NFL Picks Week 9: Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Predictions
No one is perfect.
The Kansas City Chiefs aren't a perfect football team. Look anywhere that publishes football thoughts online and you can find plenty of people dissecting the faults of the only 8-0 team in football. "Their quarterback stinks!" Or, "Their offensive line is full of holes!"
Our team has them winning this week against the Buffalo bills, as well.
Then again, our team isn't perfect, either (though three of our analysts are pretty close as far as picking games goes). One of our crew, Ty Schalter, was perfect in Week 8, going 13 for 13. He'll look to continue that streak in Week 9. The rest of us will try to keep up.
Click ahead as we pick the full slate of games for the week ahead. If you don't like our picks, leave yours in the comments below!
Name: Last Week; Overall
Consensus: 10-3; 66-33 (67%)
Matt Miller: 10-3; 83-37
Matt Bowen: 10-3; 82-38
Andrea Hangst: 11-2; 82-38
Zach Kruse: 12-1; 81-39
Ty Schalter: 13-0; 80-40
Brad Gagnon: 10-3; 78-42
Chris Hansen: 10-3; 78-42
Tyson Langland: 12-1; 77-43
Erik Frenz: 9-4; 76-44
Michael Schottey: 11-2; 76-44
Knox Bardeen: 10-3; 73-46
Mike Freeman: 9-4; 71-48
To see how Bleacher Report's experts are faring against the best at other media outlets, check out Pickwatch.
Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins, Thursday Night Football
B/R Consensus Pick: Bengals (11-1)
After being named the NFL's Offensive Player of the Month in October, Andy Dalton ended the month by taking a major step back on the road against the Miami Dolphins. He was intercepted three times and was sacked in the end zone by Cameron Wake in overtime give the Dolphins the 22-20 win in a wild game on Halloween night.
Schottey: Bengals, 20-13
The Bengals offense has to come back to earth a little bit, but their defense should continue to roll with another young quarterback they can pressure right up the middle.
Bowen: Bengals, 27-17
The Bengals are playing the best football in the AFC. That continues with a win over Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins.
Schalter: Bengals, 28-17
The Dolphins have been giving good teams good games, but the Bengals are better on both sides of the ball.
Freeman: Bengals, 24-20
The defense will turn over Tannehill.
Miller: Bengals, 24-17
As well as the Dolphins have played at times this year, Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense are unstoppable right now.
Frenz: Dolphins, 31-28
The Bengals are looking more like legitimate contenders each week as the Dolphins slip further into their losing skid. Why do the Dolphins win? Home crowd, coupled with finally finding their running game and a defense that's capable of spinning the dial.
Hangst: Bengals, 27-17
There are few offenses and defenses performing at as high a level as the Bengals'. At the same time, the Dolphins just aren't executing. Though anything is possible in a short week, the 6-2 Bengals are for real and will prove it yet again on Thursday night.
Hansen: Bengals, 24-14
The Bengals are playing about as well as any team in the league, and the Dolphins are on a slide. This one could be close as the Dolphins try to salvage their season, but I like the Bengals.
Bardeen: Bengals, 27-14
Miami doesn't do anything exceptionally well and has dropped four straight. Cincinnati is coming off a blowout win over the Jets and should move the ball well Thursday night.
Gagnon: Bengals, 21-17
The Bengals have won four straight, while the Dolphins have lost four in a row. Since Miami's at home, I think this'll stay close. Still, it's a really bad matchup for the Dolphins in the trenches.
Langland: Bengals, 24-14
After three straight wins to start the season, the Miami Dolphins have been in an absolute funk. Can they snap out of it and beat a tough Cincinnati Bengals team in front of their home Miami crowd? Doubtful. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green will prove to be too much.
Kruse: Bengals, 24-13
Cincinnati's defensive line against Miami's offensive line might be one of the bigger mismatches of Week 9. Ryan Tannehill will need to dodge pressure for the Dolphins to have a chance against a Bengals team that has won four straight.
Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills
B/R Consensus Pick: Chiefs (9-3)
Schottey: Chiefs, 23-10
The bubble will burst eventually, right? I'm sure it will, but not against the Bills' backup quarterback.
