National Football League predictions: week 9

Packers to dominate Cardinals; Steelers to defeat Giants; Bills to crush Texans

Arizona Cardinals @ Green Bay Packers

Sunday, Nov. 4, 1:00 p.m.

The Packers have really started to hit their stride. After a fairly comfortable win over the Jaguars that included returning a blocked punt for a touchdown, Aaron Rodgers looks to continue his recent success against the Arizona Cardinals. Without star wide receiver Greg Jennings, the Pack may have some difficulty moving the ball through the air, but if Jordy Nelson can return, he can ease some of the burden on the Green Bay receivers. Arizona had no answer for anything the 49ers’ offense did last week, as they were thoroughly destroyed in all facets of the game. Quarterback John Skelton did the best he could, but Arizona could only muster three points the whole game. If they hope to have any chance this week, their running game needs to put in a much better effort than last Monday, when they only amassed seven total yards.

Prediction: 27-13 Packers

Detroit Lions @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Sunday, Nov. 4, 1:00 p.m.

Detroit barely squeaked out a game against the Seattle Seahawks, as Matt Stafford completed a late touchdown drive to seal the victory. They had a hard time stopping Marshawn Lynch, but their run defense should get a break this week against Jacksonville. Maurice Jones-Drew will be out again, and backup Rashad Jennings will have to shoulder the load of the Jaguars’ running game. The Jags are going to really struggle this week trying to slow the passing attack of the Lions. Although Blaine Gabbert had a good game last week, he is still recovering from a lingering shoulder injury. This will most likely hamper his effectiveness.

Prediction: 31-23 Lions

Chicago Bears @ Tennessee Titans

Sunday, Nov. 4, 1:00 p.m.

Chicago pulled out a crazy win last week against Carolina. They forced two interceptions on Cam Newton, but they still allowed over 300 yards passing. They had a weak defensive game all around and will need to have a better effort this week against Tennessee. Jay Cutler played well and lately is starting to connect with Brandon Marshall. This will be key in the second half of the season if Chicago wants to earn a high seed in the playoffs. Matt Hasselbeck played a great game in the Tennessee loss, only throwing seven incompletions and passing for over 230 yards and a touchdown. Chris Johnson also rushed for almost 100 yards, which he will need to replicate if the Titans hope to pull off the upset. In the end, Chicago’s defense should shut down Tennessee’s offense and they’ll win a close one.

Prediction: 20-14 Bears

Denver Broncos @ Cincinnati Bengals

Sunday, Nov. 4, 1:00 p.m.

Peyton Manning is once again solidifying himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the league. He looked nearly flawless in the Denver win over the Saints, and he should feast on the Bengals’ secondary. The running game also looked alive, as Willis McGahee rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown. The Broncos gained over 200 yards total on the ground, and their offense should dominate once again this week. Cincinnati will be able to score on the Denver defense, but their own defense will fail them in the end and they won’t be able to keep up with the Denver scoring pace.

Prediction: 23-17 Broncos

Carolina Panthers @ Washington Redskins

Sunday, Nov. 4, 1:00 p.m.

In a battle of young, dynamic quarterbacks, the Panthers travel to Washington D.C. to play the Redskins. There will be a lot of yards gained on the ground in this game, as both teams feature strong rushing attacks and both QBs give defenses problems. The Steelers were able to contain Robert Griffin last week, but they have been the first team to do so all season. I don’t expect the same from a much weaker Panthers defense. Washington, however, does not have a particularly strong secondary, so Cam Newton should be able to move the ball through the air on the league’s worst pass defense. In a high scoring game, Newton will pull out a close win.

Prediction: 38-34 Panthers

Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns

Sunday, Nov. 4, 1:00 p.m.

The Browns come a close win over the San Diego Chargers, due in large part to rookie Trent Richardson’s outstanding game. He scored the only touchdown of the day on a tough 26 yard run after breaking multiple tackles. Their defense held up well, only allowing six points to the Charger offense. They look to have the same success this week against the banged up Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are coming off a bye week, so they should be well rested and prepared to dominate the Browns. Expect Baltimore and Ray Rice to pound the ball on the Cleveland defense and for their defense to step up in the absence of Ray Lewis.

Prediction: 23-7 Ravens

Miami Dolphins @ Indianapolis Colts

Sunday, Nov. 4, 1:00 p.m.

The Dolphins looked impressive last week, with their defense thoroughly smothering Mark Sanchez and the Jets. They forced Sanchez into mistakes and 54 passing attempts, much more than the Jets want to see out of him. Although rookie QB Ryan Tannehill left the game early with an injury, Matt Moore was able to step in and manage the game well enough for Miami to coast to an easy victory. Indianapolis also continues to impress, and they are coming off another strong win against the Titans. It took an overtime drive by Andrew Luck to finally close the game out as he continues his outstanding rookie season. This will be an interesting game, as Miami’s great run defense will force Luck into passing for the majority of the game. It comes down to whether or not Luck can take advantage of Miami’s secondary.

