Last-Minute Predictions for NFL Week 8
We're nearing the midway point of the NFL season, and even with teams beginning to flesh out as either contenders or pretenders, the sport is still wildly unpredictable.
Despite that fact, I will do my best to forecast the weekend's action.
If you disagree, make your voice known in the comments below, and leave your own predictions for the Week 8 slate of games.
What follows are my last-minute predictions.
Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant Will Put on a Show
Sunday's game between the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions in Motown will have major ramifications on the NFC playoff picture. It will also feature a battle between the two best receivers in football: Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson.
Both will absolutely go off, as neither defense is effective at stopping the forward pass (Detroit is ranked 29th, Dallas 30th).
Johnson will score two touchdowns and go over 150 receiving yards, while Bryant will score at least once and amass over 100 yards.
In the end, the Lions will ride their home-field advantage to victory, but not before Johnson and Bryant light up the Ford Field scoreboard like a pinball machine. It's going to be a blast to watch.
Rob Gronkowski Will Score, and the Defense Will Do the Rest
Last week was bitterly disappointing for both Miami and New England, with each team suffering a defeat at the hands of a division rival. Sunday, only one can get back on track when the two squads meet at Foxborough.
It will be the Patriots.
Miami's Week 7 home loss to Buffalo was awful. The Dolphins were coming off their bye and facing an unproven quarterback in Thad Lewis, and they still managed to lose a game that they absolutely should have won. That result should table any further talk of Miami being a legitimate playoff contender.
Plus, the Dolphins have been unable to protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill, as he's already been sacked a league-leading 26 times this season. Patriots pass-rushing demon Chandler Jones likely licked his chops all week watching film of the Dolphins' porous offensive line.
New England quarterback Tom Brady will connect early and often with tight end Rob Gronkowski, who will find the end zone for the first time this season. The defense will do the rest as they improve to 6-2 with a double-digit win over Miami.
The Giants Will Fall to the Eagles by Double Digits
The New York Giants finally broke into the win column with a 23-7 triumph over the Minnesota Vikings last Monday night, but don't get it twisted: The victory was more about how awful Minnesota was rather than Big Blue playing well.
Simply put, the Giants aren't a good football team. While the Philadelphia Eagles don't have the look of a Super Bowl contender, they're certainly better than their division rival.
The return of quarterback Michael Vick will be a major boon to an Eagles offense that struggled mightily last week against the Dallas Cowboys. Vick and running back LeSean McCoy will run roughshod over the Giants' lackluster defense.
New York should be able to move the football, but quarterback Eli Manning has been way too mistake-prone this season to earn any level of confidence. He'll throw at least two interceptions, and Philadelphia will win by double digits.
Andy Dalton and A.J. Green Will Have Huge Games in a Cincinnati Win
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has picked up his game over the past two weeks, throwing for 709 yards, six touchdowns and only one interception. It's no coincidence that Cincinnati won both contests.
Dalton will have another strong effort Sunday when the Bengals down the New York Jets and improve their record to 6-2.
The Jets run defense has been outstanding this season, as they're only allowing 3.1 yards per carry. It'd be foolish to expect Bengals running backs Giovani Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis to have success against Gang Green's front seven.
That means Dalton will have to win the game for Cincinnati with his right arm, and he'll do so. Receiver A.J. Green will record over 100 receiving yards and score a touchdown, and tight end Tyler Eifert will find the end zone as well.
In the end, Dalton will have his third consecutive 300-yard performance, and more importantly, he'll have led his team to yet another victory.
Colin Kaepernick Will Dazzle Overseas
The San Francisco 49ers are 5-2, but it's easy to see that quarterback Colin Kaepernick has yet to play his best football this season. That will change, starting with Sunday's game in London against the 0-7 Jacksonville Jaguars.
Kaepernick has thrown five touchdowns against only one interception in the past four games and has the look of a signal-caller in complete command of his offense. He should absolutely shred Jacksonville.
