NFL Week 8 Predictions
Week 8 features some intriguing matchups. Tom Terrific travels trans-Atlantic to taste tea, the Giants gear up to gash the Cowboys' corners and the Wild Wild NFC West gets Monday Night billing. Our experts have it all covered from the soggy field of Wembley to the dry pitch in Arizona.
New England Patriots (4-3) vs. St. Louis Rams (3-4)
Jeremy Bergman: Patriots 20, Rams 16
The 2012 Patriots are a fat mirage; Brady and Belichick are still at the helm and Brandon Lloyd and Stevan Ridley have been welcome additions, but despite their makeup on paper, these Pats are playing mediocre ball. (They gave up 328 passing yards to Mark Sanchez - enough said.) Maybe a trip to London will help - New England's undefeated across the pond (1-0). It won't be easy against a rejuvenated Rams defense, but I still expect New England to get out of their funk and that Gronk will tear up the London club scene afterwards.
Evan Budrovich: Patriots 24, Rams 12
The New England Patriots will salvage the opportunity to fly overseas by dominating the St. Louis Rams. Tom Brady will have no trouble dissecting the Rams defense, using his tight ends to score frequently and often. Stephen Jackson will have a strong game, but Sam Bradford is not talented enough to keep up with Brady and Co. On the bright side, watching Brandon Lloyd torch his old team will be quite the London treat.
Aaron Fischman: Patriots 27, Rams 21
The Rams face an elite quarterback for the second consecutive week after allowing Aaron Rodgers to throw for 342 yards and three touchdowns. New England hasn’t been dominant and will probably give St. Louis a chance to steal one in London, but here are two troubling stats for the Rams: 1) The Rams have gone 11-for-38 (29 percent) in third-down efficiency in the last three games. 2) Their defense has forced one total turnover over the past three contests.
Jacob Freedman: Patriots 31, Rams 14
Nothing like a late-October trip to London for two squads aching for a bye week. The Rams were manhandled by Aaron Rodgers in their 30-20 loss to the Packers last week, and Tom Brady isn't exactly a huge drop-off in difficulty. Top Rams wideout Danny Amendola could return to the lineup this week, but that won't help the Rams' ability to limit arguably the league's scariest group of pass-catchers.
Max Meyer: Patriots 34, Rams 13
The Patriots have struggled a bit lately, but expect them to take out their frustrations on the Rams. Unfortunately for London football fans, this will result in another blowout game.
Law Murray: Patriots 27, Rams 20
This game is in London, and the last time New England played in Old England, they throttled the Buccaneers by 28 points in 2009. That same season, the Patriots beat Jeff Fisher's Titans 59-0 the week before. In two games last year against current Rams and former Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, the Patriots outscored the Jets 67-37 in two victories. Rams QB Sam Bradford will need to step up in this one: the 2010 first pick overall has only two 3 TD games in his career. I'm still not convinced the Patriots offense is sustainable or consistent enough, but it should at least outscore the Rams' unit.
Matthew Tufts: Patriots 27, Rams 17
New England has had a lot of trouble closing out games this year, especially against aerial attacks. Luckily for them, this matchup in London is against a Rams' team that struggles to throw the ball and struggles even more to score points. The Patriots' Aaron Hernandez is out, but New England's offense will still do enough to get past a mediocre St. Louis defense.
Bergman: Falcons 31, Eagles 27
Thirteen-and-0 after the bye week, shmirteen-and-0 after the bye week. History says the Eagles won't lose this game; I say otherwise. The Eagles' D is porous and the Falcons' O is explosive. After one or two drives, the Iggles' fans will be booing loud enough to shake the Link, Nick Foles will replace Mike Vick, lead Philly back to within four points, and throw a pitiful interception that will have the fans calling for Dononvan McNabb. No, it's not pretty in Philly.
Budrovich: Eagles 17, Falcons 16
The Philadelphia Eagles are desperate for a complete performance and will dethrone the undefeated Atlanta Falcons. Andy Reid’s teams are undefeated after the bye, plus the Falcons have historically struggled after the bye. This matchup smells trouble for the Falcons because Michael Vick will find his mojo and play like the man that was so successful during his playing days in Atlanta.
Fischman: Falcons 23, Eagles 17
On Oct. 26, 2008, following a bye for both teams, the Eagles defeated the Falcons, 27-14. Once again, Philly comes into this match-up with an even 3-3 record. I would not be the slightest bit surprised if the Eagles won, but Atlanta forces a ton of turnovers and Philadelphia commits a ton of them. Plus, Matt Ryan thrives in late, close-game situations, which is exactly what this one will be. It’s worth noting that Andy Reid’s record directly after a bye week is 13-0, but there’s a first time for everything. Right?
Freedman: Eagles 23, Falcons 21
If the media had any say, Michael Vick would have been benched two weeks ago. He's still here, and hoping to take down the undefeated Falcons this time around. The Eagles are 14-0 after the bye week under Andy Reid, but have LeSean McCoy to take advantage of the Falcons' 28th-ranked run defense. The Eagles lose the ones they shouldn't and win the ones you don't expect, so I'll take them this week to knock out the NFL's last remaining unbeaten.