Bowen: Chiefs, 20-17
The Bills play hard. And they are well coached. But the Chiefs grind out another win to move to 9-0 on the season.
Schalter: Chiefs, 21-20
The Bills have been scaring a lot of good teams, but they haven't quite been able to close the deal. The Chiefs are more than due to drop one (see very close shaves against Texans and Browns), but I can't quite convince myself this is the one.
Freeman: Bills, 20-17
I think the Chiefs get caught looking ahead to Denver.
Miller: Chiefs, 24-14
Thad Lewis has been a pleasant surprise, but the Bills can't stop the Kansas City pass rush.
Frenz: Chiefs, 26-17
Hangst: Chiefs, 21-13
The Cleveland Browns came close to knocking off the Chiefs in Week 8, which may be a sign that things are slowing down for the last zero-loss team in the NFL. The road is also an unforgiving place, which makes the chances of a Buffalo upset that much higher. However, more unforgiving than the road is Kansas City's defense, which should have a field day with Thad Lewis this week.
Hansen: Bills, 21-20
For whatever reason, the Chiefs have not played well in Buffalo. It's a road game and the Chiefs might let off the gas a little bit headed into the bye week, with the Broncos in Week 11.
Bardeen: Chiefs, 20-10
The Buffalo Bills don't pose a threat to Kansas City's undefeated season. There won't be a lot of points put on the board, and the Chiefs will flex defensive muscles to move to 9-0.
Gagnon: Bills, 21-20
The Bills have played extremely well at home this season, and the Chiefs are due for a loss. They cut it close against Houston and Cleveland, but my gut tells me the streak ends in Orchard Park.
Langland: Chiefs, 21-13
Thad Lewis has given the Buffalo Bills a much-needed spark. He keeps the team in every game and keeps drives alive with his feet. Yet the Chiefs arguably have the best defense in the NFL and do an incredible job of rushing the passer. Too much pressure will doom Lewis and Buffalo's chances.
Kruse: Chiefs, 23-17
Kansas City has consistently played and won these kind of dogfights this season. The one worry here for the unbeaten Chiefs is looking ahead to the bye and that first meeting with Denver following it.
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers
B/R Consensus Pick: Panthers (12-0)
Schottey: Panthers, 27-10
Hmm...Cam Newton against an undisciplined defense. Carolina's stout defense against an offense still searching for an identity. This shouldn't be that close.
Bowen: Panthers, 30-19
Cam Newton should continue to play at a high level versus a Falcons defense that struggles to generate pressure up front.
Schalter: Panthers, 24-17
Cam is rolling, the Panthers defense is smothering, and the wheels are falling off the Falcons right now.
Freeman: Panthers, 28-14
The Falcons look done. They look like they've already given up on the year.
Miller: Panthers, 35-21
The Falcons have no pass rush or outside contain on defense, something Cam Newton will readily exploit.
Frenz: Panthers, 27-17
Could it be that the Panthers are becoming the class of the NFC South? Their three straight wins have come against lesser competition, but they can really start making a case for a playoff spot with a win here.
Hangst: Panthers, 31-20
With so many injuries on offense and defense, the Atlanta Falcons are in for one tough road divisional contest this week. Carolina's defense is no joke, and Cam Newton and the Panthers offense are in a rhythm. Atlanta will find itself overwhelmed on Sunday.
Hansen: Panthers, 28-20
The Falcons are looking at a lost season, but the Panthers can prove to everyone they are a contender over the next few weeks. It starts with a win at home.
Bardeen: Panthers, 27-21
These two teams hate each other. The I-85 rivalry is always close and heated. Sunday will be the first time in a while Carolina enters as a favorite, and its run game will pose fits for the increasingly bad Atlanta defense.
Gagnon: Panthers, 35-20
OK, stick a fork in the Falcons. That loss to the Cardinals was the end of the line. Considering how well Carolina played Atlanta last season, when the Falcons were good and the Panthers weren't close to as hot as they are now, I wouldn't be surprised if this were a blowout.
