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Week 9 NFL predictions: Scores for every game

NFL Nation reporters predict the outcomes and scores for Week 9 games on Sunday and Monday.


FALCONS AT PANTHERS

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Atlanta Falcons

Although the Falcons have won three in a row over the Panthers, making it four straight will be difficult, particularly on the road. The Falcons keep talking about establishing their running game to open up play-action passes. But even with the dynamic duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman both averaging more than 4.5 yards per rush, it will be tough to run against a Panthers defense that surrenders just 81.6 rushing yards per game. "They're a heck of a challenge," Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said. "We've got our work cut out for us." Not to mention the Falcons have the challenge of containing Cam Newton, who is throwing the ball more accurately and still using his feet to make plays, particularly on third down. Panthers 24, Falcons 20 -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers haven't played well at home, losing to New Orleans and Philadelphia and barely beating Buffalo 9-3. But Atlanta hasn't played well at home or away the past month. The difference will be that Carolina's defense hasn't allowed a touchdown the past two games. With that group at full strength with the return of Luke Kuechly and Kurt Coleman, and the secondary more confident in handling Julio Jones, the league's second-ranked defense will settle this one. Panthers 24, Falcons 17 -- David Newton


COLTS AT TEXANS

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Indianapolis Colts

So much for automatically picking the Texans to get their fourth consecutive victory over the Colts. Things changed with the news of quarterback Deshaun Watson tearing an ACL in practice Thursday. The Colts and their struggling defense no longer have to worry about dealing with Watson's running ability in Houston's read-option offense. The Colts last faced Tom Savage, the likely starter for Houston, in 2014. Savage was 10-of-19 for 127 yards and an interception in that game. The Colts are coming off one of their best all-around games of the season against Cincinnati last weekend. Houston isn't the same dominant defensive team as in years past. They're only 18th in overall defense and 22nd against the pass, which should bode well for Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight end Jack Doyle. Colts 27, Texans 17 -- Mike Wells

Houston Texans

The Texans' offense will look very different with Savage under center on Sunday after star rookie Watson tore an ACL. Houston might not have the same high-powered offense, but it will still put up enough points to beat the 2-6 Colts, who have been outscored by an NFL-worst 93 points in the second half this season and 67 points in the fourth quarter alone, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Texans 22, Colts 13 -- Sarah Barshop


BENGALS AT JAGUARS

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Cincinnati Bengals

It's going to be very difficult for the Bengals to move the ball on a Jaguars defense ranked No. 1 in scoring defense. The Jaguars' pass rush also leads the NFL with 33 sacks, and the Bengals' offensive line hasn't shown any signs of improvement. On paper, this looks like a mismatch in Jacksonville's favor. Jaguars 17, Bengals 9 -- Katherine Terrell

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are getting running back Leonard Fournette back from an ankle injury, but even better news for the team is that it will have center Brandon Linder (illness) and left tackle Cam Robinson (ankle) back in the lineup. That'll certainly help against a good defensive front. Still, quarterback Blake Bortles is going to have to make some plays down the field because the expectation is that the Bengals will do what every other defense has done against the Jaguars and stack the box to try to shut down the run. The Jaguars lead the NFL in carries (80) and yards (417) against eight-plus men in the box. Bortles couldn't take advantage of that against the Rams and Jets but did against the Colts. Jaguars 20, Bengals 16 -- Mike DiRocco


BUCCANEERS AT SAINTS

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs are on a four-game skid and face a team on the kind of streak they were on last season. The Bucs' losing streak will end soon, but not in the Superdome, where the Bucs are 3-6 since 2008. Jameis Winston and the Bucs just can't match the Saints' offensive firepower. The defense is thrown off balance by the Saints' mix of passing and running the ball and, of course, Drew Brees' deadly use of play-action, since the Bucs have struggled so much at applying pressure. Saints 28, Buccaneers 20 -- Jenna Laine

New Orleans Saints

The Saints are trying to become just the third team in the Super Bowl era to win six consecutive games immediately after an 0-2 start, according to ESPN Stats & Information. So they're obviously due for a loss -- and the Bucs are obviously due for a win after four consecutive losses. But I'm going to make the chalk pick, because Winston has been battling a shoulder issue, and because New Orleans is so balanced right now on defense, in the running game and in the passing game. The Saints are allowing just 16 points and 277.6 yards per game since Week 3, holding opposing quarterbacks to three TD passes and nine interceptions. Saints 30, Buccaneers 23 -- Mike Triplett


