Thursday, November 3, 2011

NFL Week 9 Picks

Big week ahead in the NFL. Lots of meaningful games and big time match-ups.

Last Week's Record: 12-1 (DAMN YOU NEW ORLEANS!)
Year to Date Record: 76-40

Miami Dolphins vs Kansas City Chiefs
The Dolphins may be winless, but you can't deny the fact that they are playing hard. They went into New York and had the Giants beat for 3 quarters. Problem is, football is a 4 quarter game. The Dolphins lack of depth and experience was exposed late in their loss to the Giants. Matt Moore fizzled after a hot start, and Reggie Bush was shut down in the second half. I think they'll get a win by the end of the year, but it will be tough to get that win this week. The Chiefs, meanwhile, have won four in a row and are now in a 3 way tie atop the AFC West. The last two weeks have seen the Chiefs take out division rivals Oakland and Kansas City. All of the sudden Matt Cassel looks like a competent NFL QB, and whatever differences he has had with Coach Todd Haley seem to be a thing of the past. And the defense has stepped up huge, lead by Tamba Hali and Brandon Flowers. The Chiefs can be tough to beat in Arrowhead, and I see them winning their fifth in a row here. Dolphins will keep it close though.

Kansas City 31  Miami 20

Atlanta Falcons vs Indianapolis Colts
One bye week later, and the Atlanta Falcons look like the favorites in the NFC South. The Saints haven't looked like the Saints of old in recent weeks, and Tampa Bay is easily the most inconsistent team in the NFL. The Falcons are coming off a bye and a big win on the road in Detroit that saw the defense shut down the Lions vaunted offensive attack. And there is no reason to think the Falcons will struggle here. Michael Turner should carve up the Colts run defense and Matt Ryan should be able to find Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and a returning Julio Jones with ease. The Colts have just looked terrible recently. The veterans on the team, specifically Reggie Wayne, have looked discouraged and uninterested late in their losses. I think they just want the season to be over. They won't get any relief here. Falcons win with ease.

Atlanta 34  Indianapolis 17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints
Um, what the hell was that last week New Orleans? That might have been one of the worst games of the Drew Brees Era in New Orleans. He was sacked six times and was hurried in the pocket. Other than their win over Indianapolis, the Saints have been struggling to put teams away recently. They let the Rams defense get 6 sacks, and Tampa's pass rush is much better than St. Louis. The pass defense has struggled in recent games as well. Tampa Bay meanwhile is coming off a disappointing trip to London which saw them lose to Chicago. Tampa has been wildly inconsistent this year as the young team has failed to put together a string of good games. Tampa beat New Orleans by 6 in Week 5 after stopping the Saints late. You have to think the Saints still have last week's game stewing in the back of their mind. I think that plus the home crowd rallies the Saints and lifts them to victory here.

New Orleans 27  Tampa Bay 23

New York Jets vs Buffalo Bills
This is a big game for both teams. The Jets are 4-3 and are coming off two straight wins, including a 2nd half come from behind win against San Diego. I'm still not entirely sold on the Jets. Mark Sanchez is wildly inconsistent and the defense has had problems stopping some teams this year. In this game, the Jets need to put the bulk of the workload in the hands of Shonn Greene and LaDanian Tomlinson. Despite a good performance last week, the Bills still have a soft run defense. With the Bills offensive line still not 100%, expect a heavy pass rush from the Jets. Problem is, Ryan Fitzpatrick has a very quick release and can find his hot receiver quickly. The Bills also have Fred Jackson who refuses to go down after the first hit. He's on pace to break the Bills record of total yards from scrimmage in a season. While the defense has struggled, they had a breakout performance against Washington. They had nine sacks and two interceptions in the game. They came into the game with four sacks on the season. Marcell Dareus was a force at nose tackle and may have found a permanent home their. The Bills will have to pressure Sanchez and force him into mistakes. This is going to be another close one, but I'm leaning Bills. It may be my blind homerism, it may not. But the Bills are the more stable, consistent team.

Buffalo 23  NY Jets 19

Seattle Seahawks vs Dallas Cowboys
Both of these teams are coming off ugly losses last week. The Seahawks were man-handled at home against Cincinnati. They started Charlie Whitehurst at QB, an he played just as bad as he did against Cleveland. Tavaris Jackson entered the game and threw for over 300 yards, but it wasn't enough to help Seattle comeback and win. The Seahawks are stuck in a quandary on offense and just can't seem to get anything going. The Cowboys were embarrassed by the Eagles on Sunday night. The offense was barely on the field, and the defense couldn't slow down Mike Vick and the Eagles offense. I guess the game against St. Louis wasn't really indicative of anything. The Cowboys get another cupcake home game here, so expect them to look strong and rebound from their bad Sunday night performance.

