NFL Week 9 Picks: Packers vs. Cowboys Spotlight Game

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst INovember 5, 2010

NFL Week 9 Picks: Packers vs. Cowboys Spotlight Game

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    GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 15: Brandon Jackson #32 of the Green Bay Packers runs as Terence Newman #41 and Bobby Carpenter #54 of the Dallas Cowboys close in at Lambeau Field on November 15, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Cowboys 17-
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Coming into the 2010 NFL season, both the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys were popular picks to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. 

    Now eight weeks into the NFL season, the Packers have finally righted their injury-plagued roster, but the Cowboys are a much different story. 

    At 1-6, and with starting quarterback Tony Romo out for another six weeks or so, the Cowboys playoff dreams might be over. 

    Can the Cowboys begin to put their season back on the right track against the Packers? I'll answer that and pick the rest of the NFL Week 9 games here. 

Tampa Bay @ Atlanta

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 24:  Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons looks to pass upfield against the Cincinnati Bengals at Georgia Dome on October 24, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris makes a big deal about his team being "the best in the NFC", and they'll get a chance to prove it Sunday in Atlanta. 

    And while the Bucs are 3-0 away from Tampa this season, the Falcons are also 3-0 at home, and Matt Ryan hasn't lost a start in the Georgia Dome in his last 12 tries. 

    This may be the opportunity for the Bucs to put themselves in the NFC contender hunt, but I just don't see it. The Falcons are too much for the up-and-coming Buccaneers to handle in the ATL. 

    Falcons 28, Buccaneers 17

Chicago @ Buffalo

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    BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 24:  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Buffalo Bills hands off to Fred Jackson #22 against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 24, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Bills 37-34. (Photo by Larry French/G
    Larry French/Getty Images

    The Chicago Bears might be the team with four wins, but you wouldn't be able to tell it if you compared the last fews games of the Bears and Buffalo Bills. 

    While the Bills remain winless at 0-7, they've held strong against the likes of the Patriots, Ravens and Chiefs the past three weeks. 

    The Bears, on the other hand, have lost three of four games, and can't seem to get out of their own way on the offensive side of the ball. 

    Will Jay Cutler and that offensive line be able to turn it around in Buffalo? I doubt it. Three or four sacks coupled with a few interceptions seal the fate for the Bears and give the Bills their first win of 2010. 

    Bills 24, Bears 20

New England @ Cleveland

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    NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 24:  Colt McCoy #12 of the Cleveland Browns in action against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on October 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Colt McCoy and his Browns were able to pull off the upset in New Orleans over the reigning Super Bowl champs, but the honeymoon might be over with the 6-1 Patriots coming into Cleveland this weekend. 

    Tom Brady and the still-explosive New England offense will get a boost from the return of Logan Mankins, and while many are calling this a "trap game" for the Pats, I have a feeling Bill Belichick and company will have their guns ready for Eric Mangini's group.

    As long as Brady doesn't throw four interceptions, and the Pats aren't tricked by any 68-yard fake punts, New England will roll to 7-1. 

    Patriots 31, Browns 17

New York Jets @ Detroit

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 31:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets throws a pass against the Green Bay Packers on October 31, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Packers defeated the Jets 9-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaa
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Can the Jets offense really be that bad two weeks in a row? After a heartless 9-0 loss at home to the Packers last week, the Jets will have a major gutcheck this week as they travel to the surprising Detroit Lions. 

    The young Lions offense, led by the now-healthy Matt Stafford, will have its hands full with the Jets defense and might struggle to score points. But the Mark Sanchez-led Jets offense was overmatched as well last week, which means this could be a low scoring affair. 

    If the Jets' receivers hold onto a few more passes this week (they were terrible last week), look for New York to sneak out of Detroit with a close win. 

    Jets 20, Lions 17

Arizona @ Minnesota

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    FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 31:  Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings is aided by teammate Adrian Peterson #28 after Favre was hit by Myron Pryor #91 of the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium on October 31, 2010 in Foxboro, Massac
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Doesn't this picture kind of sum up the Vikings' season? Brett Favre on his knees...well, you get the idea. 

    All jokes aside, the Vikings will be relieved to see the Cardinals coming to town after a grueling stretch of games in which they went 1-4. 

    Arizona's revolving door at quarterback falls on Derek Anderson this week, and the Vikings struggling defense should be able to get back on track by feasting on the once Pro Bowl quarterback. 

    Will Favre and the Vikings' offense be able to put many points on the board without Randy Moss and possibly Percy Harvin? They'll put just enough up to get the win Sunday. 

    Vikings 21, Cardinals 10

New Orleans @ Carolina

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 31: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints in action during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Louisiana Superdome on October 31, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Matthew Sharpe/Getty Images)
    Matthew Sharpe/Getty Images

    Drew Brees and the rest of the Saints proved they can still win big games last Sunday night despite their mini-Super Bowl hangover. 

    Carolina has its own revolving door at quarterback, and Matt Moore will again get the start Sunday. Neither Moore or Jimmy Clausen has been able to score much for points for the Panthers' offense, and they'll need to in this game if they have any plans on beating the Saints. 

    The Saints have had their ups-and-downs this season, and they'll hit another down this Sunday. But that won't matter much with the lowly Panthers lining up opposite them.

    Saints 24, Panthers 13

Miami @ Baltimore

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    CINCINNATI - OCTOBER 31:  Chad Henne #7 of the Miami Dolphins looks to throw a pass during the NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on October 31, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Can the Miami Dolphins score a touchdown? Fins kicker Dan Carpenter would probably appreciate it. 

    Carpenter has kicked ten field goals for Miami the past two weeks, and the Dolphins ran their road record to a perfect 4-0 by beating the Cincinnati Bengals last week. 