Meyer: Eagles 27, Falcons 20
Andy Reid is 13-0 in his career after a bye week. The Falcons are a much worse team on the road than they are at home, and the chilly October weather will hurt them. Expect Michael Vick to have a good game against his former team.
Murray: Eagles 28, Falcons 24
The Eagles may have made a switch at defensive coordinator, but the offense is 30th in the league in points (17.2 a game)! What gives? They haven't been this poor on the scoreboard since head coach Andy Reid's first season in 1999 (17.0 points per game). Of course, they're still 7th in the league in yards on offense, but having more turnovers than TDs will kill you. The Falcons are undefeated, and they beat the Eagles last year, but the Eagles are 8-2 against the Falcons under Reid, averaging 26.5 points per game. The Eagles are also 13-0 after the bye week under Reid. Now would be a good time for QB Michael Vick to outscore a dangerous but increasingly one-dimensional Falcons squad as Matt Ryan looks to win his first game against his hometown team.
Tufts: Falcons 31, Eagles 17
Both teams had bye weeks to make any adjustments they could, which just makes 6-0 Atlanta look even scarier. The Eagles are trying to regain some footing after back to back losses, but will have to stop Matt Ryan to stand a chance. Despite a secondary stacked with names like Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie, Philadelphia's defense just won't be able to contain Ryan and his star-studded receiving core.
Bergman: Redskins 27, Steelers 24 (OT)
RGIII is going to have a field day against the Steel Curtain. I usually wouldn't say that about a rookie QB lining up against a historically ferocious front, but this cat is different. The Steelers are slow, injured and less threatening than ever. Coming off of a devastating loss to New York, Griffin won't let this one slip away and will instead slip away from Pittsburgh's grasp on route to a record-breaking day on the ground for the rook.
Budrovich: Redskins 25, Steelers 21
RGIII has been the most impressive rookie so far this season and will once again outduel a strong quarterback, this time leading to a victory. Ben Roethlisberger has been the epitome of inconsistency this season and will once again struggle to find continuity with his receiving staff. Expect the Redskins to run the ball effectively with Griffin and seventh round pick Alfred Morris because the Steelers do not have the athletes on defense to match this dynamic duo.
Fischman: Steelers 30, Redskins 27
The Redskins’ secondary is atrocious, and who better than Ben Roethlisberger to take advantage? Washington and Pittsburgh seem to exclusively play close games, and something is telling me that the Redskins are going to steal this one by the narrowest of margins. Now that I’ve said that, I will go against my gut and pick the Steelers, who rarely lose at home and finally saw some life in their running game last week.
Freedman: Steelers 30, Redskins 20
For all the glory RG3 has received, there's a reason he's always seems to be taking the trailing Redskins on drives down the field late in the game: the Skins' pass defense is a mess. Ranked last in the league in yards allowed through the air, it's safe to say that letting safety LaRon Landry go in free agency wasn't the best idea. Ben Roethlisberger will continue to have a quietly great season, while the always-present Steelers pass rush will make Griffin III pay for roaming out of the pocket. Slide, RG3, slide.
Meyer: Steelers 28, Redskins 24
RG3 is a breathtaking talent, but he can't help the Redskins out on defense. Ben Roethlisberger will tear up the Redskins secondary, but this will be a closer game than expected.
Murray: Steelers 30, Redskins 21
This will be a new test for Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III: facing a 3-4 defense in the NFL. The Steelers defense looked outstanding at Cincinnati Sunday night. The bigger problem in Washington, once again, is the fact that they can't cover anyone. The Redskins haven't beaten the Steelers since 1991, and it might be another four years. The Steelers usually suppress QBs who get their scramble on, but we'll see how much that matters for Griffin with Steelers SS Troy Polamalu out again.
Tufts: Redskins 24, Steelers 20
Robert Griffin III has been unbelievable this year, ranking first in both completion percentage and yards per carry. Pittsburgh's defense has been very good against both the pass and the run, but a combined attack poses problems for any defense. If RG3 can continue his streak of dominance and mix it up against the Steelers, the Redskins could sneak out of Pittsburgh with a win.
Bergman: Giants 27, Cowboys 14
I'm completely convinced that Eli is quickly becoming the anti-Lebron - he only shows up in the fourth quarter. Luckily, the G-Men will only need one good quarter to embarrass the Cowboys at Jerryworld. If Dallas can establish a run game, this may be a different story, but that's highly unlikely since their top two backs may not play. Point, division, Giants.
Budrovich: Giants 28, Cowboys 10
The New York Giants will take control of the NFC East and in doing so, might knock their rivals out of the playoff chase. The Cowboys have been a complete mess this season on offense and will greatly miss DeMarco Murray. For once, the Cowboys vs. Giants matchup will not be a thriller because Eli Manning will pick apart the Cowboys defense, who is without linebacker Sean Lee. Plus, Ahmad Bradshaw is a man on a mission this season and will continue to pound away at the Cowboys 15th ranked rush defense.
