Analogous to last week, NFL Week 8 will feature a handful of games that will make fans cringe and many marquee matchups that should be equipped with extremely entertaining finishes. The only real difference is this week’s slate is in opposite order—with lopsided early affairs and mouth-watering and intoxicating late action.
NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora (who rates each game as a foot-long, six-inch, pita or finger sandwich) should increase your appetite for this weekend, as he states some of the “finger sandwiches [ex: NO-STL, MIA-NYG, IND-TEN, etc.] are going to turn out to have double meat, extra condiments and perfectly grilled peppers and onions that we never realized were there in the first place until we’ve finished consuming it.”
Last Week: 10-3 (74-29 Overall)
The Cardinals have scored just 41 points and are 0-3 on the road. The Ravens have only allowed 45 points and are 4-0 at home. Moreover, Baltimore’s exasperated after Monday night’s meltdown. This will be a lopsided bird battle. Prediction: Baltimore 35, Arizona 10
Sam Bradford is expected to sit another week. That’s a heads-up move by the organization considering the Rams don’t have the horses to challenge an elite contender that’s hitting on all cylinders like New Orleans. Drew Brees could have another game for the record books. Prediction: New Orleans 44, St. Louis 6
Two rookie quarterbacks with an iridescent future go toe-to-toe. Couple that with the fact that these clubs have lost a combined nine games by seven points or fewer makes for one of the more fun-to-watch games of the early action. Cam Newton and company find a way to win, but it comes down to the wire with a banner day from Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder. Prediction: Carolina 31, Minnesota 24
This is a must-win game for the Titans and Chris Johnson has to find to his rhythm. The Colts surrendered an eye-popping franchise record 62 points to New Orleans and have been outscored 147-48 on the road this year. Tennessee has also endured recent embarrassment, losing its last two games to Houston and Pittsburgh by 55 points combined. The Titans put an end to the Colts’ five-game win streak in the series. Prediction: Tennessee 28, Indianapolis 14
Jacksonville’s defense ranks inside the Top 10 across the board in all four major categories (total defense, scoring defense, run defense and pass defense), but the Texans do, too. Houston is in the Top 10 on offense across the board as well, while the Jaguars are 31st in scoring (12 PPG) and dead last in passing (128.4 YPG) and total offense (252.4 YPG). While this is historically a tight-knit series, Blaine Gabbert and co. just don’t have the firepower to keep pace with the Texans, despite newfound confidence. Prediction: Houston 24, Jacksonville 10
I would rather watch the elderly play bingo in a retirement home than this major mismatch. Brandon Jacobs is back for the G-Men and Daniel Thomas is out for the ‘Phins. This is Miami’s second visit to the Meadowlands in two weeks. Prediction: N.Y. Giants 34, Miami 13
This is a pivotal game for both surprise teams. John Beck is losing weapons and protection by the minute. This is right about the time the Redskins took a sudden tumble last season and the Bills had almost the same thing happen to them after a 5-1 start back in 2008. The contest is in Toronto, CA and considered to be a home game for Buffalo, but the Bills don’t feel that way. Emerging star Fred Jackson is the difference-maker. Prediction: Buffalo 20, Washington 16
The Lions have lost two in a row and both games were at home. I believe it was just a bump in the road, though. The losses (vs. SF, ATL) were to playoff-caliber opponents and when you lose Jahvid Best, it’s like you’re driving with two flat tires. Still, the Lions can ill-afford a third consecutive loss and the Broncos enter this test with some major momentum and sure-fire horsepower.
With Tim Tebow basking in the glory of more crowd support, can he pull off more fourth quarter magic and lead his team to victory over a very quality opponent with Detroit? I think he can do it, and will impress at times, but the Lions have too much on the line and Ndamukong Suh will play as a man on a mission. Prediction: Detroit 34, Denver 24
There are a few things I’m fairly certain will unfold. Andy Dalton will be forced to throw with RB Cedric Benson serving a one-game suspension. Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas—dubbed the best young safety tandem in the NFL by SI.com’s Peter King—should give the Bengals under appreciated rookie signal-caller his fair share of trouble. In addition, the “12th Man” will once again have a huge role and due to two of the most hard-nosed no-name defensive fronts in the league, there won’t be a whole lot of offense, either. Prediction: Seattle 16, Cincinnati 13
Unless San Francisco follows suit in the post-bye week dilemma (teams are a combined 3-9 coming off a bye week this season), or better yet, gets caught up in the clouds of its success, Cleveland will head home deeply disappointed with defeat and a 3-4 record on the year. The Browns’ D-Line could give the 49ers struggles, but the Niners will shut down Cleveland’s often ineffective ground game completely. Prediction: San Francisco 27, Cleveland 9
A perennial battle between AFC heavyweights with embedded playoff implications included. You can bet this Game of the Week has the makings of becoming an entertaining, really fun-to-watch aerial assault between Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger. The winner will earn its first victory over an elite opponent this season and with Brady’s history against the Steelers, I’m picking the Patriots in thrilling fashion. Prediction: New England 28, Pittsburgh 23
The Redskins (3-3) are still in the mix, but they’re a sure-fire pretender plagued with an ever-increasing number of injuries. While the Giants (4-2) are enjoying a warm and fuzzy lead in the NFC East, they face a death-defying schedule in the weeks to come. With this in mind, I’m completely convinced the division will be won by one of these two teams playing on Sunday night.
This is absolutely a must-win game for Michael Vick and the Eagles. By all means, stick a fork in Philly if the team comes away empty-handed. The Eagles, coming fresh off a bye week, have never lost under Andy Reid following a bye, however.
The Cowboys are a better team than their record indicates, but this is yet another tough test in primetime for Tony Romo on the road. Philadelphia has been finding ways to fly to the football in recent weeks as well and I suspect a breakout performance from high-priced CB Nnamdi Asomugha. DeMarco Murray vs. LeSean McCoy will be incredibly intriguing and I believe both RBs will put on a show. Prediction: Philadelphia 24, Dallas 23
The winner of this AFC West collision will take the lead in the division. How in the world did Kansas City lose its first two games by 79 points combined against the Lions and Bills and after a three-point defeat to San Diego, come back and win three straight? Once considered the frontrunner in the Luck lottery, the Chiefs see postseason play as a legitimate possibility.
On the other side, San Diego still has yet to put an end to its well-documented trend of sluggish starts, outscoring its first six opponents 141-136, which only include two winning teams, both of which (Jets and Pats) beat the Bolts.
Kansas City’s coming in showered with momentum and confidence, especially on defense after last week’s stellar performance with six picks (albeit against Kyle Boller and Carson Palmer, who just came off the couch).
It all depends on if and when Phillip Rivers and the Chargers turn things up. Based on history, the last week in October is usually right around when it finally unfolds. Prediction: San Diego 24, Kansas City 20
Be sure to check out Peter King’s predictions, Albert Breer’s picks and Jason La Canfora’s preview on all of the games. They’re all great reads! And enjoy another great slate of games! Also find ESPN.com’s and CBSSports.com’s expert roundtable picks.
Verse of This Piece: “People without good sense find fault with their neighbors, but those with understanding keep quiet.” —Proverbs 11:12