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Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Week 8 NFL Picks

Michael SchotteyNFL National Lead WriterOctober 23, 2012

Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Week 8 NFL Picks

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    After a crazy Week 6, Week 7 was a bit more sane in the NFL with fewer upsets. In the place of all that drama, NFL fans got to see a bunch of great rivalries and tons of fantastic football.

    Moving forward into Week 8, there should be even more great football as the Giants and Cowboys get set for a rematch of the NFL's opening night. Dallas may have been the victor last time around, but our experts see a different outcome this time around.

    Drew Brees and Peyton Manning face off in the Mile High city. Manning is coming off of a bye, but the Saints are playing better football than they have all season.

    See who our team picked in these and other matchups.

     

    Our B/R Panel of Experts

    Matt Miller: NFL Draft Senior Lead Writer (@NFLDraftScout)

    Aaron Nagler: NFL Lead Writer (@Aaron_Nagler)

    Erik Frenz: AFC East Divisional Lead Writer (@ErikFrenz)

    Andrea Hangst: AFC North Divisional Lead Writer (@FBALL_Andrea)

    Chris Hansen: AFC West Divisional Lead Writer (@ChrisHansenNFL)

    Nate Dunlevy: AFC South Divisional Lead Writer (@NateDunlevy)

    Brad Gagnon: NFC East Divisional Lead Writer (@Brad_Gagnon)

    Andrew Garda: NFC North Divisional Lead Writer (@Andrew_Garda)

    Tyson Langland: NFC West Divisional Lead Writer (@TysonNFL)

    Knox Bardeen: NFC South Divisional Lead Writer (@KnoxBardeen)

     

    Note: All betting odds are for informational purposes only and courtesy of Statfox.com. Although spreads are provided, all picks are straight-up.

Standings

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    Expert Last Week Total
    Hangst 11-2 66-38
    Dunlevy 11-2 65-39
    Bardeen 12-1 64-40
    Frenz 9-4 63-41
    Garda 10-3 62-42
    Langland 9-4 61-43
    Nagler 9-4 60-44
    Schottey 9-4 59-45
    Gagnon 11-2 59-45
    Miller 8-5 53-51
    Hansen 10-3 53-51

Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears

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    B/R Consensus: Bears (Unanimous)

    Vegas: Bears (-9)

     

    Schottey: Bears

    The Bears' defense is scary good while the Panthers have played scared all season. Literally cannot wait to see Cam Newton's body language after this one.


    Miller: Bears

    The Panthers' first game without Marty Hurney will be a forgettable one for folks in the Carolinas. Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall will take advantage of a Chris Gamble-less Panthers defense en route to a big win.


    Nagler: Bears

    The Panthers are in disarray. They've let go of their GM, and head coach Ron Rivera could very well be next. The defense showed some improvement after the bye week but the offense is a complete mess. The Bears are playing sound football in every phase. This will probably be a bit closer than most think it will be, but the Bears should win by at least 10.


    Bardeen: Bears

    There’s not much good going on in Carolina right now and the time to stop the bleeding of a losing streak like this is not against one of the best teams in the NFC. Chicago might have its way with the Panthers similar to the way the Giants did back in Week 3

     

    Garda: Bears

    Considering how badly run the Panthers' offense is, and how shaky Newton is, this Bears defense will be frothing at the mouth for this matchup. The offense of the Bears is firing on all cylinders as well, and the Panthers have no answer for it. Bears should run away and hide early.

San Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns

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    B/R Consensus: Chargers (9-2)

    Vegas: Chargers (-3)

     

    Schottey: Chargers

    With Mike Holmgren already on the way out, this team (and coaching staff) knows they are playing for their jobs. Some teams might step up under that pressure, but I can't give the Browns that much credit. They might steal this one at home, but the Chargers are the much better team.


    Miller: Browns

    Upset city. Or is it? The Chargers tend to play down to their opponents, and while the Browns have struggled, their defense is good enough to bring out the "Philip Rivers Face" early in this one.