RAMS AT GIANTS

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Los Angeles Rams

This is the kind of game an upward-trending team such as the Rams needs to have, especially when considering that five of L.A.'s final eight games will come against opponents with a winning record. Not only are the Giants a bad team -- they're a bad team in turmoil with bad injury luck. Their top two receivers, Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall, are lost for the season. One of their top corners, Janoris Jenkins, is suspended. And their offensive line is really bad. The Rams will be on the road, but they should be totally healthy and dominate. Rams 27, Giants 10 -- Alden Gonzalez

New York Giants

The point spread screams (Los Angeles -3.5) for bettors to take the Rams. The Giants are 0-3 at home this season and the Rams are an up-and-coming team undefeated on the road. But the Giants are coming off their bye week and desperate for a victory. The extra week off should benefit them. They scored 28 points last year off the bye -- their most since Ben McAdoo took over as head coach -- in a win over the Philadelphia Eagles. With Sterling Shepard back in the lineup the Giants' offense shows life, they get their first home win of the season and surprise the Rams. Giants 23, Rams 16 -- Jordan Raanan


BRONCOS AT EAGLES

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Denver Broncos

The Broncos held the Chiefs to 276 yards and limited Alex Smith to 14-of-31 passing this past Monday night. The Broncos are No. 2 against the run and No. 6 against the pass, but opposing tight ends have found some room to work -- including Jason Witten (97 yards, TD), Evan Engram (82, TD) and Travis Kelce (133, TD). So Eagles tight end Zach Ertz -- their leader in receptions, targets and touchdowns -- will be a matchup to watch. The Broncos likely don't have enough offense to get this done. Eagles 24, Broncos 12 -- Jeff Legwold

Philadelphia Eagles

Points could be hard to come by in this one. Philly and Denver are No. 1 and No. 2 in the NFL against the run, the Broncos are the top-ranked defense overall and both units are in the top half in points per game. Denver has struggled to find consistency on offense, and are making the switch to Brock Osweiler at quarterback this week. His counterpart, Carson Wentz, is playing at an elite level, and he will find a way to make a game-changing play or two against Von Miller & Co. Eagles 20, Broncos 14 -- Tim McManus


RAVENS AT TITANS

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Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens' formula for victory is running the ball and generating turnovers on defense. Unfortunately for Baltimore, it will be tough to do either against Tennessee. The Titans have the NFL's 10th-best run defense and have turned the ball over only once in three home games. It has been increasingly difficult to beat Tennessee in Nashville. Since Week 6 of last season, the Titans are 7-2 at home. Only the Seahawks (8-1) and Eagles (8-2) have better home records over that span. Titans 19, Ravens 17 -- Jamison Hensley

Tennessee Titans

The Titans' defense has allowed just two touchdowns and 33 total points over its past three games and is built to stop the Ravens' offense and keep the scoring low. Tennessee just needs a little help from its offense, which spent a lot of time during the bye week trying to figure out its consistency issues. The Titans likely will lean on the running trio of DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry and Marcus Mariota to carry them against the Ravens' 30th-ranked run defense. This is the type of game that could decide a playoff spot for both teams. Titans 24, Ravens 16 -- Cameron Wolfe


CARDINALS AT 49ERS

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Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals should win this game considering the 49ers are 0-8 and are fielding a beat-up offensive line. But their losing ways have to give at some point, right? This might be that game because the Cardinals are starting Drew Stanton at quarterback in place of Carson Palmer and will bring the league's worst rushing attack to the Bay Area. San Francisco's defense is ranked 15th in the league in rushing yards allowed per play. After the Cardinals lost in a blowout to the Rams two weeks ago in London, they'll either come out fired up or let the 49ers get their first win of the season. And remember, San Francisco pushed Arizona to overtime in their first meeting. 49ers 20, Cardinals 14 -- Josh Weinfuss

San Francisco 49ers

ESPN's Football Power Index rates this game with the worst "matchup quality" of the season and the lowest since 2014, so picking a winner is really a coin flip. The Niners were already 0-8 before a rash of injuries struck last week, while Arizona has been trending the wrong direction and is without Palmer, its starting quarterback. New 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo isn't expected to make his debut with the team this week, leaving rookie C.J. Beathard to take on a defense that limited the Niners to 305 yards of offense in nearly five full quarters in the first meeting this season. Meanwhile, Arizona's backup QB, Stanton, is 2-0 in his career against San Francisco and the Cardinals have a habit of alternating wins and losses from game to game. Those trends continue in a game that figures to be even uglier than the first matchup. Cardinals 13, 49ers 10 -- Nick Wagoner


