Cleveland (+10.5) at Cincy
Niko: Cincy is going to keep rolling here. After beating Pittsburgh at Heinz, the Bengals deserve a little credit. I still have significant doubts about this team come January, but for now, they’re a top 3 team in the AFC. Conversely, the Browns are terrible. Bengals cover.
Pete: I was hoping that a couple of Cleveland Browns would fall into the Patriots' lap come Tuesday at 4 p.m., but that just wasn't in the cards. The Browns are a mess right now, but with Johnny Manziel getting the start, I think that they will keep this game relatively close. Bengals win, but don't cover 10.5.
Jack: With Johnny Manziel starting for the Browns this week I do not see any way they keep it close. The Bengals are rolling and just beat a significantly better team in the Steelers. The Browns are missing their 3 best defensive backs in Tashaun Gipson, Donte Whitner and Joe Haden. Bengals cover.
Oakland (+4.5) at Pitt
Niko: Debilitating injury for the Steelers last Sunday. Leveon Bell is probably the best all around back in football and one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league. Big Ben Roethlisberger is going to need to be at his very best for the rest of the season. Oakland is on a little bit of a roll after upsetting the Jets, but I like Pittsburgh coming out on top and re-inventing themselves at home this Sunday without Bell. Steelers win and cover.
Pete: Tough position right now for the Steelers. Like Niko mentioned, Le'Veon Bell, in my opinion, is the best all around running back in football. Big Ben was able to lean on him a little heavier than usual as he tries to make his return, but now all the pressure is on him. With Oakland on a little hot streak, and Big Ben not at 100%, I think the Raiders pull off the upset.
Jack: The Raiders have been playing very well and Derek Carr looks like a legit NFL QB. Pair him with Amari Cooper and a rejuvenated Michael Crabtree and the Raiders have an above average offense. However, I think the Steelers roll at home. Oakland has a chance for a backdoor cover late in the game but I think Pittsburgh is up by enough to win and hold the spread. Steelers win and cover.
Jacksonville (off) at Jets
Niko: As a Pats fan, I can’t help but smile when peeking over at the Jets quarterback depth chart. What a sobering loss for “gang green” last Sunday in Oakland. No one knows who will be under center this weekend for the Jets, but at home against the Jags, I think they will still have just barely enough and hang on by a field goal. Jets win.
Pete: What a stinker. The Jets have no idea who they are going to put at QB, and, well, Jacksonville sucks. Even with the Jets reeling, no one is as bad as the Jaguars. Jets at home.
Jack: Blake Bortles is a far superior QB than Geno Smith. That being said, on the road against against very solid Jets D, I do not see Jacksonville pulling it off. Chris Ivory will carry the Jets offense to victory. Jets win.
St. Louis (+2.5) at Minnesota
Niko: Ladies and gentlemen, Todd Gurley has arrived. With another 133 yards on the ground last Sunday, Gurley is now up to 575 yards on the season (in 5 games). I think the Rams go into Minnesota and get a signature win over AP and the Vikings. The torch will be passed.
Pete: This is my Sneaky Great Game of the Week. St. Louis is suddenly relevant and Minnesota, led by Teddy Bridgewater, are having a great season. Todd Gurley is trying to become Adrian Peterson, and these may be the two best, healthy running backs in the NFL right now. However, Teddy Bridgewater puts the Vikings just a touch over the top for me. Vikings cover.
Jack: Nick Foles is a horrible QB going on the road against a flourishing Vikings defense. This smells like a blow out even with the elite D in St. Louis. Vikings cover.
Miami (+3) at Buffalo
Niko: This is essentially a pick’em so I’m going to go with the home team. The Pats effectively ended both teams’ seasons. Rex and Dan Campbell should box at halftime, though. That would be sick. Bills cover I guess.
Pete: Talk about a stinker. Like Niko mentioned, the Patriots are responsible for causing the insufferable garbage that is the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. Maybe the NFL should launch an investigation on that? Miami, but who cares?
Jack: Dan Campbell is a meat head who should not be leading a football team. A fist fight between Campbell and Ryan instead of the coin toss is only logical. But really, Tyrod Taylor is back this week and is going to stick it to this Miami defense. Bills cover.
New Orleans (-8) at Tennessee
Niko: After three straight impressive wins against Atlanta, Indy, and the Giants, the Saints are back on the map! Drew Brees has been a surgeon, with over 1,000 yards and 9 touchdowns combined in those respective games. No reason to think Tennessee can stop that. New Orleans wins big.
Pete: I have been on the New Orleans bandwagon since the beginning of the season. The just can't be this bad with Drew Brees. Now that he is healthy, we see that he still has something left in the tank. It helps too that Tennessee blows. New Orleans.
Jack: This is the definition of a trap game. New Orleans riding high, breaking records last week against a horrible defense, I do not think this is smooth sailing for Brees and company. The Tennessee defense is better than the Giants defense was last week and at home I see the Titans playing well with not just a cover, but a Titans win.
