NFL Picks Week 8: Analyzing Trickiest Matchups on Schedule

Jesse Reed@@JesseReed78Correspondent IOctober 24, 2013

Dec 30, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) greets Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) after the game at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots defeated the Miami Dolphins 28-0. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

With every new week in the NFL comes a fresh slate of games to pick. As usual, Week 8 features a few head-scratching matchups to go along with some easy winners. 

Nobody expects the Jacksonville Jaguars to be able to keep pace with the San Francisco 49ers in London, and you'd be hard-pressed to find many experts who expect the Washington Redskins to win in Denver. The 49ers and Broncos should easily win these game, playing against inferior opponents.

But there are some other matchups that aren't as easy to figure out.

Here's a look at every game on the schedule, along with my winning predictions for each game, followed by a closer look at the trickiest games on this week's schedule.

Week 8 NFL Picks
Carolina PanthersTampa Bay BuccaneersTB (+7)Panthers
Dallas CowboysDetroit LionsDET (-3)Lions
Cleveland BrownsKansas City ChiefsKC (-7.5)Chiefs
Miami DolphinsNew England PatriotsNE (-6.5)Patriots
Buffalo BillsNew Orleans SaintsNO (-11)Saints
New York GiantsPhiladelphia EaglesPHI (-5)Eagles
San Francisco 49ersJacksonville JaguarsJAX (+16.5)49ers
New York JetsCincinnati BengalsCIN (-6.5)Jets
Pittsburgh SteelersOakland RaidersOAK (+2.5)Raiders
Washington RedskinsDenver BroncosDEN (-13)Broncos
Atlanta FalconsArizona CardinalsAZ (-2.5)Falcons
Green Bay PackersMinnesota VikingsMIN (+9)Packers
Seattle SeahawksSt. Louis RamsSTL (+11)Seahawks

Dallas at Detroit 

Both of these teams have a terrible knack for playing brilliantly one weekend and then tanking the next. 

Since impressively knocking off the Chicago Bears in Week 4, Detroit hasn't been able to play well against good teams, losing to the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals while sandwiching in a win against Cleveland.

Dallas is coming off a big win on the road against NFC East rival Philadelphia last Sunday, and the Cowboys enter this contest having won two games in a row for the first time this season. 

The Cowboys have improved on defense since getting overmatched by Denver, holding Washington and Philadelphia to a combined 19 points the past two games. The Lions are a dangerous team at home, but Dallas' defense will do just enough to slow Detroit's high-powered offense down. 

DeMarco Murray is expected to make a return to the starting lineup after missing some time with a sprained knee, as noted by ESPN Dallas' Calvin Watkins:

The Lions haven't been able to stop the run this year, allowing more yards per carry than any team in the league (5.1 yards per carry). Murray should have a triumphant return to the field this weekend in Detroit, and he'll spur Dallas to its third victory in a row. 

Final score: Cowboys win 31-27.

Miami at New England

/Getty Images

Since opening the season with three straight wins, Miami limps into Gillette Stadium this Sunday having lost three in a row. The past two losses for Miami have been particularly hard to handle, as the team has been outscored by just five points total in the two contests. 

But the Dolphins aren't the only team in this upcoming game struggling of late.

New England's offense has struggled to generate any consistent momentum this season, and the Patriots have lost two of three games heading into Week 8.

Thankfully for the Patriots, Rob Gronkowski is finally back, and he showed up in a huge way for New England last weekend against the Jets, catching eight passes for 114 yards in his season debut.

/Getty Images

Combined with the expected return of Danny Amendola to the team's lineup this Sunday, as noted by Brad Evans of Yahoo! Sports, New England's offense appears ready to take off for the first time this season:

Miami's defense is among the best in the league at shutting down scoring opportunities through the air, however, allowing just eight passing touchdowns this season (No. 8 in the NFL).

Even better as it pertains to Miami's defense, Cameron Wake hasn't been healthy this year, and he was limited to just 22 snaps last weekend against Buffalo. But he is expected to see much more action this weekend, as Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reported:

This game will not be easily won.

Final score: Patriots win 31-28.

Atlanta at Arizona

Sep 15, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson (39) runs with the ball for a touchdown in the first quarter against the St. Louis Rams at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Jackson is expected to make his return to the starting lineup for Atlanta this weekend, as noted by D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, along with offensive lineman Sam Baker and tight end Chase Coffman:

Getting these players back should greatly assist Atlanta this season, but the Falcons are still reeling. Beating Tampa Bay last weekend was a good first step toward getting back on track, but this team didn't really impress in that contest, and Arizona is no slouch at home. The Cardinals are also coming off a long week of rest.

The Cardinals have already beaten two tough NFC teams at University of Phoenix Stadium—the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers—and put up a valiant fight against the Seattle Seahawks last weekend.

Thanks to one of the league's top run defenses, Arizona will shut down Jackson and the rest of Atlanta's running backs, forcing Matt Ryan into a one-dimensional offense. The Cardinals feature the secondary players to keep Atlanta's passing game from going supernova, as well. 

If Carson Palmer can stop throwing interceptions (11 in his past five games), then his Cardinals will win at home. Unfortunately, he can't.

Final score: Falcons win 27-23.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78 


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