NFL Picks for All 14 Games in Week 9
As the 2011 NFL season enters its ninth week, let's look at all 13 games and predict the outcome of each.
With games like the Jets vs. the Bills, the Giants vs. the Patriots and the Ravens vs. the Steelers, this should be one of the more exciting weeks in the NFL.
We'll try to figure out who is going to come out on top in some tough match-ups.
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
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The Buffalo Bills and New York Jets meet this week in a game that has huge divisional implications.
Currently at first place in the division, the Bills are 5-2 and already own a win over the New England Patriots. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has defied odds this year and is playing very well, while running back Fred Jackson has been tearing defenses limb from limb.
The defense is not ranked very highly in any category but has been playing well lately, holding the Redskins to a goose egg last week.
The defense is usually stout but has struggled against the run at times this year. Still, the confidence this team exudes despite a 4-3 record should be a big factor.
Despite the Jets' Super Bowl talks, watch for the Bills to ride Jackson's legs to a very close victory.
Bills 23, Jets 22
Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys
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Two of the season's more disappointing teams will take the field in Arlington on Sunday when the Dallas Cowboys host the Seattle Seahawks.
The 3-4 Cowboys are coming off of a painful 34-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and they'll be looking to bounce back behind quarterback Tony Romo and receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. Running back DeMarco Murray could have a big game, too.
The Dallas defense boasts a strong pass rush led by DeMarcus Ware, who could really give Seattle's quarterbacks fits.
The Seahawks will likely be quarterbacked by Tarvaris Jackson, though he has been benched in favor of Charlie Whitehurst before. Neither have been particularly effective.
The Seahawks defense isn't terrible, but they aren't good enough to carry a poor offense. Unless the 'Boys have a hangover from last week's beatdown, they should come out with a .500 record.
Cowboys 28, Seahawks 10
Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans
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The Houston Texans have a great opportunity to keep their win streak going as they take on the Cleveland Browns at home this week.
The Texans are quarterbacked by Matt Schaub, who has put up impressive numbers but hasn't shown the ability to win close games yet. He won't have star receiver Andre Johnson in the game, so Arian Foster and Ben Tate will have to carry the load at running back and tight end Owen Daniels will need to be heavily utilized.
The defense is much better this year under Wade Phillips, and they shouldn't have a lot of trouble stopping the Cleveland offense.
The Browns have been pretty poor this year offensively. Colt McCoy hasn't been bad at quarterback, but Peyton Hillis has really struggled at running back and there are no big threats at receiver yet.
The defense is very solid in the run game and may be the only chance they have at pulling off the upset.
I still like Houston to improve to 6-3.
Texans 24, Browns 13
Atlanta Falcons at Indianapolis Colts
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The 4-3 Atlanta Falcons look to keep their playoff hopes alive when they travel to Indianapolis to take on the winless Colts this week. The Falcons look like the far better team on paper.
Quarterback Matt Ryan, running back Michael Turner and receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones highlight an offense that has a lot of scoring ability.
The defense doesn't have a lot of star power, but it plays pretty well as a unit.
Indianapolis, on the other hand, is pretty bad on just about all levels. Many of the problems they have were masked by the stellar play of Peyton Manning, but now that the face of their franchise is standing on the sidelines, the glaring deficiencies are coming to the surface.
Their biggest strengths are probably their receivers and their pass rush, but with no legitimate threat at quarterback and holes throughout the rest of the defense, they don't stand much of a chance against an athletically superior Falcons team.
Falcons 27, Colts 14
Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs
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The Kansas City Chiefs will try to extend their four-game winning streak against the 0-7 Miami Dolphins at home this weekend.
Kansas City is severely depleted on the offensive side of the ball, putting a lot of pressure on quarterback Matt Cassel, but so far he's handled it pretty well after an awful start to the season.
The defense has been a big reason for their success. Both the run D and the pass D has started to play up to its potential, and it has showed the past two weeks in wins against division foes.
Miami's offense is nothing short of pathetic, even with the likes of Brandon Marshall and Reggie Bush in the lineup. Quarterback Matt Moore hasn't been impressive, and Marshall has dropped plenty of passes.
Defensively, the Dolphins aren't all that bad, but for the team to have success this season, they would have to be world beaters.
Chiefs continue their hot streak.
Chiefs 17, Dolphins 6
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
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Another big division match-up, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints.
The Bucs already own a win over the Saints, but they'll be hard pressed to pull it off again.
Tampa is led by young quarterback Josh Freeman and stout running back LeGarrette Blount, who could be the key to a possible victory.
The defense hasn't been outstanding by any means and the team as a whole has been inconsistent, but they are capable of winning big games.
The Saints are led by Drew Brees at quarterback, who has a plethora of talented receivers to throw to. The running game, led by Mark Ingram, is slightly less impressive.
The defense has had a lot of struggles against the run this season, and Blount could really exploit that. Still, this Saints team can put up a lot of points, and I don't know if the Bucs will be able to keep up this time.
Saints 31, Bucs 20
San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins
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The San Francisco 49ers travel all the way across the country this week to take on the Redskins in Washington, D.C.
The 6-1 'Niners are playing at a very high level right now, led by quarterback Alex Smith and running back Frank Gore. The running game is this team's bread and butter.
