Thursday, October 28, 2010

NFL Week 8 Picks: New Orleans Rises To Occasion, Takes Down Pittsburgh

AP Photo/Matt York

Week 8 sees a plethora of storylines that should make for an interesting Halloween weekend.

The Broncos and 49ers will play in the annual London game. Randy Moss returns to New England. Will Brett Favre continue his consecutive games played streak? Will the Colts avenge their opening week loss to the Texans? Will Buffalo, the only team without a win, finally get their first?

The Sunday night game is very entertaining, with the Steelers going to New Orleans to face the Saints. The Saints seem down right now, but can they show they still have some magic against a team many are dubbing one of the best in the league?

Who do you think will win?

Miami (3-3) at Cincinnati (2-4)

Although the Dolphins are 0-3 at home, they are away this weekend and they are 3-0 on the road.

The Bengals have the sixth best passing attack in the league but it hasn’t helped them at all as they’ve lost three in a row. As well as they’ve done throwing the ball it hasn’t mattered, because they have gotten away from good defense and rushing the ball.

The Bengals rank 19th in the league in rushing yards per game with 100.2 yards. The Dolphins aren’t much better at 16th with 107.0 yards per game.

However, Miami’s run defense is strong, just outside the top 10 allowing only 100.8 yards per game. Meanwhile Cincinnati allows 118 yards per game on the ground. Their passing defense isn’t anything to be proud of either.

Miami wins.

Jacksonville (3-4) at Dallas (1-5)

Another loss for the Cowboys, where for most of the game they were beaten soundly. They were beat in passing yards, rushing yards, time of possession and time of possession.

Their biggest strength has been their passing game, but now Tony Romo is out with a broken clavicle. Kitna has not played a single down since2008, when he was placed on injured reserve in Week 5.

Furthering the Cowboys problems is their lack of a rushing game (30th in the NFL) and trouble stopping it (21st). Rushing the ball is the one thing the Jaguars do well, with Maurice Jones-Drew heading an attack that averages 127.7 yards per game on the ground.

Jacksonville wins.

Washington (4-3) at Detroit (1-5)

The Redskins have won three of their four previous games and have while it hasn’t been pretty, they find ways to get it done.

DeAngelo Hall had a huge game against the Bears with four interceptions and the quarterback position in Detroit isn’t very stable right now.

Matthew Stafford, although currently listed as questionable, is expected to start. Still, he hasn’t played since the first game and it’s hard to imagine how sharp he can be.

Washington wins.

Buffalo (0-6) at Kansas City (4-2)

The Chiefs are 3-0 at home and the crowd loves it.

The Chiefs have the best rushing attack in the league and Dwayne Bowe has come on in the last two weeks, catching nine passes for 189 and a surprising four touchdowns.

Buffalo put a good effort up against the Ravens last week but not only are they on the road, they have the worst rush defense in the league.

Kansas City wins.

Carolina (1-5) at St. Louis (3-4)

Carolina finally got their first win last week, albeit not in very convincing manner.
Matt Moore had an impressive 308 yards passing, but the Panthers had three turnovers and only 76 yards rushing.

The Rams have played well on defense, especially at home, and while Sam Bradford hasn’t always been at his best, Steven Jackson is top five in the league in rushing yards.

The problem becomes Sam Bradford’s receiving options with Mark Clayton’s injury. The Rams aren’t going to win this one by throwing the ball though; stopping the pass has been the one thing Carolina has done right this year.

St. Louis wins.

Green Bay (4-3) at New York Jets (5-1)

Aaron Rodgers finally beat Brett Favre. Still, it was too close for comfort, especially against an extremely banged up quarterback and dysfunctional team.

The Jets have a better defense than the Vikings D the Pack played last week. The secondary, although not playing up to its potential, has big play possibility and they will get to the quarterback better than Minnesota did.

The Jets also have the second best rushing game in the league. Also with two games and now the bye week under his belt, Santonio Holmes is better integrated into the offense, making the passing game more potent.

New York wins.

Denver (2-5) at San Francisco (1-6)

This is what we’re offering London to help sell our product?

Denver was just embarrassing last week. 59 points allowed against the Raiders? 24-0 at the end of the first quarter?

This no rush offense is not cutting it at all. It’s like they are wasting Kyle Orton’s best season.

