Tag Archives: week 8

2017 Season: Week 8 Preview

We are just about halfway through the NFL season already and it has been a strange one.  The Jaguars and Rams are relevant, the Eagles have the best record in football, the Browns are winless… okay that one is not so weird, but how about the AFC East finally being a pretty competitive division?  Or the AFC North being a bad one?  It has all been hard to figure but we will continue to pick ’em.  Here are my picks/thoughts for the thirteen Week 8 games.

Last Week: 11-4

Season: 63-43

Locks: 2-4

Upsets: 2-4

Thursday, October 26th, 8:25 e.t.

Miami Dolphins (4-2) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-4)

The last handful of Thursday night affairs have been pretty solid games, especially last week in Oakland.  This one, on paper, doesn’t scream quality matchup but who knows?  I do like the Ravens at home though, and here is why.  Baltimore’s defense is due for a breakout game and the Dolphins come into town with Matt Moore at the helm.  Is he that much of a downgrade from Jay Cutler, maybe not, but I do think he will struggle with a short week hitting the road against a team desperate to stay relevant.

Baltimore 23, Miami 10

Sunday, October 29th, 9:30 am e.t.

Minnesota Vikings (5-2) @ Cleveland Browns (0-7) (in London)

What a clash at the Twick!  Okay, that was a lie.  London seems destined for another poor game with one of the best teams in the league taking on the worst.  This is actually not the biggest mismatch with records of the week, but it is the biggest in terms of talent.  The Browns hung tough with the Titans at home but that was more of an aberration in my opinion.  They don’t have the skill players on offense to make much headway against this swarming defense from the Vikings.

Minnesota 31, Cleveland 7

Sunday, October 29th, 1:00 e.t.

Carolina Panthers (4-3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4)

The Panthers are certainly a week-to-week proposition because one week they look like world-beaters and then the next they can fall flat on their face.  I could see them blowing this game out or getting blown out.  Meanwhile, Tampa Bay’s offense has been inconsistent on the year.  They’ve yet to put a complete game together and their defense has been very bad to this point.  Against a Panther team with a good defense and an, at times, scary offense, I do not like their odds of pulling this game out.

Carolina 30, Tampa Bay 24

Indianapolis Colts (2-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (2-4)

A couple of two win teams hook horns in Cincy here when the Colts face the Bengals.  After getting shut out by the Jaguars, Indy’s season can officially be considered done while the Bengals are desperate to stay alive.  I like them to do just that at home with an offense that until last week under Bill Lazor has looked pretty good.  The Colt “D” is not very good.

Cincinnati 33, Indianapolis 13 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

San Francisco 49ers (0-7) @ Philadelphia Eagles (6-1)

This game pits the team with the best record in the league, at home mind you, against the team that is tied for the worst record.  The Eagles lost two key players in their Monday night win over the Redskins in Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks, but that is not going to matter this week.  Carson Wentz cemented his case for being in the MVP discussion on Monday and he is capable of carrying the team.  He won’t have to this Sunday as the Eagles should win easily with their running game and defense.

Philadelphia 27, San Francisco 14

Oakland Raiders (3-4) @ Buffalo Bills (4-2)

This game is one of the better ones on the docket for Week 8 and it is probably the hardest one for me to pick.  I think I am going to go with the Raiders to win because they seem to have found their mojo on offense and could be at the beginning of an upswing.  Marshawn Lynch will miss his chance to play in Buffalo for the first time since being traded due to a suspension so that could hurt, but I think that Tampa Bay exposed the Buffalo “D” a bit last week and I like the well rested Raiders to pick up on that.

Oakland 26, Buffalo 19

Los Angeles Chargers (3-4) @ New England Patriots (5-2)

The Patriots played their best game of the season last Sunday night at home against a reeling Falcon team and seem to be peaking as we forge towards November, like they usually do.  The Chargers defense did just shut out the Broncos and has been a very underrated unit to this point in the year and I like them to keep this game close through three quarters.  However, you can only slow Tom Brady for so long and I can see them running away with this one in the fourth quarter at home.

New England 33, Los Angeles 17

Atlanta Falcons (3-3) @ New York Jets (3-4)

The Atlanta offense has been struggling lately and has people calling for O.C. Steve Sarkesian’s job.  They are 0-3 against the AFC East and desperately need a win to keep pace with the suddenly hot Saints in their own division.  I think they get something going on offense against the Jets and take this one on the road.  New York hung tough but eventually blew the game against Miami and can do the same thing here.  The thing is, if this does turn into a shootout I don’t think that Josh McCown can keep pace with Matt Ryan.

Atlanta 27, New York 20

Chicago Bears (3-4) @ New Orleans Saints (4-2)

The Saints have won four straight games and will now host the Chicago Bears who just won a game with only five first downs!  They are going to have to do a heck of a lot better than that this week if they want to hang in there against the Saints who can actually lean on their defense and running game a bit.  For the first time since 2013 New Orleans has a winning record and it is no fluke as I believe they are favorites to win the south at this point in the season.  They should improve to 5-2 with a win over the Bears who do not typically travel well this year.

New Orleans 29, Chicago 15

Sunday, October 29th, 4:05 e.t.

Houston Texans (3-3) @ Seattle Seahawks (4-2)

The Texans are coming off of their BYE Week and immediately get thrown back into the fire on the road in Seattle.  DeShaun Watson has been fantastic for Houston this year but I don’t like his chances going against Seattle’s defense on the road here.  The Hawk’s offense looked great against the Giants last week, even though they struggled to finish some drives.  I think they put it together this week and blow out the Texans.

Seattle 39, Houston 14

Dallas Cowboys (3-3) @ Washington Redskins (3-3)

I like this game.  The loser is going to have a tough time getting back into the NFC East race, especially if it’s Washington having already lost twice to the Eagles.  The Cowboys looked phenomenal on the road in San Fran and it was mostly because of the efforts of Ezekiel Elliot.  He makes this team better and Dallas can keep pace with Philly if he stays on the field.  I was going to take the Redskins here because they will be desperate, but I really don’t like the way their defense stacks up to the Cowboys.  Dallas should take this one on the road.

Dallas 28, Washington 22

Sunday, October 29th, 8:30 e.t.

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) @ Detroit Lions (3-3)

Will this be the week that Al and Cris finally get a good game?  I think it is.  I really like Pittsburgh and where they are going this year, but I am going to take the Lions at home.  Detroit is coming off of a BYE and almost made a 35 point comeback the week prior.  Of course, they played poorly enough to go down by 35 in the first place but if the game is on the line I think we can all trust that Matthew Stafford will make some plays.  Look for this one to go down to the wire on Sunday night.

Detroit 30, Pittsburgh 28 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

Monday, October 30th, 8:30 e.t.

Denver Broncos (3-3) @ Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)

Both of these teams come into this game having lost two straight contests but I feel much better about KC than I do Denver.  The Bronco offense has vanished over the past couple of weeks while the Chiefs attack looked great against the Raiders.  It was their defense that let the game get away.  Playing at home on a Monday night for the second time this year, I think that they can use that crowd to their advantage and really get after Trevor Siemian.  Look for the Chiefs to get back to their winning ways.

Kansas City 34, Denver 17

Week 8 Recap: Seattle Seahawks @ New Orleans Saints

Brandin Cooks
Brandin Cooks celebrates his early fourth quarter touchdown against the Seahawks.

Final: New Orleans 25, Seattle 20

It was a thriller in the Big Easy as the Saints hold off a late Seattle surge for their third win of the season.  It was a, perhaps, season-saver for New Orleans and their defense showed signs of improvement, closing out the game on the final play of the game.  Seattle was slow getting started, especially with their running game, and the Seahawks defense was gassed and gashed by the end of this game.  Here is what went down on the final Sunday in October in the Mercedes Benz Superdome.

