Ramblin’ Fan’s NFL Picks and Predictions: Week 9


We are at the halfway point of the NFL and we have a firm grasp on which teams are going to be competing come 2015 and which teams will not. I am comfortably sitting at 63-54 straight-up/moneyline plays this season, but have yet to gain traction after a poor start against the spread and sit at 57-60-2. Let’s hope the second half of the season is a little better to me and the Rams.

What is the spread? In the gambling world, a “spread’ is a term used to handicap games by allowing a team to lose or win by a certain number of points while still winning for a bettor. If the Rams are +3 against the Seahawks, that means that the Rams could win outright or they could lose by two points and still be a victory for a bettor. In the same situation as above, the spread could also read as the Seahawks -3 which again would mean they have to win by three or more points to cover the spread.


New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (+2.5)

At the halfway point in the season, the Saints have the same problems in a different year. The defensive struggles that were supposedly going to be fixed by Rob Ryan have reared their ugly heads again. New Orleans is allowing 26.9 ppg while giving up an average of 6.2 yards per play which is tied for the worst mark in the league. The defense has only produced seven turnovers this season. A close loss to the Seahawks could be looked at as a good thing, but the Panthers offense was abysmal last week. Carolina managed 266 yards of offense and fumbled the ball four times, despite only losing it once. It’s the complete lack of a run game, 27th in the NFL, that really kills the Panthers. The weaknesses will compete between the Saints and Panthers, but I think the offense of New Orleans will make the difference. Saints win 27-24 (Saints cover)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cleveland Browns (-6.5)

Though Tampa Bay is pretty much awful in every way, they can take solace that two of the past three games were losses in overtime. Yep, it’s that type of season for the Bucs. I’ll give credit to Mike Glennon who has been playing surprisingly well, despite being sacked almost three times a game. The Browns are quietly putting together one of the most shocking seasons in recent memory. Despite missing Alex Mack and Josh Gordon as well as a rotating backfield, this perennial joke of a team is competing in the AFC North. There is no team in the AFC that gets more out of their talent than the Browns and with a tough schedule to close out the season, they know they need to win these easier games. Browns win 30-17 (Browns cover)

Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys (-4.5)

If there was any doubt that the Cardinals have a claim to being the top team in the NFC, it was squashed last week. The Cardinals managed to keep a high flying offense in check, partially thanks to Nick Foles ability to throw interceptions, and the offense just keeps ticking. There is little argument to be made that Bruce Arians deserves coach of the year because he has managed to squeeze every last drop of potential out of ‘Zona. It finally came to pass that the Cowboys worst preseason fears were realized Monday. Dallas’ offensive line struggled in blitz protection and recognition and the defense just was just not that great. It’s unrealistic to think that the Cowboys are going to completely collapse, especially considering how poor Arizona has been getting to the quarterback. Cowboys win 31-28 (Cardinals cover)

Philadelphia Eagles at Houston Texans (+2)

There is no doubt that the Eagles are one of the most dangerous teams in the league, but the constant reliance on shootouts has bitten them. In the teams two losses this seasons, Nick Foles has thrown for twice as many interceptions as touchdowns while LeSean McCoy has a combined 100 yards rushing. Without balance Philly will not be a championship team this season. The fact that the Texans are currently 4-4 is a good sign considering six of their first eight were on the road. At home, Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown for 228 yards per game and two games he has a passer rating of 109 or higher. I truly expect Houston to play better at home and score more than expected against the Eagles, but Philly should come away with the win. Eagles win 35-24 (Eagles cover)

New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs (-10)

So remember that Rex Ryan is a defensive genius? Kyle Orton didn’t and promptly put up 43 points against the Jets. As a matter of fact the Jets defense is allowing 28.5 ppg, only behind the Rams and Bucs. Rex Ryan is going to be out and Michael Vick is not going to save him. After a thumping of the Rams, the Chiefs vaulted themselves back into the AFC playoff picture. The Chiefs are just the epitome of efficiency in the league, ranking in the top 10 of points per play and yards per point margin as well. The Jets are a mess and playing at Arrowhead spells nothing but doom. Chiefs win 28-10 (Chiefs cover)

Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals (-11)

