Last week’s predictions went pretty smoothly, and that’s including an ill-advised late change where I decided to go with the Denver Broncos instead of the San Francisco 49ers, who were my initial pick. There are still some teams playing over their heads (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks don’t look as good as their records indicate) and a couple that are continually underachieving (Dallas Cowboys, anyone?), but for the most part it looks like things are finally starting to take shape in what has been a wild NFL season so far.
Last week’s prediction record: 9-4
Record on the season: 60-41
Upset Special record: 4-3
Here are my predictions for Week 9 of the 2010 NFL season:
Bye Week Teams: Tennessee Titans (5-3), Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4), St. Louis Rams (4-4), Washington Redskins (4-4), San Francisco 49ers (2-6), Denver Broncos (2-6)
New Orleans Saints (5-3) at Carolina Panthers (1-6)
I know the Carolina Panthers were able to keep the game close in their first meeting against the Saints, but does anyone besides Panthers fans think they’ll win this game? The Saints are the superior team, and I expect their win over a strong Steelers team in Week 8 to give them the confidence needed to roll over some of the lesser opponents they’ll face.
2010 Week 9 Prediction: New Orleans Saints defeat Carolina Panthers
Miami Dolphins (4-3) at Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
The Dolphins have only beaten one team with a winning record (the Green Bay Packers), while the Ravens have taken down two of the AFC’s elite teams (the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers). The Ravens should win this game easily, but Baltimore hasn’t made things as easy as they should be this season.
2010 Week 9 Prediction: Baltimore Ravens defeat Miami Dolphins
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2) at Atlanta Falcons (5-2)
It’s a matchup between two of the top teams in the NFC. The Buccaneers have exceeded everyone’s expectations, already gaining two more wins than they did all of last season. The Atlanta Falcons are putting together the wins as expected, but aren’t dominating their opponents. It’s tough to bet against the Falcons when they’re playing at home, but this isn’t going to be a blowout.
2010 Week 9 Prediction: Atlanta Falcons defeat Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chicago Bears (4-3) at Buffalo Bills (0-7) **Upset Special**
Despite sitting at 0-7 on the season, the Buffalo Bills have a few things to be optimistic about. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been terrific since taking over for Trent Edwards in Week 3, and Buffalo’s defense has kept the Bills within striking distance in each of their last three games. Jay Cutler and the Chicago Baears are reeling, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see the Bills pull off the victory at home.
2010 Week 9 Prediction: Buffalo Bills defeat Chicago Bears
New England Patriots (6-1) at Cleveland Browns (2-5)
The Patriots are rolling along right now. Deion Branch has easily re-acclimated himself to the New England offense, and the Patriots defense is holding its own against any team they face. The Browns are probably a little better than they have been in recent years, but I still think New England rolls through this matchup.
2010 Week 9 Prediction: New England Patriots defeat Cleveland Browns
New York Jets (5-2) at Detroit Lions (2-5)
After a nice run of three games, Mark Sanchez has come back down to earth. He was flat out awful last week against the Packers, and things aren’t going to get a lot easier against a deceptively good Detroit Lions squad. I don’t see the Jets losing two weeks in a row, but this game is probably going to be a lot closer than New York fans would like to admit.
2010 Week 9 Prediction: New York Jets defeat Detroit Lions
Arizona Cardinals (3-4) at Minnesota Vikings (2-5)
Considering his age and the number of injuries he’s accumulating, Brett Favre is probably going to be “questionable” for many of the remaining games on Minnesota’s schedule. It might behoove the Vikings to consider subbing Tavaris Jackson into the mix a little more often, as he is much more mobile than Favre and, honestly, can’t play much worse than Favre has at times this season. Arizona doesn’t stand much of a chance either way, but it’ll be interesting to see how the Favre drama unfolds throughout the week.
2010 Week 9 Prediction: Minnesota Vikings defeat Arizona Cardinals
San Diego Chargers (3-5) at Houston Texans (4-3)
The San Diego Chargers have the best passing offense and the best overall defense in the NFL, but have struggled all season with turnovers, penalties and flat out stupid plays. Although they’ve looked better the last two weeks while playing at home, it can’t be ignored that the Chargers are 0-4 on the road this season and are going to take on a Houston Texans team that has managed to grind out some wins despite having the worst overall defense in the entire NFL. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this game turn into a shootout, but I’m going to give the slight edge to Houston due to San Diego’s long-standing road woes.
2010 Week 9 Prediction: Houston Texans defeat San Diego Chargers
Kansas City Chiefs (5-2) at Oakland Raiders (4-4)
This could serve to be one of the best games of Week 9. The Chiefs are shutting people down on defense, and with a couple of breaks could be 7-0. The Raiders started off slowly this season, but no one can argue that they’ve been tremendous the last two weeks, outscoring their opponents 92-17, and have won three of their last four games. Expect this game to mainly take place on the ground, as both the Raiders and Chiefs are Top 5 in the league in rushing and in the bottom third of the league in passing. Also expect the Chiefs to come out on top, as Kansas City’s rush defense is a lot stronger than Oakland’s.
2010 Week 9 Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs defeat Oakland Raiders
New York Giants (5-2) at Seattle Seahawks (4-3)
The New York Giants defense has been stout over the last four weeks and is second in the NFL in yards allowed per game (behind only the San Diego Chargers). The New York Giants offense ranks third in the league in yards per game, but has been undone at times due to turnovers. The Seahawks, meanwhile, have played relatively poorly for most of the season, yet still manage to have four victories compared to only three losses. Giants will roll unless Eli Manning throws another three or four interceptions.
2010 Week 9 Prediction: New York Giants defeat Seattle Seahawks
Indianapolis Colts (5-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-3)
The Indianapolis Colts don’t have much of a running game. The Colts have some holes in their defense, although their pass rush is still very good behind veterans like Dwight Freeney. The Colts are also going to be favored in almost every game that they play as long as Peyton Manning is the quarterback. The Philadelphia Eagles look to have Michael Vick back at quarterback and possibly have DeSean Jackson back at wide receiver, but if they can’t stop Manning they aren’t going to win.
2010 Week 9 Prediction: Indianapolis Colts defeat Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Cowboys (1-6) at Green Bay Packers (5-3)
After shutting out the New York Jets on the road, the Green Bay Packers shouldn’t have any problems with the Jon Kitna led Dallas Cowboys. The Packers may be banged up, but it’s nothing compared to how banged up and psychologically drained the Cowboys are right now.
2010 Week 9 Prediction: Green Bay Packers defeat Dallas Cowboys
Monday Night Game: Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-5)
If the Cincinnati Bengals weren’t able to overcome the Miami Dolphins’ defense, why should we expect them to be able to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers defense? Carson Palmer’s overall season stats are misleading, as he’s looked fairly awful for most of the season so far. I still don’t know if it’s just a temporary blip on the radar or full fledged David Carr syndrome, but the Bengals’ prospects are not great with their quarterback playing this inconsistently.
2010 Week 9 Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers defeat Cincinnati Bengals
All stats and standings from espn.com