It’s officially the midway point of the 2012 season, and its already been one of the most exciting seasons in the past decade. There’s been epic comebacks, crazy blowouts, and nail-biters as far as the eye can see.
But that’s in the past, it’s time to look forward Sunday’s week nine match-ups. This week there is only a few “marquee” games on the schedule which leaves plenty to choose from for this week. But first, let’s revisit last week’s games.
Tampa Bay vs Minnesota:
Prediction: Vikings 34-17
Result: Buccaneers 36-17
Reaction: Boy, I did not see this one coming. With the Vikings playing at home and their defense playing so well, I expected them to take care of business against Tampa Bay. The Bucs surprised many, including myself with their performance. Josh Freeman is starting to get into a groove, and has been playing with the poise that the Bucs expected when they made him the 17th overall pick in 2009. I’ll tell you this much, it’ll be tough to pick against Tampa if they keep this style of play up.
Seattle vs Detroit:
Prediction: Lions 27-13
Result: Lions 28-24
Reaction: First off, I want to thank readers who let me know of my gaffe from last week. In my preview, I said that the Seahawks were winless on the road when, in fact, they have one win. I apologize for my mistake, and I thank those who let me know. Now, onto the game.
I expected the result, but didn’t see this game being this close. However, that’s not a bad thing. This was such a fantastic game to watch as a fan of football. On the Seattle side, Russell Wilson has continued to grow as a starting quarterback each and every week. Marshawn Lynch is just as dominant as ever and is, without a doubt, one of the top 5 running backs in the NFL. Beast Mode just never stops going.
Detroit still has some issues to work out on the offensive side of the ball. Matthew Stafford, while able to lead is team to a late touchdown to win the game, has not looked good this season, and has been a big reason why his team is 3-4 through seven games.
Indianapolis vs Tennessee
Prediction: Colts 27-20
Result: Colts 19-13
Reaction: This very well could’ve been the game of the week if not for the stellar Giants/Cowboys game. Andrew Luck is making Colts fans feel better about their future with every game, and the Colts have a young core that could become really good for years to come. Reggie Wayne seems rejuvenated playing with Luck and his numbers have been tremendous this season.
This season already has to be viewed as a success for the Colts, already doubling their 2011 win total. If they beat the Dolphins this week, will people start talking about the Colts as a possible wildcard team?
Now that we have last week out of the way, let’s look ahead to the three “under the radar” games of week nine.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks: 4pm EST (FOX)
Why Watch: Both teams are coming off tough losses that brought them back down to Earth a little bit. The Vikings seemingly no-showed against the Bucs while the Seahawks gave up a touchdown in the final minute to the Lions.
Christian Ponder has struggled over the last couple of weeks and the Vikings have suffered in the Win/Loss column because of it. Adrian Peterson continues to shine coming off his ACL injury from a year ago, however this team can only win if Ponder plays well.
On the Seattle side, Russell Wilson will continue to improve as a QB in this league. WR Sidney Rice has started to perform to expectations after injuries cost him most of his first year in Seattle.
We also have a battle of defenses that like to take the ball away. The Vikings have 10 takeaways this season while the Seahawks have 11. And although those numbers don’t jump out at you, think about this: over 50% of the combined takeaways have happened while the opponent was inside Seattle’s/Minnesota’s 40 yard line.
Seattle is undefeated at home this season, and I truly expect it to stay that way. They feed off that amazing crowd in the Emerald City and they get the job done.
Prediction: Seahawks 21-17
Baltimore vs Cleveland: 1pm EST (CBS)
Why Watch: Before you laugh at this game even being on the list, hear me out. It’s a divisional game which means it will be a hard fought contest by both teams. The Browns are starting to gel, and despite only scoring 7 points last week against San Diego, their defense has become a very solid unit and are leading the AFC in interceptions with 10.
Rookies Brandon Weedon and Trent Richardson have been giving Browns fans something to be excited for in regards to the team’s future. They are two players that every football fan needs to watch.
In their last game, two weeks ago, the Ravens were destroyed by the Houston Texans 43-13. They are suffering through a rash of injuries on the defensive side of the ball, and Joe Flacco hasn’t played well in his last two outings. The bye week should have helped Baltimore fix some issues, but we won’t know until kickoff on Sunday.
I expect a game that will be much closer than many think. The Browns will play close, but their inexperience will cost them in the end.
Prediction: Ravens 27-14
Tampa Bay vs Oakland: 4pm EST (FOX)
Why Watch: If there is one game out of these three that I view as “must see”, it’s this contest.
Both teams are starting to get hot at the right time and both are coming off solid wins.
As previously mentioned, Josh Freeman is starting to transform into a future star in this league at the quarterback position. He has two stellar targets in Mike Williams, who is starting to return to his rookie year form, and Vincent Jackson that he can count on to make plays whenever the ball is around them.
The Raiders are riding a two-game winning streak, and have really turned their fortunes around after a close-fought game against the Atlanta Falcons. Carson Palmer is playing well, and Derren McFadden is starting to roll.
The Raiders have a chance to move into a tie for first place in the AFC West with a win and a Denver loss which will certainly give them even more motivation.
The black hole is sure to be rocking, as always, and I think that’ll help Oakland as they pull out this close victory.
Prediction: Raiders 34-31