NFL Predictions Week 8: Early Look at Guaranteed Locks Following Week 7

Brandon GalvinFeatured ColumnistOctober 22, 2012

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 21:  Wide receiver Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers celebrate their three yard touchdown reception against the St. Louis Rams in the first quarter at Edward Jones Dome on October 21, 2012 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Look no further for your Week 8 locks as you look to get a head start on your competitors.

Week 7 was a crazy week and several teams came out looking stronger than ever. As we approach the midway point of the season, we're starting to see exactly which teams are ready to sink or swim. It's a week-to-week league, but these teams are clicking on all cylinders and have the firepower to explode in any given game.

It's never too early to get your picks in for the upcoming week. Don't over-analyze each matchup. Instead, take these picks to the bank.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Minnesota Vikings 

Minnesota is coming off a massive win at home against the Arizona Cardinals and have the luxury of another homestand in Week 8, this time coming on a short week as they battle the Bucs on Thursday Night Football.

We've seen time and time again how important home-field advantage is in the NFL, but it's especially important on these shortened weeks. You'll recall that most of these matchups are close contests, but that even teams that aren't expected to win often win out in such cases like the Rams over the Cardinals and Titans over the Steelers.

The Bucs simply haven't lived up to their potential since their breakout 2010 season. Josh Freeman threw for over 400 yards in the team's Week 7 loss to the Saints, but that was a draining divisional loss at home as they made a valiant effort to tie the game late.

Minnesota has dynamic offensive playmakers in Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph. More importantly, Minnesota's fans are among the loudest in the league and will be fired up as they root for their squad on national television.

Don't try to get too smart with this one, let Christian Ponder's Vikings lead you to easy money.


Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Green Bay Packers

Not much needs to be said about this one. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are flying high and look every bit like the Super Bowl contenders many envisioned them to be at the start of the season.

It doesn't matter who is catching the ball from Rodgers or who is receiving the handoff from him; this offense is pure gold with A-Rod under center. The Jaguars go on the road and will be facing a mismatch at every position.

It remains to be seen as of this writing how Blaine Gabbert (shoulder) and Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) are feeling following Week 7 injuries. Even if they play in Week 8, they'll be playing from behind from the start and will have to fend off a hungry Clay Matthews.

It doesn't matter what the spread is, take the Packers every which way you can!


San Diego Chargers vs. Cleveland Browns

Many will look at this pick and dismiss it until you realize all of the factors at play here.

The Browns have been competitive every single week despite some final scores and it's only a matter of time before things fall their way. When the magic ball favors the Browns, you'll be smiling from ear to ear that you rode this team to victory.

Rookies Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson and Josh Gordon have been clicking in recent weeks and all offer dynamic playmaking abilities. Most importantly, Trent Richardson is a bruising runner and will help keep Philip Rivers off the field and on the sidelines.

Weeden is a smart player despite his rookie status. He doesn't make nearly the number of mistakes we've seen from most rooks to start their careers. Gordon has been a major benefactor of Weeden's strong arm and has the speed and body control to make huge plays down the field.

Most of all for this matchup, West Coast teams flying to the East Coast for a 1 p.m. game generally struggle. It's often better to take the East Coast team in these circumstances due to the time difference, especially when that East Coast team has a strong rushing attack and the ability to strike quickly.


More Week 8 Picks:

Panthers vs. Bears

Seahawks vs. Lions 

Colts vs. Titans

Patriots vs. Rams

Dolphins vs. Jets

Falcons vs. Eagles

Redskins vs. Steelers

Raiders vs. Chiefs

Giants vs. Cowboys

Saints vs. Broncos

49ers vs. Cardinals