Let’s start off by looking at the most important key in this win for the Saints: their defense.  It was not an overly dominant showing on their behalf, but they did do one thing better this week than they have all season and that is tackle.  Last week against Kansas City there were multiple missed tackles and players were out of their posisions and over-scheming.  While there were some defenders being over aggressive and out falling out of posision, which was exposed on many misdirection plays by Seattle’s offense, when there was a play in front of Dennis Allen’s unit rhe players made it.  The safety play was good and New Orleans was not beat deep in this game.  Cameron Jordan had his best game of the season by far.  He accounted for seven total QB pressures, and one pass defended.  The man was a nightmare to block.  Another Saint that stood out in this contest was Nate Stupar.  He had one interception off of a duck pass, but that is not why he is receiving praise.  He made a few run stuffs and was decent in coverage.  Playing alongside Dannelle Ellerbe helped as well.  Dannelle’s return to the lineup was huge as he brought a sideline-to-sideline tackling element to this team that they have not had.  He looked a bit rusty at times but was lurking around the ball for a majority of the game.

Action from SEA@NO
Richard Sherman and Willie Snead competing from 10/30/16

Compairatively, the Seattle defense was not very good on the whole in this game.  That is mainly because of their secondary.  Richard Sherman was victimized once long down the field on a flea-flicker when he cheated to the inside of his man Brandon Coleman before he waggled out the back door and made a 38 yard reception down the field.  Earl Thomas whiffed on some tackles in the open field which came at inappropriate times, a couple of them on third downs.  The Saints successfully converted 9/15 of their third down situations which lead to the large 36:12/23:48 slant in time of possession.  There were a couple of pick plays that the referees allowed to happen that did benefit the Saints largely, once on a third down late in the fourth quarter when Snead went out and chopped of DeShawn Shead and the other when Brandon Coleman knocked Jeremy Lane to the ground in the end zone when Brandin Cooks scored the go-ahead touchdown earlier in that period.  With that being said, the Seahawks were not good on defense.  Part of this is due to the fact that the Saints have a remarkable offense at home with so many weapons, and the other was just great game planning by Sean Payton and company.  The one thing that the Seahawks did do well was goal-line defense for the second straight week.  The Saints came into the game scoring touchdowns 80% of the time for a touchdown in the red zone.  Seattle did let up two touchdowns in these situations, but one of them came on fourth down when Brees did a quick quarterback sneak and the other was one that should not have been allowed to stand because of the pick play.  As far as individual play is concerned, the top standout here was Cliff Avril.  He penetrated into the backfield on a couple of different occasions creating stops behind the line of scrimmage on run plays and he generated some QB pressures as well.  Kelcie McCray looked fine in place of Kam Chancellor, but the team is still missing their big thumper because he was much better in helping out against the run.  Also worth mentioning, Earl Thomas did have a scoop and score in the first quarter putting his team up by seven early on.

Earl Thomas
Earl Thomas was flagged for hugging an official after his return touchdown during Sunday’s game.

On offense, the Saints really got away with anything they wanted in this game.  Tim Hightower ran the ball 26 times for 102 yards.  Nine different Saints had a reception in this game, the pace being set by Michael Thomas and Willie Snead who had six catches apiece.  Thomas, who is pretty much far and away, the best rookie wide out in the NFL continued to display great hands and terrific route running ability.  Given time, this guy could really make things tough on defensive coordinators as his career progresses.  The Saints offensive line did a great job fending off the Seattle pass rush.  The only time the Seahawks were able to get any pressure on Drew Brees was when they brought a Cat (corner) blitz or overloaded a rush to one side.  Otherwise, Drew did not have much trouble completing passes as he was sitting in the rocking chair for a majority of the game.

For the Hawks, the offense was shaky at times.  The number one reason for this was a failure to get the running game going.  Seattle as a team ran for just three yards total in the first half.  Their best looking drive of the game was probably their first drive of the second half where they actually were able to find some room to maneuver on the ground.  The Seahawks had just four first downs running the football, and Russell Wilson was hardly able to help out at all with this.  Without the threat of a read-option play to break contain, the Saints were able to play a vanilla defense against Seattle and contain them that way.  On the final drive of the game, Russell Wilson was fine, completing some big passes and moving his team down the field.  It ultimately came down to a 4th and 2 with two seconds remaining with the ball at the New Orleans 10.  Wilson attempted to connect with Jermaine Kearse in the back corner of the end zone but put too much air under the ball and slightly overthrew it, allowing for Saints’ corner B.W. Webb to make a play on the ball.  It was actually a poor throw on Wilson’s behalf.  Not being able to get the ground game going hurt Seattle and the offense simply could not stay on the field, hence why stars like Jimmy Graham did not shred a suspect defense.  Wilson, while on the field, did make some very nice throws but the Seahawks just did not have enough possession time to create some continuity on offense.

The Seahawks lost their second game of the season in heart-breaking fashion, but since their closest competition in Arizona also lost, they are in no worse shape in the NFC west than they were coming into this game.  Next week they will host Buffalo at home; a team that will be desperate for a win.  New Orleans will get a shot at going back to .500 when they hit the road to the west coast to play the 49ers.  The main sign of encouragement for the Saints was their defense, but they were helped out by the fact that their offense was able to stay on the field so long.  It would appear as that their best hope for defense is for their offense to keep them off the field.

K.J. Wright
K.J. Wright knocking the ball away before it could get to Travaris Cadet.

The Skinny:

  • For the second straight week, Seattle’s defense was on the field for a very long time.  New Orleans dominated the time of possession battle 36:12/23:48.  The Saints’ offense ran 72 plays while the Seahawks ran 54.
  • Once again, the Seahawks struggled to get a running game going.  They managed only 3 yards in the first half and 74 for the game.  Russell Wilson’s inability to scramble due to injury really handicapped the offense at times in this contest.
  • The Seattle defense did not have much success rushing the passer.  They did record two sacks, but Drew Brees was afforded a lot of time when the Seahawks did rush four and only got pressure on Cat blitzes or overloads.  The one thing they did do well was hold up by the goal line, stopping the very good Saints multiple times in that area of the field.
  • The Saints scored on six straight possessions to end the game, offensively doing whatever they pleased for the most part after early troubles in the first quarter.
  • New Orleans pshed the pocket on defense and made a lot of solid open field tackles on defense, something that they struggled to do so far this season.  They also were not on the field very much, which helped as well.
  • Tim Hightower had 102 yards rushing on the ground and nine different Saints caught a pass from Drew Brees.  Everybody was involved and New Orleans turned in their best effort of the season.


2016 Season: Week 8 Preview

We are just about half way through the season already and the action is really picking up.  The eighth week of the season sees just thirteen games, but many of them promise to be shootouts.  There are heavily anticipated battles going down and I can’t wait to cover them.  To further hype up this week, allow me to rank all these contests in order from worst to best.  I will, of course, follow that list with my previews and score predictions of each.  Enjoy the action!

#13: Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears

Nothing about this game makes for inciting Monday night television.  It will almost surely end in a blowout and that’s never fun to watch unless you’re a fan of the team doing the butt-kicking.

#12: Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans

The annual Jaguars/Titans Thursday night game is upon us and if they bring us some sloppy play, which is likely since both are playing on a short week, the game could be tough to watch.

#11: New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills

Here is another game that isn’t going to draw too much excitement based on the fact that there will be one dominant team here.  These games don’t move my meter too much, even if they are division rivalries.

#10: New York Jets @ Cleveland Browns

Many people would have this one lower on the list, but I think the Browns are at least fun to watch even if they are bad.  The Jets are a joy to see play when they are rolling as well, so at least this game should be entertaining.

#9: Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers

This game is here based solely on the record of each team.  This contest should be interesting, but it will likely lack the big-game feel which is especially important because of the fact that this was the NFC Championship matchup from last year.

#8: Detroit Lions @ Houston Texans

Even though the Texans offense is hard to watch at times, I am curious to see how the Detroit attack fares against Houston’s defense in Houston.  This should be a close game which is why it is ranked here as opposed to lower.

#7: Kansas City Chiefs @ Indianapolis Colts

What can I say, I’m a sucker for Andrew Luck.  The Chiefs play fundamentally sound football, but since they are on the road this game should be much closer than it would be if it were at Arrowhead.  Should be a good one.

#6: Oakland Raiders @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

There should be plenty of offense in this game and I thoroughly enjoy watching the Raiders’ O do work.  Jameis Winston is a fun QB to watch as well and the Bucs actually have some sort of a ground game going with Jacquizz Rodgers in the fold.

