Bet On It: Week 9 predictions
After struggling, Clay Matthews and Michael Vick will have big bounceback games
One way or another, Christian Ponder won't finish the game against the Seahawks
Cam Newton will top RGIII in a matchup of last two rookie quarterback phenoms
Last week: 4-6; Season record: 29-51 (.362)
If consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, I'm hobgoblin like crazy at 4-6 almost every week. I could go obvious in order to improve my record, but what's the fun in that? We'll keep it against the grain and try to come up with some surprises for Week 9:
1. Christian Ponder won't last the whole game against the Seahawks
After a string of sub-par games, Ponder will have to face the Seahawks' punishing pass rush. Ponder has thrown seven interceptions over his last four games, and his completion percentage has been plummeting. Ponder will either be benched or banged up on Sunday.
2. Jamaal Charles will get over 20 carries against the Chargers
The Chiefs haven't led a game in regulation all season, and have been too willing to abandon the run. Charles had just 4 yards on 5 carries last week. With nothing to lose, Kansas City's coaching staff has to come back to its senses and rely on their star back against the reeling Chargers.
3. Clay Matthews will have two sacks against the Cardinals
After totaling six sacks in his first two games, Matthews has just three sacks in his last six games. But expect Matthews to get back on track against the worst offensive line in the NFL. Injured Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb will remind the Cardinals' coaching staff to double-team the Packers star. Matthews knocked out then-Eagle Kolb in the first game of the 2010 season. But since the Cardinals can't run consistently, Matthews will be pinning his ears back and chasing John Skelton all day.
4. Bears hold Chris Johnson to under 90 yards
Johnson has three straight games with over 90 rushing yards and appears to have put his early-season slump behind him. But two of those games were against poor run defenses -- Indianapolis and Buffalo. This week Johnson faces the No. 1 run defense in the NFL, and the Bears will make stopping him their top priority.
5. Titans beat the Bears
The Bears' defense is intimidating and will contain Johnson, but they've been in relatively close games the last two weeks at home. Even though Chicago is clearly among the elite teams in the NFC and is favored Sunday, this contest has midseason road loss written all over it.
6. Joe Flacco has a rating lower than 80.0 against the Browns
Flacco has been erratic this season, finishing with a rating over 100 in three games and below 70 in three games. Bet on the under here against an improving Browns defense. Cleveland held Indy's Andrew Luck and San Diego's Philip Rivers in check over the last two weeks, and won't let Flacco get hot.
7. Texans will knock down at least three passes against the Bills
Houston leads the NFL with 21 passes knocked down this year (the second-ranked team, Seattle, has just 11). J.J. Watt and the Texans' defensive line are going to make life impossible for Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
8. Cam Newton throws for more yards than Robert Griffin III
Newton quieted some of the criticism last week by throwing for 314 yards at Chicago. RGIII is coming off a rough week at Pittsburgh. He'll have an easier time against Carolina's defense, but he'll still fall short in passing yards against his fellow Heisman winner.
9. Alfred Morris runs for over 100 yards against the Panthers
The Redskins went away from Morris last week against Pittsburgh, but that's because they were losing. They will try to hammer Carolina's 20th-ranked run defense, and Morris is actually making a run at his teammate Griffin for Rookie of the Year.
10. Michael Vick throws for over 250 yards against the Saints
Andy Reid will use every trick he's learned in his 13 years as a head coach to help Vick out this Monday night. Vick has thrown for less than 250 yards in four of his last five games, but he'll step up to answer his critics in primetime. Facing the Saints' 30th-ranked pass defense will help as well.