Langland: Panthers, 31-24
Cam Newton has been on an absolute roll the last three weeks. Since the Minnesota game, he has thrown six touchdown passes and zero interceptions. Expect his excellent play to continue against Mike Nolan's hapless defense.
Kruse: Panthers, 30-20
The Falcons are winless away from Atlanta and lack an identity. Carolina has heated up thanks to an underrated defense and Cam Newton's flawless three-game stretch.
Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys
B/R Consensus Pick: Cowboys (12-0)
Schottey: Cowboys, 31-16
Ugh, I regret believing in the Vikings...Cowboys roll at home.
Bowen: Cowboys, 33-20
Dez Bryant will see more targets this Sunday, and that's a good thing versus the Vikings secondary. Big day coming for the Cowboys wide receiver.
Schalter: Cowboys, 30-17
The Cowboys have their faults, but Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten should roll over the Vikings defense.
Freeman: Cowboys, 28-21
Dallas recovers with big games from Bryant and Witten. Then do group hug.
Miller: Cowboys, 24-10
The Cowboys won't need Dez Bryant to motivate anyone for this one. Beating a very bad Minnesota offense should come easily for Dallas.
Frenz: Cowboys, 35-14
It's hard to imagine the Vikings beating anyone right now, much less a talented Cowboys team on the road. The Vikings have one of the worst pass defenses and pass offenses in the league. Last I checked, that's not a recipe for success in the NFL, even if your running back is Adrian Peterson.
Hangst: Cowboys, 40-17
This year, the Cowboys can only be trusted at home. Luckily, that's where they're playing on Sunday, as hosts to the Vikings and their complete disaster of an offense. Even if Minnesota's defense does try to stifle Dallas' offense, it won't matter. Whoever is under center for the Vikings won't have a good day.
Hansen: Cowboys, 35-20
The Cowboys probably have a bad taste in their mouths after last week's meltdown, but the Vikings don't have the passing offense to exploit them like the Lions did. I expect the Cowboys to win big at home.
Bardeen: Cowboys, 24-10
Talk about two teams that are underachieving like crazy this season. Dallas leads its division at .500 and Minnesota has just one win and quarterback issues. Romo will take this game over and move the Cowboys to a game above average.
Gagnon: Cowboys, 31-16
I don't think the Vikings have the weapons to take advantage of that banged-up Dallas defense. The Cowboys should win handily back at AT&T Stadium.
Langland: Cowboys, 27-16
After a fourth-quarter meltdown in Detroit, Dallas needs this game against Minnesota in the worst way. Whether it's Josh Freeman or Christian Ponder under center, the Cowboys should have the upper hand. The Vikings have been on a slippery slope ever since the Steelers game.
Kruse: Cowboys, 38-20
There aren't many defenses in the game that are worse than Minnesota's. The guess here is that Dez Bryant will be doing more celebrating than yelling this Sunday.
New Orleans Saints at New York Jets
B/R Consensus Pick: Saints (11-1)
Schottey: Saints, 28-14
The Saints are living on that precipice where many of us aren't so sure they're the elite team their record suggests. Whooping the Jets in fashion similar to what the Bengals just did would go a long way in bringing us over to the proverbial light.
Bowen: Saints, 23-17
The Jets were a mess in the loss to the Bengals, but Rex Ryan will have them ready for Drew Brees and Co. But the story here is the New Orleans defense; I think it creates some issues for Geno Smith in the second half.
Schalter: Jets, 24-20
The Jets are 3-1 at home and have alternated wins and losses all season. The Saints have come off the boil a bit in the past weeks.
Freeman: Saints, 35-17
It'll be a slow first half for the Saints against the Jets—and then Brees destroys the opponent.
Miller: Saints, 31-17
The Saints are rolling right now, and while the Jets defense has been good at times, it gave up 49 points to the Bengals last week.
Frenz: Saints, 21-16
Rex Ryan said himself, unless the Jets correct major issues on defense, Drew Brees could break every record in the book. It won't be bad, but it'll be enough to end the Jets' pattern of win-one-lose-one with a second straight loss.
