Week 9 starts with the Battle for the Bay as the 49ers host the Raiders. It’s amazing how times have changed. Both the Raiders (1-6) and the Niners (1-7) are awful. Both are coming off ugly losses to teams with equally dismal records. The home team has won the last three meetings between the two teams. Let’s stick with that…San Francisco 23, Oakland 20.
The Bears are slowly catching on. They are sixth in the NFL in rushing offense and have a defense that is improving. They held the Jets to just 10 points last week. Chicago will play at Buffalo in Week 9. The Bills are the absolute worst scoring team in the NFL (11.6 points per game). Yikes! Chicago 28, Buffalo 13.
It seems that every week Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes throws a bunch of touchdown passes. Last week in a win over Denver, it was four. Now, he will face the Browns who are just 2-5-1 after getting stomped by rival Pittsburgh. The Chiefs have won the last two against the Browns but lost the last time they played in Cleveland (2012). Don’t expect that to happen again… Kansas City 33, Cleveland 24.
The Jets head to Miami in a key AFC East matchup. The Dolphins have dropped two straight and four of their last five. The Jets (3-5) can pull into a tie with Miami with a victory. The Dolphins have won four of the last five against the Jets, including the last two at home. If QB Ryan Tannehill is back, Miami gets the win… Miami 28, NY Jets 21.
After winning three of four, the Lions let one slip away at home in a loss to Seattle last week. Now they have to go to NFC North Division leader Minnesota. Detroit has actually won three of the last four against the Vikings. Two of those wins were in Minnesota. With the way the Vikings have been playing as of late, don’t expect Detroit to go four-for-five… Minnesota 27, Detroit 20.
Don’t look now, but the Redskins are 5-2 and in the lead in the NFC East. At home against Atlanta this week, Washington could put up some big numbers against a Falcons defense that gives up 433.3 yards a game and 30.3 points. Ouch! The Falcons counter with QB Matt Ryan and a prolific passing game. It just won’t be enough… Washington 28, Atlanta 23.
The Bucs lost both games to Carolina last season and have lost eight of the last ten against the Panthers. The Tampa Bay pass offense is awesome (376.3 yards per game), but the defense is horrendous. The Bucs give up 33.3 points a game, dead last in the NFL. This game is in Charlotte and the Panthers are coming off a 36-21 drubbing of a very good Baltimore team… Carolina 28, Tampa Bay 17.
Just a few weeks ago, the Ravens were 4-2 and leading the AFC North. Two straight losses later they are 4-4 and facing division rival Pittsburgh, which has won three straight. The series has been one of streaks. Baltimore won four straight, then Pittsburgh three in a row. Baltimore won the last meeting in September, but Pittsburgh’s hot. Baltimore is not… Pittsburgh 33, Baltimore 24.
Houston has won five in a row. Denver has lost five of its last six and its lone victory in that span was over Arizona. Denver has won the last two against Houston (2013, 2016) and could sure use a win. The Texans (5-3) have a two-game lead in the AFC South and have won their last two road games. Houston WR Will Fuller is done for the season with a knee injury. The streak runs out in Denver… Denver 26, Houston 25.
Sunday’s Chargers-Seahawks game is an important one for both teams. Like the Seahawks, the Chargers (5-2) likely won’t win their division but are in position for a wild card. Seattle (4-3) has won four of its last five games thanks to a resurgence of the run game. The Chargers have won four in a row with an offense led by QB Philip Rivers (17 TDs) and RB Melvin Gordon (466 yard rushing, 6 TDs). Home team gets the edge, especially since it’s the Seahawks… Seattle 23, LA Chargers 21.
The Rams-Saints game on Sunday will likely determine who gets the overall No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. The Rams are 8-0 and have one of the most prolific offenses and stout defenses in the NFL. The Saints average 33.4 points a game (2nd) and are deadly on offense. The defense leaves a little to be desired. The last time the two teams played in New Orleans (2016), the Saints won big, 49-21. This is a different Rams team though… LA Rams 34, New Orleans 33.
Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have faced each other just once back in 2014. Rodgers got the best of Brady in a 26-21 win at home. This time, it’s in New England and the Patriots have won four straight prior to their Week 8 Monday night game with Buffalo, averaging 39.3 points a game in the process. The Packers will have trouble stopping that offense… New England 37, Green Bay 28.
The Titans were once 3-1 but have dropped three straight. The offense has forgotten how to score. Tennessee averages 15.1 points a game, 30th in the NFL. Dallas is inconsistent especially on offense. They scored 40 in a win over Jacksonville but managed just 17 last week in a loss to Washington. This should be a defensive battle. Dallas is second in the NFL in points allowed (17.6) and Tennessee is third. The Cowboys have won three of the last four against the Titans and are 4-4 since 2010 on Monday night. Dallas wins at home… Dallas 24, Tennessee 17.
