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Brian Eller

My picks for Week 9 in the NFL

Tampa Bay at Atlanta -- One of the biggest surprises this season has to be the play of the Buccaneers, who are a breath of fresh air in a league that's been dominated by concussions, potential lockouts and the ongoing sagas with Brett Favre and Randy Moss. Tampa Bay has a young coach, a young quarterback and sits atop the NFC South. But I think the Falcons are the better team this Sunday and will benefit from being at home.

Chicago at Buffalo -- The NFL should apologize to all of these countries we keep sending teams to. A week after the Brits had to endure San Francisco and Denver, our neighbors to the north will get their own dose of mediocrity with the Bears and winless Bills. This seems like the best time for Buffalo to get its first win of the year, but I'll go against the odds and say Jay Cutler plays well and leads the Bears.

New England at Cleveland -- Once again we have the Patriots with the best record in the league, with Tom Brady putting together another MVP season. The Browns, on the other hand, are tough to gauge, having knocked off the Saints in New Orleans a few weeks ago. I like the Patriots on the road in this one, though.

New York Jets at Detroit -- I was tempted to pick this as my upset of the week, because I wouldn't be surprised if the Lions make it back-to-back wins for the first time in what seems like forever. But, back-to-back wins for the Lions would mean consecutive losses for the Jets, and I don't see Rex Ryan letting that happen. Mark Sanchez and the offense struggled last week against the Packers, but Detroit's passing defense isn't as good, which means the Jets will get back to their winning ways.

Arizona at Minnesota -- The short-lived Randy Moss 2.0 era is over and now the Vikings can get back to their original problem, namely Brett Favre's health. They'll welcome a Cardinals team that nobody is talking about, but with quarterback issues of their own, it's easy to see why. My gut tells me with Moss gone, the Vikings rally together to make a statement against their former wide receiver and pound the Cardinals.

New Orleans at Carolina -- ***Upset Special*** Alright, to be honest, I don't feel great about this upset pick, but I told you all I would pick at least one each week, so here it is. The Saints should win, but they're on the road, facing a Carolina team that beat them last year and played them tough earlier this season. So, let's do it. Panthers win, baby.

Miami at Baltimore -- The Dolphins continued their mysterious season by moving to 4-0 on the road last week. That should make Miami fans feel pretty good, with another road trip, this week to the Charm City. Baltimore needs to keep pace with the Steelers in the AFC North and a bye week will do wonders for the Ravens in this game.

San Diego at Houston -- This is the toughest game of the week to pick. In the paper I went with Houston and I'll stick with it. Texans fans have seen the Colts climb back into the top spot in the AFC South and can't see their team drop a home game to a Chargers team that finally broke its losing ways a week ago. I'll take Houston in this one, with Arian Foster having a big day on the ground.

New York Giants at Seattle -- We're halfway through the season and I can't remember a team that's gone through its first eight games so quietly, yet has a legitimate shot at making a Super Bowl. Eli Manning is playing very well for the Giants, and wide receivers Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks are emerging each week. Tony Dungy recently offered the Seahawks as the best team in the NFC. I don't think so.

Kansas City at Oakland -- As a Broncos fan, there aren't two teams in the league I despise more than Oakland and Kansas City. All through the 1990s, the Chiefs were contenders and have re-discovered themselves with coach Todd Haley. Oakland, meanwhile, is still a little streaky, but two wins the past two weeks gives the edge to the Raiders.

Indianapolis at Philadelphia -- On the NFL Network last night, the countdown of the game's 100 greatest players was finished, with Colts quarterback Peyton Manning coming in at No. 8. It's so funny to sit back and think about how much debate there was between he and Ryan Leaf in 1998. Manning is once again doing well, and despite Vick's return to the Eagles, I'll take the Colts in this one.

Dallas at Green Bay -- What a huge win for the Packers last week against the Jets, particularly for their defense. I'm still not quite sold on them for a deep postseason run, but I think once they get healthy, the NFC North is theirs for the claiming. In Dallas, meanwhile, come on. They don't deserve my words.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati -- It's unusual to hear the Steelers do so much talking with their mouth, rather than their pads, but that's what happened this week when safety Troy Polamalu surprised us all with his mini-rant on Roger Goodell. If there's no impact on this week's game against the Bengals, I like the Steelers to roll here.

Last week: 6-7
Season: 25-16

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