2014 NFL Week 9 Predictions: 49ers Rebound In New Orleans
Bye teams: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins
Thursday, Nov. 6
Cleveland Browns (5-3) @ Cincinnati Bengals (5-2-1), 8:25 p.m.
The Browns' past three opponents have a combined three wins, yet the Browns have been outscored by them 54-51. A big reason for the Browns' recent failures is that Brian Hoyer has failed to lead the offense. Ben Tate has also struggled, averaging just 2.12 yards per carry in the past four weeks. The Bengals' defense is having trouble against both the run and the pass, so this is a good week for the Browns' offense to rebound.
Throwing five picks in the past four game is a tribute to how inconsistent and unreliable Andy Dalton is. A.J. Green is back and Mohamed Sanu has stepped up, but Dalton must deliver. On the flip side, Jeremy Hill has been nothing short of impressive, who is much more than a goal-line back. The Browns have one of the league's worst run defenses, so look for Hill to have another great game.
Cincinnati Bengals Win, 31-23
Sunday, Nov. 9
Dallas Cowboys (6-3) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8), 1 p.m. (London)
The Brandon Weeden-lead Cowboys struggled against the Cardinals, gaining only 266 yards and scoring just 10 offensive points. Weeden was unable to keep drives alive, completing under 60% of his passes and turning over the ball twice. Tony Romo's completed over 60% of his passes in every game of 2014, while he has thrown just three picks since Week 2. DeMarco Murray failed to pick up yardage when needed, as the star running back rushed for a season-low 79 yards. Going up against the Jaguars, who have struggled with the run all year, Murray should rebound, but Weeden is still a question at quarterback.
Last week against the Bengals, Blake Bortles played the best game of his short career, while Denard Robinson once again impressed with a nice 100-yard performance. The Cowboys have been average against both the run, so Robinson should have another good game. Bortles, on the other hand, should do great, as the Cowboys secondary has been beaten too often through the past few games.
Dallas Cowboys Win, 27-17
Tennessee Titans (2-6) @ Baltimore Ravens (5-4), 1 p.m.
The Ravens have one of the league's most stout run stopping fronts, so do not look for Bishop Sankey or Shonn Greene to find much success. Instead, the Titans will have to rely on sixth-round draft pick Zach Mettenberger, who had an up-and-down performance against the Texans. The Ravens' secondary played horribly last week, but they normally do a good job in coverage. Look for them to have a nice game against an inexperienced quarterback.
Coming off of two divisional losses, the Ravens need a win. Joe Flacco, who has long been known as one of the league's more inconsistent quarterbacks, still has yet to string together two impressive performances, while running backs Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro can not be relied on to carry the offense. The Titans have done a good job limiting big runs, but they have struggled against the pass, so look for Flacco to rebound.
Baltimore Ravens Win, 30-20
Kansas City Chiefs (5-3) @ Buffalo Bills (5-3), 1 p.m.
The Chiefs have been a top-ten team since their bye week, and a lot of the credit has to go to the reliability of Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles. They will be going up against one of the toughest defenses, though. The Bills have allowed just 12 passing touchdowns while also picking off opposing quarterbacks 12 times, a league-high, while they are allowing just 3.6 yards per carry. The Chiefs were long given flak for the diminishment of their offensive line, and going up against what may be the best defensive line in the NFL, this offense will struggle.
Kyle Orton may have been strong in all of his 2014 outings, but it is questionable whether he can be relied on when there is no running game. With Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller both dealing with injuries, the Bills used a combination of Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown, a duo that averaged just two yards a carry in Week 8. If Fred Jackson does return, the running game is still a question, with the Chiefs' defense being the only one that has yet to allow a rushing touchdown. Orton must prove that he can lead the offense against a quality defense.
Buffalo Bills Win, 20-16
Miami Dolphins (5-3) @ Detroit Lions (6-2), 1 p.m.
Ryan Tannehill may have put up six touchdowns to just one pick in the past three games, but the third-year quarterback is in for a rough game. The Lions have allowed just nine passing touchdowns, a league-low. Like Tannehill, Lamar Miller has been exceeding expectations, but he will be going up against a defensive front that has allowed just 3.3 yards per carry. This offense has been hot in the past few games, but look for them to take a big step back.
Even with the emergence of Golden Tate, the Lions' offense has struggled to put up points. The Lions have averaged just 20 points a game, but luckily for them, their defense has stepped up. Meanwhile, the Dolphins' defense has done the same. The Dolphins' defense, though, has been prone to allowing the big play, while their secondary is not able to hold up when the pass rush fails to disrupt the pocket.
Detroit Lions Win, 17-13
San Francisco 49ers (4-4) @ New Orleans Saints (4-4), 1 p.m.
While the Saints' secondary has improved, their pass defense as a whole is still below average. Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers' plethora of receivers should be able to rebound after a few bad performances. Frank Gore has struggled recently, and the aging running back might have another bad game, as the Saints have a solid run defense.
Drew Brees and Mark Ingram have stringed together some good performances, but the duo will struggle against a defense that has held a majority of their opponents to under 20 offensive points. Ingram will surely have a bad night, so the pressure will be on Brees, who has been prone to turnovers in 2014.
San Francisco 49ers Win, 27-24
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) @ New York Jets (1-8), 1 p.m.
