Week 8 Matchup Predictions
Buccaneers @ Vikings: Since their bye in Week 5, the Bucs have averaged 488 yards of offense per game. However, those games were against the Chiefs and Saints, and the Bucs will have a much tougher time handling the Vikings' top-10 defense. Adrian Peterson looked a whole lot like the pre-surgery Adrian Peterson against the Cardinals top-10 defense last Sunday, and if he's in peak form he'll be a massive headache for every team he faces. Christian Ponder has proven he can take advantage of a bad pass secondary, and the Bucs' defense is ranked 31st in that category. To top it off, the Vikings are at home in the Metrodome.
Vikings win 27-17.
Panthers @ Bears: While the Bears' defense has proven to be a vexatious force, their offense has also proven they can get wins in a number of ways - slinging it all over the field to put up points in a shootout, or simply controlling the ball to edge out the opponent in a low scoring game. The Panthers are arguably the league's biggest disappointment at 1-5, and they'll be hard pressed to find an elusive victory in Chicago against one of the league's top teams. With Jon Beason placed on the injured reserve for the Panthers, and Jay Cutler (ribs) set to resume practicing on Thursday for the Bears, I don't see the Panthers pulling this one off.
Bears win 30-17.
Chargers @ Browns: The Chargers are coming out of their bye on a two game losing streak, with their most recent loss being a massive blown lead to the Broncos. Philip Rivers is capable of being much safer with the ball than he was in that Broncos game (six turnovers), and he won't feel any pressure to make risky plays against a Browns team that can't generate much in the way of offense. Trent Richardson will either be out for the Browns or be playing through a troublesome rib injury. The Chargers are ranked 6th in the league in takeaways, which is bad news for rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden, who leads the league in interceptions.
Chargers win 24-10.
Seahawks @ Lions: The Lions could barely get on the scoreboard against the top ranked Bears' scoring defense, and this week they'll face the Seahawks' 3rd ranked scoring defense. After a long week of rest, the Seahawks will be ready to get extremely physical with this turnover-prone Lions team that struggles to run the ball. I still think the Lions will be playing much better by the end of the season, but they will have a tough time getting their offense to click against a very disruptive Seahawks' defensive unit.
Seahawks win 19-13.
Jaguars @ Packers: Blaine Gabbert will have to outgun the reigning MVP on the road to get this victory. Gabbert hasn't topped 186 yards since Week 1 and now has a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. With Maurice Jones-Drew sidelined, the Jaguars have almost nothing to threaten the Packers' defense with. With two straight games of 400+ yards and no turnovers, the Packers' offense looks like it's finally clicking, which is bad news for everyone they'll face the rest of the season - especially the offensively inept Jaguars.
Packers win 34-10.
Colts @ Titans: The Colts have put together an interesting resume, losing to bad teams - like the Jaguars - but beating some good teams - like the Packers. The Titans, on the other hand, don't really have a bad loss (not taking score into account) all year. The Titans' worst loss was at San Diego. Now on a two game win streak with Matt Hasselbeck playing efficiently, the Titans don't look like a joke of a team, as they did earlier in the year. Chris Johnson, who had a huge game last Sunday against the Bills, will have a great opportunity to continue his success against a Colts' defense that gives up 4.8 yards per rush (28th in the league).
Titans win 28-24.
Patriots "@" Rams: The game isn't really "at Rams," because it's being played in London. While I'd be furious if my team had a game thousands of miles from home that counted as one of my eight home games, that's a discussion for another day. The Patriots will bring their number one ranked offense to the United Kingdom, and Tom Brady will be at his best as he attempts to impress the Royal Family. The Rams' defense has actually been pretty solid this year, but their offense won't be nearly good enough to keep up.
Patriots win 27-14.
Dolphins @ Jets: Last time these two teams faced off, the Dolphins would have won if not for two missed field goals by Dan Carpenter. However, the Jets are playing much better than they were at that point in the season, and if there was ever such thing as a moral victory, it came in the Jets' overtime loss to the Patriots last Sunday. The Jets will be ready to take on this Dolphins team that has only beaten teams with losing records.
Jets win 24-17.
Falcons @ Eagles: This is probably my favorite matchup of the week. You have the spectacular 6-0 Falcons heading to the home of the disappointing 3-3 Eagles, who are 13-0 coming out of bye weeks under Andy Reid. The Eagles aren't a bad team, they just play to the level of their competition - they can beat any team, and can lose to any team. In a desperate game at home, I can see the Eagles playing at their best. However, their best won't be good enough against an offense that can beat you in any way imaginable - deep passes to Jones, underneath passes to Gonzalez, power runs with Turner, outside runs with Rodgers, etc. In addition, Michael Vick will have a hard time breaking out of his turnover slump against a team that ranks 2nd in takeaways - 17 in six games. And that untainted Andy Reid record coming off of bye weeks? The Falcons are coming off of their bye week as well.
Falcons win 31-24.
Redskins @ Steelers: There were a lot of people out there who believed that Robert Griffin III had a higher ceiling than Andrew Luck, but very few people thought he'd be the better player right off the bat. Not only is RG3 playing like the best 2012 draft pick, but he has some of the most well renowned columnists in America saying he's the best player in the NFL. I think we'll eventually see the Steelers that we've come to expect this season, but not until Troy Polamalu returns from injury, and he's been ruled out for this game. The Steelers gave up 359 yards to Matt Hasselbeck's Titans - they'll have a tough time handling RG3.
Redskins win 28-27.
Giants @ Cowboys: The Giants lost to the Cowboys on the opening night of the season, but that is the best the Cowboys have looked all year and the Giants seem very much improved. With Eli Manning playing at an MVP caliber level, and middle linebacker Sean Lee out for the season, the Cowboys will have a hard time stopping the Giants' offensive attack. Tony Romo and company - who have topped 19 points only once since last playing the Giants - won't be able to keep up.
Giants win 30-21.
Saints @ Broncos: Peyton has become the most night-and-day player in the NFL when it comes to the first and second half. He gets his team in a rut early on, then fights his way back to either win or come close to winning. Fortunately for him, he won't have to do that this week. The Saints defense isn't nearly good enough to give Peyton his early struggles, and while Drew Brees will play well, it won't be enough. We've got one Hall of Fame quarterback (Brees) facing the 11th ranked defense, against another Hall of Fame quarterback (Manning) facing the 32nd ranked defense. I think I'll take the latter.
Broncos win 38-30.
49ers @ Cardinals: The Cardinals played well for just long enough to convince most people that they could be a legitimate team, and have since slapped believers in the face with three straight losses. They'll have a hard time getting back on track this week against the league's top ranked defense that will have it's way with one of the league's worst offensive lines. John Skelton actually played pretty well against the Vikings - his first start since Week 1 - but the Cardinals still lost, and Skelton won't play well against the 49ers.
49ers win 20-10.