NFL Picks for All 13 Week 8 Games
Week 8 of the 2011 NFL season should be a fairly quiet one compared to a few previous weeks; there aren't many big games to speak of.
However, matchups such as the Houston Texans vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Dallas Cowboys vs. the Philadelphia Eagles could have bigger implications than their records suggest, while the game between the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers should liven up the weekend.
Here are your Week 8 NFL predictions.
Arizona Cardinals at Baltimore Ravens
The Arizona Cardinals stagger into Baltimore with a 1-5 record to take on the 4-2 Ravens.
Baltimore was stunned by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday Night Football last week, but don't expect that to happen again.
Running back Ray Rice has been having a very good year, and quarterback Joe Flacco has done enough to get by. Outside of those two and aging receiver Anquan Boldin, the Ravens don't have a whole heck of a lot of offensive firepower, so they hang their hat on one of the best defenses in the league.
The Cardinals have a solid offense, led by the three-headed monster of receiver Larry Fitzgerald, running back Beanie Wells and quarterback Kevin Kolb.
However, their defense has been nothing short of awful this year. Expect Ray Rice to have a big day on the way to a big win.
Ravens 34, Cardinals 17
Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
In a game that should be a lot more interesting than the teams' collective 3-11 record, the Minnesota Vikings will travel to Charlotte to battle the improving Carolina Panthers.
Minnesota is easily the best 1-6 team in the NFL, and while that isn't saying much, they are probably better than many of the two- and three-win teams as well.
The Vikings are led by star running back Adrian Peterson, who continues to gash defenses week in and week out, but they will be quarterbacked by rookie Christian Ponder, who has been playing better than many thought.
The Vikes have a good rush defense and a strong pass rush led by Jared Allen, but their pass defense is suspect.
The Carolina Panthers may be able to take advantage of that, because their rookie quarterback, Cam Newton, has also been having a surprising season, especially through the air. In addition to Newton, the Panthers have running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams to lean on offensively.
Carolina's defense has been pretty poor this season, so this one could end up in a shootout. I like the Vikings to ride on Adrian Peterson early and often and outscore the Panthers.
Vikings 31, Panthers 27
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
Fresh off a 41-7 thrashing of division rival Tennessee, the 4-3 Houston Texans welcome the 2-5 Jacksonville Jaguars into their house.
The Jaguars rookie quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, has struggled this season, so he will need to lean on running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
Jacksonville's defense completely shut down Baltimore last week, so the Texans will have to be running on all cylinders if they want to score much in this game.
The good news for Houston is that leading receiver Andre Johnson is set to come back, so they should have a passing attack at full strength to go with the two-headed beast that is Houston's ground game. Arian Foster and Ben Tate have been lights out this season and have added another element to a prolific offense.
The Jags had an outstanding performance at home last Monday night, but don't expect an upset again this week.
Texans 28, Jaguars 10
Miami Dolphins at New York Giants
There has been nothing but trouble for the 0-6 Miami Dolphins this year, and it's likely only a matter of time before head coach Tony Sparano is relieved of his duties.
The trouble doesn't look like it's going to let up this week, as the Dolphins have to travel north all the way to East Rutherford, N.J. to play the New York Giants.
The Dolphins are being quarterbacked by Matt Moore, who has struggled since the injury of starter Chad Henne, and running backs Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush aren't doing a lot to help the situation.
That doesn't bode well when going against a defense like the Giants, led by budding defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
Defensively, the Dolphins have actually been pretty solid this year, but the Giants should be able to do enough to take out Miami and further the incentive to fire Sparano.
Giants 20, Dolphins 13
New Orleans Saints at St. Louis Rams
Going into this game, all I can say is, "Good luck, Rams."
The New Orleans Saints will invade St. Louis coming off a 62-7 incineration of the Indianapolis Colts, and you could make the argument the Rams are even worse than the Colts.
St. Louis is led by quarterback Sam Bradford and running back Steven Jackson. Bradford had a solid rookie campaign, but has really struggled this year due to poor pass protection and a lack of weapons. He may have a better second half of the season with the addition of Brandon Lloyd, but the offense will still likely have its struggles.
Defensively, the Rams have also been bad, which probably explains why they are without a win. The high powered New Orleans offense, led by quarterback Drew Brees and a great receiving corps, should be able to come in and dominate yet again.
Saints 41, Rams 24
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
This is an interesting matchup not only because it is a division game, but also because the Colts and the Titans got beaten by a combined 103-14 last week.
The Titans are led by aging quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who has had a surprisingly good first half of the season, but hasn't been quite as good as of late, and running back Chris Johnson, who has struggled mightily after signing a huge contract in the offseason.
The Colts defense was obviously shredded last week, but they haven't been terrible week in and week out and should provide a challenge to the Titans.
Tennessee's defense isn't outstanding, but they should be able to get the job done against a Colts offense that, let's face it, is nothing without Peyton Manning.
Curtis Painter has struggled after being put in a pretty unfortunate situation, and the woes will probably continue this week against a pretty good Tennessee team.
