It's Week 9 of the 2012 NFL season. As the regular season enters the second half, it's been business as usual in the National Football League, which means that things haven't always gone according to plan.
In a league where we've become accustomed to expecting the unexpected, predictions that sometimes seem pretty "out there" end up looking tame in hindsight. So along those lines, here's one man's attempt at forecasting the biggest surprises of Week 9.
Despite the Houston Texans 6-1 record and sixth-ranked rushing attack, the sledding hasn't been easy for fourth-year tailback Arian Foster this year. Foster is averaging less than four yards a carry for the first time in his career and a full half yard less a tote than he was a season ago.
With that said, Foster should have no such trouble against a Buffalo Bills defense surrendering nearly 177 yards a game on the ground. Foster will gash the Bills' 32nd-ranked run defense for over 200 total yards and a pair of scores in a blowout win for the Texans.
It used to be that predicting that Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson would score a pair of touchdowns in a game would barely elicit a shrug, but that was before the 27-year-old appeared on the cover of "Madden '13."
The Madden curse claimed yet another victim this season, with Johnson struggling with drops and injuries over the season's first half. After missing practice all week, there's no guarantee that Johnson will play at all on Sunday when the Lions travel to face the Jacksonville Jaguars.
With that said, not only will "Megatron" suit up, but he'll transform back into the dominant player we've come to love and opposing defensive backs have come to fear, reeling in a pair of touchdown passes against an injury-depleted Jacksonville secondary.
Sunday's game between the Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins features two of the NFL's "young guns" at the quarterback position, as the first overall pick from the 2011 NFL draft meets this year's second overall pick when Cam Newton of the Panthers and Robert Griffin of the Redskins face off.
So far this season, it's been Griffin that has shined while Newton has struggled through a sophomore slump. However, while the rookie will play well this week, it's Newton who will have the better day of the two statistically, thanks in no small part to the Redskins' league-worst pass defense.
However, the Redskins will win the battle on the scoreboard thanks to an improbable comeback drive from Griffin, which according to Mike Jones of The Washington Post should mean four more years in the White House for President Barack Obama.
I really don't even know how bold this one is.
Sunday afternoon's matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the Minnesota Vikings features two of the National Football League's most punishing runners, as Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks and Adrian Peterson of the Vikings meet in the Pacific Northwest.
Peterson and Lynch are also the NFL's two leading rushers entering Sunday's action. With a pair of young quarterbacks, both teams will lean heavily on the run in a Seahawks victory that looks more like a game from 1972 than 2012.
This prediction no doubt seems the least likely of this group on the surface, especially given the alarming rate that quarterback Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys turned the ball over in a home loss to the New York Giants a week ago.
However, the Atlanta Falcons have already survived a pair of narrow escapes this season at home against the Carolina Panthers and Oakland Raiders. With the Cowboys scrambling to salvage their season, Atlanta's luck will finally run out as the NFL's last undefeated team falls in a close one at the Georgia Dome.