Since the Jaguars are playing for next season it’s hard to expect them to be winning games, but the compete level is surprisingly high for so many kids. It looks like the Jags may have found a revelation in Denard Robinson who has amassed 235 yards on the ground over the past two weeks. The Bengals finally won their first game since their bye with a gritty affair against the Ravens. It has become obvious though that Andy Dalton is not the face of this franchise, it’s AJ Green. Notably thought, Vontaze Burfict is going to be out for this game, so the Jags should be able to use Robinson and capitalize on that allowing them to keep it close. Bengals win 24-17 (Jaguars cover)

Washington Redskins at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5)

It appears that the Redskins will finally have their ‘franchise’ quarterback this week when RGIII starts for the first time in what seems like forever. Griffin gives Washington a dynamic Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy doesn’t with his feet.The Vikings just barely squeaked past the Bucs last week, but the biggest area of note was the protection of Teddy Bridgewater. After giving up 13 sacks in two weeks, the Vikings offensive line only allowed the rookie quarterback to be brought down once against Tampa. I had just started to come around on McCoy but the Redskins will turn to RGII and I think he gets it done, but don’t expect it to be pretty.  Redskins win 17-13 (Redskins cover)

St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers (-10)

To say last week against the Chiefs was a reality check, may be an understatement. The Rams looked awful on almost every aspect of the game. The offensive line was the worst culprit though, allowing poor Austin Davis to get sacked seven times and generating nothing significant for the run game to work with. The lone ray of hope came from the defensive line where Robert Quinn finally flashed some of the pass rushing form from last season and Aaron Donald looks like one of the best defensive tackles in football. A bye week was certainly in order for the 49ers who were absolutely throttled at the hands of the Broncos in Week 7. Looking at this team, nothing jumps out as a team identity and that can be an issue moving forward with some difficult games upcoming. The Rams always play NFC West opponents well, and it’s easy taking them plus a bunch of points. Winning outright for the Rams will not be easy, especially if the o-line continues to be as bad as last week. 49ers win 28-24 (Rams cover)

Denver Broncos at New England Patriots (+3)

I don’t think there is an argument against the Denver Broncos being the best team in football. Aside from just Peyton Manning doing what Peyton Manning does, the defense has gotten to the quarterback 23 times and has seven interceptions. Since their bye week, Denver has outscored opponents 149-75. After scoring an average of 20 ppg in the first four weeks, the Patriots have since tallied 38.75 points a contest. And the Patriots are doing it in the most Patriots way with Tom Brady throwing for a ton of yards to as many different receivers as possible. It’s be interesting to see how both secondary’s manage so many pass catching threats, but it’s impossible not to factor in Foxbourough. Patriots win 35-31 (Patriots cover)

Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks (-15)

Much like the Jaguars, the Raiders have no thoughts of this season. The future is where the gaze is set for the Raiders and it seems to be in okay shape with Derek Carr at the helm. Since Oakland’s bye, the rookie pivot has tossed for 783 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. The Seahawks offense has just started to evaporated. Seattle managed an astoundingly low 13 points against a Panthers team that had allowed 30 or more points in four of their previous five. There is something happening in the Seahawks locker room and it is eating this team alive. Normally you would not think twice to back the Seahawks at home, but with the way they’ve been playing and the amount of points the Raiders are seeing you need to take the Raiders to cover. Seahawks win 24-13 (Raiders cover)

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (Pick’em)

If the Ravens could just fix their cornerback issues than this team would be one of the tops in the league. Despite ranking in the top 10 in almost every major statistical category, the Baltimore defense is 22nd against the pass. The Ravens have allowed 808 passing yards over their past three, despite going 2-1 (which includes allowing Mike Glennon to throw for more than 300). I highly doubt many people would guess that Ben Roethlisberger is second in the league in passing yards. Big Ben is coming off of a win against the Colts where he threw for 522 yards and six touchdowns. Combining the Ravens lack of pass defense and Big Ben’s throwing this year could combine for a beating. Steelers win 35-24 (Steelers cover)


Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants (+3)

There is little doubt that the Colts are the class of the AFC South, but it has become apparent that the team is not one of the best in the league. The team has not been able to generate any pass rush and has been a pushover in the secondary (remember the 522 yards by Roethlisberger). The Giants are coming off of a bye week and they are pretty much coming into one of the toughest stretches of any team this season. New York takes on the Colts, Seahawks, 49ers and Cowboys in the next four weeks. Add the lackluster performances by the Giants and the Colts needing to assert their dominance, expect an Indy victory. Colts win 31-14 (Colts cover)