Hangst: Saints, 35-17
Good Geno Smith, bad Geno Smith; it doesn't matter: No Geno Smith can outscore Drew Brees and the Saints offense. And Smith's track record against high-pressure defenses isn't very strong. The Saints should pick up this road win.
Hansen: Saints, 26-23
The Jets at home are a lot more difficult, but the strength of their defense is against the run. The Saints will pass their way to a close victory.
Bardeen: Saints, 30-24
The much-anticipated Ryan Bowl was deflated a bit when Rex's Jets got popped in the mouth last week. But this sibling rivalry will be fun to watch, with Rob's Saints getting the upper hand. New Orleans has much more talent, but I expect both brothers to pull out tricks to one-up the other, creating a close game.
Gagnon: Saints, 30-26
I don't trust the Jets at all, but they are at home and I still think that Saints defense is due to come back to earth. I'm fully expecting this one to remain close, but I can't possibly pick the Jets. I just can't.
Langland: Saints, 35-20
At 4-4, the New York Jets are still in playoff contention, but that could change this week when Drew Brees rolls into town. With Rob Ryan's defense playing so well, it's hard to see Geno Smith playing any better than he did last week.
Kruse: Saints, 24-20
Very, very tempted to take the Jets here. I just don't think Geno Smith can avoid the one big mistake that will tip the scales New Orleans' way.
San Diego Chargers at Washington Redskins
B/R Consensus Pick: Chargers (9-3)
Schottey: Redskins, 17-16
I don't like the Chargers so far away from the West Coast, and I think Robert Griffin III will have just enough in the tank to put together a full game and squeak out the home win.
Bowen: Redskins, 24-20
RGIII took a beating in the loss to the Broncos, but the Redskins quarterback posts two second-half touchdown runs to pick up the win over the Chargers.
Schalter: Chargers, 35-21
The Chargers offense should have no trouble scoring on the wet-tissue Redskins defense, and the Chargers defense will force RGIII to outduel Philip Rivers through the air.
Freeman: Chargers, 28-27
It'll be a closer game than people think because the Washington defense will be more stout than expected.
Miller: Chargers, 21-20
The Redskins look better, but they still struggle to finish games. You can't let Philip Rivers and this offense hang around, or they'll beat you.
Frenz: Chargers, 28-17
It's not always pretty, but the Chargers are dominating on the scoreboard on both sides of the ball. Look for the defense to get pressure on RGIII early, and for Philip Rivers to exploit the many mismatches he'll find in the passing game.
Hangst: Redskins, 21-16
Early games on the East Coast didn't faze the Chargers earlier this season, with two wins in the Eastern time zone so far. However, those wins came against the Eagles and Jaguars—neither team a powerhouse. Though Washington isn't a juggernaut on defense, its offense is playing well enough to best what Philip Rivers can produce on Sunday.
Hansen: Chargers, 30-27
Two good offenses and two bad defenses should make for plenty of points. The Chargers travel to Washington for the early start, but coming off a bye, they should be plenty fresh.
Bardeen: Chargers, 24-20
Both offenses have the potential to go off in this game, but I like the team with the healthy quarterback. RGIII just doesn't have the wheels to be a game-changer any longer, at least not this season.
Gagnon: Chargers, 27-23
Two inconsistent teams, but the Chargers have the advantage of coming off the bye. Washington suffered a tremendous fourth-quarter letdown in Denver, and it could be in just as much trouble against a rejuvenated Philip Rivers.
Langland: Chargers, 27-21
The Chargers have struggled on the road at times this season. Yet the bye week may be just what the doctor ordered. With the first half of the season over, San Diego will need to start winning games on the road if it wants to stay within arm's reach of a wild-card spot.
Kruse: Chargers, 31-20
San Diego is coming off a bye, and Robert Griffin III is once again hurting. I like Philip Rivers to have a nice afternoon against the No. 27-ranked passing defense.
Tennessee Titans at St. Louis Rams
B/R Consensus Pick: Titans (11-1)
Schottey: Titans, 14-9
Neither team is going to wow us with an offensive showcase, but the defenses are legitimate, and the Titans defense is just a step or two ahead.