     

    Nagler: Chargers

    Philip Rivers' mechanics have gone all to hell. Nearly every pass he attempted against the Broncos was thrown while falling backward, rather than setting his feet and driving the ball down field. No matter. While the Browns have a decent defense, and a promising but inconsistent offense, they won't hang with the Chargers.


    Hansen: Chargers

    The passing game has been killing the Chargers on offense and defense. Rivers will be more conservative this week, but the Browns haven't been very good against any passing game. Joe Haden will shut down someone, but Rivers will just go to his other options.

    The Chargers will probably use the running game more against the Browns to set up the pass and take the pressure off the offensive line. The Chargers are also coming off a bye and are probably eager to rid themselves of the losing feeling after the collapse against the Broncos in Week 6. Chargers should win big.

     

    Hangst: Browns

    As long as the Browns keep taking on shaky opposition, I am compelled to pick them. In terms of personnel, they're a far better team than their record indicates, it's just about minimizing mistakes and learning how to win. At home, they have a better chance, especially against a San Diego team that is traveling east and has been error-prone this season.

Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions

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    B/R Consensus: Lions (7-4)

    Vegas: Lions (-3)

     

    Schottey: Lions

    Two weeks in a row I've gone "homer" and picked the Lions. This week, I can honestly admit that there is no way on Earth I would take them if this game was in Seattle. It's at Ford Field though and the Seahawks aren't the same team on the road.  So, feel free to blast me as biased once again.


    Miller: Seahawks

    Seattle doesn't play well on the road, but the Detroit Lions don't play well anywhere. The Seahawks' secondary will keep Calvin Johnson out of the end zone and make Matthew Stafford pay behind the Lions' struggling offensive line.


    Nagler: Seahawks

    Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan had a good run, but his stuff in Detroit has been figured out. Everything is vertical, the shotgun running game is completely ineffective, and the screen game has disappeared. Matt Stafford's struggles with downfield accuracy aren't helping either. 

     

    Langland: Seahawks

    Seattle hung tough Thursday night against the 49ers, but Russell Wilson's receivers let him down in a big way. Ten days of rest will help Pete Carroll's club come back a more refreshed, organized group. Look for the Seahawks to turn up the pressure on Matthew Stafford and steal a win on the road.


    Garda: Lions

    Detroit needs wins like Ndamukong Suh needs a chauffeur, and you can expect them to come out hard to wipe out the bad taste of the earlier losses of the season. If this were in Seattle it could go the other way, but without the 12th man screaming at them, Stafford and the Lions will be able to run their plays with little trouble.

     

    Also Picking the Seahawks: Frenz.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Green Bay Packers

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    B/R Consensus: Packers (Unanimous)

    Vegas: OFF

     

    Schottey: Packers

    If the Jaguars were fully healthy and this game were at home, they might have a slight chance. Instead, they're running into a buzzsaw. This should be a laugher.


    Miller: Packers

    There's a good chance Graham Harrell takes more snaps than Aaron Rodgers in this one. If the Packers come out ready to play, they'll be up by 35 at halftime.


    Nagler: Packers

    What does a moral victory look like for Jacksonville? Because that's what the Jaguars need to shoot for here. With MJD already declared out, and with a possible start from Chad Henne at quarterback, this could be over by halftime. Of course, Mike McCarthy's Packers team has a history of playing down to its opponents' level. But not this far down.


    Dunlevy: Packers

    The Packers may not be the force they once were, but Jacksonville is arguably the worst team in football. Pack by 20.


    Garda: Packers

    Green Bay won't have any trouble shutting down the shell of a shell of a disaster of an offense and the Jags defense makes an underperforming defense look sharp. If the Packers lose this, it will cause riots in Wisconsin.

Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans

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    B/R Consensus: Titans (7-4)

    Vegas: Titans (-4)

     

    Schottey: Titans

    Remember when this game had a couple of All-Pro QBs facing off? Completely different landscape these days. The Colts have the better future, but the Titans have the (slightly) better team right now. Their great tackle tandem will stave off the Colts' pass rush.


