Predicting Each Week 8 MVP in the NFL
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Week 8 is already underway and who would have guessed rookie running back Doug Martin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would have been the best runner on the field versus the Minnesota Vikings?
The AFC only has three teams with winning records. In the NFC, not only are most teams still in the playoff hunt, but most have a chance to win their respective divisions. The turning point is these key games in week 8.
Here are the MVPs for each contest in the Sunday and Monday games. The best player has to come from the winning team.
Carolina Panthers vs. Chicago Bears MVP: Bears WR Brandon Marshall
The Bears' offense has been clicking on all cylinders lately and Marshall is one of the main reasons why. The former Denver Bronco and Miami Dolphin has scored a touchdown in each of the last three games. In that same span, Marshall has 25 receptions for 263 yards.
The Panthers are without cornerback Chris Gamble and are the 21st-ranked defense in the NFL. Bears' quarterback Jay Cutler and Marshall have found the magic they had in Denver and will continue to showcase their skills this weekend.
Look for Marshall to top the 100-yard mark for the fourth time this season and add his fifth touchdown.
San Diego Chargers vs. Cleveland Browns MVP: Browns RB Trent Richardson
In what many will consider an upset, the Browns will beat the Chargers at home on the back of Richardson. What will add insult to injury is that the Chargers have the second best rushing defense in the NFL.
Richardson is playing with a rib injury and is coming off his worst game as a professional. This will spark a hunger in the rookie who has not rushed for a 100 yards since Week 2.
Richardson had a streak of four games with a touchdown earlier this season, but has been shut out the past two weeks. That will end versus the Chargers who are coming off a bye week and will take the Browns lightly.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions MVP: Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch
Lynch will do the same thing to the Lions Defense.
Lynch continues to be the engine that makes the Seahawks' offense go. In last Thursday’s loss to the 49ers, Lynch rushed for over 100 yards and was primarily the only offensive weapon for Seattle.
Though Lynch is nursing a sore back from last week’s contest, the bruising runner should play versus the Lions and play well. The Lions' defense has given up 150 points this season and though they have allowed only one rushing score, Detroit will not keep Lynch out of the end zone.
Lynch, who is third in the NFL in rushing, will tear up the Lions on the ground and will score at least once. The Seahawks will get their second road win of 2012 in the Motor City riding Lynch.
New England Patriots vs. St. Louis Rams MVP: Patriots WR Wes Welker
Playing in the United States or in Europe will not matter for the NFL’s leader in receptions and yards. Welker will have a MVP-type game as the Patriots beat the Rams in London.
The Rams' defense, though solid at times this season, also has shown its warts of late and was exposed versus the Green Bay Packers last week. Look for Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady and Welker to take advantage of the deficiencies of the Rams' pass defense for a huge game.
Welker only has two scores on the season, but will find the end zone versus the Rams. Welker will also top the 100 yard receiving mark for the fifth time in 2012.
Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets MVP: Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill
Tannehill has taken over as the leader in Miami. With all the fanfare given to fellow rookie quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, Tannehill has quietly put together a solid October.
Tannehill is 2-0 this month and has completed 69 percent of his passes. The former Texas A&M star also has not thrown an interception in that time frame.
The Jets defense is in disarray and while the Jets are poor at stopping the run, Tannehill will use his arm to beat New York. The rookie quarterback will have an efficient day, but one good enough to get the win and MVP award.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles MVP: Eagles RB LeSean McCoy
2012 has been a struggle for the Eagles and McCoy, but that will all change Sunday versus the Falcons. The Eagles used the bye week to not only get healthy but to re-evaluate the offensive structure. For the Eagles to be successful, the offense must run through McCoy.
The Falcons, though undefeated, have given up 100 yards rushing in every game this season and are 28th in the NFL in stopping the run. Only the Buffalo Bills allow more per rushing attempt than the Falcons, who give up 5.2 yards.
McCoy will get into the end zone versus the Falcons and will rush for over 150 yards as the Eagles give the Falcons their first loss on the year.
