Jets at Bills
I am lucky enough to be going to this game and there might not be one that has a bigger impact on the playoff picture in week 9. Buffalo currently sits atop the AFC East and would have the #2 seed in the playoffs if the season ended today. Currently, the Jets are on the outside looking in on the playoff race and would have a really steep hill to climb if they lost this game. On offense, the Jets have gotten away from the ground and pound offense that has gotten them to two straight AFC championship games. Buffalo’s defense has been incredibly opportunistic and currently leads the NFL with 14 interceptions. In order for Sanchez to get the win for his team and get back on track towards their Super Bowl aspirations, it will take a heavy dose of Shonn Greene and the run game. The Bills offense has been very explosive and it all starts with Fred Jackson, who is having an MVP caliber season. The Jets have been weak against the run and Jackson will pick them apart if they turn the ball over or get off to a slow start and force Sanchez to go to the air and play from behind. Unfortunately for Jets fans, that is how I see this game going. Jackson just always seems to make the big play when it matters the most and the defense is constantly turning the ball over in crucial spots to help them put the game away. Steve Johnson is a flex play despite being on Revis island this week. Fitzpatrick will look to him when he is in man coverage and should be able to put up OK stats in this game. He hasn’t been great in recent weeks and I do not think that he will be able to do too much, but I just don’t think he can be benched. You can start all your normal Bills and Jets in this game, but I would avoid Sanchez as usual and expect this game to be largely about the running game.
Giants at Patriots
The Giants have a two game lead on their division and have been getting some incredible performances from both Bradshaw and Manning. Bradshaw unfortunately is going to miss around a month of time and I am not sure Brandon Jacobs will be able to provide the same balanced offensive attack. Luckily for them you do not need balance to attack the Patriots secondary, which is ranked dead last in the NFL and is allowing 323 yards per game. Hakeem Nicks is questionable going into this game and his presence would mean the difference in this game being either competitive or a blow out. If he plays it could go either way but without him, I do not know if they will be able to keep pace with Tom Brady. Brandon Jacobs gets a bump in value with Bradshaw out and you should play every Giants wide receiver that you own in this game. Tom Brady is of course a must-start despite a pretty average performance last week and there are still no Patriots Wide Receivers that I would go out of my way to start. I am expecting a Patriot victory in this game but if Nicks plays it will be a pretty close and high scoring affair.
Ravens at Steelers
My favorite part of the AFC North is that these two teams meet up twice a year. There is always some great football to be had when defenses of this caliber meet up and these have been the best two defenses for at least a decade or two. This particular game could get out of hand as the Steelers are surging and the Ravens struggling, but nothing forces you to play your best like a divisional rivalry game that decides who will sit in first place. I would stay away from any flex plays from either team and just focus on your typical starters: Ray Rice, Rashard Mendenhall, Mike Wallace and Ben Roethlisberger. Anquan Boldin is typically a very good WR2 option, but I think of him more as a poor flex play this week against this Steelers team that just shut down Brady. I like Pittsburgh to get a tough win, but the Ravens defense has not been what has struggled as of late so I don’t see it being by any more than 10 points.