NFL Week 9: Brave Predictions for the Upcoming Action
Glue yourself to the television set. Initiate all of your crazy superstitions. Cook up your favorite food. Throw on your favorite jersey. It's game day ladies and gentleman.
With many special thanks to our friends at the National Football League, we all have legitimate excuses to set aside everything else in our lives and be professional couch potatoes.
This week brings us many intriguing contests. Through eight weeks, nothing is even close to being carved in stone.
It is a potential make or break day for multiple teams and a shot at redemption for players who have been struggling recently.
Let's take a look at what we have ahead of us.
Dolphins Will Beat the Colts
To me, it doesn't matter who is under center for the Miami Dolphins. If Ryan Tannehill can't go, Matt Moore can still play. I was very impressed by his performance towards the end of last year. Both won't put up huge numbers, but they won't make mistakes either.
The Colts' run defense has been less than stellar this year. The opposition is averaging 137.4 rushing yards per game against them, which is sixth worst in the league. Although Reggie Bush has been quiet as of late, you can expect to see him make some noise at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Andrew Luck is going to have a tough time with Miami's defense. Cameron Wake will be wreaking havoc on him all game long.
Close game, Miami wins 24-20.
Bengals Come Up on Top Against Manning and the Broncos
There may not be a team in the AFC that needs a win more than the Cincinnati Bengals. They are 0-3 against their division and the Steelers are starting to get hot. Andy Dalton needs to prove he can beat a playoff contender. He hasn't done much of it in his early career.
Well, now is his chance to do so. Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos are the clear cut favorites to take home the AFC West. Manning looks like his usual self, the defense has been tough to come by, and if the game consisted of the second half only, the Broncos would be undefeated this year.
Dalton is a calm, cool and collective quarterback. The more he targets star wideout A.J. Green, the chances of good things happening is significantly higher than not.
It will be a hard fought battle, but I like the Bengals at home to win 31-27.
Baltimore Knocks off Cleveland
We are not used to seeing the Baltimore Ravens' defense rank towards the bottom in any statistical category. Unfortunately, business as usual in the NFL this year, which means things are obviously different.
The Ravens' rush defense in recent years has ranked towards the top. This year, they rank third worst in the league, giving up an average of 142.9 yards per game to their opponents. They better not blink twice.
Trent Richardson has been spectacular for the Browns. You can certainly expect to see production out of him, but with Terrell Suggs getting healthier by the day and the Ravens coming off a bye week, yards aren't going to come easy.
I like Baltimore this week, 34-17.
Packers Will Add to the Cardinals' Struggles
The Cardinals' success in 2012 was short-lived. After starting off the season 4-0, they have dropped four straight.
The Packers started out as one of the league's biggest disappointments. After starting the season 2-3, they have won three consecutive games.
This game is a really interesting matchup. The Arizona Cardinals have given up 39 sacks this season, 11 more than any team in the league. Well guess who has given up 28?
If you guessed the Green Bay Packers, you are indeed correct.
On the other side of the ball, the Packers and Cardinals lead the league in sacks with 26.
Something has got to give.
Aaron Rodgers knows how to roll out of the pocket and make big plays. John Skelton on the other hand, does not.
We will see a lot of Clay Matthews bringing Skelton to the turf, and we will also see Green Bay win 41-24.
Titans Will Shock the Bears
Yeah, you read that right. I am calling it now.
The Bears have come out of their last two games with undeserving victories. Jay Cutler is just not the big time passer that a team needs to be successful. Yes, his team is sitting pretty at 6-1, but note that the Bears have only beaten one team that currently has a winning record. That was back in Week 1 against the Colts.
Tennessee's Matt Hasselback has been productive the last few weeks. It's unfortunate he was unable to come away from last week's game with a victory. Chris Johnson has been running like a mad man since his disappointing start. Plus, the Titans are playing at home.
I have a gut feeling about this, which is why I am taking the Titans to win 27-24.
Redskins Will Get the Best of the Panthers
A lot of people have been waiting for this matchup since the schedules came out for the season. It has finally come. Cam Newton against Robert Griffin III.
I'm sorry, but there are 10 other guys on the field for each team at a time, and this week's contest is going to come down to much more than the two star quarterbacks.
Although Cam has not been performing to his potential of late, he may have a good matchup to get back on track. The Redskins' secondary ranks dead last in the league, giving up a horrible 314 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks.
Carolina's pass defense has been mediocre, coming in at 11th in the league.
