Taking a look ahead: NFL Week 9

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.

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Sunday will go a long way to showing if the Jaguars are for real

The public perception of the Jacksonville Jaguars has taken a dramatic change in the last two months.

When the season started, the Jaguars were expected to remain one of the league’s bottom feeders. They’ve won just one playoff game since 1999.

The over-under on the Jaguars was 6.5 wins.

After a surprising 4-3 start, the Jaguars suddenly have a bandwagon as they prepare for Sunday’s pivotal game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

According to walterfootball.com, the Jaguars have become a popular public team with 62 percent of NFL bettors putting their money on them. That’s boosted the line from 2.5 points to five or six.

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Taking a look back at the NFL’s Week 8

Five observations on the eighth weekend of the 2017 NFL season:

1. The Philadelphia Eagles continued to look like the best team in the league as they beat the winless San Francisco 49ers, 33-10, to boost their record to 7-1 at the midway point.

If the Eagles match that in the second half, they’ll be 14-2 and have the top seed in the NFC.

2. After three consecutive losses, the Atlanta Falcons’ season could have spun out of control if they had lost a fourth consecutive game to the New York Jets. But they escaped with a 25-20 victory to get to 4-3 and keep them in the playoff hunt.

Still, the odds remain against them returning to the Super Bowl.

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Wondrous Watson’s biggest obstacle in Houston remains his own coach

There is one NFL coach who has figured out how to stop wunderkind Houston Texans rookie Deshaun Watson.

Unfortunately, that coach is his own – Bill O’Brien.

Watson had a game for the ages Sunday in Seattle in just his sixth NFL start, becoming the first quarterback to throw for 400 yards, four touchdowns and rush for 50 yards in an NFL game.

Richard Sherman told Watson it was the best game a quarterback has played against the Seahawks defense and he noted they’ve played all the legends.

The only downer in this story is that Watson and the Texans lost 41-38 to Russell Wilson, who also threw for over 400 yards and four touchdowns.

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Five things to watch: NFL Week 8

Five things I’ll be looking at in the eighth week of the 2017 NFL season:

1. What was expected to be an interesting game between 3-3 Houston and 4-2 Seattle took on new significance in the wake of Texans’ owner Bob McNair’s inmate comments.

It’s uncertain if the Texans plan a pre-game protest. And whether the uproar will become a distraction that will affect their play. It could pull them apart or make them come together.

Either way, the game will now get a lot of attention.

2. Atlanta at 3-3 will be attempting to snap a three-game losing streak when it goes to the 3-4 New York Jets.

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