The defense is strong and is very good at keeping opponents off the scoreboard. They are ranked first in both run defense and scoring defense.
The Redskins have really struggled offensively lately, and they can't seem to find the success they had in the beginning of the year. John Beck and Rex Grossman have both struggled lately.
The defense is pretty good and boasts a great pair of pass rushers, but they've been less impressive lately. This team just isn't the same one that began the year.
The 49ers should pull this one out fairly easily with a dominant defensive performance.
49ers 20, Redskins 3
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders
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Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos travel to Oakland's Black Hole to take on the Raiders.
Tebow really struggled against the Lions' vaunted defense last week, but he has an opportunity to redeem himself this week. He'll be aided by receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas and running back Knowshon Moreno.
The defense hasn't been very good so far this season, but at the same time, they haven't been awful. Rookie Von Miller could have a big impact against Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer.
Palmer will have a very good running game to lean on, but with Darren McFadden out and Michael Bush carrying the load, the Raiders won't have the same explosiveness.
Defensively, Oakland hasn't been very good in any defensive category, so expect the Broncos to try and exploit that.
Take note, doubters, I'm picking Tebow and the Broncos in the upset.
Broncos 26, Raiders 24
Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans
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The Cincinnati Bengals travel to Tennessee to take on the Titans. Both teams are looking to avoid falling behind in the playoff race.
The Bengals are led by youngsters Andy Dalton and AJ Green, who could both be stars in the near future. They get Cedric Benson back this week after a one-game suspension as well.
Defensively, Cincy has been one of the best in the league, ranking in the top five in almost every category.
The Titans have played surprisingly well this season behind veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, but Chris Johnson has really struggled after getting a huge payday this past offseason.
The defense has been decent but somewhat spotty this season, particularly in recent weeks.
Expect Cincinnati to keep pace with the Steelers and the Ravens in the division.
Bengals 21, Titans 10
St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals
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The St. Louis Rams, who now finally own a win, will travel to Glendale to take on the Arizona Cardinals this week. Both teams are 1-6.
The Rams are being led by A.J. Feeley at quarterback while Sam Bradford is out, and receiver Brandon Lloyd and running back Steven Jackson are helping the Rams to find a groove on offense.
The Cardinals are led by quarterback Kevin Kolb, receiver Larry Fitzgerald and running back Beanie Wells, who have all had good years.
Both defenses are nothing to get excited about, so we could be in for a shootout. This is a really tough call, but I'm going to say the Rams have a letdown this week in a game that should see a whole lot of total yards, particularly in the running game.
Cardinals 35, Rams 31
New York Giants at New England Patriots
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The New York Giants and the New England Patriots square off in one of this week's biggest match-ups.
Both teams have 5-2 records, and both teams are playing at a high level right now.
The Patriots are led by Tom Brady at quarterback, who makes their offense very tough to stop. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis fits into the system very well and makes an impact, while Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have been Brady's favorite targets.
The defense has not been so hot, though. The Pats have really struggled on that side of the ball.
That's a very good thing for Eli Manning, who has played very well for the Giants lately. Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz provide explosive targets while Ahmad Bradshaw makes the ground game go.
The defense is pretty stout, and they could give Tom Brady fits similar to what he was given against the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This should be a very good game, but it's hard to see the Patriots losing two in a row. Eagles fans get a little more hope this week.
Patriots 31, Giants 29
Green Bay Packers at San Diego Chargers
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The undefeated Green Bay Packers travel to San Diego this week to take on the disappointing Chargers.
Green Bay is led by arguably the best quarterback in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers. To be fair, Rodgers does have some of the best weapons in the league with guys like Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley and James Jones.
The defense has been surprisingly bad at times this year, but they seem to get stops when they need to (which isn't very often).
The Chargers have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, but they continue to underachieve. Philip Rivers is still trying to get out of a rut, while the defense looks better on paper and through stats than it has shown itself to be.
Green Bay stays undefeated.
Packers 27, Chargers 20
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
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In what might be the biggest game of the week, the Baltimore Ravens head to Pittsburgh to take on a Steelers team coming off a big win over New England.
Baltimore trashed Pittsburgh earlier this year, but things have changed since then.
The Ravens lean heavily on Ray Rice and the running game, and Joe Flacco has been inconsistent at quarterback so far. This offense can be explosive, but they will lay an egg once in awhile as well.
Defensively, Baltimore is one of the best in the league, so look for this unit to keep the game close.
Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall all seem to have found a groove on offense, and Antonio Brown is giving Roethlisberger another great target at receiver.
The defense has played better as of late and seems back to its normal impressive form.
I like Pittsburgh in a low-scoring game.
Steelers 19, Ravens 13
Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles
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The Chicago Bears travel to Philadelphia to take on the upstart Eagles on Monday Night Football.
The defense continues to play well for legendary coordinator Rod Marinelli.
Michael Vick and the Eagles' offense played very well against the stout Dallas Cowboys defense, but there were some troubles that may have been masked by the high score.
The Eagles still have questions to answer in pass protection and in run defense, and if those things break down this week, expect the Bears to exploit those opportunities far better than the Cowboys did.
If the Bears can shut down LeSean McCoy, they should be able to walk out with a win. Sorry, just not a believer yet, Eagles fans.
Bears 24, Eagles 20