#5: Washington Redskins vs. Cincinnati Bengals (London)

Both of these teams are fun to watch when they are playing at the top of their game.  I think that this will be the best game in front of a London crowd this year in terms of entertainment-value as there should be some points scored.

#4: Seattle Seahawks @ New Orleans Saints

Speaking of points being scored, we have our weekly Saints’ shootout coming in fourth.  It is also the return of Jimmy Graham to New Orleans.  Offenses should be on point here and that is always fun to watch.

#3: San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos

The San Diego Chargers are always playing entertaining, edge-of your seat games and that is why I look forward to watching them each week.  The crowd will really be into this one too and it should create an awesome atmosphere.

#2: Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons

Two good teams in a tough game to call?  Yes please.  Late afternoon game on Fox, sign me up.  In another game that promises to bring a lot of scoring, we get to see a great offense take on a potentially great one.  What’s not to like?

#1: Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

A big time NFC East game with a bunch of standout rookies, a great defense versus a great offensive line, and a boisterous crowd on a Sunday night… This should be a great game and I am really looking forward to watching one of the NFL’s best rivalries be renewed on the national stage.

Last Week: 9-6

Season: 57-50

Thursday, October 27th, 8:25 e.t.

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4) @ Tennessee Titans (3-4)

Jags @ Titans

We’ve got a Thursday night barnburner on our hands as the Jags travel to Nashville to take on them Titans.  Jacksonville is coming off of an ugly defeat at home to the Raiders where the team compiled 13 penalties for 112 yards and their star rookie CB Jalen Ramsey was ejected for fighting late in the game.  They say that every 100 yards of penalties equals about seven points, and the Jags lost by more than that to Oakland so it is easy to say they were not very good last week.  The Titans on the other hand fumbled a chance to beat the Colts away at home in Week 7 (quite literally) and have to be hungry to redeem themselves.  The running game in Tennessee has been firing on all cylinders lately.  Against Cleveland, DeMarco Murray was contained quite well but quarterback Marcus Mariota went off.  Last week Murray ripped off 107 yards and a TD against the Colts.  Who will tote the rock this week for them?  How about Derrick Henry?  They really need to start getting their first round draft pick involved more if for no other reason than to cut down on the wear and tear with DeMarco.  Ask the Eagles how Murray is when worn out.  I like the Titans to get the ball in Henry’s hands more than ONE? time this week.  Anyways, I’m taking Tennessee at home because I think they can capitalize on a reeling Jaguars team that looks like its going nowhere this year.  Not to mention, but I’ll mention anyways, that the home teams on Thursday night games always have a decided advantage, not that the Titans play well at home all the time.  Hopefully we see a shootout from this game like we did from the one last year (42-39 final).

Tennessee 24, Jacksonville 14

Sunday, October 30th, 9:30 am e.t.

Washington Redskins (4-3) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) (London)

For the second straight Sunday, our day will start out across the pond with two teams right in the thick of things in their own division races.  Hopefully we see a more exciting game out of these two than we did when the Rams and Giants combined for hardly any splash plays and excitement for the London fans.  I’m predicting that this game turns into a shootout early and engages the crowd.  I like what I’ve seen out of the Washington offense lately.  Yes they lost the game last week on the road in Detroit and only put up 17 points, but seven of those came in the final minutes only to have the ‘Skins defense cough up that lead.  As it was they put up over 400 yards of offense.  The only problem was finishing drives.  That is something that the Bengals have struggled with all season long.  They are having trouble settling for field goals deep in the opponent’s territory and their points per game is hurting because of it.  Last week against Cleveland the team put up 559 yards offense and scored 31 points, their first time breaking the 30 point threshold this season.  Most encouraging of all is the fact that they got their running game going, which was key and will be going forward.  If I were the Cincinnati offensive coordinator I would unleash both Geo Bernard and Jeremy Hill on the Washington defense that has struggled to stop the run.

Jeremy Hill

This will set up play action opportunities for Andy Dalton down the field against the injury-riddled Redskin secondary.  Josh Norman is a big question mark on whether or not he will even play in this game due to a concussion.  The match-up certainly won’t favor them and that is why I am choosing the Bengals to leave London with a .500 record.

Cincinnati 38, Washington 31

Sunday, October 30th, 1:00 e.t.

Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) @ Indianapolis Colts (3-4)

The Colts bounced back from a horrific loss to the Texans by upsetting the Titans on the road.  That’s not necessarily a huge surprise though as Tennessee has not defeated the Colts in five years.  Indy will certainly receive a big test at home with the visiting Chiefs who have looked good in back to back weeks following their BYE which came after getting destroyed by the Steelers.  This is a good Kansas City team yet again and they have a very opportunistic defense.  The good news for the Colts is that despite a severe lack of talent around him, Andrew Luck is not turning the ball over.  He is making guys like Jack Doyle look like stars and is proving that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league.  Taking the Chiefs on the road here would make a lot of sense, but I am riding the Luck train hard here.  In a horrible AFC South division, all the teams look like they will be bunched together at 8-8 towards the end of the year.  This contest will go a long way to making that happen.  Indianapolis has beaten Kansas City in each of their last three meetings and we all remember what happened the last time these two met in the playoffs, putting up a combined 89 points.  We won’t see anything close to that in this contest, but I will be taking the Colts again.  Simply put, I think Andrew Luck can do some nice things moving the ball on this defense and if the game does turn into a shootout, I don’t think Alex Smith can trade points with Luck.  This pick is an indictment of what I think about #12 and nothing more.Andrew Luck

Indianapolis 27, Kansas City 23

New York Jets (2-5) @ Cleveland Browns (0-7)

When will the misery end for the Browns?  Cleveland is on their fifth different quarterback (sixth if you want to include Terrelle Pryor) this season with Kevin Hogan getting the go for this game.  The Stanford product actually ran for over 100 yards last week with his read-option shenanigans.  That will not happen this week because the element of surprise will be gone.  I know a lot of people will be picking the Browns to win this game because they have to win at some point this year, maybe.  However, I don’t think that the Jets are as bad as the media makes them out to be.  Geno Smith had a chance to lead this team a week ago but he tore his ACL before being able to do much damage so back to Ryan Fitzpatrick this offense goes.  Ryan Fitzpatrick

He said he thought that the coach and GM had given up on him, so from this point forward I expect the Harvard product to play with a large chip on his shoulder.  By the way, we have a Harvard alumni facing a Stanford alumni in this game.  That’s a lot of brainpower right there, wow.  Anyways, the Jets’ struggles this year have come with them turning the ball over, specifically Fitzpatrick.  That said, the Cleveland run defense has been awful this season so I would expect New York to run it down their throats like all the other teams have done this year.  That will cut down on the opportunities for the Jets to make mistakes and I think they will leave town with a healthy win.  The Browns simply have way too much turnover going on throughout this season to build any kind of continuity on offense or defense.  It could be a while before they win any game.

New York 37, Cleveland 16

Oakland Raiders (5-2) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4)

We are coming up on the half way point of the season and the Raiders have yet to lose a road game.  When was the last time we were able to say that?  Also, the Buccaneers aren’t exactly world beaters at home so could Oakland possibly move to 5-0 on the road?  Not so fast.  I was dead wrong about the Bucs last week and they outscored the Niners on the road 34-3 in the final three quarters en route to a dominant 17 point win.  Jacquizz Rodgers shredded that San Fran defense and did the same the game prior against the Panthers. Jacquizz Rodgers

Oakland’s defense still needs a ton of work and it is going to take a lot more than a win over a dysfunctional and sloppy Jaguars team to prove that they are at all competent on that side of the ball.  This is a classic trap game because the Buccaneer offense is underrated and can move the ball.  The question is can their defense make enough plays to slow down Derek Carr and the exciting Raider offense?  I don’t know about that, but I do think that the Bucs are going to steal one at home.  Maybe I am sipping the Kool-Aid that Tampa is making at the moment, but I don’t think they are an awful bunch and with a potential Falcon hiccup on the way that NFC South could very well be up for grabs.  Look for the Buccaneers to get very healthy on offense in a shootout win.

