NFL Predictions Week 8: Chris Simms' Weekly Projections
Peyton Manning’s gone.
Drew Brees is a pick-six machine.
Aaron Rodgers is trapped in an unimaginative offense.
Tom Brady is…OK, he’s still Tom Brady.
But there’s no arguing the Big Four era of quarterbacking dominance is over. In its place? Several young guns who are ready to take the position to even greater heights. It’s just as I foresaw after Week 1.
We’ll see two of them light up the scoreboard in Tampa this Sunday. We’ll see two more take on teams that outclass theirs—but don’t own the quarterback advantage. Flip through this slideshow, and you’ll find some huge predictions about all four.
Welcome to the new era of quarterbacking, everyone. It only took half a season to arrive.
Prediction: Saints over Seahawks
The Legion of Boom is heading to New Orleans with its eyes on a Drew Brees pick-six.
Head coach Sean Payton can’t—and won’t—allow that to happen. The Saints’ offensive mastermind will draw up a plan that’ll seem Super Bowl XLIX-like, the year the Patriots took down the Seahawks. Brees’ first reads will come in the flat, not against Seahawks safeties downfield.
Brees can avoid Seattle’s pass rush with a quick-passing attack. He should also have room in the pocket to step up; New Orleans’ pass protection has been spectacular all season.
Russell Wilson should be fine to operate in the Superdome noise. His offensive line? Maybe not. It's not a group that instills much confidence, especially in hostile road games.
Cakewalk of the Week
Prediction: Patriots over Bills
Another week, another Patriots offensive clinic.
Buffalo has the defensive tools to slow Tom Brady and Co. It's just injured/half-strength at the moment. You better believe head coach Bill Belichick knows which starters are down and which reserves to target from the get-go. And no one—healthy or not—can cover Rob Gronkowski right now.
Belichick’s defense will force Tyrod Taylor to operate from the pocket. That’d be fine if he had the luxury of a few LeSean McCoy dump-offs. He doesn’t; Buffalo’s offensive star won’t be healthy enough (hamstring) to tip the scales back in his team’s favor.
Prediction: Spencer Ware vs. the Colts defense
The Colts’ nasty streak of allowing 100-yard rushers should continue. Their Week 8 opponent makes a point of pounding the rock, and Indianapolis isn’t exactly a sound tackling group.
Ware has the skills to exploit that weakness. He’s strong enough to bounce off defenders but quick enough to run by them. Alex Smith won’t give the Colts a break when he drops back to throw, either; Ware is a skilled receiver who can beat any defender or linebacker he meets this weekend.
Dark-Horse MVP Candidate of the Week
Prediction: Andrew Luck
You just saw my thoughts on how the Chiefs can move the football Sunday.
Indianapolis only has one option. He wears No. 12, and I don’t understand why he’s not squarely in the MVP race.
Andrew Luck has a lot going for him in Week 8. For starters, his arm can beat Marcus Peters and the Kansas City secondary. I can count on one hand the number of quarterbacks who possess that ability.
The expected return of Donte Moncrief gives Luck another trusted target. He should have time to distribute the football; Indianapolis' offensive line has played much better, and Kansas City’s pass rush doesn’t have one “watch out for this guy” threat.
Prediction: Quincy Enunwa
Ryan Fitzpatrick learned his lesson from the first half of his 2016 season.
So he won’t lock in on Brandon Marshall for 60 minutes. Especially when he has another over-the-middle threat to utilize in Quincy Enunwa on Sunday.
The 6'2", 225-pound Enunwa isn’t a physical freak. He doesn’t have game-breaking speed. But he’s exactly the kind of route-runner who can toy with Browns linebackers and safeties over the middle. He’ll have plenty of space to work with as the defense focuses on Marshall.
Gang Green’s passing game will trend more conservative in Fitzpatrick’s second tour. Enunwa will do anything and everything in the short-to-intermediate game. It just makes sense.
Prediction: Devontae Booker
The reigning Super Bowl champs won’t have their old running back for the rest of the season.
No reason for alarm, though. Denver is probably better served with rookie Devontae Booker taking carries than it was with C.J. Anderson.
Why? Four main reasons. Booker is a straight-ahead runner with much better acceleration. He’s a far more explosive runner than his predecessor. His offensive line is hitting its stride right now. And Booker brings much more to the table as a pass-catching threat than Anderson did.