Bowen: Titans, 22-16
Kellen Clemens surprised me on Monday night when he made some plays in the loss to Seattle, but I think Gregg Williams comes after him early with pressure. Look for the Titans to lead with their blitz package to get the win.
Schalter: Titans, 13-0
I don't see any way the Rams score against the Titans defense.
Freeman: Titans, 14-13
Titans win a crappy, low-scoring game. The saving grace for Rams: defense is ballin'.
Miller: Titans, 17-13
Jake Locker should be back to good after a bye week to rest, and we saw what Kellen Clemens is capable of doing already. Advantage: Titans.
Frenz: Rams, 20-16
Staying competitive with the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night proved that the Rams have what it takes to be better than their record indicates. I keep waiting for the Jake Locker of old to make his ugly return, and against a vicious Rams pass rush, this may be the week.
Hangst: Titans, 20-7
A Week 8 bye allowed Titans quarterback Jake Locker to further heal from his knee and hip injuries he suffered earlier in the season, putting Tennessee's offense at the healthiest it's been in a while. Their underrated defense should get the better of St. Louis' barely there offense, too.
Hansen: Titans, 20-10
The Titans have a good defense and the Rams a bad offense that is coming off a short week. Don't expect a lot of points in this one.
Bardeen: Titans, 21-14
Both defenses should be able to slow the opposing quarterback down, but the Titans are coming off a bye week and should have a few more tricks up their sleeves than the Rams.
Gagnon: Titans, 24-21
Tennessee has had time to prepare, whereas the unreliable Rams are on a short week. Besides, I think the Titans' offensive line will fare better than Seattle's did against that superb St. Louis defensive front.
Langland: Titans, 23-12
Kellen Clemens against Gregg Williams' defense? Titans win big, thanks in large part to Williams' aggressive pressure schemes.
Kruse: Titans, 20-10
The Rams are coming off a physical matchup and disappointing finish on Monday night. Tennessee's front seven will continue to cause problems for a struggling offense.
Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland Raiders
B/R Consensus Pick: Raiders (11-1)
Schottey: Raiders, 14-13
I might be the last person not on the Terrelle Pryor bandwagon, but even I can see him beating the lowly Eagles team at home. They just don't have the athletes to keep up with him.
Bowen: Raiders, 19-12
Chip Kelly's offense isn't dynamic with Matt Barkley under center. I'm taking Terrelle Pryor and the Raiders in an ugly game.
Schalter: Raiders, 24-10
Without Mike Vick, the Eagles can't keep pace with Terrelle Pryor, and the Eagles defense isn't nearly as good as that of the Raiders.
Freeman: Raiders, 28-9
Mike Vick may be on his last gimpy legs, but the Eagles QBs behind him are putrid.
Miller: Raiders, 24-21
This could be a close game, but the home-field advantage is huge for Oakland. That and Terrelle Pryor will be the difference.
Frenz: Raiders, 19-14
The Raiders have one of the league's best run defenses, and without Mike Vick, it doesn't look like the Eagles are going to be able to do much other than run it. Terrelle Pryor looks ready to feast on a susceptible Eagles secondary.
Hangst: Raiders, 17-7
It's not going to be pretty for the Eagles in Oakland this week, no matter who their quarterback is. All Philadelphia can do is run, while the Raiders are great at stopping the run, which could mean a fully shut-down Eagles offense. Good, but not great things are happening in Oakland, which should be more than enough for a win by the home team.
Hansen: Raiders, 24-17
The Raiders need to win games at home against a team like the Eagles to continue their rebound. Oakland's defense has carried the team this far, but they are going to need some help from the offense eventually.
Bardeen: Raiders, 20-10
With Michael Vick out, who's going to power Chip Kelly's offense? No matter who gets under center, the offense won't run with the same precision (using that term lightly) as usual, and Oakland will take advantage.
Gagnon: Eagles, 31-20
I really think the Eagles and Nick Foles bounce back together and take care of a Raiders defense that has been playing above its head. But if Foles doesn't play and Matt Barkley makes his first career start, forget it.
