We've reached the midway point of the NFL season, and it was a wildly unpredictable first half, one of the most volatile in recent memory.
While it's been extremely difficult to forecast the action, I do my best each and every week to offer up bold predictions that will stick.
Here are my last-minute predictions for NFL Week 9:
How do you think New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees felt this week while he was watching game film of the New York Jets defense getting absolutely torched by Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals offense last Sunday?
He was probably salivating and with good reason: He's going to throw the ball all over MetLife Stadium in what's sure to be a big Saints' victory.
The Jets defense is stout against the run, allowing only 3.1 yards per carry, which means the New Orleans aerial assault will be in full effect from the first quarter on.
Gang Green's secondary has been subpar all season, with cornerback Antonio Cromartie having a down year and rookie Dee Milliner continuing to struggle. The unit won't be a match for a very talented Saints receiving corps.
Brees will air it out early and often and throw at least four touchdown passes as the Saints improve to 7-1.
This offeason, running back Shonn Greene signed a three-year, $10 million contract with the Tennessee Titans to serve as a complement to starter Chris Johnson.
Through eight games, things haven't gone exactly as planned. Greene missed five games with a knee injury and only has five carries for 20 yards on the campaign.
He'll finally get going Sunday against St. Louis, where he'll rush for over 100 yards and score at least one touchdown.
The Rams defense isn't great against the run, allowing over four yards per carry, and Greene got an extra week of rest as the Titans were just on their bye. He's healthy enough that coach Mike Munchak said the aim is to get him 15 carries this week, per Kevin Patra of NFL.com.
Greene will punish the Rams defense on the ground, allowing Titans quarterback Jake Locker opportunities to throw the ball down the field.
The end result will be a Titans victory that improves their record to 4-4.
The Carolina Panthers have won three straight games, all in blowout fashion. Quarterback Cam Newton is playing the best football of his career. Coach Ron Rivera is evolving into a riverboat gambler, and all his moves are coming up aces.
As a result, Panthers fans are thinking playoffs.
But if Carolina wants to be taken seriously as a contender, it must dispose of the battered 2-5 Falcons.
This is the game where the Panthers will show the nation they're for real. There's no chance Atlanta will be able to run the ball on the ferocious Carolina front seven, and Newton should have little problem matriculating the ball down the field.
Running back Mike Tolbert will score a touchdown from short-yardage, the defense will sack Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan at least three times and the Panthers will win by 17.
And when the clock hits triple zeroes, the Panthers will have the inside track for an NFC wild-card spot.
Even though he's been stellar this season, Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor has never thrown for 300 yards in a single game.
Lucky for him, the Eagles and their putrid secondary visit the "Black Hole" on Sunday.
Philadelphia's defense is actually pretty good against the run but has major issues stopping the pass. It's ranked 31st overall in pass defense and is giving up over 300 yards per game through the air.
Pryor has come close to breaking the 300-yard barrier this year (including a 281-yard output in a Week 3 loss at Denver), but this will be the week he gets it done. Receivers Denarius Moore and Rod Streater will each have big games as Pryor lights up the scoreboard, leading Oakland to victory and improving its record to 4-4.
If you have Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on your fantasy team, this is your lucky week. He's going to have a huge game in New England.
Patriots star cornerback Aqib Talib is questionable to play with a hip injury, and even if he does go, there's no way he'll be performing at maximum capacity. That's a major boon for Roethlisberger and the Steelers passing offense.
The Patriots offense started firing on all cylinders in the second half of last week's win over Miami, and I expect the unit to play well again Sunday, meaning the Steelers will be in catch-up mode, forcing Roethlisberger to go over 40 passing attempts.
Expect him to throw for over 300 yards (don't be shocked if he hits the 400-yard plateau), with over 100 going to receiver Antonio Brown, and keep the Steelers in the game throughout.
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has had a miserable season.
He's averaging less than three yards per carry and has yet to crack 100 yards in a game this season. The fact he has yet to get going has contributed mightily to the defending Super Bowl champion's 3-4 record.
But Rice, now fully healthy after the team's bye, will finally eclipse the century mark as the Ravens get a much-needed win at Cleveland.
The Baltimore offensive line should play well Sunday, with the team using the bye week to further assimilate left tackle Eugene Monroe into the fold. Plus, the Browns defense hasn't been good against the run in their three-game losing streak and is allowing over four yards per carry on the season.
Rice and fellow running back Bernard Pierce will each run well, and the Ravens will pull to within two games of the first-place Bengals in the AFC North.
The Seattle Seahawks aren't just going to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They're going to completely and utterly pulverize them.
Imagine you're a player on the Bucs. You're 0-7 and play for an authoritarian head coach who seems completely overmatched at the NFL level. You have to fly cross-country to play one of the best teams in football in their house, and oh yeah, they have the best home-field advantage in the league.
Does that sound like a recipe for a close game?
Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon has no chance in this one, particularly without the services of injured running back Doug Martin. The Bucs won't be able to generate any offense, and it's quite possible that the Seahawks defense will outscore them.
Seattle will score at least one touchdown on defense, and quarterback Russell Wilson will do the rest as the Seahawks will beat the Bucs by no fewer than 30 points.
San Diego Chargers rookie receiver Keenan Allen is having a marvelous neophyte campaign, emerging as the No. 1 option for quarterback Philip Rivers in the passing attack.
The Washington Redskins defense, particularly the secondary, is absolutely atrocious, as it is giving up nearly 33 points per game.
When you combine those two factors, it's easy to see that Allen will have a monster game on Sunday when the Chargers take on Washington.
Rivers should face little resistance when dropping back to throw, and Allen will be the primary beneficiary. In fact, he'll record the most receiving yards of any player in Week 9.
The 2-5 Texans are a desperate bunch and are facing a must-win when they host division leader Indianapolis on Sunday Night Football.
Unfortunately for Texans fans, that isn't likely to happen, as there's simply no way that the team's new starting quarterback, Case Keenum, will engineer a victory over a squad that's already beaten NFL powerhouses San Francisco, Seattle and Denver.
In fact, Keenum will do his best Matt Schaub impersonation during the game and throw a pick-six interception that will be run back by Colts corner Vontae Davis.
That play, along with some timely throws by Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck, will buoy the Colts to victory and swell their record to 6-2.
The Chicago Bears defensive line has been decimated by injures, and their run defense has suffered as a result. They've been gouged on the ground more often than not in losing three of their past four games.
On the flip side, Packers rookie running back Eddie Lacy has been sensational. The reigning NFC Offensive Rookie of the Month (October) has added a bruising, physical element to the Green Bay offense.
Even though Green Bay has said the team intends to decrease Lacy's workload, per Pete Dougherty of Green Bay Press-Gazette, in an effort to keep him fresh for the stretch run, he's still going to make a major impact on Monday night when it hosts the Bears. There's simply no way that Chicago's front seven will be able to hold Lacy down.
Lacy will rush for well over four yards per carry and the most overall yards in Week 9, keying a Packers victory.