Week 8 gave us some good games and allowed us to learn more about the teams that might make a run at the Super Bowl. This week features key divisional games in the AFC East, North, and West. The NFC also has big games, just not within their divisions. The cream will rise to the top in some divisions, while others like the NFC South and AFC West the waters will stay murky for another few weeks. Fans of two AFC teams be prepared to grab your tissues because the Super Bowl season you hoped for is on it's way down the tubes. As usual the Facts are the Facts. Leave your comments, I want to read them.
New York Jets vs Buffalo- This game is a big for the over overachieving Bills. I said they have 9-7 written all over them. The division lead is at stake, and a chance to create a gap between themselves and the Jets. The Patriots will continue to win, so it will be a dogfight to win the AFC East. If Buffalo wants any chance of making the playoffs, these are games they have to win. The Jets are coming off a win and a bye, so expect this defense to play better. Rex Ryan is a defensive mastermind, but the defense has been terrible against the run this season. Did they make some changes and find a solution during the bye? We will find out Sunday. The Jets run defense will be tested by one of the league's most complete running backs, Fred Jackson. Bills QB Fitzpatrick will have a heck of a battle against Revis and Cromartie. The Jets corner backs are better than the Bills receivers. Any pass that is not in the perfect spot will be incomplete or will be intercepted. Expect a shocker. BILLS
Baltimore vs Pittsburgh- Terrell Suggs has not stopped talking all week. He may have a good game against the Steelers but the outcome will be different. The greatest growth of an NFL team is between week 1 and 2. The Steelers were embarrassed by a Ravens offense that has since been sporadic. Ben Roethlisberger has changed the face of what Pittsburgh is on offense. Traditionally, the Steelers have been a run first, smash mouth offense. No más, those days are over. Big Ben is throwing the ball 30-50 times per game. The Ravens on the other hand must run to win. Even without outside linebacker Lamar Woodley out, the Steelers should give the Ravens offense trouble. This will be an intense AFC North match-up, but the Steelers will be dominant. I picked against them vsthe Patriots last week, I wont make that mistake again. STEELERS
Green Bay vs San Diego- After struggling on offense and finding ways to lose the last two games, the Chargers will have to find ways to beat the Packers. Will the Phillip Rivers we used to know show up, or will the 2011 campaign struggles continue? The Chargers will break out on offense with the pass game, but that won't be enough to top the Packers. The '72 Dolphins need to keep that Champagne in the chiller, it could be a long time before the Packers lose, if they lose. PACKERS
Denver vs Oakland- This is one of the games I want to see most this week. This game comes down to one thing, quarterback play. If Tebow plays like last week, and the Raiders QBs play like their last game, the defenses could score more points than the offenses. I refuse to pick a winner, so you know what that means, you get a present.
Seattle vs Dallas- While Indianapolis and Miami are leading the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, Pete Carroll and the Seahawks have their eye on a different prize. Matt Barkley. I knew Tavaris Jackson was not the answer, but i did drink a couple sips of the Charles Whitehurst kool-aid. He played well at the end of last season, so I did think he could possibly, maybe, be the answer. Uh...yeah... I was wrong. Seattle is a quarterback away from the playoffs. This week the Seahawks visit the most entertaining and volatile team in the NFL, the Cowboys. Watching the Cowboys is like watching an episode of Jersey Shore. You want to look away, but you just can't because you might miss something. You literally never know what you will get. Tony Romo may win the Super Bowl. Jerry Jones might fire Jason Garrett at half time and coach the team himself. It's really weird because the Cowboys are good enough to beat any team in the league, but bad enough to lose to anyone. After getting jumped by the Individuals (Eagles) on Sunday Night Football, I imagine they will come out swinging against the Seahawks. I still expect Dallas to miss the playoffs, but they should handle Seattle. If by chance the Cowboys lose, the wheels will come off of their season. COWBOYS
San Francisco vs Washington- Washington looks like they are free falling without a parachute. They started off the season looking like they would contend for the NFC East crown, but now, not so much. After an embarrassing shutout loss to Buffalo, the Redskins look to regain some footing against the 49ers. The biggest question for the Redskins is, who is the QB of this team? Rex Grossman had a nice start to the season, but was promptly benched after a 4 int game. Washington is not a bad team. Some players are having a good season (i.e. Brian Orakpo, Fred Davis, London Fletcher), but their play is not turning into wins. San Francisco on the other hand is 6-1. After the meltdown that occurred in the Bay Area last season, no one could have predicted this start. The NFC West is nothing near a powerhouse conference, but only Nostradamus could have predicted the 49ers to finish above second. 49ers
