NFL Picks Week 9: Predicting Most Exciting Matchups on Schedule
Sure, three of the NFL's top 10 teams are all on bye this week. Sure, it seems we have another week in which the top teams have been paired with the less talented ones.
But this is the NFL, folks—you can bet on plenty of exciting matchups, even if they don't all look great on paper.
Here, I'll break down three of the most intriguing matchups this week and share my predictions for every NFL game in a week when the picks seem obvious, but the league's parity will probably make a mockery of our preconceived notions.
|Miami Dolphins||Cincinnati Bengals||Bengals||24-20|
|Oakland Raiders||Philadelphia Eagles||Eagles||28-24|
|Buffalo Bills||Kansas City Chiefs||Chiefs||17-13|
|Dallas Cowboys||Minnesota Vikings||Cowboys||31-20|
|St Louis Rams||Tennessee Titans||Titans||23-20|
|New York Jets||New Orleans Saints||Saints||27-17|
|Washington||San Diego Chargers||Chargers||31-28|
|Atlanta Falcons||Carolina Panthers||Panthers||24-21|
|Seattle Seahawks||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Seahawks||28-10|
|Cleveland Browns||Baltimore Ravens||Ravens||21-17|
|New England Patriots||Pittsburgh Steelers||Patriots||26-17|
|Houston Texans||Indianapolis Colts||Colts||24-17|
|Green Bay Packers||Chicago Bears||Packers||31-21|
Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins
Few teams are hotter than the Bengals. The team will travel to Miami on Thursday night on a four-game winning streak, buoyed by Andy Dalton's hot streak in the past three weeks (1,034 yards, 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions).
Add in the fact that Marvin Jones has six touchdowns in the past three weeks, or that A.J. Green is on pace for 92 receptions, 1,468 yards and 10 touchdowns, and it's the Bengals offense that is looking capable of carrying the team down the stretch instead of the team's stout defense.
For Miami, things keep getting worse. After a 3-0 start to the season, they've lost four straight and now face the hottest team outside of Kansas City. The problem for the Dolphins is that they aren't particularly good in any one area, currently 17th in pass offense, 23rd in rush offense, 20th in pass defense and 19th in rush defense.
Prediction: Bengals win, 24-20
San Diego Chargers at Washington
Washington has proven consistently that they can't stop opposing offenses. The team is 28th in pass defense, 30th in run defense and is giving up 32.7 points per game, 31st in the NFL.
What's worse is that the team abandoned a running game that was working against the Denver Broncos a week ago, which perhaps could have kept the ball away from Peyton Manning a bit more in the second half. Instead, after opening a 21-7 lead with 11:25 remaining in the third quarter, Washington gave up 38 unanswered points and watched a close game become a blowout.
Which team wins?
The Chargers are coming off a bye and have a very balanced offense, currently sixth in passing offense and having rushed for 147 yards or more in a two-game winning streak before the bye. With an extra week to rest and prepare and a smart quarterback like Philip Rivers dissecting Washington's suspect secondary, it's hard to imagine the hosts slowing down this offense.
Unless Robert Griffin III completely dominates this game, the Chargers will travel to Landover and leave with their third-straight win.
Prediction: Chargers win, 31-28
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
Here are two stats that should tell the story of this game: The Green Bay Packers have won 33 of their last 38 games at Lambeau Field since 2009, and in the past three seasons, the Bears are 1-8 in games Jay Cutler either misses or leaves early due to injury.
The Packers have put together one of the league's most balanced offenses (third in rushing offense, fifth in passing offense), while the Bears will be without defensive lineman Henry Melton and linebackers Lance Briggs and D.J. Williams. That's bad news for a team currently 27th in yards allowed and 29th in points allowed per game.
Expect Aaron Rodgers to extend Green Bay's winning streak to five games.
Prediction: Packers win, 31-21
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