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- Week 9 Predictions: Manning's Revenge

Chris Pokorny November 6, 2005
Chris Pokorny
PFC Owner & Writer

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Week 9 of the NFL season establishes the halfway point of the season. From this point on, it's time to start looking at who has the best chances of making the playoffs, and who will make a late run at it. Last year, the Buffalo Bills and the Carolina Panthers nearly made remarkable comebacks, but were stopped just shy of the playoffs.

This week features the game that I have been waiting the entire season to see. Granted, I would have liked to have seen the New England Patriots have a better record at this point, but the game has the makings of a classic. I'm getting too far ahead of myself though, let me describe that game in my actual pick. Injuries at quarterback will play a factor this week for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Detroit Lions. Also with Terrell Owens suspended, how will that affect the Eagles' chances?

Let's get to the Week 9 games of the week and find out.

(Red = Prediction).

Making of a Classic
Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots
I like to go with the philosophy, "Never pick against them if they're undefeated." So surely, I should pick the Colts due to their 7-0 record, right? Well, don't forget that Peyton Manning has yet to defeat the New England Patriots, so they too are undefeated in a way. The past few times these two teams have faced each other, the Patriots' defense has obviously posed a threat to Manning. However the thing that has caused the Colts to lose is how well Tom Brady was able to lead time consuming drives.

The Patriots will have success offensively, but it won't be as ridiculous as it was in the past. Manning will not only win this game against the Patriots, but he will do so on the road in the elements of Foxboro. With all due respect to Tedy Bruschi last week, he received too much praise. He will be more of a factor this week for New England, as he should see more playing time. This game should come down to the wire - with Edgerrin James hanging onto the football for the win.

No Roethlisberger Calls for Favre
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers
Last week, my upset pick failed since the Titans lost to the Raiders. This week, I'm trying for another upset in predicting that the Packers defeat the Steelers. This game will depend solely on how Charlie Batch does. Ben Roethlisberger is the guy that makes the Steelers offense click, and Batch is prone to making a mistake in what is historically a tough place to play.

The thing that makes the Packers so dangerous is that they are willing to take more chances than ever, which was seen in Brett Favre's five interceptions last week. If Favre gets going though, those interceptions could turn into touchdowns. The Steelers have a great defense, but if they blitz too much, Favre will heave it up and get some lucky catches for his thin receiving core. The return of Duce Staley will not make a significant difference for Pittsburgh without Big Ben back there.

Divisional Bragging Rights
Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If the season ended today, the Panthers and Buccaneers would both make the playoffs, meaning that three teams in one division would enter the postseason. The Buccaneers were looking so good until Brian Griese went down. I know Chris Simms only lost one game last week, but he did not have the best of success last year when he played either.

The Panthers are starting to catch on fire. Steve Smith is having an amazing season and the offense of the Panthers has actually stayed healthy this year. Their defense is still trying to put a clamp on opposing passing games, meaning they will be relieved to see Simms this week. The Panthers will win a tough game on the road, pushing their lead in the division.

The Shootout We've Been Waiting For?
Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs
We have yet to have a major shootout this year, but this game could feature around 70 combined points. The Raiders offense has found its niche the past few weeks, while the Chiefs are typically playing better at Arrowhead than on the road. Both defenses are not wowing anyone, but they are doing enough to keep their teams in contention.

The Chiefs need to have success with Tony Gonzalez this week. Enough with the running game, they need to get their tight end a huge game to re-establish the passing game first, and then attack with their dominating backfield. The Raiders will try to get LaMont Jordan involved as much as possible, but it'll be hard to keep up if their defense lets them down again. Chiefs win a back and forth contest.

And now, the rest of the week...

Atlanta Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins finally received the offense they imagined with Ricky Williams in the backfield. Michael Vick will have a difficult time against Miami's defense on the road, meaning the Falcons will have to break a big run. Fortunately for them, Warrick Dunn excels in taking one the distance. Compared to the Raiders and Chiefs game, this could be the low-scoring affair of the week. Whichever kicker is on fire more may be the difference. Falcons win late.

Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings
This should be an ugly game. If Jeff Garcia was still playing, I would say the Lions would win without a doubt. Under Harrington, I really don't see him getting the job done. However, he is facing the Minnesota Vikings, which are playing some of the worst football in the league. Brad Johnson doesn't really bring any excitement to the team, and there are no playmakers on this team anymore. Lions win easily on the road - again.

Tennessee Titans vs. Cleveland Browns
Despite the Browns struggling the past few weeks offensively, this could be a mini-shootout type of game. The Titans offense seems as if they can score against anybody, and they'll give up points to just about anybody. The negative for the Titans this year is that they always have one play that kills them - like the huge punt return called back last week that led to a fumble from McNair in the end zone. The Titans will make another mistake this week, and Trent Dilfer will keep his job for at least one more week.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens
This is a must-win game for the Ravens, otherwise they can virtually kiss their season goodbye. The Ravens offense showed some signs of life last week, but that will not continue on a consistent basis. The Bengals defense is thriving at causing turnovers, meaning the Ravens will either play over aggressive and make mistakes or too conservative. Either way, the Bengals only need 14 points to win. I wonder what Chad Johnson has planned this week.

Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The key against the Texans is obviously to jump on them early. If you get a two-possession lead, they are dead. If you keep them hanging around like the Browns did last week, they have the chance to pull off an upset. The Jaguars won't fall into any trap though, and will throw David Carr around like a ragdoll this week. Jaguars win in a blowout.

San Diego Chargers vs. New York Jets
Do the Chargers want revenge on the Jets, the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last year? The Chargers know exactly which players they need to win - LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates. If you get either one of them opportunities in the game, then the Chargers will comfortably put away the Jets. Offensively, the Jets simply will not be able to counter without Pennington.

Chicago Bears vs. New Orleans Saints
I have been picking the Saints lately because I feel they would break out of their "inconsistency" like they have in the past. Well, they haven't, and I've given up on them. The Bears defense is turning them into a contender as long as Kyle Orton doesn't make any mistakes. The Saints are another team, like the Vikings, that have seemed to lose their "spark".

New York Giants vs. San Francisco 49ers
I am stunned that the 49ers have managed two wins at the half-way point of the season already, despite them already "throwing away the season." The Giants basically have a bye this week though, and will roll all over the 49ers in any way that they wish. Maybe Tiki Barber will have another 200-yard rushing performance.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals
Is going back to Kurt Warner the right move? After a few good weeks from Josh McCown, he has struggled the past few weeks. Dennis Green is going back to Warner in hopes that he turns the ball over less than McCown did. It doesn't matter who the quarterback is though if the running game never gets it going. The Seahawks will run and pass all over the Cardinals defense, leading to a significant win.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins
The Eagles are without Terrell Owens, McNabb is struggling, and the defense is getting used to starting games down 28-0. The Redskins were on the receiving end of a blowout themselves last week, but that was a first for them. The Redskins will re-cooperate and get some big plays from Santana Moss in the passing game again. Redskins send the Eagles searching for help.

That's it for this weeks predictions. I extended my survivor winning streak to seven last week by picking the Steelers to beat the Ravens. The Ravens kept it very close, too close for comfort, but I still prevailed. This week, I'm taking the Seattle Seahawks to defeat the Arizona Cardinals. The Seahawks may be a risk due to their road woes, but the Cardinals are clearly overmatched in this game.

Predictions Record to Date: 68-48
Last Week: 8-6
Survivor Streak: Won 6(Pit over Hou, Dal over SF, Ind over Ten, Cle over Chi, Atl over NO, Atl over NYJ, Pit over Bal)

I'm having too many "8-6" predicting weeks lately. It's time for me to break out with a 12-2 or a 13-1 record. There are a lot of overmatched games this week, so that could very well happen unless several upsets occur.

-Chris Pokorny

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