In a topsy-turvy, upside down season where teams can go from contenders to pretenders and back again from week to week, sure-fire locks can be a tricky bird. As we head towards the mid-way point of the 2011 season, though, things are beginning to take shape as the cream of the NFL crop continues to rise.
As a result, there are a handful of games this week that stand out as clearly being over before they begin. With this in mind here's five upset-proof, Week 8 picks guaranteed not to surprise.
New Orleans may want to seriously consider running the second unit this Sunday against the Rams who very well may be the worst of the three remaining winless teams.
Ranked dead last in the league on offense and near next to last on defense, there really isn't much the Rams do well which is why this game is over before the Saints' team jetliner hits the tarmac.
Whether second year quarterback Sam Bradford, or ageless veteran AJ Feeley gets the start against the Saints, it's no more than the difference between a quarterback with a 61 QB rating, and one with a 72 QB rating.
Brandon Lloyd's six catch, 74 yard debut for St Louis, while promising, amounts to no more than a modest step in the right direction.
The fact is that the Rams are still a long way from stepping up to the task of taking down a championship-caliber team like New Orleans.
If Bradford does make it back this week, look for Lloyd to improve on his opening day numbers and for the Rams to lose by slightly less than they would without him.
Broncos fans will be clambering for the return of Kyle Orton come Monday morning, after Detroit brings an abrupt end to “Tebow Time” in Denver. Once the Lions finish making a light appetizer out of the rookie, expect the Tim Tebow bandwagon to clear out as fast as it filled up.
Whether or not Tebow has what it takes to be Denver's quarterback of the future wont be determined for a long while yet but asking the kid to come in and light it up against the Lions is a pipe dream.
Even if he can somehow build on his performance during the final minutes of the Broncos overtime win last week, Tebow simply doesn't have the horses he needs to be successful against a playoff-caliber team.
Broncos fans should consider it a major victory if the fleet-footed, over-hyped rookie quarterback can finish the game without getting benched.
When a team's quarterbacks combine for six interceptions in a single game, they're going to lose and lose big, every single time.
Give credit to Kansas City for no more than taking advantage of the situation against Oakland because they did not win that game as much as Oakland lost.
Anyone drinking the Kansas City comeback Kool-Aid should check themselves in somewhere, fast. Unless the Chiefs can coax Rivers into coughing-up six pics, you're setting yourself up for a let down if you think the Chiefs can pull the upset against a very talented but poorly coached Chargers team.
True, no team in the history of the NFL is better at spontaneously imploding than Norv Turner's Chargers. Also true is the fact that Turner will give the Chiefs every possible chance to stay in the game all the way down to the wire. The problem is that the Chiefs just don't have enough under the hood right now to take advantage of Turner's blundering.
Look for the Chargers to win by much less than they should against a division rival too beset by injury at this stage to put up enough of a fight.
Under coach Jim Harbaugh's leadership, the 49ers have become a highly disciplined, physical team that is getting the most out of Alex Smith by not asking too much of him.
San Francisco has established themselves as the class of the NFC West maintaining a three game lead in the division and will continue to add to their cushion against the Browns on Sunday.
Coaching relic Mike Holmgren, on the other hand, has Cleveland sliding down the slippery slope of a loosing record fast which should be no surprise to anyone.
For Cleveland, racking up wins against the dregs of the league is great at falsely inflating the hopes of the fans but not much else. Take away wins against Cincinnati, Miami and Indianapolis, and the Browns 3-3 record does not look nearly as impressive.
And while Cleveland’s defense may posses the tools to slowdown Alex Smith and the 49ers passing game, expect Frank Gore to run all over the overrated Browns who will continue their trip back down to earth this Sunday in San Francisco.
As utterly unimpressive as Tennessee has looked at times this season, they'll have no trouble dispatching the woeful, Payton Manning-less Colts in Nashville this Sunday. Expect the Titans to cruise onto the positive side of .500, and to be right back in the thick of things in the AFC South come Monday morning.
If this game were in Indianapolis, the Colts might just have a snowball's chance. But division rivalry or not, given the physical nature of the Titans defense, along with the fact that they'll be playing for the home crowd, makes this yet another game that is over before it begins.
While, at least on the offensive side of the football, Tennessee won't inspire fear into anyone’s heart, their defense is another story. Expect the Titans defense to create a lot of short fields for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck who's put up respectable, if not spectacular numbers despite the lack of support a consistent rushing attack provides.