NFL Week 9 Picks: Last-Minute Expert Predictions from Around the Web
It seems like only yesterday that the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos were kicking off the 2013 season, yet here we are in the first Sunday in November.
That victory was the first of six straight for the Denver Broncos, who have Week 9 off after scoring the most points in NFL history through eight games.
Things haven't gone as well for the Ravens, who come out of their bye facing an uphill climb to get into the playoffs and defend their Super Bowl title.
Can the Ravens get back to .500? Will the Kansas City Chiefs stay undefeated in Buffalo?
Here's a look at how experts from around cyberspace expect Week 9 to play out.
Experts Roll Call
Before we move on to Week 8's games, let's take a look at our panel of experts.
ESPN: ESPN's picks are a combination of the selections of 13 experts. Those experts include writers like Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter, as well as former players such as Tom Jackson and Mark Schlereth.
CBS Sports: The CBS Sports picks feature eight writers, including senior NFL columnist Pete Prisco and NFL insider Jason La Canfora.
USA Today: As with the other sites on our panel, USA Today uses a committee approach, with seven writers offering their picks for this week's games.
Bleacher Report: I would be remiss not to include the prognostications of my esteemed colleagues here at Bleacher Report. This year's starting lineup for Bleacher Report's picks team features each of the national lead writers as well as the lead writers covering the NFL's divisions.
There you have it: over 40 NFL experts (plus one computer) all making their takes for this week's games.
Week 8 went very well for the panel. Nine "wins" for the third straight week and the highest percentage of correct picks all season.
Last Week: 9-3
Atlanta Falcons (2-5) at Carolina Panthers (4-3)
Final Verdict: Well, the switcheroo season for the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers continues.
The team that everyone expected to contend got blasted on Sunday, with the Falcons getting blown out 34-10 by the Panthers.
The Falcons are toast at 2-6. Meanwhile, the surging Panthers are now 5-3 and as hot over the last month as any team in the NFC.
ESPN: Panthers (11-2)
CBS Sports: Panthers (8-0)
Fox Sports: Panthers (5-0)
USA Today: Panthers (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Panthers (12-0)
Overall: Panthers (43-2)
This week's matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers is the NFC South equivalent of Freaky Friday.
After all, it was the Falcons, who went 13-3 last year, who were supposed to be contenders while the hapless Panthers stumbled through another season.
Well, to this point in 2013, the reverse has been the case.
All but two of this week's voters believe that this trend will continue in Week 9.
The NFC South is the purview of Bleacher Report NFC South Lead Writer Knox Bardeen, who offers this take on the game:
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.
Tennessee Titans (3-4) at St. Louis Rams (3-5)
Final Verdict: This game may not have attracted much media attention, but by the time Sunday's tilt between the Tennessee Titans and St. Louis Rams was over it had the attention of fantasy football enthusiasts.
That's because both Rams running back Zac Stacy and Tennessee tailback Chris Johnson gained over 125 yards on the ground. The pair also found the end zone twice each, with the Titans getting the experts off to a good start in Week 9 with a 28-21 win.
ESPN: Rams (8-5)
CBS Sports: Titans (5-3)
Fox Sports: Titans (4-1)
USA Today: Rams (4-3)
Bleacher Report: Titans (11-1)
Overall: Titans (27-18)
There's a fair amount of disagreement regarding Sunday's tilt between the Tennessee Titans and St. Louis Rams.
At most sites, anyway.
A close vote at USA Today went to the Rams. Same for the Titans at CBS Sports.
However, it was nearly unanimous here at Bleacher Report. 11 of the 12 experts polled at B/R feel the Titans will make it back to .500 this week, including Bleacher Report AFC North Lead Writer Andrea Hangst:
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.
San Diego Chargers (4-3) at Washington Redskins (2-5)
Final Verdict: The experts were this close to getting this one right.
San Diego running back Danny Woodhead appeared to score a touchdown that gave the Bolts the lead with 21 seconds left in the game.
