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NFL Pro Football 2010 Week 9 Picks

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Fearless Rick's NFL Week 9 Picks - Early Games

Rick Gagliano | November 7

All times Eastern - Click here for late games.

Sunday, November 7

Tampa Bay Bucs at Atlanta Falcons (-8, 44 1/2) 1:00 pm - The Buccaneers have been underestimated by the oddsmakers and bettors all season, and even now, heading into this critical divisional clash, they are more than a touchdown underdogs to the Falcons, with whom they are tied, at 5-2, for the NFC South division lead.

While this may have something to do with strength of schedule and the fact that the Falcons show better stats on both offense and defense, it does not take into account the importance of the game, one in which neither side will be taking inordinate offensive risks, nor willing to give any quarter on defense.

When the Bucs have lost, they've lost big - to Pittsburgh and New Orleans - and conversely, the Falcons have only won one of their five wins by a huge margin, that being the 41-7 smack-down they put on Arizona in week two. Is this where the Buccaneers hit the wall. Doesn't appear to be the case. Atlanta is good, but though they beat the Bucs twice last season, their win at home was only by three points, 20-17.

Prediction: Buccaneers 23 Falcons 20

Chicago Bears (-3, 40 1/2) at Buffalo Bills 1:00 pm - Buffalo's been playing better of late, taking their last two foes - Baltimore and Kansas City - into overtime before losing. The Bears are still above the .500 mark, at 4-3, a half game behind the Packers, but there are still many things not to like about them, specifically, their lack of rushing offense, among the worst in the league.

They head into Buffalo to face a very hungry team, intent on getting off their losing skein. It's going to happen eventually for the Bills because the players have not even hinted at giving up, and since inserting Ryan Fitzpatrick into the starting QB role, the offense has performed at a high level. Being at home, against a mid-level foe, might be just the ticket the Bills need punched.

Prediction: Bills 27 Bears 23

New England Patriots (-5, 44) at Cleveland Browns 1:00 pm - The Browns have the second-lowest scoring offense in the league at 16.9 ppg, and the Patriots the best, 29.3. Even the least sophisticated fan in the world can see that this is a mismatch of enormous proportions.

New England didn't become such a powerhouse team by blowing easy opportunities. The chance of them losing this game are close to zero, so one should also conclude that they're likely to manage the spread as well.

Prediction: Patriots 31 Browns 17

NY Jets (-4, 41) at Detroit Lions 1:00 pm - Here's another apparent huge mismatch, though with the return of Matthew Stafford at QB and the huge targets he has downfield - Brandon Pettigrew and Calvin Johnson - the Jets' defense will have its hands full all afternoon. And although the Jets have one of the top three - along with the Steelers and Bears - defenses in the league, few teams have been able to slow down the Lions.

Last week, the Jets struggled mightily against the Packers, but the Lions' defense is not nearly as efficient. New York is somewhat predictable, however, and may have to use more wildcat to keep the Lions off-balance.

Detroit is 2-1 at home and their only loss was by three points to Philadelphia, so the line here is no fluke. They're an improving bunch with lots of offensive firepower and a road loss by the Jets would not be a surprise.

Prediction: Lions 27 Jets 20

New Orleans Saints (-6 1/2, 41) at Carolina Panthers 1:00 pm - Carolina got their only win two weeks back, against the 49ers, by a slim, 23-20 score and last week reverted back to form with a 20-10 loss to the Rams in St. Louis. Carolina's defense isn't bad at all, but their offense is the worst in the NFL and that's a problem against Drew Brees and the high-octane Saints.

After what the Saints did to the Steelers last Sunday night, they appear to be back in form and ready to make a run for the playoffs. Beating the pulp out of one of the worst teams in the league is clearly on the current agenda.

Prediction: Saints 34 Panthers 13

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Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens (-5, 40 1/2) 1:00 pm - Despite the Ravens giving five points, this one is a real toss-up. The Dolphins come to play every Sunday and have quietly put together a 4-3 record, which could easily have been 5-2 if not for some unlucky breaks in their 23-22 loss to the Steelers two weeks back. At issue for Miami is that their two other losses were to the Jets and Patriots, their main rivals in the AFC East.

Baltimore is in a death-match with the Steelers for dominance in the AFC North, though they got some help from the Saints last week, handing Pittsburgh their second loss of the season. The Raven offense has been uneven this season, though coming off their bye week should help. Still, they're only marginally better than the Dolphins overall. In a game that could be decided by a field goal, Miami with five looks pretty live.

Prediction: Dolphins 20 Ravens 17


San Diego Chargers (-3, 50 1/2) at Houston Texans 1:00 pm - The Texans were exposed again on defense Monday night at the hands on Peyton Manning, who beat them silly despite not having his usual allotment of players. Manning shredded the Houston secondary for 268 yards and 2 TDs, mostly on underneath routes and screens. Imagine what Phillip Rivers, Antonio Gates and Seyi Ajirotutu are going to do to these guys.

The Texans started off 2-0, but have backtracked, going 2-3 since and looking bad in their losses, which have been by an average margin of 17 points. At 3-5, the Chargers know they have to get moving if they hope to reach the playoffs. They seem to be catching the Texans at the right time. San Diego's win over the Titans last week was impressive and they appear headed, finally, in the right direction.

Prediction: Chargers 41 Texans 24

Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings (-9, 41) 1:00 pm - The Vikes are still in trouble as far as getting to the playoffs are concerned. Taking away the threat of Randy Moss - productive or not - is a big boost to every team that has to play them this season.

The most interesting stat on this game is that the Cardinals are actually scoring more points per game than the Vikings on average, 19.0 to 18.4, and that undescores just what ails Minnesota. An aging and banged up Brett Favre, complaining that he doesn't have enough weapons on the field and a running game that is misfiring all too often has created an air of dissent and disunion, not what one wants on a professional team. Even though the Cardinals are on the road and only 3-5, when is the last time a 2-6 team was a 9-point favorite against anybody?

This is a sucker's bet for anyone thinking that Favre can salvage the season in Minnesota. This is what happens when players play well past their prime.

Prediction: Cardinals 24 Vikings 20

All times Eastern - Click here for late games

Copyright 2010, 2011, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.


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