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Week 9 NFL game previews

Falcons at Panthers, 1

Line/OU: Falcons by 2½; 42

At last, Atlanta plays an NFC South game. Carolina has played only one, beating the Bucs last week. The Falcons come off a strange stretch in which they played all four AFC East teams in a row, going 1-3. So they are unbeaten, if underwhelming so far, in the NFC. Carolina has succeeded at hogging the ball, second in time of possession. And its defense hasn't allowed a touchdown in four games this season, including the past two. These teams need to avoid turning over the ball, which has been a problem. The Falcons are minus-5 in takeaway/giveaway margin, and the Panthers are minus-7. The Panthers never informed QB Cam Newton of their intentions to trade away his No. 1 receiver and closest friend on the team, former FSU standout Kelvin Benjamin, before making the move this week. Newton discovered Kelvin Benjamin was sent packing to Buffalo the same time most people did — after it happened. Newton wasn't thrilled by the trade but didn't criticize the move, either. "Think Atlanta cares about that? Know what I'm saying?" he said. "My feelings aren't relevant. We got one job to do and that's win football games. And I'm up to that task."

Ravens at Titans, 1

Line/OU: Titans by 3½; 43

Two teams with severe passing ills: Baltimore ranks last in the league, Tennessee is 26th. Defense is more palatable. The Ravens have two shutouts and have playmakers in LB C.J. Mosley, LB Terrell Suggs and CB Brandon Carr. The Titans figure to keep it on the ground as much as they can with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Marcus Mariota has thrown for 1,956 yards with 14 TDs and two INTs for a 106.7 passer rating in his past eight home games, and is likely to take off running when necessary.

Bengals at Jaguars, 1

Line/OU: Jaguars by 6; 39

The Bengals' Andy Dalton is 3-0 against the Jaguars, completing 65 percent of his passes. In A.J. Green, he has one of the top targets in football, and Green likes facing Jacksonville; he has 14 receptions for 251 yards and three TDs vs. the Jags. If Jacksonville truly is going to be a contender in the up-for-grabs AFC South, it must find some home wins. The Jags have a league-worst 9-29 record at home (not including five London games) since 2011. They've dropped nine of 10 at EverBank Field. They're coming off a 27-0 victory at Indianapolis.

Colts at Texans, 1

Line/OU: Texans by 7; 45½

As for those Colts, the debacle of Andrew Luck's shoulder woes — he's now on injured reserve — damaged the season. They've lost three straight, and with the 31st-ranked defense, get a break because they won't be facing QB Deshaun Watson, who had the high-powered Texans offense humming. Watson tore a knee ligament in practice Thursday and is gone for the season; Tom Savage will start. Watson had 402 yards passing with four TDs and ran for 67 yards last week to become the first player in NFL history with at least 400 yards passing, four passing TDs and 50 or more yards rushing in a game. He's the first rookie to have three or more TD passes in four straight games, and his 19 TD passes are the most in NFL history through a player's first seven games.

Broncos at Eagles, 1

Line/OU: Eagles by 7½; 42

Struggling Denver is making a quarterback change, from Trevor Siemian to Brock Osweiler. Yep, that Osweiler, the guy who backed up (and started for) Peyton Manning during the 2015 championship season, then left as a free agent to Houston. He flopped there, was traded to Cleveland and cut by the QB-starved Browns. The Broncos re-signed him and, guess what … he'll be behind center today in Philly, where the team is 1-5. Philadelphia has no such issues, with Carson Wentz developing in his second season into a premier passer and leader. He faces a fierce defense, but the way the Eagles are rolling and the Broncos are reeling, that might not matter.

