With the surprising Monday night finish, Week 7 of the NFL season is in the books.
It seems as if yesterday we were by our TV's waiting for the lockout to be lifted. But ultimately the NFL has not disappointed.
With the World Series guaranteed to be over by Thursday, and with the NBA lockout still unresolved, it could football for here on out for the rest of the season starting this Sunday.
Week 8 will provide some interesting story lines that should be followed closely. Whether it's rookie match ups or divisional rivalries these four games will be very intriguing.
NFL gurus might have a tough time predicting the outcome of these match ups of evenly matched teams, but here are my predictions for the best games of Week 8.
Who would have thought that a team with a record of 1-6 vs. a team with a record of 2-5 would provide such an interesting match up? Well, the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Carolina Panthers should at least be on people's (and defensive coordinator's) radar.
This game will have two quarterbacks who were drafted earlier this year and are now starting for their respected teams as rookies.
Panthers' quarterback Cam Newton, who was the first overall pick in the NFL draft out, has been extremely impressive through the first eight games of the season. Although their record doesn't attest to how well they, especially Newton, have played, people around the league are obviously taking notice.
With a 1-5 record after six games, the Minnesota Vikings decided to bench their quarterback Donavon McNabb in favor of their first round draft pick, Christian Ponder. Although he definitely struggled against the Green Bay Packers' secondary, he also had some success. In the fourth quarter he led the Vikings down the field twice. If it weren't for poor running defense he could have had a chance to bring his team down the field for the win. Ponder will need to step his game up against much better pass defense this week.
I give the edge to Newton and the Panthers because I think they will be able to take advantage of the Vikings weak secondary, which is ranked 29th in the NFL.
Panthers 35 - Vikings 31
This match up will have huge implications for AFC West divisional race.
The San Diego Chargers, who are (4-2) and just coming off of a tough loss against the New York Jets, will be facing off against the (3-3) Kansas City Chiefs, who are coming off a huge win against quarterback Carson Palmer and the Oakland Raiders.
The Chiefs, who started off the season 0-3, including two blowout losses, have righted the ship in the past three games. Without two of their superstars, safety Eric Berry and running back Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs have fought hard to stay in the playoff race.
Without Jamaal Charles, the running back tandem of Jackie Battle and Dexter McCluster has provided a much needed spark to their offense. With Matt Cassel struggling to find a rhythm with the passing game, they have relied on these two backs to keep them in games.
While Battle and McCluster should have some success against San Diego, the Chargers, and their third best pass defense, will seek to shut Matt Cassel down. Also expect Chargers' quarterback Phillip Rivers to do well against a secondary that hasn't been as effective without their star safety.
Chargers come out on top in this one.
Chargers 24 - Chiefs 20
The Sunday night game of the week could end one of these team's hopes for a chance at the playoffs.
These are two very talented teams who have under-performed and had a tough time being consistent. Both the Cowboys and the Eagles also have had a tough time holding on to leads late in the game.
The Boys are coming off a blowout win against the St. Louis Rams, while the Eagles are coming off a win against the Washington Redskins in Week 6 and a bye in Week 7. It's fair to say that both of these teams have a lot of momentum coming into this game.
Both the Eagles and the Cowboys have high-powered offenses that can make this game interesting. The Eagles, with their best running attack, will be facing off against the Boys' top rushing defense. The Cowboys' and their fourth best passing offense will be up against a solid Eagles' secondary.
I believe that the Eagles' time off will pay dividends and Vick will come out the gate fresh and ready to cause havoc. Look for the Eagles to come out on top in a high-scoring affair.
Eagles 38 - Cowboys 34
Oh, how sweet this game will be.
Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Wes Welker have been unreal this year. Brady is second in the NFL in passing yards (even after the bye) with 2,163 yards passing while Wes Welker is second in receiving yards with 785 yards. They are two keys to the Pats' top ranked passing attack.
Although they have the top passing attack in the NFL, the Steelers have the top ranked secondary in the league. Something's gotta give in this match up and I think the Steelers will slow Brady down.
Ben Roethlisberger has been playing extremely well this year, as well. He is coming off a a 361 yard, 3 TD performance against the Arizona Cardinals. Look for Big Ben and receiver Mike Wallace to jump all over the last ranked pass defense in the NFL.
I'm taking the Steelers at home.
Steelers 31- New England 27