Posted: Thu October 31, 2013 10:47AM; Updated: Thu October 31, 2013 4:50PM
Don Banks

NFL Week 9 picks

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Cam Newton and the Panthers could extend their win streak to four games with a win over the Falcons.
Cam Newton and the Panthers can extend their win streak to four games by defeating the Falcons.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Florida, where I grew up, is officially in a state of disgrace when it comes to the 2013 NFL season. The 0-8 Jaguars, 0-7 Bucs and 3-4 Dolphins are a combined 3-19 (.136), and since Miami beat visiting Atlanta in Week 3, the Sunshine State boys are 0-13 and starting to cumulatively approach laughingstock status.

Three wins by the three in-state teams as November approaches has to be the low point of Florida's pro football experience, which began with the AFL expansion Dolphins in 1966. They've never all been this bad at the same time, but it does seem like ages since they've really been relevant in the league's elite class. Miami last made the playoffs in 2008, with Jacksonville and Tampa Bay both visiting the postseason most recently in 2007.

And it gets worse the deeper you dig: the Bucs haven't won a playoff game since their 2002 season Super Bowl run; the Dolphins haven't won in the postseason since 2000, and the Jaguars own just one playoff win (a first-round upset at Pittsburgh in 2007) since humiliating Miami 62-7 in Dan Marino's and Jimmy Johnson's final NFL game, in the 1999 playoffs. That must have angered the football gods or induced bad karma of some kind. Because the NFL in Florida has become an almost embarrassing afterthought.

For all of Week 9's picks, see below:

Window into the Weekend: Week 9
Source: SI
The MMQB's Peter King previews the Week 9 matchup between the Buffalo Bills and the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.
Last week: 12-1; Season 83-37
Thursday, Oct. 31
8:25 p.m. ET (NFL Network) Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) at Miami Dolphins (3-4)
The combined winning or losing margin of the Bengals' first seven games this season was 41 points, with their largest victory being by 10 points over the Steelers in Week 2 and their largest defeat being by 11 points to the Browns in Week 4. That's why Week 8's 40-point destruction of the Jets seemed so out of the blue for Cincinnati. And now here come the reeling Dolphins, losers of four in a row, the polar opposite of the Bengals, who have won four straight. Make it five, as Cincinnati racks up a third win over an AFC East opponent in a four-week span.
Sunday, Nov. 3
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Minnesota Vikings (1-6) at Dallas Cowboys (4-4)
Think Rob Ryan is feeling good about himself these days? The Cowboys canned him as defensive coordinator after last season, and now Dallas through eight games has allowed a league-worst 3,380 yards on defense, including a team-record 623 to the Lions last week in that 31-30 loss. How's that Monte Kiffin hiring working out for you, Cowboys? Dallas is on pace to give up 6,760 yards, almost 1,100 yards more than the Cowboys allowed in 2012, when that total set a franchise record and helped cost Ryan his job. Now New Orleans' defensive coordinator, Ryan has helped the Saints play dramatically better after they allowed a league-record 7,042 yards last season.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Tennessee Titans (3-4) at St. Louis Rams (3-5)
I would have to believe the Rams want this one for Jeff Fisher, the guy who used to coach the Titans/Oilers from 1994 through 2010. So weird that Andy Reid, Mike Shanahan and Fisher all got a shot at their old teams for the first time in a span of six weeks this season, with Reid's Chiefs winning at Philly in Week 3 and Shanahan's Redskins losing last week at Denver. As I wrote before Reid's homecoming, the only previous two head coaches who had worked anywhere for as long as Reid, Shanahan (both 14 years) and Fisher (17 years) and then coached against their old teams were Hank Stram in 1976 (Saints versus Chiefs) and Curly Lambeau in 1952 (Redskins versus Packers). Quirky, eh?
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Atlanta Falcons (2-5) at Carolina Panthers (4-3)
I've got Tony Gonzalez speculation fatigue. Will he retire? Will he un-retire? Will he get traded to a winning team to pursue the Super Bowl quest he thought he'd be pursuing in Atlanta this season, after un-retiring? I'm about 95 percent not paying attention at this point, Tony.
1 p.m. ET (FOX) New Orleans Saints (6-1) at New York Jets (4-4)
The Ryan Brothers Reunion Bowl could be fun, provided Jets quarterback Geno Smith takes care of the football and gives his team a chance to hang around with the high-powered Saints passing attack. But the win-one, lose-one Jets are about to break their pattern and experience their first losing streak of the season. That reality will sting for a couple weeks in New York, because the Jets will head into their Week 10 bye at 4-5 and well off the Patriots' division-leading pace in the AFC East.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Kansas City Chiefs (8-0) at Buffalo Bills (3-5)
Why should members of that all-but-forgotten "Grits Blitz" defense of the 1977 Atlanta Falcons care about what goes down in the Chiefs-Bills game? Because the 8-0 Chiefs have posted eight consecutive games in which they allowed 17 points or fewer, moving within one of tying Atlanta's league record of nine in 1977. Buffalo has played some quality teams tough this season, and my gut tells me Kansas City's perfect season could come to an end just shy of the Week 11 showdown in Denver. But I can't convince myself to ride with the banged-up Bills.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) San Diego Chargers (4-3) at Washington Redskins (2-5)
Want some good news, Washington fans? Your beloved team is twice as close to first place entering Week 9 this season as it was last season at the same point, when it wound up winning the NFC East. At 2-5, Washington trails the 4-4 Cowboys by a 1 1/2 games. At the same juncture in 2012, the Redskins were 3-5, in last place, and three full games behind the first-place, 6-2 Giants. So all they need now is for head coach Mike Shanahan to start talking about looking ahead to next year and the playoff drive will be well underway.
4:05 p.m. ET (FOX) Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) at Oakland Raiders (3-4)
The Raiders could get to .500 at midseason with a win over the anemic Eagles, making the AFC West perhaps the only division that featured no losing teams (the NFC West would join that list if the Rams beat the Titans to get to 4-4). Not bad for the once-ridiculed Left Coast of the NFL. The AFC West's combined mark of 22-8 (.733) entering Week 9 is far and away the league's best.
4:05 p.m. ET (FOX) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7) at Seattle Seahawks (7-1)
Pete Carroll and Greg Schiano are both former college head coaches who had previous NFL experience before they got their current gig. But that's about the extent of what they have in common at the moment. Same kind of goes for the 1976 expansion Seahawks and Bucs. They've gone their separate ways over the years (did you know Seattle was in the NFC West its first year, and Tampa Bay was in the AFC West?), but never more so than in this season's standings. They're about as far away from one another in the NFL hierarchy as they are on the map.
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) Baltimore Ravens (3-4) at Cleveland Browns (3-5)
The story about the Browns misattributing or slightly botching the motivational quotes they painted on the walls of their team complex as part of a recent $5 million upgrade to the facility is so good it doesn't even need a punch line. But I suppose if I had to supply one, I'd say if these walls could talk, they would claim they were all misquoted.
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5) at New England Patriots (6-2)
I am not making this up: The first six questions of Tom Brady's Thursday press conference were Halloween related. Brady and his wife, Gisele, recently attended a Halloween party as Dorothy (her) and the Cowardly Lion (him). Question No. 10 was about how a quarterback with an injured hand might first detect the telltale signs of an injured hand? (You know, like it ballooning to the size of an oven mitt.) Brady's reply? "I don't know. I've never had that experience so I'm not sure." Thanks, Tom. Now I know why the Halloween questions were all the rage.
8:30 p.m. ET (NBC) Indianapolis Colts (5-2) at Houston Texans (2-5)
Always enjoy the farce of it all when coaches keep insisting the quarterback on the bench remains his starter, even though the task of actually starting the games goes to a different guy. That's the route Houston's Gary Kubiak is taking, continuing to label Matt Schaub his starter even as Case Keenum prepares for his second start. It's an ineffective method if you're trying not to hurt some feelings. As I recall, Vikings head coach Dennis Green played linguistic limbo with Randall Cunningham and Jeff George for a while in 1999, but it sounded sillier and sillier as George led Minnesota into the playoffs.
Monday, Nov. 4
8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) Chicago Bears (4-3) at Green Bay Packers (5-2)
That was an uncomfortably long postgame hug Aaron Rodgers had to endure from ex-Packer-turned-antagonist Greg Jennings Sunday night in the Metrodome. Don't think for a minute that No. 12, I mean, Rodgers, wanted to linger that long. Jennings said he was only messing around with Rodgers and probably went too far with all those post-Green Bay barbs this preseason, but I promise you, there's no probably about it. Rodgers remembers everything. And always will.
BURKE: Chiefs rise to No. 1 in Week 8 Power Rankings
COVER-TWO: Taking stock of every division leader
FARRAR: Schiano has made tough NCAA-to-pro jump even tougher
BEDARD: Hitting the film room with Bengals' Geno Atkins
GONOS: Week 9 Start 'em, Sit 'em advice
BELLER: Player-by-player fantasy projections for Week 9
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