LOS ANGELES, November 4, 2015 — For the first time in NFL history, four teams are 7-0. Three of those four teams are at home this week. While it is a long way from reaching the perfection of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, weeks go by quickly. What makes the top four teams so special is that they are winning in different ways.
The New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals are winning with offense. Tom Brady might be the only defending Super Bowl champion motivated by revenge. Red Rifle Andy Dalton has taken his game to the next level. The Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers are winning with defense.
Peyton Manning and Cam Newton are superstars, but stifling defense has carried these teams.
All of these teams have had big, quality victories. Cincinnati gutted out a brutal road win against Pittsburgh. Defense got the job done. The Patriots received all they could handle from the Jets. Carolina’s defense blew a 17-point fourth quarter lead at home, and the offense bailed the Panthers out in overtime.
Manning, who was supposedly washed up, threw deep bombs as the Denver offense put the hurt on previously unbeaten Green Bay.
The NFL is fantastic because it has the best of both worlds. There is competitive balance. Any Given Sunday still exists. However, there is still excellence. Dynasties exist and new dynasties could be forming. With that, here is the NFL 2015 Week 9 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with all times Eastern and point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com
Thursday, November 5, 2015, 8:30 p.m.
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-11) — Josh McCown is out and Johnny Manziel is in. It doesn’t matter. Cincinnati won it’s big emotional game at Pittsburgh last week. They will not overlook lowly Cleveland, but they will crush them. The Browns have been competitive, but not this week. The spread is high, but Cincinnati is for real. Bengals cover.
Sunday, November 8, 1:00 p.m.
Oakland Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.5) — Both teams are 4-3. The Raiders are trending upward, but they face a Pittsburgh team that has their leader Ben Roethlisberger back. Big Ben might be injured, and their star running back LeVeon Bell is out injured. The Raiders are improved, and competitive enough to keep this close and possibly even win. Steelers win but fail to cover.
Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets (-6) — The Jets have two quarterbacks who are both injured. The Jaguars have a healthy quarterback surrounded by terrible players. Despite losing two straight, this is the week the Jets defense gets back to its blitzing self and rights the ship. Jets cover.
St. Louis Rams at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) — Both of these teams have very quietly won some ballgames. The Rams have a defense and the Vikings have Adrian Peterson. This one could go either way, so trust Peterson at home. If the Rams put eight in the box to stop him, Teddy Bridgewater is capable of moving the chains. Vikings cover.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-3) — Buffalo won big at Miami in London, but that was before Dan Campbell replaced Joe Philbin. If Buffalo loses this game, Rex Ryan could face a mutiny. Miami is improved despite getting crushed by New England, but Buffalo will be given the benefit of the doubt one more time at home. Bills cover.
Tennessee Titans at New Orleans Saints (-8) — The Titans fired Ken Whisenhunt. Marcus Mariota is out injured. Drew Brees just threw for 511 yards and seven touchdown passes last week against a decent enough team. Now they face perhaps the worst team in the league. Brees could throw for 1,000 yards. Saints cover.
Washington Redskins at New England Patriots (-14) — Sometimes an awful team goes on the road and shocks a great team. That will not happen this week. Tom Brady could throw for 20 touchdown passes this week. While that may be hyperbole, this is one mismatch that will be over by halftime. Patriots cover.
Green Bay Packers (-2.5) at Carolina Panthers — Green Bay lost a tough road game at unbeaten Denver to lose their first game while Carolina barely survived in overtime to stay unbeaten. Green Bay’s offense has been average the last three weeks. Green Bay is good enough to go into Carolina and win but right now the Panthers are just on a magic carpet ride. The Carolina defense can harass Aaron Rodgers. Upset special, Panthers win outright.
Atlanta Falcons (-7) at San Francisco 49ers — The 49ers are horrendous. Vernon Davis was traded. Colin Kaepernick has been benched in favor of perhaps the worst quarterback in the league, Blaine Gabbert. Yet the Falcons are nowhere near as good as their 6-2 record. Losing at home against Tampa Bay is not forgivable. Falcons win but fail to cover.
New York Giants (-2.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Last week Eli Manning threw six touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Giants scored 49 points. They still lost. The Buccaneers won an inspiring game on the road despite blowing a 17-point lead late. The Giants are the better team. That should be enough. Giants cover.
Denver Broncos (-2.5) at Indianapolis Colts — Forget the front office dysfunction. Andrew Luck is injured. He showed a ton of courage in an agonizing loss at unbeaten Carolina. now he faces perhaps the most ferocious defense in the NFL in Denver, who just manhandled previously unbeaten Green Bay. Forget the home field advantage in this one. Peyton Manning will do enough and Denver’s defense will unleash on the wounded Luck. Broncos cover.
Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5) at Dallas Cowboys — Jerry Jones is going to commit Hara Kiri and blow up his billion dollar stadium if Tony Romo does not return soon. The Eagles are not that special but Dallas has fallen apart. Des Bryant spends more time screaming at his own teammates than the opposition. Eagles cover.
Monday, November 9, 8:30 p.m.
Chicago Bears at San Diego Chargers (-4) — Both of these teams have underachieved and suffered some tough losses. While the Bears lost last week at home, Jay Cutler is not playing badly. He should be able to keep the game close. Philip Rivers can move the ball but he has not gotten enough help. Chargers win but fail to cover.