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NFL picks and predictions for Week 9

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The top games in the NFL this week include the Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders, and Buffalo Bills vs. Seattle Seahawks. Let's get straight to the Week 9 action. Feel free to weigh in on some of the games in the comments section.

Week 9 Games Explanation Pick
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Note: This pick was posted in our TNF thread on Thursday. I am listing it here for record-keeping purposes.

Thursday Night Football: The Buccaneers have played better of late, but their defense still needs a whole lot of work. The Falcons put 31 points up on them in Week 1, and I’m expecting a similar result here. Falcons 31, Buccaneers 21

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Returning Weapons Aren't Enough: It’ll be great to see Corey Coleman back and the debut of Jamie Collins, an injection of hope on both sides of the ball. However, Dallas has the tools to dominate the time of possession and field position with their offensive line and rushing attack, and I can’t see Cleveland’s offense being able to match that for four quarters, especially if they have to continue working with long fields. Cowboys 31, Browns 17

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Offensive Demons: I never thought Sam Bradford was worth the first round pick for Minnesota, and it's looking even more so like that now. The Vikings face questions at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and the offensive line. Their defense was able to carry them through the first five games, but the last two offensive duds in Philly and Houston resulted in a combined 20 points. Norv Turner, offensive coordinator, resigned this past week. Both of those losses came on the road, and Detroit has lost three straight on the road. That's the only reason I give Minnesota the saving edge this week. Vikings 20, Lions 17

vs. Need Every Win They Can Get: The AFC West is shaping up to be one of the best divisions in football. The Chiefs are in third place at 5-2, but are fortunate to be playing at home against a poor Jaguars team in a week where they are without their starting quarterback. Nick Foles will use this time to try to entice some quarterback-needy teams next year. Chiefs 24, Jaguars 17

vs. Can Jay Ajayi Keep it Up? The answer should be "no," but you never know. Out of no where, Ajayi exploded for two straight 200+ yard rushing performances before the bye week. He should have fresh legs coming out of the bye, but Miami's approach against the Jets should be different. The Jets have a vulnerable pass defense, but are among the best in the NFL against the run. I think Miami enters the game with the wrong gameplan, and the Jets are able to pull off their third straight ugly win. Jets 17, Dolphins 14

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Heated Rivalry: Any NFC East matchup seems like a good rivalry game, no matter who is involved. This is the first matchup between the Eagles and Giants, two clubs who are 4-3. While Carson Wentz has continued to play well for Philadelphia, I think some of the talent issues around him (on both sides of the ball) are starting to catch up. The Giants remain wildly inconsistent, but I like Odell Beckham's match-up against the Eagles' secondary. Giants 23, Eagles 20

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Roethlisberger's Return: Big Ben will make his quick return from injury for the Steelers, a song-and-dance we've seen him do against Cleveland before. Roethlisberger's presence shows how good vs. bad a team can be if they have a true elite quarterback. With him, the Steelers are a top seed in the AFC. Without him, they're probably one of the worst teams in the AFC. The Ravens have lost four straight games and it won't get better against their division rival. Steelers 28, Ravens 17

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They're Baaaaaaccck: Forget about the whole thing about Cam Newton complaining about officiating. I knew this Panthers team would turn things around at some point, and last week was the first glimpse of it. Their secondary still has some concerns, but the Rams don't have the offense to take advantage of that. I expect a dominant performance from Carolina this week as they try to creep back into playoff contention. Panthers 34, Rams 14

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Blowout of the Week: If the Browns and 49ers squared off every week, I'd say give me the Browns 95% of the time. That has to scare Browns fans who are hoping to secure the No. 1 overall pick. It doesn't scare the Saints, who should be looking forward to a fun-filled, stress-free blowout game to get them back in the hunt. Saints 42, 49ers 10

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QB Complications: Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers are supposed to be among the cream of the crop of quarterbacks in today's NFL, but for the second straight season, an element is still lacking from both teams. We're not pinning everything on them, but part of being an elite quarterback is making sure your team is the one that always overcomes the odds, not watching games slip away each week. Packers 27, Colts 23

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The Shootout You'd Expect: Not only are the Titans winners in three of their last four games, they've averaged 30 points per game during that stretch. The Chargers are also averaging nearly 30 points per game. On paper, this has the makings of a shootout game, but sometimes when those two types of teams clash, it actually ends up being a defensive battle. I think the Chargers' defense has a little more of an edge, so I'll go with them. Chargers 23, Titans 17

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Sunday Night Football: This SNF also happens to be the game of the week for me. I've been singing the Raiders' praises for awhile now, and this week these two teams are tied with 6-2 records atop the AFC West. Denver has re-gathered themselves on offense a bit the past two weeks, but perhaps the bigger story is that the Raiders have been playing better defensively. Oakland is actually a stunning 5-0 on the road this year and 1-2 at home, but they have to be looking forward to a series of home games here and I think this is their coming out party. Raiders 31, Broncos 17

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Monday Night Football: The Seahawks have an awkwardly comfortable lead atop their 4-2-1. The Bills have been competitive with their 4-4 mark this year, but the Seahawks' home crowd will overwhelm them in prime time. Seahawks 30, Bills 20

Bye Week:

Survivor: Last week, I picked the Vikings over the Bears, a seemingly sure lock, and lost. I need to start my streak over to hope for a perfect second half of the season, so I'll go with the Saints over the 49ers.

Week 8 Picks Record: 6-6-1
2016 NFL Picks Record: 64-54-2
Browns Picks Record: 5-3