NFL Week 9 Picks: Road Warriors Sure to Claim Victory
Winning games on the road in the NFL is never easy, but the top teams in the league find ways to get the job done.
These road-warrior teams always feature a coaching staff that fosters discipline and sound technique, giving the players the tools they need to thrive in pressure situations.
As we saw from Monday night's game pitting the Seattle Seahawks against the St. Louis Rams, it's often necessary for the league's best teams to scratch and claw their way to victory on the road. However, whether it's ugly or pretty, a win puts these teams one step closer to their championship goals.
Here's a look at Week 8's entire slate of games with predicted winners, followed by a closer examination of a few contests in which the road team will find a way to win.
|Cincinnati Bengals||Miami Dolphins||Bengals|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Buffalo Bills||Chiefs|
|Minnesota Vikings||Dallas Cowboys||Cowboys|
|Tennessee Titans||St. Louis Rams||Titans|
|New Orleans Saints||New York Jets||Saints|
|San Diego Chargers||Washington Redskins||Redskins|
|Atlanta Falcons||Carolina Panthers||Panthers|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Oakland Raiders||Raiders|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Seattle Seahawks||Seahawks|
|Baltimore Ravens||Cleveland Browns||Ravens|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||New England Patriots||Patriots|
|Indianapolis Colts||Houston Texans||Texans|
|Chicago Bears||Green Bay Packers||Packers|
Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins
The Cincinnati Bengals must be taken seriously as a legitimate AFC powerhouse.
Since losing a shocker to the Cleveland Browns in Week 4, this team has gone on an impressive four-game winning streak. Three close victories against the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions—all tough teams—were earned before the Bengals embarrassed the New York Jets in Week 8 with a 49-9 win at home.
Andy Dalton has taken his game to the level we all secretly wondered if he was incapable of reaching. He's totaled no less than 325 yards and three touchdowns in his last three starts. An explosive offense, combined with Cincinnati's fearsome defense, has made the Bengals formidable, to say the least.
On the other side, Miami has now lost four games in a row, and things are getting uncomfortable in the locker room with some players questioning offensive coordinator Mike Sherman's game plan, as Jeff Darlington of NFL.com noted, via Dan Hanzus.
Ryan Tannehill hasn't played particularly well of late, but he's been battered and bruised worse than any quarterback in the league, having been sacked 32 times in seven games.
Cincinnati's pass-rushers are going to destroy Miami's porous offensive line, and the Bengals will cruise to victory on the road.
Final Score: Bengals win 31-17.
New Orleans Saints at New York Jets
New Orleans Saints fans should be excited about this year's squad. If not for a late-game miracle by Tom Brady in Week 6, the Saints would be undefeated heading into Week 9's game against the New York Jets.
Drew Brees and his offensive teammates are incredibly difficult to contain. With Darren Sproles, Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and Pierre Thomas, there are more than enough weapons to drive defensive coordinators bonkers—not to mention the emergence of Kenny Stills.
But New Orleans' defense is the biggest reason for hope, as it pertains to any playoff aspirations. The Saints rank No. 4 in the league in points allowed, as opposing teams average just 17.1 points per game.
Meanwhile, the New York Jets come limping into this game after getting annihilated by the Bengals last weekend. While the team's defensive front is impressive, the back end clearly needs work. The Jets rank No. 23 in the league in points allowed, as opposing teams average 26.4 points per game.
Dalton threw five touchdown passes last weekend, and Brees will have a field day.
Making matters worse for New York, rookie quarterback Geno Smith has tossed just one touchdown in his last three games while throwing five interceptions in that same span.
Final Score: Saints win 38-21.
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
For the Super Bowl champs, this road game in Cleveland is about pride.
After losing two brutal games in a row to the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens enter the second half of the season with a sub-.500 record of 3-4.
A loss to the Browns would not only move Baltimore two games under .500, but it would likely mean the Ravens would be three games behind the AFC North-leading Bengals after Cincy beats Miami on Thursday Night Football.
Baltimore's defensive front is one of the best in the league, and the entire defense as a whole has been solid—if not stellar—for the most part since getting blown out by Denver in Week 1.
The Browns enter the matchup having lost three games in a row.
Will Baltimore make it into the playoffs this year?
Jason Campbell is a decent quarterback, but he has no running game behind him, and his offensive line is a wreck. The Ravens will get to Campbell early and often, forcing him into a couple of critical turnovers before the game is over.
Even if Joe Flacco and his offense struggles like we've seen the past few weeks, the Ravens will find a way to eke out a win on the road to crawl back to the .500 mark and make a run at the playoffs.
Final Score: Ravens win 20-13.
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