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Week 9 preview

Sun., Nov. 3, 2013

Falcons at Panthers

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Records: Atlanta (2-5, 0-3 away), Carolina (4-3, 2-1 home)

Line: CAR by 7 1/2; O/U: 45

Synopsis: Carolina has won three in a row but has had a weak schedule, and that continues vs. the sinking and injury-plagued Falcons, who are 0-3 on the road. ATL struggles against the run and gave up 201 yards on the ground last week to the Cardinals. That’s a bad sign vs. the run-oriented Panthers, who should get back RB Jonathan Stewart from an ankle injury that has kept him out all season.

Pick: Panthers 27-17

Vikings at Cowboys

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Records: Minnesota (1-6, 0-3 away) Cowboys (4-4, 3-1 home)

Line: DAL by 10; O/U: 49

Synopsis: Dallas tries to rebound from its last-second lost to Detroit last week and gets a foe that is in disarray. The Vikes’ QB situation is a mess, with coach Leslie Frazier not announcing until Friday that Christian Ponder will start. Dallas ranks just 30th against the pass, but the Vikes should have trouble cashing in – they manage just 202.6 aerial yards a game, 26th in the NFL.

Pick: Cowboys 30-17

Saints at Jets

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Records: New Orleans (6-1, 2-1 away), New York (4-4, 3-1 home)

Line: NO by 6 1/2; O/U: 45 1/2

Synopsis: Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has done a tremendous job in his first season turning around what had been a woeful unit, as it now allows just 17.1 points a game and will unleash it on his brother. Jets coach Rex Ryan’s team scores just 17.9 points per outing as rookie QB Geno Smith is up and down. However, defense is the key to his New York bunch, as it’s No. 1 against the run. But that might not help much here, because the Saints love to pass (they’re No. 3 in the league), and N.Y. gave up five aerial TDs to Cincy’s Andy Dalton last week.

Pick: Saints 27-20

Titans at Rams

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Records: Tennessee (3-4, 1-2 away), St. Louis (3-5, 2-2 home)

Line: TEN by 3; O/U: 39 1/2

Synopsis: The STL defense stepped up Monday, limiting Seattle to 135 total yards and 44 on the ground, but still ranks 23rd against the run and faces a foe here that is built to have a strong ground attack. But that has been only mediocre as RB Chris Johnson hasn’t been nearly as good since signing a big contract. Look for the Rams to rely on rookie RB Zac Stacy, who ran for 134 yards against the tough Seattle defense. TEN is No. 24 vs. the run.

Pick: Rams 20-17

Chiefs at Bills

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Records: Kansas City (8-0, 3-0 away), Buffalo (3-5, 2-2 home)

Line: KC by 3 1/2; O/U: 40 1/2

Synopsis: This could be a tough spot for Kansas City, the NFL’s lone unbeaten team, what with a showdown next week with powerhouse Denver to look toward. But KC catches a break here because of the Bills’ QB situation (Jeff Tuel might make first NFL start). The Chiefs allow just 12.2 points a game, fewest in the NFL, but have played a soft schedule and rank no better than 11th in any of the major team offensive stats. But the Bills’ defense is suspect (no better than 24th in the key statistical categories).

Pick: Chiefs 20-16

Chargers at Redskins

Kickoff: 10 a.m.

Records: San Diego (4-3, 2-2 away), Washington (2-5, 1-2 home)

Line: PK; O/U: 51 1/2

Synopsis: Resurgent Chargers QB Philip Rivers has an NFL-best 73.9 completion percentage, has thrown 15 TD passes and has been intercepted just five times and gets to work here vs. the league’s No. 26 pass defense. Redskins QB Robert Griffin III has struggled, with only nine TD tosses and eight interceptions. But this could be the spot for a big game, as the Chargers are 25th vs. the pass.

Pick: Redskins 26-23

Eagles at Raiders

Kickoff: 1:05 p.m.

Records: Philadelphia (3-5, 3-1 away), Oakland (3-4, 3-1 home)

Line: OAK by 2; O/U: 44 1/2

Synopsis: The once high-powered Philly attack has gone dormant, with no offensive TDs in its last two games and now with Nick Foles back at QB after Michael Vick reinjured a hamstring last week. Foles has started twice, with mixed results.

Pick: Raiders 24-21

Ravens at Browns

Kickoff: 1:25 p.m.

Records: Baltimore (3-4, 1-3 away), Cleveland (3-5, 2-2 home)

Line: BAL by 2 1/2; O/U: 41 1/2

Synopsis: Baltimore has won 11 in a row against Cleveland and is rested after its bye week. But it is no bargain here as it has lost its last two outings this year and QB Joe Flacco has only eight TD passes, and the same number of interceptions, this season. The Browns are coming off a game effort in Kansas City last week, as they nearly upset the unbeaten Chiefs.

Pick: Browns 23-16

Steelers at Patriots

Kickoff: 1:25 p.m.

Records: Pittsburgh (2-5, 1-3 away), New England (6-2, 4-0 home)

Line: NE by 6 1/2; O/U: 44

Synopsis: Patriots QB Tom Brady has been banged up and far less productive than has been his norm, and with PIT having the NFL’s No. 2 pass defense he can be expected to be handing off a lot to his merry-go-round of running backs. They’ll operate vs. the league’s 27th-rated run defense, which allowed 197 yards in a loss last week in Oakland. But the Patriots are even worse vs. the run (31st) than the Steelers, so PIT rookie RB Le’Veon Bell could have a breakout performance.

Pick: Patriots 26-17

Colts at Texans

Kickoff: 5:30 p.m.

Records: Indianapolis (5-2, 2-1 away), Houston (2-5, 1-2 home)

Line: IND by 2 1/2; O/U: 44 1/2

Synopsis: At the start of the season this looked like a showdown for AFC South supremacy, but while IND has held up its end, HOU is staggering. Its running backs are banged up and the Texans have Case Keenum at QB for his second start even though Matt Schaub now is healthy. On the surface it would seem Indy is a solid pick, what with QB Andrew Luck having a solid year. But Houston’s “D” is No. 1 vs. the pass and Luck now is minus his favorite WR, Reggie Wayne. Indy’s rush defense is poor (29th) and this is a good spot for a solid HOU outing.

Pick: Texans 23-20

Bears at Packers

Monday: 5:30 p.m.

Records: Chicago (4-3, 1-2 away), Green Bay (5-2, 3-0 home)

Line: GB by 11; O/U: 50 1/2

Synopsis: Green Bay has an 11-game home winning streak, including playoffs, and now faces a team that is minus two of its top players – quarterback Jay Cutler (groin) and linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder). That leads to QB Josh McCown making his first start of the year, and he faces the No. 11 defense. Meanwhile, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will operate against a defense that will have two rookie linebackers starting and key cornerback Charles Tillman nursing a sore knee. Chicago is 25th or worse in all major defensive statistics.

Pick: Packers 37-20


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