NFL picks: Week Nine

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Miami at Indianapolis

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Raise your hand if you thought that at the mid-way point, the week nine Dolphins vs. Colts matchup would be a critical one in the AFC playoff chase. 

These two franchises combined for eight wins last season, and here they are in week nine, already matching that total. Both teams sit at 4-3 and have legitimate hopes at a wild-card spot this season. In fact, the Dolphins and Colts currently sit in the fifth and sixth playoff seeds respectively. 

With Pittsburgh biting at the heels of both teams, Sunday’s matchup is critical. Miami’s rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill is questionable for this game, but Matt Moore was more than adequate in filling in against the Jets.

 Whoever is the leading the offense shouldn’t matter; the Dolphins win games with their defense and running game. And against a Colts run defense that ranks 27th in the NFL, I’m betting the Dolphins can steal one in Indy.  

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The Picks

Miami: Will, Mike, Josh, Colin

Indianapolis: Jake, Jeremy

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Philadelphia at New Orleans 

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As unlikely as a meaningful week nine Colts vs. Dolphins matchup was at the beginning of the season, a meaningless week nine Eagles vs. Saints matchup has to be considered even more shocking. The Saints haven’t been able to totally overcome a brutal 0-4 start and the Eagles are battling the New York Jets for the title of biggest disaster in all of football.

All indications point to Andy Reid sitting Mike Vick in favor of Nick Fowles at quarterback. Vick has been dreadful, but does Fowles really give Philadelphia a better chance at winning? 

The Saints, under Drew Brees, have rarely disappointed in a prime-time game in front of their own fans. This game being on Monday night in front of a New Orleans crowd desperate for something to cheer about leads me to pick the Saints in a blowout. 

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The Picks

Philadephia: Jake

New Orleans: Will, Mike, Josh, Jeremy, Colin

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Pittsburgh at New York

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In what is the game of the week, the 4-3 Steelers will travel to New York and try to knock off the best team in the NFC – yes, the Giants are better than the Falcons. The Giants survived by a fingernail last week in Big D, but there shouldn’t be cause for concern; winning games close has come to define this team. 

The energy in MetLife will undoubtedly be off the charts, and you wonder if the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy to the New York/New Jersey area will galvanize the Giants even further.

 Teams in New York have always seemed to elevate their game when hard times befall the city they represent. 

That being said, this game has the potential to be one of the most difficult matchups for the Giants all year. Pittsburgh has been up and down but has put together some really solid wins over teams such as the Bengals, Eagles and, most notably, the Redskins. Pittsburgh always elevates their game against quality opponents, but in the end Eli outplays Big Ben and the Giants get an emotional win at home. 

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The Picks

New York: Will, Mike, Josh, Jake, Colin, Jeremy

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Dallas at Atlanta 

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Consider two different teams: statistically speaking, one team has the 13th best offense in the NFL and the 20th best defense, and the other team has the seventh best offense in the NFL and the fourth best defense. 

One team is the 3-4 Dallas Cowboys and the other team is the 7-0 Atlanta Falcons. Unbelievably, Dallas is the second team in this scenario. 

Sure, stats don’t prove the worth of a team entirely, but clearly the Cowboys are playing well on both sides of the ball for most of the 60 minutes they are out there on Sundays. So what gives? The Cowboys have the worst turnover margin in the NFC, that’s what. 

The Cowboys have turned the ball over 19 times this season and their defense has only forced a turnover eight times – both NFC’s worst. No matter how good your football team is, turnovers are a death sentence. 

I am extremely tempted to pick Dallas here simply because I think Atlanta is a bit overrated. Dallas has a great opportunity to hand Atlanta their first loss if they can just hold onto possession, but the Cowboys give us no reason to believe that a turnover-free game is possible at this point in the season. 

This one will be played on Sunday night in prime time in front of a raucous Atlanta crowd, and for that reason I’m resiting my temptation to pick the upset and I’m taking Atlanta in a tight game. 

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The Picks

Dallas: Jake

Atlanta: Will, Mike, Josh, Colin, Jeremy