NFL Week 9 Preview


Game of the Week I: Dallas Cowboys (5-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-2) 5:20 PM – NBC

You never know what you’re going to get with either of these two teams, but if both play as they did last week, this could be a classic.  They’re similar is many other ways as well, both with red-hot quarterbacks, play-making young wide receivers, and defenses that could just as easily give up 30 points as pitch a shutout with 5 or 6 sacks and 3 take-aways.  The main difference is in the running game.  Both teams are relatively average in run defense, but Dallas is averaging 30 more yards per game and almost a whole yard per carry than Philly.  If the Cowboys can contain Philly’s big plays (a tall task for the league’s 8th worst pass defense), they will run the Eagles into the ground.  Prediction: Eagles win and cover (-3.5)

Game of the Week II: Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) at Denver Broncos (6-1) Monday 5:30 PM – ESPN

If the Broncos felt they weren’t getting enough respect as they jumped out to that 6-0 start, they quickly got a chance to prove their mettle in Baltimore.  And they got hammered.  Now they play host the Pittsburgh who had won 4-in-a-row (including over the then-undefeated Vikings) before their bye last week.  Rashard Mendenhall will test the Broncos excellent run defense, but more importanly, the Steelers defense will likely harrass Kyle Orton and the Broncos’ offense just like the Ravens did last week.  Prediction: Steelers win and cover (-3.5)

Washington Redskins (2-5) at Atlanta Falcons (4-3) 10 AM

Generally speaking the way to pull off an upset is by controlling the clock with a solid running game and winning the turnover battle.  Of course, if the underdog could do those things consistantly, they probably wouldn’t be underdogs.  The ‘Skins are 26th in the league in rushing yards per game and 30th in turnover margin.  And the Falcons are just too balanced on offense for Washington to stop them.  Prediction: Atlanta wins and covers (-10.5)

Arizona Cardinals (4-3) at Chicago Bears (4-3) 10 AM – Fox

Arizona’s once-league-leading run defense dropped to 9th after last week when they got shredded by Carolina.  So if the grossly-underperforming Matt Forte did his homework and watched that tape, he may be able to dominate this one for the Bears.  Forte won’t likely be able to have a breakout game though, so Jay Cutler just needs to avoid interceptions and the Bears will wear down the Cards.  Prediction: Bears win and cover (-3.5)

Baltimore Ravens (4-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) 10 AM

The Bengals probably feel like they haven’t gotten enough respect after beating the Ravens and Packers on the road, as well as the Steelers in Cincy, and only losing to the Broncos on a miracle-tipped pass for a touchdown to end the game.  But outside of Week 7’s blowout of Chicago, they barely won the other 4 this season.  So are they good enough to get it done, or very, very lucky?  They ran all over the Ravens in Baltimore last month and that won’t happen again.  Prediction: Ravens win and cover (-2.5)

Houston Texans (5-3) at Indianapolis Colts (7-0) 10 AM

Steve Slaton lost his job due to a fumbling problem and while Ryan Moats had a huge game last week, the Colts will have had time to watch tape of him and diagnose how to slow him down.  Matt Schaub and the Texans’ passing game is good enough to hang with Peyton Manning and the Colts’ if they stay away from turnovers, but Indy is +6 in turnover margin.  Prediction: Colts win and cover (-9.5)

Miami Dolphins (3-4) at New England Patriots (5-2) 10 AM – CBS

The last time the Dolphins were in Foxboro, they unveiled the Wildcat offense and in the weeks since then we have seen it catch like wildfire throughout the NFL.  But we have also seen this season that though the Dolphins can run the ball very well and dominate the clock, they just aren’t a very good team.  They held the ball for twice as long as Indy did earlier this year and still lost because they gave up big play after big play.  Last I checked, New England had some “big-play-ability.” Prediction: Patriots win and cover (-10.5)

Green Bay Packers (4-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7) 10 AM

The Bucs will have a new quarterback this week and may have a slightly different feel to them, having had a bye week to remake their struggling offense.  But let’s face it, rookie Josh Freeman (the new starting quarterback) was third on the depth chart to start the season behind two guys that stunk it up.  However the Bucs are at home and there is the possibility that the Packers will be looking past the dismal Buccaneers at the Cowboys next week.  There is also the possibility that Aaron Rodgers (the league’s passer rating leader) throws for 400 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Prediction: Packers win and cover (-10.5)

Kansas City Chiefs (1-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4) 10 AM

Detroit Lions (1-6) at Seattle Seahawks (2-5) 1:05 PM

Tennessee Titans (1-6) at San Francisco 49ers (3-4) 1:15 PM

I got a cortisone shot in my wrist yesterday and don’t feel like these games are worth the effort or pain of typing about them.  Prediction: Jaguars, Seahawks, and 49ers win and cover (-6.5, -10.5, and -4.5, respectively

Lock of the Week: Carolina Panthers (3-4) at New Orleans Saints (7-0) 1:05 PM

Jake Delhomme didn’t throw a pick last week, but he only threw the ball 15 times, while Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams piled up 270 rushing yards.  They won’t run like that against New Orleans and Delhomme will have to make plays with his arm…that’s not a recipe for success lately.  Carolina has to be perfect just to stay with New Orleans, and they won’t be.  The Saints weren’t able to put Atlanta away last week, but they’ll get another double digit win this week, making it 4 out of 5 at home this season.  Prediction: Saints win and cover (-14.5)

San Diego Chargers (4-3) at New York Giants (5-3) 1:15 PM – CBS

Enough time has passed that this is no longer a grudge match for the Chargers who may have felt slighted when Eli Manning said he’d rather play in New York.  More importantly for both teams, it is a must-win game to stay in the playoff race.  The Chargers stumbled out of the gate as the Broncos bolted to a huge lead, and the Giants have stumbled lately, letting the Cowboys and Eagles pass them by.  Neither star runningback is performing this season, so the game will rest on the shoulders of their backups (Darren Sproles and Ahmad Bradshaw) the defenses.  Once again, if the Giants’ pass rush can get to Phillip Rivers, the Giants will roll at home.  If he stays upright in the pocket, he will torch them like the last three pass-first offenses the Giants have faced.  Prediction: Giants win, Chargers cover (+4.5)