NFL

NFL Pick ‘Em: Week 9

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Picking winners and losers for NFL Week 9

Johnson
Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE

And there goes another one…

Week after week, the NFL regular season slowly gets closer to its eventual evolution into the postseason. As expected, this past week was full of twists and turns that few could have predicted. From major upsets to late-game heroics that kept playoffs hopes alive, Week 8 was without a doubt of the most exciting that this season has had to offer thus far.

Don’t, however, expect Week 9 to be any different. As each game continues to hold more and more importance, teams will begin to play with more desperation. Once the playoffs are really on the line, you better be ready because some amazing football action is headed your way.

This week offers a number of intriguing matchups, with a couple divisional showdowns sprinkled in to add some spice. With almost every team jockeying for playoff positioning, the stakes continue to get higher. That also leaves plenty of room for upsets and shootouts as teams give everything they’ve got to keep their postseason hopes alive.

With that in mind, here’s a quick rundown of each Week 9 matchup and what to expect when game time rolls around. There are no gimmes in the NFL, so don’t be surprised if several of these games go a much different direction than anyone could have anticipated.

Last week was an off week for me, as I came up with an overall record of 7-7. Thankfully, I was saved by the late games on Sunday and Monday night, as I was a woeful 3-7 through Sunday morning.

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San Diego Chargers (3-4) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (1-6)

Mathews
Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

On the verge of scraping this season and beginning a major rebuilding project, the San Diego Chargers are in desperate need of a win. The Kansas City Chiefs, meanwhile, are just trying to avoid becoming roadkill on the playoff highway. If Norv Turner and Philip Rivers want to keep their jobs, a loss can’t be an option on Sunday.

My pick: Chargers win 20-10

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Green Bay Packers (5-3) vs. Arizona Cardinals (4-4)

Matthews
Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

The Arizona Cardinals are caught in a tailspin and don’t appear to be pulling out of it any time soon. Unfortunately, the four-game free fall is unlikely to end against a Green Bay Packers team that’s cruising at this point in the season. The Arizona defense is making plays, but the offense is sputtering and will watch Clay Matthews and the Packers’ pass rush flourish.

My pick: Packers win 28-7

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Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6) vs. Detroit Lions (3-4)

Stafford
Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE

This is already a lost season for the Jacksonville Jaguars, which opens the door for the Detroit Lions to stay afloat in the race for the NFC North crown. That is if Matt Stafford can keep himself in check and avoid the turnovers that have plagued him all season long. Assuming that happens, the Lions shouldn’t have too much trouble handing the Jaguars a loss at home.

My pick: Lions win 24-12

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Tennessee Titans (3-5) vs. Chicago Bears (6-1)

Hasselbeck
Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE

While the Chicago Bears continue to escape with wins by the skin of their teeth, the Tennessee Titans are on the verge of catching fire under the leadership of veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and running back Chris Johnson. Although the Bears boast a dominant defense, the Titans should get just enough from Johnson to come away with a close victory.

My pick: Titans win 14-13

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Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) vs. Denver Broncos (4-3)

Manning
Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

The Denver Broncos are one of the strongest AFC teams at the moment, and Peyton Manning is the driving force behind their recent success. The Cincinnati Bengals, however, are watching the rest of their division pull away while the defense struggles to keep opposing offenses contained. Unless Andy Dalton and A.J. Green can both have career games, the Broncos should keep their grasp of the AFC West.

My pick: Broncos win 41-27

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Washington Redskins (3-5) vs. Carolina Panthers (1-7)

Morris
Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

With Cam Newton suffering from one of the ugliest sophomore slumps in recent history, the Carolina Panthers are headed towards the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. The Washington Redskins, however, are still trying to keep their playoff hopes alive and need a win to stay in the race. Robert Griffin III will be important, but expect Alfred Morris to carry D.C. to the finish line.

My pick: Redskins win 31-10

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Cleveland Browns (2-6) vs. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)

Flacco
Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

Joe Flacco is looking to have a bounce back performance for the Baltimore Ravens, and shouldn’t have too much trouble getting to done against a subpar Cleveland Browns secondary. The Baltimore defense could have a tough time slowing down Trent Richardson and the Browns ground game, but the Ravens are up to the task with the Steelers nipping at their heels as leaders of the AFC North.

My pick: Ravens win 21-6

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Indianapolis Colts (4-3) vs. Miami Dolphins (4-3)

Luck
Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE

Since the hospitalization of Chuck Pagano, the Indianapolis Colts have been on a mission to win games for their fallen head coach. With the help of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and an efficient offense, the Colts have gone 3-1 in their last four games and are actually relevant in the AFC playoff picture. That leaves the Miami Dolphins in their crosshairs, which doesn’t bode well for them.

My pick: Colts win 23-21

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Houston Texans (6-1) vs. Buffalo Bills (3-4)

Foster
Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

Arian Foster and the Houston Texans ground attack are going to have a field day when the Buffalo Bills come to town on Sunday. The Bills boast the worst run defense in the league, giving up almost 180 yards and two touchdowns per game. The Texans, meanwhile, have one of the best rush defenses in the NFL, which should help them keep Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller contained on their way to a win.

My pick: Texans win 45-28

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Seattle Seahawks (4-4) vs. Minnesota Vikings (5-3)

Ponder
Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE

The last few weeks have not treated Christian Ponder well, as the Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback continues to suffer from a mid-season sophomore slump. Facing a daunting Seattle Seahawks rushing defense, though, Ponder will be forced to step up and shake off the struggles. This one should be close, but don’t expect another late-game comeback from Russell Wilson.

My pick: Vikings win 20-17

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Oakland Raiders (3-4) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4)

Moore
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

This is going to be a close battle between two teams hoping to stay alive in their divisional races. Both teams have been surprisingly successful over the past couple of weeks, but have several glaring holes that need to be addressed. Although the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should find plenty of production on both sides of the ball, the Oakland Raiders’ sneaky offense should lift them to a much-needed win.

My pick: Raiders win 23-22

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New York Giants (6-2) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)

Dwyer
Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIRE

Throughout the 2012 season, the New York Giants have relied on Eli Manning and the passing game to get them through some close calls. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ top-ranked pass defense, though, should be ready for whatever the Giants throw their way. As long as the Steelers can get their ground game going with Jonathan Dwyer, they should be able to upset the defending Super Bowl champs.

My pick: Steelers win 21-16

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Atlanta Falcons (7-0) vs. Dallas Cowboys (3-4)

Romo
Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

The Atlanta Falcons continue to roll through whoever stands in their way and are the only team still undefeated at midseason. The Dallas Cowboys, however, are suffering from the bipolar play of quarterback Tony Romo. Hoping to get closer to locking down home-field advantage, the Falcons should wipe the field with the Cowboys.

My pick: Falcons win 36-19

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New Orleans Saints (2-5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)

Foles
Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

While the Philadelphia Eagles are waiting to insert a rookie quarterback in Nick Foles, the New Orleans Saints are desperately searching for a way to keep their NFC Wild Card hopes alive. With the Eagles quickly crumbling and considering a quarterback change, this will be the perfect opportunity for the Saints to sneak away with a win. It should come down to the wire, though.

My pick: Saints win 23-17

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