HOUSTON, October 29, 2014 — Tom Brady and Peyton Manning square off this week. Everything else is secondary. Last year the Broncos traveled to New England and Manning led Denver to a 24-0 halftime lead. Brady led a comeback for the ages as the Patriots won 34-31 in overtime. The rematch in the AFC Title Game in Denver saw Manning lead Denver to a 23-3 lead after three quarters. Brady led another rally but this time Denver hung on for the 26-16 win. Brady is 37 and Manning is 38. Their combined sustained excellence cannot last forever. Cherish these classics before these warriors retire.
With that, here is the NFL 2014 Week 9 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com and all times Eastern.
Thursday, October 30, 2014, 8:30 p.m.
New Orleans Saints (-2.5) at Carolina Panthers — The Saints win at home and lose on the road. The Panthers lose at home. This game will tell if last week’s New Orleans throttling of Green Bay was a rebound or an aberration. Saints cover
Sunday, November 2, 1:00 p.m.
San Diego Chargers at Miami Dolphins (-2) — San Diego has an offense. Miami does not. San Diego is a better than average team. Miami is not. Upset special, Chargers win outright
Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals (-11) — Blake Bortles is a rookie, and is playing like it. He is throwing far too many interceptions. The Cincinnati offense at home gets it done. Bengals cover
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cleveland Browns (-6.5) — The Browns have looked bad the last couple weeks against the two worst teams in the league, but Tampa Bay is almost as awful as the other bottom feeders. Browns win but fail to cover.
Washington at Minnesota Vikings (-1.5) — Both of these teams have been dreadful this year, but Washington showed a slight spark under Colt McCoy. The win over Dallas gives Washington one week of latitude before they let everyone down again. Washington covers
Philadelphia Eagles (-2) at Houston Texans — The Eagles are a good team and the Texans are an average team. Sometimes it gets no more complex than that. Eagles cover
New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) — The Jets are a mess, and Michael Vick now takes over for Geno Smith. Vick will be good for a couple of fumbles, but make enough plays to keep the game competitive. Chiefs win but fail to cover
Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) — The stunning Dallas loss at home to Washington was compounded by Romo getting blasted out of the game. Arizona has plenty of firepower to make this a barnburner. Cowboys win but fail to cover
St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers (-9.5) — The Rams are a mess, but they normally play the 49ers tough. 49ers win but fail to cover
Denver Broncos (-3) at New England Patriots — Tom Brady is like Michael Jordan in that he has to event imaginary slights to motivate himself. Being an underdog at home is a slight, and Brady normally bests Manning in New England. Upset special, Patriots win outright
Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks (-15) — The Raiders are winless, but Derek Carr is playing well and the team has competed hard in recent weeks. Seattle is not what they were last year. A garbage touchdown against a very high spread is possible. Seahawks win but fail to cover
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (Pick em) — These teams are slightly better than last year but nowhere near what they were a couple years ago. Nevertheless, sheer hatred still makes it a great rivalry. Go with the terrible towels at home. Steelers win
Monday, November 3, 8:30 p.m.
Indianapolis Colts (-3) at New York Giants — The Colts are overrated and no current coach motivates his players as well as Tom Coughlin. On the national stage, this matters. Upset special, Giants win outright