NFL Football Predictions: Week 9 Opening Line Report and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 10/28/2014
Are the Detroit Lions the luckiest team in the NFL? Do you realize that they have led for a total of 98 seconds in the past two games yet won both? The Atlanta Falcons self-destructed in Week 8 in London, blowing a 21-0 halftime lead and then having some very questionable clock management at the end that allowed Detroit to kick the game-winning field goal -- only after Matt Prater missed the first attempt. He got another with a delay of game call. Normally, offensive penalties like that in the final minute lead to a 10-second runoff, but apparently that's not the case with a dead-ball penalty like delay of game. Weird. I bet that gets changed this offseason. Mike Smith is officially gone from Atlanta. I don't think the team does it during this bye week, but he's not coming back in 2015. The Falcons have now been outscored 70-7 in the fourth quarter their last six games. By the way, that 9:30 a.m. ET start was awesome. The NFL needs to do that at least once a year over in London.
Here are a few games and interesting opening WagerWeb Week 9 lines. The marquee game is clearly Broncos-Patriots, but I'll be looking at that more in depth later this week at Doc's.
Cardinals at Cowboys (-4, 48): This is the game of the week in the NFC. I presumed it would be between one-loss teams on Monday afternoon. Then the Cowboys went out and proved why I still think they are somewhat fraudulent on Monday night by losing to Colt McCoy and the Washington Redskins, 20-17 at home in overtime. To Colt McCoy? Really? DeMarco Murray did his part with 141 yards on 19 carries, his eighth straight 100-yard game. Tony Romo was 17-for-28 with 209 yards and a TD. However, he left for a while with a back injury. Romo would return late, but Dallas failed to score on his final drive of the fourth quarter with a chance to win or in overtime. He is having an MRI, but the Cowboys don't think it's major. Obviously, this line will change dramatically if Brandon Weeden has to start against that very good Arizona defense. Dallas also lost linebacker Justin Durant to a season-ending injury Monday night. That's significant. He leads the team in tackles and has two forced fumbles, four passes defensed, an interception and a fumble recovery while calling the defensive plays. Arizona is hoping star cornerback Patrick Peterson can play after leaving Sunday's win vs. the Eagles with a concussion. The pick: If Romo plays give the points even on a short week. If not, take Arizona to win outright. The Cards also will hold Murray under 100 yards.
Jets at Chiefs (-10, 41.5): I wouldn't have expected Kansas City to be a double-digit favorite at all this season , but the Jets are a total mess, and Rex Ryan will join the Falcons' Smith in the unemployment line this offseason (some network will hire the gregarious Ryan). I really thought the Jets would beat Buffalo in Week 8, but I forgot they have Geno Smith as their QB. He was 2-for-8 for five yards with three interceptions before being pulled with a rating of 0.0. I KNOW I could do better than that, and I didn't play QB after high school. Michael Vick led New York to all 23 points in the 20-point loss but also had a pick and two lost fumbles. He will start vs. the Chiefs, and I think Smith's time in New York is over. It behooves the Jets to simply lose out and take Oregon's Marcus Mariota at the top of the 2015 draft. The pick: Vick makes the Jets better, so take the points.
Bucs at Browns (-6.5, 43.5): I wasn't on the Tampa bandwagon like many people this preseason expecting the Bucs to contend for the NFC South title, but I'm shocked this team has just one win. Teams that struggle out of the gate or out of halftime you can usually blame on coaching. That's not good for Lovie Smith's future because Tampa has been outscored 72-17 in the first quarter and 54-10 in the second this year. The Bucs managed 72 total yards and no first-half points in Sunday's surprising 19-13 overtime loss to Minnesota, a team that is nowhere near as talented. There is some talk Smith might go back to QB Josh McCown this week now that he's healthy again. Mike Glennon has been starting since Week 4. Tampa will be another team drafting a QB next year. Cleveland likely won't have top tight end Jordan Cameron this week. I'm calling it: this is the game where Johnny Manziel gets his first series. Now that the Cavaliers are playing, the Browns need to keep the fans interested. The pick: Browns and "under."
Raiders at Seahawks (-15, 43): This screams trap game for Seattle. The Seahawks just played a very rugged game on the East Coast against Carolina. Now you hear talk that Seattle is sick of Marshawn Lynch, too. What's going on up there? The Raiders remain the NFL's only winless team and can't score. This reminds me of a game last season where Seattle hosted the lousy Buccaneers as a 16-point favorite -- also in Week 9, by the way. The Bucs probably should have won that game, but Seattle escaped 27-24 in overtime. This is also the last easy game for the Seahawks until Week 17 vs. the Rams. I don't think the team will be 100 percent focused: The pick: Raiders cover by a point.
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