Langland: Raiders, 20-9
If Nick Foles isn't cleared to play and Matt Barkley has to make his first career start, the Eagles are in trouble. The Raiders were impressive in all three phases against the Steelers. Trust that the high level of play from Oakland carries over into this week.
Kruse: Raiders, 23-16
The Eagles can't compete on offense if Matt Barkley is under center. Oakland is also a surprising 3-1 at home to start 2013.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Seattle Seahawks
B/R Consensus Pick: Seahawks (12-0)
Schottey: Seahawks, 35-10
Bowen: Seahawks, 27-10
It's tough for any team to win in Seattle. And it's not going to happen with a rookie quarterback and a coach on the hot seat. I'm taking the Seahawks.
Schalter: Seahawks, 24-21
The Buccaneers are talented and playing well—much better overall than several teams with multiple wins. But not well enough to beat the Seahawks in Seattle.
Freeman: Seahawks, 35-6
Nothing like an awful team to cure an offense's issues.
Miller: Seahawks, 24-10
The Seahawks always bounce back after a down week, so they'll be ready to go. The Buccaneers' only hope is if Greg Schiano misses the team flight.
Frenz: Seahawks, 38-10
Picking the Seahawks right now is as easy as picking against the Buccaneers. The Seahawks are proving they can win games on the road this year, and their home-field advantage remains the best in football.
Hangst: Seahawks, 30-3
The winless Buccaneers are the latest sacrificial lambs for the bruising Seahawks. This, simply, could get very ugly. There's nothing pointing to a surprise Tampa Bay upset this week.
Hansen: Seahawks, 28-10
The Seahawks are tough to beat at home. The Buccaneers are a total disaster. This is easy math.
Bardeen: Seahawks, 30-10
Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Williams just hit injured reserve, per Marc Sessler of NFL.com, taking away rookie quarterback Mike Glennon's second-most targeted weapon. Making a rookie quarterback's job harder on an 0-7 team against one of the best teams in the league is never a good thing.
Gagnon: Seahawks, 31-10
Seattle hasn't really hammered an opponent since the Jaguars came to town. Now, with Jacksonville Jr. coming for a visit, look for the Seahawks to cruise. Seattle's too physical for a team that looks like it may be giving up on its coach.
Langland: Seahawks, 34-14
After suffering a scare on the road, the Seattle Seahawks head back home to host the dreadful Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With Mike Glennon at quarterback and Greg Schiano roaming the sidelines, Pete Carroll's bunch should have no problem handing the Bucs their eighth straight loss.
Kruse: Seahawks, 27-13
Mike Glennon and Greg Schiano have little chance of leaving Seattle with their first win of 2013. The Seahawks haven't lost in the Pacific Northwest in forever.
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
B/R Consensus Pick: Ravens (10-2)
Schottey: Ravens, 16-13
The Ravens offense—especially their offensive line—has all sorts of issues, but their defense should drive the train here against a wretched Browns scoring attack.
Bowen: Ravens, 17-13
The Browns can play defense. But I like the Ravens as Ray Rice scores the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Schalter: Browns, 23-17
The Browns very, very nearly knocked off the undefeated Chiefs in Kansas City. They can handle the Ravens at home.
Freeman: Ravens, 20-14
I think Baltimore starts to make a little run with this game.
Miller: Ravens, 17-10
The Browns defense can contain the Ravens on offense, but the Jason Campbell-led Cleveland offense just isn't good enough to win.
Frenz: Ravens, 38-34
The Ravens may seem at a disadvantage, but with an extra week to prepare, they should be ready to go to Cleveland and sweep the season series with the Browns, who emptied the tank in a nail-biter against the Chiefs last week.
Hangst: Browns, 23-17
The Ravens might be rejuvenated off of their bye week, but rejuvenation isn't what they need. That would be wins, which both they and the Browns have three of headed into this week's divisional matchup. Baltimore's offensive line is terrible, while Cleveland is both adept at getting to quarterbacks and stopping the run. With Jason Campbell under center, Cleveland's offense is much more efficient. Baltimore won't get this win.
