Warpaint Illustrated Week 9 NFL Predictions

Last week I went a stellar 12-2 in my picks, including the upset special, Giants over the Vikings. This week features a few mismatches, so get ready fantasy owners. Expect the Seattle, Denver, Indianapolis and Minnesota offenses to thrive! Take note, NFL scoring has increased by almost a touchdown per game over the past four weeks. Games have averaged 44.4 points in Weeks 5-8. That compares to 38.5 for Weeks 1-4.

Kansas City @ Tampa Bay
PREDICTION: Chiefs win three straight! 24-20
The Kansas City offense has scored 101 points and gained an astounding 1,130 yards in the past two weeks. While I don't think they'll come close to reaching 40 points, they should be able to get in the end zone enough. Dick Vermeil says that Priest Holmes whole body is bruised up and it should be with the amount of touches he's has the past two weeks. Tampa Bay has the top-ranked pass defense so Holmes will have to carry quite the load again. Tony Gonzalez should have another good day and let's face it; a key to Trent Green's recent success is that Morton and Kennison are actually holding on to the ball. Tampa Bay may rack up some yards with QB Brian Griese, RB Michael Pittman and WR Michael Clayton, but expect the KC defense to stand strong in the red zone.
Game Notes: Trent Green needs one 300-yard game to tie Bill Kenney for the most in team history. Tampa QB Brian Griese has a rating of 104.9 in his last three games. The Chiefs have committed just eight turnovers this season, 2nd fewest in the NFL.
REMEMBER WHEN: 9/5/93: Joe Montana and Marcus Allen make their debut for the Chiefs in a 27-3 thrashing of the Buccaneers.

Philadelphia@Pittsburgh
PREDICTION: Steelers 21-20
The good news for the Steelers is that they've already stopped one unbeaten streak be knocking off New England last week. The bad news is they face another streak this week, as the Eagles are 7-0. Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens seem to be unstoppable, even though Owens had four drops last week vs. Baltimore. Philadelphia will have problems running with Brian Westbrook banged up and a Steelers run-defense that ranks third in the NFL. Wide Receiver Todd Pinkston is banged up and will not play as well. There's no doubting Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlesberger anymore. I thought the Pats defense would confuse him, but it didn't. I'm riding the rookie as he's developed chemistry with WR Plaxico Burress and he also has one of the best receivers in Hines Ward at his disposal.
Game Notes: At 6-1, Pittsburgh is off to its best start in Cowher's 13 years as coach. The Eagles lead the NFL with 25 sacks.

NY Jets@Buffalo
PREDICTION: Jets 24-16
The Bills were the first team to keep Jets RB Curtis Martin under 100 yards rushing this season. In that game, the Jets kicked a late field goal and won 16-14 in The Meadowlands. Since then, the Bills run defense has only gotten better but they can be exposed in the passing game. Chad Pennington is red-hot. I expect him to put up above-average numbers. You have to like the way Buffalo RB Willis McGahee played last week. These two teams are rivals and the Bills actually match up well with New York. The game may come down to the play of Drew Bledsoe, and that's why I'm taking the Jets to improve to 7-1.
Game Notes: Buffalo leads the series 47-40. They've outscored the Jets by just 43 points in the 97 games.

Oakland@Carolina
PREDICTION: Carolina 30-24
Oakland Raiders QB Kerry Collins returns to the team that made him the first pick in their franchise history. Collins has been atrocious with 11 interceptions and 5 TD. Even if Stephen Davis plays, I don't think he'll have good numbers. Carolina QB Jake Delhomme has been forced to pass a lot this season with Davis and DeShaun Foster out. Delhomme may have a good game against a weak Raiders secondary. WR's Keary Colbert and Muhsin Muhammed will benefit. Tyrone Wheatley and Amos Zereoue will find yards for Oakland, but they'll split carries so stay away from both RB's.
Game Notes: Panthers Head Coach John Fox was Oakland's Defensive Coordinator in the '94 and '95 seasons. If you speak Chinese, please translate Tao Zhang's column on Raiders.com.

Washington@Detroit
PREDICTION: Detroit 17-16
Mark Brunell may be the worst staring QB in the NFL right now. The Redskins defense has been terrific thus far, but Joey Harrington is playing very well 97.5 QB rating in his last four games. I don't like anybody in this game unless Lions WR Roy Williams plays. As a matter of fact, it may be the only game I don't glance at on Sunday.
Game Notes: Washington is 2-0 when Clinton Portis rushes for 100+ yards. Joe Gibbs is 8-0 lifetime against Detroit.

Dallas@Cincinnnati
PREDICTION: Bengals 27-24
Dallas will try to exploit the Cincinnati rushing defense which is an NFL-worst 32nd. They give up 154ypg on the ground, but can Eddie George take advantage? I think not. Vinnie Testaverde will find TE Jason Whitten, who's been a monster the past two weeks. Keyshawn Johnson will have plenty of balls thrown his way. Bengals WR Chad Johnson has been inconsistent this season because of Carson Palmer's play, but C.J. will have a good game. I'm staring RB Rudi Johnson this week. Game Notes: Bengals WR Chad Johnson and Dallas WR Keyshawn Johnson are cousins. Dallas DE Greg Ellis has six sacks.