Tampa Bay 45, Oakland 32

Detroit Lions (4-3) @ Houston Texans (4-3)

Here is a difficult game to pick.  On one hand we have the comeback kid Matthew Stafford who seems to always be rallying his team from deficits to come up with big fourth quarter wins.  On the other we have a Houston team that is, quite frankly, terrible on offense with a shaky quarterback in Brock Osweiler.  If this game were being played in Detroit I would have no problem picking the Lions because the Texans have been awful on the road offensively.  But, they’re actually 4-0 at home and the defense plays much better football.  Can they possibly knock off one of three teams in the NFL riding a 3+ game winning streak?  I think so.  The weakness for the Lions is their rush defense and you can bet that Bill O’Brien’s game plan will be to take the air out of the ball to protect his young quarterback.  This is a Lamar Miller/Alfred Blue game.  I like Houston to run the rock 30+ times to shorten the game.  Also, Detroit’s Week 4 loss on the road to Chicago really lurks large in my mind when picking this game.  That was the last time the Lions were on the road and they were woeful offensively.  Coming to Houston against a solid defense could be an issue.  Also, I’m not sold that they are that great of a team at this point.  In their three-game winning streak they have outscored opponents by a total of just eight points.  That doesn’t exactly scream dominant to me.  If the Lions do win on the road here, it would be huge and something that this team can really build on, but I just don’t see it happening.  And since the Dolphins aren’t playing this week, I would like to take this space to mention that former Texan Arian Foster is retiring.  It is scary to see injuries cause players to retire early and it just goes to show how physical this game is.Arian Foster

Power Pick of the Week: Houston 21, Detroit 13

Seattle Seahawks (4-1-1) @ New Orleans Saints (2-4)

Jimmy Graham

Ahh yes, the Jimmy Graham revenge game!  This is an intriguing contest because we have the Seahawks taking their dominant defense on the road to play the Saints who constantly light it up at home against any team, no matter how good they are.  The dreaded tie rule came into effect last week when the Cardinals and Seahawks played a full 75 minutes to a 6-6 deadlock.  It took a long time for the Seattle offense to get things going and the team had only four first downs with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter.  They were able to move the ball in overtime before Steven Hauschka shanked a 28 yard field goal late forcing the tie score.  I highly doubt it will take that long for Seattle to move the ball in this game since it is the Saints’ defense.  This was going to be my upset pick of the week, but I would feel guilty picking against the Seahawks since I do think they are one of the best teams in football.  It seems a little obvious to say that Jimmy Graham can go off against his former defense, but I really think he will.  New Orleans has trouble stopping anybody and they really have problems with big tight ends in the middle of the field.  Graham should go off.  As should Russell Wilson.  I’m seeing three touchdowns and 350 yards from #3.  And yes, their defense is good, but I think the Saints will move the ball on them as well.  Will Kam Chancellor be healthy enough to play in this game?  The ‘Hawks better hope he comes back sooner rather than later because I’ve noticed that the Legion of Boom is missing a physical element without him.  Also, Brandin Cooks versus Richard Sherman bears watching.  Sherman really has issues with smaller, quick receivers like Cooks.  He could be in for a big game.  Anyways, I just don’t trust the Saints defense enough to make a key stop so I will not be picking them for an upset after serious contemplation.  Give me the Seahawks in another Week 8 shootout.

Seattle 41, New Orleans 35

New England Patriots (5-1) @ Buffalo Bills (4-3)

For the second straight week, the Patriots luck out going on the road taking on a team that will be without a star offensive player (probably, LeSean McCoy’s status is not too promising for this game and if he does get the go he will surely see limited action).  I’m saying this like it would actually matter though.  The Pats look like the best team in football and Tom Brady has thrown for 1004 yards, eight touchdowns and no picks since returning from suspension.Tom Brady  This Buffalo defense is getting scarier each week, and not in the good way, with all of their losses.  To me, there is no way they stack up to stop the Patriots.  Rob Gronkowski is all the way back and ripping defenses apart like he always has.  Looking back to the game that these two played earlier in the season, Martellus Bennett was one of the only offensive players that had a good game against the Bills.  I don’t like their chances covering both him and Gronk this week.  Yes, Buffalo has the Brown boys, Zach and Preston, and they have a resurgent Lorenzo Alexander but do you really think Tom Brady cares about any of that?  Lost in the dominant return of a future hall of famer is how well the Pats’ defense has been playing.  This unit is one of the most underrated in the league and I think they get after Tyrod Taylor and bait him into a couple of mistakes.  Also, the one thing that Buffalo has done well since Anthony Lynn was promoted to offensive coordinator is run the ball.  New England has had a lot of success stopping the run over the past couple of weeks.  This is just a bad matchup all around and I have to take the Patriots on the road.

New England 38, Buffalo 22

Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1) @ Carolina Panthers (1-5)

This is the lest emphatic rematch of an NFC Championship game this early in the season in a very long time.  The Panthers are a frustrating team to figure and watch, but they have had a BYE week to think about their early embarrassing start to the season.  This team is one that plays much better later in the year than early on.  So do I like them to get back on track against the Cardinals at home?  I don’t have the stones to pick them.  The secondary is in shambles and the run defense is quite porous as well.  In marches Arizona fresh off of a game that they had no business losing hoping to prove they are on the upswing.  They have the game’s best running back in David Johnson and he should be licking his chops going up against this Carolina defense that has really had a rough go of things lately.  For the Cardinals, they actually weren’t that bad moving the ball last week, their trouble was scoring points.  This week they are facing the league’s 29th ranked scoring defense.  The Panthers are letting teams score almost 30 points per game, so the Cardinals have a chance to get back to scoring in bunches like they did last year.  Although, this is a different offense in 2016 than it was in ’15.  It is more physical and in your face than anything else.  These offenses have not typically fared well this year against the Panthers believe it or not.  It is those who want to air it out and take shots down the field that have found success.  I don’t think Bruce Arians will be able to resist himself from taking many shots down the field and testing this young, shaky secondary.  Mix the running game in as well as a defense that played very well in regulation last week and you got yourself another Panther loss.  I do want to mention that I think that Carolina will turn things around, but not just yet.  Give it one more week.

Arizona 31, Carolina 23

Sunday, October 30th, 4:05 e.t.

San Diego Chargers (3-4) @ Denver Broncos (5-2)

The Chargers continue to be the most fun team to watch week after week, with almost every single one of their games coming down to the wire.  What will this team have in store for us when they hit the road to take on a Denver team that just snapped its two game losing streak in a dominant home win over Houston last Monday night?  It was just two weeks ago when these teams faced of in San Diego in a game that the Bolts obviously won 21-13.  Philip Rivers played solid football in that game and he really has been in all of his contests lately.  But now he has to do it in Denver where quarterbacks have really struggled over the past couple of years.  The best hope for San Diego on the road here is to do what Atlanta did: utilize running backs as pass catchers out of the backfield.  Of course, the Chargers are hurting with injuries on the offensive side of things, but as long as Philip Rivers is careful with the ball they will have a fighting chance.  Tyrell Williams has been a nice find for San Diego and is quickly transforming into one of Rivers’ favorites on the field.  How will he do when shadowed by Chris Harris?  He might not get open quite as easily as this Denver defense is clearly quite different at home.  Trevor Siemian looked solid against a Houston D after starting a bit slow on Monday.  If he can protect the ball and find his men on quick crossing patterns then he should be fine again.  If the Chargers are smart, they will man up and come after the young quarterback here.  Turn up the heat and test out that Denver offensive line.  If guys like Joey Bosa can get hits or sacks on the quarterback then the Chargers can steal another one.  Unfortunately for them I don’t see it happening this time around.  I think the Broncos will try to run the ball to cut down on said pressure and play well on defense to a sixth win.Joey Bosa

Denver 19, San Diego 16

Sunday, October 30th, 4:25 e.t.

