis, a team that also lost its quarterback (Andrew Luck) for the season. Instead of Watson vs. Luck, the matchup is Tom Savage vs. Jacoby Brissett. Both teams were expected to be contenders, but now they are both waiting for next year. Another team that lost its quarterback is Green Bay, which hosts Detroit in the Monday night game. This isn’t a good prime time matchup because the Packers are playing without Aaron Rodgers. Like the Texans and Colts, the Packers are waiting for next year.