NFL Week 8 Preview


Week 8 features five fantastic games: divisional rivalry games, battles between playoff favorites, bad blood. And then there are the rest: likely blowups, bad teams playing bad teams, likely naps. Sadly, Fox and CBS are sticking L.A. viewers with probably the worst two games Sunday morning. Fox chose the potential blowout that is San Francisco at Indianapolis over a playoff rematch that also happens to be a division rivalry with bad blood, which also happens to feature the same two cities that are meeting in the World Series later that day (Giants at Eagles). CBS is sticking us with the potential blowout that is Oakland at San Diego rather than either Denver at Baltimore, or Miami at the Jets. So as if you needed a reason to go to a sports bar on Sunday, watching the good games on satellite should give you all the reason you need.

Game of the Week: Minnesota Vikings (6-1) at Green Bay Packers (4-2) 1:15 PM – Fox

Apparently at some point, the Vikings quarterback used to be in the Packers’ franchise, so this is a sort homecoming for home or whatever. We’ll see if that story get any media attention, but perhaps a more important story is that fact that the Vikings stranglehold on this division will wither considerably with a loss to the Packers. The teams are both very good and very evenly matched, and weather should not play a significant rolle, so the game will likely swing on who takes care of the ball. Green Bay’s turnover margin is +10 this season, while Minnesota’s is +7. So no solid hints there either. When in doubt, go with the home team. Prediction: Packers win , Vikings cover (+3.5)

Miami Dolphins (2-4) at New York Jets (4-3) 10 AM

Rex Ryan’s aggressive, blitzing defense had huge problems with the Dolphins’ wildcat offense in their earlier matchup this season in Miami. The Dolphins ran all over the Jets. But they still were only able to scrape together a 3-point win in their own building. You can expect Ryan to have made a few changes to the Jets’ defensive attack, and you can expect the Jets to split the season series with Miami with a win in New Jersey. Prediction: Jets win and cover (-3.5)

Denver Broncos (6-0) at Baltimore Ravens (3-3) 10 AM

A few weeks ago, both of these teams were undefeated and this game looked like it might surprisingly play an early role in the AFC playoff home field chase. Baltimore has been snake-bitten since, but the Broncos’ luck hasn’t changed yet. The Ravens’ Ray Rice will be pitted against the league’s best run defense and he may have to win this one on his own. Denver’s Kyle Orton has been nearly perfect this season (just 1 interception) and while he is a fine quarterback, you would have to expect that his and the team’s luck has to end sometime. When? Against this defense is as good a guess as any. Prediction: Ravens win, Broncos voer (+3.5)

New York Giants (5-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-2) 10 AM

The Giants beat up on their weak, early season opponents, but have lost two in-a-row to perhaps the Conference’s two best teams. This week they fight to remain on top in the NFC East against the team that ended their Super Bowl defense in the playoffs last season. The Eagles have been quite inconsistent this season and there is no telling which team will show up. Injuries plague both teams, but if the Giants can run and ball and put pressure on Donovan McNabb (which are supposedly this team’s strengths), they will get revenge on the road. Prediction: Giants win and cover (+2.5)

Atlanta Falcons (4-2) at New Orleans Saints (6-0) Monday 5:30 PM

Atlanta allows teams to move the ball all over the field – they’re in the bottom 10 in yards allowed. But they are in the top 10 in points allowed. So the question Monday night is, how far can the Falcons bend before Drew Brees breaks them? And keep in mind that the Saints have tended to make just about everyone break this year. In fact, they have punted the second fewest times in all of football this year. So if they get the ball, they’re gonna score. It will be up to Atlanta’s Michael Turner to make sure the ball is in his hands, and not Brees.’ Prediction: Saints win and cover (-9.5)

Houston Texans (4-3) at Buffalo Bills (3-4) 10 AM

The story here is the Bills’ defense. They have picked off 9 passes in their last two games, but they are also 32nd against the run. So the game will probably be put into Steve Slaton’s hands, and lately that has been a good thing for Houston. Buffalo’s offense is a complete mess, with their quarterback spot wide open, thus wasting Lee Evans fine work at receiver. And they also have some other receiver leading the league in drops, which isn’t helping the quarterback stability. Prediction: Texans win, Bills cover (+3.5)

