Week 9 already? I guess that means we have a pretty good idea of each team now, so I was thinking of doing a midseason look in for each team. Bill Barnwell is doing such a kick-ass job at Grantland, though, that it probably isn't necessary. So here are just my Week 9 picks, which is full of great games:
Last Week: 6-7
Overall Season: 65-51
Atlanta -7.5 @ Indianapolis: Winning by 8 on the road is a challenge, but the Falcons should be well-prepared coming off a bye, which helped the condition of Matt Ryan's knee/ankle injury. Protecting him will be the key to the game, since the Colts do still feature a strong pass rush. Feeding Michael Turner early and often should be able to keep the home crowd at bay.
NY Jets +1.5 @ Buffalo: I'm not a strong believer in either of these teams, but the Jets have the matchup advantage here. Their pass defense should be able to bring the Bills' aerial attack back down to earth, and maybe Shonn Greene will finally get going on the ground.
Houston -10.5 vs. Cleveland: The Browns are banged up with possibly their third string running back starting against this tough Texans' front seven. I don't trust Colt McCoy to make enough plays down the field to cover the spread, and Arian Foster should run wild against the Browns' defense.
Dallas -12.5 vs. Seattle: The Cowboys, coming off an embarrassing loss in prime time, are getting the lowly Seahawks at a great time. After their defense was shred to pieces by the speed of the Eagles, Dallas should feast on Seattle's offense that can be described as practically anything other than 'explosive.' DeMarco Murray ran well again on limited carries last week, and the 'Boys should get their receivers involved early enough to open up the running lanes for him.
Kansas City -6.5 vs. Miami: The Dolphins are getting closer and closer to a win, I can feel it. It won't come this week, though, on the road again and in Arrowhead, no less. Matt Cassel aired it out nicely last week on MNF and should continue that success this week.
Tampa Bay +7.5 @ New Orleans: The Bucs are coming off a bye, but the Saints are coming off a bad loss where everything went wrong and will want revenge for their previous loss in Tampa. This game could go either way, with the Saints probably coming out on top at home, but I'm going with the points.
San Francisco -3.5 @ Washington: This line should be higher, but it's the whole "West coast team going East for the 10 a.m. game" excuse. The Niners have already won THREE of those early start games this year (man, that feels good to say), and the Redskins have no chance of putting up points on their defense. Washington's a mess with their QB situation and injuries on offense. Tight end Fred Davis is going to be their only capable receiving threat, so Patrick Willis' coverage is the matchup to watch.
Tennessee -2.5 vs. Cincinnatti: I think that both of these teams are evenly matched and are 8-8 at the end of the year, so I'm going with the home team by a field goal. The Red Rifle is good, but I don't think he's going to win back to back tough road games. Even against this stout defense, I have a feeling that this is finally the week Chris Johnson looks like his old self.
Oakland -7.5 vs. Denver: The Raiders are at home, coming off a bye, and have their pass rush to unleash on Tim Tebow. Carson Palmer is going to have to make up for a likely absent Darren McFadden through the air, but Michael Bush can shoulder the load on the ground well enough. The Broncos need to run the ball more effectively with Knowshon Moreno to give Tebow a chance.
Green Bay -5.5 @ San Diego: Philip Rivers is in a funk right now, so he's getting the best team in the league coming off a bye at the wrong time. After seeing Cassel's aerial assault on Monday night, just imagine what Aaron Rodgers could do this week. Ryan Mathews' injury on offense certainly doesn't help the Chargers' case, either.
St. Louis +4.5 @ Arizona: Cardinals fever rallied the Rams to a big first win of the year, and their pass rush finally showed up to give Drew Brees a rough day. Now they get Arizona's offensive line and a potentially Kevin Kolb-less offense to feast on. Former Tar Heel Robert Quinn showed why he was such a highly touted rookie and is a great bookend with Chris Long on defense.
New England -8.5 vs. NY Giants: This line is too high after the way the Patriots played last week in Pittsburgh. However, Tom Brady doesn't lose back to back games and doesn't lose at home. Plus, the Giants didn't play great at home against the Dolphins last week, and you know The Helmet Catch being replayed this week will only add to New England's anger. Bill Belichick runs up the score with the Patriots running away with it.
Baltimore +3.5 @ Pittsburgh: Did I not learn my lesson betting against the Steelers at home last week? Have I not seen how poorly the Ravens have played recently, or conversely, how well Pittsburgh has looked? Well, I just think it's Baltimore's year to finally take back the division. Their pass rush has been better than it has been in years, and the Steelers' injuries are going to catch up with them eventually. Call it a gut call.
Philadelphia -6.5 vs. Chicago: This is where the Eagles find their stride on the way to rallying to 10-6. They just have so many weapons, and their team speed is just too much for most teams, including the Bears. Matt Forte could have a huge game for the Bears, however, and if they win, it will be because they ran it down Philly's throat instead of exposing Jay Cutler to Trent Cole and Jason Babin. I think Cutler gets rattled and coughs up a few turnovers with the Eagles capitalizing.