Last week, I took some comprehensive data from the first eight weeks of the NFL to compile some power rankings. Then, while Week 9 was ongoing, I retooled some subtotals and came up with this:
Patriots 26 Browns 19 (Final Score: Browns 34-14)
Falcons 24 Buccaneers 19 (Final Score: Falcons 27-21)
Bears 24 Bills 17 (Final Score: Bears 22-19)
Jets 23 Lions 21 (Final Score: Jets 23-20)
Cardinals 23 Vikings 20 (Final Score: Vikings 27-24)
Saints 21 Panthers 15 (Final Score: Saints 34-3)
Ravens 21 Dolphins 19 (Final Score: Ravens 26-10)
Chargers 28 Texans 23 (Final Score: Chargers 29-23)
Giants 23 Seahawks 20 (Final Score: Giants 41-7)
Chiefs 23 Raiders 20 (Final Score: Raiders 23-20)
Colts 25 Eagles 22 (Final Score: Eagles 26-24)
Packers 25 Cowboys 20 (Final Score: Packers 45-7)
Steelers 22 Bengals 18 (Final Score: Steelers 27-21)
A 9-4 record. Two scores were ONE point away from actually nailing it. Needless to say, you can't blame me if I think I'm on to something.
So, after updating my numbers for Week 9, I ran the subtotals again—only this time, I'm sharing them with you, plus throwing a deeper look into comparing the teams themselves before throwing out a prediction based on the fact that one team sucks and the other rules.
Projected Scoring Ranges: Ravens 20.3 - 20.7 Falcons 17.6 - 24.1 (Avg: Ravens win 21-20)
Falcons Run Offense/Ravens Run Defense: 6th/13th
Falcons Pass Offense/Ravens Pass Defense: 11th/9th
Ravens Run Offense/Falcons Run Defense: 11th/6th
Ravens Pass Offense/Falcons Pass Defense: 15th/26th
On opening day, the Falcons took the Steelers to overtime. Against Pittsburgh's AFC North rival, the Ravens, another week including bonus football wouldn't be surprising, either.
With Ed Reed backing up the Ravens' linebackers, Matt Ryan will have a lot of trouble throwing to his favorite targets, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. However, if Michael Turner can get things started, they've got a shot.
But if they can't, Joe Flacco should zero in on Anquan Boldin early and often before the Falcons D-line can get to him.
Four of their wins have come against the Cardinals, 49ers, Bengals and Buccaneers. But this is the Ravens.
Ravens 21 Falcons 13
Projected Scoring Ranges: Detroit 23.1 - 31.9 Buffalo 18.8 - 23.4 (Avg: Detroit wins 28-20)
Lions Run Offense/Bills Run Defense: 30th/32th
Lions Pass Offense/Bills Passing Defense: 8th/6th
Bills Run Offense/Lions Run Offense: 18th/27th
Bills Pass Offense/Lions Pass Defense: 23rd/32th
In the last three weeks, the Bills lost by three points each to the Bears, Chiefs and Ravens. So you'd expect when the 2-6 Lions come to town, it's finally their chance to break through and get that first win.
Although the projections say they won't get it. I think they will. The injured shoulder of Matthew Stafford will put more pressure on the Lions running game. While it's going against the worst run defense in the NFL, I don't think it'll be enough to overcome a Bills team that wants that first win.
My statistical projection is wrong.
Bills 23 Lions 20
(Yeah. Three points seems appropriate.)
Projected Scoring Ranges: Bears 18.5 - 20.4 Vikings 16.9 - 19.1 (Avg: Bears win 20-18)
Vikings Run Offense/Bears Run Defense: 9th/3rd
Vikings Pass Offense/Bears Pass Defense: 16th/19th
Bears Run Offense/Vikings Run Defense: 27th/7th
Bears Pass Offense/Vikings Pass Defense: 21st/10th
If there are two quarterbacks that can either win or lose you a game all by themselves, they are Jay Cutler and Brett Favre.
It's unlikely Adrian Peterson will win this game for the Vikings as the Bears front seven will zero in on him, putting the ball in Favre's hands. Then they will pin their ears back and chase him all the way to Wrigley Field.
Meanwhile, this game will prove if Mike Martz is the genius we've all been sold on. If Cutler can find a rhythm in a short passing game, then they've got a good shot and won't have to rely entirely on Devin Hester to run one back.
