Week 9 is going to feature a few statement wins. As we broach the second half of the season, it is important to keep an eye on the teams that overachieve expectations.
It is the teams that begin to gel for the stretch run that will make the most noise come playoff time.
Instead of waiting for the actual outcomes of the games to see which teams were the most impressive in Week 9, I'm just going to do it on my predictions. After all, I haven't missed a pick yet this year (just don't check to make sure that's true and we can all work on that premise).
Point spreads via FootballLocks.com.
|Cincinnati Bengals||Miami Dolphins||Bengals -2.5||Bengals 31-20|
|Atlanta Falcons||Carolina Panthers||Panthers -7.5||Panthers 24-10|
|Minnesota Vikings||Dallas Cowboys||Cowboys -10.5||Cowboys 35-31|
|New Orleans Saints||New York Jets||Saints -5.5||Saints 24-17|
|Tennessee Titans||St. Louis Rams||Titans -4||Titans 20-13|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Buffalo Bills||Chiefs -3.5||Bills 24-20|
|San Diego Chargers||Washington Redskins||Pick 'em||Chargers 35-17|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Oakland Raiders||Eagles -1.5||Raiders 24-20|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Seattle Seahawks||Seahawks -17||Seahawks 28-10|
|Baltimore Ravens||Cleveland Browns||Ravens -3||Browns 17-13|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||New England Patriots||Patriots -7||Patriots 20-17|
|Indianapolis Colts||Houston Texans||Colts -2.5||Colts 27-17|
|Chicago Bears||Green Bay Packers||Packers -11||Packers 45-30|
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are in a massive free fall after their surprising hot start. Miami has lost four straight, and the once promising dreams of a postseason berth have all but disappeared. Still, it's not like the Dolphins are playing terrible.
They had the Patriots on the ropes until falling apart in the second half, and in their two games leading up that they lost to the Ravens and Bills by a combined five points. That certainly plays into them being just 2.5-point underdogs against a surging Bengals team.
The Bengals have won four straight, and they are coming off a 49-9 blowout over a Jets defense that had been playing stingy football.
A.J. Green and the Bengals will be able to exploit the Dolphins' 20th-ranked pass defense, but it is the defense that will really key this easy victory.
The Dolphins have been struggling along the offensive line. Meanwhile, the Bengals' strong defensive line will force a few turnovers and consistently have the Bengals winning the field-position battle.
Bengals win, 31-20.
San Diego Chargers vs. Washington Redskins
The Chargers are going to crush the Redskins. Washington's defense is absolutely abysmal. The Redskins defense ranks 28th in passing and 30th in rushing.
Meanwhile, the Chargers are playing nearly flawless offensive football. Philip Rivers is completing nearly 74 percent of his passes this year while throwing for 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. The running game is also starting to take off. Ryan Mathews has rushed for over 100 yards the past two weeks.
San Diego's defense has only been playing slightly better than the Redskins'. Still, in the last two games, the Chargers have allowed just 15 combined points. This is largely due to the fact that the efficient offense has not allowed either the Colts or Jaguars more than 23 minutes of possession in those two games.
It will be more of the same this week. However, I expect the Redskins to give up a few quick drives to the Chargers which will lead to the higher score.
Chargers win, 35-17.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills
I really like Kansas City's defense. Their pass rush is outstanding. However, this defense is not perfect, and it is not all that stout against the run.
The Chiefs are 28th in yards allowed per rush at 4.7. Meanwhile, the Bills are seventh in rushing yards per game. Establishing the run will be key for the Bills in this game to keep quarterback Thad Lewis out of obvious passing downs.
This will allow the Bills to extend drives, put some points on the board and keep the home crowd fully engaged.
The Chiefs have been flirting with their first loss of the season the past two weeks, and that first one is not far away.
While the Bills have struggled on defense, Mario Williams has sparked a nice pass rush and a defense that is 11th in takeaways. I expect that defense to force a couple of uncharacteristic turnovers from the Chiefs and pull off this impressive upset.
Bills win, 24-20.