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Friday, 31 October 2014

2014 NFL Week 9 Predictions: Cardinals Shut Down Cowboys

Bye teams: Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Tennessee Titans


Thursday, Oct. 30


New Orleans Saints (3-4) @ Carolina Panthers (3-4-1), 8:25 p.m.

The Saints are coming off of a much-needed win with Mark Ingram and Drew Brees both having their best games of the year. Expect both players to build off of their strong performances, as the Panthers' defense has been one of the most inconsistent in the league.

After putting up 30+ points in two straight weeks, the Panthers have scored just 26 total points against the Packers and the Seahawks. The Panthers will not plan to run it too often, with the Saints' defense playing surprisingly well against the run. The Saints' secondary, however, has been one of the worst in the league, so Cam Newton should be able to move the ball with consistency.

New Orleans Saints Win, 31-27


Sunday, Nov. 2


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-6) @ Cleveland Browns (4-3), 1 p.m.

All of the Buccaneers' pass catchers outside of Mike Evans have been disappointing, while Doug Martin has failed to replicate his rookie success. The Browns have a playmaking secondary, so unless the receivers step up, the Buccaneers will struggle to move the ball through the air. The Browns' front, though, has been torn up by opposing teams all year long, so Martin has a good chance to top 100 yards for the first time since Week 2 of 2013.

The Browns may have beaten the Raiders, but they did so in an unconvincing fashion. Ben Tate's numbers were even worse than they were at Jacksonville, while Jordan Cameron has yet to break into midseason form. The Buccaneers' defense as a whole has been disappointing, though, so look for the Browns' offense to rebound off of two mediocre performances.

Cleveland Browns Win, 30-21


Arizona Cardinals (6-1) @ Dallas Cowboys (6-2), 1 p.m.

The Cardinals' offense has been one of the most consistent in the league, even with the rotating quarterbacks. The Cowboys' pass defense has been one of the biggest surprises of the year, but they will have trouble containing the Cardinals' dangerous trio of receivers. Andre Ellington has played well too, and the Cowboys' defense is simply average against the run.

DeMarco Murray will have trouble topping 100 yards against the Cardinals. With Carson Palmer expected to put points up on the board early, the Cowboys will not be able to run it too often, while the Cardinals also possess one of the league's best run defenses. Even missing most of their key cogs, the Cardinals' front seven has held opposing backs to 3.3 yards per carry while their longest run allowed was Ryan Mathews' 20-yard scamper in Week 1. Tony Romo will have to lead the offense, but the Cardinals' secondary is much better than the stat sheet indicates. The Cowboys' offense will likely play its worst all season here against the Cardinals.

Arizona Cardinals Win, 34-30


Philadelphia Eagles (5-2) @ Houston Texans (4-4), 1 p.m.

While the Eagles may not be the most complete team, they certainly are one of the most competitive. The Eagles' two losses have come to two NFC West teams by a combined nine points. LeSean McCoy has put up three solid performances in a row, but look for his play to drop once again, as the Texans have a stout run stopping front seven. Nick Foles, however, should be able to put up big numbers. The Texans are tied with the Falcons for most passing plays of 40+ yards, with ten.

Despite the amount of flak that the Eagles' defense has gotten, they have allowed more than 28 points just once. The Texans will look to Arian Foster to move the ball. Foster has been one of the most consistent backs in 2014, rushing for 100 yards in six games. Over the past four, Foster has rushed for 519 yards and six touchdowns, while averaging 6.3 yards per carry and scoring twice through the air.

Houston Texans Win, 28-23


New York Jets (1-7) @ Kansas City Chiefs (4-3), 1 p.m.

The Chiefs' defense has quietly been putting up some of the best performances of the year. Whether it is Michael Vick or Geno Smith starting, the Jets' offense will struggle. The Chiefs are the only team allowing less than 200 passing yards per game, while they are also the only team that has yet to allow a rushing touchdown.

After struggling to find his rhythm in the first few weeks, Jamaal Charles has been one of the most explosive backs in the NFL. As bad as the Jets' defense is, they are one of the best against the run, allowing just 3.3 yards per carry. Alex Smith matches up favorably against what may be the league's worst secondary. The Jets have allowed 22 passing touchdowns while recording just one interception, which adds up to a 113.5 passer rating.

Kansas City Chiefs Win, 35-17


Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7) @ Cincinnati Bengals (4-2-1), 1 p.m.

Denard Robinson will look to get his third 100-yard performance in a row, but the the Bengals have allowed just one back to top 100 yards this year. The Bengals have generally struggled against the run, though, so Robinson should have a good outing. Blake Bortles will struggle, as the Bengals' pass defense has done a nice job taking advantage of turnover-prone quarterbacks.

Without a steady running game, the Bengals' offense will have to rely on Andy Dalton to move the ball. A.J. Green is expected to return, though, and with Mohamed Sanu playing like a number one receiver, the Bengals' offense should not have too much trouble. The Jaguars' pass defense is ranked 27th, allowing 13 touchdowns and a 97.4 passer rating.