The projection's off, but not on the winner
Bears 17 Vikings 9
Projected Scoring Ranges: Jets 21.0 - 21.1 Browns 14.6 - 21.1 (Avg: Jets win 21-18)
Jets Run Offense/Browns Run Defense: 4th/15th
Jets Pass Offense/Browns Pass Defense: 20th/25th
Browns Run Offense/Jets Run Defense: 13th/4th
Browns Pass Offense/Jets Pass Defense: 25th/18th
No game has more sideshows than this one. Battle of the Ryan twins. The Return of Braylon. Eric Mangini facing his old team. Hell, why not give Jets. Off. Coord. Brian Schottenheimer a knife to carve up an old Art Modell "Godfather"-style for forcing his father out so many years ago, too?
Riding high off their last two wins over the Saints and Patriots, Cleveland's looking to continue with the trial-by-fire introduction of rookie QB Colt McCoy, who must be thinking that playing bad teams is only a theory.
First off, in the win against the Saints, the Browns defense and special teams were mainly responsible. McCoy and the offense contributed, but without Bruce Bowens' two pick-sixes and P Reggie Hodges' stunt run, that game would've been another tough loss to a better team.
The Browns defense has shown they can stop a good passing game. The only problem is that with the Jets, that's no problem. Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson and the O-Line that Eric built will just wear down the Browns defense.
However, on the other side, Peyton Hillis will not get 188 yards against the Jets like he did against an overrated Patriots defense. He's good, but probably not that good with a front seven knowing they can just load the box while McCoy looks to throw the ball to...to...hmmm...Evan Moore?
Jets 21 Browns 3
Projected Scoring Ranges: Titans 24.3-25.1 Dolphins 16.8 - 19.9 (Avg: Titans win 25-18)
Titans Run Offense/Dolphins Run Defense: 10th/16th
Titans Pass Offense/Dolphins Pass Defense: 26th/13th
Dolphins Run Offense/Titans Run Defense: 16th/14th
Dolphins Pass Offense/Titans Pass Defense: 14th/23rd
Two personnel changes are going to make a difference here.
This marks the beginning of the Randy Moss Tennessee Experiment. With Vince Young and Chris Johnson already running an offense that's racked up 206 points, this will either make the scoreboard fry or make the offense self-destruct. If Moss can remember he's with a mobile QB, then Miami's secondary will be in for a tougher day than what game film showed them.
On the other side, the benching of Chad Henne for Chad Pennington has all the makings of starting a QB controversy that can last the season. Pennington, never known for a rocket arm, will have trouble finding short-route receivers with Cortland Finnegan and Michael Griffin moving in.
Titans 37 Dolphins 17
Projected Score Ranges: Colts 24.8 - 27.2 Bengals 20.1 - 21.7 (Avg: Colts win 26-21)
Colts Run Offense/Bengals Run Defense: 25th/23rd
Colts Pass Offense/Bengals Pass Defense: 2nd/17th
Bengals Run Offense/Colts Run Defense: 22nd/29th
Bengals Pass Offense/Colts Pass Defense: 6th/7th
If Chad Ochocinco disappears from Lucas Oil Stadium the way he disappeared against the Steelers on Monday night, then Terrell Owens can eat all the popcorn he wants—and have two opposing defenders to share with all game long.
Meanwhile, Peyton Manning will continue to be Peyton Manning.
It'll be up to Carson Palmer to keep up, but he won't.
Colts 27 Bengals 17
Projected Scoring Range: Texans 23.5 - 29 Jaguars 23.1 - 26.7 (Avg: Texans win 26-25)
Texans Run Offense/Jaguars Run Defense: 7th/22nd
Texans Pass Offense/Jaguars Pass Defense: 12th/28th
Jaguars Run Offense/Texans Run Defense: 8th/11th
Jaguars Pass Offense/Texans Pass Defense: 28th/32nd
Part of the reason why the Texans' pass defense ranks dead last in yards allowed is because it had to face Peyton Manning twice and Philip Rivers once. Not saying they're loaded, but it can be argued that they won't make David Garrard look better than he did against the Cowboys.
This looks like a good week to start Arian Foster if you have him on your fantasy team, with Matt Schaub questionable and the Jags' run defense as it is. Andre Johnson will help stretch the defense, but I look for Foster to be the man this week.
However, Jacksonville is coming off a bye week following their 35-17 smacking of the Cowboys. This is their chance to show that they're capable of beating better teams and that their win against the Colts wasn't a fluke.
But the defense, which allowed the Cowboys 415 yards that game, won't let it happen.
Texans 30 Jaguars 20
Projected Scoring Range: Buccaneers 17.2 - 21.2 Panthers 11.1 - 23.4 (Avg: Buccaneers win 21-17)
Panthers Run Offense/Buccaneers Run Defense: 26th/30th
Panthers Pass Offense/Buccaneers Pass Defense: 32/12
Buccaneers Run Offense/Panthers Run Defense: 19th/26th
Buccaneers Pass Offense/Panthers Pass Defense: 19th/5th
With Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber in the secondary, I see a lot of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in the future.
What? They're likely out? Matt Moore too?
And you thought Colt MocCoy was getting a rough introduction to the NFL.
Despite their 5-3 record, you can easily argue that the Bucs just aren't that good. Having already beaten the Panthers in Week 2, their other wins are against the Bengals, Cardinals, Rams and a Jake Delhomme Special against the Browns. Yet, when they played the Steelers, Saints and Falcons, they got exposed as a team that's on their way, but not as good as they think they are.
But this week, they can still believe they are, as the Panthers won't stop them
Buccaneers 20 Panthers (maybe) 3
Projected Scoring Ranges: Chiefs 22.4 - 28.5 Broncos 18.1 - 19.3 (Avg: Chiefs win 25-19)
Chiefs Run Offense/Broncos Run Defense: 1st/31st
Chiefs Pass Offense/Broncos Pass Defense: 30th/8th
Broncos Run Offense/Chiefs Run Defense: 32nd/9th
Broncos Pass Offense/Chiefs Pass Defense: 3rd/21st
If the Chiefs really wanted to be in a rivalry with the Raiders, they would try to outdo the 328 yards of rushing the Silver and Black laid on Denver in Week 7. Seriously, when running backs are involved, bad things tend to happen for the Broncos. The way Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones are running the ball, this could be one of those games where one side either doesn't punt, or has the ball for more than 40 minutes.
If and when Denver does get the ball, Kyle Orton will have to show he can carry this team. Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney and Eddie Royal are all healthy right now. Eric Berry can't cover all three.
The score will be closer than the game.
Chiefs 24 Broncos 20
Projected Score Ranges: Seahawks 18.2 - 25.1 Cardinals 18.6 - 23.8 (Avg: Seahawks win 22-21)
Seahawks Run Offense/Cardinals Run Defense: 29th/28th
Seahawks Pass Offense/Cardinals Pass Defense: 29/27th
Cardinals Run Offense/Seahawks Run Offense: 31st/30th
Cardinals Pass Offense/Seahawks Pass Defense: 28th/19th
Last year, I watched the Browns play the Lions in a matchup of two 1-9 teams whose stats were similar to this. Expecting a game full of punts, Browns fans were treated to the Game of the Year to that point until Matt Stafford—injured shoulder and all, threw a post-last second TD to win the game 38-37. Detroit didn't win another game all year and the Browns didn't win until Week 13.
With Ken Whisenhunt and Pete Carroll, this has all the makings to be this year's version of that game.
The only problem is that Whisenhunt is more creative than Carroll with the X's and O's. Don't be surprised to see Larry Fitzgerald throw a touchdown as well as catch two or three.
Since it's played in the same stadium, I decided to use the 2007 Fiesta Bowl score of 43-42, but two words made me change that: Charlie Whitehurst, who will have—for him—a career day.
Cardinals 43 Seahawks 24
Projected Scoring Ranges: Rams 17.6 - 22.1 49ers 17.2 - 17.5 (Avg: Rams win 20-17)
Rams Run Offense/49ers Run Defense: 17th/20th
Rams Pass Offense/ 49ers Pass Defense: 24th/20th
49ers Run Offense/Rams Run Defense: 21st/8th
49ers Pass Offense/Rams Pass Defense: 18th/16th
With both teams coming off a bye week, it's going to be interesting to see which team took advantage of it to build on their slowly improving seasons.
With Troy Smith in at QB, I can see the 49ers opening things up, as he can be more mobile, allowing Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree to run a bigger variety of routes, with Frank Gore seeing less build-up in the box. However, if Alex Smith returns, he'll be a target in the backfield and Steve Spagnuolo will engineer his young defense into a successful game plan.
However, the Rams have Steven Jackson, who—in addition to heading for another 1,000 yard season, is giving Sam Bradford all the room he needs to grow and develop. This game will show that. But with Patrick Willis roaming free, it won't be easy, as he's listed as probable. If he plays, the Rams win. If not. Willis finds any gap he can find.
I like the projection.
Rams 20 49ers 17
Projected Scoring Range: Giants 27.5 - 28.4 Cowboys 19.5 - 20.6 (Avg: Giants win 28-20)
Cowboys Run Offense/Giants Run Defense: 31st/2nd
Cowboys Pass Offense/Giants Pass Defense: 4th/2nd
Giants Run Offense/Cowboys Run Defense: 3rd/24th
Giants Pass Offense/Cowboys Pass Defense: 7th/14th
If any NFL franchise has its act together, it's the New York Giants. If any team doesn't, it's the Dallas Cowboys.
It's hard to believe that in Week 7, these same Cowboys gave the Giants their narrowest win of their season, losing in a tough one, 41-35.
Not only is the impact of Jason Garrett as interim head coach going to be seen, but the addition of Paul Pasqualoni as Defensive Coordinator also going to be looked at. He seems capable of lighting a fire in the lackluster 'Boys defense, as Garrett looks to see if he can avoid simply getting embarrassed with his offense that misfired with Jon Kitna. If Romo was playing, I'd consider the upset, but not with Kitna, who's a game manager if there ever was one.
Meanwhile, the Giants just keep on rolling. Amhad Bradshaw runs, Eli Manning throws to Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith and Kevin Boss, while the defense just shuts down anything in front of them.
The Cowboys will show some spark, but they won't light it up.
Giants 30 Cowboys 10
Projected Scoring Ranges:Steelers 21.7 - 23.6 Patriots 15.7 - 26.8 (Avg: Steelers win 23-21)
Patriots Run Offense/Steelers Run Defense: 15th/1st
Patriots Pass Offense/Steelers Pass Defense: 17th/24th
Steelers Run Offense/Patriots Run Defense: 12th/21st
Steelers Pass Offense/Patriots Pass Defense: 27th/29th
Looking ahead to this one, I think of how Sun-Tzu used to argue about winning being in the preparation.
Seriously, I think this is going to be more a matchup of Dick LeBeau vs. Bill Belichick.
With the Patriots having only a serviceable running game that would probably get stonewalled anyway, LeBeau is probably drawing up blitz packages by the dozen to make Tom Brady taste more of Heinz Field than Brady ate in Arizona against the Giants in Super Bowl 42.
On the other hand, Belichick, who has a history of confusing Ben Roethlisberger with his coverage schemes, is probably figuring to lineup Vince Wilfork on a safety blitz and dropping Brandon Merriweather back from the front seven.
Brady will likely have WR Deion Branch back, and with Alge Crumpler and Wes Welker, can develop a short passing game, as the Patriots will be lucky to get 30 yards on the ground.
With the loss of Max Starks and with Isaac Redman and Mewelde Moore questionable, the running game stays in the capable hands (and tree trunk legs) of Rashard Mendenhall, who's probably looking to outgain Browns RB Peyton Hillis' 188 yds. against them. And if Mike Wallace can get open, Roethlisberger will have a good game.
In this battle of defensive geniuses, I give this round to LeBeau
Steelers 20 Patriots 13
Projected Scoring Ranges: Redskins 18.6 - 23.5 Eagles 19.3 - 27.2 (Avg: Eagles win 23-21)
Eagles Run Offense/Redskins Run Defense: 5th/18th
Eagles Pass Defense/ Redskins Pass Defense: 10th/31st
Redskins Run Offense/Eagles Run Defense: 23rd/12th
Redskins Pass Offense/Eagle Pass Defense: 13th/15th
In a rematch of the Redskins' 17-12 win in Donovan McNabb's Week 4 return to Philadelphia, the Eagles look to stay a game behind the Giants in the NFC East as the playoff race begins with them potentially in the thick of it.
With a healthy and more confident Michael Vick, I expect the Eagles to get an early lead and make McNabb play catchup. McNabb, who won't be riding the same emotional wave he did six weeks ago. The real question is, will he?
I say he doesn't. This will be one of those games that the pass sets up the run, as Maclin and Jackson unload the box for LeSean Jackson to eat up the clock later on.
Eagles 37 Redskins 17
Now, to quote Joe Thiesmann, "You don't have to be Norman Einstein" to think I'm wrong, but time will tell if I'm as good this week as my numbers were last week.