Merriman: Browns Should Pass To Odell Beckham or Trade Him
It has been a busy week with storylines in the NFL. Our ambassador, former NFL Pro Bowler Shawne Merriman, is here to discuss the biggest topics and give his NFL betting picks for Week 9.
We cover the Von Miller trade to the Los Angeles Rams, what it’s like in the locker room at the trade deadline and the impact Adrian Peterson can have on the Tennessee Titans’ running game.
Gambling.com: The big news is Von Miller going to the Rams. How do you see that move playing out?
Shawne Merriman: Look, arguably they already got the two best at their position in the NFL with cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive lineman Aaron Donald. And now you throw Von Miller in that mix. And I'll tell you exactly what that is: They're tired of Aaron Donald getting double-teamed. And, so unless you have some more added pressure off the edge, he's going to get double-teamed. Now teams can’t leave any of those guys one-on-one. The outside edge, with Leonard Floyd, I expect for him to play big. They’re going to fan protection to Von Miller side and chip off the edge, so that will leave one-on-one up top. Them bringing Von Miller in was telling you they’re tired of Aaron Donald being double-teamed.
GDC: How much left do you think Von Miller has at this point of his career?
SM: The only thing that changes when you get older is you have injuries, and you can't be consistently explosive. Teams still have to respect that you can get off and make an impact at any given time.
I remember when I was coming into the 2008 season. It was big news with me playing with a knee injury that I had. I had two torn ligaments and I wanted to play the season that way because I didn't want to miss any more major time. I just hated it. And I remember the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers in 2008 came up to me and he said, ‘We didn't know what condition you were in, so we had to prepare like you could still go out and make and be the same Shawne Merriman. They had no idea what condition I was in, so they had to treat it the same. It's the same thing with Von Miller, right? Yes, he’s a little older and he’s had some injuries or whatnot. But let me tell you, in any given time, if you leave Von Miller one-on-one against an offensive tackle, he just may be getting a sack on that play. So, you have the treat Von Miller like he's the Von Miller of three or four years ago.
GDC: Do you think the Rams are the favorites in the NFC now?
SM: I don't think one player can change the whole team and things like that. It’s still a team game, but let me tell you, that that puts them in a lot better position, because teams now have to sometimes pick their poison. They got three capable guys that can beat you on that line of scrimmage now.
Packers Big Statement
GDC: The Green Bay Packers defeated the Arizona Cardinals in one of the best games of the week, 24-21. What kind of statement did the Packers make by winning without wide receiver Davante Adams?
SM: It was huge for them, man. I remember talking to you about it as my toss-up because Aaron Rodgers was 6-0 without Davante Adams. But it just shows you the dynamic and what Aaron Rodgers brings to the table. He beat an undefeated team without a star wide receiver. But not just a star wide receiver, we're talking about the best wide receiver the NFL arguably right now.
Those Damn Penalties
GDC: Your Los Angeles Chargers lost a close one to the New England Patriots, 27-24. After their second loss, what do you see from them right now?
SM: It’s penalties, man. We talked about the Dallas loss and penalties cost them. Wide receiver Keenan Allen came out and addressed it the best way. He came out and was totally blunt. He said it’s the same thing, it’s the damn penalties and putting ourselves in bad situations. They’re not getting beat. It's just, you know, the things they have to clean up. You've got to beat the Patriots in that game. You have to, you know. It’s a close ballgame. But for me, personally, I was at the game, and I still got confidence in him. Some guys just need to step up, but it's mostly those damn penalties.
A.P. Back To Save Another Team
GDC: We’ve talked a lot about the great season Tennessee running back Derrick Henry had been having. What will be the impact of his absence and how much can Adrian Peterson help the team’s running game?
SM: I talked to A.P. That’s my boy. He told me three years ago when we were together that he wanted to play five more years. And at that time, I think he was going into his 12th or 13th year, and I looked at him like he was crazy. I said, ‘Dude, I love you to death, but three more years? That’s insane.’ Sure enough, he’s right back at it. The last time with the Detroit Lions, he looked good. Still had some burst. Obviously, I don’t think he will be an every-down back, but if he’s able to come in and get 10 to 12 carries a game and just pose a threat in the running game. Can he still pose a threat? Absolutely. Derrick Henry is what Adrian Peterson was eight years ago. Talking about his impact on the game. No one is expecting Peterson to be a Derrick Henry, but can he pose a threat? That’s where the question lies, and my answer is yes, I believe he can.
Trade Deadline Anxiety
GDC: We saw the trade deadline pass. What it’s like in the locker room during that time and rumors are flying around about players and teams? Or what is it like to be traded?
SM: I take someone like Von. People got to understand that when you're with one organization so long, that organization, not just to your teammates, becomes family. The equipment guys, the parking lot attendants, obviously the people in the front office or whatnot, the PR people, everybody becomes family because you end up spending more time in that building around the organization and those people than you do your family half the time. So, it is a somber day, man. It is quiet. It just seemed like everything is in slow motion. You can't believe that something like that is happening.
I know that feeling, man. It sucks. It actually sucks. You know it's a business, but that for that moment when it's happening at the time, it doesn't feel like business, it feels personal. It definitely feels personal at that very moment.
Now, you know, a couple of years you’re able to step away and step out of everything to understand that's part of the game and is business. But at that very time, it felt like it's personal, you feel abandoned, feel like they don't want you and wonder what you did wrong. What could I have done more? Why is this happening? I mean, just all these things have gone through your mind. And you know just the goodbyes to your teammates. People are crying and tearing up on the way out the door. It is a horrific day. But you know you once you get removed from it a little bit, you understand it's just a part of the game.
