The Ravens could really tighten up the AFC North race on Sunday or they could let the rival Steelers pull away.
By: Elias McMillan
Last Week: 8-4-1
Big Five Games of the Week
Philadelphia @ New York Giants – This rivalry game might determine which team will have the inside track on chasing down the first place Cowboys in the NFC East. Last Week, Philly almost caught Dallas slipping off the bye week but they still managed to blow a 10 point lead in the final quarter. After watching that game, I didn’t come away too impressed with the Eagles. I think Philadelphia’s defense is tough but it is going to be hard for them to win games in the future with that inconsistent offense and unwise play calling. The Giants won an ugly game before the bye week in London. I don’t expect them to come out firing on all phases but their superior offense should give them the upper hand in this game. New York’s defense can play well in stretches and for some reason rookie Carson Wentz has cooled off from his hot start at the beginning of the season. Either Wentz doesn’t have the ability yet to command his offense down the field or maybe the short passing game is really holding him back. Either way, the Eagles are not getting consistent play from their RB’s and they lack a serious deep threat. I think Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr will be able to get their hook on and the Giants defense will not allow Wentz to beat them. Especially at home. Prediction: Giants 23 – Eagles 13
Pittsburgh @ Baltimore – The Ravens will need to win this game to prevent the Steelers from separating from the pack in a suddenly tight AFC North. The Steelers-Ravens rivalry may not be what it used to be but this week’s game actually will hold some weight in terms of how the rest of the season could play out. Both teams are coming off the bye but one has horrendously under performed recently. Baltimore got off on a 3-0 start but since then, the offense has sputtered and the defense hasn’t been able to carry them to victory each week. Coming off the bye, Baltimore will be looking for Joe Flacco to rebound and go back to playing at a level tat earned him that big contract. Flacco has had to deal with an inconsistent group at receiver but he still has to be the one to figure out this team’s offensive woes. The Steelers are probably still the class of this division but they have had some serious injury problems. Ben Roethlisberger just had his yearly injury but luckily it came before the bye week. With an extra week to rest, Roethlisberger, at 100 percent or not, will probably play this Sunday at Baltimore. The Ravens pass rush is going to have to find out how mobile Ben can be on that knee often on Sunday. They must send the pressure because if not, they wont be able to slow down the Steelers offense with their many weapons. Baltimore has a top 5 run defense but they will have their hands full with Le’Veon Bell. Baltimore had an awful 2015 but they were still able to sweep this Steelers team. Revenge will be on the minds of many Steelers on Sunday and Pittsburgh will be able to take that first step towards pulling away in the AFC North. If Pittsburgh somehow loses, it will be an entire new ball game in that division. Prediction: Steelers 26 – Ravens 20
Indianapolis @ Green Bay – There isn’t any thing redeemable about this Colts team. Especially when they are playing outside of their division. Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton are usually good but that’s about all Indy has going for them. Green Bay lost a close one last week but in that game in Atlanta, Aaron Rodgers looked really good. Like, a lot like his old self. And he is going to have to be back to his old self as long as the Packers will be one dimensional on offense. The Eddie Lacy injury has hurt Green Bay’s balance on offense but they’ll be okay as long as Rodgers continues to play at a high level. I don’t see Rodgers being slowed down by this Colts defense especially playing at home. A Rodgers-Luck QB duel sounds cool but Green Bay’s defense should be able put up more of a resistance than their counterpart. The Colts wont let this game get away but they’ll run out of time at the end. Prediction: Packers 31 – Colts 23