Ben Roethlisberger has played at an MVP-level in the past few games and will be up against the league's worst secondary. Do not be surprised if Roethlisberger throws six touchdowns once again. Le'Veon Bell played well prior to his forgettable performance against the Ravens, but the star running back will have another bad game, going up against a very stout run defense.
Chris Ivory has struggled with consistency, but the second-year Jet has been a big-play threat. The Steelers, who's run defense is prone to allowing big gains, will certainly have trouble containing Ivory down in the red zone. If Ivory can take advantage of the Steelers' underperforming defensive front, then the offense will be able to function. As long as Michael Vick is not leaned on too heavily, he should be able to keep drives alive.
Pittsburgh Steelers Win, 31-21
Atlanta Falcons (2-6) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-7), 1 p.m.
The Falcons will struggle to get a running game going, as the Buccaneers' defensive front matches up favorably against the Falcons' patchwork of a line. That will lead them to rely on Matt Ryan, who must prove that he can consistently keep drives alive and move the ball down the field. The Buccaneers do not have a great secondary, but their pass rush may take a step up against the Falcons' dismal pass protection.
Even with weapons like Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, the Buccaneers' passing attack has had a lot of trouble. Incapable passers Josh McCown and Mike Glennon have failed to lead the offense. With a below average line and running game, this offense is struggling. However, they will be up against a Falcon defense that has not been able to stop both the run and the pass. Expect this divisional match-up to be much closer than the first one.
Atlanta Falcons Win, 35-30
Denver Broncos (6-2) @ Oakland Raiders (0-8), 4:05 p.m.
The Broncos' offense is among the league's most potent, scoring 30+ points five times in 2014, and 40+ twice. On the other hand, the Raiders' defense is among the league's least talented, allowing 30+ points three times. Peyton Manning and his group of receivers should be able to consistently put points up on the board, while Ronnie Hillman should manage to have a good game too.
Derek Carr has been the best rookie quarterback so far, but the Broncos' pass defense, outside of their Week 9 match-up against the Patriots, has been one of the best in the NFL. With Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew failing to do anything in the running game, the Raiders' offense once again finds themselves in a bad situation.
Denver Broncos Win, 45-23
St. Louis Rams (3-5) @ Arizona Cardinals (7-1), 4:25 p.m.
The Rams have a nice running back in third-round pick Tre Mason, but Mason must prove that he can be relied on to consistently pick up good yardage. The Cardinals were able to contain DeMarco Murray, so that means that the pressure will be on Austin Davis. Davis has had his bright moments, but he can not be relied on to lead an offense.
Carson Palmer has been great after returning from injury, and he should be able to take advantage of a secondary that can not keep up with quality receivers. Andre Ellington had a rough stretch after a strong start, but the scatback rebounded against the Cowboys, rushing for a season-high 95 yards while also pulling in four catches for 39 yards and a touchdown. Ellington is a playmaker and the Rams' defense has allowed a league-high ten runs of 20 yards or greater.
Arizona Cardinals Win, 31-20
New York Giants (3-5) @ Seattle Seahawks (5-3), 4:25 p.m.
None of the Giants' games have been within one possession, with 10 being the smallest margin of victory or defeat. That goes to show how inconsistent the Giants have been, both on offense and on defense. The Seahawks' run defense is still among the league's best, but their pass defense has been one of the most disappointing. With first-round pick Odell Beckham and receiving back Ahmad Bradshaw, Eli Manning has the weapons to move the ball. And Manning has done a nice job avoiding costly mistakes that plagued him in 2013 and earlier this year, but he must play with a little more aggression and throw the ball down the field.
Russell Wilson has thrown for over 210 yards just twice, averaging just 6.9 yards per attempt. Wilson has not thrown many picks, but the offense needs a spark. Marshawn Lynch has not rushed for over 100 yards since Week 1, while three of the team's top targets are gone. The Giants' defense has been average against the run, but they have done a good job forcing turnovers in the passing game. Without Prince Amukamara, though, this unit may struggle.
Seattle Seahawks Win, 26-20
Chicago Bears (3-5) @ Green Bay Packers (5-3), 8:30 p.m.
After a slow start to the year, Matt Forte is on a hot streak. Look for him to build off of his strong performance against the Patriots, as the Packers' run defense is among the worst in the NFL. Jay Cutler, though, will struggle, as the Packers have a nice secondary that is capable of containing the Bears' twin towers.
The Bears' secondary has been too hit and miss this year, which Aaron Rodgers will be able to take advantage of. Rodgers and his receivers have not been able to consistently produce, but that is due to the lack of receiver depth and pass protection. The Bears do not have a capable pass rusher, so the Packers' offense should flourish.
Green Bay Packers Win, 28-20
Monday, Nov. 10
Carolina Panthers (3-5-1) @ Philadelphia Eagles (6-2), 8:30 p.m.
Cam Newton has struggled this year, but not as much as the Eagles' defense. Look for Newton to rebound against them. The Eagles have allowed 17 passing touchdowns, while just recording just four picks on the year. They have not played all too well against the run either, allowing 117 yards per game.
The Panthers had one of the best front sevens last year, but in 2014, they have struggled to stop the run and provide pressure on passing downs. LeSean McCoy is starting to play well again, and look for him to have another nice game and take pressure off of backup Mark Sanchez.
Carolina Panthers Win, 30-27
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