Hansen: Ravens, 24-21
The Browns are down to Jason Campbell at quarterback, and this is about the time the Ravens usually find a groove. Don't expect a ton of scoring, but there should be enough of them to get the Ravens the win.
Bardeen: Ravens, 20-14
Baltimore already handled Cleveland in a close Week 2 matchup and will do so again, even on the road. The Ravens coming off the bye week makes the difference here; both teams are underachieving.
Gagnon: Ravens, 17-14
I can't see the veteran Ravens dropping to 3-5, especially after the bye. That said, this could be a close game. The Browns hung with Baltimore on the road in Week 2, and that line could have its hands full against a deep Cleveland defensive front.
Langland: Ravens, 17-16
As much as I like Cleveland's defense, the Browns offense is uninspiring with Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden under center. Despite the fact they are on the road, the Ravens defense will lead the charge in the dog pound.
Kruse: Ravens, 21-20
I went back and forth on this game a bunch of times. In the end, I think the Ravens get a big special teams play to hold off a Browns team that nearly beat the Chiefs last week.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots
B/R Consensus Pick: Patriots (12-0)
Schottey: Patriots, 23-14
Can we please slam the door on the Steelers' dynasty? Or at least admit that it slammed a year ago without us noticing? The Patriots are a rough team by their standards, but the Steelers are a bad team by any standards outside of NFL football in Florida.
Bowen: Patriots, 26-17
This is an opportunity for Tom Brady to get back on track versus a Steelers secondary that is showing its age.
Schalter: Patriots, 20-17
The Patriots are battered, bruised and getting blown out of what seems like every first quarter. Somehow, though, Tom Brady always comes up big in the fourth. The floundering Steelers won't change that.
Freeman: Patriots, 28-21
The Steelers are scary bad at times.
Miller: Patriots, 28-17
It's not pretty, but the Patriots find a way to win. The Steelers secondary isn't in a position to slow down even the battered Patriots.
Frenz: Patriots, 28-24
Call it ugly, but the Patriots are finding ways to win. The Steelers, on the other hand, haven't been able to get out of their own way all season. Look for a big game from Stevan Ridley as the Patriots get back to running the ball.
Hangst: Patriots, 27-20
The Steelers are a team that does too little, too late—and it's partially why they are 2-5 at present. The Patriots aren't the Patriots of old, but the Steelers resemble their former selves less. A road contest in New England isn't the place they'll turn things around. If the Patriots get a lead early, Pittsburgh will struggle to catch up.
Hansen: Patriots, 28-17
The Steelers are playing terrible football. While the Patriots are anything but a powerhouse at this point, they should be able to easily win this one at home.
Bardeen: Patriots, 26-17
New England is just a .500 team in the month of October and susceptible to more losses. That won't happen at the hands of a two-win Pittsburgh Steelers team however.
Gagnon: Patriots, 27-21
Both teams have lost of a lot their mojo recently, but the Patriots keep finding a way to grind out victories. They're still the better team overall, and they're at home.
Langland: Patriots, 24-20
Pittsburgh's offensive line has been the downfall of this team. If they don't get things figured out quickly, the Steelers might have trouble winning another game all season. It may not always be pretty, but Tom Brady is still the best quarterback in the league. He will show us why come Sunday.
Kruse: Patriots, 20-17
Winning ugly is the new way for the Patriots. They'll control the football via the run and stop Ben Roethlisberger late to escape Pittsburgh's upset bid.
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
B/R Consensus Pick: Colts (10-2)
Schottey: Colts, 24-17
The Texans are going to want this game with all of the gusto they lack against other opponents, so this could easily go the other way in Houston. Still, I have to go with the (much) better team.
Bowen: Colts, 23-20
I like the Colts to get the win over Case Keenum and the Texans, but keep an eye on this offense without Reggie Wayne. Can this offense be as productive without its No. 1 wideout?
Schalter: Texans, 21-20
The Colts have been underestimating weaker opponents, and the Texans still have a ton of talent. In Houston, in prime time? Classic trap game.
Freeman: Colts, 28-17
I like Andrew Luck coming out of a bye.
