NFL Week 8 Predictions: Dallas Cowboys Set To Experience Life Without Tony Romo

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistOctober 30, 2010

NFL Week 8 Predictions: Dallas Cowboys Set To Experience Life Without Tony Romo

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    Midway point or not, Week 8 in the NFL is already shaping up to be quite a pear-shaped event for the 2010 regular season.

    If it wasn't Week 7's mishaps that have left teams rattled and searching for answers, it was the complete opposite, as it appeared the life saying of the "rich get richer, and the poor get poorer" could be applied to the NFL's winning and losing teams.

    Once again the casual bye week steals several teams from the show this weekend, but that isn't to say that Week 8 can't be the normal midseason party that we have seen in years past.

    Notable games include Denver at San Francisco in London, Miami at Cincinnati, and of course the 4-3 Green Bay Packers at the New York Jets.

    So whose looking the goods to take home the wins?

    Picks and predictions await.

Teams Taking The Week Off

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    - Atlanta Falcons (5-2)

    - Baltimore Ravens (5-2)

    - Chicago Bears (4-3)

    - Cleveland Browns (2-5)

    - New York Giants (5-2)

    - Philadelphia Eagles (4-3)

Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers

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    Current Records:

    Denver 2-5 - San Francisco 1-6

     

    What To Watch For:

    San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith did make the trip to London for his team's clash against the Denver Broncos, but a right shoulder injury sees the highly criticized quarterback sitting out this weekend's affair.

    In Smith's place, back up Troy Smith will attempt to fill the void at the quarterback position; however, he may be without talented tight end Vernon Davis, who is now listed as questionable.

    At the same time, the Denver Broncos have an issue of their own. Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd have been brilliant on the offensive side, but Denver's 32nd-ranked rush defense is causing some serious gashes against any opposing team.

    Fortunately for the Broncos, Josh McDaniels will see Brian Dawkins return to the lineup after a two-week absence due to a knee injury.  The good news doesn't stop there, either, with Andre Goodman also looking likely to play.

    This game has been criticized by the media, and made out to be a weak excuse for an overseas game.  Agree or disagree, both organizations realize how much potential a fixture outside of the U.S. could hold for the remainder of the season.

    Expect to see a low scoring game, simply due to the sloppiness and struggles that both teams possess.  Still, the Broncos have the offensive manpower to get the job done, and San Francisco's limitations and injury depletions sees them as a minor underdogs.

     

    Prediction:

    Denver 20 - San Francisco 14

Jacksonville Jaguars at Dallas Cowboys

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    Current Records:

    Jacksonville 3-4 - Dallas 1-5

     

    What To Watch For:

    It's not like you need reminding, but Tony Romo is hereby one and done for the immediate future, due to a collarbone injury that appears to have wrecked the Cowboys season.

    In Romo's place, the familiar face of Jon Kitna will suit up in Dallas.  Two years ago, we saw Kitna fill in for Tony Romo when No. 9 broke his pinkie finger, and unfortunately for the Cowboys, Jon Kitna left a lot of people disappointed.

    Speaking of disappointments, Jacksonville's mild collapse in recent weeks has certainly been concerning.  Several weeks ago, the Jaguars were riding high fresh off a win over Indianapolis, only to see their season slip to 3-4, and the team is losing touch with the AFC South.

    Unlike the Cowboys, Jacksonville now welcomes back starting quarterback David Garrard, who missed the Jaguars game last week in a 42-20 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs.

    Dallas now knows that their season is on the bubble.  Former Cowboy stars commented on their team's lack of performance, so maybe a fire will spark from within. 

    In the meantime, Tennessee strolled into Texas several weeks ago and beat Dallas in a nail-biter.  Jacksonville are just as capable of repeating that upset.

     

    Prediction:

    Jacksonville 20 - Dallas 24

Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Current Records:

    Miami 3-3 - Cincinnati 2-4

     

    What To Watch For:

    Dark days have struck the city of Cincinnati, even though the Bengals hung tight with the red-hot Atlanta Falcons a week ago.

    In terms of problems, the Bengals have seen them laid on thick and rich.  Week 7 saw quarterback Carson Palmer throw for 412 yards and three touchdowns, only to see the finally rejuvenated player hit a rough patch with a hip injury.

