NFL Picks. Week 9, 2013.
Cincinnati at Miami- Cincinnati
Last week, it seemed like the Dolphins had the Patriots right where they wanted them. They were running all over the leaky New England run defense, and they held Tom Brady to only 25 passing yards in the first half. And then the third quarter started... And they completely abandoned the game plan.
Instead of pounding the rock, they put the ball in Ryan Tannehill's hands and let him do what he does best... Turn the ball over. He turned the ball over three times, and you have to know better than to think you can get away with doing that versus Tom Brady.
Well this week, they don't play against an offense quite as good as New Englands, but they face a much better defense. They won't be able to run the ball as effectively, and the Cincy pass rush won't be any kinder than the Patriots were.
Not to mention, the Bengals just trashed the New York Jets.
Atlanta at Carolina- Carolina.
I'm taking a bit of a leap with this pick.
While it's true that the Falcons have essentially eliminated themselves from any kind of playoff contention, they still have potential to be a consistent offense, something that the Panthers just can't seem to be.
However, after getting spanked by the lowly Arizona Cardinals last weekend, I'm willing to put a fork in the Falcons. I have more confidence in the Panthers defense than the Falcons offense and I definitely don't have any faith in the Falcons defense.
Vikings at Cowboys- Cowboys.
Barring any kind of tantrums on the sideline this week, the Cowboys shouldn't have any problems moving the ball, and as long as they focus on shutting down Adrian Peterson, they won't be getting any trouble from a Vikings QB. I have the Boys winning by double digits.
Saints at Jets- Saints.
Okay, I know I've pulled the "this game is so obvious that I don't even have to explain my pick before" card, and I've been wrong.
Hell, I've even been wrong about that with this very Jets team, Buuuut...
After the way that the Saints dismantled the Bills and the Jets were dismantled by Cincy... I don't see this being a match.
The only concerns I have for this New Orleans team is that Drew Brees struggles with weather, and it doesn't get a whole lot worse than windy New Jersey.
Titans at Rams- Titans.
The Titans have been one of the more confusing teams in the NFL this season. They've been playing small-ball about as well as anybody can in the NFL, using power run blocking and small passes have been moving the ball, letting a talented secondary carry the team. However, the reason that I'm picking the Titans has nothing to do with anybody on their roster.
I'm picking the Titans because the Rams don't have a Quarterback. Their offense was struggling mightily before they lost Sam Bradford. Now?... Forget about it.
Kansas City at Buffalo- Kansas City.
This one should be a laugher.
If ever there was a team that the Chiefs were designed to beat up, especially after a couple of ugly wins, it's Buffalo.
The run game, when it does function, depends on the injury prone Fred Jackson and wildly inconsistent C.J. Spiller. And now you throw in Thad Lewis or Jeff Tuel versus a hungry Chiefs pass rush?
Say hello to 3-6, Bills fans.
San Diego at Washington- San Diego.
The Redskins are 0-5 versus teams playing with their starting QBs.
That's right, they're only two wins this year came versus Chicago sans Jay Cutler and Oakland without Terrelle Pryor.
Some people might point to the 21-7 lead that they briefly held over the Denver Broncos last weekend, but let's be honest, that's nowhere near as impressive as the 38 straight points that they gave up is embarrassing.
This is one of the worst Redskins teams that I have seen in years, and I fully expect a rested Chargers team to run away with a win.
Philadelphia at Oakland- Oakland.
Lets start with a question.
What are the Philadelphia Eagles good at?
Is it offense? Not with rookie Matt Barkley calling the plays.
The defense? They're 31st in the NFL, giving up roughly 27 points, and 400 yards per game.
And I know, I know.
The Raiders suck too.
And I guess you would be right in a couple of ways.
The Raiders aren't moving the ball through the air.
At all. They're 32nd in the league, not necessarily out of incompetency, but because they just don't run that style of offense.
They're 5th in the NFL in rushing because of their dynamic signal-caller, Terrelle "Longest QB Rush in the History of the NFL" Pryor.
But the strength of the Raiders lies within their biggest weakness last year.
The Raiders suddenly have a top ten defense.
That's not a typo, the Raiders are tenth in the NFL in defense.
Remember last season when Doug Martin shredded the Raiders defense for over 200 yards?
The Raiders haven't allowed even half of that this season.
They're sixth in the NFL against the run.
So, you're telling me that Matt Barkley is going to single-highhandedly carry the Eagles to a win?
Tampa Bay at Seattle- Seattle.
Even if we pretend that this game isn't in Seattle, do you really think that Mike Glennon is going to have any success versus the Seahawks secondary? Especially without Mike Williams.
Richard Sherman matches up perfectly against Vincent Jackson, and a once explosive Buccaneer offense is suddenly out of weapons.
Baltimore at Cleveland- Baltimore.
This is a huge game in the AFC North. If either team loses, their chances for a post-season run are essentially over. The Bengals are pulling away in a big way, and one wild card spot already belongs to the 2nd place team in the AFC West. Frankly, if Brian Hoyer hadn't gotten hurt, this pick would be going the other way. I know that sounds funny, it feels funny writing it, but I think that Baltimore has had a week off to recuperate, and if they just let Joe Flacco throw the damn ball and keep the rock away from that drive-killer, Ray Rice, they should be fine.
Pittsburgh at New England- New England.
It's a late game in Foxboro, and the New England fanbase is desperate for a real win.
They know that last week's win over Miami had more to do with dumb luck than talent, and that even with a healthy team, they're not moving the ball like an elite team would.
However, they're in luck, because this Steelers team is lost. They don't have an identity, and they know they're last in a very long line of teams trying to get in playoff positioning.
The Patriots cruise over a sketchy Steelers team.
Indianapolis at Houston- Indianapolis.
This Colts team has arrived, and this is their chance to prove it.
They have wins over Seattle and Denver already, but a win over the team that was supposed to win your division? That just about settles it.
The loss of Reggie Wayne will hurt the Colts in a long way, but I think that this week, the Colts make it work against one of 2013's biggest disappointments.
Chicago at Green Bay- Green Bay.
In past seasons, I always seem to get this pick wrong.
If I say "Oh, Aaron Rodgers and the red hot offense will crush the Bears" and pick Green Bay, the Bears come out swinging.
But if I trust the Bears defense and rough style of play, the Packers come out high flying.
So, I'm going to rely on the fact that Chicago is insanely inconsistent and just trust that the best quarterback in the NFL can win a huge divisional game.