Chicago vs Philadelphia- This Monday Night game is huge for both the Bears and the Individuals (Eagles). It's beginning to look like all the Individuals who took their talents to Philadelphia are becoming a team. With all that Asante Samuel noise coming from the locker room last week, I was unsure if the Eagles would let the season slip away. They rallied together and took the Cowboys behind the woodshed with the whole football world watching. Andy Reid is still undefeated coming off a bye week. Now the question is, can the perform like that on offense for consecutive weeks. The Bears have arguably the best front 7 in the NFL, but can they contain Vick? The Bears defense has a tough task with the Phily offense, but the Individuals defense has a bigger task in front of them...Matt Forte. He is the league's best dual threat running back (rushing/receiving). If Phily can't slow down Forte, this could be a Monday Night massacre. The "Dream Team" will get back to .500 this week and will be one step closer to catching the Giants in the race for the NFC East. EAGLES
Miami vs Kansas City- I predicted the Chiefs would lose to the Chargers last week. They were 3-3 with victories over the Vikings, Colts, and crippled Raiders. I still do not believe in the Chiefs because they have too many injuries to make the playoffs. The Monday Night game was more about the Chargers losing than the Chiefs winning. Well, the Chiefs sit at 4-3 and host the Dolphins this week. With 4 straight victories, and another game vs a struggling team, all signs point to a Chiefs victory. Miami, on the other hand, dodged a bullet last week vs the Giants. They almost won and lost a tie for the lead in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. I know teams don't really "throw" games, but somebody in the Dolphins organization is secretly hoping they go defeated (0-16). With Reggie Bush having his 2nd career 100 yard game it seems the Phins are picking up some steam. Miami has been close in a few games this season and they will end up winning a game or two. CHIEFSAtlanta vs Indianapolis- I know there are upsets in the NFL every week, but guess what, this ain't it. Do not expect a repeat of the Saints/Rams game from last week. The Falcons will score a lot of points and win going away. Even though Curtis Painter is the quarterback, Pierre Garcon is 9th in league in receiving yards and Reggie Wayne is 18th. The Colts literally have no chance in this game, but may get a leg up on drafting Luck this week with a Dolphins win. FALCONS
Cleveland vs Houston- Well... make another mark in the win column for the Texans. The Browns have been outscored by 33 points this season. This may be due to the lack of a running game because the Madden cover boy Peyton Hillis is out. The Texans have one of the top offenses in the league and feature the NFL's reigning rushing champ Arian Foster. In addition to one of the league's top offenses, Houston has the 3rd ranked defense. What a difference a year makes. This defense was much maligned last season. Experts called them the "worst pass defense ever" last season. The Houston coaching staff did a great job in free agency, and with the transition to the 3-4. Jonathan Joseph headlines the secondary that is not only no longer laughed at, but are now respected. Colt McCoy and the Browns will show up and give a good effort, but will fall short in Houston. TEXANS
Good News Tennessee Titans, you are firmly in the middle of a race for the AFC South, and a playoff spot. Matt Hasselbeck has been a great free agent pick-up and the pass game is nice. Last game, Tennessee finally got some production out of the running back position. Bad News, the guy who you just gave $30 million guaranteed (Chris Johnson) is not the one producing. After three seasons of great production, his lack of production is inexplicable.
Cincinnati vs Tennessee- One would think losing Carson Palmer, T.O., and Ocho Cinco would be a sign of many tough rebuilding years for the Bengals. Welp, good thing one doesn't get paid to think, lol. Cinci sits at 5-2 and has a chance to win the division over the Steelers and Ravens. Andy Dalton and Aj Green are playing like seasoned veterans. We could be looking at the premier QB/WR combos of the future. This week they take their talents to Tennessee. This should be a good match-up even though the Titans don't have two of their best offensive weapons (Kenny Britt, Chris Johnson). Chris Johnson will be considered "out" until he shows up for a game. BENGALS
The good news for the New York Giants is Eli Manning is playing his best football and is an MVP candidate. The bad news is they have lost their leading rusher, Ahmad Bradshaw to a broken foot. Eli will have to step up his game.
New York Giants vs New England- New England is playing great offensively, their pass defense is just abysmal at times. If Eli can shoulder more of the offensive load until Bradshaw come back, the Giants will have a chance to maintain their lead in the NFC East. The Patriots should make the playoffs, but the chances of them winning the Super Bowl is low due because their pass defense is terrible. GIANTS
Tampa Bay vs New Orleans- When you add in the Atlanta Falcons, there is only one word to describe the NFC South, GRIDLOCK. With a loss to St. Louis last week, New Orleans proved they do not want to run away with the division. Tampa Bay has stated the season slower than they had hoped but lack luster play from the Saints and Falcons has them right in the thick of things. This game is crucial to both teams because tie breakers will likely decide the winner of this division. If Drew Brees plays well, Saints win. SAINTS
St. Louis vs Arizona- Both teams look to get their season back on track and build for the future. The Rams had an impressive win over the Saints last week. Expect them to keep that momentum going. RAMS