    As concerning as this does sound though, Palmer will start this Sunday, but unless the Bengals can stop the Dolphins' persistent road dominance that has seen Miami beat the likes of Green Bay in past weeks, then the Bengals may see another loss very quickly.

    Miami on the other hand, hasn't been exactly spectacular.  The Dolphins were hardly done by against the Pittsburgh Steelers last weekend down south, but at the end of the day now find themselves with a balanced .500 record in hand.

    Heading into the season, this fixture would have been labeled as a "can't miss."  Now that the Bengals are struggling though, one gets the feeling that if the Dolphins' consistent offense notches some confidence on the road, that Miami may be able to run away with this one early.

     

    Prediction:

    Cincinnati 29 - Miami 39

Green Bay Packers at New York Jets

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    Current Records:

    Green Bay 4-3 - New York 5-1

     

    What To Watch For:

    The battle of the week gets underway in New York, when the tough-looking Green Bay Packers make an unheard of trip to the East, to take on the Jets and Rex Ryan's 5-1 squad.

    During the week, the Packers once again received some misleading news on the injury front.  It now appears that Al Harris and Atari Bibgy won't be activated for this game, and to ice the cake totally, Mike Neal, Brady Poppinga and Brad Jones will all be missing on the defensive end.

    Over in New York, the Jets saw the all clear from team doctors, who have now stated that star cornerback Darrelle Revis is 100-perent match fit.

    So what does this mean for the Packers visit to New Meadlowlands Stadium?

    From a neutral fan perspective, this is great, but for the Packers, it means that Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson gets to match up against one of the league's biggest and brightest egos.

    Some may say that a loss for the Jets won't mean all that much.  However, a win for the Packers will mean the top spot in the NFC North, a vital position when the Vikings, Lions, and Bears are failing horribly.

    Aaron Rodgers has been strong in the passing game, and Rex Ryan now needs to make the tough decision to blitz, or play a well thought-out game.  What will it be, Rex?  We'll wait and see on Sunday.

     

    Prediction:

    Green Bay 37 - New York Jets 34 (Overtime)

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Current Records:

    Buffalo 0-6 - Kansas City 4-2

     

    What To Watch For:

    One of these teams has been rolling, while the other has been almost there, but not completely devoted.

    Yes, the Kansas City Chiefs play host to the Buffalo Bills this weekend, a team that has already managed to rally with two of the AFC's elites in the past six weeks: the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens.

    Starting with the Bills, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been the best thing since sliced bread in Buffalo.  Sure, his stats may not measure up to the Tom Brady's or Peyton Manning's, but the fact that he and wide receiver Fred Jackson have managed to spark this team, says a lot for Chan Gailey's men in the future.

    On to Kansas City, they too have seen the privilege of great quarterback play.  On the stat sheet, the Chiefs haven't really dominated in all categories, but Kansas City's first-ranked rush defense has been a huge benefit in the entire AFC.

    By comparing quarterbacks, it's easy to assume this duel will come down to the passing game.  Ryan Fitzpatrick sits with 977 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year, while Matt Cassel weighs in at an impressive 1,044 yards and nine scoring passes.

     

    Prediction (Upset Pick):

    Buffalo 29 - Kansas City 23

Washington Redskins at Detroit Lions

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    Current Records:

    Washington 4-3 - Detroit 1-5

     

    What To Watch For:

    The Detroit Lions are fresh off a bye week in Week 7, and are looking to take their rejuvenated stance on the league and produce a win over the Washington Redskins.

    Unfortunately for some Detroit fans, this weekend's game will be blacked out on local TV.  Still, that isn't to stop many fans flooding Ford Field, in a game that realistically holds very little for Detroit record wise, but very much on the confidence front.

    On the topic of confidence, the Washington Redskins are firing at all four cylinders.  Donovan McNabb currently stands with 1,761 yards and 6 touchdowns, while the Redskins defense is ranked 12th in defensive passing yards.

    This weekend, you can expect the Lions to be very competitive.  Keep in mind that Detroit has rallied with Green Bay and Minnesota in past weeks, and a week off only further heightens the Lions chances against a "hot and cold" Redskins team.