Titans 23, Colts 19
Washington Redskins at Buffalo Bills (Toronto)
The Redskins and Bills meet in Canada for a matchup that has fairly big implications for both teams.
Both teams are stuck in very competitive divisions, so both need the win on Sunday to stay in contention for the playoffs.
Washington will be led by quarterback John Beck and running back (fill in the blank). Head coach Mike Shanahan will probably use a combination of Ryan Torain and Roy Helu on Sunday, but who knows how much work each player will get. Shanahan is a great head coach, but if you're relying on a 'Skins runner in your fantasy football league, you probably hate the man.
The Washington defense is pretty stout, led by pass rushers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.
The upstart Bills are pretty solid on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has overachieved this year, and the receiver/running back combo of Fred Jackson and Steve Johnson has been lethal.
The defense is pretty good on all levels, but the best unit would probably be the secondary, led by two stud safeties in Jairus Byrd and George Wilson and two playmaking corners in Drayton Florence and Leodis McKelvin.
This game is a tough call, but I think Buffalo will come out strong off a bye week, and Washington will continue to implode.
Bills 24, Redskins 17
Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos
The 5-2 Detroit Lions travel to Denver to take on the 2-4 Broncos, and this game may end up being closer than some would think.
On paper, the Lions look much stronger than the Broncos. At quarterback, Matthew Stafford has had a huge year in tandem with stud receiver Calvin Johnson, and the offense has had a lot of success. On the other hand, the Broncos defense hasn't been particularly stout.
Defensively, Detroit has had its struggles against the run, but the pass defense has been surprisingly good, and the Lions defensive line has been getting a ton of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The Broncos offense, on the other hand, has little firepower outside of the legs of Tim Tebow and shouldn't have much success against Detroit.
A few factors will be working against Detroit, though.
First, cornerback Champ Bailey will be on Calvin Johnson for much of the day, and while that likely won't stop Johnson, it could slow him down.
Second, Detroit has lost two straight games and seems to have lost a step since their 5-0 start, while Denver is coming off a dramatic 18-point fourth quarter comeback against Miami.
Still, I like Detroit to get out of their funk and secure the win.
Lions 24, Broncos 20
New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers
In what is probably the game of the week, the Pittsburgh Steelers host the New England Patriots.
Pittsburgh, led by Ben Roethisberger, Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall, will go up against a Pats defense that has struggled as of late.
It's fairly likely that this game will be decided by the Patriots defense, who will be tested greatly against a big play Pitt offense that can also pound the rock with Mendenhall.
Never count out Tom Brady, but with the home advantage, I like the Steelers to deliver New England its second loss of the season.
Steelers 27, Patriots 25
Cincinnati Bengals at Seattle Seahawks
The surprising 4-2 Cincinnati Bengals go all the way out to Seattle to take on the 2-4 Seahawks, where they could get more of a fight than some think.
The Bengals have a surprisingly decent passing game led by quarterback Andy Dalton and receiver AJ Green, but the running game has struggled lately.
The defense has been lights out, though, and should be able to get a lot of pressure on Seattle's quarterback, whether that be Charlie Whitehurst or Tarvaris Jackson.
The Seattle defense hasn't been too bad, but this game should be a Bengals win.
Bengals 17, Seahawks 13
Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers
The 3-3 Cleveland Browns go to San Francisco to take on possibly the biggest surprise team of the season in the 49ers.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh has done an excellent job with a team that was very unimpressive last season, and has the team at 5-1.
Alex Smith has had a decent season, but the 'Niners have relied on Frank Gore and the running game to get to where they are. The Browns have a great pass defense, ranked first in the nation, but the run defense could use some work. Look for SF to exploit that.
Offensively, Cleveland has left much to be desired this year, and the 'Niners' stout defense is probably drooling right about now.
49ers 24, Browns 6
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
Two of the most talented, yet underachieving NFL teams will meet up in Philadelphia this week as the Eagles take on the Dallas Cowboys.
This game has huge implications, as both teams are still in playoff contention in a wide open division.
The defenses are what will decide this game. Dallas is led by Rob Ryan and has been wreaking havoc in opponents' backfields all year, while the Eagles are led by a former offensive line coach and have been sub-par all year despite an ample amount of talent.
Vick has a lot of trouble when getting rushed, so expect DeMarcus Ware and the 'Boys to take this one home.
Cowboys 27, Eagles 17
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
The San Diego Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs meet on Monday Night Football in a decisive division matchup.
After the first three weeks of the season, nobody would have guessed Kansas City would be in the division race, but after a big turnaround, they are still in playoff contention.
The Chargers look great on paper, but they've really struggled lately, particularly quarterback Philip Rivers.
The Chiefs have had a great turnaround, securing three straight wins on the heels of three initial losses to put themselves in second place in their division. The offense, led by Matt Cassel, continues to have its hiccups, but the defense has been much better.
The Chargers have been mistake-prone this year, and Kansas City has been great at forcing turnovers lately. Look for that to play a big role in the outcome.
Chiefs 27, Chargers 21