Green Bay Packers (4-2) @ Atlanta Falcons (4-3)

This is one of the best games of the week and it will have some big playoff implications early as the Packers head on the road to take on the Falcons who have now lost two games in a row.  After starting off 5-0 last year and finishing the year 3-8, it is understandable why everyone thinks something similar is taking place with Atlanta now but I am here to assure you that it is not.  The Falcons just lost two games that were very winnable and the team could easily be 5-1 right now (a lot of their fans will argue that they should be as well).  After getting stuffed on a fourth and one in their own territory in overtime last week against the Chargers, the Bolts were able to move the ball just a bit and kick the game winning field goal.  The Falcons did lead that game big in the first half and went dormant as things wore on.  That sure will bring cause for concern but I still believe that this team is better than last year.  In come the Packers who just got off of a mini-BYE playing last Thursday night and winning big over Chicago.  The Green Bay offense looked good for the first time all year and Aaron Rodgers hit 39 out of his 56 throws.  Without Eddie Lacy, the Pack really used the quick passing game for almost the entire contest.  Ty Montgomery was a big contributing factor to that offense catching ten balls for 66 yards and carrying it eight more times on top of that.  Ty MontgomeryLook for him to play a lot more in the back field yet again this week.  The Packers and Falcons seem to avoid playing each other most years but we get them together this time and it should be a good one.  I do like the Falcons to get back on track this season but I don’t want to go with them here.  If Green Bay is going to get on a roll offensively then I like them to do so against defenses like Atlanta’s; one that plays soft coverage and can’t rush the passer.  Yes, Aaron Rodgers has actually played worse this year when allowed time to throw the ball, but I think that he bucks that trend here.  With guys like Devonta Adams, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and a budding Ty Montgomery, the Packers present matchup problems all over the field.  This was a hard one to pick but I am going with the Pack on the road.

Green Bay 37, Atlanta 27

Sunday, October 30th, 8:30 e.t.

Philadelphia Eagles (4-2) @ Dallas Cowboys (5-1)

Carson Wentz vs Dak Prescott

Oh what a game we have here.  In what should be Sunday Night Football’s highest rated game of the year we have one of the best head-to-head matchups from the NFC East in recent memory.  Two rookie quarterbacks who have excelled at their game will be squaring off for the first of what promises to be many times in their careers and we can throw a stud rookie running back in there for good measure.  The media has been comparing Eagles rook Carson Wentz to Dallas’s Dak Prescott since week one and the two have had a nice race between them so far.  It is no secret that Prescott has way better weapons and one of the best offensive weapons in football so his success is possibly a factor of that alone, but he is making far fewer mistakes than Tony Romo did and is being very careful with the ball.  The Cowboys have been running the ball against everybody lately and will look to do so again against the Eagles.  Philly has a terrific defense, but one that is not as good on the road as it is at home.  They are letting up just over 21 points on the road while surrendering only just over 7 per game at home.  Washington ran the ball at will against the Eagles two weeks ago and I look for the Cowboys to duplicate that strategy at home.  Carson Wentz, for the first time all year, actually looked like a rookie against the Vikings but that Minnesota defense is no joke, so Philly fans should not sweat it too much.  The Cowboy defense has been playing very well lately and has enough talent on that side to keep most offenses at bay.  On paper the Cowboys have the edge in many areas but these are the kinds of games that they tend to lose.  I hate to make a pick based on that logic, so here’s something else: can the Dallas offensive line slow down edge pass rushers Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin who absolutely dominated last week against the Vikings?  While that was a home game against a shoddy O-line, I think that they can do some damage against the Dallas line here.  Call it a hunch but I think that Carson Wentz outplays Dak Prescott en route to a Philadelphia win.  This prediction will really look bad if Ezekiel Elliot runs loose like he has been over the past month, but the Eagles do tend to play the Cowboys’ ground game well so I don’t see him going for 130+ yards for the fifth straight week.

Philadelphia 30, Dallas 27

Monday, October 31st, 8:30 e.t.

Minnesota Vikings (5-1) @ Chicago Bears (1-6)

It is Halloween and we certainly have a scary matchup between the Vikings, who will be playing pissed off, and the Bears who have no other choice than to feed Matt Barkley to the Minnesota defense.  Nothing in this game bodes well for Chicago as I don’t see that offense making much noise at all against the dominant Viking D.  Jon Gruden loves to call them Purple Reign, and for good reason.  The defense has reigned supreme every week this season and certainly was not to blame for the Vikings first loss of the year on the road in Philly.  The putrid offense was, specifically the offensive line play.  The Eagles blitzed Sam Bradford time after time and hit home with six sacks and reeled in many other hits.  For the Bears to have any chance in this game, they will have to follow that blueprint.  The Vikings will need to get some form of a rushing attack going if this team is going to go anywhere in the playoffs, and if they can’t do so against Chicago then we could make a case that they are fatally flawed.  I see the Vikes coming out and playing with a large chip on their shoulder, putting together a dominant win.  Matt Barkley isn’t going to win anybody any games, certainly not against a defense like this.  Bears fans should go trick-or-treating instead of watching this game because it will likely be ugly.Everson Griffen, Harrison Smith, Anthony Barr

Minnesota 30, Chicago 7

Week 7 Bonus Predictions

Sure Bet of the Week (5-1): Minnesota over Chicago

Upset of the Week: Philadelphia over Dallas

Offensive Player of the Week: Jimmy Graham, TE Seahawks

Defensive Player of the Week: Chris Harris, CB Broncos

Rookie of the Week: Carson Wentz, QB Eagles

Best Quarterback: Russell Wilson, QB Seahawks

Best Running Back: David Johnson, RB Cardinals


Week 8: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons Recap

Rookie QB Jameis Winston was solid in the game Sunday in Atlanta.
Rookie QB Jameis Winston was solid in the game Sunday in Atlanta.

Final: Tampa Bay 23, Atlanta 20 (OT)

The Buccaneers watched a 17-point second half lead evaporate for the second straight week, but are able to pull it together in overtime to clip the sloppy Atlanta Falcons 23-20.  Tampa did not turn the ball over in this contest and rookie Jameis Winston looked solid in his decision making and pocket presence.  Doug Martin made a few tackle-breaking runs that reminded fans of his 2012 rookie campaign in the game as well, but the real star in this one was linebacker Kwon Alexander.  He was all over the place and was able to chase down and strip Julio Jones of the ball in the first quarter, and intercept an errant Matt Ryan pass late in the second quarter.  He had another pick wiped away due to a penalty on the Falcon opening drive.  Alexander also lead the team in tackles with six solo and five assisted stops.

This was one of the two turnovers forced by Tampa Bay linebacker Kwon Alexander from November 1st, 2015.
This was one of the two turnovers forced by Tampa Bay linebacker Kwon Alexander from November 1st, 2015.

As well as the Buccaneers played in this contest, the result may have been more based upon how bad the Falcons were.  They turned the ball over four times and committed a season high 11 penalties for 124 yards.  Matt Ryan’s numbers were respectable as he did throw for 397 yards, but when push came to shove in overtime, the offensive line was not able to slow the Tampa pass rush and Ryan could not deliver an accurate ball during crunch time.  Center Mike Person had a rough game as he was called for a hold, was beat a couple of times on the interior, and made a couple of bad snaps.  The Falcons also turned the ball over twice in the red zone against a team that had struggled in that area of the field.

As easy as it is to give kudos to the Buccaneers for this win, it is important to remember that they did cough up a 17-point lead.  They became the first team to do that in back-to-back weeks since the Vikings did it in 2011.  Tampa Bay has had a lot of trouble finishing games, and that is something that they will have to work on if they hope to even compete in the NFC South in the near future.  The defense gave up a game-tying touchdown pass in regulation with just 18 seconds left and luckily they won the toss in overtime, because had they not it wouldn’t have been a stretch to say that the Falcons would have ridden their momentum that they were creating to a win.  Nevertheless, Jameis Winston delivered a great drive when he had to in order to seal a win for his team.

The NFC South is as crazy as any division in football at the moment.  The Falcons have dropped to 6-2 and sit in second place in the division behind Carolina.  With this win the Buccaneers climb to 3-4 and are not completely out of it.  And don’t look now but the Saints are 4-4 and red hot coming into the second half of the season.  Atlanta will have to find some momentum soon otherwise they could risk seeing their hot start fade into the background.  One thing is for sure, they will not win many games turning the ball over four times.  A good win by Tampa Bay, but this game should be classified as more of a Falcon loss rather than a Buccaneer win.