     

    Prediction:

    Washington 21 - Detroit 27

Carolina Panthers at St. Louis Rams

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Current Records:

    Carolina 1-5 - St. Louis 3-4

     

    What To Watch For:

    Similar to the Detroit Lions, the St. Louis Rams were also looking likely to experience a weekly blackout, although NFL.com has since reported that the game will be aired.

    On the backhand of this good news, though, running back Steven Jackson is now listed as questionable prior to Sunday's game against Carolina.  Jackson, who was always an uncertainty with a broken finger, is looking likely to sit out, a huge blow to the Rams' entire offensive structure.

    Carolina Panthers quarterback Matt Moore had a sensational Week 7, in the Panthers' first win of the year against the San Francisco 49ers.  In the game, Moore passed for 308 yards and two touchdowns in Carolina's 23-20 victory, and has now secured the starting role over rookie Jimmy Clausen.

    Finally, the Panthers will also see the absence of DeAngelo Williams at the running back spot.  Currently Williams' foot injury is unknown to league sources, however it has been severe enough to limit Williams in team practice.

     

    Prediction:

    Carolina 10 - St. Louis 23

Tennesssee Titans at San Diego Chargers

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    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Current Records:

    Tennessee 5-2 - San Diego 2-5

     

    What To Watch For:

    San Diego's disappointing start to the season continued last weekend against the New England Patriots, when the Chargers fell to a very strong-willed Bill Belichick team, 20-23.

    To make matters worse, the team that the Chargers are now set to face in Week 8, aren't any better.  Currently Tennessee sits atop the AFC South division, and with a 5-2 record in hand, Vince Young and Co. have the confidence they need to checkmate a playoff spot.

    Away from how the season has unfolded though, controversial wide receiver Vincent Jackson has finally signed a tenure.  The holdout is now complete, and Jackson will return to the squad, once his three-week suspension has been met.

    In Tennessee news, quarterback Vince Young is likely to start after sustaining a knee injury two weeks ago against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday Night Football. 

    This return adds some spice to the Titans, and some concern for the Chargers, as San Diego's wide receiver corps has been flat and turnover-prone in the past month.

    A big-time win stands on the line for Tennessee, and even bigger loss is at stake for San Diego.  Norv Turner may be as good as gone come offseason, but if the Titans can move to a staggering 6-2, there's no telling how the South will play out in weeks to come.

     

    Prediction:

    Tennessee 31 - San Diego 34

Minnesota Vikings at New England Patriots

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    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Current Record:

    Minnesota 2-4 - New England 5-1

     

    What To Watch For:

    Yes football fans, it's that time - Randy Moss makes his return to New England. 

    Okay, so it may not be as bigger deal as Brett Favre's return to Lambeau Field last weekend, but surely the Patriot faithful will let Randy Moss hear it, amongst a sure to be hostile crowd in Foxboro this Sunday afternoon.

    But whilst the crowd may be rallying, the Vikings offense may not.  The fickle Brett Favre saga continues to play out in Minnesota, and whether or not the old-timer will end his consecutive games record of 291, is still the ultimate mystery.

    For New England, it is important that they don't get caught up in this debate.  Bill Belichick will have his team focused, and after blowing a big-time lead against San Diego last week, don't expect mistakes to flow quite so freely.

    Wide receiver Deion Branch has displayed the right attitude, by stating that he is worried about wins, not Randy Moss.  Minnesota on the other hand, they have bigger fish to fry, and Brad Childress really needs to make the right decision.

     

    Prediction:

    Minnesota 17 - New England 25

Seattle Seahawks at Oakland Raiders

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    Current Records:

    Seattle 4-2 - Oakland 3-4

     

    What To Watch For:

    Tim Cowlishaw represented Al Davis on Around the Horn yesterday, and when he stated that the Raiders are looking to step up to 4-4 this weekend, he may have offered one of the biggest understatements of the season.

    If you've been living under a rock recently, you've missed quite a treat from running back Darren McFadden.  Lately No. 20 has been lighting it up, and his 165 yards and three touchdowns en route to the Raiders big-time win over Denver last week still has fans talking.

