NFL Week 8 Predictions: Which Kickers Will Have the Biggest Days?

John RozumCorrespondent IOctober 28, 2011

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 23: Matt Prater #5 of the Denver Broncos kicks the game winning field goal in overtime against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on October 23, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

When it comes to kickers, anything can happen. These guys can be so good at times, such as drilling 50-plus yarders on a consistent basis, to kicking a PAT too low and it gets blocked, thus costing their team a point.

However, matchups are key when looking at which kickers will have a solid game.

Kickers usually have big days when the offense has the ability to move the ball, but struggles once in the red zone. In terms of fantasy football, kickers can turn out to be a lot more valuable than previously anticipated.

Graham Gano, Redskins (at Bills)

This week the Redskins play the Bills in a inter-conference matchup that pits two vastly different, but just as effective defenses against one another. The Redskins have a good pass rush and force punts, while the Bills get turnovers more than anything.

That said, Washington's offense is not that great, but since Buffalo relies on turnovers, getting into FG range is all that's required. Expect Washington to move the ball cautiously and effectively at times.

The Redskins aren't going to win the game because the Bills will prevent them from scoring TDs, but kick Graham Gano will be their leading scorer.

Matt Prater, Broncos (vs Lions)

Perhaps the best chance Denver has at upsetting the Lions lies in the kicking game. Detroit has the veteran in Jason Hanson, but his long-range accuracy is gradually declining; whereas the Broncos' Matt Prater is only a few yards back from being in Sebastian Janikowski's range.

Prater has the leg to make a 60-yard FG, but the Broncos' offense should move the ball well enough to earn him a couple tries from inside the 30.

Denver has a weak pass offense, so expect them to pound the ball down the field against Detroit's weak rush defense.

However, once near/inside the red zone is where Denver has struggled the most over the past few years, so the Lions will lock it down and force Prater to beat them. Now, although he's not going to attempt six or seven FGs, don't be surprised if Denver scores 15 from Prater to keep them in the game.

Phil Dawson, Browns (at 49ers)

If the Browns score any points this week it's going to be from kicker Phil Dawson. San Fran has a weak pass defense and QB Colt McCoy will exploit that enough to move the ball into his range. However, don't expect much thereafter as Cleveland struggles once past the 50-yard-line.

In addition, SF has a stout rush defense, so even if Cleveland tries to switch gears once they get inside the red zone, don't expect any success. If they couldn't do that last week at home against Seattle, it's not going to happen on the road in San Fran.

Dawson isn't going to get even four attempts either because the 49ers will control the tempo as their offensive ground game will limit Cleveland's scoring opportunities.

However, it's not too out of the question for Cleveland to have Dawson attempt at least two FGs from 50-plus. That's what happened against Seattle and he connected both times.

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