Washington Redskins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers MVP: Redskins RB Alfred Morris
Morris is one of the best surprises in the NFL this season and though most fans are hopping on the RGIII bandwagon, Morris may be more important to the offense than the quarterback. Morris gives the Redskins balance and keeps the opposing defense off-balance.
Versus a Steelers' defense that simply is not very good without Safety Troy Polamalu, look for Morris to have a huge day rushing the football. The rookie runner is second in the NFL with 658 yards on the ground and has five rushing touchdowns.
Morris will expose the Steelers' defense for another 100 yard plus rushing game and will get into the end zone at least once.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Green Bay Packers MVP: Packers WR Randall Cobb
With the loss of former Pro Bowl receiver Greg Jennings, other receivers in the Packers’ corps have been asked to step up. None has stepped up bigger than Cobb. The second-year professional has three touchdown catches in October.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are 28th in total defense in the NFL and starting cornerback Dwight Lowery looks to be out of the game with an ankle injury. This, coupled with the fact the Packers may be without starting receiver Jordy Nelson, gives Cobb even more chances to star.
Cobb will have a career-day in Lambeau as he caps off an impressive October and a Packer win with MVP honors.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans MVP: Colts WR Reggie Wayne
The Titans defense is not good against the pass, ranking 27th in the NFL. Wayne has discovered a fountain of youth in quarterback Andrew Luck and that duo will drop the Titans even further in the rankings.
Wayne is leading the NFL in yards receiving per game at 111 and is second in the NFL with 666 yards worth of catches. Wayne will use his savvy route-running skills to take advantage of a youthful Titans secondary. The Titans have given up 238 points this season and 103 first downs.
Look for Wayne to improve his average of yards per game and to also find pay dirt for a score.
New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys MVP: Giants WR Victor Cruz
The Cowboys beat Giants Week 1 and one of the main reasons was due to some key drops by Cruz. That will not happen again nor will the Cowboys win the rematch.
Cruz is playing some of his best football and has six touchdowns in the last four games. Quarterback Eli Manning hit Cruz for the game winner in Week 7 versus the Redskins and that tandem will carry the momentum over versus Dallas.
Dallas is a top-10 defense but the loss of emotional leader linebacker Sean Lee will be too big of a determent to overcome. Look for Cruz to own the middle of the field where Lee would have resided for a huge day receiving and at least one score.
Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs MVP: Raiders SS Tyvon Branch
The Chiefs handed the reins of the offense to quarterback Brady Quinn to try and provide a spark. The Chiefs have one of the best running backs in the game with Jamaal Charles. The best thing Quinn can do is hand the ball off to Charles.
Branch is one of the best open-field tacklers in the NFL. With the Chiefs’ offense running through Charles, look for Branch to play closer to the line of scrimmage and be involved in the action all game.
Branch will finish with double-digit tackles and when Quinn is asked to pass, Branch will steal one for his second interception of the game. Branch will lead the Raiders to a much needed AFC West win.
New Orleans Saints vs. Denver Broncos MVP: Saints RB Darren Sproles
Sproles never seems to put up huge stats, but he may be the most valuable Saints' player outside of quarterback Drew Brees. Not only is Sproles a dynamic returner, but he is such a hard matchup for defenses in the passing game.
The Broncos' linebackers are a solid unit, but Sproles has made Pro Bowlers look silly. By using the speedster in the screen game and on swing passes, the Saints force the opposing defense to spread the field horizontal before gashing them vertically.
Sproles will be a game changer versus the Broncos with at least one major return on special teams, and he will score as an offensive threat as the Saints go on the road and steal a win in Denver.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals MVP: 49ers DE Justin Smith
All the Cardinals' offensive line does is give up sacks and all Smith does is dominate offensive linemen. Arizona has given up a league worst 35 sacks this season and their quarterback seems to get knocked out of every game.
Since 2009, Smith has five sacks versus the Cardinals. Smith has not recorded a sack in 2012, but that will all change on Monday night.
Look for Smith to be the dominant performer on the big stage. The former Missouri Tiger will record two sacks and will force a turnover as the 49ers get a big NFC West win.