The Redskins are going to need to have a balanced attack in order to keep up with Carolina. Yes, the Panthers are 1-6, but it's any given Sunday as we all know.
Alfred Morris will run all over the Panthers 20th ranked rush defense if he gets the carries.
In the end, I think the Skins will outlast the Panthers in a 41-34 shootout victory.
Lions Will Embarrass the Jaguars on Their Own Turf
I may like Matthew Stafford this week more than any quarterback in the league. He was efficient last week with an invisible Calvin Johnson. This week, he'll have Johnson in full force, as there are no cornerback's on the Jaguars that can match up with him. If I am wrong, which I have been before, he has got Titus Young and rising rookie Ryan Broyles to throw to.
This game won't even be close. In fact, Calvin Johnson will have more yards receiving than Jaguars starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert will have passing the ball.
Lions win big, 41-13.
Texans Will Stomp on the Bills
The Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans are both coming off of bye weeks. It is unfortunate for the Bills that the NFL gave the Texans two weeks to prepare for this game. It doesn't really matter either way. If the Texans had a day's rest for this game and Buffalo was coming off its bye, the Texans would still dominate the Bills.
Arian Foster will have a huge game, Andre Johnson will get back to usual form, J.J. Watt will continue to make life difficult for opposing quarterbacks, and the Texans will win big, 44-10.
Buccaneers Will Defeat the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII Rematch
Josh Freeman has been on fire lately. Last Thursday night, he became the first quarterback in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history to throw for three touchdowns in three consecutive games. That's a pretty impressive stat considering the Buccaneers have been around since 1976.
Carson Palmer has been very inconsistent. The Raiders are only a game out of first place in the AFC West and certainly need the win. The good news for them is they are playing at home. The bad news is the Buccaneers need to make up more ground in their division.
The Buccaneers are starting to heat up. I like them this week, 24-21.
Seahawks Will Top the Vikings in a Thriller
Both the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings have been very surprising this year. I can't say I expected before the season started, that I would actually be excited to watch this game. Both teams have young rookie quarterbacks looking to make some noise in the league.
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has helped bring his team to a 5-2 record through eight weeks.
Seattle's Russel Wilson has been up and down, but has pulled out some impressive wins.
Adrian Peterson has been great coming off his ACL surgery.
What the Vikings don't have that the Seahawks do are two quarterbacks taller than 6'2". The Seattle secondary is unusually large. I call it the ULS, Unusually Large Secondary. Makes sense, right?
To its advantage, Seattle is nearly unbeatable at home. I like the Seahawks to win in a thriller, 21-20.
Giants Will Cool Down the Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers started out awful this year. They couldn't run the ball to save their lives. With the emergence of running back Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh has gotten back to the usual ground and pound Steeler-style football.
Eli Manning has been more than impressive. There is not a quarterback in the league I would choose in the fourth quarter over Eli. With a Steeler run defense that ranks fifth in the league, the Giants will rely on Eli's arm to win. Whenever that is the case, they seem to get the job done.
This game will be exciting as well as very close. I like the Giants to win, 27-17.
Cowboys Will Spoil the Falcons' Hopes of an Undefeated Season
No, I am not going out on a limb here. The Cowboys have beaten the last three teams they have faced with 7-0 records. Sure it's a different time as well as a different team, but if history is going to repeat itself, the Cowboys will head back home smiling.
Undefeated records eight weeks into the season are very tough to come by in the NFL.
Although, there are things about the Falcons that don't impress me. One of them is that they haven't beaten a team with a winning record this year.
On the flip side, there are also things that do impress me, such as Matt Ryan's leadership ability and the ice in his veins that leads him to close out games late.
The Cowboys team on paper is far too good to be sitting a game under .500 at this point in the season. Assuming they do pull away from the Georgia Dome with a win, this will be a huge momentum shift for them.
Look for big games from Jason Witten and Miles Austin. Also look for the Cowboys to come out on top, 34-27.
Eagles Will Drop the Saints to Get Back to .500
Both the Eagles and Saints are in desperate need of a win. The Saints more so than the Eagles. It's a shame the Saints defense is so poor, because Drew Brees can't win all by himself.
The Saints defense has given up an average of 336 yards and three passing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks in their last four contests. No one in the league needs to hear that more than the struggling Michael Vick.
If the Eagles finally start to hand the ball off to LeSean McCoy, it will open up the play-action fake, which Vick is great at selling. If this is the case, Michael Vick is going to shred the Saints apart on Monday night on their home turf.
The game is going to be a giant shootout. It will also be very close. In the end, the Eagles will win 41-38.