Dallas 28  Seattle 16

Cleveland Browns vs Houston Texans
The AFC South is the Texans division to lose. They've already beaten every other team in the division by 10+ points and have shown they are the team to beat. Now that's not to say the Texans don't have some flaws, especially on defense. They still struggle a bit to stop the pass. They lost another linebacker last week, already adding to the loss of Mario Williams. They may get Andre Johnson back this week, which would be a huge boost for that offense. Houston only has 3 games left against teams with a winning record, so to say they have a soft schedule might be an understatement. The Browns continue to struggle on offense under new coach Pat Shurmur. The new coach was suppose to help the offense, but they can't get anything going. Now they lost Montario Hardesty for a few games. The defense can't score points for them. The Browns should be able to get some points against the Texans, but not enough to help them win. Houston wins here.

Houston 24  Cleveland 14

San Francisco 49ers vs Washington Redskins
Are the 49ers the second best team in the NFL? That's an interesting question to ask right now. Their record, 6-1, is the second best but the talent doesn't necessarily say that. On offense, Alex Smith has had a career resurrection under Jim Harbaugh. He's still not a Pro Bowl player, but he is doing enough to help his team win and not making dumb mistakes. The defense is what has been the story. Lead by Patrick Willis, they are shutting down opponents with ease and getting pressure on the QB. They also do a great job starting the run. They have a four game lead in the NFC West, and could realistically clinch the division by Thanksgiving. Not like Jim Harbaugh would care, he would still run up the score. The Redskins are coming off an abysmal performance against the Bills. Zero points on offense and ten sacks later and I don't think Mike Shanahan still has any answers. I think it is pretty clear that their 3-1 record was a bit over-hyped, and they really don't have a NFL QB on their roster. The offense is too banged up and bad to beat a good 49ers team. San Fran wins easily.

San Francisco 27  Washington 13

Cincinnati Bengals vs Tennessee Titans
I'm officially a believer in the Bengals. A bad team probably would have faltered on a road trip to Seattle, but instead they dominated the Seahawks. The Andy Dalton-A.J. Green connection is here to stay for a long time. If it wasn't for Cam Newton's stellar play, Dalton would be getting more praise for his performance and team's 5-2 record. The defense has stepped up huge as well. They've scored a defensive touchdown in 3 straight games. They put pressure on the QB, which in turn leads to turnovers. The Bengals still have a tough schedule down the stretch, but the defense will keep them in most games. The Titans rebounded off a bad loss to Houston with a win against the NFL's punching bag known as the Indianapolis Colts. Problem is, Chris Johnson still couldn't get anything going on the ground. And Coach Mike Munchak said Javon Ringer may get more touches this week as Johnson continues to struggle. Maybe Johnson is just happy to have his money and doesn't care anymore? I think the Titans keep it close, but the Bengals defense gets to immobile Matt Hasselbeck and forces some turnovers, allowing Cincinnati to pick up another road win.

Cincinnati 26  Tennessee 21

Denver Broncos vs Oakland Raiders
I'm guessing Tim Tebow is on a short leash in this game. He looked atrocious against Detroit and John Fox was hesitant to give Tebow his blessing for this game. But Tebow gets one more opportunity to show he can play QB in the NFL, and I'm sure he knows that a bad first half means that he could be on the bench in the second half. Tebow's mechanics are just all over the place and not there yet. Now of course this isn't all on Tebow, the defense couldn't stop the Lions at all. They've been a big let down this year as far as Broncos fans are concerned. The Raiders have had two weeks to let Carson Palmer get more adapted to the playbook and to wash the taste of their shutout against Kansas City out of their mouth. The Raiders may be without Darren McFadden, but it is not too big of a drop off to Michael Bush. I'm sure the defense will be licking their chops for the opportunity to get after Tim Tebow. With Carson Palmer fully adapted to the playbook, I expect the Raiders to pick up the win here.

Oakland 24  Denver 13

New York Giants vs New England Patriots
A Super Bowl rematch. This begins a brutal portion of the schedule for the Giants. If they're for real, they should get through the schedule with at least 5 more wins the rest of the year. They barely came away with a victory last week against Miami at home. If the Giants fall behind early to New England, Tom Brady and Bill Bellicheck won't let them back into the game like the Dolphins did. Eli Manning, if he continues his good play, should be able to pick apart the Patriots terrible secondary. Anybody could pick apart the Patriots secondary at this point. It's amazing to see a Bill Bellicheck coached team struggle so badly on defense, especially against the pass. And the Giants have a 3 headed monster at WR that will be tough to stop. The Giants need to hope Ahmad Bradshaw is healthy, because Brandon Jacobs looked bad against Miami. The Giants pass rush needs to get to Tom Brady in this one. If they can, I can see the Giants forcing some turnovers and putting their offense in good position. The offense actually struggled at times against Pittsburgh, and they don't have any kind of running game to speak of. I really like the Giants defense, and I think they do enough here to help New York pull off a mild upset.

