By Scott Taylor and Dave Petrishen
MINNEAPOLIS – Even Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier called it “Christian Ponder’s best game of the season.”
“That’s the Christian Ponder we’ve been waiting for,” Frazier said after his Vikings came back from a 24-14 halftime deficit to beat the Washington R-Words 34-27 on Thursday night. “He was sharp. He did all the things we’ve expected from him. I was very impressed.”
Seems most people were impressed with the Vikings comeback win on Thursday. Even Ponder, who admitted that was the way his team was supposed to play.
“I don’t think there was a change in mindset or anything. I think we just played the way we were supposed to,” Ponder said in the post-game news conference. “We executed like an NFL team is supposed to, especially a 10-6 playoff team like we were last year. We really needed that, to help out with our confidence, and now that’s our expectation for the rest of the year.”
The Vikings improved to 2-7 with the victory and for our experts, Dr. Football drew first blood this week. Of course, he needed the early lead.
After a great week in Week 8, our experts stubbed their toes in Week 9. Dr. Football was 8-5 (86-47) straight up and 4-9 (59-74) against the spread while The Coach went 8-5 (90-43) straight up and 5-8 (71-62) against the spread.
Week 10 is here. As always, The Doc writes our weekly take while The Coach sits in the Auxiliary Press Box at the Dome and wonders when dinner will be served.
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8) at Tennessee Titans (4-4) Line: Titans by 12
Tough times for NFL fans in Florida watching this mess. Jacksonville has lost all their games by double digits, and even the mediocre Titans will win this one with ease. The Coach says: Tennessee gets the free spot on the NFL Bingo card.
The Doc: TAKE THE TITANS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE TITANS TO WIN AND COVER.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) at Green Bay Packers (5-3) Line: Packers by 1.5.
The loss of Aaron Rodgers on Monday stunned the Packers, but they have had almost a week to regroup. Unfortunately, Seneca Wallace is probably the worst back up in the NFL. Nick Foles won’t toss seven touchdown passes in this one, but he’ll do enough to win this one. The Coach says: Seneca Wallace?
The Doc: TAKE THE EAGLES IN AN UPSET.
The Coach: TAKE THE EAGLES TO WIN.
Buffalo Bills (3-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6) Line: Steelers by 3.
The Steelers have struggled all year and were soundly thumped last week in New England, but they still managed to score 31 points. The Bills came out strong against the Chiefs, but fizzled out. That kind of a loss is hard to regroup from. The Steelers are better at home, and should bounce back. The Coach says: EJ Manuel is back for the Bills this weekend and that will make this game better than in it should be. Then again, what gives anyone the idea that Pittsburgh is any good?
The Doc: TAKE THE STEELERS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE STEELERS TO WIN AND COVER.
Oakland Raiders (3-5) at New York Giants (2-5) Line: Giants by 7.
The Giants after a terrible start find themselves in the midst of a two game winning streak. The wins have come as a result of their defense, they haven’t allowed their opponents into the end zone during that time as well. Oakland doesn’t do well on the east coast, but they will be able to keep it close. The Coach says: I might have taken the Raiders if they’d been a tiny bit better than they were last weekend against Philly.
The Doc: TAKE THE GIANTS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE GIANTS TO WIN AND COVER.
St. Louis Rams (3-6) at Indianapolis Colts (6-2) Line: Colts by 9.5.
Colts QB Andrew Luck sorely misses Reggie Wayne, but they did manage to pull it together last week to beat the Texans. The momentum will continue. St. Louis hasn’t looked too bad in the last couple of weeks, but Kellen Clemens lacks the experience to deal with a good team like the Colts. The Coach says: Kellen Clemens?
The Doc: TAKE THE COLTS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE COLTS TO WIN AND COVER.
Seattle Seahawks (8-1) at Atlanta Falcons (2-6) Line: Seahawks by 6.
Do you think the Seahawks are ready for this one? After getting thumped out of the playoffs in January by the Falcons, they have had this date circled on their calendar ever since the schedule has come out. The Falcons are a mess, they’ve only managed to beat the hapless Buccaneers and the lowly Rams. They are a better team at home, but the Seahawks have proved they can win on the road. The Seahawks struggled early last week, but won’t take Atlanta lightly. The Coach says: Upset of the week.
The Doc: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE FALCONS.
Cincinnati Bengals (6-3) at Baltimore Ravens (3-5) Line: Bengals by 1.5.
The Ravens look anything but defending champs; they’ve managed only one win since week three. The Bengals don’t seem to want to move into the NFL’s top tier, last week they let Miami come from behind in a loss. They will be without Geno Atkins, he’s gone for the season and they are playing their second consecutive road game. That’s tough particularly in Baltimore. The Coach says: The Ravens miss Ray Lewis more than anyone thought. This team lost to the Browns.
The Doc: TAKE THE RAVENS IN AN UPSET.
The Coach: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN AND COVER.
Detroit Lions (5-3) at Chicago Bears (5-3) Line: Lions by 2 ½
Although Josh McCown has played better than Jay Cutler, his entire career has been inconsistent. Detroit’s Calvin Johnson is on fire, and the Lions will steam roll the Bears. The Coach says: Jay Cutler returns. That doesn’t really mean all that much with that wonky Bears defense.
The Doc: TAKE THE LIONS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE LIONS TO WIN AND COVER.
Carolina Panthers (5-3) at San Francisco 49ers (6-2) Line: 49ers by 6.
This is the game of the week in my books. Both teams have had almost identical seasons, losing two of their first three games, followed by several blow out victories. The Panthers are on a four game winning streak, with their defense playing a tough, physical style. The 49ers explosive offense will have a little trouble, but they’ll get it done in a close one. The Coach says: Game of the week.
The Doc: TAKE THE 49ers TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE 49ers TO WIN AND COVER
Houston Texans (2-6) at Arizona Cardinals (4-4) Line: Cardinals by 2.5
Houston looked like a much different team last week with Case Keenum; they lost by one to the undefeated Chiefs and almost upset the first-place Colts. Arizona will be the place where the Texans pick up their first win since week two. The Coach says: Case Keesum vs. Carson Palmer? A nose holder?
The Doc: TAKE THE TEXANS IN AN UPSET.
The Coach: TAKE THE CARDINALS TO WIN AND COVER
Denver Broncos (7-1) at San Diego Chargers (4-4) Line: Broncos by 7.
Mismatch. The Chargers do play better against the good teams, but Peyton has their number. The Coach says: The spread is only 7?
The Doc: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.
Dallas Cowboys (5-4) at New Orleans Saints (6-2) Line: Saints by 7.
The Jets caught the Saints napping last week but that won’t happen when they return home. Dallas has one of the worst passing defenses in the NFL and Drew Brees will take advantage of that. The Coach says: Home team.
The Doc: TAKE THE SAINTS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE SAINTS TO WIN AND COVER.
Miami Dolphins (4-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8) Line: Dolphins by 3.
Even with all the distractions in Miami, the Dolphins have more than enough talent to beat the horrible Bucs. The Coach says: I will hold my nose and take the best team in Florida.
The Doc: TAKE THE DOLPHINS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE DOLPHINS TO WIN AND COVER.