Miller: Colts, 27-17
A bye week gave the Colts time to rest, but also time to game-plan for life without Reggie Wayne. They won't need him to get past the Texans.
Frenz: Colts, 24-14
The Colts will be playing their first game without Reggie Wayne since 2001, but up against Case Keenum and the Texans, there won't be as much pressure to put points on the board. The Colts defense comes up with the key stop for the win.
Hangst: Colts, 34-17
The Texans are all in with Case Keenum as their quarterback, which is fine. They are coming off of their bye, which means they'll be a slightly tweaked if not improved team. But the Colts have a firm grasp on the AFC South for a reason. They won't be loosening it against the disappointing Texans on Sunday night.
Hansen: Colts, 20-19
I'm tempted to go with the Texans for a few reasons: Case Keenum looked pretty solid against Kansas City's No. 1 defense, the Colts lost Reggie Wayne, and the Colts have had several poor performances. However, still picking the Colts.
Bardeen: Colts, 27-13
Matt Schaub is out in Houston, and Case Keenum is in. A quarterback change heading into a hot divisional matchup usually spells disaster. This time though, Houston will just lose because the Colts are a better team, and that will be magnified if Arian Foster can't play after getting extra injury rest during the bye week.
Gagnon: Texans, 24-23
Maybe the bye week was what the Texans needed. This team is a lot better than its record, and now it has had two weeks to prepare for a young Colts team that has already slipped up twice against inferior opponents. I've got a feeling Houston pulls it out.
Langland: Colts, 30-21
Andrew Luck or Case Keenum? I know whom I will take. The Colts should jump out to an early lead and never look back. The Texans defense can only keep Houston in the game for so long until they finally break.
Kruse: Colts, 31-20
This should be a strong test for Andrew Luck, who will be on the road and playing his first game without Reggie Wayne. He passes with flying colors as the Colts stamp their place as the new top dogs in the AFC South.
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
B/R Consensus Pick: Packers (12-0)
Schottey: Packers, 38-20
This game should signal the end of the last of the warm fuzzies we felt about the Bears earlier in the year. At Lambeau, this should be a beatdown.
Bowen: Packers, 37-20
Without Lance Briggs, can an already poor Bears defense limit Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' running game? I don't see it.
Schalter: Packers, 30-17
The Packers aren't losing on Monday Night Football in Lambeau, and certainly not to Josh McCown.
Freeman: Packers, 35-24
Aaron Rodgers is making some amazing throws. That continues.
Miller: Packers, 31-20
The Packers have won four straight and look like their normal, dominant selves. The Bears, without Jay Cutler, are hopeless.
Frenz: Packers, 35-30
Without Jay Cutler, the Bears have lost their mojo and all hope of winning the NFC North. The Packers pull away in the division with Aaron Rodgers piling up the passing yards.
Hangst: Packers, 35-16
The Bears won't have Jay Cutler under center in this all-important nationally televised contest against the rival Packers, and they won't have linebacker Lance Briggs either. Even if quarterback Josh McCown can hold his own, the troubled Bears defense won't be able to stop Packers passer Aaron Rodgers or the Green Bay run game.
Hansen: Packers, 30-17
The Bears have problems defensively, which is the biggest reason why the Packers should win this one. Expect a big day from Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy.
Bardeen: Packers, 28-10
The Monday Night Football folks were hoping for Rodgers versus Cutler. Instead of Cutler, the Bears are going to run with Josh McCown and the Packers are going to run away with a win.
Gagnon: Packers, 35-17
It's nice that the Bears have had a couple weeks to recuperate and prepare, but that defense is still a mess, and they're without their starting quarterback. On the road against a Green Bay team that is picking up steam, they're going to get beaten up.
Langland: Packers, 38-23
Without Jay Cutler, the Bears don't stand a chance at Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers' pinpoint accuracy continues as Green Bay walks all over Chicago.
Kruse: Packers, 31-13
Green Bay and Chicago are both beat up. The difference here? The Packers have historically embraced the "next man up" mantra, while the Bears have crumbled because of injuries in recent years.
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