On To The Games
GDC: Here are Shawne’s picks for the week. All moneyline odds are from DraftKings Sportsbook.
New York Jets (+375) at Indianapolis Colts (-510)
SM: It depends on what Carson Wentz shows up. The thing is, people always forget no matter how you’re playing now, you have to look at someone’s body of work and capabilities. Carson Wentz, we’re talking about a league MVP candidate at one point of his career. We obviously know the talent is there. It just seems to me that the issue, outside of injuries with Carson, is the mental aspect of him just being able to deal with whatever situation he’s in and just being clutch. It’s more of a mental battle with Carson more than anything, outside of injuries.
I’m taking the Colts this week. I think they’re back in it.
Cincinnati Bengals (+120) at Cleveland Browns (-140)
SM: I’m taking the Bengals. I know they lost against the Jets, but I just think they took the Jets lightly.
I was also shocked that Cleveland didn’t trade Odell Beckham Jr. I was extremely shocked with that. He had one target last week. You got the most talented wide receiver in the NFL and he has one target, and you know he’s beating guys one-on-one. Listen, you throw him a couple of screens or slants, you let him do whatever the hell he wants to do. You create plays for him. Targeted once? If you’re going to do that, get him out of there and go get a second or third-round pick. I don’t understand that. Send him to Green Bay or send him somewhere that he’s going to be utilized.
Denver Broncos (+310) at Dallas Cowboys (-410)
SM: I’m taking the Cowboys, whether Dak Prescott is back or not. I don’t think we’re talking about how good the Dallas Cowboys are across the board. And I’m not taking anything away from Dak. He’s transformed into a great player. But that team is stacked. At every single position, they have a player that you can probably make an argument for why they’re one of the best in the NFL.
Linebacker Micah Parsons is an upcoming star. Trevon Diggs at cornerback is an up-and-coming star. The one-two running back combo with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. Wide receivers CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper. Look at that team. They’re stacked everywhere. And when they get Dak back, they’ll get right on board.
Houston Texans (+230) at Miami Dolphins (-290)
SM: I’m taking the Dolphins. Honestly, at this point, it’s who can play worse. Whoever plays worse, the other team will win. The crazy part is, watch, this game will be entertaining. You have two teams fighting for dear life, trying to do something positive for their season. I guarantee you the game will probably be interesting and very exciting.
Atlanta Falcons (+190) at New Orleans Saints (-235)
SM: Going with the Saints.
Personally, I hated seeing (New Orleans quarterback) Jameis Winston tear his ACL. He was having his best year in the league. They’ll have to switch the game plan with (quarterback Taysom) Hill. He doesn’t have the throwing abilities that Jameis had, but I think they’re going to throw in some RPO action, more option action, QB keeps and run the ball a little better. I think it’ll be that type of situation and not putting him in harm’s way throwing the ball down the field.
Las Vegas Raiders (-150) at New York Giants (+130)
SM: I’m going with the Raiders.
New England Patriots (-180) at Carolina Panthers (+155)
SM: I’m going with the Patriots. They got a nice little streak going. Even when they win, they’re not beating anyone bad. They’re playing smart, tough football right now. They’re winning on plays they should be winning, but that’s the Patriots style they’ve always played like. Just don’t beat yourself, and we’ll capitalize on other people’s mistakes.
Buffalo Bills (-1000) at Jacksonville Jaguars (+650)
SM: Bills, of course. I think it’s going to be a blowout.
Minnesota Vikings (+200) at Baltimore Ravens (-250)
SM: I’m taking the Ravens. But I don’t think the Vikings' loss (to the Cowboys) is bad. People are not talking about the entire team of the Dallas Cowboys. They’re good across the board. If you’re halfway decent and throw a different quarterback in there, you can still win with them. They got so much damn talent on that team.
Los Angeles Chargers (-135) at Philadelphia Eagles (+115)
SM: Chargers. I think they bounce back and get after (Philadelphia quarterback) Jalen Hurts. I think they’ll put up 30-plus on the scoreboard.
Arizona Cardinals (-110) at San Francisco 49ers (-110)
SM: I’m taking the Cardinals. You know what’s crazy is, the fan, public and the media make more of an undefeated situation – not the team. Guys know in the locker room you’re less likely to go 100% undefeated.
Green Bay Packers (+270) at Kansas City Chiefs (-350)
(Pick made before news that Aaron Rodgers is sitting out)
SM: I’m going with the Packers. I’m an Aaron Rodgers guy. Patrick Mahomes is out-of-this-world talented, but to see what Aaron Rodgers has done over this past decade with the talent at wide receiver and everything else, it’s just extraordinary.
Tennessee Titans (+270) at Los Angeles Rams (-350)
SM: I’m taking the Rams. And if Von Miller actually plays – I don’t know how quick they’ll get him on the field – I expect a big game from him and at least two sacks.
Chicago Bears (+200) at Pittsburgh Steelers (-250)
SM: I’m taking the Steelers. It seems like they have a different spark right now. It seems like they have a pep in their step right now.
(Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin) is one of the guys that can get the players to play for him. I saw cornerback Joe Haden posted a week or two ago that he would run through a wall for Mike Tomlin. I think that’s the sentiment for a lot of guys across the board. Especially with how adamant he was about not coaching college and shooting down those rumors. He’s been the best, outside of (New England coach Bill) Belichick, the past decade or decade and a half, the best manager of character and players, the locker room and the building. He’s had a lot to deal with.
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