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The half-way mark has passed and week nine has some exciting match-ups.
In my opinion, the three best games this week are the Jets in Buffalo, taking on the Bills, the Giants at Foxboro taking on the Patriots, and the Ravens in Pittsburgh, taking on the Steelers.
The teams with a bye this week are the Lions, Vikings, Panthers, and Jaguars.
My Predictions for Week Nine
Seahawks (2-5) at Cowboys (3-4) Seattle is not in good shape. Their only hope this week is trying to control the clock by giving Dallas a heavy dose of RB Marshawn Lynch. That won’t last long, and this game is going to be all Dallas on offense. Winner - Cowboys
Buccaneers (4-3) at Saints (5-3) New Orleans fell to one of the worst teams in the league last week and are favored this week against a decent Bucs team. I have to agree with the odds-makers. I have no idea what happened in St. Louis last week, but I guarantee once the Saints step foot on their own turf, that loss is a distant memory. The Saints always rebound after an embarrassing loss, and that won’t be any different this week. Bucs QB Josh Freeman will have a big day, but won’t be able to keep up with Drew Brees and co. Winner - Saints
Dolphins (0-7) at Chiefs (4-3) Kansas City has taken a turn for the best, as most sports writers, including myself, made the wrong assumption that this team couldn’t win without RB Jamaal Charles. They are on a four game winning streak, and after this week, should extend that to five. Chiefs QB Matt Cassel is proving to be as resilient as they come, getting the ball down field when absolutely necessary. This week, the Chiefs defense is going to show off their stuff as they hold Miami to only a running game. Flowers vs. Marshall will be an exciting match-up to watch. Winner - Chiefs
Falcons (4-3) at Colts (0-8) Don’t expect any excitement from this game unless you are a Falcons fan. Atlanta is finally playing up to their potential, and this week, they add to their talent as they get Julio Jones back. The Colts, no matter which quarterback they start, don’t have a chance. Unless of course, Peyton puts his uniform on. Winner - Falcons
Jets (4-3) at Bills (5-2) Touch choice here, as the key match-up is the Bills offense vs. the Jets dominant defense, especially in the secondary. Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has had great success so far this season, but will face a defensive secondary that is ranked seventh in the league. This will cause scoring issues for Fitzpatrick and co. Offensively, the Jets are hot and cold. One week QB Mark Sanchez hits his marks, and the next you wonder who the hell he’s throwing to. This week, he’ll play a Bills defense that gives up over 250 passing yards per game, so he should be able to take advantage. Winner - Jets
Browns (3-4) at Texans (5-3) Houston is a bit unpredictable this season, but last week did a great job against the Jaguars defense. This week, they should have no problem running the ball, especially with RB Arian Foster who seems to be back to his old self. Defensively, the Texans have a lot of talent and I don’t think Cleveland has a chance to put many points on the board. Winner - Texans
49ers (6-1) at Redskins (3-4) San Francisco’s running game, specifically Frank Gore, is going to dominate Sunday against a Redskin defense that struggles against the run. This will allow the 49ers to control the clock as well. Defensively, the Redskins won’t be able to do much on the ground and may have the opportunity to kick a few field goals. Winner – 49ers
Bengals (5-2) at Titans (4-3) Tennessee’s defense is ranked 27th against the run, and the Bengals get Cedric Benson back. Is there anymore to say? Not really. Winner - Bengals
Broncos (2-5) at Raiders (4-3) Reunited and it feels so good! Yep, Raiders QB Carson Palmer and WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh are now wearing silver and black. The former Bengals duo has come together again in Oakland. Good? Bad? That will be answered Sunday. A huge point of concern for the Raiders is RB Darren McFadden who had a bye week to rest his foot, but did not practice Tuesday. Either way, Oakland’s defense will prevail over a disappointing Tim Tebow. Winner - Raiders
Giants (5-2) at Patriots (5-2) Whew! The Patriots sure got a taste of their own medicine last week against the Steelers who kept the ball in the hands of their offense, and on defense played the best man coverage I have seen in a long time. This week, the Giants will step on the field with a similar game plan. Their success will come from QB Eli Manning and his talented selection of wider receivers/tight end as the Patriots are ranked dead last against the pass. The Pats logical choice on offense is to run since the Giants front men give up more than 130 yards per game. This will be a close game, decided in the final seconds by a defensive stand against Tom Brady and co. Winner - Giants
Rams (1-6) at Cardinals (1-6) I am still in shock over the Rams upset last week against the Saints. Perhaps their counter-part Cardinal baseball team should go to every game. This week is the Rams will look to WR Brandon Lloyd to make big plays against a very weak Cardinal pass defense. The Cards will be handing off the ball to RB Beanie Wells for two reasons – one, the Rams are awful against the run and two, QB Kevin Kolb is a bit banged up. Cards will squeeze this one out in front of their home crowd. Winner- Cardinals
Packers (7-0) at Chargers (4-3) San Diego has to be one of the most over-rated teams of all time. Since week three, I have predicted they won’t do better than 7-9 this season, and it’s shaping up correctly. Their four wins are over Miami, Kansas City (when they just lost Charles), Minnesota (pre Ponder), and Denver. This week, their game will be blacked-out because their fair-weathered fans will not bear to watch them get beat against the machine, aka the Packers. Chargers QB Philip Rivers is way off track, and until he gets back on, this team will continue to lose. Green Bay’s offense will dominate this game, controlling the clock and effectively putting up points. I know, I know, some may argue that San Diego’s defense is ranked fourth against the pass, but really look who they have played and won. Winner- Packers
Ravens (5-2) at Steelers (6-2) A lot has changed since these two teams met in week one, and Pittsburgh has been salivating for this re-match after Baltimore demolished them in week one. The Ravens are struggling big time on offense and Pittsburgh’s defense is going to exploit the hell out of this. Defensively, the Ravens will prevent their team from being blown-out. Winner - Steelers
Bears (4-3) at Eagles (3-4) Philadelphia needs to this win to stay in the playoff picture. If they play like they did last week, a win should be no problem. The Bears defense is not very good as they are ranked 28th against the pass and 12th against the run. Eagles QB Michael Vick should take complete control of this. Defensively, the Eagles aren’t great against the run, so Bears RB Matt Forte will get a lot of play, but not enough o out-score Philly. Winner - Eagles
For Jana's thoughts on last week, further analysis on this week's match-ups, the complete Week 9 schedule, or to read anything else she feels like tossing out regarding the NFL, go to the dirty cleats blog.
Jana Newman lives in San Diego and has been an NFL fan for over 25 years (her not-so-secret obsession is still No. 13 Dan Marino). She has her bachelor of arts degree in English, and loves to write. To combine these passions, Jana created dirtycleats.com. It’s an NFL blog with a fresh look and a fun attitude. You can also follow dirtycleats on Facebook. To reach Jana, email her at email@example.com.