Read this already?  Read it again, it now has competing views including thoughts from Rob.  So, this week’s Early Bird Picks have come a little late. No Worm for me… but after my first two weeks of doing this, perhaps a change isn’t such a bad thing. Why do I need a change you ask?

6-7 last week. 70-47 for the season. I have slipped into 3rd place, confidence points wise (I have the 2nd best record) and there are people charging. A dismal record and to make things worse? I was horrendous with confidence points. Luckily my laptop’s power supply has croaked! what? That’s not good news? Well it did effectively mean I wasn’t getting my picks done tuesday. So here’s hoping a new day will bring me some better fortune. Or? I will continue to sink slowly and sadly into oblivion.

Rob’s update:  I talked to the Early Bird, and he was cool with the idea that I’d add my predictions here too, playing off of what he had to offer.  Maybe next week we’ll write it up together in a more conversational format.

On that bright and cheery note, lets get started shall we?

Tampa Bay @ Atlanta Tampa is THE surprise in the NFC, and probably the NFL. This game that when you first looked at the schedule looked like an easy “W” for the Falcons now takes the shape of a very important divisional game.

MY PICK: Atlanta

WHY? They’re at home. They’re great at home, and judging by my last few weeks this pretty much assures Tampa a win this week.

Rob’s Take: As evidenced by my Power Rankings, I’m clearly not a believer in the Buccaneers.  With the same record as the Falcons, Tampa Bay is 4 spots back from Atlanta, one spot behind the Oakland Raiders.  Sure, Tampa Bay has the ability to win this game, but I don’t see it happening.  The Falcons are playing at home… and they’re a much better team.

Chicago @ Buffalo You know… Buffalo is gonna win eventually. 2 straight weeks into overtime. Missed a potential game winning Field Goal against Kansas City last week. They’re due. They’re at home.

MY PICK: Chicago

WHY? I won’t be surprised if this is the week Buffalo emerges from the skunk box, all be it briefly. But I’m not going to pick the NFL’s worst team.

Rob’s Take: I’m not a fan of what the Bears have going on right now.  Their offensive line can’t protect, they’re not throwing the ball to Pro Bowl caliber Tight End Greg Olsen, and there have only been two games all season where Matt Forte has been given more than a dozen rushing attempts this season, and in both of those games he had over 180 all purpose yards and two touchdowns.  Might they do that against Buffalo?  If they were smart.  Still, the Bills have looked REALLY good the past two weeks, and I’ll predict that they get their first victory this week.

New England @ Cleveland Bellicheck vs. Mangini. I’ve only heard this mentioned a couple of times this week. (thanks Moss and Shanahan) – Normally this would be a huge talking point. They have issues going back to Mangini’s time with the Jets.

MY PICK: New England

WHY? One of the best teams in the NFL versus one of the worst. Throw in the natural disdain Bill has for Eric?

Rob’s Take: Cleveland’s defense should be prepared for this game, with Mangini having a good idea what Belichick likes to do, but they won’t be able to create enough turnovers to beat Tom Brady.  Part of me really wanted to pick the Browns, but I just can’t do it.   As far as the disdain Bill has for Mangini, one might think that since Eric was fired from New York and ended up with the woeful Cleveland Browns, maybe Belichick has pity for Mangini’s situation.

New York Jets @ Detroit Jets coming off a brutal offensive performance at home against Green Bay. Can they bounce back? Detroit coming off a huge home win against the Redskins. Matt Stafford’s favorite target, “Megatron” Calvin Johnson is going to be vacationing either at Revis Island, or Cromartie’s Bed and Breakfast… neither place is hospitable to recievers. So don’t expect Megatron to have a day like he did against DC.

MY PICK: New York

WHY? Jets defense. Mark Sanchez hasn’t had consecutive bad starts in his young career. So I see a bounce back game for him and the New York offense. Plus New York seems to play much better when they’re pissed off… and after that loss to Green Bay? I feel they’re going to be plenty pissed.

Rob’s Take: Even though I think Calvin Johnson will do better against the Jets than most think, I still can’t see the Lions win this game.  It wouldn’t be out of the question, with the Lions defense being much improved and some playmakers on the Detroit roster.  Jahvid Best and Nate Burleson could be wild cards.  Be shocked if the Lions win, but make no bones about the fact that they’ve got the talent to get it done.  The Jets getting shut out in New York by the Packers last week was a huge disappointment, and there’s no telling how they’ll rebound – especially against a team with the poor reputation the Lions have garnered.

Arizona @ Minnesota Arizona will be starting Derek Anderson… again, and they’re the “solid” team in this match up. The Vikings are without Randy Moss… again. There is no greater train wreck in the NFL than the Vikings (apologies to Cowboys fans, fret not, your team is #2 on the Train Wreck O’ Meter… but you need a whole lot more disfunction, and an aging, hurt, sexting starting QB to get to THIS level).

MY PICK: Minnesota

WHY? Minnesota has more talent. I’m thinking the Moss cut galvanizes the team. Or the wheels come completely off and they lose, Favre retires, and they fire Childress. Potato, Po-tah-to.

Rob’s Take: The Cardinals are SOOO hard to read, but don’t forget about the talent they’ve got on both sides of the ball.  If Arizona’s QB (whomever that might be) can hook up with Fitzgerald and Breaston, mixing in a decent mixture of Hightower and Wells in the running game, the Cardinals could win.  I’m not a believer in Derek Anderson, and I see the Vikings rolling with a big dose of Adrian Peterson.

