NFL Pick ‘Em: Week 8
Picking winners and losers for NFL Week 8
Another week has come and gone in the NFL, and now we’re headed for a new weekend full of hard-hitting football action.
So far this season, the NFL has been filled with upsets and unexpected explosions from particular teams. While some of the league’s top dogs have floundered early – cough, cough, New Orleans Saints – other teams that many wrote off early such as the Minnesota Vikings have pulled wins out of thin air. That, however, is what makes football such a great sport.
No matter how clear cut a game might seem, you never can be sure what will happen when the ball is snapped and a victory is on the line. An untimely turnover or a shanked field goal can be the difference between an unsurprising win and a Vegas-infuriating defeat. One can only assume that Week 8 will be no different, offering a number of showdowns that could go either way.
Although this season has been anything but predictable, I’m going to take a shot at predicting the winners of each game during Week 8. Some games seem self-explanatory while others have just about everyone sitting on the fence; I can assure you, though, that no game is straight forward, no matter how lopsided it may seem.
As the old saying goes: Any given Sunday…
Here’s a quick peek at each game this weekend, with my prediction and why I feel that a particular team will have the edge over the other. Enjoy and don’t hesitate to disagree.
Minnesota Vikings (5-2) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4)
As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to fall just short, the Minnesota Vikings continue to find themselves on top despite a lackluster offense. That trend will endure on Thursday when the Vikings’ defense makes just enough plays to slow down Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay passing attack while Christian Ponder bounces back and exploits the 25th ranked Buccaneers defense, lifting the Vikings to 6-2.
My pick: Vikings win 24-20
New York Jets (3-4) vs. Miami Dolphins (3-3)
Since the quarterback controversy arose, Mark Sanchez has begun making plays for the New York Jets. The Miami Dolphins will be seeking revenge for their disappointing overtime loss to the Jets earlier this season, and should put up quite a fight. Miami, however, will fall short as the New York offense discovers enough production to maintain a slim lead.
My pick: Jets win 35-30
Cleveland Browns (1-6) vs. San Diego Chargers (3-3)
Even without stickum, the San Diego Chargers shouldn’t have too much trouble taking care of the depleted Cleveland Browns. This will, however, offer the Chargers an interesting test to see if they can rise to the occasion and avoid a letdown. Philip Rivers and Co. need to flash some stability before the San Diego front office scraps this season and gets into rebuilding mode.
My pick: Chargers win 17-14
Tennessee Titans (3-4) vs. Indianapolis Colts (3-3)
These AFC South showdowns have been squeakers all season long and this game shouldn’t be much different. While the Tennessee Titans are leaning on Matt Hasselbeck to keep their slim postseason hopes alive, the Indianapolis Colts are riding rookie Andrew Luck into the post-Manning era. The two quarterbacks will have their hands full on Sunday, but Chris Johnson should give the Titans enough of a boost to slip by with their third-straight win.
My pick: Titans win 28-27
St. Louis Rams (3-4) vs. New England Patriots (4-3)
Although the St. Louis Rams have greatly improved since last season, the New England Patriots are finally starting to play up to their potential. With their passing game now in full gear, the Patriots shouldn’t have too much trouble exploiting the Rams’ young secondary over and over while putting the St. Louis offense on ice.
My pick: Patriots win 45-19
Green Bay Packers (4-3) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5)
With Blaine Gabbert nursing an injury and Maurice Jones-Drew out, the Jacksonville Jaguars don’t stand a chance. Even with a depleted secondary, the Green Bay Packers should have no trouble taming a team that has almost no offensive firepower to speak of in 2012. Aaron Rodgers will have a field day.
My pick: Packers win 28-3
Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) vs. Atlanta Falcons (6-0)
The Atlanta Falcons have been pushing their luck for weeks, and the Philadelphia Eagles are looking for a way to prove they’re still relevant. This will be just the game Michael Vick needs to prove that he’s still one of the NFL’s premier quarterbacks. With motivation and desperation on their side, the Eagles should be able to knock off the only undefeated team and stay alive in the NFC East race.
My pick: Eagles win 27-21
Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) vs. Washington Redskins (3-4)
Even though the Pittsburgh Steelers appear to be on a roll right now, they have yet to meet Mr. Robert Griffin III. It won’t be easy, but the rookie Washington Redskins quarterback will find a way to put his team on top like he did against the Vikings two weeks ago. The Steelers should put up a fight, but RG3 and his Skins will walk away from the Steel City victorious.
My pick: Redskins win 24-20
Detroit Lions (2-4) vs. Seattle Seahawks (4-3)
The Detroit Lions are quickly becoming one of the biggest disappointments of the 2012 season, and quarterback Matt Stafford is largely to blame. The fourth-year passer is struggling with turnover issues as accuracy is becoming a concern as well. Going up against a dominant Seattle Seahawks defense, the Lions should continue to slide as Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch do work against the Detroit D.
My pick: Seahawks win 31-13
Chicago Bears (5-1) vs. Carolina Panthers (1-5)
It’s been a long season for the Carolina Panthers, and it’s going to get even longer as Ron Rivera’s seat gets hotter. The Chicago Bears have fielded a stifling defense all season long, which should give Carolina quarterback Cam Newton fits for 60 minutes. Unless Newton can pull a rabbit out of his hat, there’s little reason to believe that the Panthers can overcome a Bears team that’s rolling right now.
My pick: Bears win 34-10
Kansas City Chiefs (1-5) vs. Oakland Raiders (2-4)
This one is going to be a snoozer. Two extremely inconsistent teams go head-to-head in a divisional showdown that’s sure to put a few fans to sleep. The Kansas City Chiefs are hoping that Brady Quinn can show some semblance of quarterbacking skills while the Oakland Raiders wait for a running game to materialize. It’s going to be a long, uneventful game that sees the better of two terrible teams come out on top.
My pick: Raiders win 13-7
Dallas Cowboys (3-3) vs. New York Giants (5-2)
The New York Giants, who started the 2012 campaign with a tough loss, will be looking to even their season series with the Dallas Cowboys. Although it should be a hard-fought battle with plenty of ups and downs, the final result should stem from Tony Romo and his untimely turnovers. The Giants should be able to force just enough mistakes to stay atop the NFC East.
My pick: Giants win 35-33
Denver Broncos (3-3) vs. New Orleans Saints (2-4)
Peyton Manning is quickly hitting his stride and proving doubters wrong. The New Orleans Saints, however, are starting to turn their slow start around. Both teams will be looking to stay alive in their respective divisional races and need a win. The Denver Broncos defense, however, should prove to be too much for the Saints. Drew Brees should keep it close, but it won’t be enough.
My pick: Broncos win 27-21
Arizona Cardinals (4-3) vs. San Francisco 49ers (5-2)
After starting off 4-0, the Arizona Cardinals are caught in a downward spiral and the San Francisco 49ers are ready to reap the rewards. With John Skelton under center, the Cardinals will have a tough time getting it going through the air against a dominant 49ers defense. As long as San Francisco can find some success on the ground, they should cruise to an easy victory against this divisional foe.
My pick: 49ers win 20-0
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