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NFL Week 9 preview

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All games Hawaii time tomorrow unless otherwise stated. Capsules by Associated Press. Byes: Denver, Washington, St. Louis, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Tennessee

ARIZONA at MINNESOTA
Time: 8 a.m. (KHON)
Line: Vikings by 8

Randy Moss is gone from Minnesota, the defense can’t find the quarterback — Jared Allen has one sack — and Brett Favre has ankle, elbow and chin injuries. Yet the Cardinals, with their woes at quarterback, a minus-9 turnover differential and a defense that can’t stop the run might be in worse shape.

MIAMI at BALTIMORE
Time: 8 a.m. (KGMB)
Line: Ravens by 5 1/2

The more frequent-flyer miles the Dolphins get when they travel away from South Beach, the better: Miami is 4-0 on the road, 0-3 at home. Keeping such a contradictory streak going against the Ravens will be difficult if Miami doesn’t get production through the air because running on the Ravens is a tough chore.

INDIANAPOLIS at PHILADELPHIA
Time: 11:15 a.m. (KGMB)
Line: Eagles by 3

The Eagles love games following a bye: 11-0 under Andy Reid. This matchup surely will test that streak because the banged-up Colts still have a healthy Peyton Manning, and as the four-time MVP showed Monday against Houston, he can tear apart any defense — even when Jacob Tamme and Mike Hart are main targets.

DALLAS at GREEN BAY
Time: 3:20 p.m. (KHNL)
Line: Packers by 7 1/2

The Cowboys fell off the face of the earth as they pursued becoming the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its home stadium. Green Bay’s 9-0 shutout of the Jets last week was due as much to New York’s ineptitude as the Packers’ D. That doesn’t mean Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson and mates aren’t capable of another blanking here.

CHICAGO vs. BUFFALO at Toronto
Time: 8 a.m.
Line: Bears by 3

Wouldn’t it be fitting that the Bills had to leave the States to get their first win? They haven’t fared well in Toronto, but they’ve played Baltimore and Kansas City very close the last two weeks, losing both games in overtime. Coming off a bye, the Bears must show they figured out how to protect Jay Cutler, who has been sacked 27 times.

NEW YORK JETS at DETROIT
Time: 8 a.m.
Line: Jets by 4

The Jets often struggle coming off a bye, so their stinker against Green Bay last Sunday is no shock. A loss here would set off the panic alarms, though. Mark Sanchez was betrayed by his receivers with drops all over the ballpark by Santonio Holmes and the usually surehanded Jerricho Cotchery against Green Bay.

SAN DIEGO at HOUSTON
Time: 8 a.m.
Line: Chargers by 3

Some folks think the Chargers saved their season by beating Tennessee and will begin their usual midseason turnaround. Perhaps, but they need to be more protective with the ball — 19 giveaways — to take advantage of Philip Rivers’ ability to spread the ball. Houston’s porous secondary is an inviting target.

TAMPA BAY at ATLANTA
Time: 8 a.m.
Line: Falcons by 8 1/2

Last year, Tampa Bay won just three times. Now, the rapid development of QB Josh Freeman, his offensive line and receivers — Mike Williams could be the top offensive rookie — and a big-play defense has made the Bucs look legit. So legit that coach Raheem Morris proclaimed them the best team in the NFC.

NEW ORLEANS at CAROLINA
Time: 8 a.m.
Line: Saints by 6 1/2

Last week’s win over the Steelers should catapult the Saints back toward the top, but they haven’t swept the Panthers since 2001. Of course, the Panthers rarely have been so bad in that span.

NEW ENGLAND at CLEVELAND
Time: 8 a.m.
Line: Patriots by 4 1/2

The Patriots are on the rise, and already own the best record in football. They dominated the Vikings in the second half last weekend, and their running game is coming around.

NEW YORK GIANTS at SEATTLE
Time: 11:05 a.m.
Line: Giants by 7

Talk about defensive impacts, that’s what the Giants have had on quarterbacks, sidelining five of them already. Seattle is all banged-up, but Qwest Field is a difficult place for visitors to win.

KANSAS CITY at OAKLAND
Time: 11:15 a.m.
Line: Raiders by 1

Kansas City ranks first in rushing thanks to Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles. Oakland is right behind as Darren McFadden has emerged in his third pro season — and first relatively healthy one.

PITTSBURGH at CINCINNATI
Time: 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Line: Steelers by 5

Cincinnati has plummeted this season, after winning all six AFC North games a year ago on the way to the division title. A loss against the Steelers pretty much ends the Bengals’ shot at the playoffs.

 

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