Week 9 NFL Picks

The 2008 NFL Season heads into Week 9 this weekend, with several intriguing matchups on the schedule. Our team of writers and handicappers pick four games from Week 9 and make their predictions.

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Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-8), 1:00 PM ET

The Jacksonville Jaguars have endured a disappointing first half to the season, but back-to-back games against teams that are currently winless could help put them back on the right track.

The Jaguars look to win their fifth straight against the dismal Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.

Jacksonville (3-4) had high hopes for 2008 after winning 11 games and reaching the playoffs last season, but instead it has struggled to finish out games and now finds itself below .500 and one game out of a postseason spot and four games behind unbeaten Tennessee for the AFC South lead.

Each of the Jaguars' seven games has been decided by seven points or less - a trend which continued last Sunday with a 23-17 loss at home to Cleveland.

Quarterback David Garrard went 25-for-42 for 283 yards and two touchdowns, but Matt Jones bobbled and dropped a potential touchdown pass in the end zone with 16 seconds remaining, ending the Jaguars' best late scoring opportunity.

The drop notwithstanding, Jones had one of his best games of the season, catching eight passes for 117 yards and one touchdown. However, he will likely not be available Sunday, as he is waiting to hear the NFL's decision on his appeal of a three-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Coach Jack Del Rio ripped into his team after losing to the Browns, but on Monday said he refused to blame anyone in particular.

Pick: JacksonvilleView Game Matchup | Best Line: -7.5 SBG Global

Detroit Lions (0-7) at Chicago Bears (4-3), 1:00 PM ET

The Chicago Bears are tied atop the NFC North, thanks to a surprisingly high-powered offense led by a rejuvenated Kyle Orton. The team's once-vaunted defense, however, appears vulnerable.

Coming off their bye week, the Bears look for a better defensive effort against the winless Detroit Lions, one of the worst offensive teams in the league, on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Defense carried Chicago (4-3) into the playoffs in 2005 and '06, but the unit has been inconsistent this season. The Bears have forced a league-high 16 turnovers, are first in third-down efficiency (30.1 percent) and sixth against the run (85.9 yards per game), but have struggled to stop the pass, ranking 29th at 243.1 ypg.

In Chicago's 48-41 win over Minnesota in its last game Oct. 19, the defense allowed 439 yards.

The Lions have lost 14 of their last 15 games overall, and 28 of their last 33 on the road.

Pick: Detroit View Game Matchup | Best Line: +12.5 SBG Global

Atlanta Falcons (4-3) at Oakland Raiders (4-3), 4:15PM ET

With an inexperienced quarterback, the Atlanta Falcons recognize the importance of an effective running game. They also know they haven't been able to carry that plan out recently.

The Falcons look to take advantage of one of the NFL's worst run defenses when they host the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

Despite a first-year coach and a rookie quarterback, Atlanta (4-3) is already one win away from surpassing its total from a tumultuous 2007. That surprising success has the Falcons in the mix in the NFC South - sitting 1 1/2 games behind first-place Carolina.

Quarterback Matt Ryan, the third overall pick in the 2008 draft, has exceeded expectations in his first season, passing for 1,441 yards and seven touchdowns. He has been helped by a productive backfield led by Michael Turner, who ranks third in the NFL with a career-high 655 rushing yards to go with six touchdowns.

While Turner, who hasn't scored a touchdown in the last two games, admits that the running game has been on the decline recently - failing to break 100 yards in the last two games after averaging 180.6 yards in the first five - he expects it to return to form soon.

Atlanta ended a three-game losing streak to Oakland with a 35-10 victory in the most recent meeting on Dec. 12, 2004.

Pick: Atlanta View Game Matchup | Best Line: -3 SBG Global

Green Bay Packers (4-3) at Tennessee Titans (7-0), 4:15PM ET

Kerry Collins has been asked to pass frequently in prior matchups with the Green Bay Packers. He isn't likely to have to carry that much of a burden this time.

The Titans, who continue to get efficient play from Collins, look to remain the NFL's last unbeaten team when they face the Packers on Sunday.

Tennessee (7-0) has been winning with dominating defense, a strong running game and sound decision-making from Collins. The veteran is averaging 28.0 passes in his six starts, completing 58.2 percent of them with three touchdowns and three interceptions. He's gone five straight games without being sacked, and has been sacked once in 170 attempts on the season.

Collins, though, was asked to throw the ball more than usual Monday night against AFC rival Indianapolis, and went 24-for-37 with 193 yards and no interceptions in a 31-21 Titans win. He needed to put the ball in the air with the Colts using four linebackers to slow a Tennessee ground game that set a franchise record with 332 yards rushing against Kansas City the previous week.

This will be first meeting between the Packers and Titans since Oct. 11, 2004, when Tennessee won 48-27 at Green Bay.

Pick: Green Bay View Game Matchup | Best Line: +5.5 SBG Global

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Posted: 11/01/08 9:00PM

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