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NFL Week 9 Preview

After a big NFC South showdown win for the Saints over the Panthers, here’s a preview for the rest of Week 9 in the NFL.
Buccaneers vs. Browns
The Cleveland Browns have won three of their last four games, and have a 4-3 overall record. That’s not too bad considering the Brown started losing two of their first three, and there is also still plenty of uncertainty in this locker room. Many thought that Johnny Manziel might be starting by this point in the season, but he has only thrown one pass through 8 weeks of play. Instead, Brian Hoyer has been getting wins, and he has 8 touchdown passes on the year. While many expected Manziel to be playing by now, it’s hard to take out a quarterback when your team has a record above .500.
The Bucs have struggled all seasons long. They have just one win, against the Steelers in Week 5, and they rank near the bottom of all statistical team categories. Doug Martin is also currently listed as doubtful for Sunday’s matchup, which would put an even further damper on the Bucs game plan.
The Browns are currently listed as a touchdown favorite in this one, as they hope to stay in the mix of things in the AFC North.
Cardinals vs. Dallas
In what could be one of the more interesting matchups on the weekend, the 6-1 Cardinals will head to Dallas to take on the 6-2 Cowboys. The hot start is the best in 40 years for the Cardinals, while fans in Dallas hope that their new offensive scheme will remain fruitful throughout the rest of the season.
The biggest question right now is whether or not Tony Romo will play, after hurting his back in the Cowboys’ 20-17 loss on Monday night. If he can’t suit up, expect even more pressure to be on DeMarco Murray. Thanks to Murray, the Cowboys lead the league with 161.1 rushing yards per game. Murray himself already has racked up 1,054 yards, which is nearly 300 more than a second-best Arian Foster, who has 766.
While Murray has been tearing defensive lines apart thus far in the season, he’ll have his work cut out for him on Sunday. The Cardinals have the third-best rush defense in the league (allowing 78 yards per game), and no opposing rusher has gone for more than 100 yards against them. Murray hit the 100-yard mark in every game this season, so we’ll keep a close eye on who is able to keep their streak alive on Sunday in Dallas.
The Cowboys currently sit at 9/1 odds to win the Super Bowl, while the Cardinals are at 14/1.
Eagles vs. Texans
The 5-2 Eagles will head to Houston to face the 4-4 Texans. Despite the better record for Philly, this game has one of the closes lines on the day. Houston has won two of three games at home this year, and they are coming off a big win on the road against Tennessee. They also have the 5th most rushing yards in the league thanks to Arian Foster, who is second in the NFL behind Dallas’ DeMarco Murray.
The Eagles have relied on Nick Foles and have given him the green light throughout the season thus far. Foles has thrown for 2,039 yards and 12 touchdowns through 7 games. Philly won their first three games, before losing to San Francisco in Week 4. They then won two in a row before a bye week, at which point they then returned with a loss to Arizona.
Philly (20/1) is looking to stay in the NFC East race with Dallas, so they’ll need a big win on the road on Sunday. The Texans (100/1), who have already surpassed their win total from last season, will aim to keep in the race with the 5-3 Colts.
Jets vs. Chiefs
The Chiefs had a rough start to the season after losing back-to-back games to Tennessee and Denver. However, they then put two wins together against Miami and New England, before losing to the 49ers in Week 5. The Chiefs then had a bye week, and they’ve come out of their week off looking very impressive. They had an important 23-20 win over San Diego on the road, and then they easily handled the Rams 34-7 at Arrowhead last weekend.
The Chiefs have the third-most rushing yards in the league at 140 per game, thanks to Knile Davis and Jamal Charles. They also have the best pass defense in the league, as they average 195.7 passing yards against.
As for the Jets, well things have gone from bad to worse. After juggling Geno Smith and Mike Vick in the last few weeks, neither of which worked out, Jets fans took to social media this week and made national headlines with their displeasure of the team. Despite the fact that the Jets have the 4th-most rushing yards per game at 140, and the 5th best rush defense in the league, they’ve now lost 7 games in a row after a Week One win against Oakland.
The Chiefs are favored by nearly two touchdowns in this one, as no one knows what to truly expect from New York.
Jaguars vs. Bengals
The Bengals got a big AFC North win last weekend, but the last month has been anything but easy for a team that many thought would win their division. Before the win over the Ravens last weekend, the Bengals has a stretch that included two losses, against the Patriots and Colts, with a tie against the Panthers in the middle. Luckily for Cincinnati, they play a 1-7 Jaguars team that they are heavily favored over.
Two weeks ago the Jags got their first win of the season in a 24-6 defeat over the Browns. Unfortunately, that momentum didn’t carry over and they lost last weekend against Miami. Jacksonville hope that rookies Blake Bortles and Denard Robinson will continue to immerge as legit leaders on this team. Bortles took over for Chad Henne earlier and the season, and Robinson has stepped up in the previous two games and notched more than 100 yards in both.
