The nerds doubted my Bryce Young-led Panthers pick over “it” rookie C.J. Stroud and the Texans last week. The jocks doubted my fourth-down wizard Brandon Staley-led Chargers choice over “Justin Fields role model” Tyson Bagent and the Bears. And the psychologists doubted my “low positive” Josh Allen-led Bills backing over “not Tom Brady” and the Buccaneers. But my Week 8 Survivor picks went 5-0, and I’m a perfect 8-0 with my primary picks this season. I’m too old to figure out how to record a video on my phone. But I encourage you to imagine me following these instructions.

 

New Orleans Saints

-7.5 versus Bears

If they hadn’t been busy coaching the game, I’m sure that Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko would have commended their fellow boomer Cris Collinsworth for his take that Bears coaches would have Justin Fields study Tyson Bagent and explain to Fields that “this is some of the stuff we want to see out of our offense when you’re playing.” And frankly, I don’t understand the controversy. Bagent averaged the same robust 1.8 air yards per target in his 30-12 debut win as forward-pass innovator Bradbury Robinson presumably did at St. Louis University in 1906. And the two interceptions Bagent threw in his 30-13 second-start loss increased his interception rate to the same 3.8% that quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Jim Kelly maintained in their Hall-of-Fame careers. I’ve already reserved my Canton tickets for Bagent’s presumed 2044 induction. I’m just worried that the Saints could be a bad Bagent matchup since they’ve forced the second most interception-worthy throws of any defense this season. Give me the Saints by 17.

Cleveland Browns

-8 versus Cardinals

Kyler Murray is reportedly “fired up” and “ready to go” in his return from a 2022 ACL tear. He’s just not fired up and ready to go enough to make his debut in Cleveland this week against Myles Garrett and a Browns defense that ranks top three in pass, run and overall defensive DVOA. And frankly, I’m suspicious. I noticed something similar when Kenneth Walker missed practice and played a season-low 24 snaps against the Browns because of a “calf injury” last week. And Jo Cool threw five interceptions over the last four weeks presumably just to force a trade and dodge this Browns matchup entirely. It’s not my calling, but I may have to dust off my Big J journalist hat and blow this Browns-dodging story wide open. Which I’ll do first thing Monday after I’ve cashed my Clayton Tune “under passing yards” prop bet.

Atlanta Falcons

-5 versus Vikings

You might be nervous to take a new starting quarterback with your critical Week 9 Survivor selection. But Taylor Heinicke expressed his readiness to reporters, saying “It’s all the hard work I’ve been doing since OTAs to feel comfortable with this to lead up to this moment.” I didn’t watch the rest of the press conference, but I can only assume Henicke continued “I’m well-rehearsed with my inside- and outside-zone handoffs, with my counter handoffs, with my read-option handoffs and with my running back pitches. Those last ones are tricky because I have to make an accurate ‘pass’ of three or maybe four feet to hit Bijan in stride. But I’ve been practicing, and I’m prepared for them, too.” Really, it’s a wonder that Arthur Smith waited this long to make the quarterback switch. Falcons by 10.

New England Patriots

-3.5 versus Commanders

Ron Rivera spun the Commanders’ trades of former first-round edge rushers Chase Young and Montez Sweat for lesser draft-pick compensation than Chase Claypool and Mohamed Sanu fetched in recent deadline deals as “an opportunity to see what else we have.” Well, I just hopped on Ourlads, and it appears what else they have are seventh-round draft picks in Casey Toohill and Andre Jones, the third best Clemson defensive lineman from the 2023 draft class in KJ Henry, a former warehouse worker in Efe Obada, and an IBM supply chain automation engineer on a football-playing sabbatical in James Smith-Williams. I think even Mac Jones and his band of merry, failed first- and second-round draft picks DeVante Parker, Tyquan Thornton and Jalen Reagor can handle this one.

Carolina Panthers

+2.5 versus Colts

I fully intended to retire my Panthers Survivor picks bit when — as predicted — they beat the Texans for their first win of the season Sunday. But the Week 9 Revenge Game rankings tie my hands.

1. Frank Reich, CAR vs. IND

Teams know they made hasty decisions to fire their coaches when other teams hire them the same offseason. Frank Reich (Colts to Panthers) is on that list with luminaries like Andy Reid (Eagles to Chiefs), Steve Wilks (Panthers to 49ers), Ron Rivera (Panthers to Commanders), and John Fox (Panthers to Broncos). Or maybe the Panthers are just dumber than other teams? Time will tell.

2. Tyreek Hill, MIA “at” KC in Germany

Tyreek Hill presumably wanted to prove his value separate from Patrick Mahomes. But even now that he’s on the Dolphins and on pace to shatter the receiving yards record in a season, Hill is staring up at Tua Tagovailoa +350 to win the MVP this season. Expect the speedy receiver to spite his former team with 200 yards and two scores of work in Frankfurt or wherever they play. But if he wants the credit he truly deserves, Hill needs to ditch the Dolphins for a team whose quarterback won’t steal his spotlight. Perhaps my terrible, beloved Panthers? Please, Tyreek? Our current No. 3 receiver wasn’t even the No. 3 receiver at LSU!

3. Terrell Edmunds, TEN at PIT

Terrell Edmunds was so desperate for some Steelers revenge that he somehow forced a trade from the likely Super Bowl-bound Eagles to the Titans just so he could put Pittsburgh on his schedule the following week. For someone claiming to not be trying to replace a team legend in Kevin Byard, Edmunds is sure filling up Byard’s former locker.

4. Darren Waller, NYG at LV

Darren Waller’s revenge is best served cold with an ice pack because he injured his hamstring again.

5. Shaq Mason, HOU vs. TB

The Patriots traded Shaq Mason the offseason before the Matt Patricia offensive coordinator experiment, and the Bucs traded Mason the offseason when Tom Brady retired and some insurance salesman took over his starting quarterback job. Now, Mason makes $36 million to block for the possible next Tom Brady in C.J. Stroud. Tragedy!

If the Colts prove the Revenge Game rankings wrong, then Reich will at least have a place of healing in Ballantyne Presbyterian Church. And I don’t mean as a member.

Scott's Pick: New Orleans Saints
Scott's Record: 8-0