FOX Sports South walks the plank of potential embarrassment by chronicling seven bold predictions for NFL Week 9 -- an ambitious gallery that could be way off the mark come Monday night. There's no fear of failure here, though. Just educated guesses. (Photos: Kyle Terada/Timothy T. Ludwig/Andrew Weber)
Long Time Coming
BOLD PREDICTION #1: Dwayne Bowe will break his long TD drought on Sunday ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) Bowe (25 catches, 343 yards) has endured a forgettable streak of eight straight games without a touchdown. 2) Sadly, it's not even Bowe's longest -- or second-longest drought -- since 2011. 3) In contrast, Bowe absurdly amassed 13 TDs in a seven-week span, circa 2010. 4) For Weeks 5-8, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Kyle Orton combined for 13 TD passes against the Jets -- the Chiefs' Week 9 foe. 5) Bowe and Jerricho Cotchery are the only prominent NFL wideouts averaging six-plus targets per game -- but with zero TDs. Bottom line: Bowe's overdue for a breakthrough.
BOLD PREDICTION #2: Ben Tate and Ahmad Bradshaw will collect two TDs apiece this week ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) The Browns (Tate's Week 9 opponent) and Giants (Bradshaw's Monday foe) currently rank among the NFL's 11 worst rush defenses, with both clubs surrendering 120-plus ground yards per game. 2) Bradshaw (right), one of the five best fantasy tailbacks at the midpoint mark, has collected 85 total yards and/or one TD in seven consecutive outings. 3) Of his 48-game career (including three postseason outings), Tate (left) has notched multiple touchdowns three times -- including a two-TD effort against the Steelers in Week 6. 4) The cooler weather along the Northeast should promote more running this weekend, especially around the goal line. (Photos: Ron Schwane/Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)
Don't Listen To The Bookies
BOLD PREDICTION #3: The Raiders will cover the 15-point spread against the Seahawks ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) Of its last 10 games (including the Super Bowl), Seattle has logged only three double-digit victories. 2) For the Raiders' 13-game losing skid (dating back to last year), they've only incurred four defeats of 15 or more points. 3) Back in August, Raiders QB Derek Carr (above) tossed three TDs in a 16-minute span against the Seahawks. Yes, it was a preseason tilt ... but the quick-strike performance helped Carr lock up the opening-day start. 4) Carr has modestly averaged 261 yards passing and 1.7 TDs in his last three games. 5) The last time Seattle was a monster favorite at home (November 2013), it had to rally from a 21-point deficit against Tampa Bay, before prevailing in overtime.
BOLD PREDICTION #4: Andre Ellington will post more rushing yards than DeMarco Murray on Sunday ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) On the surface, this seems like an absurd proclamation, since Ellington (right) has yet to rush for 100 yards this season ... while Murray (left) is a perfect 8 for 8 in cracking the century mark in rushing. 2) On the flip side, Ellington has averaged 121 total yards and 0.8 TDs in his last four games. 3) If Dallas QB Tony Romo (back injury) gets replaced by Brandon Weeden for Week 9, the Arizona defense would likely devote more resources to stopping Murray. 4) The 2014 Cardinals haven't allowed a single 100-yard rusher. 5) The law of averages dictates Murray's phenomenal streak of 100-yard games must end -- sooner than later. (Photos: Matthew Emmons/Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Rookie Power Play
BOLD PREDICTION #5: Bengals tailback Jeremy Hill will crack 100 rushing yards for the first time in his career ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) Gio Bernard, Cincy's No. 1 back, could be a game-time decision (hip injury) for Sunday's home outing against Jacksonville. 2) In 2014, the Jaguars have already allowed the opposition to collect 140-plus team rushing yards four times. 3) Hill (above -- 326 total yards, 3 TDs) amassed 96 total yards (74 rushing) and one TD against the Falcons in Week 2 -- his only pro outing of 15-plus touches. 4) At LSU, Hill demonstrated the traits of a workhorse back at the pro level. 5) Of the Bengals' last 13 regular-season games at home, the club boasts a 12-0-1 record. With a bad opponent like Jacksonville, expect a flood of Hill carries during the second half.
The Early Show
BOLD PREDICTION #6: Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith will tally a pick-six against Michael Vick -- in the first half ... RATIONALE: It's hardly bold to generally declare the Jets (11 seasonal INTs) will melt down against an opportunistic defense like the Chiefs. ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) With the Jets this season (in the backup role), Vick (left) has woefully completed 26 of 56 passes for 200 yards and zero TDs. 2) Smith (right) holds a top-10 ranking with pass deflections (9). 3) The Chiefs defense has amassed multiple sacks in their last five outings -- including seven against the Rams on Sunday. (Translation: Vick won't handle pocket pressure well.) 4) Kansas City boasts the NFL's top-ranked pass defense, allowing just 196 yards per game. (Photos: Robert Deutsch/Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)
BOLD PREDICTION #7: Broncos-Patriots will be the weekend's highest-scoring game ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) QBs Peyton Manning (left -- 2,134 yards passing, 22 TDs) and Tom Brady (right -- 2,059 yards passing, 18 TDs) are two of the hottest passers on the planet right now. 2) The Patriots have averaged 36 points for their six victories; the Broncos, in turn, have cracked 30-plus points six times this season. 3) Of his 10 career starts at New England (excluding two playoff outings at Gillette Stadium), Manning has accounted for 300 yards passing or multiple TDs nine times. 4) Manning's on track to be the first QB in NFL history to pass for 50 TDs in back-to-back camapigns. 5) The blustery winter weather of last year's Broncos-Pats clash won't be replicated this Sunday in Foxboro. (Photos: Kirby Lee/Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)