Fischman: Giants 27, Cowboys 20
If the Cowboys are to have any chance of winning, they must exploit the Giants’ primary defensive weakness: its inability to the stop the run. Felix Jones, who is nursing a bruised knee, may or may not be successful in that endeavor, but I can’t bring myself to pick against the red-hot Giants. Expect New York to split the season series.
Freedman: Giants 21, Cowboys 17
He may not be a household name, but a season-ending injury to leading tackler and defensive play-caller Sean Lee hurts. Badly. The Cowboys won the season opener between the two teams with the help of DeMarco Murray, who rushed for 131 yards. Murray is gone for Sunday as well. The drama at running back won't hold the Giants' offense back, and a takeaway-happy Giants defense will create enough big plays to knock the Cowboys back under .500.
Meyer: Giants 35, Cowboys 31
Do you really expect the Cowboys to sweep the Giants this year? Eli Manning and the Giants play better on the road, and they will relish the opportunity to end the Cowboys' season at Jerry's World. Oh, and Hakeem Nicks is back.
Murray: Cowboys 27, Giants 24
Is it just me, or are the Giants on television every single week? The Giants gave too much respect to WRs Dez Bryant and Miles Austin last month, allowing for third WR Kevin Ogletree to have the game of his life (114 yards and 2 TDs on 8 catches). Ogletree has since turned back into a pumpkin (134 receiving yards and no TDs on 13 catches in the five games since) while the Cowboys offense has struggled to be consistent. Injuries to RB DeMarco Murray and ILB Sean Lee don't help, but at least TE Jason Witten is healthy now. The Cowboys didn't let Eli Manning burn them in the season opener, so let's see if they can do it again in Dallas for once.
Tufts: Cowboys 28, Giants 24
With a win (and an overall sweep) over the Giants, Dallas can legitimize themselves as contenders in the NFC East. Both teams remember the opener in New York that Dallas won, and the Giants know that they need to beat the Cowboys to improve their 1-2 record in the division thus far. Despite the Cowboys issues and Manning and Cruz's hot starts to the season, in the end Dallas will continue to have the Giants' number and get a narrow victory at home.
Bergman: 49ers 10, Cardinals 0
Sorry ESPN, this Monday Night matchup is gonna be a snoozer. Just two of the best defenses in the league going up against two of the most anemic passing games in the league. Makes for some great tele, right? This NFC West bout comes down to who will be able to establish an offensive rhythm quickest and most often. I'll take Alex Smith and Frank Gore over John Skelton and his Swiss cheese line any day of the week. Look for Skelton's game to look more lifeless than an actual skeleton. (Happy Halloween!)
Budrovich: 49ers 21, Cardinals 13
The Niners will win another grind-it-out NFC West showdown against their rivals, the Arizona Cardinals. John Skelton has been ineffective all season and the Niners will place the Cardinals offense in third and long situations which will lead to many turnovers. Alex Smith has struggled over his last two starts, 4 INT, but has historically played well against the Cardinals. Expect the Niners offense to click on all cylinders on Monday Night.
Fischman: 49ers 26, Cardinals 10
This is undoubtedly the easiest of the five games to predict. Arizona has given up 29 sacks over their last four games, so why should we expect the second-best NFC defense (after Chicago) not to have a field day against John Skelton? The 49ers will tee off. Poor Skelton.
Freedman: 49ers 24, Cardinals 10
Another game of John Skelton firing off passes and LaRod Stephens-Howling taking carries? I'll pass. Alex Smith showed us why he's as exciting as his last name last week, but the 49ers defense is back and in full force. The NFC West is like the SEC nowadays (strong defense, inept offense), so expect a defensive touchdown, a blocked kick, and plenty of wobbly passes in the Sunday night special.
Meyer: 49ers 20, Cardinals 12
The Cardinals are free falling and this is a huge game for them if they want to remain competitive in the division. The Cardinals will play hard, but the 49ers simply have too much talent to lose this game.
Murray: 49ers 14, Cardinals 10
Can I just repeat what I said last week about the state of the Cardinals' offensive line? The Cardinals, who gave up 50+ sacks the last two seasons, are on pace to get their QBs sacked over 70 times this year. John Skelton is starting, so the sacks may eventually be substituted for turnovers at some point Monday night. But all eyes should be on QB Alex Smith's injured finger. He has had plenty of time off, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him struggle again while going up against a defense that has allowed a 67.4 passer rating. At least he can hand off to Frank Gore. The Cardinals won't have a chance at a sustainable rushing game to take the pressure off of Skelton in the pocket.
Tufts: 49ers 35, Cardinals 13
If it weren't for Arizona's hot 4-0 start to the season, this game wouldn't even be talked of as a contest. The Cardinals have had severe offensive struggles recently, and have dropped three straight to very mediocre opponents. The 49ers stingy defense combined with Arizona's offensive troubles will make this game a lopsided affair.
Law Murray 17-8
Jacob Freedman 23-13
Max Meyer 23-13
Matthew Tufts 23-13
Evan Budrovich 22-14
Aaron Fischman 21-15
Jeremy Bergman 19-17