San Francisco is no prize pig, but a quarterback change is intriguing. Alex Smith is out with a shoulder injury, so former Ohio State Heisman winner Troy Smith will take the helm. He’s only thrown 89 passes in the first three years of his career—with no stats this year—but he’s athletic and was obviously a very good quarterback in college.

Neither team looks good, but Smith starting is intriguing to say the least. It isn’t like he won’t have weapons at his disposal. And Denver’s pass rush isn’t what it was last year with Elvis Dumerville hurt.

San Francisco wins.

Tennessee (5-2) at San Diego (2-5)

The Chargers have great passing numbers, and have been playing good defense, but the losses keep piling up, as do the turnovers.

With all the players missing, with all the mistakes, they are still in every game. The biggest margin of defeat has been seven points.

Vince Young returned to Titans practice this week, which is encouraging, and Kenny Britt had a huge weekend against the Eagles, but throughout the season the Titans have one of the worst passing games offenses in the NFL. So they rely on Chris Johnson, however the Chargers have a top 5 rush defense.

San Diego has too much talent and is playing too well on defense to continue their three-game losing streak.

San Diego wins.

Tampa Bay (4-2) at Arizona (3-3)

The Cardinals have been a merry-go-round of quarterbacks. Kurt Warner retires, Matt Leinart is released, Derek Anderson is benched and Max Hall gets a concussion. Hall seems to be good to go but you have to wonder if it matters.

The saddest part about all of this is watching Larry Fitzgerald go to waste.
Tampa Bay’s rushing defense is very poor, but Arizona isn’t doing much of anything on offense.

Tampa Bay wins.

Minnesota (2-4) at New England (5-1)

Randy Moss returns to New England and he’ll be up to play.

But New England has been unbeatable at home. And while their rushing game and pass defense have struggled, Minnesota’s problems lay outside statistics, other than turnovers of course.

Favre has three more interceptions than touchdowns and has been sacked 14 times. He’s been bothered by countless injuries and has been wearing a boot all week.
New England will prepare for Favre to start, and it’s hard to imagine that he won’t.

The Vikings are a team that is out of sync, coaches aren’t on the same page as players, quarterbacks not on the same page as receivers.

Meanwhile, the Pats haven’t been pretty, but they have been clicking the past few weeks and they believe that they are a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

New England wins.

Seattle (4-2) at Oakland (3-4)

The Seahawks have been great at home; not so much on the road.

This should be an interesting matchup with the Seahawks’ second ranked run defense and the Raiders’ fifth ranked rush offense.

Both teams are inconsistent and it’s still difficult to understand how good (or bad) both of these teams are.

Coming off a huge blowout victory against a division foe, backed by home fans, the Raiders have the upper hand.

Oakland wins.

Pittsburgh (5-1) at New Orleans (4-3)

Pittsburgh is being called one of, if not the best team in the league. New Orleans is struggling incredibly. It looks like a sure thing for Pittsburgh, but this could be a trap game—if playing the defending champions is a trap.

New Orleans is fifth in the league in passing offense, while the Steelers are actually 24th in the league in pass defense. The Steelers have a stingy rush defense and it will be difficult to get a poor running game going, but the Saints could get surprise production from Chris Ivory.

Pittsburgh, even with Ben Roethlisberger, was bailed out last week by a difficult fumble call in Miami. In an NFL season as unpredictable as this, when it looks like one team definitely has the upper-hand, they are outperformed.

The Saints will need a big game from Drew Brees, unlike his four interceptions last week, but he has come up big for them before.

And the Saints are 1-0 in prime time games this season.

New Orleans wins.

Houston (4-2) at Indianapolis (4-2)

Houston got Indy the opening week, but it’ll be different this time around.
The Colts still don’t defend the run very well and Arian Foster has kept up productive outings. However, Houston is bad against the pass and Peyton Manning has been on fire this year. Dallas Clark is out, but Manning always seems to find new targets (Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie came out of the woodwork).

The Texans pass offense is ranked 11th in the NFL but it’s pretty one-dimensional, looking only to Andre Johnson, and Schaub hasn’t been the most consistent quarterback this year.

Indy remembers the opening week loss and at home you know they will be ready for the Texans this time.

Indianapolis wins.

Bye week: Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Baltimore

Last Week: 8-6

Season: 59-45

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