Cincinnati Bengals Win, 42-24


San Diego Chargers (5-3) @ Miami Dolphins (4-3), 1 p.m.

After a strong start, the Chargers have been disapponting. The Dolphins' defense may not be on par with that of the Broncos and the Chiefs, but it is definitely up there. Phillip Rivers will struggle to consistently move the ball with Cameron Wake chasing him in the pocket, and while undrafted rookie Branden Oliver started off strong, but his effectiveness has withered away in more recent games. Look for the Chargers' offense to struggle early.

Ryan Tannehill is well known for his inconsistency, but the third-year passer will be up against a secondary that is missing their first-round rookie corner. The Chargers' run defense has done a good job limiting big gains, but Lamar Miller should be able to build off of what has been a surprisingly strong season.

Miami Dolphins Win, 21-20


Washington Redskins (3-5) @ Minnesota Vikings (3-5), 1 p.m..

The Redskins did a nice job in their upset win over the Cowboys, but expect them to return to reality. Failing to put up more than 20 points since Week 3, the Redskins' offense is not built to keep up with a defense that struggles against pass-oriented teams. The Vikings' defense is better against the pass than it is against the run, but the Redskins will get down early. Alfred Morris will look for an increased workload after an impressive outing last week, but he will likely be phased out.

Teddy Bridgewater had his best game last week, and look for him to build off of that performance. The Redskins have one of the league's least reliable secondaries, so Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson should be able to get open often. Jerick McKinnon should have a great game too, as the Vikings will be able to get on top early, allowing McKinnon to run down the clock.

Minnesota Vikings Win, 30-23


St. Louis Rams (2-5) @ San Francisco 49ers (4-3), 4:05 p.m.

The Rams ran the ball early against the 49ers' defense with a combination of Zac Stacy, Benny Cunningham, and Tre Mason, but do not look for that to happen again. The trio failed to produce much, while none of them provided any sort of consistency through the past two weeks. The 49ers' pass defense was picked apart by the Broncos, so the Rams will look to throw it often.

Frank Gore did not play well against the Rams last time, while he was also disappointing against the Broncos last week. Gore will look to rebound and reach his early-season form. Colin Kaepernick's lone 300-yard performance of 2014 came against the Rams, so expect the 49ers to move the ball through the air.

San Francisco 49ers Win, 28-20


Denver Broncos (6-1) @ New England Patriots (6-2), 4:25 p.m.

The Broncos have averaged 37 points per game since their bye, while Peyton Manning has not thrown a pick since Week 5. The Patriots are allowing 211 passing yards per game and are the only team to not have allowed a reception of 40+ yards. The Patriots' defense is lacking in run defense, but they will step it up against third-year scat back Ronnie Hillman.

With free agency acquisitions DeMarcus Ware and T.J. Ward, the Broncos have built one of the league's most complete defenses. Their secondary has struggled at times, but the Patriots do not have a threatening wideout. Without a reliable running game, the Patriots will lean on Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski to lead the offense down the field.

New England Patriots Win, 30-28


Oakland Raiders (0-7) @ Seattle Seahawks (4-3), 4:245 p.m.

The Raiders have not played too bad in their past few games, but Derek Carr will be up against one of the toughest defenses in the league. The Raiders will likely lean on Carr and the passing attack, as the Seahawks' defense is much better against the run than the pass.

Marshawn Lynch has not received 20+ carries since before the bye, and do not look for that to change. The Raiders may fall behind in points, but their defense has done a good job containing the run. Instead, look for Russell Wilson to run down the clock with short, low-risk passes.

Seattle Seahawks Win, 34-21


Baltimore Ravens (5-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3), 8:30 p.m.

Joe Flacco is coming off of his worst performance of the year, but he will look to rebound against the Steelers' struggling defense. The Steelers have allowed the second most passing plays of 20+ yards, 33, while they have also recorded just 12 sacks. Justin Forsett has been one of the most impressive backs this year, and matching up favorably against the Steelers; expect another big game out of him.

The Ravens' defense has been solid against both the run and the pass, so expect Ben Roethlisberger and Le'Veon Bell to take a step down after an amazing game against the Colts. The Ravens have allowed just seven passing touchdowns, while opposing backs have averaged 3.7 yards per carry.

Baltimore Ravens Win, 30-20


Monday, Nov. 3


Indianapolis Colts @ New York Giants, 8:30 p.m.

The Colts may be coming off of their first lost since Week 2, but it was not the offense's fault. Andrew Luck, though, threw two picks and must be more careful against the ballhawking Giants. Recording 11 interceptions to just ten passing touchdowns allowed, the Giants have one of the better pass defenses. Without a true running game, the Colts will initially struggle.

The Colts' run defense has been average all year, but so has fourth-round pick Andre Williams. Their pass defense was exposed last week, so expect Eli Manning to get on the same page with his receivers early. This will end up being a closer game than expected, even without stud receiver Victor Cruz.

Indianapolis Colts Win, 33-30


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