NFL Week 9 predictions: Expect Panthers, Broncos, Patriots to stay unbeaten

Here are our NFL Nation reporters' predictions for Week 9:


Green Bay Packers: The Packers are a middling 6-6 in road games, including playoffs, since the start of the 2014 season, and they’ve averaged only 20.7 points in those games. They’ve also allowed 500 yards of offense in consecutive games for the first time in franchise history. Neither bodes well for Sunday’s game at unbeaten Carolina. Panthers 27, Packers 20. -- Rob Demovsky

Carolina Panthers: Aaron Rodgers hasn’t lost consecutive games since 2010, and the Packers beat the Panthers 38-17 last year in Green Bay. But these teams are completely different. Rodgers doesn’t have Jordy Nelson and his other receivers are struggling to get separation. The Panthers now have cornerback Josh Norman, who makes separation almost impossible. Green Bay has given up 1,048 yards of total offense the past two games and 120 or more yards rushing in five of seven games. The Panthers lead the league in rushing with 144 yards a game. Panthers 28, Packers 21. -- David Newton


Washington Redskins: The Redskins finally are starting to get healthy and will be helped by the return of receiver DeSean Jackson and corner Chris Culliver. One eye-popping stat with Jackson: Last season, the Redskins averaged 6.24 yards per play with him and 4.39 without him. But Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is playing perhaps as well as he has in a long time. The Redskins have shown some improvement this season, but nothing suggests they can pull off this upset. Patriots 31, Redskins 17. -- John Keim

New England Patriots: New England’s Tom Brady-led attack shouldn’t face too much resistance from Washington, which ranks 30th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed and 27th in passing yards allowed. One area that could keep the game close is if Washington can remain stingy in the red zone, where it ranks tied for fifth in the NFL for lowest touchdown percentage allowed (opponents are 9-of-19 in the red zone). Iron meets iron as the Patriots rank second offensively in the red zone with 23 touchdowns in 32 red zone trips. The Patriots often dominate at home. New England 38, Washington 13. -- Mike Reiss


Tennessee Titans: The Titans will play better in Mike Mularkey’s debut as their coach. Unfortunately, Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense are coming off a monster 52-point, 608-yard game. The Titans’ No. 2 pass defense has been a strength (198 yards per game), but this is a bad matchup, even for the thing the Titans have done best. Saints 26, Titans 20. -- Paul Kuharsky

New Orleans Saints: This could be a letdown game for the Saints after winning three straight. And maybe the Titans will get a spark after switching head coaches this week. But I’m not going to overanalyze this one. The Titans have the NFL’s 31st-ranked offense, and they have scored a total of 36 points in the past four games. The Saints have the NFL’s No. 2 offense, and they scored 52 last week alone. It’s imperative for the Saints’ pass rush to make rookie QB Marcus Mariota uncomfortable (something they didn’t do against fellow rookie Jameis Winston earlier this year). Saints 30, Titans 19. -- Mike Triplett


Miami Dolphins: The Bills have won four of the past five in this series, including a 41-14 blowout victory in Week 3. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is 0-3 at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Meanwhile, the Bills are well-rested coming off a bye and likely will have starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor back in the lineup. Add in the fact the Dolphins will be without Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake (Achilles) to provide a pass rush, and too many trends point toward Buffalo. Bills 23, Dolphins 20. -- James Walker

Buffalo Bills: Ask any player in the Bills' locker room and they'll tell you that the Dolphins are playing a more physical brand of football under interim coach Dan Campbell that emphasizes the running game more than it did under Joe Philbin. With Kyle Williams (knee) still out for Buffalo, that could give Miami a chance to control the line of scrimmage more than it did in the teams' previous meeting this season, a decisive Bills' win in South Florida. Still, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill will need to overcome a dismal 15.1 total QBR in his past two starts at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the fourth-worst showing for a quarterback in Buffalo since 2013. Expect the Bills to get back on track Sunday. Bills 27, Dolphins 20. -- Mike Rodak


St. Louis Rams: It's pretty incredible how closely matched these teams are in so many major statistical categories. There simply isn't a major edge to be found when poring through the numbers, which means this is one of those games that could come down to the most reliable indicator: turnovers. It's not a substantial difference, but the Rams have 13 takeaways this year to Minnesota's nine, and the Rams are plus-three in turnover margin on the road. Ultimately, the Rams are just a bit more battle-tested, having played a better schedule than the Vikings, and that could be the payoff in what figures to be a coin flip of a game . Rams 14, Vikings 13. -- Nick Wagoner