However, that score was overturned on replay and the Chargers had to settle for a field goal and overtime.
The Chargers never saw the ball again, as the Redskins took the overtime kick, drove the length of the field and punched it in for a 30-24 win.
ESPN: Chargers (8-5)
CBS Sports: Chargers (8-0)
Fox Sports: Redskins (3-2)
USA Today: Chargers (4-3)
Bleacher Report: Chargers (9-3)
Overall: Chargers (31-14)
It's gone largely unnoticed amid all the hype surrounding the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs, but the San Diego Chargers are a pretty good football team.
The Chargers return from their bye week riding a two-game winning streak that includes a win over the Indianapolis Colts.
It's the Bolts who are the panel's pick this week in the nation's capital. However, Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey thinks that traveling east for an early game will do the Chargers in.
"I don't like the Chargers so far away from the West Coast," Schottey wrote, "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."
Kansas City Chiefs (8-0) at Buffalo Bills (3-5)
Final Verdict: If you told Chiefs fans the team would win nine games in 2013, most would happily accept that after last year's 2-14 disaster.
Well, the Chiefs have won nine games...in nine weeks.
Once again they didn't win a lot of style points doing it, but after downing the Buffalo Bills 23-13 the Chiefs enter their bye as the NFL's only undefeated team.
ESPN: Chiefs (12-1)
CBS Sports: Tied (4-4)
Fox Sports: Chiefs (5-0)
USA Today: Chiefs (5-2)
Bleacher Report: Chiefs (9-3)
Overall: Chiefs (35-10)
They haven't been doing it with many style points the past couple of weeks, but the Kansas City Chiefs remain undefeated, the last team in the NFL without a loss.
This week, the Chiefs put that perfect record on the line against the Buffalo Bills.
Both Bills quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and running back C. J. Spiller are nursing injuries. Lewis is doubtful with a rib injury, but according to head coach Doug Marrone, via the team's official Twitter page, Spiller is tentatively expected to be on the field Sunday.
The majority of the experts don't expect that to make a difference, picking the Chiefs to head into their bye at 9-0.
There are, however, dissenting voices, among them Bleacher Report NFC East Lead Writer Brad Gagnon:
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.
New Orleans Saints (6-1) at New York Jets (4-4)
Final Verdict: OK, so maybe that Schalter fella knows stuff.
One week after hitting on all 13 picks, Schalter was the only expert at Bleacher Report (and one of only three overall) who picked the Jets to down a one-loss Saints team.
Sure enough, the Jets pulled off the upset, moving to 5-4 with a 26-20 win at the Meadowlands.
Someone needs to get that guy to Vegas!
ESPN: Saints (11-2)
CBS Sports: Saints (7-0)
Fox Sports: Saints (5-0)
USA Today: Saints (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Saints (11-1)
Overall: Saints (42-3)
After losing the 2012 season to the "Bountygate" scandal, the New Orleans Saints have come back with a vengeance, racing to the top of the NFC South behind Drew Brees' arm and an improved defense.
It's also been defense that's helped propel the New York Jets to a .500 record halfway through the season, although rookie quarterback Geno Smith has had his moments for Gang Green.
The vast majority of the experts don't believe that the Jets will get enough of either to get the win at home.
However, Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Ty Schalter, who correctly picked all 13 games last week, picked the Jets in an upset.
"The Jets are 3-1 at home and have alternated wins and losses all season," Schalter explains. "The Saints have come off the boil a bit in the past weeks."
Minnesota Vikings (1-6) at Dallas Cowboys (4-3)
Final Verdict: For a while there, it appeared that the Cowboys were headed for yet another head-shaking loss against a team they "should" beat.
The Vikings were able to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. What they weren't able to do was hold it, as Tony Romo found Dwayne Harris for the winning score with 35 seconds to play.
27-23, with the Cowboys back over the .500 mark heading into next week's big showdown in New Orleans.
