Week nine of the 2011 NFL season is upon us, which means we are moving past the halfway point of the season. November means a whole host of things for the NFL. We'll get more afternoon games ending in darkness with daylight savings time and we'll get more snow and inclement weather. More importantly, the playoff race will be heating up as teams battle for both their playoff lives and potential seeding.
This week the 49ers travel to face the Washington Redskins, while the Oakland Raiders host the Denver Broncos. The 49ers are in a position where it is more about positioning than anything else. The Raiders are in a battle in the AFC West where they are tied with the Chargers and Chiefs in first place. It is safe to say every victory matters. On to the picks!
David - Denver Broncos (+9.5) over OAKLAND RAIDERS: The Denver Broncos are a huge question mark with Tim Tebow at the helm, but the Oakland Raiders are officially a huge question mark as well. They are trying to install an offense with Carson Palmer and they will likely be without Darren McFadden. I think the Raiders win the game, but it is going to be a dogfight against their AFC West rival.
James - OAKLAND RAIDERS (-9.5) over Denver Broncos: As if trading a bunch of draft picks to get Tim Tebow wasn't bad enough, the Broncos have continued their questionable decision making since the departure of Mike Shannahan by succumbing to fan pressure and starting a guy who has no business starting in the NFL right now. Tebow helps the Raiders win and cover.
David - BUFFALO BILLS (-1) over New York Jets: This could be one of the best games of the week as the Bills continue in their efforts to prove they are legit. I'm amazed we haven't heard much smack talk from Rex Ryan, although I suppose it is more due to the Bills being such an under the radar team.
James - BUFFALO BILLS (-1) over New York Jets: The Bills have a better quarterback and a better running game right now. Playing at home, they should be able to pull off a win against a New York Jets team that has been riddled with controversy all season. Maybe if the Jets started spending less time trash talking and more time focusing on playing football this would have been a tougher decision.
David - DALLAS COWBOYS (-12.5) over Seattle Seahawks: There's no way I can take the Seattle Seahawks on the road. They knocked off the New York Giants, laid an egg in Cleveland and were whipped by the Bengals. No way I can take them on the road against Dallas, no matter the spread.
James - DALLAS COWBOYS (-12.5) over Seattle Seahawks: This should be one of those gimme games for the Cowboys. I was hesitant to take them because of the big line and Tony Romo's constant desire to blow late game leads, but in the end, the Seahawks are still one of the worst teams in the league and will be playing in Dallas.
David - Atlanta Falcons (-8) over INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: The Colts may not be Sucking for Luck, but much like the Miami Dolphins, I don't know if we could really tell the difference. The Colts are just not good. They have hung with some folks, but I've got to think they are running out of energy.
James - Atlanta Falcons (-8) over INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: I seriously believe that the Colts have a strong chance of going winless this season. It is truly amazing the difference that Peyton Manning makes on that team. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the NFL should really consider Manning to be this year's MVP. Until the Colts show me a reason to do otherwise, I will be betting against them all year long.
David - KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-4) over Miami Dolphins: Can't take the Dolphins on the road against anybody.
James - KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-4) over Miami Dolphins: The Chiefs are on a roll and are finally playing like the team that won the AFC West last season. Apparantly, Tod Haley has Midas-esque powers in his beard. I just don't see teh Dolphins, who are almost as bad as the Colts, being able to cover the spread in Kansas City, one of the harder venues to play at in the NFL.
David - NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (-9.5) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers: One more point and I probably take the Bucs to cover. Tampa Bay won at home but I don't see that happening in the Superdome. This could end up being a dogfight, but I think the Saints bounce back from last week's stunning upset against the Rams.
James - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+9.5) over NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: This was a real tough one to pick. I think that the Saints are a far better team than the Bucs. However, the Saints had a terrible game last weekend and showed that they have flaws. I do not think the Bucs will win this one, but I do think they will cover.
David - San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) over WASHINGTON REDSKINS: As per usual, I do not pick against the 49ers. Ever.
James - San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) over WASHINGTON REDSKINS: Anyone know who is playing quarterback for the Redskins this week? Wait, nevermind, it doesn't matter. The Redskins are not a good team and they simply were not going to continue winning games like they had been. Oh, and one other reason to take the Niners: Jim Harbaugh, god among men.
