The New Orleans Saints have battled their way back from the depths of the NFL standings and finally found themselves back on even footing. After winning the wildest game of the 2015 NFL Season, the Saints find themselves facing a far less formidable opponent but possibly a more dangerous one, in the Tennessee Titans. This is the epitome of a "trap game" as the Titans come into this game with far more question marks than any team this weekend. Out is former head coach Ken Whisenhunt, and in is interim head coach Mike Mularkey. Out is backup quarterback Zach Mettenberger, and back in is rookie starter Marcus Mariota.
Although this looks like a lot of distractions for an already bad team coming into New Orleans, it may be a recipe for an unnecessarily tough game for the Saints. It would be unsurprising to see the Titans rally around their new head coach, much like Miami did last month, and we are all far too familiar with the Saints' affinity with making rookie quarterbacks look like All-Pro veterans far too often. This game should be all Saints, but could easily end up far too close for comfort.
Last week I went 9-6
I told you so: Saints over Giants!
What do I know: Steelers over Bengals?
Thursday, November 5th - Thursday Night Football
Browns(2-6) at Bengals(7-0)
Cincinnati continues its regular season roll and stays undefeated with a routine win over Cleveland, 27-9.
Sunday, November 8th - Early Games
Packers(6-1) at Panthers(7-0) - Game of the Week
Carolina's top-ranked ground game and top-ten defense will prove to be problematic for Green Bay, as the Panthers will look to control the clock and the tempo of this game. The Packers will have to convert on early opportunities to neutralize Carolina's biggest advantages. If Green Bay is as good as they hope to be, and as their record indicates, they will take the lessons learned from last week's humbling loss at Mile High and use them to rebound for victory against another undefeated opponent. I think Green Bay is that good and they'll get a big win here. Packers win 34-20.
Redskins(3-4) at Patriots(7-0)
Washington has no answers for the undefeated Pats in Foxboro. New England wins 35-19.
Buffalo rebounds from a disturbing loss in London by coming back home and beating Miami, 26-16.
Top five rushing attacks face top ten defenses in this game. Home field and better quarterback play will secure victory for Minnesota, 24-17.
Despite nothing but question marks at quarterback for the Jets, they will win by doing what they do best anyway, playing great defense and controlling the tempo with the running game. Jets win 27-20.
Raiders(4-3) at Steelers(4-4)
The strong leg of Sebastian Janikowski will be the difference in a razor-thin victory for Oakland on the road in Pittsburgh, 27-24.
Titans(1-6) at Saints(4-4)
The Saints have been on a roll as of late, winning three in a row, all against teams that were at least tied for their division lead when they came into their game against New Orleans. The Saints now face a team that has lost six games in a row and is tied for the worst record in the NFL. Easy win, right? Not so fast. It has been games like this that have come back to bite the Saints in the recent past. This team, despite recent success, is in no position to overlook anyone, even Tennessee at 1-6.
The big issues for the Saints are the expected return of Titans rookie QB Marcus Mariota, and a possible rally behind interim coach Mike Mularkey, who is undoubtedly playing the "turning a new leaf" and "nobody gives us a chance" cards to their fullest this week. The major problem though, is that the Titans defense stands as the toughest defense the Saints have faced, and likely will face this season. They are nowhere near the parade of terrible defenses the Saints have faced during their three game winning streak, Tennessee's defense is much, much better.
Although they only have one win this season, it doesn't fall on their defense, it came down to backup QB Zach Mettenberger not being able to generate any offense whatsoever in Mariota's absence, paired with substandard coaching. Unfortunately for the Saints' timing, both of these flaws for the Titans may just have received some help this week. Despite all of this, its strength on strength with the Saints' top five offense facing the Titans' top five defense, and weakness on weakness, as the Saints 31st ranked defense faces the Titans' 31st ranked offense. Much of this seems like a push.
Homefield advantage and renewed confidence will give the Saints the edge in a game that will be much closer than it has any right being. Saints win 31-20.
Sunday, November 8th - Late Games
Giants(4-4) at Buccaneers(3-4)
The Giants will face a much better defense this week than they did last week, so don't expect that amount of scoring in this game. Jameis Winston and the Bucs offense will be able to move the ball consistently against the NFL's worst defense, but Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr should be able to take advantage of the opportunities Tampa gives them. Giants win on the road, 31-24.
Atlanta will be the next of many to continue to trounce the Niners this season, winning 31-6.
Peyton Manning faces one of the bottom-four defenses in the NFL while Andrew Luck has to face the best defense in the NFL. You can see where this one is going. Peyton gets the win in the house he built, as Denver stays undefeated. Broncos win 31-13.
Sunday Night Football
No Tony Romo for Dallas means no hope for the Cowboys. Philly wins 24-20.
Monday, November 9th - Monday Night Football
I can't pick San Diego anymore, I just can't. They're just wasting the passing talents of Philip Rivers at this point. Chicago wins on the road, 20-19.
That's how I see Week 9 shaping up. Hopefully, the Saints will be over the .500 mark come this Sunday evening. Leave us your picks, comments, and insight below.