San Diego’s defense was able to bottle this running game once. It won't do it twice. Booker’s a big reason why.
Best Game No One's Talking About
Prediction: Raiders at Buccaneers
You’ll hear plenty of cannon fire at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday.
The top under-the-radar matchup of Week 8 is a pirate fight, after all.
This Buccaneers team beat the Falcons in Week 1 but couldn’t close out the Rams at home in a storm. So they could be in first place in the NFC South. And they’re just hitting their stride as a balanced offense between Jameis Winston and Jacquizz Rodgers.
Oakland stayed out on the East Coast this week to prepare. Its defense needs it; Tampa Bay will find plenty of big plays Sunday. We’ve seen Derek Carr dig his team out of a few pickles this season already. He can do it again if the Raiders fall behind.
Under/Over Number of Browns Players to Attempt a Pass
It’s a big week for sports fans and reserve quarterbacks in Cleveland.
Head coach Hue Jackson’s team has cycled through six passers in eight weeks. It's the third team in NFL history to have as many players attempt five passes in a season, per the Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN.com). It’s straight-up comical how bad the Browns' luck is.
But enough is enough. Josh McCown is back for a home game against the Jets. We saw how tough he was when he finished a game with a collarbone injury in Week 2. Spoiler alert: He’s a tough sonofabitch.
He’ll go this distance in this one. Maybe Terrelle Pryor throws a gadget pass. That’s it.
Under/Over Jimmy Graham Receiving Yards
Every NFL player looks forward to two things on his calendar.
One is the bye week. The other is a chance for revenge against any and all former employers. Trust me—I jumped around the league enough to know Jimmy Graham wants to go off this week.
You just know head coach Pete Carroll’s going to let him. He’s going to install a few Graham-specific plays in the Seahawks' script to start the game off. And he’ll feed off the energy when Graham catches a pass and greets his old home fans.
Graham has posted over 85 yards in three of his last four games. He’ll be extra motivated to make it four out of five in NOLA.
More Passing Touchdowns: Aaron Rodgers or Matt Ryan?
Prediction: Aaron Rodgers
Earlier on, I mentioned that Andrew Luck is his team’s only scoring option this season.
Welcome to Aaron Rodgers’ world. If Green Bay is going to compete with the NFC’s top scoring offense, it needs another ridiculously on-point performance from No. 12.
But Ryan has Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to lean on in the red zone. Rodgers has…Knile Davis. Case closed.
Better Completion Percentage: Carson Wentz or Dak Prescott?
Prediction: Carson Wentz
That’s right: I’m going against Mr. Completion Percentage himself.
I’m just not a fan of quarterbacks who are coming off the bye—even ones as accurate as Dak Prescott. There will be some rust the Cowboys rookie needs to shake off. He might force some throws to Dez Bryant. This Eagles secondary will be ready for them.
Carson Wentz can out-complete Prescott because of two things. First, there are enough former quarterbacks on Doug Pederson’s staff (Pederson included) to draw up a safe game plan for the North Dakota State product. And I’ve said it before: Dallas’ defense is good but simple. Wentz will know where to go with the football almost every time he drops back. That’s a huge advantage.
More Sacks: Joey Bosa or Von Miller?
Prediction: Von Miller
You know I love me some Joey Bosa. The man’s an absolute freak.
There’s just no going against Von Miller in a sack race, though. He’s as good of a pass-rusher as I’ve seen my whole life. And if you recall, my dad used to play with Lawrence Taylor.
Miller is coming off a streak of seven regular-season games with at least one-half sack. He’ll be hungry to get back in that column—especially against San Diego, a team that stole a win from him a few weeks back. Watch out, Philip Rivers.
More Receiving Yards: Amari Cooper or Mike Evans?
Prediction: Mike Evans
Both guys are amazing.
Both guys will catch passes and rip off big gains.
Here’s my thought process: Evans is the only go-to target on his team. That’s normally a detriment...except no one on the Raiders defense can even dream of stopping him. Evans will post big numbers, double coverage or not.
Derek Carr will certainly look Cooper’s way Sunday. But he’ll also look at Michael Crabtree to move the chains. And with Tampa’s two safeties back (Chris Conte, Bradley McDougald) , he’ll look for tight end Clive Walford or slot receiver Seth Roberts in the middle of the field.
Cooper needs to overcome all of that. So I’m going with Evans.