NFL Week 8 Picks: Breaking Down Most Even Matchups on Schedule

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2013

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 20: Wide receiver Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions celebrates after catching a touchdown pass during the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Ford Field on October 20, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. The Bengals defeated the Lions 27-24. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Let's keep it real for a second, folks—there aren't a ton of premier NFL matchups this week. Part of that is the result of six teams going on bye, of course, but for the most part, the league's good teams are playing its weaker teams in Week 8.

But don't fret, my fellow football junkies, for there are still a few really intriguing matchups this week between pretty even teams.

There may not be a game like Peyton Manning's return to Indianapolis, but there are still a few games worth getting excited about.

Week 8 NFL Predictions
Tampa Bay BuccaneersCarolina PanthersPanthers24-14
Philadelphia EaglesNew York GiantsEagles31-23
Detroit LionsDallas CowboysCowboys28-24
Kansas City ChiefsCleveland BrownsChiefs27-10
New England PatriotsMiami DolphinsPatriots24-21
New Orleans SaintsBuffalo BillsSaints31-20
Jacksonville JaguarsSan Francisco 49ers49ers31-7
Cincinnati BengalsNew York JetsBengals17-10
Oakland RaidersPittsburgh SteelersSteelers27-20
Denver BroncosWashington RedskinsBroncos38-27
Arizona CardinalsAtlanta FalconsFalcons23-21
Minnesota VikingsGreen Bay PackersPackers38-17
St. Louis RamsSeattle SeahawksSeahawks24-7

Dallas Cowboys at Detroit Lions

The most intriguing matchup in this game will be Calvin Johnson—fresh off of nine receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns in Week 7—against Dallas corner Brandon Carr.

The latter has played like a stud the past three weeks, containing Demaryius Thomas (five receptions for 57 yards), Pierre Garcon (six receptions for 69 yards) and DeSean Jackson (three receptions for 21 yards).

Megatron is a whole different animal, of course, but if Carr can at least slow Johnson down, the Cowboys will have a shot. 

With Matt Stafford and Tony Romo doing battle, you would expect plenty of points to be scored in this game. Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Terrance Williams should give a suspect Detroit pass defense (28th in the NFL) problems, while Reggie Bush should give the Dallas defense headaches.

That defense has been much better in the past two weeks, however, allowing just 19 total points to Washington and Philadelphia. Dallas will probably be without DeMarcus Ware again this week—and possibly DeMarco Murray as well—but Romo and Co. are playing well right now and will squeak out a win against a tough Detroit side.

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots

Oct 20, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) celebrates a catch during the first half of their game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins were en fuego to start the season, going 3-0. Three games later, they're a much more realistic 3-3. There is talent on this Miami team, but it no longer looks like a unit capable of challenging for an AFC East title. 

The problem for the Dolphins in this game is that they probably won't be able to exploit New England's biggest weakness this year, its run defense (31st in the NFL). The Patriots have struggled in that department with Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo out for the year, but the Dolphins aren't dangerous on the ground (25th in rush offense), and neither Lamar Miller nor Daniel Thomas has been impressive.

With Rob Gronkowski (eight receptions for 114 yards) back in the fold, the New England offense put 27 points on a tough New York Jets defense, albeit in a loss. It's hard to see a mediocre Miami defense—currently allowing 372.2 yards per game, 21st in the NFL—slowing down Tom Brady, Gronk and a rejuvenated Stevan Ridley in the running game.

New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals

DE-FENSE (clap, clap). PRESS-URE (clap, clap).

There will be plenty of that chant when these teams meet. The Jets are currently holding opponents to 302.6 yards per game (fourth in the NFL), while the Bengals only allow 343.3 yards (ninth) and 19.3 points per contest (seventh).

The major difference in this game could be takeaways—the Bengals have forced 10 on the year, while the Jets have only forced four while turning the ball over 15 times. Only the New York Giants have a worse turnover differential at minus-14

While star cornerback Leon Hall's injury has to be taken into consideration, expect the Bengals to pressure rookie quarterback Geno Smith whenever they get the chance. 

For the Jets, the key to this game will be the matchup between Antonio Cromartie and A.J. Green. If the veteran cornerback can contain Green, the Bengals will struggle to move the ball, especially since the Jets only allow 77.7 rushing yards per game, second-best in the NFL. 

Of course, most corners can't contain Green, so expect Andy Dalton to find his favorite target with regularity and for the Bengals to win a tight game at home. 

Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer your fantasy lineup questions, make ill-fated NFL predictions and tweet knee-slapping jokes. Well, the first two things, at least. 

Follow TRappaRT on Twitter


    Players Under the Most Pressure at Minicamp

    NFL logo

    Players Under the Most Pressure at Minicamp

    Maurice Moton
    via Bleacher Report

    Brett Favre Looking to End Youth Tackle Football

    NFL logo

    Brett Favre Looking to End Youth Tackle Football

    Green Bay Packers
    via Green Bay Packers

    Does the NFL Have a Referee Problem?

    NFL logo

    Does the NFL Have a Referee Problem?

    Mike Florio
    via ProFootballTalk

    Report: NFL to Ban Winston 3 Games

    NFL logo

    Report: NFL to Ban Winston 3 Games

    Alec Nathan
    via Bleacher Report