Week 8 of the NFL season sees some road teams that are set to smash their opponents.
The Carolina Panthers, who will hit the road to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are hot, having won three of their last four games. The Bucs are on the opposite side of the spectrum with a winless record.
The St. Louis Rams will host the Seattle Seahawks as the Rams look to overcome the loss of their franchise quarterback Sam Bradford, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. Seattle is having a great season and living up to its preseason hype while the Rams have done the exact opposite.
The Atlanta Falcons will look to keep building their momentum with a more-than-winnable road game at the Arizona Cardinals.
Let's break down each of these matchups and find out why the road teams are certain to blow out their hosts.
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Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay's horrid season has led the Bucs to putting a rookie behind center, with quarterback Mike Glennon getting the nod from here on out. Glennon will have his hands full this week as Tampa Bay, which ranks 29th in passing, will have to deal with the Panthers pass defense, which ranks fifth in the NFL.
Even with Martin in the lineup, the Bucs still only have a rushing attack that is ranked 20th in the league. With or without Martin, the Panthers will have no issue in stopping the run, ranking fourth in that category. With the Panthers paying little respect to Glennon, Carolina will be able to stack the box in anticipation of the run.
The defensive side of the ball is where the Bucs will have a shot in this game. They are ranked No. 5 against the run this season, but with a Tampa Bay defense that ranks 18th against the pass, the Panthers will be able to move the ball through the air in order to set up their ground attack.
There is also the unpredictability of Cam Newton. His ability to pick up yards with his legs will help keep Tampa Bay's defense honest.
Score: Panthers 28, Bucs 3
Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams
As if the Rams wouldn't have enough problems scoring points against the stingy Seahawks defense, St. Louis now has to deal with losing its starting quarterback in Bradford and replacing him with career backup Kellen Clemens.
With big, physical Seattle corners like Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner roaming the secondary, Clemens will be hard-pressed to find open receivers on Monday night. St. Louis doesn't have many top targets for Clemens to throw to anyway.
Establishing the run won't be any easier. The Seahawks own the sixth-best rushing defense in the league to go along with the second-best pass defense. So, exactly where will the Rams get offense from in this game?
On defense, St. Louis has even more issues. Not only do the Rams rank 17th against the pass, but they are even worse against the run, ranking third-worst in the league. That ineptitude does not bode well against a Seattle team that has the NFL's second-best ground game and is led by running back Marshawn Lynch.
Once the Seahawks soften up the Rams on the ground, quarterback Russell Wilson will have plenty of room to operate down field and should complete some big passes.
This will be the first of many bad games that lead to the harsh realization that the Rams' season is already over.
Score: Seahawks 31, Rams 6
Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals
The Falcons have been battered and bruised this season with several notable injuries, but it appears that Atlanta will embrace the return of its No. 1 running back and major offseason acquisition, Steven Jackson, for this one, according to a tweet by D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Steven Jackson @sj39 plans on playing on Sunday vs. Arizona.
That's a huge boost for the Falcons, who own the third-worst rushing attack in football. With Jackson back in the mix, the Cardinals won't be able to cheat against the pass and that doesn't bode well for its 19th-ranked pass defense.
The Cardinals passing attack may not be at 100 percent this week, as Larry Fitzgerald continues to battle injuries and head coach Bruce Arians admitted that Fitzgerald was only 80 percent in Arizona's loss last Thursday night to the Seahawks.
With Fitzgerald less than full strength, the Falcons can spread the wealth in the secondary and focus on covering other receivers instead of having to double Fitzgerald regularly. That lack of attention on Fitzgerald will make open receivers harder to come by for Carson Palmer, thus making things easier for the Falcons' struggling pass defense
With a lackluster ground game that ranks 26th in the NFL, Arizona will have a difficult time in getting things going, as Atlanta goes off and has a big day on the scoreboard.
Score: Falcons 38, Cardinals 13
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings are a mess right now and that couldn't be better news for the Packers.
New Minnesota quarterback Josh Freeman made his Vikings debut in Week 7 and threw over 30 incomplete passes as the Vikings' offense was shut out with Minnesota's lone score against the lowly New York Giants being a punt return for a touchdown.
Jason Katzowitz of CBS Sports reported that Freeman suffered a concussion against the Giants, leaving head coach Leslie Frazier to go back to Christian Ponder against the Packers, according to the Vikings Twitter account:
Coach Frazier on Freeman: We have to move forward as if he is not playing on Sunday night.
Ponder isn't an upgrade over Freeman by any means, as Ponder had a big hand in Minnesota's 24th-ranked passing game this season. Minnesota won't be able to exploit Green Bay's biggest weakness on defense, which is its No. 24 ranking against the pass.
As is normally the case, the Packers will anticipate the Vikings running the ball with superstar back Adrian Peterson, which will play right into the Packers' hands. Green Bay has done a great job of stopping the run, as evidenced by its No. 3 ranking in that department.
The Vikings' total ineffectiveness on offense will give the Packers plenty of possessions. Aaron Rodgers and and the NFL's fourth-best aerial attack should have no problem in abusing the league's fourth-worst pass defense to help open things up for Eddie Lacy on the ground.
Even with a depleted receiving corps, Rodgers will have no problem in scorching the Vikings.
Score: Packers 34, Vikings 7
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