Week 8 has come and gone, and it is now time to look at what Week 9 has in store. The NFL is returning to normalcy; the New England Patriots look like the best team in the league, the Indianapolis Colts are back on top in the AFC South, the New Orleans Saints looked like world beaters Sunday night, and the Kansas City Chiefs nearly tied the league's worst team.
There are, however, some things that still are taking some getting used to. The Raiders are relevant in November, the Rams have an excellent shot to win their division, the Vikings suck, the Cowboys are even worse, and the Lions may not finish in the basement of the NFC North at the end of the season. Oh, and the Denver Broncos are the leagues worst team right now. I think the Cowboys could beat them, the way they are playing.
Now that that's covered, let's put Randy Moss aside for a while and take a look at this week's matchups.
This is definitely the most interesting game of the weekend. Word has it the Falcons aren't too happy about the Buccaneers self proclamation that they are the best team in the NFC. Apparently, Atlanta has been preparing like they are about to play the best team in the NFC.
The Falcons are going to come out swinging. I'm not sure the Bucs are prepared for the intensity they are going to encounter Sunday, due to the large target they have painted on their backs.
The key to this game will be can the Bucs match that intensity. Ladies and gentleman, I believe that this Sunday, we are going to witness the birth of a long, nasty rivalry between two teams that will be elite in years to come.
ATL 33 - TB 31
The Bills just battled the Chiefs down to the wire, and nearly came away with a tie. They have lost consecutive games in overtime on the road, to two very tough teams. Now, they get the Chicago Bears.
If the Bills Defense played Kansas City so well, imagine what they'll do to the worst O-line in the league. Jay Cutler will probably throw more picks, and Ryan Fitzpatrick will have a field day. Bills get their first win.
BUF 28 - CHI 17
It's hard to pick against the Patriots right now, even in this Parity Rich year. They have been tested this season, and are establishing themselves as the team to beat not only in the AFC, but in the NFL. Their very young defense is coming into its own, and the offense hasn't missed a beat since dumping Randy Moss.
The Browns played well in their last two games under Colt Mccoy, but I don't think the rookie will be able to match the now balanced offense of the New England Patriots, led of course by Tom Brady and Benjarvis Green-Ellis.
NE 39 - CLE 24
Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are both maturing before our eyes. They took down a previously division leading Redskins team, and they did so with an impressive defense and explosive offense. The Lions showed us a little peek at what the future holds.
Meanwhile, the Jets were just shut out at home. On the flip side, they didn't allow a touchdown either. Expect the Lions defense to be all over Mark Sanchez, but look for the Lions offense to capitalize on any slip up the Jets D gives them.
DET 17 - NYJ 13
Arizona fell victim to Josh Freeman in the fourth quarter on Sunday, otherwise they may have beaten the talented Buccaneers. Minnesota just jettisoned Randy Moss. As a result, their offense, which was finally starting to click, will sputter again because there is no one on their roster who will draw a double or triple team and open the running lanes for Adrian Peterson. Meanwhile, I bet Larry Fitzgerald is salivating watching the tape of the Vikings' last game, seeing all the big plays the defense gave up.
ARI 31 - MIN 28
The Saints travel to Carolina for an NFC South Showdown, erm... Beatdown really. I really see no way the hapless Panthers can pull this one out. They are outmatched in every facet of the game, and no gut feeling present here, folks. Remember the beatdown that Oakland put on Denver a couple weeks back? Let's just say the Saints will put out the league's most dominant performance of the year.
NO 36 - CAR 6
Miami travels to Baltimore looking to keep their road streak alive. Baltimore is coming off their bye week, and should be well rested. Normally, I'd hand this to Baltimore, but they are playing the Road Warriors of this year. Look for Brandon Marshall to take advantage of a soft Ravens secondary, as he has the game he has been looking for all year. Miami keeps the streak alive in another close one.
MIA 27 - BAL 23
The biggest stat going into this game? San Diego is the number one ranked passing team in the National Football League. Houston has the 32nd ranked passing defense in the league. Phillip Rivers could possibly throw for 600 yards. I said earlier that normalcy is returning to the league, well what kind of year would it be without another late Chargers push?
SD 49 - HOU 42
Seattle welcomes the Giants from their bye week this Sunday, as the NFL's toughest home field advantage looks to keep it that way. The Giants are the better team, no question. Seattle plays like a different team at home, however, and the Giants have been absolutely terrible when they have traveled west of the Mississippi the last three or four years. Thus, I gotta go with the home team.
SEA 35 - NYG 27
GAME OF THE WEEK
Just a year ago, this would have been a game to avoid like the plague. Now, it's a legitimate AFC West clash of two hopeful division champions that features two of the leagues best rushing attacks. Kansas City's three headed monster vs. Darren Mcfadden and Michael Bush. This game could be over when other games are just beginning the 4th quarter. Oakland's defense has been incredibly stingy during their last few games, as they allowed just two touchdowns their last two contests.
Here's the real kicker though: Oakland hasn't won three games in a row since 2002, the year it went to the Superbowl.
OAK 24 - KC 20
Michael Vick returns this Sunday as the Eagles look to put themselves in the driver seat in the NFC East. The Colts are once again on top of the AFC South, but are dealing with a ridiculous amount of injuries. Vick and the Eagles will prove to be a much more worthy foe than Houston was last week. Look for Vick to shred the Colts defense with both his arm and legs.
PHI 28 - IND 23
The Packers just posted a shutout against the mighty Jets, and they have an excellent chance to do it again on Sunday against a woeful Dallas team.
Jon Kitna threw four picks to a mediocre Jacksonville secondary, look for more mistakes as he plays a much tougher defense in the Pack. A-Rod and company should light it up against a poor Cowboys D.
GB 27 - DAL 0
Big Ben and Co. were not prepared to play in a dome as rowdy as New Orleans on Halloween last Sunday. They return outdoors as they look to exact revenge on the Bengals for sweeping them last season.
The Bengals have made improvements this year, as they played Miami close, but they are not quite there yet, and by the time this team does start clicking, it will be too late.
PIT 31 - CIN 20
Teams with Byes:
Last Week: 7-6