Week 8 NFL Predictions: Road Teams That Will Score Big Wins
Home-field advantage doesn't provide the edge that it once did in the National Football League, whether it's due to improved methods of communication for road teams or the simple fact that as ticket prices increase, many "average" fans (the ones that are prone to screaming at the top of their lungs for three hours) can't afford to go to the games anymore.
With that said, home cooking still has considerable value, even in today's NFL, as evidenced by the fact that home teams have won 58 percent of the games played so far in 2012.
With that said, though, that means that 42 percent of road teams are emerging from their games victorious (that's some math wizardry right there), so we're going see some visitors pulling out victories in Week 8.
Here's a look at three teams set to spoil Week 8 for the home crowd.
Atlanta Falcons (+3) at Philadelphia Eagles
The folks who set the point spreads in Las Vegas generally have a pretty good idea of what they're doing as they're in this endeavor to make money, and setting the right spread helps the sports books do just that. Still, I have to confess that making a wildly inconsistent Philadelphia Eagles team three point favorites over the undefeated Atlanta Falcons puzzles me a great deal.
Granted, the Eagles have had an extra week to prepare for Atlanta, and under head coach Andy Reid the bye has treated them well. The Eagles are 13-0 under Reid following their bye week, a record that quarterback Michael Vick attributes to the coaching staff's ability to circle the wagons according to Robb Maadi of the Associated Press via Yahoo Sports.
''I think the coaches use the bye to figure out what works and what doesn't, what are we excelling at and what we can get better at,'' quarterback Michael Vick said, trying to explain the team's success. ''That is just coaches and their philosophies and the way they think. It definitely helps and it's something that you have to do. Hopefully, we can get this thing turned around and I'm optimistic that we will.''
However, the Falcons have also had an extra week to prepare for this game, and given that no team in the NFC has turned the ball over more than the Eagles while only one team in the conference has taken it away more than the Falcons, Reid and the Eagles' winning streak following a bye is about to come to an end.
The Pick: Atlanta 27, Philadelphia 14
New Orleans Saints (+6) at Denver Broncos
The Sunday night game in Week 8 should feature offensive fireworks galore, as two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks duel it out in the Mile High City in a game during which a bathroom break may cause you to miss three touchdown passes.
The New Orleans Saints have reeled off two wins in a row after losing their first four games of the season. While Drew Brees has an 0-4 career record against the Broncos in Denver, the 33-year-old realizes that with the Falcons running away with the NFC South the Saints can't afford any more losses if they want to keep their postseason hopes alive, according to Eddie Pells of the Associated Press via The Knoxville News-Sentinel.
"I think that's kind of obvious at this point, isn't it?" said the quarterback, who has thrown at least one touchdown pass in a record 49 straight games. "But for us, we're midway through the season here and we're focused on winning football games."
A Saints defense that has allowed the most yardage over the first six games of a season of any team in the NFL since 1950 isn't likely to slow down Denver quarterback Peyton Manning much, so it will fall to Brees and the New Orleans offense to win a shootout with the Broncos and their 10th-ranked pass defense.
In this week's upset special the Saints will do just that.
The Pick: New Orleans 38, Denver 35
San Francisco 49ers (-7) at Arizona Cardinals
The last game of Week 8 features a battle for first place in the NFC West in the desert between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals, but it also features two teams that appear to be headed in very different directions.
The 49ers, coming off a long layoff after their win over Seattle in Week 7's Thursday night game, have moved back into first place in the division. Meanwhile, after winning their first four games, the Cardinals have now dropped three in a row, but quarterback John Skelton recently told John McMullen of The Kansas City Star that the team hasn't hit the panic button just yet.
"I don't think anyone is packing it in, no one is ready to call it a season," said Skelton. "We're going to get back to our winning ways, starting with San Francisco this week. It will be another dog fight with an NFC West opponent but we just have to be ready for it."
Let's see if Skelton is ready to hit the panic button after he and an Arizona offensive line that has allowed 35 sacks in seven games goes up against defensive end Justin Smith and a San Francisco front seven that is among the best in the NFL.
That is, if he can move his arms.
The Pick: San Francisco 27, Arizona 6
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