Week 8 Predictions

Posted Oct 27, 2017

Who are you picking to win the week 8 games?

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Miami (4-2) at Baltimore (3-3): This is a game only Jay Cutler's mother could love, and that's cause Jay's not playing. How the Dolphins are 4-2 is beyond me: they specialise in squeaking past not very good teams, especially those who decide not to cover their best receiver inside the ten yard line, or throw an interception in field goal range in the last minute of the game. But with Matt Moore at QB they at least looked like a team interested in staying on the field until they scored. How the Ravens are 3-3 is even further beyond me; well, not totally because their D did a job against Case Keenum last week. But offensively, they have little, and with Joe Flacco looking like Jay Cutler strapped to a large slab of concrete back there, they could have problems. I hate picking not very good teams on a short week on the road but tonight I just can't help myself. Pick (made Thursday at @carlsonsports): Dolphins

FRIDAY MORNING: If this column is late it is because I am doing my penance, walking in a hair shirt and sack cloth on my knees through a pit of flaming coals while Kiko Alonso dummies are thrown at my head. Next time I will try to help myself. The Ravens did not put together anything special, but they ran the ball against a Miami team that became allergic to tackling, and Flacco hit one beautiful throw to Jeremy Maclin. Their D was brilliant throughout: Jay Ajayi had a 21 yard run a few seconds into the game, then 12 more carries for two yards. The Dolphins had chances right up to halftime, or at least until the Ryan Mallett TD to Ben Watson (two ex-Pats) but the Ravens knew Matt Moore wasn't going to beat them and they were right. I've no doubt Alonso gets a serious punishment from the NFL, looking at the play repeatedly I think Flacco's slide was late, Alonso probably couldn't stop his motion, but he went with the forearm to make sure he made contact. I also think something needs to be said about Ryan Jensen, who was 'protecting' his QB but knocked Alonso over and then jumped on him. I said it looked like the Dolphins wanted to play when Moore came in last week, as the game went out of reach (two awful pick sixes) they then acted like delinquent schoolboys. Welcome back Jay Cutler all is forgiven. Miami now becomes the worst 4-3 team in the NFL, while the Ravens' prove their D can keep them in games. But they need to address QB. The good news is they have a long week before playing Tennessee, then a bye. Colin K anyone?

SUNDAY CLOCKS FALL BACK DAY IN LONDON: Minnesota (5-2) at Cleveland (0-7): Cleveland's best player is Joe Thomas, who hasn't missed a snap in his NFL career. Or hadn't, until last week. Now he's out with a torn biceps. If Stephon Diggs is back this week it may look even worse for the Browns. There's always the chance the Vikes could get off the plane as flat as the Dolphins or the Ravens did, but apart from that, pick: Vikings


Oakland (3-4) at Buffalo (4-2): The Raiders got the win over the Chiefs at home, but Sean McDermott has the Bills playing great defense, and they ought to be able to run the ball enough without having to depend on Tyrod's legs and leave it to his hitting the occassional big ball. Pick: Bills

Atlanta (3-3) at New York Jets (3-4): The Falcons are back in the northeast after being held to seven by the Pats; the Jets' D is more formidable, especially up front. Whether the difference is Steve Sarkisian as coordinator, or Matt Ryan reverting, or Ryan having trouble adjusting to a new coord, there is no question Atlanta's offense is under-achieving. The Jets' O may be over-achieving, but Josh McCown has turned the ball over in one key situation last week, and was lucky to fall on his own fumble in a similar situation early in the season. The Jets can confound the pundits, but the Falcons really need to get their season back on track, and it's likely this week they will. Pick: Falcons

San Francisco (0-7) at Philadelphia (6-1): A lot has been made of Carson Wentz's 'maturation' this season, but improved O line play helps a young QB maturate, and the loss of Jason Peters is even bigger than last year's loss of Lane Johnson. Johnson appears to being staying at RT, and Hala Vaitai will play the left side. The Niners are talented up front, but look for Big V to get some chipping help, especially from the tight ends. You may recall last year I was saying don't rush to judgement on the rookie QBs: I had Wentz as the best of the bunch, and wondered why Dak wouldn't go third behind him and Goff. The Eagles are getting big plays from Wentz this year, pick: Eagles

Indianapolis (2-5) at Cincinnati (2-4): There was a barnstorming black baseball club, I even have their multi-coloured cap which I used to wear when I played cricket, called the Indianapolis Clowns. The Colts' best chance in this game is if the refs eject Vontaze Burfict and dock them points. How Burfict avoided suspension when he kicked Roosevelt Nix is beyond me, though I enjoyed Mike Perreira explaining a kick to the head was no egregious. Pick: Bengals