NY Giants 31  New England 27

St. Louis Rams vs Arizona Cardinals
I don't know if anyone saw the Rams win against New Orleans last week coming except for maybe the players of the Rams. They dominated the Saints in every aspect of the game. Steven Jackson looked like the Steven Jackson of years past where he was considered one of the best running backs in the league. A.J. Feely actually looked good at QB, and the defense put pressure on Drew Brees and forced him into a couple of turnovers. I don't know if this will be a turn around for the Rams season, but it was a nice victory nontheless. The Cardinals on the other hand gave up a huge lead against the Ravens and lost on a last second field goal. Kevin Kolb has looked terrible, and the defense can't stop anything. Ken Wisenhunt may be on the hot seat if he can't get some wins at the end of the year. The Cardinals have the better talent, but the Rams seem more motivated. I'll take the Rams here.

St. Louis 35  Arizona 34

Green Bay Packers vs San Diego Chargers
The Packers have had two weeks to, well, continue being the Packers. They weren't banged up and they haven't struggled anywhere, so it's not like they needed the bye week to fix things. Aaron Rodgers is the leading MVP candidate as he continues to have one of the best seasons an NFL QB can have. There are just so many weapons on offense at his disposal. If they could get a consistent running attack going, they would be unstoppable. The Packers pass defense has been a bit of an issue, but their offense is so good that they mask it. The Chargers are coming off a horrible loss at Kansas City. They had the game won before Philip Rivers fumbled a kneel down snap late in the 4th quarter. The offense still struggled and are now dealing with injuries at running back. The Chargers just seem a bit off this year and it is showing in their performance. The offense shoud be able to score against the Packers, but this game will be on the defense to stop the Packers offense. I don't think the Chargers defense is good enough to stop the Packers offense. I'm taking the Packers in a high scoring affair.

Green Bay 38  San Diego 31

Baltimore Ravens vs Pittsburgh Steelers
These two teams have taken opposite directions since the Ravens Week 1 blowout of Pittsburgh. The Ravens have struggled the last couple of weeks, losing at Jacksonville then barely coming back to win at home against Arizona. The Ravens can't afford to fall behind early against Pittsburgh, because they won't Joe Flacco and Company back in the game. I'm really surprised how much Flacco has regressed this year. I also don't know why the Ravens aren't leaning more on Ray Rice. Rice should be the workhorse of this team but offensive coordinator Cam Cameron seems to get too cute and try to get Joe Flacco involved too much. The defense hasn't really struggled unless the offense puts them in bad postions. The Steelers are on a 4 game winning streak and coming off a big win at home against New England. The defense is playing well after struggling early, but they may be without Lamar Woodley and James Farrior in this game. They are already without James Harrison, so losing those two linebackers would be a big blow. The offense, specifically the passing game, is playing well. Antonio Brown finally has broken out in the last couple of weeks after all of the pre-season hype. Normally these two play a low scoring game. I think it is in the middle here as far as scoring goes. But I'm going with Pittsburgh here. They are playing better football right now.

Pittsburgh 23  Baltimore 20

Chicago Bears vs Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are finally looking like the Eagles team everyone expected them to be this year. The offense looked like an unstoppbable machine against Dallas. Mike Vick found open WRs with ease and they keot the Cowboys defense on the field for extended periods of time. LeSean McCoy isn't getting enough praise for his great play. McCoy has a touchdown in every game this year. The defense also shut down the Cowboys star studded WR duo. The Bears are coming off a bye and a win in London against Tampa Bay. Last year the Bears shut down Mike Vick in route to a win. I don't know if the defense will be able to do that again, but they will need to in order to stop Phialdelphia's offensive attack. The Bears should pound away with Matt Forte in order to keep the ball away from Philadelphia. I think the Bears keep this game close for a bit, but Philadelphia wins it late.

Philadelphia 31  Chicago 28

My Vegas $$$ Picks
Last Week's Record: 3-1
Year to Date Record: 19-12-1

St. Louis +3 at Arizona: Rams are playing better and more inspired football right now.

NY Giants +8.5 at New England: Giants aren't as bad as they showed against Miami.

Cincinnati +3 at Tennessee: Bengals are the better team overall.

Atlanta -7 at Indianapolis: Falcons have had 2 weeks to prepare for bad Colts.

That's all from me.

Until next time,
Justin C
Follow Me on Twitter @JCWonka

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