NFL Picks Week 9: Minnesota Vikings Continue into a Tailspin
This is the first in a weekly series that will appear each Tuesday, giving you the rundown and my picks for the upcoming NFL weekend.
I started out smoking hot this year, going 11-5 each of the first three weeks this season. Since then there has been a minor cooling-off, including a disaster in Week 5 where I went 5-9.
Since then I've rallied and have no doubt in my mind that things are on the right track for the rest of the way.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
This is a matchup between two 5-2 teams for the lead in the NFC South. Atlanta is 3-0 at home this year, while Tampa Bay is 3-0 on the road.
Atlanta holds about a five-point advantage in both average points allowed and points scored per game over Tampa.
The Falcons are favored by eight points in this one and have won the past three meetings between the two teams, so I'm going to stick with the Falcons.
Pick: Atlanta Falcons
Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens
The 4-3 Dolphins are traveling to Baltimore to take on the 5-2 Ravens. The Ravens have yet to drop a game at home, while all of Miami's wins have come on the road.
Right now the Ravens are tied for Pittsburgh for the lead in the AFC North, while the Dolphins are quickly losing ground in the AFC East to the 6-1 New England Patriots.
Baltimore needed overtime last time out to put away the Buffalo Bills and are still favored by five in this game. I just think that the Dolphins need this game more, so I am going to go with Miami.
Pick: Miami Dolphins
Chicago Bears at Buffalo Bills
The 4-3 Monsters of the Midway take it on the road this week to meet the winless Buffalo Bills. Neither of these teams is very explosive on offense, averaging 18 points scored per game.
Watch that average to change this week for the Bears against a terrible Buffalo defense averaging over 30 points allowed this year.
The Bills are coming off two heartbreaking overtime losses and I think have to be mentally in the tank. While the Bears have dropped their last two, I see them getting healthy this week.
Pick: Chicago Bears
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
The New Orleans Saints came away last week with a big Sunday night victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers to up their record to 5-3.
I don't think there is a whole lot to say about this one.
The 1-6 Panthers are terrible on offense, averaging 12 points a game. This week against the Saints they are going up against one of the better defenses in the NFL. Look for a long day for the Carolina faithful.
Pick: New Orleans Saints
New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns
New England is riding sky-high with the NFL's best record at 6-1, while Cleveland is trolling the bottom of the AFC North at 2-5.
That said, the Browns have had two weeks to get ready for this one coming off a very impressive win over the New Orleans Saints back in Week 7.
Rookie quarterback Colt McCoy has played very well in his first two starts, and Cleveland has played a lot of close games this year with a pretty solid defense. I want to go upset special here, but the Patriots just have too much offense for me to pull the trigger.
Pick: New England Patriots.
New York Jets at Detroit Lions
This week everybody's favorite Hard Knocks team, the New York J-E-T-S, travels to the cozy confines of Ford Field to face the 2-5 Detroit Lions. The Jets are sitting a game behind the New England Patriots in the AFC East with a 5-2 record.
The Jets are coming off an anemic performance against the Green Bay Packers in which they lost 9-0 at home. Meanwhile, the Lions laid 37 on the Washington Redskins in their game last week.
The Lions play their best football at home, but I think we are going to see an angry Jets team this week lay it on the Lions, who give up way too many yards on the ground. For you Fantasy players out there, look for a big week out of LaDainian Tomlinson.
Pick: New York Jets
San Diego Chargers at Houston Texans
Oh, the Chargers. With quarterback Philip Rivers having the year of his life and on pace to threaten Dan Marino's single-season passing mark, the Chargers have only managed a 3-5 record.
The Chargers are notoriously slow starters under head coach Norv "Mr. Enthusiasm" Turner.
On the other hand, Houston (4-3) has played very up and down football this year. Just when you think they might be for real, they go out and lay an egg (see 27-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys).
The Texans are horrible on defense, particularly against the pass, giving up 300 yards per week.
