It feels like the season just started, but it seems we’ve already reached week 8. This year has already given us plenty of surprises (who would’ve thought the Cowboys would be 6-1?) and disappointments (my preseason NFC Champ Saints aren’t looking too good). Generally, by this point, we should have a good idea of which teams are the Super Bowl contenders, who will be losing, and in some instances tanking, all the way to the #1 pick in the draft.
This year has been a bit different. While the bottom feeders are pretty clear, the top is a jumbled mess of teams with Super Bowl potential. In just a few weeks, the Bengals went from 3-0 and #1 in my power rankings to 3-2-1 (wait, a tie?) and will be lucky to remain in the top 10 in my rankings next week. There’s a large grouping of good teams (Broncos, Eagles, Cowboys, Chargers, Patriots, Cardinals, Packers, etc.) that are near impossible to rank.
And then there’s the middle of the road teams, struggling to find their identities, and changing from a great team to a horrible one and back again week in and week out. The Bears and Panthers are strong examples of teams that can beat any team and lose to any team.
So basically, this year has been pretty weird. Hopefully I’ve gleaned enough information to make some decent picks this week. Here goes nothing.
Lions at Falcons: This game is played at Wembley Stadium and I don’t remember the last time the Falcons won a game on the road. The Lions haven’t looked incredibly strong, but their defense has been coming up huge and I expect that dominance to continue as Detroit tries to keep up with the Packers in the NFC North. Lions 20-13.
Ravens at Bengals: While the Bengals started this season very strong, the last few weeks have been not much short of terrible, and the Ravens have continued to be a force, with Joe Flacco having a redemption year in 2014. This is an important division game, and one I don’t expect the home team to win. Ravens 27-20.
Texans at Titans: Zach Mettenberger gets his first start for the Titans, and I don’t want to state the obvious, but rookie QB + J.J. Watt = disaster. The Texans offense is really lacking, but the defense should more than make up for it. Texans 24-14.
Rams at Chiefs: I really don’t know. Part of me really wants to pick the Rams here just because of how good Austin Davis and the Rams have been, beating the Seahawks and losing close games to the Eagles and Cowboys. Then again, the Chiefs are playing very well also. Home field advantage was a big key in this one for me. Chiefs 31-27.
Bears at Patriots: Tough luck for the Bears. This was a big week for them, needing to try to catch a break and keep up with the thriving Lions and Packers, but to do so they’ll have to win in Foxboro. Tom Brady has really taken control of his offense the last couple weeks and I don’t see this game playing out well for Chicago. Patriots 30-17.
Bills at Jets: It’s the first game for Percy Harvin in a Jets uniform. While he provides a great option for Geno Smith and can be used in many different ways, I don’t think he has had enough time to really make too much of a difference. And the Bills are good. Maybe not great, but good enough to take down a 1-6 team. Bills 20-16.
Vikings at Buccaneers: Does one of these teams really have to win? It’s just hard for me imagining either of these teams winning a football game. However, Teddy Bridgewater has been just about the worst starting quarterback in the NFL, so the edge goes to Bucs for looking bad, but not as bad on paper. Bucs 24-20, but really who knows?
Seahawks at Panthers: This is the must win game of the week. Honestly, it could be for both teams, but I’m really looking at the Seahawks here. They are coming off two straight losses, and the Rams special teams made them look really foolish last week. They’re in an impossibly strong division, and anything less than 11 wins is unlikely to have a shot at the division crown. The Panthers also need to right the ship, but they’re division is the weakest in football, and honestly I think they could win seven or eight games and take the division. When in doubt, pick the Super Bowl Champs. Seahawks 27-20.
Dolphins at Jaguars: The Jaguars won a game! Well that was fun while it lasted, because they won’t do it again. Why? Because they’re Jacksonville, and they’ll find a way to screw it up. By the way, Blake Bortles might have had the worst performance by a winning quarterback in the league this year, and this just might have been the worst quarterback draft ever. Dolphins 31-14.
Eagles at Cardinals: Since the Broncos-Chargers game is over, this is the best remaining game of the week. The Eagles are coming off a bye, and will look to keep pace with the Cowboys in this week’s battle of the birds. The Cardinals are at home, and that three point home advantage is what I’ll give them, because I see it as a toss up. Cardinals 31-28.
Raiders at Browns: See, this would typically be a Raiders lose by default game, but the Browns managed to LOSE TO THE JAGUARS. So really, I wouldn’t be surprise to see the Raiders get their first win. After all, I feel Derek Carr deserves one at some point in time. He has roughly zero weapons to work with. However, my usual rule of thumb is once a team starts 0-3, pick against them every week until they win, so yeah, Raiders lose by default. Browns 23-20.
Colts at Steelers: So the Steelers were the worse team for 55 minutes in their game against the Texans, but the other five managed to give them a 24 point cushion, so they were all right. Props to them for winning a big game. Andrew Luck, however, is playing some really good football, and by that, I mean REALLY GOOD. Plus, I have T.Y. Hilton on my fantasy team. Colts 31-20 and 3 TDs for T.Y. Hey, I can dream.
Packers at Saints: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. It seems like this season it just wasn’t meant to be for the Saints. BUT WAIT. They’re playing at home, where they’re nearly unbeatable. But are they so good at home that I can seriously pick a struggling 2-4 team to take down the current (at least in my eyes) NFC favorite Packers? Yes, yes they are. Bold pick of the week. Saints 34-28.
Redskins at Cowboys: Let’s think about this for a minute. Cowboys are 6-1. Redskins are 2-5. Redskins are starting Colt McCoy. Cowboys have DeMarco Murray. I don’t think any more information is needed. Cowboys 34-13.
So there you have it. The 100% correct (hopefully) week 8 predictions. It’s 1 A.M., and I’m going to catch some sleep. I need all the sleep I can get now, because starting 9:30 a.m. Eastern time is the Falcons-Lions game. Right now I’m really happy I don’t live on the west coast.