Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Week 8 NFL Picks
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.
See who our team picked in these and other matchups.
Our B/R Panel of Experts
Note: All betting odds are for informational purposes only and courtesy of Statfox.com. Although spreads are provided, all picks are straight-up.
Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears
B/R Consensus: Bears (Unanimous)
Vegas: Bears (-9)
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.
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.
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.
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
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
B/R Consensus: Chargers (9-2)
Vegas: Chargers (-3)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
B/R Consensus: Lions (7-4)
Vegas: Lions (-3)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
B/R Consensus: Packers (Unanimous)
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.
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.
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.
The Packers may not be the force they once were, but Jacksonville is arguably the worst team in football. Pack by 20.
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
B/R Consensus: Titans (7-4)
Vegas: Titans (-4)
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.
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.
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.
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
B/R Consensus: Patriots (Unanimous)
Vegas: Patriots (-6.5)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
B/R Consensus: Dolphins (9-2)
Vegas: Jets (-2.5)
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.
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.
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.
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
B/R Consensus: Falcons (6-5)
Vegas: Eagles (-2.5)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
B/R Consensus: Redskins (9-2)
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.
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.
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.
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
B/R Consensus: Raiders (7-4)
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.
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.
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
B/R Consensus: Giants (9-2)
Vegas: Cowboys (-1.5)
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.
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.
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.
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
B/R Consensus: Broncos (9-2)
Vegas: Broncos (-6.5)
Peyton Manning keeps this close at home, but the Saints look a lot better offensively and are starting to hit their stride.
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.
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.
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.
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
B/R Consensus: 49ers (Unanimous)
Vegas: 49ers (-7)
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.
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.
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.
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."