The Jaguars defense is ranked 28th overall, and they've allowed at least 24 points in six of their seven games. 49ers running back Frank Gore will have success on the ground. That will afford Kaepernick many opportunities to throw the ball downfield, especially to tight end Vernon Davis, who is on pace for a career year.
Kaepernick is way too talented to not put up huge numbers over the balance of the season. He'll account for at least three touchdowns in San Francisco's dominant win at Wembley Stadium.
The Chiefs Defense Will Record at Least Four Sacks as the Team Improves to 8-0
Sunday, the 7-0 Kansas City Chiefs host the 3-4 Cleveland Browns and their new starting quarterback, Jason Campbell.
Here are a few facts concerning this game:
- The Chiefs lead the league in sacks with 35.
- The Browns have allowed 27 sacks this season (second most).
- There are gargoyles with more mobility than Campbell.
When considering these three facts, it's easy to see how this game will play out. Tamba Hali and Justin Houston will harass Campbell all game, and the Chiefs will score a touchdown on defense.
The Kansas City pass rush won't give Campbell a chance, bringing him down no fewer than four times, and the team will improve to 8-0 with a big victory over Cleveland.
The Saints Will Take out Their Two-Week Frustration on Buffalo
It's been two weeks since the New Orleans Saints last took the field. Their last game ended in sour fashion, as the team allowed a late Patriots comeback that knocked them from the ranks of the unbeaten.
Sean Payton and Drew Brees have had to think about that until now. The Saints have waited to take out their frustrations on whatever poor team happened to be next up on their schedule.
That poor team happens to be the Buffalo Bills, who enter the Superdome hoping to pull off the upset.
If you think that Buffalo quarterback Thad Lewis is going into New Orleans and beating the Saints, I have an island in the Caribbean to sell you. Brees will slice and dice the Bills defense, and the Saints will improve to 6-1.
Robert Griffin III Will Match Peyton Manning Throw-for-Throw in a Close Game
Sunday's game in Denver between the Redskins and Broncos appears to be a mismatch.
The Washington defense has been brutal this season, allowing nearly 31 points per game. Denver's offense has been an absolute juggernaut, scoring nearly 43 points per game. The numbers dictate that Peyton Manning and Co. should blow the doors off Washington.
That isn't going to happen. The Redskins are going to give Denver all it can handle.
Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III finally looks healthy, and he was outstanding in the team's Week 7 victory over Chicago. He should be able to move the ball at will against Denver's defense, whether throwing it to receiver Pierre Garcon and tight end Jordan Reed or handing it off to running backs Alfred Morris and Roy Helu.
The problem for Washington is that Denver will score a ton of points as well, meaning the stage is set for a shootout in the Mile High City. While the Broncos should win, this game won't be a blowout. Griffin and the Skins will be in it until the very end.
Matt Ryan Will Lead the Falcons to a Road Victory in Arizona
Sunday's game in the desert between the Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals is a big one for both. The losing team will see their playoff chances take a major hit, while the winner will surely be buoyed by the positive result.
The two squads are evenly matched at most positions, but the biggest one clearly favors Atlanta with Matt Ryan over Carson Palmer.
The game will be close in the fourth quarter, and that's where Palmer will make a critical mistake. Ryan will lead Atlanta on a game-winning drive to improve its record to 3-4.
The Packers and Seahawks Will Dominate in Prime Time
The Sunday night and Monday night games mirror each other, with two subpar teams playing with backup quarterbacks hosting elite squads with signal-callers playing at a high level.
With Josh Freeman sidelined with a concussion, the Vikings turn back to Christian Ponder when they host the Packers on Sunday Night Football. Good luck with that, Minnesota. Green Bay, led by all-world quarterback Aaron Rodgers, will steamroll the hapless Vikings, even without James Jones, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley.
On Monday night, Kellen Clemens will start in relief of an injured Sam Bradford as the St. Louis Rams host Seattle. The Seahawks defense is going to dominate, and quarterback Russell Wilson will account for three touchdowns in a blowout victory.
Seattle and Green Bay are two of the best teams in football, and they'll play like it under the bright lights. Both games will be laughers.