NFL Week 9: Best Games to Watch

Oct 30, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper (89) and quarterback Derek Carr (4) congratulate each other after they scored a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Oakland Raiders defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a look at the five best games to watch in a loaded slate for NFL Week 9.

Division rivals seems to be the popular trend when it comes to the top five games to watch heading into NFL Week 9. Clearly, that should have football fans excited for what’s in store.

At the beginning of the season, the Oakland Raiders were considered a team to keep an eye on in the AFC. However, nobody could have predicted them to be in this position heading into Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos. Who would have thought after all of their struggles over the years, that the Raiders would find themselves with the chance to go up one game in the AFC West standings if they can pull off the win against the defending Super Bowl champions?

So what other division rivals will be squaring off in Week 9 that will give fans plenty to look forward to? For starters, there’s the always intense matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens along with a critical NFC East showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants.

Let’s dive right in to these games and the rest of the top games for NFL Week 9. We’ll start off with an NFC North matchup between the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings.

Oct 30, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Detroit Lions running back Theo Riddick (25) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

5. Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings

As mentioned before, divisional matchups are a common theme on this week’s list. And the Detroit Lions and Minnesota will square off for the first time in 2016 on Sunday. A few weeks ago, the Vikings were considered the best team in football. However, this team has struggled over the last two weeks, with their latest loss coming on Monday against the Chicago Bears.

If Minnesota struggles against a team like Chicago, just imagine what kind of trouble they could be in against the Detroit Lions? They’re dangerous, especially Matthew Stafford looking to get this team back on the winning track following last weekend’s loss to the Houston Texans.

After a disappointing 1-3 start, the Lions managed to put together three wins in a row before falling to the Texans. This team still seems capable of sneaking up in the NFC, though. Don’t be surprised if Stafford and Detroit’s offense figures out a way to take advantage of Minnesota’s defense to make this key NFC North matchup even more exciting.

Keep in mind the Lions are only two games out of first place heading into Week 9 and they realize the importance if they can manage a win over the Vikings in this one. As crazy as it sounds, this division race still seems wide-open at this point.

Oct 23, 2016; London, ENG; Running back Rashad Jennings (23) talks with wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) after his game winning 1 yard rushing touchdown during the fourth quarter of the game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Giants at Twickenham Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

4. Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants

It’s funny how the drama surrounding the release of Josh Huff made Philadelphia Eagles fans forget about the team’s upcoming game against the New York Giants. Even still, there’s no question they’ll be ready once Sunday rolls around.

While the Giants will be well rested following their bye week, the Eagles look to bounce back after letting one slip away against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 8. Doug Pederson has taken plenty of heat this week for some of his questionable play calling in that game. But this is the perfect opportunity to win back the trust of fans if Philadelphia can find a way to win this one.

As far as New York is concerned, this team shouldn’t be counted out of the contention in the NFC East. After putting together two wins in a row heading into Week 9 to get to 4-3, they remain very much alive. The Giants defense was one of the main reasons why this team was so successful against the Los Angeles Rams in London. If they can continue playing at that high level, they could be in for a second half.

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love watching a good battle in the NFC East like fans will get to see on Sunday?

Oct 16, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

3. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens

Is there really a need to explain why Sunday’s matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens is going to be one of the most intense games from Week 9?

The best part about this rivalry is these games always seem to go down to the wire as there’s a good chance that will happen again on Sunday as the Ravens won both meetings last year between these two teams by three points. While Baltimore enters Sunday’s game with four-straight losses following a 3-0 start, Pittsburgh has been in a slump themselves after back-to-back losses to the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.

Obviously, those two losses for the Steelers may have been different with a healthy Ben Roethlisberger. But the only thing this team can do about it is focus on Sunday’s matchup against their division rivals. Pittsburgh may have the advantage in this one when looking at all of the weapons they have on offense, but Baltimore definitely isn’t a team to sleep on. Moreover, there’s still a chance that Big Ben plays as well.

If anything, a game against the Steelers may be just what the Ravens need to gain momentum and turn things around to stay in the hunt of what’s turning out to be a tight AFC North race.

Oct 30, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) throws a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

2. Indianapolis Colts vs. Green Bay Packers

Despite the disappointing records by both teams, Sunday’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers still features two of the league’s top quarterbacks in Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers. Of course, the true question will be whether these two star quarterbacks can live up to the hype with a ton of scoring.

At the beginning of the season, this game between the Colts and Packers seemed to have the potential of going back-and-forth with touchdowns. However, both teams have struggled to live up to expectations in the first half of the season. While Rodgers deserves a little credit over the last few weeks when considering all of the injuries on the Packers offense, Luck finds himself in a completely different situation. The Colts are barely hanging on in one of the weakest divisions in football after a 3-5 start.

Sadly, both teams find themselves in a must-win situation given how the 2016 season is turning out. That doesn’t mean they still can’t put on a good show for fans in NFL Week 9, though. If anything, the desperation between Indianapolis and Green Bay will make this game even more exciting to watch.

Oct 9, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper (89) is congratulated by running back DeAndre Washington (33) after catching a touchdown pass against the San Diego Chargers in the third quarter at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

1. Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders

With sole possession of first place in the AFC West on the line, just about every football fan will be tuned in for Sunday night’s game between the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders as both teams currently sit at 6-2. For a team that’s gone 5-0 on the road to start the season, the Raiders may be the favorites to win the division if they can have a strong second half. On Sunday night, though they’ll face one of their toughest challenges yet against one of the best defenses the league has to offer in the Broncos.

One of the main reasons why Oakland has been so successful in 2016 is due to the play of Derek Carr as the quarterback already has 17 touchdowns compared to just three interceptions through eight games. He still has a lot to prove, but if Carr continues to play this well, there’s a good chance he could find himself in the MVP discussion when the time comes.

With that being said, Sunday’s game against the defending Super Bowl champions is the perfect opportunity for Carr and the Raiders to prove they’re the real deal in the AFC. The Broncos defense has come up big over the last two weeks against the Houston Texans and San Diego Chargers. But even they know this Week 9 matchup will be much tougher since they will be playing in front of a very hostile crowd.

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