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings are allowing 4.4 yards per carry this season, and they’re facing the league’s most dynamic young running back in Todd Gurley. They’ve likely spent a large chunk of their week stressing the importance of stopping Gurley and likely will dare Nick Foles to beat them. Stopping Gurley will be a challenge, especially with the health of linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks in question. But if nose tackle Linval Joseph is able to control the line of scrimmage, the Vikings might be able to slow Gurley down enough to win. Because they’re at home, where they haven’t lost yet this year, we’ll give the Vikings a slight edge in a key game between NFC wild-card hopefuls. Vikings 17, Rams 16. -- Ben Goessling


Jacksonville Jaguars: This isn’t a good matchup for the Jaguars, who head into MetLife Stadium with the NFL’s longest active road losing streak (12 games). They’ve struggled to run the ball (103.6 yards per game), and the Jets have the league’s top-ranked run defense. New England countered that several weeks ago by running the ball only five times and won 23-20, but the Jaguars don’t use the same kind of quick, short-passing game and it’d be a shock if they abandoned the run. Another problem is the matchup between second-year receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns against corners Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Robinson and Hurns have combined for 11 TD catches, most among WR duos in the league, but this will be the best secondary they’ve faced. QB Blake Bortles can’t afford to be wild because there’s not much margin for error. Jets 24, Jaguars 20. -- Michael DiRocco

New York Jets: After an embarrassing defensive performance in Oakland, the Jets should be angry and refocused as they face the league’s worst road team (12 consecutive losses for Jacksonville). Blake Bortles likes to throw deep, but that should play into the Jets’ hands because it’ll give their pass rush -- asleep last week -- extra time to get home. You can feel the sense of urgency around the Jets. They’ve lost two straight; a three-game losing streak could wreck their season. Jets 31, Jaguars 17. -- Rich Cimini


Oakland Raiders: This isn’t exactly a throwback to the great battles between the Raiders and Steelers in the 1970s, but the truth is these are two of the better teams in the AFC and this game may have big wild-card implications. Yes, a Raiders-Steelers game means something again. I expect a shootout between Derek Carr -- seven touchdown passes the past two games, 15 for the season against only three interceptions -- and Ben Roethlisberger. Oakland’s pass defense is susceptible (26th at 302 yards allowed per game) and that could be the difference for the home team. Steelers 30, Raiders 27. -- Bill Williamson

Pittsburgh Steelers: Bet on the Steelers the past two weeks, both losses. But I’ve got them going 6-4 entering the bye. No reason to backpedal now. The Raiders are for real, but the Steelers know what’s at stake -- drop to 4-5 and the playoff picture starts developing without them. They will cling to that urgency with a renewed performance from Ben Roethlisberger after a three-interception game against Cincinnati. The Raiders' offense will move the ball, but look for Derek Carr to commit a crucial turnover late. Steelers 30, Raiders 20. -- Jeremy Fowler


New York Giants: The Giants are only 1-3 on the road this year, but two of those losses were fourth-quarter heartbreakers in Dallas and New Orleans. They’ve not shown an ability to stop anyone but Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor, but the Giants have shown an ability to score somewhat consistently on offense. The Giants’ defense is slightly more likely to find a way to take the ball away from Jameis Winston than the Bucs’ defense is to take the ball away from Eli Manning. So, I give the edge to the Giants in a game they absolutely have to have with the Patriots looming next week and a tough December schedule ahead. Giants 28, Bucs 24. -- Dan Graziano

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Scoreboard operators at Raymond James Stadium better be prepared because this game has the potential for offensive fireworks. The Bucs gained an emotional overtime victory in Week 8, but their pass defense continued to look dreadful as Matt Ryan rallied the Atlanta Falcons for 17 consecutive points in the second half to erase a 20-3 deficit. Quarterbacks have completed 71.1 percent of their passes against Tampa Bay, which means Eli Manning should have a big day. New York’s pass defense is terrible as well, but Manning’s experience should put the Giants over the top. Giants 30, Bucs 27. -- Andrew Astleford


