Week 9 Matchup Predictions
Chiefs (1-6) @ Chargers (3-4): The Chiefs have yet to take a lead in regulation this entire season. If you're wondering how they have a win, they got it on a game-winning overtime field goal and had not led previous to that score. These two teams have already faced off this season - the Chargers won that game and forced six Chiefs' turnovers. Despite my utter animosity for the Chargers, I can't pick the Chiefs given their flip-flopping quarterback situation and lack of production this season.
Chargers win 27-14.
Broncos (4-3) @ Bengals (3-4): Anyone who didn't think that Peyton Manning would be able to make it back from injury must be feeling pretty foolish these days. The four-time MVP is averaging over 300 yards and has the league's best quarterback rating at 109.0. Playing with the help of the league's 8th ranked defense, the only thing that can stop Peyton and the Broncos these days is turning the ball over early. Facing a Bengals defense that has only three interceptions on the year, I don't think Peyton will be finding himself in an early hole this week.
Broncos win 34-21.
Ravens (5-2) @ Browns (2-6): The Ravens proved their vulnerability without Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb two weeks ago in a 43-13 loss to the Texans. However, the offense was much more of an issue than the defense. Gaining only 176 yards of total offense and turning the ball over twice, Joe Flacco and company gave their defense no chance to stop the Texans' 2nd ranked scoring offense. The Ravens' offense will get back on track, which will, in turn, help their defense. I don't expect the Ravens to handle many impressive teams on the road going forward, but they should be able to make it past the Browns, who's 29th ranked offense won't be able to take advantage of an undermanned Ravens defensive unit.
Ravens win 20-13.
Cardinals (4-4) @ Packers (5-3): Both of these teams are beginning to look a little more like what we were expecting coming into the season. After starting 4-0, the Cardinals have now lost four straight, while the Packers have won three straight after starting 2-3. The Cardinals simply can't generate enough offense to beat good teams right now, as they've sunk to 31st in both scoring and total offense. The Packers have one turnover in their past three games combined, and have averaged 32 points per game during that span. Despite the Cardinals' stout defense, their offense won't be able to keep up with the Packers.
Packers win 24-13.
Bears (6-1) @ Titans (3-5): The Titans have been much improved the past three weeks after giving up 30+ points in each of their first five games. They have now totaled 339+ yards of offense in each of the last three games after topping 300 only twice through their first five, and they gave up only 19 points to Andrew Luck and the Colts in an overtime loss. However, there is a legitimate argument that the Bears are the best team in the league. Their defense is forcing more than three turnovers a game and is ranked 2nd in scoring, while their offense ranks 8th in scoring. Chris Johnson will do nothing against the league's best run defense, and Matt Hasselbeck will eventually have to get out of conservative mode and deal with the Bears' plethora of defensive playmakers.
Bears win 28-14.
Dolphins (4-3) @ Colts (4-3): As you may expect with a team led by a rookie quarterback, the Colts have been very inconsistent this season. They have wins over the Vikings and Packers right alongside losses to the Jaguars and Jets. The Dolphins, on the other hand, have flown under the radar as a consistently solid team. Their only regulation loss came against the 6-1 Texans, and they're now on a three game win streak. The strongest unit in this matchup is the Dolphins' defense, so I'm going to go with the Dolphins and their consistent play.
Dolphins win 20-17.
Panthers (1-6) @ Redskins (3-5): The Panthers aren't quite as bad as their 1-6 record suggests. Five of their six losses have come in one-score games, and the one that didn't was against the reigning Super Bowl champion Giants. The Redskins have a worse record than any of the teams the Panthers have lost to. If Cam Newton has any shot at a breakout game, it will be this week against the Redskins' 32nd ranked pass defense. Robert Griffin III was crippled by his receivers last week against the Steelers, as they seemed to forget how to catch footballs. While I expect RG3 to bounce back thanks to improved receiver play, I'm going with a breakout performance from Cam in this one.
Panthers win 30-27.
Lions (3-4) @ Jaguars (1-6): The Lions have been disappointing this season in a number of ways. First of all, they're 3-4 after being a popular playoff pick. In addition, their offense has generated the second most yards in the league, but is only ranked 16th in scoring. This team has loads of potential, but they've just had trouble finding ways to get wins. They'll find their way this week, however. It's hard to pick the Jaguars against anyone, especially now that their far-and-away best offensive weapon, Maurice Jones-Drew, is out with a foot injury. They're ranked dead last in both scoring and total offense, and their defense isn't nearly as good as it was last year to make up for it. I can't see any way they beat the Lions.
Lions win 31-10.
Bills (3-4) @ Texans (6-1): The Bills are ranked dead last in run defense, and the Texans have one of the league's best run-blocking offensive lines to clear the way for the electrifying Arian Foster. The Texans have one of the league's best defensive units as well - especially against the run, which counters the Bills' offensive strength - and they have an incredibly efficient offense that has the least turnovers in the league. The Texans will get out to a lead and pound the Bills porous defense with the run game all day long.
Texans win 27-17.
Vikings (5-3) @ Seahawks (4-4): The Vikings have been a nice surprise at 5-3, but their last three games have been a 19-point loss to the Buccaneers, a narrow victory over the struggling Cardinals, and a 12-points loss to the 3-5 Redskins. The Seahawks remain undefeated at home, boasting wins over the Cowboys, Packers, and Patriots. The Seahawks are a decent team overall, but they're a great team at home, where their suffocating defense feeds off one of the league's loudest stadiums. Adrian Peterson has looked sensational the past two weeks, but the Seahawks have given up only 73.3 rushing yards per home game this season. The Vikings offense will struggle to move the ball and will be edged out by the Seahawks.
Seahawks win 17-13.
Steelers (4-3) @ Giants (6-2): All season, I've been waiting for the Giants' big letdown game that they often encounter (even in the Super Bowl years), but it hasn't happened yet. I'm starting to think that head coach Tom Coughlin finally has his guys playing at their best each and every week, which is bad news for the rest of the league. With the Steelers coming to the Meadowlands this Sunday, you know the Giants are going to be hyped up and playing hard. The Steelers may have the top ranked pass defense, but they only have three interceptions on the year. It's incredibly difficult to slow Eli Manning down if you can't get him to turnover the ball. The Steelers have yet to get an impressive win, and I don't think this will be the week they do it.
Giants win 27-24.
Cowboys (3-4) @ Falcons (7-0): Tony Romo has been throwing interceptions at a high rate for the Cowboys (5:10 touchdown to interception ratio over past four games), and the Falcons' defense has the third most interceptions in the league this year - not a good combination for Dallas. Meanwhile, the Cowboys struggle to get pressure on the quarterback from anyone not named DeMarcus Ware, and their defense ranks 27th in interceptions. If Matt Ryan is comfortable in the pocket, he will absolutely shred your defense to pieces. I'm going with the undefeated team at home in this matchup.
Falcons win 34-21.
Eagles (3-4) @ Saints (2-5): Double desperation in this game. Both Andy Reid and Michael Vick are cornered in the fight to keep their jobs, while the Saints just about need to run the table to make the playoffs. I think the key in this game will be Michael Vick. Rumors surfaced this week that Vick was likely to be benched, and now that Vick has gotten another chance, he knows he has to make the most of it. I expect that he will make the most of it against the Saints' league-worst defense. While Drew Brees and company will put up points, I think we'll see some old-school, electrifying Michael Vick, along with a season-best performance from LeSean McCoy - thanks to sheer desperation and a terrible opposing defense.
Eagles win 34-31.