Sunday sets the season's standards
Week eight left a lot of Redskins fans around the DMV stunned - the Lions were able to beat the 'Skins by 12 points after coach Mike Shanahan decided to bench starting quarterback Donovan McNabb and instead put in the always terrible Rex Grossman. The Patriots continued their dominance and ended their week 6-1; while the reigning Super Bowl champions, the New Orleans Saints, stopped the Steelers' winning streak. All of our experts ended the week over .500 and are looking to week nine to keep their standings high.
Sunday, Nov. 7
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2) at Atlanta Falcons (5-2)
Both of these teams are looking for their sixth regular season win and it will be a close one, considering the Bucs haven't lost on the road and the Falcons are undefeated at home. Although Tampa Bay has developed a reputation for winning those down-to-the-wire games, Atlanta will go 4-0 at the Georgia Dome.
The Bucs and Falcons are both 5-2, but I give the edge to Atlanta in week nine. Tampa Bay's defense will have a tough time stopping receiver Roddy White, who caught 11 balls for 201 yards and two touchdowns in week seven. Atlanta is coming off a bye, so they'll be plenty rested.
Although Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman has been successful this year, he hasn't led his team to beat any powerhouse teams. The Bucs barely beat the Cardinals last week and relied on a last-minute interception to secure the win. Whoever wins this game will take the top of the NFC South and the Falcons, coming off a bye week, should be able to get the "W."
Chicago Bears (4-3) at Buffalo Bills (0-7)
The Bills need to win one at some point, but who really knows when that will be. The Bears' offense hasn't shown its true potential but they'll definitely dominate Buffalo's lowly offensive line.
The Bills will win at some point, right? Why not this week at home against Chicago. Buffalo almost beat Baltimore in week seven, and nearly got the win against Kansas City last week. The Bills lost both games in OT, but they showed they can compete. I have a feeling they'll be able to beat a struggling Bears team that's lost two straight.
It's been interesting to watch the Bills play in the last weeks. They definitely look like they know they have to stop themselves from going winless the whole season and I'm sure they will. During a ridiculous game against the Chiefs last week, Buffalo was tied with Kansas City until the Chiefs made a field goal as time expired - once again the Bills just barely lost to a team that was supposedly way better than them. However, I don't think their first win will come against Chicago's strong defense, which will stop Buffalo from getting any points on the board.
New England Patriots (6-1) at Cleveland Browns (2-5)
This one is easy. The Patriots have emerged as one of the most dominant teams in the NFL this season while the Browns have barely afforded two wins.
The Pats are the best team in football right now. The Browns are 2-5 and tied for last in the AFC North. New England gets the win and moves to 7-1.
The Patriots are 6-1 and look like the best team in the NFL right now. The Browns, at 2-5, are tied with Cincy for last place in the AFC North. To make things worse for Cleveland, it looks like they'll be starting rookie quarterback Colt McCoy. The Browns can't expect McCoy to come out there and play a perfect game, lifting them over the Pats. It just will not happen. Patriots win big and continue their hot streak.
New York Jets (5-2) at Detroit Lions (2-5)
The Jets have got this one, but it will not be a blow out by any means since New York still has several kinks to work out. But if Mark Sanchez can minimize the interceptions and the Jets can cause fewer turnovers, the Jets have this one.
The Jets laid an egg against the Packers last week, but they'll rebound against Detroit in week nine. The Lions played well against Washington but they'll be hard-pressed to beat a 5-2 Jets team.
Why not pick Detroit? I'm hoping Calvin "Megatron" Johnson can catch some more touchdowns this week as I (stupidly) pick my Lions to beat the Jets. I know the Jets have the better defense, but Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez hasn't been able to lead his team downfield. Meanwhile, Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford came back last week against the Redskins and helped his team defeat Washington's strong defense. That botched Rex Grossman play helped Detroit a lot too though. Anyway, I'll take Detroit to score some points and prove their potential.
Arizona Cardinals (3-4) at Minnesota Vikings (2-5)
Minnesota's 2-5 record isn't truly reflective of all they've done this season. The Vikings could potentially turn their season around in week nine with a win against the struggling Arizona Cardinals.
It hasn't been a drama-free week by any means in St. Paul. But I'm banking on AP to have a big game for Minnesota and on the Viking D to have a day against a poor Arizona offense. With all their struggles, Favre still threw for 259 yards (albeit with no touchdowns) and Peterson rushed for 92 yards and a score. That was against the 6-1 Pats, so I think the Vikings should have an easier time against the Cardinals.
Even though both teams are struggling at the moment, Minnesota technically has the advantage with Brett Favre at quarterback and deep talent in their receiving corps. However, with the Randy Moss fiasco that occurred this week, the Vikings and coach Brad Childress are left looking a little stupid. However, like I've said before, Moss really made no difference to the team and wasn't playing like a team player. Overall, Minnesota has the better team and should be able to outplay the Derek Anderson-led Cardinals.
New Orleans Saints (5-3) at Carolina Panthers (1-6)
The Saints erased any doubts anyone had about their ability with a ten point win over the Steelers last week. If the Saints can beat one of the top teams in the NFL, they shouldn't have a problem defeating a Carolina team that has only one win for the season.
New Orleans is riding high after beating Pittsburgh last week 20-10. Brees looked great, throwing for 305 yards and two touchdowns. The Saints play a brutal 1-6 Panthers team. New Orleans should take care of them without issue.
The Saints beat the Steelers 20-10 last Sunday, proving that they can beat elite teams and that they still have the strength to win games. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees threw for two touchdowns and 305 yards, while the Saints' defense made sure that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger scored no touchdowns. New Orleans should be able to win easily against a struggling Carolina team.