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Cleveland @ Cincinnati
The battle of Ohio shouldn’t be much of a battle as the undefeated Bengals (7-0) entertain Cleveland (2-6) on Thursday night. Cincinnati is coming off a Sunday win over Pittsburgh, so the short week might give the Bengals some trouble, but hey, it’s Cleveland! The Browns are still trying to figure things out. Chalk up another loss… Cincinnati 27, Cleveland 19.
Green Bay @ Carolina
This is a huge game. The NFC North leader against the NFC South frontrunner. Green Bay is coming off a tough loss to Denver. It’s hard to see them losing two in a row. Carolina hasn’t lost at home and their defense, led by LB Luke Kuechly, is tough. Panthers in a tight one… Carolina 14, Green Bay 13.
Washington @ New England
The Redskins are up and down. They have played well in wins over Philadelphia and Tampa Bay and have even battled in losses to Atlanta and the Jets. In the end, though, Washington just doesn’t have what it takes to beat a team like New England. The Patriots are just up and will continue to be Sunday… New England 37, Washington 20.
Miami @ Buffalo
This game will have some implications in the AFC East. Both teams are 3-4. The Dolphins have yet to win a division game but have been playing much better since the firing of Joe Philbin. They did run into the Patriots last Thursday and they don’t play well in Buffalo. The Bills just can’t seem to put it together. Starting QB Tyrod Taylor may return from injury. The Bills lost to Jacksonville last week. Ugh, and they haven’t played well at home… Miami 31, Buffalo 28.
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St. Louis @ Minnesota
The hottest team in the NFL right now may be the Minnesota Vikings. Head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense is shutting people down and Adrian Peterson is running people over. Next up is St. Louis. At 4-3, the Rams are improved from last year. Rookie RB Todd Gurley is impressive. Can he rip up the Vikings defense? Not this time… Minnesota 23, St. Louis 17.
Oakland @ Pittsburgh
The old Steelers-Raiders rivalries of the 1970s and ‘80s are long gone. The two teams are now headed in different directions. The Raiders have won two in a row and feature a potent offense. The Steelers were supposed to feature a potent offense. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returned from a knee injury last week to guide Pittsburgh to a measly 10 points in a loss to Cincinnati. Still, the Steelers won’t lose two in a row at home… Pittsburgh 30, Oakland 24.
Atlanta @ San Francisco
After starting 5-0, the Falcons have lost two of their last three with both losses coming against NFC South Division opponents. The lone win in those three games was a 10-7 victory over lowly Tennessee. Atlanta is not playing well, but they face a 49ers team that hasn’t played well this year. San Francisco doesn’t throw the ball well. They are worst in the NFL in scoring (13.6 points a game) and they don’t play very good defense. Even if Atlanta struggles, the Falcons win… Atlanta 31, San Francisco 17.
Denver @ Indianapolis
Can anyone beat Denver? Well, it won’t be the Colts. Indianapolis is 3-4 and leads the AFC South Division. The Colts have wins over teams with a six victories. While Peyton Manning is not enjoying a stellar season, he is still Peyton Manning and the Denver defense is just dominating. They lead the NFL in points against… Denver 35, Indianapolis 14.
NY Giants @ Tampa Bay
The Giants are coming off a thrilling loss to New Orleans, while the Bucs claimed an overtime victory over Atlanta last week. The Giants offense, with QB Eli Manning and WR Odell Beckham Jr, is virtually unstoppable. Tampa Bay has been inconsistent and rookie QB Jameis Winston is improving. Still, the Giants need this win… NY Giants 33, Tampa Bay 28.
Philadelphia @ Dallas
The Sunday night game is a pivotal one in the NFC East. Dallas has yet to win a game without Tony Romo at quarterback. Romo won’t return until later this month and if the Cowboys can’t muster a few wins, their playoff hopes are done. The Eagles are in the same boat. They did beat New Orleans and the Giants in successive games but lost to a very good Carolina team in their last game. The Eagles did have a bye week to prepare… Philadelphia 24, Dallas 17.
Chicago @ San Diego
The 2-5 Bears against the 2-6 Chargers on Monday night. It could be a yawner. The Chargers, with the NFL’s top passing game, have dropped four straight because they just don’t play very good defense. The Bears have dropped two in a row by a total of six points. The Bears aren’t all that good on defense either, which might mean that a lot of points get put up… San Diego 37, Chicago 34.