The Thursday Night Football game may have been a mess, but that doesn't mean the rest of the week is going to be.
At least I certainly hope not.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost yet another game, falling, 31-13, to the Carolina Panthers. The offense was a mess, and the defense wasn't much better. Things have gotten so bad in Tampa Bay, the Tampa Bay Times gave this headline (h/t Ian Rapoport of NFL.com).
The sports front of the Tampa Bay Times delivers it's message to Greg Schiano: "Time to go" pic.twitter.com/vxjvN8hD7y— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 25, 2013
Still, there's plenty of football left to watch in Week 8 of the NFL season, and it's time to look at predictions for the remaining games, followed by a quick preview of some of the more intriguing matchups.
|Dallas Cowboys||24-27||Detroit Lions|
|Cleveland Browns||13-28||Kansas City Chiefs|
|Miami Dolphins||17-24||New England Patriots|
|Buffalo Bills||17-28||New Orleans Saints|
|New York Giants||21-24||Philadelphia Eagles|
|San Francisco 49ers||33-7||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|New York Jets||14-20||Cincinnati Bengals|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||21-20||Oakland Raiders|
|Washington Redskins||24-42||Denver Broncos|
|Atlanta Falcons||21-17||Arizona Cardinals|
|Green Bay Packers||35-10||Minnesota Vikings|
|Seattle Seahawks||30-13||St. Louis Rams|
Predictions by Tyler Brooke
Miami Dolphins (3-3) at New England Patriots (5-2)
Date: Sunday, Oct. 27
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Prediction: 24-17, Patriots
The AFC East is essentially filled with a bunch of inconsistent teams at varying levels of talent. The New England Patriots should win the division, but another one of these teams could be fighting for a playoff spot at the end of the year.
The Miami Dolphins are one of those teams. They started the season at 3-0, but now they've lost three straight, including a 23-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
While the numbers haven't looked very good, Ryan Tannehill is developing nicely as an NFL quarterback. He's completing over 60 percent of his passes, throwing nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. It certainly helps that he has weapons like Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline along with an emerging talent in Charles Clay.
Defensively, the Dolphins have some real talent, but it hasn't translated into success. Brent Grimes has given the secondary a lift, but a banged-up Cameron Wake has hurt the pass rush.
The Patriots are currently coming off of a disappointing overtime loss against the New York Jets. Fortunately, they finally got Rob Gronkowski back, and he was big, catching eight passes for 114 yards.
While the offense is slowly getting some targets back for Tom Brady, the rest of the team is getting hurt. Injuries to guys like Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork, Aqib Talib, Shane Vereen and others are starting to be a real concern for this team.
Still, I think that the Patriots have enough pieces to outplay the Dolphins. It doesn't seem like they're 5-2, but New England is still a good football team that can pull out tough wins.
Atlanta Falcons (2-4) at Arizona Cardinals (3-4)
Date: Sunday, Oct. 27
Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Prediction: 21-17, Falcons
It has not been a fun season to be a fan of the Atlanta Falcons.
After so much talk about being a Super Bowl contender in the NFC, the Falcons are just 2-4 with wins coming against the St. Louis Rams and Buccaneers.
Injuries are piling up, but the biggest one has been to Julio Jones, who is out for the year with a foot injury. To make things even worse, the Falcons will be without Roddy White for the second straight week, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter from ajc.com.
All of the injuries haven't kept Matt Ryan from having an impressive season, however. He's completed 70.1 percent of his passes for 1,922 yards, 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
The defense has been a different story, particularly the secondary. The Falcons are allowing 266.7 passing yards per game, ranking 23rd in the NFL. Opposing quarterbacks have also thrown 14 touchdowns and just three picks with a 104.7 passer rating.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, have forced eight interceptions with a very talented secondary. Patrick Peterson is on his way to having a Pro Bowl season, while Tyrann Mathieu is looking like a steal after being drafted in the third round back in April.
The talent on defense is certainly there, but the offense is holding this team back. Carson Palmer has not been able to turn things around in Arizona, throwing 13 interceptions with at least two interceptions thrown in each of the last five games.
This is a must-win for the Falcons as they try to keep up with the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South, and I think they get the job done. Ryan is going to keep finding ways to make plays, while the Cardinals will struggle to hold on to the ball and have a couple of big game-changing turnovers.
Green Bay Packers (4-2) at Minnesota Vikings (1-5)
Date: Sunday, Oct. 27
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Prediction: 35-10, Packers
Oh no, not another prime-time game with the Minnesota Vikings.
After a dreadful Week 7 performance on Monday Night Football, the Vikings are back to play the Green Bay Packers this week on Sunday Night Football. However, Minnesota will be playing with a different starting quarterback, as Christian Ponder will be playing under center, once again, this week, according to Albert Breer from NFL.com.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier announces that QB Josh Freeman won't play Sunday. Christian Ponder gets his job back, for a week.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 25, 2013
Not only are the Vikings currently 1-5, they've also been blown out in their past two games against the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants by a combined score of 58-17.
Remember that team that went to the playoffs last year? Yeah, the Vikings aren't that team anymore.
As dysfunctional as the quarterback position is right now, the defense isn't playing much better. They're allowing 30.2 points per game, the fourth-most in the league, along with allowing 391.2 total yards per contest.
The Packers are banged up, once again, but that hasn't seemed to bother them. They've won three straight games, while Aaron Rodgers is on pace for another Pro Bowl season. Based off of his first six games, he's on pace for over 5,000 passing yards along with 35 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions.
The biggest difference between this year's team and previous seasons has been the emergence of the running game, which currently ranks sixth in the NFL with 134.7 yards per game on the ground. Since coming back from a concussion, Eddie Lacy has led the league in rushing, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Eddie Lacy leads the NFL with 301 rushing yards in the last 3 weeks (Jamaal Charles, 2nd with 272).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 22, 2013
The defense is stepping up as well, especially against the run, as they're allowing just 79 rushing yards per game. Since coming off the bye week, the Packers have allowed just 13 points per game.
As banged up as the Packers are, they're still the clear front-runners in the NFC North. The Vikings are in the middle of a rough season, and they're going to struggle on Sunday night.