With the Broncos off this week I can’t pencil them in as a winner like I have done very single week to this point. And even though I’m a Philadelphia fan, if Matt Barkley starts this week I can’t possibly see them do anything but leave the field in disgrace over in Oakland on Sunday. There are some teams coming off stunning letdowns, like Dallas, or escaping to claim another win, like Kansas City. How long will it be before they lose a game? My pick of the week is playing tonight, and Jacksonville is out, so no punching bag status for them this week. Lots of fun games on deck, and here are my week 9 picks:
Cincinnati @ Miami – The Bengals are on a roll with both their offense and their defense. In fact, they are looking right now like the most complete team in the league on both sides of the ball. Miami is coming off a tough loss last week and they are at home. But I just don’t see Tannehill and that offense being able to take it to the Bengals’ defense. And I see both A.J. Green and Marvin Jones having their way with a Miami defense that gave up more than a few points to Buffalo. I’m going with Cincinnati in orange and black on Halloween. Pick of the week – Cincinnati.
Kansas City @ Buffalo – This game has become a rallying point for people thinking Kansas City has been working its way into its first loss of the season. Buffalo might be with Thad Lewis again, and without C.J. Spiller again, and their offense is pretty much hit-and-miss, but they have Fred Jackson, who has been a beast this season, and they have a much improved defense in recent weeks. The Chiefs have won quite a few close ones the last few weeks. Does Alex Smith and the offense have enough firepower to defeat Buffalo on the road? I think they do, and I think they stay undefeated in another close one. Pick – Kansas City.
Minnesota @ Dallas – While it may seem like a huge unfair advantage in favor of the Cowboys, this is what I would consider a trap game. Minnesota didn’t look horrible with Ponder at quarterback last week, even though they lost to the Packers. And they scored 31 points on a defense that is slightly better than the one currently used by Dallas. I see this game being a shootout, and in that scenario the Cowboys have a disadvantage, having lost two shootouts already this season. This is my upset special of the week. Pick – Minnesota.
Tennessee @ St. Louis – The Rams looked good in putting a whooping on Houston a couple of weeks ago, but then they lost their franchise quarterback. I don’t know if they can muster enough on offense to beat a strong defensive team in Tennessee. Jake Locker is back for Tennessee, too, making this just a little bit of a mismatch. Unless Zac Stacy can get it going for the St. Louis run game, this could be a blowout in Tennessee’s favor. Either way it won’t end well for the Rams. Pick – Tennessee.
New Orleans @ Jets – Somehow the Jets can’t seem to win two in a row, but they also can’t seem to lose two in a row. And with this game in New Jersey it takes out the element of the Super Dome advantage the Saints like to employ. The Jets tend to play tougher in those games they are “supposed” to lose, like that one against New England. I think they do it again here, having been embarrassed last week. At home they take care of Brees and the Saints in a very close game. Pick – Jets.
San Diego @ Washington – The Redskins’ offense isn’t as bad as it looked in the second half against Denver last week. But its defense has been much maligned for good reason. They can’t seem to stop anyone, but I see this game being a lot like the one against Chicago a couple of weeks ago. High scoring. Washington tends to thrive in high scoring duels, and I see RGIII getting quite a few yards with his feet, too. I think Washington rights the ship at home in a close, high-scoring game. Pick – Washington.
Atlanta @ Carolina – Carolina can’t possibly be as good as they’ve played the past three games, can they? And Atlanta can’t possibly lose any more of their top offensive weapons, right? Well, the Carolina defense is legit, and the Atlanta offense right now is not. Harry Douglas is neither Julio Jones nor Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez can only do so much. Matt Ryan needs help, and I don’t see it coming against one of the best defenses in the league. Carolina keeps rolling, winning its fourth straight, and helping to keep the Falcons farther away from the playoffs. Pick – Carolina.
Philadelphia @ Oakland – It’s as simple as this: if Nick Foles plays the entire game, the Eagles win. This game reminds me of the one against Tampa Bay a couple of weeks ago. Foles matches up well against this defense. And Oakland just hasn’t impressed me on offense. Aside from that long run by Pryor last week, there just isn’t much to get excited about with them. The Eagles might be on a skid, but they have the playmakers all still in place. I say DeSean Jackson goes off on that secondary and Shady McCoy gets back on track, going over 100 yards again, with a touchdown. Eagles win a close one in Oaktown. Pick – Philadelphia.
Tampa Bay @ Seattle – Tampa Bay will win at least one game this season, but this week they’re in Seattle. That should speak volumes. The Seahawks are incredibly stingy at home and I don’t see anything changing here. Tampa just doesn’t have enough weapons on offense to overcome that defensive pressure. Mike Glennon hasn’t looked bad, but he and Vincent Jackson won’t be able to take this team to the mountaintop this week. Pick – Seattle.
Baltimore @ Cleveland – Cleveland has been tough against Baltimore in recent years, particularly at home, shutting down Joe Flacco and the Ravens’ passing attack. Luckily, Baltimore still has Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. When Cleveland has given up yards, it has routinely been in the running game, and the same is true of touchdowns scored. This week will be no different, with Rice and Pierce grinding out yard after yard and scoring at least two touchdowns. While Flacco won’t be great, I see the Ravens winning a tough game they have to win to try and keep pace with the Bengals. Pick – Baltimore.
Pittsburgh @ New England – This one will be low-scoring, and traditionally that favors the Steelers, but not this round. The Pats have looked extremely vulnerable at home this year, but I think Brady turns things around, along with his running back corps. Ridley and Bolden will have a good day rushing against a surprisingly weak Steelers’ run defense. That will be enough to win a close one for the Patriots. Pick – New England.
Indianapolis @ Houston – Not too long ago this would have been seen as a marquee matchup between two powerhouses, but with Case Keenum now the starting quarterback for the Texans, and with the Colts having just taken down the mighty Broncos before their bye week, it looks like a mismatch. Don’t be fooled, though, because with the loss of Reggie Wayne, and with the poor play of Trent Richardson, this Colts team isn’t as good as they appeared against a weak Denver defense. Houston will play tough all day long, and Keenum will be stronger than most people figure. It won’t be enough against Mr. Luck, though, and the Colts win another close one. Pick – Indianapolis.
Chicago @ Green Bay – The Packers are at Lambeau, and facing a Bears team without Jay Cutler. This is as bad as it seems. Aaron Rodgers lights it up and this game isn’t even remotely close. Pick – Green Bay.