ESPN: Cowboys (13-0)
CBS Sports: Cowboys (8-0)
Fox Sports: Cowboys (5-0)
USA Today: Cowboys (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Cowboys (12-0)
Overall: Cowboys (45-0)
The 2013 season has rapidly deteriorated for the Minnesota Vikings.
A surprise playoff team a season ago, the Vikings are mired at 0-6 thanks to a carousel of terrible performances under center.
Christian Ponder. Matt Cassel. Josh Freeman. The names have been different, but the results have been the same.
In Week 9, the Vikings travel to Dallas, and a not a single expert expects them to leave town with a win.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7) at Seattle Seahawks (7-1)
Final Verdict: We came perilously close to the Apocalypse on Sunday.
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened up a 21-0 lead on the Seattle Seahawks, it looked like the Buccaneers would finally get a win, followed by a cosmic singularity opening that would swallow the universe and everything in it.
However, the Buccaneers didn't score after the first drive of the second half, and kicker Steven Hauschka kicked a game-winning field goal in overtime that completed the largest comeback in franchise history.
27-24 Seahawks, and the universe lives to fight another day.
ESPN: Seahawks (13-0)
CBS Sports: Seahawks (8-0)
Fox Sports: Seahawks (5-0)
USA Today: Seahawks (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Seahawks (12-0)
Overall: Seahawks (45-0)
Sunday afternoon's matchup in Seattle between the Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers is an exercise in extremes.
At 7-1, the Seahawks are considered the best team in the NFC by many. They haven't dropped a game at home since the 2011 season.
The Buccaneers, on the other hand, have yet to win a game this season. They're the only team in the NFL that hasn't tasted victory in 2013.
The experts are unanimous in their belief that the Buccaneers will have to wait at least one more week to get their first win. In fact, Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Mike Freeman thinks that the Bucs are just the thing to fix a Seattle offense that struggled last week against the St. Louis Rams.
According to Freeman, "Nothing like an awful team to cure an offense's issues."
Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) at Oakland Raiders (3-4)
Final Verdict: If you think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers nearly beating the Seattle Seahawks is weird, try this on for size.
Nick Foles threw seven touchdown passes for the Eagles against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
Foles posted 406 yards through the air to go with record-tying scoring performance. As you might expect given that Foles threw seven scoring strikes, the Eagles won, pasting the Raiders 49-20.
ESPN: Raiders (12-1)
CBS Sports: Raiders (8-0)
Fox Sports: Eagles (3-2)
USA Today: Raiders (6-1)
Bleacher Report: Raiders (11-1)
Overall: Raiders (39-6)
By just about every estimation, the Oakland Raiders have outperformed expectations in 2013. Sure, they don't have a winning record, but an Oakland team that many expected to among the worst in the NFL this year has been competitive in nearly every game en route to a 3-4 record.
This week, quarterback Terrelle Pryor and the Raiders host the Philadelphia Eagles.
It's a game that every expert at Bleacher Report expects Oakland to win, except for NFC East Lead Writer Brad Gagnon:
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.
Baltimore Ravens (3-4) at Cleveland Browns (3-5)
Final Verdict: Given that the late games in Week 9 all occurred in bizarro-world, it shouldn't be surprising that the Cleveland Browns made relatively easy work of the defending Super Bowl champions.
That's right. Cleveland's defense played another strong game, and the game really wasn't as close as the 24-18 final indicates.
The 3-5 Ravens are in real trouble.
ESPN: Ravens (9-4)
CBS Sports: Browns (6-2)
Fox Sports: Ravens (4-1)
USA Today: Ravens (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Ravens (10-2)
Overall: Ravens (32-13)
The title defense of the Baltimore Ravens hasn't gone according to plan in 2013.
An up-and-down Baltimore team has lurched its way to a 3-4 record, but Thursday night's loss by the Cincinnati Bengals affords the Ravens a chance to pick up a game in the AFC North.
