Week 8 NFL Predictions: Picks and X-Factors in Prime Time Games
Could there be more of a stark contrast between the Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football games this week?
On Monday, Alex Smith and John Skelton.
Here are predictions and X-factors for Week 8's prime-time clashes.
New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos
Brees and Manning are No. 1 and No. 2 all-time in terms of passing yards per game for quarterbacks with 40 or more starts, so, yeah, we should be in for a demonstration of aerial supremacy in this one.
Actually, there's more reason to believe this will be a shootout.
The Saints are allowing 305 yards through the air per game, and although the Broncos' secondary has been respectable this season, Brees averaged 398 yards passing over the last three games.
After the Broncos' stellar comeback against the San Diego Chargers in Week 6, it's easy to pick them to win at home against New Orleans.
Yes, Manning is back, but Brees and the Saints are on a mission and undoubtedly can score with the Broncos.
In a back-and-forth, wildly entertaining affair, Brees drives his club on a late fourth-quarter drive to upset a brilliant outing from Manning.
Saints 38, Broncos 35
X-Factor: Lance Moore
After missing a game with a hamstring injury, the Saints' nimble and experienced slot guy returned in a big way last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He reeled in nine passes for 120 yards on 10 targets and has 48 targets in five games.
He'll be devastatingly productive against a somewhat susceptible Broncos' secondary.
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals
For as much of a offensive treat as we'll get on Sunday night, the 49ers and Cardinals will remind us that every quarterback isn't as efficient as Manning and Brees on Monday.
OK, to be nice, let's just say that we'll see much more defense in this NFC West showdown.
The Cardinals' offensive deficiencies have caught up with them, and really, weren't we expecting that? John Skelton is actually a regression from Kevin Kolb, but Arizona's offensive line is easily the worst in football—they've allowed 35 sacks thus far, the highest total in the league.
Alex Smith has underwhelmed the last few weeks, but he is much more effective than Skelton, and I expect the San Francisco running game to impose its will on a Cardinals' defensive front seven early and often.
In a rather low-scoring affair, the 49ers' offense will be able to consistently move the ball and simply out-score the Cardinals' attack.
Too much Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.
49ers 20 Cardinals 10
X-Factor: Justin Smith
Smith hasn't been as visibly dominating as he was in 2011, but against an exceptionally vulnerable offensive line, he'll have a field day in the Cardinals' backfield and will frequently free up Aldon Smith.
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