    Miller: Colts

    While the Titans have looked better with Matt Hasselbeck under center, the Indianapolis Colts are playing very well right now. You can bet Chuck Pagano's boys will be fired up for their first game since the coach was released from hospital.


    Nagler: Titans

    Matt Hasselbeck gets yet another start for the Titans. He's been effective, to say the least. Andrew Luck has been up and down, but the ups sure give you the sense that we're watching the beginning of a great career. Unfortunately, for Colts fans, there isn't a win to enjoy this week.


    Dunlevy: Titans

    The Colts aren't a very good team, and they've been blown out on the road twice already. I expect it to happen again against Tennessee.

     

    Also Picking the Colts: Hangst, Garda, Bardeen.

New England Patriots at St. Louis Rams

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    B/R Consensus: Patriots (Unanimous)

    Vegas: Patriots (-6.5)

     

    Schottey: Patriots

    Overall, the Patriots have a lot of soul searching to do before they get to the playoffs. Against the Rams, though, things should be manageable (though not easy). Look for the Patriots' defense to make the ultimate difference here.


    Miller: Patriots

    This one will be closer than you think. Sure, it's in London, which takes away the home-field advantage for the Rams, but it does favor the team with a stronger defense, and that's St. Louis. Still, Tom Brady should never be bet against.


    Nagler: Patriots

    Hullo Governor! The Patriots invade Jolly Old England looking to take out their offensive frustrations on the Rams. Chris Long and company may have other ideas. While the Rams' defense may be on the rise, the offense is light years away. Patriots pull away in the third quarter and don't look back.


    Frenz: Patriots

    This is not an easy prediction to make, especially since the Rams match up so favorably with New England. In a neutral site, though, give me Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

     

    Langland: Patriots

    Even a time zone change won't help the Rams put a W in the win column. Look for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots to move it up and down the field with ease. St. Louis' secondary is coming off its worst performance of the season against Green Bay, and it will be tested again as New England will deploy its top-rated offense.

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

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    B/R Consensus: Dolphins (9-2)

    Vegas: Jets (-2.5)

     

    Schottey: Dolphins

    Kudos to the Dolphins for outplaying the talent on their roster so far. Jeff Ireland has gotten a reprieve and Ryan Tannehill looks like the best Dolphins QB since Dan Marino. On paper, the Jets are still the better team here, but these two are trending in different directions and the Dolphins are playing better right now.

     

    Miller: Dolphins

    If the Jets play the way they did against New England, they'll win. The problem is Rex Ryan's team generally plays down to its competition. If the Jets do that this week, Ryan Tannehill will lead his Dolphins to a win.

     

    Nagler: Dolphins

    The Jets hung in and hung in against the Patriots, but ultimately their offensive shortcomings got the best of them. The Dolphins are rested and ready and their quarterback seems to get better every week.

    How is it that the Jets quarterback has pretty much stayed the same player throughout his entire time in the NFL? Dolphins are on the way up.


    Frenz: Dolphins

    The Dolphins face one of their biggest challenges of the season, coming off a bye, traveling north to an opponent they've already lost to this year. Both teams are trending upward since the last meeting, but the Dolphins are trending upward and winning while doing it.

     

    Picking the Jets: Dunlevy, Garda.

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles

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    B/R Consensus: Falcons (6-5)

    Vegas: Eagles (-2.5)

     

    Schottey: Falcons

    Michael Vick's days as an NFL quarterback are winding down as he turns the ball over again and again. The Eagles' coaching staff should be filling out their resumes as well. The Falcons aren't as good as their perfect record, but this game shouldn't be close.


    Miller: Falcons

    The Falcons' first real test of the year comes on the road, in Philadelphia, with both teams coming off a bye. Atlanta's balance on offense will be too much for Philadelphia, and the Falcons' amazing secondary will be too much for Michael Vick.