The Skinny:

  • Atlanta turned the ball over four times in the game and did not force any takeaways themselves
    Jameis Winston had one of his best games this season on the road in Atlanta.
    Jameis Winston had one of his best games this season on the road in Atlanta.
  • Even though they won, the Bucs became the first team since 2011 to relinquish 17 point leads in back-to-back games
  • Matt Ryan completed 37 passes (tying a career high) for 397 yards in the game
  • Roddy White continued to fade as he made only two catches for 24 yards.  He was a ghost for the first three quarters
  • Kwon Alexander forced two turnovers and was flying around the field for the Buccaneers
  • Defending the middle of the field was a problem for Tampa Bay as Julio Jones and company ate them alive
  • The Buccaneers had allowed teams to score in the red zone on 25 consecutive drives entering this game.  They stopped the Falcons from scoring twice in this contest in those situations

2015 Season: Week 8 Predictions

We are about halfway through the 2015 season already and there are still five undefeated teams.  That will change for sure as two of them face off in a colossal Sunday night game.  As for the other three, they play teams hungry for a win and could find themselves in some hairy contests.  Who is going to emerge triumphant in Week 8?  Find out with my picks.

Last Week: 6-8

Season: 59-46

Thursday, October 29th, 8:30 e.t.

Miami Dolphins (3-3) @ New England Patriots(6-0)

The Patriots have been on some kind of roll lately, as have the Dolphins.  That said, nobody from the AFC East has been able to come into Foxboro and defeat the Pats in a meaningful game.  As good as the Dolphins have been lately, they won’t be able to ride that momentum to a win.

New England 34, Miami 20

Sunday, November 1st, 9:30 e.t. (London)

Detroit Lions (1-6) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (2-5)

As bad as the Lions have been this year, I keep picking them.  That doesn’t stop here.  I still think they are a much more talented team than their record says they are.  They just need to stop shooting themselves in the foot.  As for the Chiefs, their injuries will loom large in this game.

Detroit 26, Kansas City 16

Sunday, November 1st, 1:00 e.t.

Tennessee Titans (1-5) @ Houston Texans (2-5)

The Titans have been a mess since Week 1 and the Texans defense has been horrible all year.  However, their offense hasn’t been that bad under Brian Hoyer and with Ryan Mallet out of the picture, that could really help his confidence.  He will probably force a few more throws.  It won’t cost him in this game, but it might in the future.

Houston 24, Tennessee 12

 Minnesota Vikings (4-2) @ Chicago Bears (2-4)

The Vikings have quietly put together a nice season, as has Jay Cutler.  I wanted to pick the Bears for this game, but something tells me that their defense won’t simply shut down Adrian Peterson.  Stefon Diggs has really come on too for Minnesota.  Their key offensive players coupled with a rugged defense will be enough to earn their team the “W”.

Minnesota 27, Chicago 22

New York Giants (4-3) @ New Orleans Saints (3-4)

Even though their 4-3, the Giants haven’t looked super impressive for the most part this season.  The Saints have been on the upswing since Week 5, and playing at home will help them win this contest as well.  New York does not tend to fare so well when it travels to New Orleans.

New Orleans 38, New York 24

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) @ Atlanta Falcons (6-1)

The Buccaneers relinquished a 24 point lead to the Redskins and lost the game last week.  If that doesn’t spell trouble for them, I’m not sure what does.  For the Falcons, ever since their destruction of Houston, they haven’t looked that good.  But if Kirk Cousins can rip apart Tampa’s defense, I have full confidence that Matt Ryan and Julio Jones can do the same.

Atlanta 33, Tampa Bay 21

Cincinnati Bengals (6-0) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)

Ben Roethlisberger is back, and I think that when he is healthy, the Steelers are the best competition the Patriots have in the AFC.  Will he be able to shake the rust though?  Coming back from injury isn’t always easy for him, but playing host to the rival Bengals in an important AFC North contest, I say he gets it done.  Cincy drops their first contest of the year.

Pittsburgh 27, Cincinnati 23

Arizona Cardinals (5-2) @ Cleveland Browns (2-5)

Arizona eeked one out against the Ravens (as have a number of teams this year, including these very Browns), and have to travel across the country on a short week.  Cleveland doesn’t know who their quarterback is going to be for this game, but even still I am picking them for the upset, just because I can.  Nobody likes a prognosticator that picks all favorites after all!

Cleveland 23, Arizona 17

San Diego Chargers (2-5) @ Baltimore Ravens (1-6)

Playing close games is par for the course if you are Baltimore.  The Chargers have been involved in some close ones themselves.  Nothing changes here.  San Diego really hasn’t been that good this year with their two wins coming against bad teams.  The Ravens could be 4-3 right now if a few plays went in their favor.  They are the better team and they do host here, so I say that they pick up their second win of the season

Baltimore 24, San Diego 21

San Francisco 49ers (2-5) @ St. Louis Rams (3-3)

The Niners were embarrassed at home by the Seahawks a week ago and have not fared well at all on the road this season.  This gives the Rams a big advantage who have really looked solid against the NFC West.  St. Louis rides Todd Gurley yet again to a nice win.

St. Louis 27, San Francisco 17

Sunday, November 1st, 4:05 e.t.

New York Jets (4-2) @ Oakland Raiders (3-3)

This is a sneaky good match-up.  The Raiders are coming off of (probably) their best game in years while the Jets can be proud of the effort they put up in Foxboro.  Travelling across the country to the West Coast is not something that has fared well in the past for the Jets, however, and that trend should continue Sunday.

Oakland 31, New York 24

Sunday, October 25th, 4:25 e.t.

Seattle Seahawks (3-4) @ Dallas Cowboys (2-4)

Maybe, just maybe, the Seahawks have gotten back on track.  The defense has not been bad this year, but the offense hasn’t been super consistent.  Luckily, the Romo/Dez-less Cowboys have been pretty awful and that will help the ‘Hawks cause at rising to .500 once again this year.

Seattle 31, Dallas 10

Sunday, October 25th, 8:30 e.t.

Green Bay Packers (6-0) @ Denver Broncos (6-0)

It’s funny, because I think that the Packers are the much better team out of these two, but the Broncos will win this game.  Their defense has been so good this year and the Green Bay offense hasn’t been as sharp as you would think.  Playing at home and coming off of a BYE will help Denver out.  I’m still predicting that Peyton Manning goes off in a random game this year.  Maybe this is the one.

Denver 23, Green Bay 20

Monday, October 12th, 8:30 e.t.

Indianapolis Colts (3-4) @ Carolina Panthers (6-0)

The Panthers just refuse to lose this season.  And after being able to run the ball against a solid run defense last week in Philly, I don’t see them having much trouble in doing so this week against a defense that allowed the Saints to run for 182 yards at home.  Andrew Luck still doesn’t look right and that will not bode well for the Colts on the road.  Panthers go to 7-0.

Carolina 30, Indianapolis 21

Week 8 Bonus Predictions

Upset of the Week (1-6): Cleveland over Arizona

Sure Bet of the Week (6-1): Seattle over Dallas

Rookie of the Week: Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota

Offensive Player of the Week: Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers

Defensive Player of the Week: Chris Harris Jr., CB, Broncos

Best Overall Offense: New England Patriots

Best Overall Defense: Seattle Seahawks

Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!

2014 Season: Week 8 Predictions

It’s Week 8, and we still have four one-loss teams remaining in the league.  Two of said squads square off this week, so we will be losing at least one name from that list for sure.  Otherwise, there are a bevy of appetizing games on the docket, starting with the Thursday night tilt between San Diego and Denver.  I know I’ll be getting my fix of football on Sunday when I wake up to the Lions and Falcons duking it out over seas at 9:30 (e.t.) followed by a pick of three other games.  Yup, its going to be a marathon this Sunday, and I’m looking forward to it.  We are starting to heat up here in this column.  Last week rewarded a record of 11-4, and we hope for even better things this week with fifteen exciting games to dig into.  Let’s get cracking.

Thursday, October 23rd, 8:25 e.t.

San Diego Chargers (5-2) @ Denver Broncos (5-1)

When Philip Rivers isn’t rocking sweet Bolo Ties, he’s holding his own against Peyton Manning-lead squads.  He sure has held his own against the new touchdown record holder over his career.  Heck, his Chargers played the Broncos tough in all three match-ups last year.  So because of recent trends, I’d say we should expect a close game here.  Even though #17 has been balling hard this season, his stats are still below that of Peyton, who has been playing like a god in the regular season since about this time two years ago.  It’s going to be tough for San Diego to slow down the (now) balanced Denver offense.  Demaryius Thomas has been lighting secondaries up over this past month, and I see him grabbing six passes for 103 yards and a TD in this contest.  Broncos win.