    The Ravens' defense struggled their last time out, barely beating the winless Buffalo Bills, so Chad Henne and the Dolphins offense could have opportunities to put the ball in the endzone. 

    If Miami can find a few inventive ways of scoring touchdowns, they'll run their road record to a perfect 5-0. 

    Dolphins 24, Ravens 21

San Diego @ Houston

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    SAN DIEGO - OCTOBER 31:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 and tight end Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers walk up the sideline together against the Tennessee Titans in the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on October 31, 2010 in San Diego, Califor
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    With the Chargers putting a jolt back into their season last week by beating the Titans, have they began their second half push towards the playoffs like they do every season? 

    I still don't trust San Diego, because this team feels different then the previous Chargers' teams who stormed to the playoffs, but I equally don't trust the Houston Texans. 

    They look good on paper, and every year we're ready to say they've made the next step. But have they?

    We could call this game "Looks Good on Paper But Doesn't Always Play Like It" Bowl. Phillip Rivers and Antonio Gates lead the Bolts to the win in the first running of this bowl. 

    Chargers 35, Texans 28

New York Giants @ Seattle

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 17:  Justin Tuck #91  of the New York Giants against the Detroit Lions at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 17, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    What a first game in the NFL for Seattle's Charlie Whitehurst. The Seahawks are tough at Qwest Field, but Whitehurst and company will have all they can handle with the Giants' pass rush Sunday. 

    Eli Manning and Ahmad Bradshaw anchor a balanced offense as well for the NFC East leading Giants, and receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks could have big days against the Seahawks' secondary. 

    The Qwest Field advantage tells me to keep this game close, but I see New York heading back east with a big W. 

    Giants 30, Seahawks 14

Kansas City @ Oakland

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    OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 31:  Jason Campbell #8 of the Oakland Raiders claps his hands after the Raiders scored their last touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 31, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra S
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Who really would have guessed that a Week 9 matchup between the Chiefs and Raiders would mean so much? 

    The 5-2 Chiefs and 4-4 Raiders have both been surprises this season, and Oakland has somehow outscored its opponents 92-17 in the past two weeks. 

    Could both of these teams actually be for real? One of them is the pretender in this equation, and that team will be exposed come Sunday. Look for that team to be the Chiefs, as they'll struggle heading to the crazed Bay Area.

    Raiders 27, Chiefs 20

Indianapolis @ Philadelphia

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 03:  Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles throws a pass against the Washington Redskins on October 3, 2010 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Michael Vick makes his triumphant return to the Eagles offense, and he might be joined by receiver Desean Jackson as well. 

    The two most explosive members of the Eagles will undoubtedly help the offense, and with the Colts coming off an emotional win against the Texans, Philly could be primed for a mini-upset. 

    Peyton Manning and the Colts have been inconsistent at times this season, and considering Indy is still beat up, look for the Eagles to defend the Linc. 

    Eagles 28, Colts 24

Game Spotlight: Dallas @ Green Bay Preview

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    GREEN BAY - SEPTEMBER 21:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers  passes the ball against the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field on September 21, 2008 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Cowboys defeated the Packers in 27- 16.  (Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images
    Tom Hauck/Getty Images

    For the Dallas Cowboys, it might be now or never. Sitting at 1-6, the 'Boys aren't mathematically eliminated from the playoffs by any means, but another loss or two would almost surely end the Cowboys' once-promising season. 

    The talk at the beginning of the season was if Dallas could end up being the first team to play a Super Bowl at home, but this terrible start has people talking more about the number 1 pick in the draft then playing in February. 

    The Packers had a similar, yet less brutal, start to their season. Green Bay has lost all three of its games by a field goal, and through eight games have ten players on season-ending injured reserve. 

    The Packers have made due, however, and are owners of an impressive two-game winning streak over the Vikings and Jets. 

    Three Keys:

    1. Running game: Whoever is more successful in getting their running game going has the advantage in this game. Both the Packers and Cowboys have struggled running the ball and stopping it on defense. 

    2. Protection: Green Bay and Dallas both have gifted pass rushers in Clay Matthews and Demarcus Ware, respectively. Each team has struggled at points this season in keeping their quarterback upright, so offensive line play is critical to this matchup.

    3. Big Play Receivers: Greg Jennings and Miles Austin are both big play receivers that can swing a game in their teams' direction. Austin has hurt the Packers in the past, and Jennings is seemingly getting his season back on track as Aaron Rodgers' number one target. 

Dallas @ Green Bay Prediction

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    GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 15: Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys reaches for the ball after fumbling while being sacked by Charles Woodson #21 of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on November 15, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Dallas Cowboys are a dangerous football team solely on the fact that they are beyond desperate. Their play in working towards a 1-6 record has exposed many of the Cowboys' fatal flaws, however. 

    The Packers are a team on the rise in the 2010 season. At 5-3, Green Bay is on top of the NFC North, and with the bye week looming following Sunday, the Packers can finally get healthy. 

    Barring any Aaron Rodgers' meltdowns, or a heroic Jon Kitna performance, the Packers should be able to run the Cowboys record to 1-7. The Packers will head into the bye 6-3, and will be capable of making another big second half run as they did a year ago. 

    Packers 27, Cowboys 17

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 31: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws the ball against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on October 31, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Matthew Sharpe/Getty Images)
    Matthew Sharpe/Getty Images

    Like I said last week, and Carson Palmer proved, the Bengals' quarterback is one of the most overrated players in the NFL. 

    His statlines are also misleading, and his pick at the end of the Dolphins' game was the dagger in the Bengals' chances. 

    The Steelers' defense should feast on Palmer and the Bengals' offense, and Ben Roethlisberger will do enough to let Pittsburgh cruise to a victory in Cincinnati. 

    Steelers 24, Bengals 7