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Just when you start getting a hang of the survivor picks game, count on the Atlanta Falcons to show you why “anything can happen on Sunday.” That marks two times in one season the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have played “survivor killer” as we enter Week 9 survivor picks. So it obviously goes without saying, we will be avoiding the matchups with Tampa Bay from here on out.

Instead, let’s look at the undefeated and those we still have available to us. Just when everyone is ready to say “same old Bengals,” Cincinnati steps up and shows why perhaps, just maybe, this season is different from all the others. They enter Thursday Night Football as a current 12.5 point favorite and certainly look like a fairly good pick this week.

We also have the New England Patriots entering this week as a two touchdown favorite over Washington. “Yeah, you like that,” Kirk Cousins.

Given that both are at our disposal, if that remains the same for you as well, we don’t see any reason to play with fire this week. Nevertheless, we do have some other intriguing matchups. Atlanta, despite playing on the west coast, have to be considered a good bet to beat the Blaine Gabbert led San Francisco 49ers. Here’s something funny to consider for those decision makers that benched Colin Kaepernick. San Francisco opened as a 3.5 point underdog. That jumped to seven points with the news that Gabbert would be starting. Ouch!

To recap, before we dive into this week’s survivor picks, we used Dallas in Week 1 and were then snuffed by New Orleans’ collapse against Tampa Bay. From there, we hit a bit of a roll with Seattle taking us to an easy victory in Week 3, followed by our bye Week 4, and then Green Bay, Minnesota and Arizona allowed us to cruise into a pivotal Week 8. At that point, the Atlanta Falcons showed us “why we play the game” with their loss in the Georgia Dome to Tampa Bay.

Week 9 Survivor Picks


The Safe

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns

Finally, The Rock (Jeremy Hill) has come back to Cincinnati. Any wrestling fans out there? Okay, so that doesn’t really fit there, but seriously, the Bengals have finally begun to utilize Hill the way we anticipated at the beginning of the season.

After brutally low usage for four straight games, in which it looked like Giovani Bernard would take over as the feature back, the Bengals have gone back to Hill for 16 carries in Week 6 and then 15 carries out of the bye week during Week 8. While Hill certainly has a long way to go before removing himself from “number one Fantasy bust,” there’s no question after last week that he’s the featured back in Cincinnati (Bernard had only three touches against Pittsburgh).

So back to the whole idea of this, picking the game. Cleveland is starting Johnny Manziel at quarterback. We good? I do think the game is closer than the 12.5 point spread, as it’s tough to predict a blowout in a huge rivalry game, but Cleveland stands no chance in this one.

New England Patriots vs. Washington Redskins

If you have a quarterback that is jazzed up about barely beating a team that currently sits as a 2.5 point home underdog to another team that just allowed 52 points last week, they have no reason being on the same field as the future Hall of Famer Tom Brady.

Enough ripping the Washington Redskins though, believe it or not, I’m actually a big Michigan State fan and enjoyed watching Cousins in college. That was college though and this is a very angry New England Patriots team that rarely loses in Foxboro. Unlike the Cincinnati/Cleveland game, this is not a rivalry game and this could get ugly in a hurry.

Washington has allowed 30 or more points to the Buccaneers, New York Jets and New York Giants. Week 1 is the only time New England has yet to score 30 or more points (they scored 28). I’m so confident in New England, they would win with Jimmy Garoppolo as quarterback and he may just get a few snaps in the fourth quarter.


The Iffy

San Diego Chargers vs. Chicago Bears

I realize they have not faced the stiffest of tests, but I can’t stress enough that the Chicago Bears are playing a much better brand of football than is showing in the win/loss column. Jay Cutler has completed 62 percent of his passes (74-119), while throwing for 816 yards with four TDs to one INT over the last three weeks.

The San Diego Chargers have lost in back to back weeks against very beatable opponents. Now, they lost Keenan Allen for the season, Antonio Gates still looks banged up and seriously, what weapons do they really have offensively? And, if they can’t outscore Chicago, are they going to stop them? They haven’t limited an opponent to less than 20 points all season and have allowed over 25 points in six of their eight games.

On top of that, the Chargers are still just 2-6. I don’t think the west coast trip will be as detrimental to Chicago’s chances with the game on Monday night and I fully expect a game that comes down to the final minutes.


The Sorry

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Oakland Raiders

It’s about time we accept that the Oakland Raiders are a very legitimate Wild Card contender. After destroying San Diego in Week 7, relatively speaking, they put up 34 points on the New York Jets, a team considered to have perhaps the best defense in football (prior to that game).

Unlike the amount of love San Diego gets despite their 2-6 record or the excuses we make for Andrew Luck and his 3-5 Colts (sorry Pep Hamilton), no one wants to give Derek Carr his due. Carr’s completing 65-percent of his passes, has posted a 15 TDs to only three INTs and has already played the Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos and New York Jets defenses.

On the other hand, Pittsburgh is considered a four point favorite and Ben Roethlisberger looked terrible in his first game back. That, coupled with LeVeon Bell’s season ending injury, and I have serious doubts about Pittsburgh as a favorite over Oakland.


My Survivor Pick

For my Week 9 Survivor Pick, I’m taking Cincinnati. I think it all comes down to if you are playing for this week or playing for Week 17. New England is certainly the safe pick, but as I’ve said in the past, they are a safe pick almost every week, specifically Week 11 at home against Buffalo. While I do like Cincinnati next week against Houston as well, I’d rather take them against the Manziel led Browns.

Good luck to all my readers with their Week 9 survivor picks. Same time next week for my Week 10 survivor picks; I hope to see you then.

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