David - HOUSTON TEXANS (-12.5) over Cleveland Browns: This was actually a tough one to pick for me given the huge spread. The Texans will likely be without Andre Johnson while the Browns are getting Peyton Hillis back. But I think the Texans have enough firepower with Arian Foster to take care of business.
James - HOUSTON TEXANS (-12.5) over Cleveland Browns: How in the world is Peyton Hillis becoming the new TO? First all of the drama with his contract and missing a game due to being sick, now he is bailing on Halloween parties for little kids? No worries kiddies, the Houston Texans will make quick work of the Browns.
David - Cincinnati Bengals (+1.5) over TENNESSEE TITANS: I really like what the Bengals are doing. I don't know exactly what that is, but Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are cleaning up on offense, they get Cedric Benson back, and I think that defense can handle Matt Hasselbeck and company.
James - Cincinnati Bengals (+1.5) over TENNESSEE TITANS: This should be a great game. A battle of the over achieving teams. No one expected these two teams to have the record they have now, especially considering Chris Johnson is having a terrible season. In the end, I think the Bengals are a slightly better team than the Titans. I have not fully bought into either team, but I like the Bengals in this one.
David - NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-10) over New York Giants: If this was in New York I would not be able to justify picking the Patriots, but I think at home they bounce back from the loss against Steelers. The Giants are a wildly inconsistent team that barely beat the Dolphins last week. Eli Manning may rack up some quality passing numbers, but the Patriots will get there's too.
James - NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-10) over New York Giants: With no Peyton to compete with this season, maybe Brady will take out some of his aggression from the embarrassing loss to the Steelers on the younger Manning. After a terrible performance by the Patriots offense last weekend, I expect them to break out this weekend. The Patriots just don't stay down long when they get down.
David - St. Louis Rams (+3) over ARIZONA CARDINALS: Although the St. Louis Rams only recently managed their first win of the season, I think they end up finishing in second place in the NFC West. They have plenty of issues to deal with, but I think they are in a position to move past both the struggling Cardinals and inconsistent Seahawks.
James - St. Louis Rams (+3) over ARIZONA CARDINALS: Blech, what a gross game. Nothing interesting about it. Both teams flat out suck, but I think the Rams have a better quarterback (even if Feeley plays) and a better running back. Sure it is in Arizona and the Rams are prime for a let down after their emotional win over the Saints, but I just cannot put my fate in the hands of Kolb right now.
David - Green Bay Packers (-5.5) over SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: The Chargers do have a chance to spring an upset at home, but the Packers are playing too well right now. The Packers are the best team in the NFL and there is no doubt about that right now.
James - Green Bay Packers (-5.5) over SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: The Packers are the polar opposite of the Colts in terms of how I pick these games. Until they show me a reason not to, I am taking the Packers every week, regardless of the spread. I take what I said about Jim Harbaugh back, he is a god among men, and one other god, Aaron Rodgers.
David - PITTSBURGH STEELERS (-3.5) over Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens destroyed the Steelers in the season opener at Baltimore. The Steelers looked a bit uneven after that for a couple weeks, but have quickly righted the ship and are now looking at the number one seed in the AFC. I think they handle their business and create havoc for Joe Flacco.
James - Baltimore Ravens (+3.5) over PITTSBURGH STEELERS: This is not the same Pittsburgh team that the Ravens humiliated in week one of the regular season. Since then, they have come back and made a strong showing, culminating with their statement win over the Patriots last weekend. That being said, the Ravens have the best defense in the league and their offense should be able to take advantage of the Steelers injury ridden defense.
David - PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (-9.5) over Chicago Bears: This is a huge game for the Eagles, who are trying to prove they are back in playoff mix. If they play against Chicago like they've played the last couple weeks, they should take care of business with relative ease.
James - Chicago Bears (+9.5) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: This is another tough game to call. If it were not for the spread, I might have gone with the Eagles. But with the spread as high as it is, I have to go with the Bears. I am not confident the Eagles will even win this game, let alone win it by two scores. Bears might not win, but they should cover.
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