Denver 37, San Diego 23

Sunday, October 26th, 9:30 e.t.

Detroit Lions (5-2) vs. Atlanta Falcons (2-5) (London)

The Lions eeked one out at home against the Saints last week and now they head across the pond to face the Falcons who have been nearly unwatchable on  offense over the past couple of weeks.  I do give credit to their defense though; they didn’t allow the Ravens to hang 30 points on them.  Cutting the string at 29 is good enough for them at this point.  If Atlanta is to win this one, they are probably going to have to score at least four touchdowns on the NFL’s top (total yardage) defense.  In order to do that, they will need to find a running game.  Oh yeah, Detroit is tops in the league in that category as well.  Things don’t look good for the birds here.

Detroit 31, Atlanta 17

Sunday, October 26th, 1:00 e.t.

St. Louis Rams (2-4) @ Kansas City Chiefs (3-3)

If it seems like it’s been about a month since the Chiefs had played a home game, it’s because it has been.  The last time these guys could be seen at Arrowhead, they were spanking the Patriots and reclaiming the home-field advantage that they had lost in Week 1 to the Titans (of all people).  Coming off of a nice win over the Chargers on the road, I like the Chiefs to handle business at home against the Rams.  Granted, they are coming off of an impressive win at home over Seattle, but I don’t see them getting any help from special teams shenanigans this week to pull the upset.  I’ll go with the home team.

Kansas City 20, St. Louis 10

Miami Dolphins (3-3) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6)

The Jaguars just played their best game of the season last week at home against Cleveland.  Now they host a team that just played its best game of the season last week on the road in Chicago.  Denard Robinson was the workhorse for the Jags last week… let that sink in for a minute.  I remember this guy lighting things up as a quarterback at Michigan a couple of years ago.  Anyways, he will tote the load in this game and I just don’t trust that game-plan.  While I am not as high on Miami as a lot of other people are, I do see them coming to town and winning this game…  Aw hell, I’ll go Jacksonville.  Feeling froggy with this one, don’t ask why.

Jacksonville 20, Miami 17

Buffalo Bills(4-3) @ New York Jets(1-6)

I swear that I’m not crazy, but I’m gonna pick another 1-6 team to win this week.  That’s right, THIS will be the week that the Jets get back on track.  They should have fun moving new offensive weapon, Percy Harvin, around against a Buffalo defense that has held its own this season.  Kyle Orton, though, was barely able to beat the Vikings at home last week.  Does that tell us that these Bills aren’t as good as their record tells us?   Maybe.  I like seeing the Bills play good football each and every week, but this time around I see the Jets yanking the win.  Nick Folk nails five field goals, two from 50+, in this one.  You heard it here first.

New York 22, Buffalo 20

Houston Texans (3-4) @ Tennessee Titans (2-5)

The Pittsburgh Steelers scored more points in the span of four and a half minutes than the Texans were able to score in the entire game last Monday night.  That’s ugly.  What may be even more uglier is the fact that the Titans allowed Colt Freaking McCoy’s Redskins to trump them with a last second field goal a week ago.  Is Charlie Whitehurst really the guy they are going to send out in this game?  It’s better for any team that he is on if he is holding the clipboard.  Texans win behind the power of their offensive and defensive lines.

Houston 24, Tennessee 10

Chicago Bears (3-4) @ New England Patriots (5-2)

After laying an egg at home last week against the Dolphins, the Bears take their show on the road to New England to take on the red hot Patriots.  After Chicago had trouble stopping Ryan Tannehill and pals at home last week, how do you think they will fare on the road in Foxboro.  You don’t wanna know the answer if you are a Bears fan.

New England 41, Chicago 20

Seattle Seahawks (3-3) @ Carolina Panthers (3-3-1)

After the dust settles from this contest, one of the two playoff teams from a year ago will have a record below .500 heading into Week 9.  That team will be the Panthers.  To me, this game is a no-brainer.  Carolina has struggled to stop anybody lately and Russell Wilson (save a Week 6 stinker at home vs. Dallas) has been phenomenal over the last month.  Plus, teams have really been able to take it to the Panthers on the ground this season.  Marshawn Lynch will run rampant all afternoon here.  Yeah, I’ve been saying that for a while now but this time I really mean it.  Seattle scores three times on the ground and once through the air en route to a solid road win.

Seattle 28, Carolina 16

Baltimore Ravens (5-2) @ Cincinnati Bengals (3-2-1)

This is a battle of two teams going in opposite directions.  The Ravens have been sizzling since their week one defeat at the hands of these very Bengals.  But are they the same team that won opening week, really?  These kitties haven’t even won a game in over a month.  Andy Dalton has been mediocre at best since the Tennessee game, and has disappointed fantasy owners everywhere *cough, cough*.  With this being said, I know that this offense can be streaky and they have a tendency of turning things around at home.  It’s hard to do this, but I am picking the Bengals to get back on track with a nice home win, thus sweeping the Ravens on the season.  We all expect Baltimore to win this one, and if I know anything about the NFL it is that the expected is generally what does not happen.

Cincinnati 28, Baltimore 18

Minnesota Vikings (2-5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5)

This is a tough game to call because you don’t know what you are going to get from either squad on a week to week basis.  Some weeks the Vikings defense has looked respectable, and others they have been dominated.  The Buccaneers’ defense has been bad pretty much every week, but their offense has showed up at times throughout the season.  I am giving the Bucs’ the benefit of the doubt here, because most of the time when they have been shredded, it has been by a pretty good quarterback.  Teddy Bridgewater is not that, at least not yet.  His one touchdown versus five interception ratio is scaring nobody (except for maybe Minnesota fans).  I think Tampa Bay gets after him and posts a nice home win coming off of their BYE.

Tampa Bay 13, Minnesota 7

Sunday, October 26th, 4:05 e.t.

 Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (5-1)

The Eagles, along with the Seahawks, are the only team in the league that has managed to score at least 21 points in all of their games this season.  They manage to get to that mark in this game against the Cardinals who have been pretty good at keeping their opponent’s scores down.  Even though I love them at home, I see Arizona having a tough time moving the ball in this game.  Despite their 5-1 record, they haven’t been playing all that well over the past couple of weeks.  I can see Zach Ertz mauling this defense in the middle of the field with six catches for 110 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  Philly wins in an exciting game that features some solid “D”.

Philadelphia 21, Arizona 16

Sunday, October 26th, 4:25 e.t.

Oakland Raiders (0-6) @ Cleveland Browns (3-3)

The Raiders have been taking baby-steps this season and Derek Carr has been looking better and better each week.  Meanwhile, the Browns fell flat on their face last week on the road in Jacksonville.  They turned the ball over three times (after only surrendering it twice all year going into that contest) and allowed the Jags to score 17 points off of those turnovers.  The reason why Cleveland was so bad last week was because they could not get their running game going.  Luckily they are facing the Raiders run defense this week.  They rank 29th in the league at stopping the run.  Who ranks last?  Yup, the Browns, but that Darren McFadden/Maurice Jones-Drew dream team circa 2010 isn’t going to manage much space in this game.  I like Cleveland to bounce back at home behind the strength of the ground game.

Cleveland 25, Oakland 13

Indianapolis Colts (5-2) @ Pittsburgh Steelers(4-3)

There ain’t no team hotter than these Colts, and they are a couple of plays away from being 7-0.  Andrew Luck has carried this squad all season long and he will continue to do so this afternoon as he torches the Pittsburgh defense to the tune of 335 yards and three touchdowns.  The Steelers have struggled against AFC South teams this year despite their 2-0 record in that division.  If these guys are to hang with Indy in this one, they will have to hope for big games from the “big three” (Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown).  Brown notches his usual 5+ catches when he records 7 for 79 yards and a TD, but in the end it won’t be enough.  I can’t pick against the Colts given the run they are on now.

Indianapolis 31, Pittsburgh 21

Sunday, October 26th, 8:30 e.t.