    On the opposite side of the ball, the Seattle Seahawks have been doing some talking of their own.  Atop the NFC West, the Seahawks have a 4-2 record to play with, and right now are the solid favorites in a weak division, to take home the crown.

    Other than that, Seattle have been doing poorly statistically (20th in points scored, 28th in yards) but have been doing enough to post W's on the score-sheet.  Some may say that this good luck may run out sooner or later, and maybe it will away at Oakland.

     

    Prediction:

    Seattle 10 - Oakland 17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals

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    Current Record:

    Tampa Bay 4-2 - Arizona 3-3

     

    What To Watch For:

    Just like the Seattle Seahawks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been winning by the simplest of game plans.  Give the ball to Josh Freeman, allow him to pass down the field, and of course you will see a winning result from one of the league's most promising young quarterbacks.

    To compare Freeman to his Week 8 opponent, Max Hall, though, some differences do arise.  In Hall's first-ever game against the New Orleans Saints, the Cardinals managed to topple the NFC South giants, only to see Hall perform horribly against Seattle two weeks later.

    The Cardinals now see running back Beanie Wells move ahead of Tim Hightower on the roster. Last year's breakout wide receiver, Steve Breaston, is also listed as probable vs. the Buccaneers, a huge asset for Hall and Larry Fitzgerald alike.

    Tampa Bay see some less exciting news this week, but fan favorite Ronde Barber is ready to play his 200th career game against Arizona.  Something tells me that with the Bucs' latest motivation, that it may be a very happy milestone.

     

    Prediction:

    Tampa Bay 31 - Arizona 20

Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Current Records:

    Pittsburgh 5-1 - New Orleans 4-3

     

    What To Watch For:

    It was never going to be an easy task for the Saints to repeat Super Bowl success.  But the only word to describe New Orleans' shock loss at the hands of the Cleveland Browns last weekend, is "wow."

    So what does the NFL throw the Saints' way a week later?

    Easy.  The 5-1 Pittsburgh Steelers, who are on a path of destruction that sees Terry Bradshaw in a very happy mood, along with the entire Steeler Nation in general.

    To add injury to insult, the Saints will also be once again absent of Reggie Bush in the run game.  Team doctors have stated that Bush isn't 100 percent, and therefore will be missing the Saints home game against the yellow and black.

    On the Steelers side of things, linebacker James Harrison appeared notably hesitant against Miami last week.  More so than that though, the NFL's latest officiating favoritism has many fans in a frenzy, so let's see if the Steelers defense, and the NFL's refs are all in order this time around.

    A big game is ahead, and Sunday Night Football hasn't disappointed lately.  The Saints at 4-4?  Don't be too surprised, Big Ben and his team are on one of their patented win paths, that is extremely hard to stop.

     

    Prediction:

    Pittsburgh 34 - New Orleans 30

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

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    Current Records:

    Houston Texans 4-2 - Indianapolis Colts 4-2

     

    What To Watch For:

    Monday Night Football plays host to a showdown between two AFC South deadlocks - the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans.

    In Week 1, this game was far from a blockbuster affair.  The Colts fell in disappointing fashion, and although quarterback Peyton Manning had a big day, Indianapolis found themselves 0-1 to start the season.

    But boy, how things have changed.

    Unfortunately, the Colts and Texans haven't managed to grasp the division, and as a result the Titans have slipped into the top spot.

    This Monday Night marks the first ever time the Texans may sweep the Indianapolis Colts.  Even though any person in their right mind wouldn't count Peyton Manning out, a loss may be the immediate outcome, seeing as though the Colts are without Austin Collie, Joseph Addai and many other big name players this year.

    As for Houston, this past week has been all about focus.  Head coach Gary Kubiak has implemented many team meetings, and now it has been announced that Brian Cushing will replace injured DeMeco Ryans at the middle linebacker spot.

    It may not be the biggest game of the week, but it is by far the most meaningful.  You get the feeling that whoever loses may be out of the AFC South picture, and whoever wins, could just as easily take home the title in eight weeks time.

    Indianapolis has home field advantage though, and has we've seen in past weeks, home field plus a need for revenge, normally equals a win for the boys in blue and white.

     

    Prediction:

    Houston 29 - Indianapolis 38