    Nagler: Eagles

    Andy Reid is desperate, coming off a bye week, with a new defensive coordinator and sense of purpose. And here come the undefeated Falcons. Maybe I'm crazy (don't answer that), but I think the Eagles match up well with the Falcons on both sides of the ball. They say sacks come in bunches and the Eagles get a bunch in this game.


    Bardeen: Falcons

    The only time a Mike Smith-led Falcons team has lost after a bye week was in 2008, to the Philadelphia Eagles. But this Atlanta offense isn’t the same as in 2008 and Mike Vick is a turnover machine this year. No team has a better giveaway-takeaway differential than Atlanta, and the Falcons rank second in the league at taking the ball away from opponents.


    Gagnon: Eagles

    Sometimes it's as simple as this: The Falcons have barely survived the last three weeks and appear to be due for a loss. The Eagles are in the opposite situation. Desperate and in front of the home crowd, I think they'll pull it off.

     

    Also Picking the Eagles: Langland, Dunlevy, Hansen.

Washington Redskins at Pittsburgh Steelers

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    B/R Consensus: Redskins (9-2)

    Vegas: OFF

     

    Schottey: Redskins

    The Steelers will look to get their passing game tuned up against the Skins, but vice versa is also true. The Steelers' defense is limping and RGIII could run right through it.


    Miller: Redskins

    Robert Griffin III is truly amazing. While the schemes of Dick LeBeau will always be a challenge for any quarterback, Griffin and Co. will be able to pick up enough points to out-score the dink-and-dunk Steelers.


    Nagler: Redskins

    The Steelers got better against the Bengals, but RGIII is a whole different dynamic for Pittsburgh's defense to deal with. The speed and athleticism the rookie quarterback has exhibited week in and week out should give the Steelers fits outside the pocket. The Steelers will move the ball, but the Redskins' offense will be too much for Pittsburgh.


    Gagnon: Redskins

    I think, at this very moment, the Redskins are a better team than the Steelers. It'll be tough on the road, but Robert Griffin should be able to do some damage against a somewhat slow, depleted defense. Washington wins a close one.

     

    Hangst: Steelers

    The Redskins have been traditionally a nuisance for Pittsburgh and now that the Steelers finally got their road win, some may think they're in for a bit of a letdown. RG3 is a phenom, to be sure, but he's also a rookie, which gives the veteran Steelers defense a decided advantage. In Pittsburgh, the Steelers don't drop this contest.

     

    Also Picking the Steelers: Langland.

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs

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    B/R Consensus: Raiders (7-4)

    Vegas: OFF

     

    Schottey: Chiefs

    With Brady Quinn under center, look for the Chiefs to take the ball out of his hands with a strong and steady rushing attack. They'll keep this game close and the Raiders will make one extra mistake at Arrowhead.


    Miller: Chiefs

    In a game that could determine the first overall pick in the 2013 draft, we'll call this one the "Geno Bowl." The Raiders have been playing well of late, but with this game in Kansas City, I'm taking the home team.


    Nagler: Raiders

    Is there any way this game can be blacked out? Everywhere? I'm taking Oakland because I have to take someone. Brady Quinn and Carson Palmer in 2012 are what quarterbacks are shown in their "How Not To Do It" instructional videos.


    Hansen: Chiefs

    If the Chiefs stop turning the ball over, they are a much better team than their record would suggest. Hopefully they worked on taking care of the ball over the bye week. The extra week proved valuable to the Jacksonville Jaguars last week versus the Raiders and to the Raiders the week before against Atlanta (albeit in losses for both).

    It's a strength vs. strength and weakness vs. weakness game, which should make it a good battle. The Chiefs get the edge because they are playing at home and coming off the bye week.

     

    Also Picking the Chiefs: Langland.