Miami Dolphins (4-3) at Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
The Dolphin's on-the-road winning streak will come to an end in week nine. The Ravens are at the top in the AFC North and has been superior at rushing for yards this season.
This one's a toss-up. Baltimore is coming off a week eight bye and an overtime win over the lowly Bills in week seven. Miami is playing well -- they beat Cincy 22-14 last week and lost 23-22 to Pittsburgh on a BS goal line call. The Ravens have been the better team all season, but the Dolphins have been the better team as of late. I'll go with Baltimore because I have Ray Rice on my fantasy team.
Baltimore is coming off a bye week during which they should've gotten fully rested and had a productive week of practice. The Dolphins beat a frustrated Bengals team last week - in a game that Miami knew they were supposed to win and did, 22-14. But Baltimore's defense will be too much for Miami to handle and the Ravens will win a sloppy defensive battle.
San Diego Chargers (3-5) at Houston Texans (4-3)
With so many come-from-behind wins in the second half, how the Chargers play each game is unpredictable. In fact, the only thing that is predictable about them is that they have yet to win on the road. This game will be close but San Diego will get their first win on the road.
San Diego beat the Titans 33-25 last week thanks to 305 yards and two touchdowns from Philip Rivers and 123 yards and a score for Antonio Gates.
Even though Houston's a pretty good team, they're struggling at the moment. Wide receiver Andre Johnson and defensive end Mario Williams are both questionable this week due to injuries, leaving Houston quarterback Matt Schaub's offense and the Texans' defense without two of their main starters, respectively. Overall, San Diego has not been playing that well. Both teams need a victory, but the Chargers are terrible on the road. Houston wins.
New York Giants (5-2) at Seattle Seahawks (4-3)
The Giants are coming off a bye week and are ready to do damage to Seattle. At the top of the NFC East, New York will get its fifth straight win in week nine.
The G-Men are atop the NFC East and are playing good football. They'll beat the 4-3 Seahawks at Qwest Field on Sunday.
The Seahawks are one of the most inconsistent teams in the league. After beating both Chicago and Cleveland, Seattle played miserably against the Raiders and lost by 30 points. Additionally, the 'Hawks lose quarterback Matt Hasselbeck due to a concussion this week. The Giants' defense is stronger than ever - they'll win easily.
Kansas City Chiefs (5-2) at Oakland Raiders (4-4)
Although Kansas City has been dominant all season, you have to give the Raiders some credit for turning things around in the past few weeks. Kansas City can definitely win this one if they don't underestimate Oakland and resort to sloppy passing.
Oakland is on a roll. The Black and Silver beat Seattle 33-3 last week and defeated Denver 59-14 in week seven. Ironically, Jason Campbell has a better passer rating than Donovan McNabb at the mid-way point of the season and Darren McFadden is putting up huge numbers. Oakland will take care of the Chiefs who nearly lost to the winless Bills last week.
It's definitely impressive to see the Raiders at .500. And after a great start, the Chiefs have slowly begun to show signs of a meltdown, with a sloppy and close win against 0-7 Buffalo last week. This game's a toss up but I think Oakland has been playing better than Kansas City overall and should be able to etch out the win.
Indianapolis Colts (5-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-3)
Manning v. Vick - this is sure to be a great match-up. The Colts have averaged more points more game, as well as allowed fewer points per game, this season. They've also won the past four times these two teams have met and this week will be no different.
This'll be a good game. Michael Vick returns from a rib injury and faces Peyton Manning at home. If Vick shows no signs of injury, then Philly has a chance of taking down Indianapolis. But Manning has looked unstoppable as always and the Eagle defense will have major problems.
This has to be the game of the week. Philly's coach Andy Reid flip flops so much when it comes to picking a quarterback. This week, Michael Vick gets the start and faces Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who has proven he doesn't need receiver Austin Collie or tight end Dallas Clark to score touchdowns. This game will definitely be a close one, but I don't think the Colts will be able to pull off the win in Philly.
Dallas Cowboys (1-6) at Green Bay Packers (5-3)
Sorry Dallas, but get ready for your fifth straight loss. Although the Packers have faced some glitches this season, they are looking to get their third win in a row in week nine, hopefully moving them closer to the top once again.
The Pack beat the Jets 9-0 last week and were dominant on the defensive end. Dallas...well, they just don't have much going for them. Green Bay will beat the 1-6 Cowboys at home. It looks like Cowboys coach Wade Phillips will get the axe once the season is over.
The less than mediocre Cowboys take on the defensive powerhouse Green Bay Packers. After shutting out the Jets last week, Green Bay has proved that they don't have to rely on one aspect of their team (a.k.a. quarterback Aaron Rodgers) to win games. Green Bay continues their winning ways.
Monday, Nov. 8
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-5)
Although I strongly believe they will win, the Steelers cannot afford to look past the Bengals. Pittsburgh's defense will be more agile this week and the Bengals will receive their fifth straight loss.
I'm going with the underdog Bengals on Monday night. Both teams are coming off week eight losses, but Cincinnati showed signs of life as Palmer connected on two touchdowns with Terrell Owens. The Bengals will find a way to pull out the win against Pittsburgh.
The 2-5 Bengals are surprisingly bad this year, especially with the duo of wide receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, who many expected would lead Cincy to the top of their division. Pittsburgh is tied with Baltimore for the lead in the AFC North and the Steelers should be able to beat another division rival (Cincy) in order to keep the battle for the top spot alive.
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