NFL Week 9 Gridiron Guide picks: Take Big Blue over Big Ben and Steelers

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Jason Pierre-Paul (90) celebrates with Stevie Brown (27)

Jason Pierre-Paul (90) celebrates with Stevie Brown (27) after intercepting a pass from Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and returning it for a touchdown during the first half of a game in Arlington, Texas. (Oct. 28, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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John Boell Newsday sports writer John Boell

Boell has worked in the Newsday sports department in various capacities since 1999. In 2010, he became Newsday's

STEELERS (4-3) at GIANTS (6-2), 4:25 p.m.

Giants by 3 1/2; O/U: 471/2

TV: Ch. 2; Radio: WFAN (660)

The chatter all week has been about the 2004 NFL draft that produced Eli Manning as the No. 1 pick and Ben Roethlisberger as the No. 11 pick. Who's better? They both have a pair of Super Bowl rings, so time will tell. Let's focus on the game. The Giants look to start the second half strong after another 6-2 start. They're 4-1-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last six games overall, and are also 4-1-1 ATS in their last six games as a favorite of four or less points. The Steelers are 1-5 ATS in their last six games as an underdog of four or fewer points. Big Blue's defense will keep Big Ben under wraps. THE PICK: Giants




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at BENGALS (3-4)

Broncos by 3 1/2; O/U: 47 1/2

TV: Ch. 2

Who would have thought this Week 9 matchup would have been an intriguing game before the season started? You'll hear TV analyst Dan Dierdorf (yawn!) wax poetic about Broncos QB Peyton Manning, who leads the NFL with a 109.0 QB rating. Manning is also 7-0 all-time vs. Cincy. But I think this one comes down to defense. The Bengals' 'D' is tied for third in the NFL and leads the AFC with 23 sacks. Bengals DT Geno Atkins has seven sacks this season and 14 1/2 sacks since last season. Underdogs are 71-44-3 ATS (62 percent). Take a shot.

THE PICK: Bengals




at PACKERS (5-3)

Packers by 11; O/U: 43 1/2

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Two teams headed in opposite directions. Arizona has dropped four straight after a surprising 4-0 start. If they ever get a legitimate QB, they'd be a contender. Green Bay, meanwhile, has won three straight. For the second straight week, the Pack is a big favorite at home. They're 14-5-1 ATS combined at home in the months of November and December dating to 2007.

THE PICK: Packers


BEARS (6-1) at TITANS (3-5)

Bears by 3 1/2; O/U: 43 1/2

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Chicago's defense has been downright ridiculous. Led by CBs Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman, the Bears have returned six interceptions for touchdowns (the kids call them "Pick-6's"), the most of any team in NFL history through seven games. Titans RB Chris Johnson has played well of late, but the Bears' run defense is No. 1 in the NFL (77.9 yards per game, 1 TD).



DOLPHINS (4-3) at COLTS (4-3)

Dolphins by 2; O/U: 43

If the playoffs started today, Miami and Indy would be in. How many of you thought that would happen? Who could've predicted the answer to this question, too: Who is leading the NFL in receiving yards? Colts WR Reggie Wayne, who is enjoying a renaissance season with 757 yards. QB Matt Moore might have to start for Miami. In a close one, I'll take the home underdog.



BILLS (3-4) at TEXANS (6-1)

Texans by 10; O/U: 471/2

I continue to beat the drum for Texans DE J.J. Watt as MVP. He leads the NFL in sacks (9 1/2) and is a must-watch on every play. Houston has yet to allow a rushing TD. I usually stay away from picking double-digit favorites, but I like the Texans, who have covered five of their last six when favored by eight or more points.

THE PICK: Texans



LIONS (3-4)

at JAGUARS (1-6)

Lions by 4; O/U: 44

The Lions have covered three straight after starting the season 0-4 ATS. The Jags are one of five home underdogs in Week 9. Home 'dogs are 23-18 ATS this season. Worth a shot.

THE PICK: Jaguars


RAVENS (5-2)

at BROWNS (2-6)

Ravens by 3 1/2; O/U: 42 1/2

The Browns are a sneaky 4-3-1 ATS this season. They're also 5-0-1 ATS in their last six games vs. AFC North foes. Conversely, the Ravens are one of the worst ATS (2-5) teams this season. Their defense is banged up, but Baltimore, coming off its bye week, should be well prepared for Browns rookies Trent Richardson (470 yards rushing) and Brandon Weeden (624 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT last 3 games).

THE PICK: Ravens



at REDSKINS (3-5)

Redskins by 3 1/2; O/U: 46 1/2

TV: Ch. 5, 1 p.m.

I was surprised by the Redskins' effort last week vs. Pittsburgh -- 10 dropped passes didn't help Robert Griffin III. He reminds me of another young, talented, athletic QB: Cam Newton. He's in a sophomore slump after taking the NFL by storm last season. Newton and the Panthers came within a whisker of beating the Bears last week. Visiting 'dogs are 48-26-3 ATS this season.

THE PICK: Panthers




at RAIDERS (3-4), 4:05 p.m.

Raiders by 1 1/2; O/U: 46

This is a battle of two of the NFL's coolest logos. Call it the Pirate Bowl. You know who's been a treasure this season? Bucs rookie back Doug Martin, the only NFC player with more than 500 yards rushing and 200 yards receiving.



VIKINGS (5-3) at

SEAHAWKS (4-4), 4:05 p.m.

Seahawks by 5; O/U: 38 1/2

There are certain teams that have vexed me the last few seasons -- and caused my gray hair to turn white. Seattle is one of them. It's as simple as this: When Seattle is the visiting team, pick against them; when Seattle is home, pick them. The Seagulls have covered six straight home games, and are 15-5 ATS in their last 20 home contests.

THE PICK: Seahawks





at FALCONS (7-0), 8:20 p.m.

Falcons by 4; O/U: 47 1/2

TV: Ch. 4; Radio: WFAN (660).

It's funny how sports work. If Dez Bryant's fingertips land inbounds, we're all blasting the Giants for blowing a 23-0 lead and praising the Cowboys for an amazing comeback. But we know how things ended. I loved Atlanta vs. Philly last week, but not here. Dallas has covered eight of its last nine vs. NFC South opponents dating to 2008 and is the more desperate team.

THE PICK: Cowboys



EAGLES (3-4)

at SAINTS (2-5), 8:30 p.m.

Saints by 3; O/U: 52

TV: ESPN; Radio: WFAN (660), joined in progress.

What else is new? Talk in Philly is whether QB Michael Vick should be benched. If there's any week for him to have a breakout game, this is it against the NFL's worst defense. Eagles can't let Drew Brees pick them apart the way Matt Ryan did last week.

THE PICK: Eagles

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