In the age of fantasy football, every NFL game tends to carry a certain level of intrigue. Yet, the best games are still the toss-up matchups that will likely be decided by a few key moments during the course of the game.
Whether it's a big passing play, a key defensive stop or even a lucky bounce, every play has the potential to change the outcome of the game. Furthermore, the most evenly matched games tend to go right down to the final possession.
With that in mind, let's examine three of the best contests on tap for Week 9, along with a prediction for each game. The breakdowns are followed by a complete list of predictions for the week's action.
San Diego Chargers at Washington Redskins
Just when it seemed like Robert Griffin III was nearing full strength, the Denver Broncos battered him on a consistent basis last week. He was sacked three times, took numerous more hits and gained just seven yards on five carries.
The good news for Washington is that the Chargers' pass rush isn't as potent, tied for 18th in sacks. Less pressure should allow Griffin to stand tall in the pocket and deliver strikes against the 26th-ranked pass defense.
It should lead to an exciting back-and-forth battle with San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, who's enjoying a resurgent season, and the Chargers offense. Washington's running back tandem of Alfred Morris and Roy Helu should be the difference for the Redskins in a close game at home.
Prediction: Redskins 31, Chargers 30
Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland Raiders
The Raiders came out of their bye week in promising fashion. They executed exactly the type of game plan they need to use in order to win games down the stretch, the foundation being a strong ground game and solid defense that takes pressure off the Oakland passing game.
What will be the best game of Week 9?
Terrelle Pryor actually had more rushing yards on his rushing touchdown in the first quarter (93) than he had all game through the air (88). While he'll need to do more in the passing game to win most games, the overall team performance was very encouraging for Oakland.
On the flip side, the Eagles offense has been a complete mess over the past two weeks. Teams have been slowing down dynamic running back LeSean McCoy and forcing other players to beat them, which hasn't worked out well for Philadelphia. Expect the trend to continue this week.
Prediction: Raiders 23, Eagles 20
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
Houston got the season off to a promising start with wins in its first two games. The Texans proceeded to lose the next five, however, leaving them three games behind the AFC South-leading Colts heading into the season's second half.
The key matchup in the division clash will be Houston's top-ranked pass defense against Andrew Luck and his Reggie Wayne-less receiving corps. The onus is on T.Y. Hilton to slide into the No. 1 receiver role without missing a beat.
One other player who must step up is Trent Richardson. The Texans are giving up more than 120 yards per game on the ground, giving him a great opportunity to finally have a breakout showing for Indianapolis. It all adds up to a Colts victory.
Prediction: Colts 27, Texans 24
Full Predictions for Week 9
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NFL Week 9