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Sports

NFL Week 9 Preview: Vikings-Cowboys, Saints-Jets, Eagles-Raiders, Patriots-Steelers and More

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After all the excitement last week, it’s going to be a tough follow for the week 9 slate of games in the NFL.  But even with some top-notch teams getting the week off, there are still plenty of interesting matchups on tap for this weekend.  Let’s take a closer look at all the games on the week 9 schedule.

Kansas City at Buffalo – The Bills’ 3-5 record is a bit deceiving, as they’ve stayed competitive a beat a couple solid teams, but they have a tough task in front of them if they expect to knock off the lone undefeated team left in the NFL.  Buffalo has the kind of pass rush that can bother Alex Smith and make it difficult for the Chiefs to score points.  Of course, it’ll also be difficult for the Bills to score points, as they are still relying on Thad Lewis at quarterback and don’t have their full complement of skill players available.  If Lewis can avoid turnovers and the Buffalo defense can force Smith into making some mistakes, the Bills will be able to make it a 4th quarter game and have a chance to pull the upset at home; but if not, the Chiefs should roll to another win.

Minnesota at Dallas – The Cowboys will need to shake off their disappointing loss to Detroit last week and find a way to beat the Vikings at home.  Minnesota showed some offensive firepower last week, scoring 31 points against the Packers, and if they can get good play out of the quarterback position they may be able to keep up with the Cowboys, as Dallas shouldn’t have much trouble scoring points, so it’ll be up to Minnesota’s offense to keep up.  With an unfortunate loss last week and a trip to New Orleans next week, the Cowboys really need to win this game, or else they could lose their hold on the NFC East.

Tennessee at St. Louis – The Rams came close but fell a little short against the Seahawks Monday night, which showed they’re capable of competing with an elite team, although they’re going to need a lot more than Zac Stacy on the offensive side of the ball.  Stacy should have another good game, but St. Louis could have trouble in the passing game with Kellen Clements at quarterback against a strong Tennessee defense.  As for the Titans, they’ve had a week off to prepare after losing to San Francisco in Jake Locker’s return.  Still riding a three-game losing streak, Tennessee needs to get a win here or they risk falling far behind the Colts in the AFC South and falling behind the pack in the wildcard race.  Locker and the Titans need to regain the form they had in September, because if not, the Rams are a team that can beat them.

New Orleans at New York Jets – If the Jets thought the Bengals had an explosive offense; well, just wait until they see the Saints.  New Orleans could also hang 50 points on Rex Ryan’s defense if they don’t show considerable improvement from last week.  Even if Geno Smith has a good game, it may not be enough to keep up with the Saints if New York’s defense doesn’t provide some support.  A loss here could cause the Jets to spiral and put Ryan under fire, just as he was at the start of the season.

San Diego at Washington – The Redskins still cling to hope in a bad NFC East, but a home game against the Chargers isn’t one they can afford to lose if they want to stay in contention.  San Diego has had an extra week to prepare, and they’ve actually played well on the east coast this season, which means Phillip Rivers and company should be ready to play and pose a big challenge for Washington’s defense.  Once again, all the pressure will be on Robert Griffin III to lead Washington’s offense to a lot of points, although he should have a little easier time staying on his feet than he did against Denver’s pass rush last week, which will at least give the Redskins a fighting chance, even if their defense struggles yet again.

Atlanta at Carolina – The Panthers have a tough schedule in November, as they try to prove that they’re for real, and a home game against Atlanta is probably as easy as it gets the entire month, so they need to make sure they take care of business at home.  Despite a great season from Matt Ryan, the Falcons are on the verge of completely falling apart, and they’ll hope to salvage something against the Panthers, but the Carolina defense may be too much to handle with so many key offensive players missing or playing hurt.  Against Atlanta’s porous defense, Cam Newton should be able to continue his much-improved play as of late and lead the Panthers to a fourth straight win.

Philadelphia at Oakland – The Raiders surprised everybody with a win last week, while the Eagles continue to disappoint.  Oakland’s defense has been solid this season, and while they could be challenged by Chip Kelly’s offense, they won’t have to worry about a mobile quarterback, as Nick Foles returns to the lineup for the Eagles.  Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s defense has been surprisingly good the past couple of weeks, so this could be a low-scoring slugfest, especially if the Eagles can keep Terrelle Pryor from doing damage with his legs.  The Eagles are 3-1 on the road this year, while the Raiders are 3-1 at home, so something has to give this weekend between two teams clinging to slim postseason hopes.

Tampa Bay at Seattle – On paper, this game looks like a mismatch, but the Seahawks really struggled offensively on Monday night against the Rams, and Tampa Bay has enough talent on defense to cause problems for them this week as well.  Of course, the same can be said on the other side of the ball, where the outlook is bleak for Tampa’s offense going up against Seattle’s defense.  The Bucs would appear to have very little chance of winning this game, but it could end up being a lot closer than the Seahawks would prefer if the offense doesn’t improve

Baltimore at Cleveland – Neither team has looked good this year, and both are on the verge of falling completely out of contention in the NFC North and in the wildcard, so this is a must-win for both sides.  Jason Campbell gave the Browns a little life at quarterback last week, but they still don’t have much of a running game to help balance out their offense.  On the other side, Baltimore has failed to score more than 20 points in four of their seven games this year, including a week 2 win over the Browns.  If the Ravens can’t get their running game going and give Joe Flacco a little more support, they’re going to have a hard time scoring against a stout Cleveland defense.  Don’t expect too many points in this game, but the advantage will go to whichever team can get its running game going.

Pittsburgh at New England – Their 4th quarter comeback aside, the Steelers really laid an egg last week in Oakland, and now they have to travel to another place where it’s difficult to win.  The Pittsburgh defense has played well against the pass this year, so they may have a chance to slow down Tom Brady, but that doesn’t mean the Pittsburgh offense will be able to score enough points to win.  Like a lot of teams, the Steelers are in must-win mode, and if they’re going to win in New England, their defense is going to have to force some turnovers against Brady because their offense has been too unreliable this year, even in their wins.

Indianapolis at Houston – This will be Indy’s first game since losing Reggie Wayne, so it’ll be interesting how Andrew Luck and the rest of the offense adjust to such a big loss.  Houston’s defense should be a tough test for the Wayne-less Colts, who may need to lean more on Trent Richardson and their running game without their go-to receiver in big spots.  As for the Texans, they carried a five-game losing streak into their bye last week, and they still don’t know who will play quarterback this week.  While Houston may have an advantage on offense with their running game, Arian Foster may not be available, which would hurt and put more pressure on whichever quarterback ends up playing.  Unless the Houston defense to keep the game low scoring, this could be a tough game for the Texans to win, even at home.

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