Most of the experts,including Bleacher Report AFC East Lead Writer Erik Frenz, expect the Ravens to do just that against the team they used to be:
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.
However, AFC North Lead Writer Andrea Hangst looks for the Browns to pull off an upset:
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.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5) at New England Patriots (6-2)
Final Verdict: So, about those problems the New England Patriots were having on offense.
Either they've worked them out, or the Pittsburgh Steelers are horrible on defense.
Actually, it's probably a bit of both, but Tom Brady looked pretty good against the Steelers, topping 400 passing yards and throwing four touchdown passes.
The Patriots hung 55 points on the Steelers, who are 2-6 and in a nightmare they can't wake up from.
ESPN: Patriots (11-2)
CBS Sports: Patriots (7-1)
Fox Sports: Patriots (5-0)
USA Today: Patriots (6-1)
Bleacher Report: Patriots (12-0)
Overall: Patriots (41-4)
When the 2013 season began, this game looked like a great matchup between two teams with a long history of close games and playoff meetings.
The New England Patriots have held up their end of the deal. It hasn't been overly pretty, but New England sits in its usual spot atop the AFC East at the midway point of their season.
Things haven't gone as well for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last week's loss in Oakland dropped the Steelers to 2-5, and nearly all of the experts expect Pittsburgh's struggles to continue in Foxboro.
Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey thinks that a Pittsburgh loss is more than just one more setback in a disappointing campaign:
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.
Indianapolis Colts (5-2) at Houston Texans (2-5)
Final Verdict: Sunday night's game between the Indianapolis Colts was a story of two halves.
The first half was all Houston. Case Keenum found wide receiver Andre Johnson for three touchdowns, and the Texans led 21-3 at the break.
However, after Houston head coach Gary Kubiak left the field on a stretcher after collapsing at halftime, all the wind left the Texans' sails.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck connected with T.Y. Hilton for three scores in the second half, and for the second time this season the Texans blew a big lead at home to a good team.
27-24 Colts, in an absolute backbreaker for Houston.
Most importantly, while Kubiak was taken to an area hospital, the Associated Press reports via USA Today that the 52-year-old did not suffer a heart attack and is expected to be fine.
ESPN: Colts (10-3)
CBS Sports: Colts (6-2)
Fox Sports: Colts (3-2)
USA Today: Colts (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Colts (10-2)
Overall: Colts (36-9)
There isn't a team in the NFL with a more impressive resume in 2013 than the Indianapolis Colts. Not only are the 5-2 Colts in first place in the AFC South, but they are the only team to have beaten the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos.
Meanwhile, the Houston Texans are a mess. The two-time defending division champs have dropped five games in a row, and the team has now turned to second-year pro Case Keenum at quarterback.
80 percent of our panel thinks that the changing of the guard in the division will continue Sunday night.
However, Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Ty Schalter smells an upset brewing.
"The Colts have been underestimating weaker opponents," Schalter wrote, "and the Texans still have a ton of talent. In Houston, in prime time? Classic trap game."
Chicago Bears (4-3) at Green Bay Packers (5-2)
ESPN: Packers (12-1)
CBS Sports: Packers (8-0)
Fox Sports: Packers (5-0)
USA Today: Packers (7-0)
Bleacher Report: Packers (12-0)
Overall: Packers (44-1)
It's deja vu all over again.
Just like in 2012, the Chicago Bears got off to a solid start this season. Just like in 2012, injuries now threaten to derail the Bears' season.
The Bears will be without both quarterback Jay Cutler and linebacker Lance Briggs on Monday night, and that doesn't bode well heading into a matchup with a Green Bay Packers team that has reeled off five straight wins despite injury issues of its own.
Only ESPN's Keyshawn Johnson picked the Bears to get the win on the road.
Bleacher Report NFC North Lead Writer Zach Kruse not only disagrees, but Kruse also doesn't think the game will be especially close, predicting a 31-13 Packers victory:
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.