NFL Week 9 predictions

Trent Masterson

Clay Matthews and Willow Smith whipping hair

Clay Matthews whips his hair back and forth. (or... Remember last year when both of these people were relevant?)

The experts step aside once again to let Gregory McGreevy lay the smack down. He's been on a 75% correct streak, including the spreads.

Atlanta Falcons logo Atlanta Falcones -7 vs. Iindianapolis Colts indianapolis colts logo

It’s been said ad nauseum, but bears repeating, the difference in the Colts without Peyton Manning cannot be overstated. It’s insane and shows how important a franchise QB can be to a team. I think the Colts are slipping in stature for other reasons, as well, but at least with Manning they’d be in playoff contention. The Falcons have been getting back to their old ways. I don’t think they are a Superbowl contender or anything, but they definitely have more than enough firepower to cover this spread, with the only potential mismatch being the Colts’ DEs on their tackles.

Falcons 24, Colts 13

New Orleans Saints logo New Orleans Saints -8 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa Bay Buccaneers logo

Tampa Bay is really tough to decipher. I think they are a mediocre team that can get up and shock you a bit. I’ve said it before, but the 10 win season from last year was not going to last given the strength of schedule and relative luck in winning many close games. Still, they are one of the more schizophrenic teams that easily could go either way, especially considering the mystery behind Blount’s knee injury. The Saints, however, aren’t that much of an enigma to me. Awesome offense, not much of a run defense, not that the loss to the Rams was expected, but the formula they followed in beating them is not complex in the least. NO’s point differential is much better at home and I like their chances following the loss. However, these two teams traditionally play it close, so I’m picking TB to cover.

Saints 28, Bucs 24

Houston Texans Logo Houston Texans -11 vs. Cleveland Browns Cleveland Browns

Yikes. I fully expect HOU to win, drinking the Kool-Aid, all that stuff, though I can’t say I like them getting 11 points. Cleveland is in full-on regression mode, their offense can’t really score enough to cover spreads, much less win games. The defense is not impressive, either, with the impressive yards passing against them per game being way overinflated by lining up against a carousel of nobodies at QB. Even with their ineptitude in most phases of the game, they haven’t really been blown out this year save for the TEN game. On the other hand, the Texans haven’t really shown an ability to blow people out, often playing down to inferior teams, with some of the more impressive wins being statistically deceiving. I’m going to say HOU goes up early and cruises comfortable to a win with Colt McCoy leading a frenzied two-minute
drill ending in spread covering glory.

Texans 31, Browns 21

Buffalo Bills logo Buffalo Bills -1.5 vs. New York Jets New York Jets logo

Vegas continues to hate Buffalo, I continue to reap the benefits. This line is essentially saying the Jets are 4.5 point favorites on a neutral field. I can’t really get behind that. I know that the Bills defense is missing a key starter and hasn’t been great by any means, with a seemingly unsustainable amount of turnovers keeping them alive, but it’s the Jets offense. I don’t believe in them. Beat up on Miami all you want and let San Diego shoot themselves in the foot all day, I still don’t buy it. I can’t believe this is basically a pick ‘em with the Bills playing at home. The Jets’ secondary is second to none (har har), but they are susceptible to receivers in the middle of the field and the run game. Revis can shut down Stevie Johnson all day, but Fred Jackson will still be there making plays all day, too.

Bills 20, Jets 17

Kansas City Chiefs logo Kansas City Chiefs -4 vs. Miami Dolphins Miami Dolphins logo

I think if Miami wants Andrew Luck they should keep Sporano in as coach. So, yeah. The KC win streak isn’t as impressive as it seems, and Coach Haley’s beard and pre-frayed brimmed hat aren’t as cool as he thinks. On the other hand, the Dolphins are the Dolphins. Part of being the Dolphins has been that you can very easily be blown out, the last two games notwithstanding. The Chiefs are certainly a more talented team, their secondary has been playing great, and Reggie Bush does not gain one hundred yards on the ground two weeks in a row (or even twice in a season for that matter).

Chiefs 20, Dolphins 13

San Francisco 49ers logo San Francisco 49ers -3.5 vs. Washington Redskins Washington Redskins logo

I hate picking against home dawgs, but in the cases of both Indy and WAS this week, I can easily make exceptions. The Redskins can’t score and the 49ers are really hard to score against (also note that the best playmaker on WAS, Fred Davis, is likely at the least very limited for this game). I don’t care if the Redskins’ D is competent, they are still weak against the run (hi, Frank Gore) and their offense got shut out by the Buffalo freaking Bills.

49ers 20, Redskins 6

Dallas Cowboys logo Dallas Cowboys -11.5 vs. Seattle Seahawks Seattle Seahwks logo

I hate double digit spreads featuring teams that I don’t much trust. I still think DAL can compete in the East with Philly, but SEA sometimes does things that make you say, “there run defense is ok, I think” or, “they beat the Giants in NY? Hmmm”. All I can imagine is that given how pissed the DAL WRs looked last Sunday and how well Murray was running the ball before the score dictated that he couldn’t do so anymore, this will be a blood bath.