Cleveland Browns (1-6) at Chicago Bears (3-3) 10 AM

This week’s sign that parity is dead in the NFL: The Bears are 3-3 and favored by 2 touchdowns…and that’s not the biggest spread this week! Matt Forte has been terrible running the ball for Chicago this year, but fanstasy owners across the nation can rejoice as he gets to face the Brown’s defense this week (2nd worst against the run). As long as Jay Cutler is only throwing to the guys in the same colored shirt as him, the Bears will roll. Unfortunately, he’s thrown to the others guys the second most in the league this year (10). Prediction: Bears win, Browns cover (+13.5)

Seattle Seahawks (2-4) at Dallas Cowboys (4-2) 10 AM

If you think the Cowboys have played at home every week this season, you’re wrong. They also had a bye. Actually they’ve split home and away this year, but with all the talk about the Bigger-In-Texas Dome, it just seems like it they’re there every week. They are in Week 8 and allegedly so will the Seahawks. But the Seahawks haven’t shown up for most of their games this year so as long as the Cowboys run the ball a lot and keep it out of Tony Romo’s skilled but somewhat turnover-prone hands, they will win. Prediction: Cowboys win and cover (-9.5)

St. Louis Rams (0-7) at Detroit Lions (1-5) 10 AM

Suppose for a moment that you were playing a team that was 0-16 last year. And they’ve only won once this year. And their starting quarterback and franchise wide receiver are likely out. You’d figure you were a favorite, right? Nope. No matter what Steven Jackson does, the Rams cannot find the endzone and the Rams look like serious contenders for worst team in NFL history (5-34 in last 39 games, 17 straight losses). So again, when you can’t tell the difference between two teams, pick the home team. Prediction: Lions win, Rams cover (+3.5)

Lock of the Week: San Francisco 49ers (3-3) at Indianapolis Colts (6-0) 10 AM – Fox

Former franchise player/new starter Alex Smith took over at quarterback last week and seemed to begin to turn the ship around (though he ran out of time in Atlanta to win that one). It would be a much nicer story if he could take them out and win this week, but the scheduling gods dumped a Giants pile of Peyton Manning on his doorstep. The only way San Francisco keeps this close is if everything goes their way. Manning needs to be off his game, Smith needs to be on his. Frank Gore needs to dominate on the ground, and Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis need to dominate downfield. Don’t hold your breath for any of those five things. Prediction: Colts win and cover (-9.5)

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3) at Tennessee Titans (0-6) 1:05 PM

This game is further proof that the teams will play every game on their schedules, whether anyone cares or comes to the games or not. Vince Young is back at quarterback for the Titans, and really it can’t get worse than losing every game, so why not? Despite their record, Tennessee is actually top 10 in run defense (and you figure they see a lot of running since they’re always trailing), so if they can stand up and stop Maurice Jones-Drew, they could get up off the mat finally. It’s not good when you are the underdog to a team that is 0-6, but David Garrard will manage this one just well enough to pull off the massive upset. Prediction: Jaguars win and cover (+2.5)

Oakland Raiders (2-5) at San Diego Chargers (3-3) 1:05 PM – CBS

The Chargers opened the season by scraping together a narrow win in Week 1 in Oakland. A loss at home to the Raiders in Week 8 could basically end their season, but with this being the largest point-spread of the season thus far, that shouldn’t happen. The Chargers are 3 games behind Denver and already lost at home to the Broncos, and play five potention playoff teams in their final 8 games. Oakland’s pass defense is decent but they are awful against the run (30th: 169.7 yards per game), so if LaDainian Tomlinson can find some of his old magic, he may keep the Chargers alive in the AFC West race for at least one more week. Prediction: Chargers win, Raiders cover (+16.5)

Carolina Panthers (2-4) at Arizona Cardinals (4-2) 1:15 PM

Arizona hosts a bad team that they should crush, sandwiched between an impressive win at Giants Stadium and another huge test at Soldier Field next week. That officially labels this one as a trap game for the almost-champs, but then when you run the ball as badly as the Cardinals do, they’re all trap games. Jake Delhomme’s recent bout of interception-itis (13 this season in 6 games) began last year in a playoff loss to the Cardinals. Carolina’s defense seems ready to take on the Cards’ passing game – they allow the fewest yards per game of anyone. But they’ve also faced the fewest passing attempts and are one of the worst in completion percentage allowed. Kurt Warner will test them, likely throwing close to 40 times, and he is certainly known for his efficiency. Prediction: Arizona wins and covers (-9.5)

All times are Pacific and TV airing info is for the Los Angeles area only. 

Season Predictions: 55-48 against the spread, 69-34 straight up

Last Week: 7-6 against the spread, 10-3 straight up