While San Diego has yet to win on the road this year, look for Rivers to carve up the Texans secondary.
Pick: San Diego Chargers
Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
Coming to town this week as the protagonists in the NFL's greatest drama are the 3-4 Arizona Cardinals. It's something every week for Minnesota.
First begging Brett Favre (again) for one more year, then the Jenn Sterger pictures, and last week Favre was joined with the Vikings after three weeks having enough of Randy Moss' attitude and sending him to the waiver wire.
Favre has been banged up the past two weeks, first with an ankle injury and then leaving last week's game due to a shot under the helmet connecting with his chin.
Even with Favre, Adrian Peterson and briefly Moss, the 2-5 Vikings don't put up any points—but then again, neither do the Cardinals.
I think everyone around the circus in Minnesota has had it, and I'm going with the Cardinals in a close one.
Pick: Arizona Cardinals
New York Giants at Seattle Seahawks
I think this is going to be one of the better games of the week where the 5-2 New York Giants travel to Seattle to take on the 4-3 Seahawks.
The Giants are on a roll, having won their last four straight, while Seattle may be a little rattled coming off a 33-3 shelling courtesy of the Oakland Raiders.
Seattle plays well at home, and the weather report is calling for rain, which may keep it close. The Giants are favored by seven in this one, but having traveled to Dallas last week and having to trek to Seattle, I see them playing flat and allowing Seattle to squeak out a win.
Pick: Seattle Seahawks
Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders
This one is a classic NFL rivalry game between two AFC West teams for control of the division.
In the past couple of weeks the Raiders have become an offensive juggernaut, hanging 59 on the Denver Broncos and then 33 on the Seattle Seahawks.
The 4-4 Raiders have won all of their games at home this year, while the 5-2 Chiefs have dropped both of their games on the road. Despite the point spread being at three, don't look for this game to be anywhere near that close. I've got the Raiders to continuing to roll.
Pick: Oakland Raiders.
Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles
In one of those inter-conference games the 5-2 Indianapolis Colts travel to meet the 4-3 Philadelphia Eagles. These teams stack up fairly evenly statistically with the Colts having an advantage in yards gained through the air.
The Eagles are returning home after dropping one against the Tennessee Titans last week 37-19, while the Colts are riding a three-game winning streak atop the AFC South.
Philadelphia (favored by three this week) is 1-2 at home and 2-2 when favored. I think Peyton Manning is too much for the Eagles defense and will take the Colts' winning streak to four.
Random thought—I hate inter-conference play.
Pick: Indianapolis Colts
Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers
I laugh as I write this one. The Dallas Cowboys were a lot of people's favorite to represent the NFC in this year's Super Bowl at Jerryworld. Instead they are 1-6 and out of the playoff picture.
Jerry Jones is clueless, Wade Phillips is clueless and the rest of the 'Boys have got to be scratching their heads as to how things have gone so wrong.
They are not going to turn it around on the road this week against a 5-3 Green Bay Packers team that had it not been for two overtime losses would be 7-1.
Cowboys lie down in this one.
Pick: Green Bay Packers
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
The Steelers were riding high and looking to take control of the AFC North last week but ended up with a trick rather than a treat in New Orleans on Halloween night.
This week the 5-2 Black and Gold travel to Cincinnati for a Monday night matchup against the 2-5 Bengals.
The Steelers are one of the best defenses in the NFL but have shown some susceptibility against the pass in recent weeks. Not having the services of Ben Roethlisberger during the first four games of the season makes the statistics in this one not worth a whole lot.
On the other side of the ball, the Bengals were expected to have a high-powered offense this year with the combination of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens as targets for Carson Palmer, but it hasn't really worked out that way for some reason.
I'm going to put part of the problem squarely on the Cincinnati run defense that is giving up an average of 120 yards on the ground per game.
Even though the Steelers' offensive line is not very good (again), they will be good enough this week.
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers