NFL Week 9 Picks: Last-Minute Predictions for Every Game This Weekend
With another week of NFL action right around the corner, it's time to take one final look at each game and weigh both teams' chances of coming away victorious.
For some teams, Week 9 already represents a must-win situation, while others are trying to stay ahead in the playoff race. Then there are the teams who are closer to the Andrew Luck sweepstakes than the postseason hunt and are playing solely for pride at this point.
Whatever the circumstances, NFL fans are reminded each week that there are no guarantees. So here are last-minute predictions for every game in Week 9.
Seahawks at Cowboys
Why The Seattle Seahawks Will Win
Tarvaris Jackson and Mike Williams should both be back to 100 percent, which will provide a nice boost to an offense who's struggled in recent weeks. Seattle's run defense is good enough to make the Cowboys a one-dimensional offense.
Why The Dallas Cowboys Will Win
Dallas is one of the teams who really needs a win this week to keep pace in the playoff race. The Cowboys offense has too many weapons to struggle as much as it did last week against Philadelphia and should have a bounce-back performance.
The Seahawks are more talented than their record would indicate, but the Cowboys desperately need a win. So, Dallas manages to win despite some tense moments inside Cowboys Stadium.
Falcons at Colts
Why The Atlanta Falcons Will Win
Julio Jones will return from a hamstring injury to take pressure off Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. The Falcons are clearly more talented than a downtrodden Colts squad and have just enjoyed a bye week to rest some nagging injuries.
Why The Indianapolis Colts Will Win
The Colts return home after three sub-par efforts on the road and haven't lost by more than one score inside Lucas Oil Stadium all season. Even without Peyton Manning there is enough talent on Indianapolis' roster to win a couple games.
Everybody in the Colts organization is adamant the team is giving full effort in every game, but the results say otherwise. Atlanta should pull away in the second half.
Jets at Bills
Why The New York Jets Will Win
If there is anybody who can decipher a way to stop Buffalo's quick passing game, it's Rex Ryan. The Jets have had a lot of success on the ground against the Bills in recent seasons, and Buffalo's main run stopper, Kyle Williams, won't be suiting up on Sunday.
Why The Buffalo Bills Will Win
Fred Jackson is the league's mid-season MVP, because without him the Bills wouldn't be anywhere near playoff contention. Buffalo's defense is among the most opportunistic units right now and that should pay dividends against a mistake-prone Mark Sanchez.
One of the weekend's marquee games probably won't be decided until the final minutes. It could be the most important game for Buffalo in more than a decade, and the home-field advantage will push them over the top.
Browns at Texans
Why The Cleveland Browns Will Win
Cleveland's pass defense is the second-best in football and Houston won't have Andre Johnson, which could lead to a long afternoon for Matt Schaub. The Browns will need Colt McCoy to make some plays on third down in order to control the clock.
Why The Houston Texans Will Win
Arian Foster. It's really that simple. After injuries plagued him early in the season, he's looked more like himself in recent weeks and should be able to find holes in the Browns' front seven. Houston's defense should be able to generate enough pressure on McCoy to force him into mistakes.
The Texans want to pull away from Tennessee in the AFC South as quickly as possible, especially since the two teams are slate to play in Week 17. While it won't be a pretty game, Houston should pull it out.
49ers at Redskins
Why The San Francisco 49ers Will Win
There has been no bigger surprise this season than San Francisco.
The 49ers finally have a coach who understands Alex Smith's limitations, and it has allowed him to thrive. Frank Gore is a dark horse MVP candidate and Navorro Bowman is garnering national attention for his stellar play.
Why The Washington Redskins Will Win
Washington is a much better team at home, and after a couple weeks of being thrown to the wolves, John Beck should begin settling into his new role. The Redskins have to start running the ball more often and efficiently to start winning again, however.
It's hard to imagine the 49ers waltzing through the regular season without running into some roadblocks along the way. Add to that the fact this clash has a trap game feel, and an upset is definitely within reason.
Buccaneers at Saints
Why The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Will Win
Tampa Bay beat the Saints three weeks ago, thanks to a strong running game and timely throws from Josh Freeman. The game plan should remain the same in Week 9, especially with LeGarrette Blount due back on Sunday.
Why The New Orleans Saints Will Win
Drew Brees and Co. will be motivated after that prior loss, and they understand how important this game is because of it. Brees is coming off a pedestrian performance and he rarely has two of those in a row. Tampa Bay's shaky pass defense could be powerless to stop him.
Look for New Orleans to avenge its earlier defeat while increasing its division lead in the process.
Dolphins at Chiefs
Why The Miami Dolphins Will Win
Even though they haven't secured a victory yet in 2011, the Dolphins are trending in the right direction. They have lost their last two games by a combined six points. If Reggie Bush can have a repeat outing, Miami will be in the thick of things again this week.
Why The Kansas City Chiefs Will Win
Aside from the Green Bay Packers, there might not be a hotter team in the league than Kansas City. Head coach Todd Haley has turned things around in a big way after a couple early-season debacles, and the Chiefs have a couple more winnable games before the schedule toughens.
Miami is going to sting a playoff hopeful eventually, but the Chiefs are too hot to pick against right now.
Bengals at Titans
Why The Cincinnati Bengals Will Win
The Bengals have won four straight games and will get Cedric Benson back from suspension for this key AFC battle. Andy Dalton continues to impress, and Cincinnati's defense ranks fourth in both points and yards allowed per game.
Why The Tennessee Titans Will Win
Tennessee has found ways to win despite dreadful performances from Chris Johnson, who just hasn't been the same player. Matt Hasselbeck has been one of the offseason's best additions, and he'll be stressing to his teammates the importance of not falling too far behind in the playoff hunt.
It's still too early to tell if either of these teams have staying power, but whichever one pulls this game out will be one step closer to earning that respect.
Cincinnati pulls off the minor upset.
Broncos at Raiders
Why The Denver Broncos Will Win
Tim Tebow's dual-threat abilities will cause problems for Oakland's defense, which ranks near the bottom in points allowed. The Broncos defense will need to force Carson Palmer into mistakes like Kansas City did in his first game of the season.
Why the Oakland Raiders Will Win
The loss of Darren McFadden shouldn't cause major issues because Michael Bush is one of the league's best backups. Palmer should be more prepared after the bye week, and the long-awaited emergence of Darrius Heyward-Bey gives him a top target.
There are so many variables in this game it's nearly impossible to predict. And in cases like that, go with the better team.
Giants at Patriots
Why The New York Giants Will Win
The Giants are coming off back-to-back wins over AFC opponents and now have enough firepower to keep up with New England in a shootout. New York's defense leads the league in sacks and will be taking shots at Brady early and often.
Why The New England Patriots Will Win
New England hasn't lost consecutive regular season games since 2009. The Patriots are looking up at Buffalo in the division and don't want the deficit to grow any larger than a tiebreaker.
Look for some trickery from the offense in this game.
The Patriots are so strong in games after losses and are unbeaten at home. They'll prevail in a shootout.
Rams at Cardinals
Why The St. Louis Rams Will Win
St. Louis is coming off its best game off the season and proved it can win without Sam Bradford (questionable) under center. The addition of Brandon Lloyd has opened up the offense, and a favorable schedule could lead to a late charge from the Rams.
Why The Arizona Cardinals Will Win
After winning their season opener, the Cardinals haven't won since, but they'll rarely gotten blown out. The Cardinals will need Beanie Wells, who is listed as questionable again, to control the game if they want to get win No. 2.
The Rams are just starting to build momentum and will follow A.J. Feeley and Steven Jackson to victory for the second straight week.
Packers at Chargers
Why The Green Bay Packers Will Win
Green Bay's defense is still a concern once the playoffs roll around, but the offense is good enough to overcome those issues for now.
Why The San Diego Chargers Will Win
When talking about the Chargers, that's the word you hear most often. Even though Philip Rivers leads a gifted group of players, they have failed to live up to expectations for most of the Norv Turner era.
If the offense can cure its problems, they have an opportunity to end Green Bay's perfect season.
After two straight road losses, San Diego will be looking to right the ship. However, Green Bay is just too good right now.
Ravens at Steelers
Why The Baltimore Ravens Will Win
Baltimore crushed Pittsburgh in Week 1 because of a balanced offensive attack. Both of the Ravens' losses were mind-boggling considering the form they have been in, but they bounced back both times and will be looking to regain the division lead.
Why The Pittsburgh Steelers Will Win
The Steelers just beat New England at home and are undefeated at Heinz Field. Ben Roethlisberger has had four straight weeks with a QB rating above 96 and the emergence of Antonio Brown is a major reason for that sustained success.
Both teams will be strong contenders once the playoffs roll around. Look for Pittsburgh to hold serve at home in this one.
Bears at Eagles
Why The Chicago Bears Will Win
The Bears had won two straight games before their bye week, including an impressive road win against Tampa Bay. Their defense is finally starting to look like the formidable unit of seasons past, and Matt Forte has been running with an unmatched purpose.
Why The Philadelphia Eagles Will Win
Philadelphia finally seems to be finding its way after a slow start to the season. Michael Vick rediscovered his elite form last week and knows his team can't afford many more losses.
Stopping Forte with a linebacking core that has had trouble tackling will be the main priority.
This game has the potential to be one of the more memorable Monday Night Football games in recent memory. In the end, Philadelphia wins a nail-biter.