Carolina (4-3) at Tampa Bay (2-4): A very tough game to call, like they all aren't this season! Cam Newton's press conferences notwithstanding. The Panthers are drawing on Cam more and more; last week he was their run game. The Bucs seem to get Jameis' running less, though both QBs share an inconsistency on the short stuff. I heard Jason Whitlock blaming Christian McCaffrey, apart from a great one-handed catch he made: that catch was made on a swing pass, where your back should not have to be leaping with one arm to bring the ball in. The fact is the Panthers' line doesn't let them run much, and they don't seem to be very creative with McCaffrey, except to make him the dive fullback on the option pitch which Cam couldn't complete to Curtis Samuel. Luke Keuchley and Kurt Coleman appear to be ready for return, which will help the Panthers' D, and maybe force the Bucs to the air as well. The Panthers were 3-0 on the road before losing to Chicago last week, and can play with better teams than Tampa, who haven't won since beating the Giants in week four, but this may be their week to tighten up the South. Pick: Bucs

LA Chargers (3-3) at New England (5-2): Ninkovich OK. Mike Mitchell, OK. Garcia and Rivers, no problem. Valentine, suck it up D line. Edleman, well, sure. But Dont'a Hightower? The Pats' D was playing better (38 points) the last three weeks, and sometimes 'communication issues' is meaningless mumbo jumbo, but with Hightower setting everyone up the Pats play better, not to mention he's a huge versatile talent. This is certainly the biggest loss of the season for them., and note they now have two backup linebackers who are basically special teamers. Though that didn't slow down Johnson Bademosi starting at corner. Against the Chargers they may want to slow Melvin Gordon down, so David Harris, who is about as quick as a Dalek in coverage, might get more snaps. The other big problem for the Pats will be Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa attacking their tackles. Brady is taking a lot of hits this year and that's not going to get better this Sunday. This is the very definition of a trap game for New England, but pick: Pats

Chicago (3-4) at New Orleans (4-2): Let's just assume the Saints aren't going to gift the Bears two 75 yard turnover touchdowns this week. Pick: Saints

Houston (3-3) at Seattle (4-2): DeShaun Watson, welcome to the NFL on the road. This is going to be a real test for the rookie, and for the Houston D which has played well since losing Watt and Clowney. Seattle's offense would have looked better last week had Jimmy Graham not dropped two touchdown passes, but the Giants' D held them in check for a while, and Eli is not generating points the way DeShaun can. Still, at home, you have to think that most seasons this is about the time the Seahawks' D starts to come together, and that may be enough. Pick: Seahawks

Dallas (3-3) at Washington (3-3): This is the week's fulcrum game, necessary to keep pace with the Eagles. The Cowboys' O line seems to be jelling finally, and Zeke Elliott, who like a banana always has an appeal, wasn't slipping up last week on the road against the Niners. But the back-to-back road games on opposite coasts is a big ask for the Cowboys, who need to pressure Kirk Cousins. Lots of people are noting the difference in Atlanta's play under a new coordinator, but what about the Skins and Matt Cavanaugh? You wouldn't think things would be that much different than under Sean McVay, but you have to look at game-planning as well as play-structure and play-calling. I have that logistical alarm ringing as I did in the Ravens' game, but I'm going to put in ear plugs. Pick: Dallas

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Pittsburgh (5-2) at Detroit (3-3): Those were the Steelers of old: Bell running, Brown catching, and Ben throwing while their defense swarmed and held the Bengals in check. Despite the differences between Andy Dalton and Matt Stafford, the Lions' attack is similar in a lot of ways to the Bengals, without a Joe Mixon, and the Lions' D. Pick: Steelers

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Denver (3-4) at Kansas City (5-2): The book on beating the Chiefs is to shut off the run and outlet pass game and keep Alex Smith in the pocket. The book on beating the Broncos is to shut off the run and dare Trevor Siemian to beat you under pressure. Both teams are coming off two straight losses after the media herd had declared the Chiefs Super Bowl champs and anointed Smith MVP, while the Broncos were beaten by the Giants in Denver in what is still the season's biggest upset, then by the Chargers in a Dominguez Hills 'home' game. Look for the Chiefs to get their offense back on track at home. Pick: Chiefs

BYE WEEKS: Arizona (3-3) Green Bay (4-3) Jacksonville (4-3) LA Rams (5-2) Tennessee (4-3)

BYE BYE WEEK: New Jersey Giants (1-6)

LAST WEEK: 11-4 SEASON 61-45

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