REDSKINS AT SEAHAWKS

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Washington Redskins

The Seahawks have won 27 of their past 33 home games, including all three this season. Add to that the injuries Washington is dealing with -- tight end Jordan Reed, left tackle Trent Williams, right guard Brandon Scherff and receiver Jamison Crowder -- and their task is even tougher. There's a chance four backups will start along the line Sunday. If the Redskins are to win, they must take advantage of a defense that allows 4.58 yards per carry (26th in the NFL). The Redskins' 13th-ranked passing defense will be tested by the third-ranked passing offense. They're 0-4 vs. high-level mobile quarterbacks. Seahawks 26, Redskins 17 -- John Keim

Seattle Seahawks

There's some cause for concern with the possibility that Seattle could be without All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas against Kirk Cousins and a Washington passing offense that ranks fourth in yards per attempt and eighth in yards per game. The good news: The Seahawks have a much more viable backup in Bradley McDougald than they had last season, when their pass defense fell apart once Thomas went down. The Seahawks are confident that newly acquired left tackle Duane Brown will provide an immediate upgrade to an offensive line that badly needed one. With their top weakness addressed and Russell Wilson off to the best statistical start of his career, there's a lot to like about the Seahawks' chances in this game -- especially since it's at CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks have the NFL's third-best home record since Pete Carroll took over in 2010. Seahawks 29, Redskins 20 -- Brady Henderson


CHIEFS AT COWBOYS

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Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs are 3-0 this season against teams in the top 10 in scoring after going 6-1 against such teams last season. The Cowboys, fifth in scoring at 28.3 points per game, present a lot of problems for Kansas City's shaky defense. But the Chiefs, third in scoring at 29.5 points per game, have shown the ability to win some scoring wars. They comfortably won games in which they allowed 27 and 34 points. This game will follow a similar pattern. Chiefs 33, Cowboys 30 -- Adam Teicher

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys got some good news on Friday with Ezekiel Elliott gaining eligibility to play against Kansas City. In their past three games, the Cowboys found their running game. They hoped Alfred Morris, Rod Smith and Darren McFadden could do what Elliott did, but now they can count on Elliott, who has had 100 yards rushing in each of the past three games. Facing a Chiefs offense that scores 29.5 points per game, the Cowboys' best defense is to keep Alex Smith & Co. off the field. With or without Elliott, the Cowboys will have to likely win a shootout. The late-week boost won’t be enough. Chiefs 36, Cowboys 30 -- Todd Archer


RAIDERS AT DOLPHINS

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Oakland Raiders

The brain says the Raiders are this close to checking out on the season after losing five of six to end the first half. The gut says the Raiders simply have more talent than the Dolphins and will respond after spending a week in Florida, licking their emotional and physical wounds. This much is undeniable: Derek Carr needs to do more than take what the defense gives him. He needs to take what he wants and get back to the gunslinger he was in the Raiders' first two games, when he completed 88.3 percent of passes that went at least 15 yards for two touchdowns and no interceptions, as opposed to the 31.3 completion percentage and three TDs with four interceptions on such throws since. The Dolphins have the No. 11 pass defense. Raiders 20, Dolphins 17 -- Paul Gutierrez

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins lost 86 percent of their rushing production this week when they shipped Pro Bowler Jay Ajayi to the Eagles. That will hurt an already struggling Miami offense in the short term as it learns to adjust. The Dolphins are averaging just 13.1 points per game and won't score enough this week against Carr's Raiders. Raiders 21, Dolphins 17 -- James Walker


LIONS AT PACKERS

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Detroit Lions

The Lions have won in Wisconsin once in the past quarter century. This might be one of Detroit's best shots to do it, though, considering Brett Hundley is making career start No. 2 in prime time against a defense that has been opportunistic this season. The Lions also are facing a defense that doesn't rush the passer well, struggles stopping the run and is mediocre against the pass. So, in theory, this is the type of game that can cure all of Detroit's offensive issues. Matthew Stafford has struggled on Monday night in his career, though -- 4-12 -- the worst record of any quarterback who has made at least 10 starts since 2009. Look for Stafford to break free for a rushing score late to help alleviate some Lambeau Field and night-game issues. Lions 31, Packers 30 -- Mike Rothstein

Green Bay Packers

This is a pick 'em game in Vegas, but how can anyone pick the Packers to win a game without Aaron Rodgers until they actually win one? Yes, they’re 9-2 in games after the bye under McCarthy, but this is a different situation with Hundley at quarterback. Until he shows he can win, it would be reckless to pick the Packers. Lions 25, Packers 20 -- Rob Demovsky

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