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NFL Week 9 predictions

Bengals (5-2) at Titans (4-3)

4 p.m.

Titans by 3, 41½

This is an interesting matchup and an extremely difficult pick. Let's establish a few facts: • The Titans will not run successfully unless Chris Johnson has had an epiphany. • The Tennessee secondary is a bit susceptible to big games, meaning Cincy QB Andy Dalton, above, has a shot at a big game. • Tennessee QB Matt Hasselbeck is capable of winning this game by himself. In the end, they're closely matched, but Cincy is more well-rounded.

Bengals 23, Titans 20

Rams (1-6) at Cardinals (1-6)

4:15 p.m.

Cardinals by 3, 41

We're still not sure what got into the Rams defense in that upset of the Saints last week. The six sacks, the interceptions of Drew Brees, holding them to 21 points — it doesn't add up. Meanwhile, the Cardinals went east and nearly pulled off an upset of the Ravens. The Arizona offense has a shot to make some plays here, so look for WR Larry Fitzgerald to loom large. CB Patrick Peterson, above, has a pair of 80-yard-plus punt returns, too — something to watch.

Cardinals 27, Rams 20

Giants (5-2) at Patriots (5-2)

4:15 p.m., Ch. 13

Patriots by 9, 51

A rematch of a Super Bowl we'll never forget. A little less is on the line today, but it's an intriguing game nonetheless. The Patriots have to get more stops on defense. Pittsburgh dominated in time of possession in its win over New England last week, and that likely will be an issue against QB Eli Manning and the Giants today. The New York pass rush is going to create problems for Patriots QB Tom Brady, above, but the Giants don't have what the Steelers do in their secondary.

Patriots 33, Giants 27

Packers (7-0) at Chargers (4-3)

4:15 p.m.

Packers by 5½, 51

Chargers QB Philip Rivers, above, is still trying to shake the fact he quite literally dropped the ball against the Chiefs last week, his fumble eventually leading to a Kansas City win in overtime. It's just the latest of his undeniable issues, namely his NFL-high 11 interceptions. But what if he plays a sharp game and the Chargers run the ball like we know they can with Ryan Mathews? That's right: The Packers could lose. It's a provocative statement, but it's also true.

Chargers 29, Packers 27

Ravens (5-2) at Steelers (6-2)

8:20 p.m., Ch. 8

Steelers by 3, 42

The Ravens are going through something of an identity crisis. One week, their offense can't reach double figures against Jacksonville. The next, their vaunted defense gives up 27 points to Arizona. Combine those issues with the Steelers wanting revenge for that 28-point beatdown in Week 1. The Steelers have stopped pretending they run a balanced offense and are throwing it with abandon. QB Ben Roethlisberger, above, is on pace for 4,600 yards.

Steelers 24, Ravens 20

Bears (4-3) at Eagles (3-4)

8:30 Monday, ESPN

Eagles by 7½, 47½

Last time out, the Bears tried serving up a victory to the Bucs, who played so poorly they didn't deserve to win. With the kind of performance the Eagles displayed against the Cowboys last week, you have to believe they're good enough to beat the Bears solidly — if they're focused. Given their slow start, the Eagles must be. QB Michael Vick, above, could have a big day against a porous secondary while Jay Cutler will be too busy running from the Philly pass rush.

Eagles 28, Bears 21

Jets (4-3) at Bills (5-2)

1 p.m.

Bills by 21/2, 45

The AFC East standings will be impacted considerably by the outcome of today's game. The Bills are tied with the Patriots for the division lead with the Jets one game back. So what's the difference in this contest? We believe it will be the Bills' ground game behind Fred Jackson, above, which has been far more consistent than the Jets' running attack. New York will make things tough on QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, but its run defense is spotty at best.

Bills 23, Jets 20

Seahawks (2-5) at Cowboys (3-4)

1 p.m.

Cowboys by 11, 45

The story of this Cowboys season is starting to become clear. Maybe they're just not that special. They remain good enough to beat inferior opponents. But after that showing at Philadelphia last week coupled with close losses to the Patriots and Lions (wasting double-digit leads in both), the Cowboys look like they'll hover around .500 and miss the playoffs. But this is the kind of game in which QB Tony Romo, above, can have a huge day to keep the Cowboys' hopes alive.

Cowboys 31, Seahawks 17

Browns (3-4) at Texans (5-3)

1 p.m.

Texans by 10½, 41

The Browns aren't what you might consider an offensive machine — unless you consider an average of 11 points in their past three games offensive fireworks. Meanwhile, Houston (as usual) is humming along offensively with QB Matt Schaub, above, having a strong season. The guy who has made things come together, however, is RB Arian Foster. He wants a contract extension. Given how he has lightened the load on Schaub, he seems to be deserving of it.

Texans 26, Browns 14

Falcons (4-3) at Colts (0-8)

1 p.m.

Falcons by 6½, 45

Colts QB Peyton Manning broke his silence last week and offered a bleak assessment of his recovery from three neck surgeries. He has made little progress and appears to be experiencing issues such as "regeneration of the nerve." Meanwhile, back at the ranch, his teammates who are actually playing haven't managed to get a single win. And something suggests it won't come today. Atlanta QB Matt Ryan, above, could have a big day against a leaky Colts defense.

Falcons 28, Colts 17

Dolphins (0-7) at Chiefs (4-3)

1 p.m.

Chiefs by 4, 401/2

This not an attempt at humor: The Dolphins have been a tough out. They play hard, test you, then fall apart (see the Giants loss last week). They can't finish — whether for lack of talent, composure or coaching. It has done in the Dolphins in several games, and it's probably going to get coach Tony Sparano fired. The Chiefs have won four straight under coach Todd Haley, above. They finished the job Monday night against the Chargers and are tied for the AFC West lead.

Chiefs 24, Dolphins 17

Broncos (2-5) at Raiders (4-3)

4 p.m., Ch. 10

Raiders by 7, 42½

It's starting to look like Denver QB Tim Tebow is what he is — not the answer. The Raiders' Carson Palmer, above, is the quarterback to watch in this game. He gets his first start after coming off the bench in his first appearance two weeks ago. Having been sitting at home — threatening to retire — until Jason Campbell's injury last month, Palmer has had adequate time to get it together and probably has learned enough of the Raiders' playbook to beat the Broncos.

Raiders 24, Broncos 17

49ers (6-1) at Redskins (3-4)

1 p.m.

49ers by 4, 37½

The 49ers probably won't have their way against the Redskins defense. It has allowed 19.9 points per game — seventh fewest in the NFL. The imbalance comes with the 49ers defense against the Redskins offense. The 49ers have a fierce pass rush featuring rookie DE Aldon Smith, above, and his 6½ sacks. And the 49ers protect the ball better than most. QB Alex Smith has just two picks, a big reason the 49ers have a plus-10 turnover margin.

49ers 26, Redskins 13

NFL Week 9 predictions 11/05/11 [Last modified: Saturday, November 5, 2011 8:36pm]
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