Cowboys 34, Seahawks 17

Oakland Raiders logo Oakland Raiders -8 vs. Denver Broncos Denver Broncos logo

Weird line here. I can’t tell if I should trust a team with Tim Tebow as QB to even score eight points much less cover an eight point spread, or if I should trust Zombie Carson Palmer without Darren McFadden playing. Thusly, I will do the only reasonable thing I can here.

Raiders 8, Broncos 0

P.S. I love Tim Tebow as a person, really, and I really feel bad that so much has to be made out of a guy with no real chance at being a viable NFL QB. I feel for John Fox, the Broncos, Timmy, everyone who is on the wrong end of the undeserving vitriol/elation that comes out when this kid is in the limelight. On the other hand, I recently read an article about how when you’re watching sports your brain mimics the neural processes necessary to accomplish the same act as what you’re seeing. So for example, if you watch a WR jump into the air and outstretch his arms to catch a ball, your brain recreates the neurological process necessary to do so even if you aren’t actually jumping up and trying to catch a ball. I bring this up because in watching the Broncos/Dolphins game there were several moments where I was watching Tim Tebow and based on his footwork, pocket presence, and throwing mechanics I kept feeling like my brain was literally trying to shut down on me. This article explained why perfectly, albeit after the fact:

Tebow is so far removed from what we know about NFL QBs that his tangibles are so awkward they don’t just defy what our brains perceive as viable QB play, they are actually so bad that watching him can make your brain shut down out of a confusion born from physically trying to recreate what he’s doing. Be careful.

Tennessee Titans logo Tennessee Titans -3 vs. Cincinnatti Bengals Cincinnatti Bengals logo

Vegas continues to love CIN, with TEN seemingly only getting points as a home team. I like Cincy, like Dalton, like Green, like the defense. Don’t like them on the road playing one of the better teams they’ve played. Their marquee win is beating the Bills at home after said Bills came off a huge win against the Pats.

Titans 21, Bengals 17

New England Patriots logo New England -8.5 vs. New York Giants New York Giants logo

This line is too high. I’ve said the Pats’ downfall would be their defense, but I actually thought that it would improve as the season went along. A lot of non-Belichickian things going on in the greater region of New England these days, though one Belichick standard that’s not going away is the Pats getting up for any game after a loss. I think the Giants are a good match-up for the Pats, but with some defensive injuries I feel like the pass rush and secondary might get burned by Brady and Co. On the other hand, I think Eli Manning will be out there flinging the ball around the stud he is. Pats to win, Giants to cover.

Patriots 27, Giants 24

Green Bay Packers logo Green Bay Packers -5.5 vs. San Diego Chargers San Diego Chargers logo

Hey, it’s another team that I said was overrated. Packers have no run game, no defense (especially run) supported by an amazingly efficient pass attack. How can the best team in football be overrated? Well, some have said they have the potential to go undefeated, be the first team to win 3 straight Superbowls, etc. Anyway, they ain’t losing this week. SD is a great match-up for them, with an ailing secondary on the verge of looking a lot worse.

Packers 27, Chargers 20

Pittsburgh Steelers logo Pittsburgh Steelers -3 v. Baltimore Ravens Baltimore Ravens logo

Well, I could literally write pages upon pages about this game, but I will spare you. I really shouldn’t be writing about this game with as much as I have emotionally invested into it. I can say a few things though. I don’t think the last two games these teams have played should be the controlling analytical thought here, but I would not fault anyone for going in heavy on the Steelers here based off that. Ben (in Dan Dierdorf voice) has looked great lately, as has his offensive line, but the Ravens pass rush is a lot different than the Patriots. If the Ravens play calling and general offensive malaise continues, they aren’t coming back against the Steelers like they did against the Cardinals. Ok, so I’m just going to stop now. Going with the reverse jinx pick coupled with a spread cover to just make sure I’ve got all my bases covered here.

Steelers 21, Ravens 20

Philadelphia Eagles logo Philadelphia Eagles -8 vs. Chicago Bears Chicago Bears logo

You must love the 'what have you done for me lately' nature of the NFL. The Eagles are a dream team again! I have to say, that moving Asmougha to a more center-field, Charles Woodson type position was a great move. For an O-line coach, Castillo is getting the defense looking ok again, McCoy is a top 5 RB, and Michael Vick is Michael Vick, for better or worse. Some may remember previous games between these teams where the Bears Cover 2 defense contained Michael Vick and reigned in the big play ability of the Eagles’ offense. The key word here is contain. While the Bears have had success in the past, I also don’t think their defense is as good this year. One advantage the Bears have is the matchup problems caused by Matt Forte and special teams. The Eagles don’t have a good run defense, mostly because they have mediocre LBs and still don’t tackle great. Before the game got too out of hand last week DeMarco Murray was carving them up. He only had something like 70 yards, but I’m pretty sure he did that with about 8 carries. Since the Bears defense is going to be in containment mode the whole game, I don’t think that the Eagles will jump up quickly and take away the run. Given how good Forte is and how bad the Eagles tackle, I could see them continuing to overuse him while not paying him what he’s owed. If they can keep the Eagles offense off the field and get some plays in special teams this game could be a lot closer than the line looks and even an outright win. I still think the Eagles are too talented, though, and 8 points is crossing that always important one touchdown threshold in the spread.

Eagles 24, Bears 17

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