New England@St. Louis
PREDICTION: Rams 34-20
For the first time this season, I'm picking against the Patriots. If New England wins this game, Head Coach Bill Belichick will once again display his brilliance. The Pats are without both starting cornerback in Ty Law and Tyrone Poole. Marc Bulger and the Rams offense may shine in this game. Look for Tory Holt and Isaac Bruce to put up solid numbers and don't forget about second-year wide out Shaun McDonald, who has three touchdown catches. Oh yea, Marshall Faulk still has some gas in the tank. For New England, RB Corey Dillon has missed practice this week with a thigh injury and WR David Givens is hobbling as well. The only fantasy play from the Pats will be Tom Brady.
Game Notes: St. Louis is 16-1 in their last 17 regular season home games. New England has scored first in 12 consecutive regular season games and in 15 straight including the playoffs. The Patriots went 398 days between losses before last Sunday's loss to Pittsburgh.

NY Giants@Chicago
PREDICTION: Giants 23-10
The Bears passed up the opportunity to sign Kurt Warner in the offseason because Warner wanted an opportunity to start. When Rx Grossman went down, the Bears season was over. Craig Krenzel is now the QB for Chicago. Expect him to struggle in his first road game. RB Thomas Jones has a sprained toe, meaning Anthony Thomas should get the start. The Giants will look to establish the run, so Tiki Barber may be in for a monster day. The only worry I have about the Giants is whether or not they'll have a let down after upsetting the Vikings on the road.
Game Notes: For the second straight week, an Ohio State quarterback (Craig Krenzel) will be throwing to a Michigan wide receiver (David Terrell). Tiki Barber has at least one touchdown in five consecutive games.

Seattle@San Fransisco
PREDICTION: Seahawks 26-13
Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck struggles on the road, but the San Francisco defense is easy to throw and run against. That's good news for WR Darrell Jackson and RB Shawn Alexander; more good news for the 'Hawks, Right Tackle Chris Terry returns after missing the past two games. The Seahawks defense is a good play. They shut out the 49ers in the first meeting this season. For San Fran, TE Eric Johnson is the only 49er producing any sort of numbers. He matches up well against most linebackers.
Game Notes: Jerry Rice returns to San Francisco for what is likely his last game in the town he played in for 16 seasons. Seahawks Head Coach Mike Holmgren and Seattle Defensive Coordinator Ray Rhodes both spent time as assistant coaches with the 49ers.

New Orleans@San Diego
PREDICTION: Chargers 31- 24
The Chargers are playing well at 5-3. I wonder how long they can keep the good play going. It all depends on Drew Brees, who has 11TD in his past five games. WR Keenan McCardell has made an immediate impact and TE Antonio Gates is performing well. LaDainian Tomlinson is about 75% and has played sparingly lately. Tomlinson still might have a big day against a porous New Orleans run defense, which is second worst in the NFC. Keep an eye out for LaDainian's backup Jesse Chatman. The Saints are in trouble. They can't stop the run, RB Deuce McAllister is playing on a bum ankle and QB Aaron Brooks is inconsistent. Still, Brooks could be a good play this week and WR Joe Horn is always a must-start in fantasy leagues.
Game Notes: The Chargers have held five of their last six opponents to under 100 yards rushing. The Saints are just 3-29 under Jim Haslett when trailing in the third quarter.

Houston@Denver

PREDICTION: Texans 35-34 *Upset special!
It is very tough to win at Mile High. Ask the Chiefs. Denver's second-ranked defense was shredded by Michael Vick last week, and this week I think David Carr and WR Andre Johnson 0will each have big days. The Broncos "D" has given up an average of 394 (ypg.) in their last two games. Offensively for the Broncos, Jake Plummer and Rod Smith have been a nice tandem. Rueben Droughns has come back to earth. He has just one touchdown this season, but he'll get in the end zone this week.
Game Notes: Former Chief and current Houston Texan PR-KR J.J. Moses is ranked third in the AFC with 11.0 yards per punt return. The Broncos are 5-0 when leading at halftime.

Cleveland@Baltimore
PREDICTION: Ravens 20-3
Guess who's back for Baltimore running back, Jamal Lewis. And just in time for the opponent he loves to face, the Cleveland Browns. Lewis comes off a two game suspension to face the team he rushed for 500 yards against in two meetings last season. Cleveland knocked off the Ravens 20-3 in Week One. Expect a role reversal this week. The Ravens defense and Jamal Lewis are the only two plays this week.
Game Notes: Baltimore defense is giving up an average of 14.2 (ppg.) best in the NFL. The Browns are 1-5 all-time on Sunday night.

Minnesota@Indianapolis
PREDICTION: Colts 35-31
Minnesota may rely on the run with Randy Moss ailing again. Moss has not been at full strength the past two weeks and a slight hamstring tear will keep him at less than 100% for at least three more weeks. Vikings WR Marcus Robinson and Nate Burleson will benefit and RB's Onterrio Smith and Mewelde Moore may split carries. Culpepper as always, is a must start. I like every offensive skill player for the Colts.
Game Notes: The Vikings set an NFL record by averaging at least 4.0 yards per carry in 17 straight games. The previous record was 14. Vikings kicker Morton Andersen has connected on 8-11 field goal attempts and is 4-7 from beyond 30 yards.


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