Another week, another 9-4 record for SB Nation's NFL bloggers. With the season at its halfway mark, and the byes nearly finished, our bloggers are back, playing Nostradamus as a slew of key divisional matchups figure to dominate this week's headlines.
Among this week's notable games, our bloggers like the Bengals to eke out a win over the Ravens, the Eagles to take control of the NFC East with a win over the Cowboys, and for the Steelers to get back into their 2008 form, as they reassert themselves as one of the top few teams in the league with a road win versus the Broncos.
And sorry Bucs fans, our bloggers don't think your first win will be coming this week.
As always, home teams are listed second.
|Atlanta Falcons||Ah, the Deangelo Hall Bowl! I wonder if Fox will have a camera following Hall's every facial expression as comes back to Atlanta. While the Skins' defense should keep them close, the question, as always, is where will the offense come from? Answer: it won't.|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Coming off a gut-check win over the previously unbeaten Broncos last week, the Ravens travel to Cincinnati for a key AFC North showdown with the Bengals. With a win, the Ravens would draw even with the Cardiac Cats, and avenge their earlier last-second loss. But our bloggers think going on the road, against a rested Bengals team coming off its bye will be too much for Baltimore to overcome. Could just be one of those years for the Ravens...|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||The Jaguars have reportedly told David Garrard not to audible out of run plays after Maurice Jones-Drew only toted the ball eight times last week, despite averaging 22 yards a carry. This is certainly bad news for the Chiefs, whose best hope seemed to be that the Jags continued to forget that they are allowed to hand the ball off to their best player.|
|Green Bay Packers||SBN's Buc'Em broke down some advanced NFL stats courtesy of Football Outsiders that show that the Bucs are in the bottom quarter on offense and have the worst defense so far this year. Presumably those offensive numbers will take a hit with rookie first-rounder Josh Freeman set to make his first start this weekend. Look for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to get back on track.|
|New England Patriots||Last year the Dolphins ambushed the Pats with the Wildcat. This year? Bill Belichick is expecting the unexpected (is that even possible?), namely preparing to see Dolphins triggerman Pat White to see extended time for the first time all year. Regardless of what trickeration the Dolphins might have planned for this week, our bloggers like the Pats to continue their march towards the AFC East title.|
|Indianapolis Colts||Is this the biggest game in Texans' history? With the Texans posting their best midseason mark in franchise history, this weekend's trip to Indianapolis takes on special significance. Unfortunately for the Texans, they will be without Owen Daniels against an underrated Colts defense. Look for Matt Schaub and Co. to keep pace with Peyton Manning through the first half before running out of gas.|
|Arizona Cardinals||In many ways, the Cardinals and Bears are mirror images of each other: no run game, inconsistent defenses, and turnover-prone passing games that can light up the scoreboard. The difference? The Cards trot out Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin (who's admittedly gimpy) and Steve Breaston, while the Bears receiving corps features a few kickoff returners and castoffs. Our bloggers like the Cards to pull out a close one.|
|New Orleans Saints||Advanced NFL Stats says the Saints are the biggest favorite for Week 9, and our bloggers agree. After all, Jake Delhomme has a small problem with throwing the ball to the other team, and the Saints defense has specialized in scoring off turnovers this year.|
|Seattle Seahawks||While Calvin Johnson may play on Sunday after sitting out the past few weeks with an undisclosed knee injury, our bloggers think the Lions will be hard-pressed to keep up with the Seahawks on the road. Hard to disagree - after all, the Lions lost to arguably one of the worst teams ever last week (which makes the Lions what, exactly?)|
|New York Giants||It's too bad we don't have a time machine so we can go back to 2004 and watch Mel Kiper and Todd McShay yell at each other about the relative merits of Eli Manning versus Philip Rivers. And by too bad, I mean please don't get any ideas, ESPN. As for this week's matchup, our bloggers like Eli Manning to do what he did back in the draft - barely edge out Rivers.|
|San Francisco 49ers||With Vince Young and Alex Smith taking snaps, this game feels more like the Orange Bowl, circa 2005, than it does an NFL regular season game. While both players have unexpectedly provided jolts to their respective teams, the Titans' holes on defense, particularly in the secondary, lead our bloggers to like the Niners to pull out the win.|
|Philadelphia Eagles||While the Eagles have garnered the headlines with their blowout of the G-men last week, the Cowboys have quietly put together a few solid weeks behind a resurgent offense, thanks to Miles Austin and Tony Romo's newfound ability to not throw the ball to the guys in the other jerseys. With first place in the NFC East on the line, our bloggers think the Eagles will hold serve on their home field.|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Despite sitting at 6-1 and winning a handful of games that caused observers to declare their "for-realness", our bloggers see the Broncos as decided underdogs in this weekend's matchup with the Steelers. This probably has more to do with the fact that Steelers seem to be rounding into their 2008 form -- with the defense making plays like this -- than it does anything about the Broncos.|