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys

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    B/R Consensus: Giants (9-2)

    Vegas: Cowboys (-1.5)

     

    Schottey: Giants

    The Cowboys potentially saved some jobs with a close win over the Panthers last week, but the hot seat could heat back up with the spanking (at home) about to be delivered by Eli Manning and company.


    Miller: Giants

    A rematch of the Week 1 surprise that featured the Cowboys beating the Giants. Things will be different this time around. A lot different. Expect multiple Tony Romo interceptions and plenty of Victor Cruz.


    Nagler: Giants

    The Cowboys have finally fielded a high-caliber defense—just in time for their offense to disappear. Jason Garrett and Tony Romo are running out of time to prove they are the answers at their respective positions.

    Sweeping the Giants would go a long way with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. The Giants, meanwhile, are one of the best teams in the NFL and have one of the league's best quarterbacks in Eli Manning. Tom Coughlin and company get the win.


    Gagnon: Giants

    New York simply can't afford to get swept in the season series by Dallas, which is the primary reason why I'm taking Tom Coughlin's team to beat the Cowboys on the road yet again. The mentally stronger team prevails.

     

    Picking the Cowboys: Frenz, Hansen.

New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos

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    B/R Consensus: Broncos (9-2)

    Vegas: Broncos (-6.5)

     

    Schottey: Saints

    Peyton Manning keeps this close at home, but the Saints look a lot better offensively and are starting to hit their stride.


    Miller: Saints

    Two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL face off, but the story of the game will be how well the Saints can stop Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. The two have combined for 11 sacks this year, and with the way the Saints are protecting Brees, a few more sacks should be expected.


    Nagler: Broncos

    Maybe getting Joe Vitt back will somehow help the Saints' defense. But I doubt it. Peyton Manning put on a performance for the ages against the Chargers last Monday night and you can bet he'll look in top form against a downright terrible Saints defense. I mean, if Josh Freeman throws for over 400 yards against the Saints, what should we expect from Peyton, 500? 700? Broncos win a shootout.


    Bardeen: Broncos

    There aren’t too many quarterbacks and offenses that I’d take over Drew Brees and the Saints, but Peyton Manning and the Broncos each is one of them. Teams have shown how to frustrate Manning, but New Orleans doesn’t have the defense in place yet to pull that off. New Orleans loses in a high-scoring affair.

     

    Hansen: Broncos

    Drew Brees will make plays and score points, but he'll be harassed by Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. Peyton Manning is coming off a bye week and is playing one of the worst defenses in the NFL at home on Sunday Night Football.

    Can't imagine this game will not being high-scoring, but the Broncos have the better defense and will get a few more stops. The only thing that might change the game is the weather, but it looks like the weather system will move through the area prior to kickoff on Sunday night.

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals

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    B/R Consensus: 49ers (Unanimous)

    Vegas: 49ers (-7)

     

    Schottey: 49ers

    The 49ers aren't playing perfect football this season, but the Cardinals aren't even playing decent football right now. They can't protect John Skelton and he can't deliver he ball with accuracy when they do.


    Miller: 49ers

    I've been saying for weeks now that the Cardinals aren't for real. Well, they're not. The San Francisco 49ers are. Expect Jim Harbaugh to bring his team out fired up, which means big, hard-hitting plays.


    Nagler: 49ers

    Jim Harbaugh got caught trying to go down the field in the first half against the Seahawks last Thursday. When he remembered he had (a seemingly regressing before our eyes) Alex Smith at quarterback and got back to throwing underneath to the running backs and tight ends, the 49ers moved the ball well.

    The Cardinals will take away the downfield stuff just like the Seahawks did. Expect more of the same from the Niners, including another victory over a divisional opponent.


    Langland: 49ers

    After starting the season 4-0, Arizona is staring down its fourth loss in as many games. San Francisco's pass rush will prove to be too much for the Cardinals' offensive line. Right tackle Bobby Massie and left tackle D'Anthony Batiste have already surrendered 91 quarterback pressures through seven games—enough said.

     

    Michael Schottey is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff alongside other great writers at "The Go Route."

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