Green Bay (-1.5) at Carolina
Niko: Game of the week. Green Bay has the better quarterback, but that may be it. Without Jordy Nelson, other than Cobb, which one of GB’s receivers/backs/tight ends can beat man coverage on a weekly basis? My vote says none. The Panthers will frustrate Rodgers and give him all he can handle. Carolina wins on a last second field goal and puts themselves in prime position for home field advantage in the playoffs.
Pete: While the St. Louis/Minnesota is my Sneaky Great Game of the Week, this is the undeniable best game of Week 9. As much as I want to bet against the Packers, because I hate the Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady (non)debate, it always comes down to quarterbacks. I've never really bought into Cam Newton and he has virtually no one to throw to except for TE Greg Olsen. Aaron Rodgers won't have two terrible games in a row. Green Bay.
Jack: Green Bay is just not the same team on the road. Carolina has been playing well this year and at home I see no reason they cannot pull out the victory. Panthers win.
Denver (-3.5) at Indy
Niko: Denver will go into Indy and completely thump the hapless Colts. Denver’s D is clearly for real (just ask Aaron Rodgers), and their running game looks somewhat rejuvenated. The Colts are soft, they solved none of their issues in the offseason, and their prized franchise quarterback has appreciably gotten worse over the last few seasons. On the brightside, they’ll always have that AFC Finalist Banner. No one can take that away from them. Broncos cover.
Pete: The "Broncos are better than the Patriots and Peyton is back" bandwagon is in full force after their spanking of the Green Bay Packers. That defense is legit, but I'm still not buying in on Peyton Manning. Even in the game last week, he had some questionable throws when trying to air it out. In a couple weeks when they face the Patriots and it gets a little colder, the Broncos will have themselves a game. But not this week. Broncos big. HOWEVER, I would not be surprised if Indy pulls out the victory. They are playing with house money at this point and should be desperate. The 4th quarter Indy team against the Panthers on Monday could show up, then we have a game.
Jack: The way Denver is playing and the way Indy is playing this line is a joke. The Broncos defense will make Luck wish his ribs were already broken. Like Pete said, Broncos big.
Washington (+13.5) at NE
Niko: I put the several billion reasons to like the Pats in this one in a hat, and the one I drew was this: Washington corners DeAngelo Hall, Bashaud Breeland, Chris Culliver, and pass rushing stud Ryan Kerrigan are all questionable with injuries. Let’s air it out. Pats in a laugher. Extended thoughts coming in the Roundtable coming this weekend.
Pete: Tom Brady > Your Quarterback. Talk more in the Roundtable. The Vengeance Tour rolls on. Pats.
Jack: This spread is ridiculously high for a slightly competent Redskins team. But, whatever, Pats by 50. Pats win.
Atlanta (-5) at San fran
Niko: The Falcons run as a real contender is done. Stick a fork in them come playoff time. However, San Fran may just be the worst team in football and just benched their starting quarterback. Atlanta covers.
Pete: Atlanta is showing that they aren't in the same class as the Patriots, Broncos, Cardinals, and Green Bay, but they are still a pretty good team. With 'Frisco in shambles, Atlanta covers.
Jack: Atlanta has not exactly been lights out this year, but San Francisco is starting Blaine Gabbert and some practice squad RB this week. Seriously, Blaine Gabbert. Atlanta covers.
NYG (-2.5) at Tampa Bay
Niko: The G-men should get it done at Tampa Bay this weekend. Eli is playing some good football, and the Bucs gave up 24 points in the second half to Washington last weekend. Giants cover.
Pete: What other team can score 49 points and still manage to lose? Well, the New York Giants can! Listen, Tampa Bay sucks. They will easily win this game. But if they give up 52 to a declining Saints team, imagine what Tom Brady and company will do? We will see in a few weeks...
Jack: The Giants defense is hilariously bad. The Bucs offense will have no problem getting 30 points and winning this game. Tampa Bay has had an elite run defense the past 4 or so games and should keep it up against Rashad Jennings and whoever else they throw out there. Eli will be forced to throw a lot and should have a solid day, but a late pick will seal the deal for the Bucs. Bucs win.
Philly (-3) at Dallas
Niko: This is a tough game to pick. Dallas hasn’t won since Romo went down, but has been mostly competitive, and Philly has either been inspiring or just plain horrific. I’ll go with Philly to cover in an ugly one because of the Dallas QB situation, but if these NFC East teams continue to let Dallas stick around, look out when Romo comes back.
Pete: Niko, you took the words right out of my mouth.
Jack: Yeah, both these teams have looked bad. Philly has a very solid defense though and should turnover Cassel at least 3 times. Philly covers.
Chicago (+3.5) at San Diego
Niko: What a tough weekend for injuries in the NFL. SD’s Keenan Allen, who was practically on a record pace this year (67 catches, 725 yards, 4 TDs through 8 games) went down for the year with a lacerated kidney. That being said, I still expect the Chargers to rally, and for next man up Stevie Johnson to have a huge game. San Diego covers at home.
Pete: I keep picking San Diego, and they keep losing. Sure, they have had one of the surprisingly tougher schedules in the NFL, but they have to start putting some wins together. Chicago is terrible, San Diego gets it done.
Jack: San Diego desperately needs this win against a team giving up on the season. Rivers should have no problem winning this game. San Diego wins and covers.