New Orleans @ Carolina New Orleans comes off a big win against Pittsburgh. Carolina just isn’t that good. The Saints may get Reggie Bush back which will be a boost to the offense.

MY PICK: New Orleans

WHY? Hopefully last week woke this team up. They are fighting through some injuries, but they are a much better team than Carolina on paper.

Rob’s Take: The Panthers are woeful, and even though it’s being played in Carolina, I think the Saints are hitting their stride; New Orleans wins with or without Reggie Bush on the field.

Miami @ Baltimore Baltimore nearly laid an egg at home against Buffalo going into their bye week. Now they come out of their bye week against Miami. Miami is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. They’re a perfect 4-0 on the road. An unperfect 0-3 at home.

MY PICK: Baltimore

WHY? I like Baltimore after the bye week.

Rob’s Take: I have to agree with the bye week helping Baltimore a lot.  Miami gets their first away-game loss.

San Diego @ Houston Is this the week we see the real San Diego start to assert itself? This team has so much talent, and started off poorly. They beat a good tennessee team last week, so which will it be? Houston is coming off a loss to Indianapolis. They are 4-3, but are 3rd in their division. They NEED this win.

MY PICK: Houston

WHY? They’re at home. They’re more consistent than San Diego. no even I’m not 100% sold on this one.

Rob’s Take: Hedging some of my bets, I’ll go with San Diego in this one.  The Chargers are statistically a good team, but they can’t always translate that into wins.  Houston lost to the Cowboys earlier in the year.  Enough said?

New York Giants @ Seattle Giants come off a bye week. They are looking like one of the best teams in the NFC. They have a monster pass rush that will be a headache for any team. Seattle lost to Oakland last week… lost is too weak a word. They were demolished by Oakland last week.

MY PICK: New York Giants

Rob’s Take: I can’t disagree with the assessment given by my fellow analyst.

Kansas City @ Oakland Both of these teams can run the ball very effectively with multiple backs. This game may take 47 minutes because the clock may not stop… ever. Both teams are surprising. Both are coming off wins. Oakland’s a lot more impressive than KC’s, but hey… a win is a win.

MY PICK: Oakland

WHY? Based on the strength of their last 2 wins. They have an identity offensively, and a mean streak defensively. they may have lost their best player CB Nnamdi Asomugha, and it would possibly cause me to change my mind if KC was a pass heavy team.

Rob’s Take: I’ve heard that the Chiefs apparently have won 7 straight games in Oakland.  That streak has to end, and the Raiders have looked really good as of late.  Divisional games typically go the way of the home team regardless, so we’ll easily pick Oakland here.

Indianapolis @ Philadelphia Indy comes off a nice win at home against Houston… oh and they have this guy named Peyton Manning. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Philly returns from a bye, and will be starting Mike Vick who’s healthy after a nasty rib injury.

MY PICK: Philadelphia

WHY? 1 – I’m an Eagles fan, so yes. there is a bit of a “homer” factor at play here. I’m not brimming with confidence with this pick, but there are some nice factors playing in Philly’s favor. 2 – Andy Reid has never lost after a bye week (regular season). I could be wrong here, but I believe hte only time he lost with the “extra week” was the Super Bowl they lost, which really is an entirely different monster from a preparation standpoint. Eagles return Michael Vick which leads to defensive problems, and Desean Jackson MAY start, which would be huge for the Birds.

Rob’s Take: Peyton Manning isn’t going to be out-dueled by Mike Vick OR Kevin Kolb.  Sidenote:  I really dislike the Eagles.  Hate is a strong word – which I really only use for the Cowgirls – so I’ll just say “really dislike”.  Plus, I just really like the Colts passing game on both sides of the ball.  I think Mathis and Freeney will be able to account for Vick and keep him from exploding with huge runs, and Peyton will match whatever passing game Philly figures out.  If the Eagles win (which I won’t predict), it’ll be because of Philly’s running game.

Dallas @ Green Bay I’m amazed at Dallas. Not in a good way. Has a team done less with so much talent… EVER? There was all that talk of them playing the Super Bowl in their stadium this year. They were a playoff team last year. Won a Playoff Game, and returned almost all of their roster. Green Bay has been decimated by injuries and is holding things together with duck tape and Aaron Rodgers. They had an unpretty win at the Jets, and they have to follow that up at home against Dallas.

MY PICK: Green Bay

WHY? Time to flee the Titantic. Green Bay’s at home, and Dallas is teetering on the edge of just giving up for the rest of the season.

Rob’s Take: I feel bad for the Cowboys at this point, and I think the Packers are one of the top teams in the NFC, as evidence by last week’s shut out of the Jets in New York.

Pittsburgh @ Cincinatti Pittsburgh loses a close one to New Orleans, on the road. Cincinatti loses to Miami at home. Cincinatti just can’t seem to find any consistency. Pittsburgh hit a small road bump, but they’re still one of the best teams in the league.

MY PICK: Pittsburgh

WHY? Better team. more consistent. I suspect they’ll bounce back from a rough road loss.

Rob’s Take: The Steelers are way too good to have back to back losses, especially with the second one being against a team with as poor luck as the Bengals.

So there are my not so early – early bird picks for Week 9. After my last two weeks I’m least confident in ALL my picks, and am most likely to change damn near all of them. Till next week?