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NFL

NFL Week 9 Game Picks: Grizzled Veterans Edition

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NFL Week 9 Game Picks: Grizzled Veterans Edition

NFL Week 9
Stew Milne-US PRESSWIRE

Despite how poorly some teams may have performed a week ago, the NFL still is and always will be a ‘what have you done for me lately’ type of league. Several teams are thankful for that fact as they would prefer not to dwell in the past and simply move onto the next opponent on the schedule.

Week eight was a tumultuous one with plenty of highs and lows experienced throughout. Some teams showed just what they were made of while others fell back to earth and maybe revealed their true identities as well.

Either way, it’s difficult to discern good teams from bad ones week to week as the landscape continues to change. Now that the trade deadline has come and gone however, perhaps teams will establish a more firm identity and the playoff picture will begin to take shape.

This week begins the back half of the NFL schedule and is usually the point at which the teams littered with veterans begin to show their medal. Standings across the league are dominated at the top by clubs that have a large proportion of their rosters dedicated to more experienced players this season. After a year of youth in 2011, this 2012 season is looking like a resurgence of the old guard throughout the league.

While most are still having trouble calling any teams elite as this juncture, there are at least a handful of teams that wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see holding the Lombardi Trophy in early February. That is a quality that the NFL has been adamant about providing to the fans and as week nine gets going, maybe even more clubs will emerge as viable candidates to jump into the race to hold the crown at season’s end.

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San Diego Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Bolts vs. Chiefs
John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE

The last time these two met, the Bolts were fortunate enough to be gift-wrapped the game by Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel. Since that point, San Diego has been in a bit of a freefall which could be perpetuating a vibe of uncertainty throughout their locker room. Look for the running game to play a large role in determining the outcome of this game as Jamaal Charles has himself a day.

Chiefs 23 – Chargers 20

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Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Texans

Bill vs. Texans
Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

Houston has a stifling defense, but it is their offense that will shine in this game. Buffalo has struggled to stop anyone this season as among teams yet to play their eighth game of the year, the Bills have given up the most points this season. Look for Matt Schaub to spread the ball around early and Arian Foster to bleed the clock late.

Texans 38 – Bills 17

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Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns

Ravens vs. Browns
Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

Things have been tough for the Ravens since losing their heart and soul on defense in linebacker Ray Lewis. Their depleted lineup looked demoralized in the team’s last outing, but facing the Browns is just what the doctor ordered. Ray Rice and Joe Flacco will prove to be too much for the rebuilding Browns.

Ravens 27 – Browns 16

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Carolina Panthers vs. Washington Redskins

Panthers vs. Skins
Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

This tilt features the future of quarterbacking in the NFL with Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III going toe-to-toe. Washington was set back a bit by their loss last week while the Panthers showed signs of life even though they too lost in week eight. The deciding factor in this one will be coaching where Mike Shanahan still holds the edge over Ron Rivera.

Redskins 28 – Panthers 24

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Chicago Bears vs. Tennessee Titans

Bears vs. Titans
Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

The Bears’ defense has been the driving force of the team all season long. That will be no different in this match-up as Chris Johnson will likely be bottled up and the Titans don’t have many aerial options to go to. Look for Jay Cutler and the Bears lackluster offense to do just enough to sneak out the win.

Bears 24 – Titans 20

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Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Broncos vs. Bengals
Byron Hetzler-US PRESSWIRE

Denver is suddenly sits comfortably in first place of their division and the Bengals have gone from last season’s darlings to this year’s disappointments in a hurry. Expect to see some passing in this one as Cincy does still have the Andy Dalton to A.J. Green connection, but that’s about all they have.

Broncos 31 – Bengals 21

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Detroit Lions vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Lions vs. Jags
Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE

This game won’t draw much fanfare for two teams residing in the basements of their respective divisions, but Jacksonville showed some teeth this past week and Detroit is coming off of a win. Blaine Gabbert versus Matthew Stafford is the All-Potential bowl, but Stafford’s talent is a bit more developed at this point.

Lions 30 – Jaguars 17

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Arizona Cardinals vs. Green Bay Packers

Cards vs. Pack
Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

With Arizona back to where everyone thought they belonged coming into the year, Green Bay should have no trouble here. They did play a nailbiter this past week however and injuries have been mounting. It could be argued either way, but the trump card is in the Packers possession: Aaron Rodgers.

Packers 34 – Cardinals 20

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Miami Dolphins vs. Indianapolis Colts

Phins vs. Colts
Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Two rookies will battle at quarterback in this one as Ryan Tannehill and Andrew Luck meet in a battle of AFC playoff contenders. Although these teams may be surprise postseason possibilities, there is plenty of potential on both sides. Miami just has a bit more veteran leadership that should pull through in this one.

Dolphins 26 – Colts 21

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Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks

Vikes vs. Hawks
Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE

There was a dose of reality given to both of these teams last week and maybe their seasonal aspirations have now been tempered a bit. Still one will get a win on Sunday and this should be a battle on the ground with Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson stealing the show. The Vikes have a better rush defense which gives them the edge.

Vikings 24 – Seahawks 21

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Oakland Raiders

Bucs vs. Raiders
Matt Stamey-US PRESSWIRE

Tampa seems to finally be waking up and the Raiders are still a franchise without direction. Greg Schiano’s coaching tactics have rubbed many purists the wrong way this season, but he has instilled quite an attitude in these Bucs. Look for Doug Martin and Tampa’s ground attack to keep on rolling.

Buccaneers 27 – Raiders 13

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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Giants

Steelers vs. G-Men
Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

A battle of two gritty, well-coached teams will undoubtedly produce some great theater. Pittsburgh just doesn’t have enough defense to slow down Eli Manning and the Giants’ aerial attack. This one will be close, but New York will (as usual) find a way to win in the end.

Giants 28 – Steelers 27

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Dallas Cowboys vs. Atlanta Falcons

Boys vs. Falcons
Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Atlanta is still unbeaten and the Cowboys’ defense isn’t much of a hurdle for Matty Ice and the dirty birds. Dallas has no real rushing threat as they are depleted at running back and Tony Romo can’t match Matt Ryan point for point in a shootout. Take the over, but take Atlanta too.

Falcons 34 – Cowboys 27

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Philadelphia Eagles vs. New Orleans Saints

Eagles vs. Saints
Byron Hetzler-US PRESSWIRE

The rumors surrounding Eagles QB Michael Vick have caused quite a stir and any lapse in judgment on his part during this one could result in a quick hook. New Orleans will expose where the true problem lies for the Eagles though; on defense. Look for Drew Brees to abuse the Philly secondary early and often.

Saints 38 – Eagles 28