Green Bay Packers (5-2) @ New Orleans Saints (2-4)

I was going to pick the Saints to win this game, but then I remembered… they aren’t that good.  Meanwhile, the Packers have been excellent since their 1-2 start, and it all starts with Aaron Rodgers.  He has thrown a whopping 18 touchdown passes against only one interception this season (he is 17-0 in that category since Week 1).  He faces a New Orleans defense that has not been sharp this season.  Even though I see Rodgers having his way with them in this game, I do predict that he throws one pick.  But he overcomes this blemish with four touchdowns.  Drew Brees manages to keep things close, but this game is Green Bay’s to win when all is said and done.

Green Bay 35, New Orleans 28

Monday, October 27th, 8:30 e.t.

Washington Redskins (2-5) @ Dallas Cowboys (6-1)

It has been the Murray show (sorry, I had to) down in Dallas this season.  His 913 rushing yards on the season puts him 198 ahead of the next closest contender.  He deserves some MVP consideration for his performance so far this year.  However, the Cowboy offensive line has been opening up holes that you could drive a semi-truck through during the course of the season.  And Tony Romo has been protected well.  This has allowed him to hook up with his favorite friends down the field.  Dez Bryant, Terrence Williams, Jason Witten, and Gavin Escobar have all been active members in the offense over the past couple of weeks.  What does that mean for the Washington defense?  Bad things.  Bad things indeed.  I think the ‘Skins will play Dallas very tough though.  I can see Colt McCoy having a nice evening, throwing for 313 yards and two scores.  As badly as I want to pick the Redskins to win (as I could see them pulling the upset) I’m not going to.  I feel like I am going out on some limbs with my picks this week.  I don’t have the guts to stick my neck out in this one.  I’m going Cowboys.

Dallas 36, Washington 27

Week 8 Bonus Predictions

Upset of the Week: Jacksonville over Miami

Sure Bet of the Week: New England over Chicago

Rookie of the Week: Sammy Watkins

Offensive Player of the Week: Peyton Manning

Defensive Player of the Week: Malcolm Jenkins (with a forced fumble and an interception)

Best Overall Offense: Denver Broncos

Best Overall Defense: Kansas City Chiefs

Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!

Week 8: Seattle Seahawks 14, St. Louis Rams 9- Post Game Thoughts

This was the result many expected from this game, but it did not play out anywhere near the way we all thought it would.  For starters, the Seahawks were exposed on offense.  Outside of the monster 80 yard touchdown from Russell Wilson to Golden Tate, Seattle did nothing on offense.  Their first touchdown came after Richard Sherman had returned an interception 38 yards to the St. Louis 26 yard line and then there was that quick strike.  Take away that touchdown and this team would have put up just 55 yards on offense.  As it stands, they had 135 on the game.  The fact that the Rams were able to sack Wilson seven times helped eat away that yardage that they could have had on offense.  Of course, when you only hold the ball for 21:51, you are often not going to put up a lot of yards.  How did the Rams control the clock so well you ask?  Well, they were able to run the ball very well.  They rushed for 199 yards on the game, Zac Stacy himself trucking for 134 yards on 26 carries,  Though they did run the ball like champs, the inability of this team to pound it into the end zone is alarming.  St. Louis still does not have a rushing touchdown on the season, at this, the half-way mark of the season.  In fact, the nine points you see all came on field goals; three kicked by Greg Zeurlein.  He missed another one which really costed the team because if he had made the 50-yarder then that final drive of the game would have only required a field goal for the Rams to take the lead.  Anyways, in the end it is the Seahawks who go to 7-1.  They own the best record in the NFC and they take on the team with the worst record in the NFC (Tampa Bay, 0-7) next week at home.  The Rams will host the Titans next week in what will probably be an emotional game when Rams’ head coach Jeff Fisher takes tangles with his former team in which he spent 16 years with.

Week 8: Arizona Cardinals 27, Atlanta Falcons 13- Post Game Thoughts

When the Cardinals hired Bruce Arians as the head coach, this is what they thought the offense would look like under his and Harold Goodwin’s wings.  The team racked up 348 yards in total, including an impressive 154 on the ground from Andre Ellington.  A strong running game is something that this team has been lobbying for for the longest time and they may have finally found a guy they can feed the ball to in the backfield.  Although, I will need to see Ellington keep this up before I can put my full trust in him; we’ve seen outbursts from Beanie Wells in the past couple of years for the Cards and he was never able to fully shoulder the load.  Anyways, four interceptions of Matt Ryan certainly helped the Arizona cause here as well.  Ryan was forced into throwing the ball 61 times and to have 301 yards on 31 completions, it shows that this Cardinal defense was able to keep the plays in front of them and rally to the ball, a trademark of any good defense.  The longest pass play on the day was 25 yards to Harry Douglas, so that is pretty good.  Also, for the second week in a row Tony Gonzalez was held in check; he only caught three balls for 26 yards.  Atlanta is going to need to find somebody other than Harry Douglas to step up in the absence of Roddy White and Julio Jones.  It is clear that this defense is not good enough to help this team win a game when the offense struggles.  It is hard to win in Arizona this year though as the Cardinals have been able to drop three of their four opponents in the desert (Carolina and Detroit, two teams over .500 were the other two teams to fall).  4-4 is a respectable record for Arizona and those wins over the Panthers and Lions could play a huge role in determining seeding for the playoffs.  If this team wants to be in position to make a run, they will need to play better away from home and they have some winnable games on the road coming up, so this is a team that is worth watching as we plunge into the second half of the 2013 season.

Week 8: Oakland Raiders 21, Pittsburgh Steelers 18- Post Game Thoughts

Is it fair to say that this Steelers’ defense is pretty darn good?  They would have completely shut the Raiders down on offense if you took away the 93 yard touchdown dash from quarterback Terrelle Pryor on the first play from scrimmage.  This was the longest run from a quarterback in NFL history and it helped pad the stats for the Raiders, a team who ran for 197 yards in the game.  But, if you take away that touchdown run, they would have run for only 104 yards on the day and accumulated only 186 yards on the day.  Plus the Steelers probably would have won the game, but funky things happen in the NFL and that is why it is a beautiful thing to watch.  It is worth noting that Pittsburgh shut out the Raiders in the second half and were almost able to pull off a massive comeback win as they scored 15 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to make this a game once again.  They failed to recover the onside kick and Oakland was able to run the clock out.  Now the Raiders are 3-4 and are getting ready to face a sputtering Eagles team at home next week.  Terrelle Pryor has not lost a home start in his career as he is 3-0 in games played in front of the “Black Hole”.  Plus, as an additional little nugget, he has run for 7.06 yards per carry in his career, the highest by any runner in the league this year with at least 50 attempts.  For the Steelers, this was a game they had to have and with a 2-5 record they may be too far out of it to push for a playoff spot.  Their only hope is to run the table within the division and gun for a wild card spot.  Otherwise the 2-5 hole may be one that is impossible for them to climb out of.

Week 8: Cincinnati Bengals 49, New York Jets 9- Post Game Thoughts

The top quarterbacks from the class of the 2011 draft are on fire right now (I’m talking about Cam Newton and Cincy’s Andy Dalton of course).  Dalton is in the midst of the most impressive stretch of his career.  He threw five touchdown passes this week and has passed for at least three touchdowns and 300 yards in his last three games.  Those are elite numbers as far as I’m concerned.  Speaking of elite numbers, did anybody see what wide receiver Marvin Jones did in this game?  You may have missed it because Calvin Johnson is getting a lot of attention for his 329 yard receiving game this week, but to fill you in Jones caught four touchdown passes in this game.  The four receiving touchdown plateau is one that has not been reached since 2007 and he became the first receiver in Bengal history to reach that mark.  Of course, the Cincinnati defense deserves a lot of credit.  They helped keep the Jets down to just three field goals in this game and they forced two Geno Smith interceptions.  Plus, they only allowed one pass play of over 20 yards in this game.  The 20+ yard pass play is something that has become a staple of this New York offense through the first eight weeks of the year and the Bengals did an excellent job taking that away.  So, the Jets continue their pattern of a win and then a loss.  If this holds steady, we can all expect Gang Green to look good in a win over the Saints next week, but we will get to that contest on Wednesday when I come out with my Week 9 predictions.  Stay tuned.