Rams at Giants, 1

Line/OU: Rams by 4½; 42

Both are coming off a bye. While the Giants desperately needed time off to figure out why they've been the NFL's biggest disappointment, the Rams probably could've skipped the hiatus after becoming the league's most pleasant surprise. Not helping New York is turmoil in the secondary and locker room. For the second time in a month, coach Ben McAdoo suspended a cornerback for breaking team rules. First it was Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who missed one game. Now, it's former Gator Janoris Jenkins. Considering the Giants are 1-6 and the 5-2 Rams have shown plenty of firepower on offense, that's a bad omen for New York. LA, tied for the NFC West lead with Seattle, is 3-0 on the road and averaging more than 30 points a game. Second-year QB Jared Goff has taken nicely to new coach Sean McVay's schemes and RB Todd Gurley is having a strong rebound season.

Washington at Seahawks, 4

Line/OU: Seahawks by 7; 45

One area the Seahawks have struggled is on the offensive line. They hope acquiring LT Duane Brown from Houston after he was superb in the Texans' loss to the Seahawks last week will be a cure. Brown had held out until reporting last week, then whipped on Seattle's normally strong D-line. "I got to practice a couple of days going into it," Brown says. "I was a bit nervous at first because it's not quite the defense that you want to have to face on the road for your first game back, but I felt pretty good. I stayed in shape, I made sure I did some work on my own. … But I thought I performed pretty good." Washington has won its past two in Seattle.

Cardinals at 49ers, 4

Line/OU: Cardinals by 2½; 39

After being competitive early in their losing streak, the 49ers have gotten blown out by Dallas and Philadelphia. They brought in Jimmy Garoppolo from New England for a 2018 second-round pick to see if he will solve their QB woes. No team that has played eight games has scored fewer than San Francisco's 133 points. Still, this is a winnable matchup. Arizona has been ravaged by injuries, the latest being QB Carson Palmer's broken arm.

Chiefs at Cowboys, 4:25

Line/OU: Cowboys by 2½; 53

The big story line figured to be how the Cowboys fared without the suspended Ezekiel Elliott, but a federal appeals court blocked his suspension for this weekend. The running back will go back on the legal path next week, but he's set to face KC. The Chiefs can set a franchise record with a 10th straight road win going back to Oct. 16, 2016, at Oakland. They have plenty of weapons on offense, and LB Justin Houston is beginning to resemble the dynamic game-changer he was before injuries slowed him. Dallas also has a sackmaster in DE DeMarcus Lawrence, the league leader with 10½ sacks.

Raiders at Dolphins, 8:30

Line/OU: Raiders by 3; 44

Both come off lopsided losses. Miami has the league's worst offense, has been shut out twice this season, and this week dealt one of its few proven commodities, RB Jay Ajayi, to Philadelphia. But the Dolphins have won five consecutive games vs. the Raiders, who have dropped five of their past six this season. And Raiders opponents have a passer rating of 108.2, highest in league. Oakland's defense has no INTs in 246 passes. The Raiders are the first team to fail to pick off a pass in the opening eight games of any season.

Lions at Packers, 8:30 Monday

Line/OU: Lions by 2; 43½

Coming back from a bye, the Packers hope QB Brett Hundley has mastered enough of the offense to keep their season afloat. This will be his second career start; Aaron Rodgers is sidelined with a collarbone injury. Hundley has a good group of receivers, and rookie Aaron Jones is averaging 5.58 yards per carry. Detroit not only has lost three in a row to the Packers, but the Lions have dropped four of their past five in 2017. They don't do much on the ground, although they could with Green Bay ranked 26th in run defense. QB Matthew Stafford must produce with his arm regardless.

Bye week: Bears, Browns, Chargers, Patriots, Steelers, Vikings

Noteworthy: Browns T Joe Thomas is getting a $3 million raise. He recently had surgery for a season-ending triceps injury. The team said it agreed to the pay bump before the 10-time Pro Bowler was hurt. He will get a $1.5 million roster bonus this season and a $1.5 million increase to his 2018 salary, pushing it to $10.3 million. Thomas had never missed a play in his career — a streak of 10,363 consecutive snaps — before he was hurt Oct. 22.

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