Prediction: 23-17 Colts

Buffalo Bills @ Houston Texans

Sunday, Nov. 4, 1:00 p.m.

Buffalo and Houston are both coming off of bye weeks, so they should be equally rested before the game. Houston has been one of the most dominant teams in the league this season, and don’t expect that to change in this game against the Bills. Houston has one of the best rushing attacks in the league and Buffalo allows the most rushing yards per game in the NFL. Arian Foster and Ben Tate should have a field day. Houston also features one of the best defenses in the league and Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will struggle to move the ball all game. They will need to rely on their running game to have a chance, but Houston will slow them down enough to cruise to an easy victory.

Prediction: 34-17 Texans

Minnesota Vikings @ Seattle Seahawks

Sunday, Nov. 4, 4:05 p.m.

Minnesota was beaten thoroughly and completely last week against Tampa Bay. They allowed over 150 yards on the ground and their secondary gave up three touchdowns through the air to Josh Freeman. Adrian Peterson had a great game, but he wasn’t able to run the ball as much as he should have since the Vikes were down most of the game. If the Vikings want to win, Peterson needs at least 20 carries per game and Christian Ponder must throw the ball less. They are not capable of winning games on his arm alone. Seattle lost a heartbreaker to Detroit, but they have looked good most of the season. They should be able to use Marshawn Lynch like the Buccaneers used Doug Martin to run all over Minnesota. This will force Ponder into passing more than he should, which will lead to a Seahawks win.

Prediction: 23-17 Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Oakland Raiders

Sunday, Nov. 4, 4:05 p.m.

Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin was responsible for over 200 yards of total offense, as he was incredibly hard to stop last week. Tampa Bay will need a similar effort from Martin this week in their game against the Oakland Raiders. Oakland has underachieved all year, but they are currently on a two-game winning streak, so they may be starting to turn things around. Carson Palmer has looked fairly good this year. He has been forced into shouldering much of the offensive burden since the Oakland running game has been nonexistent. With the 20th ranked passing defense, the Raiders will struggle to stop Josh Freeman all game, especially since they will need to focus extra personnel on stopping Doug Martin. Tampa Bay should win a close one.

Prediction: 27-23 Buccaneers

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New York Giants

Sunday, Nov. 4, 4:25 p.m.

In a game that should be a prime example of ‘smash mouth’ football, the Steelers and the Giants clash in the Meadowlands this Sunday. Both teams have good defenses, each allowing 20 points per game. The Giants, however, have a much better offense than the Steelers. Pittsburgh is going to need a consistent running game to compete against New York. The Giants will use Ahmad Bradshaw for the majority of the game, mostly due to Pittsburgh’s outstanding pass defense, while Ben Roethlisberger simply will not have enough weapons to outscore Eli Manning and the Giants. Tampa Bay should win a close one.

Prediction: 20-16 Giants

Dallas Cowboys @ Atlanta Falcons

Sunday, Nov. 4, 8:20 p.m.

Atlanta showed last week why they are considered by many to be the best team in the NFC. They completely dominated a very talented, but unfocused, Eagles team last week and their offense could not be stopped all game. Matt Ryan was terrific as he has been all season, so the Falcons can start to look ahead toward the playoffs. Tony Romo was forced to throw almost every play against the Giants, throwing for 437 yards on 62 attempts. Felix Jones only managed to gain 19 yards rushing, and Dallas is missing the production of Demarco Murray. They will not be able to beat Atlanta if they’re forced to one-dimensional play again next week. Atlanta has a fairly weak run defense, so even if Jones is getting stopped early, Dallas must keep feeding him the ball if they want to knock off the top team in the NFL.

Prediction: 30-28 Falcons

Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints

Sunday, Nov. 4, 8:35 p.m.

The Eagles are in a tailspin. They have a quarterback controversy brewing between Michael Vick and Nick Foles. Vick is the starter for now, but he may not be for long if the Eagles continue to lose. The losses may not be his fault, however. As of late, Vick has been playing much more efficiently and has cut down the turnovers substantially from the beginning of the season. The Eagles defense couldn’t slow Atlanta all game, and the loss of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo seemed to hurt their play. New Orleans has also played terrible defense all season, and last week was no exception. They allowed over 500 total yards to the Broncos. They need to get back to playing the tough defense that allowed them to win the Super Bowl, because Drew Brees cannot win every game in a shootout.

Prediction: 41-38 Eagles