Denver @ Oakland – The Raiders are in first place in the AFC West and this week they are in primetime for the first time in a while against the hated Denver Broncos. This will be such a huge spot for this young and upcoming Raiders team and that home crowd should be rocking. Denver had a few hiccups recently but last week, they looked like a team that was ready to get back to playing at the level they were at earlier this season. Denver’s defense dictated the pace last week vs. the Chargers and they’ll have to do so again this Sunday night. QB David Carr, who is coming off a career game last week in Tampa Bay, powers Oakland’s offense. I think the Denver defense will be able to make it hard for him in this matchup. Oakland’s defense has been sort of a disappointment this season though they have improved in stretches. The Raiders did give up a lot of points last week against a bad Buccaneers team and I see that as a bad sign going into this game. Denver’s offense is going to have struggles at the line of scrimmage in this game. The Broncos running game is still trying to account for the CJ Anderson injury and the Raiders have a really good front seven on defense. However, Oakland has a weakness in their secondary and Denver has the savvy vets at receiver to exploit those weaknesses. Discipline might also be an underlining factor in this game as Oakland was penalized at a record number last week. No QB will be the story on Sunday night. Instead it will be all about Von Miller and the Broncos defense reclaiming the AFC West on the road. Prediction: Broncos 24 – Raiders 23
Buffalo @ Seattle – After taking a serious whipping at home last week, the Bills will travel to Seattle on Monday night to take on a Seahawks team that is coming off two lackluster performances on the road. CenturyLink Field will be a sight for sore eyes for the Seahawks who desperately need a confidence builder. Seattle’s offense isn’t carrying enough weight recently and the defense couldn’t bail them out last week in New Orleans. Russell Wilson is going through a stretch where he hasn’t thrown for a TD in a while. Buffalo’s defense couldn’t stop Tom Brady last week but I think they will fare better against this Seahawks offense. I think Buffalo will be able to win the battle up front and Wilson will struggle to find big gains down the field. I think this could be a real competitive game but not without LeSean McCoy who will probably miss this matchup due to injury. Bills QB Tyrod Taylor will have too much on his plate on Monday night going up against Seattle’s defense. I expect Seattle to roll at home but it could be interesting if Buffalo’s defense can limit a struggling Seattle offense. Prediction: Seahawks 29 – Bills 18
The Rest of Week 9
Falcons over Buccaneers – Matt Ryan is on a hot streak and he may be playing as well as anyone right now. Tampa Bay’s defense has been reeling recently.
Cowboys over Browns – Dallas has the ultimate trap game this week against a winless Cleveland team? Really? Naw. The Browns are that bad. They shouldn’t have a chance.
Chiefs over Jaguars – Alex Smith goes down last week but KC was still able to roll on the road. That was impressed. Jacksonville has been the opposite of impressive this season.
Dolphins over Jets – I think the Jets are starting to look old and are starting to break down. Miami’s younger talent will shine in this one.
Lions over Vikings – All of those injuries are starting to catch up with Minnesota finally.
Panthers over Rams – Cam Newton was a big factor again last week coming off of the bye. Jeff Fisher’s teams are historically dirty and with all the talk about the refs treatment or lack there of with Newton, I think you can guarantee that there will be some type of incident in this game. Hopefully, Newton will be able to survive.
Saints over 49ers – Dream matchup for New Orleans. They can score in bunches while San Fran cant stop anybody.
Chargers over Titans – This will be one of those weird close ones that San Diego seems to always find them selves in. I’ll give the edge to the home team. San Diego will protect the ball and their defense will be the ones to force the big turnover.
Week 9 Fantasy Football Picks
QB: Matt Ryan (Falcons) – Ryan is playing well and the Buccaneer secondary gave up a bunch of yards last week vs. Oakland.
RB: Mark Ingram (Saints) – New Orleans isn’t known for running the ball but they have plenty of opportunities to against a really bad 49ers defense.
WR: Jarvis Landry (Dolphins) – Jets CB Darrelle Revis admitted recently that his “body is starting to break down”. That should be music to the ears to Miami’s top young receiver this week.
TE: Travis Kelce (Chiefs) – Kelce had a good showing last week and he’ll have a favorable matchup this week against Jacksonville’s secondary.
DEF: Detroit – Minnesota has major protection issues. The Lions will be able to get after Sam Bradford on Sunday in a way that could turn the game in their favor.