Atlanta Falcons: Quarterback Blaine Gabbert has 32 turnovers (24 interceptions) in 27 career starts, all in Jacksonville. The 49ers also are banged up at running back with Carlos Hyde (foot) and Mike Davis (hand) held out of practice and Reggie Bush (ACL) on injured reserve. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin is dealing with a hamstring injury and tight end Vernon Davis has been traded to the Broncos. Yes, this game has all the makings of a disastrous starting debut for Gabbert in San Francisco. On the flip side, the Falcons have to get their sputtering offense going, with 12 turnovers and an average of just 19 points in the past four games. Those fortunes should change against the struggling 49ers. Running back Devonta Freeman and wide receiver Julio Jones should be in for big games. They rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the NFC in yards from scrimmage with 1,062 yards and 892 yards, respectively. And the 49ers surrender 403.8 yards per game. Falcons 35, 49ers 10. -- Vaughn McClure

San Francisco 49ers: The element of surprise may be the Niners’ best weapon against the Falcons with a new starting quarterback in Blaine Gabbert. But the 49ers might still be down three injured running backs, an injured leading receiver and will be without starting tight end Vernon Davis, who's now in Denver. That’s just too much to overcome. Falcons 27, 49ers 14. -- Paul Gutierrez


Denver Broncos: The Broncos already have four road wins this season. Among the four undefeated teams, Cincinnati is the only other team that can match the Broncos in that category. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who has already had shoulder, rib and ankle injuries this season, leads the league in interceptions (12) and has been sacked 14 times in six starts -- that’s 2.3 per start. Those are red-flag numbers against a defense that is No. 1 in total yards (261.1 per game), scoring (16.0 per game), sacks (29) and tied for fifth in interceptions (nine). If the Broncos’ offensive output against the Packers last week wasn’t just a one-week improvement, the Broncos should keep their record unblemished. Broncos 27, Colts 14. -- Jeff Legwold

Indianapolis Colts: A new offensive coordinator. A quarterback who leads the NFL in turnovers with 13. The team’s leading receiver -- T.Y. Hilton -- dealing with a foot injury. Wait, it gets worse for the Colts. They have to try to end their three-game losing streak dealing with those issues while facing the NFL’s top-ranked defense in Denver. Peyton Manning gets revenge against his former team for knocking him out of the playoffs last season. Broncos 27, Colts 13. -- Mike Wells


Philadelphia Eagles: During Chip Kelly’s three seasons as coach, the road team has won all five games in the divisional matchup with Dallas. That includes the Cowboys’ Sept. 20 win at Lincoln Financial Field. Combine that trend with the Eagles’ desperation, and they should be able to defeat Matt Cassel and Co. Eagles 23, Cowboys 17.. -- Phil Sheridan

Dallas Cowboys: Sunday’s game is a must-win for the Cowboys. The same could be said for the 3-4 Eagles but perhaps not as dramatically. Mired in a five-game losing streak, the Cowboys must win to maintain hope for when Tony Romo returns. In order to win, the defense will have to carry the day. In their first meeting, they limited the Eagles to 226 yards and just 17 yards on the ground. They intercepted Sam Bradford twice and recovered a fumble in the 20-10 win. It was their most dominating performance of the season. But the offense struggled even with Romo running the offense. Last week, the Cowboys finally created a turnover with a Greg Hardy interception. They will need more against the Eagles, and the offense has to turn those into touchdowns. A fast start on both sides will do wonders for this team’s confidence. If the Cowboys don’t get this one, it might not matter when Romo returns. Cowboys 23, Eagles 16. -- Todd Archer


Chicago Bears: Bears head coach John Fox knows how to beat Mike McCoy. Fox is 4-1 lifetime versus his former assistant coach, who is feeling the heat with San Diego at a disappointing 2-6. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is bound to play well, but San Diego turns the ball over at an alarming rate. Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery should terrorize the Chargers’ suspect defense even without Matt Forte (knee) in the backfield. The Bears are desperate for a win with games against Denver and Green Bay on the horizon. Bears 28, Chargers 26. -- Jeff Dickerson

San Diego Chargers: John Fox knows the Chargers well from his time in Denver, so Chicago should be prepared. The Bears are missing their best player in Matt Forte, who’s out with a knee injury. Chicago has had trouble scoring this season, averaging just 20 points a contest. The Bears will struggle keeping pace with a San Diego offense led by Philip Rivers. The Bears are 0-2 in Monday night games in San Diego. Chargers 28, Bears 22. -- Eric D. Williams