It's another unique week in the NFL during week 9 because there's only one game where both teams have a winning record: Chicago at Green Bay on Monday night. That's a big matchup on a Monday night, but the Bears are without Jay Cutler so who knows how effective their offense will be. Everything else on the schedule is good team vs. bad team or evenly matched teams hovering around the .500 mark.
Before we get to this week's games, here are some thoughts on the Thursday night game.
Miami 22 - Cincinnati 20: I was at a party for Halloween festivities where a TV wasn't really available, so I missed the game. I saw highlights, read a few recaps and it looks like the Bengals offense just wasn't as sharp as it has been. While Giovani Bernard had a big day with two TDs, Andy Dalton cooled off with no TD passes and 3 INTs including a costly INT TD for Brent Grimes of the Dolphins. It was a unique win for the Dolphins because they got a safety in overtime to earn the victory. Miami moves to 4-4 as they fight for a playoff spot while the Bengals stay atop the AFC North with a 6-3 record. Also, very sad to read that Bengals star DT Geno Atkins has a torn ACL and is out for the year. It feels like more ACL injuries this year than any year. Awesome player. Tough loss.
Last week straight up: 10-3. Season: 75-45 (.625)
Byes: Arizona, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, N.Y. Giants, San Francisco
All game times are in the Eastern time zone.
Atlanta (2-5) at Carolina (4-3) 1:00 pm
I think the Falcons offense is going to struggle. They had a tough time in Arizona last week and the Panthers defense is better than the Cards, so I look for the Panthers to control the game. Run the ball, let Cam Newton make plays down the field when he can and shut the offense down. That's the Panther way right now. It's working. Panthers 31-17
Minnesota (1-6) at Dallas (4-4) 1:00 pm
This should be a blowout. The Vikings are so bad that even the great Adrian Peterson looks like an average running back this year. The Cowboys can move the ball and put up points, which should come easy against one of the worst teams in the league. Cowboys 38-20
New Orleans (6-1) at N.Y. Jets (4-4) 1:00 pm
The Jets are one of those average teams that are very competitive at home (3-1) and below average on the road (1-3). The Saints look like one of the five best teams in the NFL. If they manage to get the top seed in the NFC they will be hard to beat at home. They're a veteran team with good coaching that knows how important it is to win games like these. I think Drew Brees and their offense will have an impressive game because they can beat teams in so many different ways. The Jets will put up a fight, but I just think the Saints are on another level right now. Saints 27-23
Tennessee (3-4) at St. Louis (3-5) 1:00 pm
This is a matchup between two teams that aren't going to make the playoffs and are still going through growing pains with young players in key roles. My Rams outplayed the Seahawks last week and still lost mainly because of backup QB Kellen Clemens throwing two awful INTs. I'm still in pain from that one. I think the Rams run game is legit with Zac Stay, though, so they should be fine in this game. Rams defense is also capable of dominating a below average offense. I'll take the home team in a defensive, boring type of game. Rams 17-16
Kansas City (8-0) at Buffalo (3-5) 1:00 pm
Upset alert! It looks like Thad Lewis is going for the Bills at QB. He's not great, but they can move the ball down the field with him. They also have CJ Spiller back and Stevie Johnson's listed as probable. I think the Chiefs are vulnerable especially on the road. The Bills are 2-2 at home with all four games ending with a final score that was by three points or less. What does that mean? They play close games. When you play close games regularly you have a shot to win some of them. I expect the Bills crowd to make a lot of noise, for their pass rush to get after Alex Smith (Mario Williams is having a huge year for the Bills) and if they can find a way to put up some points they will win the game. It's boring picking favorites all the time. Need a few upsets. Here's one I like. Bills 20-17
San Diego (4-3) at Washington (2-5) 1:00 pm
If the playoffs ended today, the Chargers would be the 6th seed in the AFC. I'm not sure if they're going to last as playoff contenders, but if they are then they need to win games like this. Washington is inconsistent with a bad defense. I get the feeling that they will be able to score in this game, though. With that in mind, I'll take the home team in a shootout because I'm picking too many low scores this week. We need a high scoring game. This is it. Washington 34-31
Philadelphia (3-5) at Oakland (3-4) 4:05 pm
I picked the Eagles the last two weeks, which was a big mistake. They scored three points two weeks ago and then seven points last week. Not good. The Raiders are not a playoff team most likely, but they are 3-1 at home (0-3 on the road) so that makes me lean towards them. I like the run game with Terrelle Pryor and Darren McFadden looking healthy too. Look for some deep strikes to Denarius Moore too. I can see the Eagles bouncing back a bit, but I'll take the Raiders at home. Raiders 24-17
Tampa Bay (0-7) at Seattle (7-1) 4:05 pm
The spread is 16.5 points for the Seahawks here. I think they'll cover that. Good luck to the inept Bucs offense scoring in this game. I don't think they have much of a chance. I'll give them a field goal because I'm generous like that. Seahawks 31-3
Baltimore (3-4) at Cleveland (3-5) 4:25 pm
Who do I pick here? The Browns have lost three straight (to playoff caliber teams) and the Ravens are coming off two losses in a row. The Ravens offense is struggling. The Browns appear to have a pretty good defense that's 6th against the run and 11th against the pass, but they're giving up 29.8 points per game, so are they really that good? Still, I'm going with the Browns at home just because of the divisional game factor and I don't think the Ravens will have that much success moving the ball. Home upset for the win. Browns 20-16
Pittsburgh (2-5) at New England (6-2) 4:25 pm
It's hard to be encouraged by the Steelers after losing in Oakland last week. The Pats offense isn't the force that it once was. Tom Brady isn't looking like his usual self partly because his weapons aren't as good as usual, but it might be because he's in his mid-30s too. I know it's a sin for the media to criticize anything Brady does, but people do get older. That's life. They should be able to handle the Steelers, who also have too many issues on offense. Patriots 26-17
Indianapolis (5-2) at Houston (2-5) 8:30 pm
I'm strongly against the Texans at this point. This could be a chance for them to turn things around a bit, though. They're coming off their bye week, which took place after five losses in a row. I'm not sure if rookie QB Case Keenum is ready for a big game like this or if he can lead the offense to beat a better team like the Colts. The Colts have shown this year and last year that they can find ways to win close games. I think the Texans will stay competitive right up until the final few minutes, but I like Andrew Luck and company to enough plays let to win a key divisional game. Colts 24-20
Chicago (4-3) at Green Bay (5-2) 8:40 pm (MON)
The Bears are reeling after losing three of their last four and now QB Jay Cutler is out with a groin injury that could keep him on the sideline for the next month. This is a huge game for them. The problem is that the Packers are rolling with four straight wins. I love their balanced offense with Eddie Lacy running the ball and of course Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best QB in the league. Even with injuries to Randall Cobb and James Jones the offense is still producing. Looking ahead, the Packers have the Eagles, Giants and Vikings after this so their hot streak is likely going to continue. I like the Packers a lot in this one. Packers 34-17
That's all for me this week. Enjoy the games and good luck to you.