The Bengals still have a few things to figure out, but this weekend will be a good time to try and do so as they are favored by nearly 10.
Chargers vs. Dolphins
Just a few weeks ago, Philip Rivers was in the conversation for league MVP. Now the Chargers are coming off back-to-back losses, and they’ll be playing a Dolphins team that has won two in a row.
The Chargers have also failed to win at Miami in three decades, which could add even more concern for fans in San Diego. The span includes seven games since 1981, which was when the Chargers beat the Dolphins in the AFC Divisional series.
The good news is that the Chargers rank in the top 10 for passing yards per game (8th at 267 per), as well as passing yards allowed (6th at 219 against). They’ll hope Rivers can continue to carry the load while finding Antonio Gates, Michael Floyd, and Keenan Allen.
The Dolphins also aren’t too shabby stopping the pass, as they rank 3rd with just 211 yards against per game. Thanks to Lamar Miller, the Fins also rank 6th in the league with 138 yards rushing per game.
The Dolphins have history and momentum on their side, and they currently are slightly favored in this one. Be sure to check back with sportspicks.com handicappers before kickoff for more insight into this game.
Redskins vs. Vikings
The Redskins are coming off arguably their biggest win of the season after defeating Dallas on Monday night. What might be even more reassuring is that they did it with Colt McCoy, who was third string on the depth chart just a few weeks ago. The Redskins still remain at the bottom of the NFC East, but after a big divisional win, they could score two in a row against a struggling Vikings team. The biggest factor to keep an eye on during Sunday’s game is whether or not Robert Griffin III returns. He is slated to play, which means McCoy, coming off a big win, would head to the bench.
The Vikings haven’t had much going for them this season, but they are coming off a 19-13 win over Tampa Bay last weekend. There are still tons of questions about this team, especially at the quarterback and running back positions. Teddy Bridgewater has been outplaying Matt Cassel, but the Vikings are 31st in the league at 190 passing yards per game. And without Adrian Peterson in the backfield, there is even more pressure on the quarterback to perform. Luckily, Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata have been splitting the load for a Vikings offense that ranks 11th in the league with 121 rushing yards per game.
As RGIII returns, the Redskins are slightly favored on the road in this one. However, it’ll certainly be interesting if the Vikings get any sort of lead and RGIII doesn’t play well. There could be more calls for McCoy, which would shake up this entire Redskins offense.
Rams vs. 49ers
The Rams find themselves in the toughest division in football, and they’ve been doing nearly everything they can to try and survive. They were able to manage an improbable 28-26 win over the defending Super Bowl Champion Seahawks two weeks ago, but then they fell flat against the Chiefs last weekend on the road. It was just three weeks ago that the Rams lost to San Francisco, 31-17, which is who they’ll be up against again on Sunday.
The 49ers have had plenty of chances to make moves in the NFC West, but their three losses on the season keep them within reach of the Seahawks. And with how hot Arizona has been, both San Francisco and Seattle are still trying to keep up with the Cardinals. The 49ers are coming off a bye week, which was likely helpful after a 42-17 drubbing from the Broncos in Week 7.
The 49ers have stumbled a bit since early season predictions, but they still remain in the picture of top teams in the league. They are favored against St. Louis on Sunday, and they currently sit at 14/1 odds to win the Super Bowl.
Broncos vs. Patriots
In what might be one of the most anticipated games on the weekend, AFC powerhouses Denver and New England will face off in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady’s 16th head-to-head meeting. Thus far, Brady has the 10-5 edge over Manning, and he also has a few more Super Bowl on his mantel as well.
Though the stakes won be as high this Sunday, first place in the AFC is on the line. This could also be huge later in the season as both teams vie for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Both teams are on four-game winning streaks, though the Pats have lost two games on the season, while the Broncos have only fallen once. The Broncos also have the best odds in the league to win the Super Bowl at 13/5, while the Patriots are close behind at 10/1.
Thanks to Manning, the Broncos rank third in the league with 297 passing yards per game. However, New England’s defense allows the second fewest passing yards per game at 210 per. Manning is also tied for the league lead with 22 touchdown passes, while Brady is just a few behind with 18.
This could be an epic showdown between long time rivals, and a lot is on the line with first place in the AFC up for grabs.
Raiders vs. Seattle
The defending Super Bowl Champions haven’t looked like themselves lately, so they’ll hope to really make a point when they match up against the only team in the NFL that doesn’t have a win, the Oakland Raiders. The Seahawks are coming off a tough fought 13-9 win over Carolina, but they fell to Dallas and St. Louis in the weeks prior to that. The 4-3 record is surely not what many expected of Seattle, but they still have the second-best odds in the league at 8/1 to win the Super Bowl.
The Raiders are the only team left in the league that has yet to get a win. They have been sticking to their guns with Derek Carr at quarterback, but he gets very little help in the backfield. The Raiders average less than 70 yards rushing per game, which is dead last in the league.
Seattle lost the last home game that they played, so a miracle might have to happen if the Raiders look to make it two in a row.

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