Week Nine NFL Picks

Going into the second half of the season it is time to decide which teams are contenders and which are pretenders for the playoffs. What better way to decide who is going to be a factor down the stretch than by predicting the games with the week’s lines and deciding which contending teams will impact the playoff push…

(Home team in caps)

San Francisco -3.5 Over WASHINGTON

There is absolutely nothing going for the Redskins right now. The QB situation has been a disaster under John Beck, but turning to Rex Grossman at this point, though probably a better option, seems highly unlikely. Meanwhile, the 49ers are rolling and Frank Gore has been the picture of consistency the past 4 weeks posting over 125 yards and a TD in each. There is nothing that makes me want to bet on Beck not even if the spread was 10. San Francisco: Contender

Seattle +11.5 Over DALLAS

Do not let the score of last weeks Seahawks’ loss fool you, the game was much closer than the final score. Tarvaris Jackson looked surprisingly competent, and the connection with Sidney Rice is still there. The Cowboys cannot possibly play as bad as they did last week against the Eagles, but this game will be played within a touchdown all the way through. Dallas: Pretender

Atlanta -7 Over INDIANAPOLIS

No disrespect to Aaron Rodgers, but the MVP is clearly Peyton Manning. No team has ever looked as lost without a QB as the Colts do without Manning. At some point players lose interest in the season, and with no hope in sight for the Colts, it is hard to envision them not getting blown out again. Atlanta: Pretender. Indianapolis: Contender (for Andrew Luck)

BUFFALO -1.5 Over New York Jets

It has been like night and day with the Jets when it comes to playing at home and on the road, while the Bills have been unbeatable at home (including their home away from home in Toronto). The Jets will have no answer for Fred Jackson on the ground; look for the Bills to continue building up momentum. Buffalo: Contender. New York: Pretender

HOUSTON -11 Over Cleveland

The Browns are 26th in the league at defending the run and have scored more than 17 points just once all season. The Texans have the 4th best running game led by Arian Foster, who has rushed for over 100 yards and at least one TD in each of his last two games. The Texans are also coming off back-to-back double digit wins, while the Browns have mustered just 13 points in the last two weeks. Don’t look for things to change for either team this week in Houston. Houston: Contender

Tampa Bay +8 Over NEW ORLEANS

There was not any week 8 performance more perplexing than the Saints, who were destroyed by the formerly winless Rams. These two teams played a highly contested game just three weeks ago (which the Bucs won) and there is no reason to expect anything other than that here. The Saints will come out hungry, but the Bucs always manage to play them tight, expect a close game that the Saints will pull out late. New Orleans: Contender. Tampa Bay: Pretender

KANSAS CITY -4.5 Over Miami

The Dolphins have been very competitive for a winless team recently and the Chiefs are coming off a snatching-victory-from-the-jaws-of-defeat type of game. Do not expect a lot of firepower in this one as neither team has anyone on offense to be scared of. The Arrowhead crowd will decide this game for the Chiefs and should make this at least a seven point game. Kansas City: Contender. 

Denver +8 Over OAKLAND

After being embarrassed by the Lions last week (especially by Stephen Tulloch) it is now or never for Tim Tebow. Tebow’s biggest weakness is dealing with pressure, so the fact that the Raiders are 18th in the league in sacks should give Tebow the time to make plays. The Raiders QB situation is a mess, and even with the extra week of practice it should be tough for Carson Palmer to be completely comfortable. Raiders will win this game, but Tebow will keep it close enough to cover. Oakland: Pretender

Cincinnati + 3 Over TENNESSEE   

Can we get any respect for the surprisingly relevant Bengals? The Bengals have one of the top defenses in the league but get absolutely no attention from the media. The Titans offense is anything but in synch, and Chris Johnson looks worse and worse every week. There is no reason to expect the Titans to start clicking this week against a stout defense. I am completely behind the Red Rocket (Andy Dalton) and his tremendous connection with fellow rookie A.J. Green, the Bengals will not only cover, but win outright. (It should be noted as well that only the 49ers have been better against the spread this season) Cincinnati: Contender. Tennessee: Pretender

St. Louis +3.5 Over ARIZONA

Who is going to watch this game? Honestly, who? The Rams finally showed some life last week for the first time all year, and as long as Kevin Kolb is out there throwing up picks it is impossible to feel comfortable betting the Cards.

NEW ENGLAND -8.5 Over New York Giants

The Giants cannot afford to come out flat like they did against the Dolphins. The Pats will look to confuse Eli with a lot of different looks. The Patriots have not lost back to back games since weeks 12 and 13 of 2009, do not expect a second straight letdown for Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. New England: Contender. New York: Contender  

 Green Bay -8.5 Over SAN DIEGO

 The Packers have looked invincible, while the Chargers have looked anything but this season. Rodgers is looking like an MVP, while Rivers has been giving games away. The Packers are coming off a bye where they were able to get healthy, while Ryan Matthews and the Chargers are looking banged up. All these signs point to another Packers rout. Green Bay: Contender. San Diego: Pretender

 PITTSBURGH -3 Over Baltimore

 The game of the week every time they get together. It seems that every year these two teams split the season series, and this year will be no different. Expect a sloppy low scoring game, but the Steelers will find a way to pull this one out. It will be close, but it is easy to imagine a Flacco turnover altering the course of this game late. Pittsburgh: Contender. Baltimore: Contender

 PHILADELPHIA -8 Over Chicago

The Eagles may finally be putting it all together. Two straight games of feeding LeSean McCoy the ball led to two straight wins. The defensive line, all healthy, is putting tons of pressure on the quarterback, which is bad news for Jay Cutler and the Bears. The Eagles are also coming off a season high in rushing against the formally number one ranked rushing defense in Dallas. Expect another monster game from Shady and another big Eagles win. Philadelphia: Contender. Chicago: Pretender

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