NFL Choice Analysis - Week 9 Predictions
It’s high time I made some of my weekly predictions public. Each week, I’m going to pick 3 or 4 games and break them down with a prediction. For those that are wondering why “Choice” is in brackets, you need to check out this post for an explanation.
Chargers @ Giants
The Giants are reeling from three straight losses in a row after a hot start.
Giants offense versus Chargers defense
The Giants haven’t been the same running team they were last year. The running game is still good, but not great. The Chargers run defense is decent, but nothing to be proud of.
The Giants have looked good passing the ball, but mainly early in the year, against a string of poor teams. Eli Manning has looked terrible under pressure, but the San Diego defense has been ugly on 3rd down.
The Giants should be able to move the ball, but it’s not a huge edge
Chargers offense versus Giants defense
San Diego’s passing game has been great again this year, despite the lack of any consistent running attack. The Giants pass defense has been lit up by the Saints, Cardinals and Eagles, so it’s doubtful that they will be able to stop the Chargers through the air. The Chargers have been especially proficient on 3rd down, where the Giants have struggled.
I could see Philip Rivers passing for over 300 yards on a weak Giants secondary.
Neither team really stands out on special teams, so this is probably a non-factor.
I’ll take the Chargers to win by 8 points in this game.
Cowboys @ Eagles
Both teams are playing well heading into this divisional matchup. The winner will take control of the division, especially if the Giants struggle against San Diego.
Cowboys offense versus Eagles defense
The Cowboys offense has been hot with the emergence of Miles Austin and the underrated effectiveness of their running game. The Eagles defense, has also been quite effective against both the run and the pass.
Given that the clash is so close, I think that performance on 3rd down is probably the most effective indicator. The Cowboys offense has not performed well on 3rd down with middle or long distances, while the Philly defense has been one of the best in the league.
The edge here goes to the Eagles defense, but Dallas will still score a few points. However, don’t be surprised if the Eagles defense scores a touchdown, given Romo’s penchant for forcing throws.
Eagles offense versus Cowboys defense
While the Eagles offense doesn’t have the same success rate that Dallas has, they’ve actually put up more points. The Cowboys have struggled to defend the pass, partially due to the disappearance of their pass rush, compared to a year ago. The Eagles have the 2nd most effective offense on first down, generally leaving them with manageable situations for second and third down. To make their job even easier, the Cowboys defense on third down has been one of the worst in the league.
Philly will get their points, and a lot of them.
Both teams have actually looked good on special teams this year, especially on punt returns. Whichever team manages to come up big in this area could swing the game.
I’ll take the Eagles by 9 points in this likely high-scoring affair.
Steelers @ Broncos
The Broncos suffered their first loss of the season versus Baltimore and the Steelers have won four straight, including a huge win against the previously undefeated Vikings.
Broncos offense versus Steelers defense
The Broncos passing offense has been extremely effective, while their running attack is merely average. The Steelers have been solid stopping the run, but susceptible to the pass.
It would appear that the Broncos should be able to move the ball through the air, but I have a feeling that Dick LeBeau has been poring over the tape of last week’s game versus Baltimore. The Ravens sat on the short routes and dared Kyle Orton to throw deep, and it was extremely successful. Teams have a tendency to roll in the NFL until one team finds a way to stop them, and then other teams copy the blueprint. I think that last week was the beginning of the end for Denver’s offensive success.
Steelers offense versus Broncos defense
The Steelers have been an outstanding passing team this year, with a run game that was merely average. The Broncos have had one of the best run defenses in the league and a pass defense that is quite respectable. Most notably, they have been a fantastic third down defense with Dumervil and company providing good pressure on the QB.
I don’t see the Steelers moving the ball very much, and the running game could be held under 50 yards.
Neither team appears to have any special teams advantage.
I’ll take the Steelers by 3 points in this one, but it’s going to be quite low-scoring. I wouldn’t be surprised if the difference in the game is one big play in the Steelers passing game with Roethlisberger escaping the rush to find an open receiver.
Many of the stats in this article are derived from the publicly available and premium database statistics at FootballOutsiders.com, NFL.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com
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