NFL Week 8 Predictions 2011-2012
A Look Back at Week 7
Many teams had crucial wins to help them in the standings, most notably the Texans, Jets and Falcons. Atlanta showed something that they are usually criticized for not having, toughness, as Matt Ryan came back in the game even after suffering what looked to be a terrible injury. The Falcons had to dig deep and show some toughness against the Lions who were recently coming off a devastating loss to the Niners in week six. The Jets have rebounded nicely after falling into a 2-3 record and have won their past two games. The Jets have managed to get back to what has made them so successful over the past two years, running the ball and playing solid defense. The Houston Texans also had a key divisional win against the Titans which puts them at the top of their division.
The most surprising thing about the NFL thus far is how no division looks to be a run away just yet. The team that looks like they are most in charge of their division would be the Niners, and considering how bad over the past few years that division has been, things look good for the Niners. The NFC South, East, AFC East and West both are incredibly tight. The Saints are leading the NFC South as of now but they had a key divisional loss in week six to the Buccaneers. The NFC East is wide open as the Giants have been historically bad in the second half of the season, and they have been fortunate thus far this season to have things go there way. The AFC East is headlined obviously by the Patriots but the Jets and Bills are right behind them. The AFC West should be easy to guess who wins due to the Chargers being the most talented team but yet the division race is still anyone's guess.
Tim Tebow's homecoming to Miami was a lackluster performance if you didn't watch the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter Tebow put it into high gear as he drove down the field on the Dolphins in two consecutive drives to tie the game up and send it into overtime where the Broncos would eventually win. Tebow struggled to find his receivers down field until the fourth quarter when he first hit Matthew Willis for a 42 yard completion. The most impressive thing about Tebow is how hard the team plays behind him, guys like Broderick Bunkley and Champ Bailey giving him chest bumps on the sideline as they were fired up because of the passion that Tebow plays with. When Orton was the starter the team looked lazy and looked as if they didn't care, that clearly isn't the case with Tebow.
His mechanics may be awkward, he may be too small but there is no doubting his heart or his leadership ability. Ultimately, those two qualities is something that is forgotten too often with quarterbacks. Tebow will get better with his mechanics over time and so will the team.
I hate the nickname, I hate how he is hyped up as one of the best quarterbacks when he has yet to win a playoff game or for that matter a significant game. All of that aside, he showed something to the world yesterday as he topped the Lions even though he suffered a scary injury as his planted leg was rolled up on by his backup left tackle. Matt Ryan came out of the game immediately, and was the subject of some poor sportsmanship on the part of the Lions defensive line. Ryan came back in after coming out of the tunnel and converted on a key third and long as he connected with Harry Douglas. One of the biggest knocks on Ryan, was his mental toughness and for him to come out after suffering a scary injury and help his team to a very important win over a talented team was huge. His efforts helped but his team in a tie with the Buccaneers for second place in the NFC South.
Ponder No More
Leslie Frazier was adamant for to long on not going to his first round pick and future quarterback Christian Ponder, but eventually he gave in and decided to play him against the Green Bay Packers. First glance, you'd think things would go terribly wrong for the rookie in his first career start against the Super Bowl winning Packers but Ponder played exceptionally well. Most notably, Ponder played his best in the fourth quarter. His inexperience showed towards the end of the game however when he was too frequently looking for the longer pass play instead of his check downs. With that in mind, Ponder still showed that he has the confidence in himself and the ability to play at a high level in the NFL. Even more impressive was his ability to stand in the pocket under heavy pressure and still deliver the ball down field to his receivers. Most rookie quarterbacks under the same kind of pressure would have had happy feet and rushed his throws, Ponder did not.
Pro Bowler Boller?
The Raiders decided to start Kyle Boller in their key divisional game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday and it backfired. Boller had a hard time hitting his recievers and when he would hit someone, it was frequently the other team. In the third quarter, Hue Jackson had enough and decided to give new quarterback Carson Palmer a chance. Palmer did just about the same as Boller. He threw a touchdown, but it was to the opposing team just like Boller did. That saying of "anything you can do I can do better" did not apply here. Palmer may have been worse than Boller which is quite the statement in itself. Granted, Palmer is just coming off the couch, of course he will be rusty, but it's still surprising to see Boller play some what better than Carson Palmer.
MVP: Arian Foster
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Arian Foster is deserving of the MVP award on the year, but he did just have the best day of anyone in the NFL this week. Foster has emerged as the go to guy in the Texans offense since Andre Johnson's injury and he needed to as the team began to fall into a rut over the past two games. Foster responded in a key game against their divisional rival with twenty five carries for 115 yards and two touchdowns while also reeling in five catches for 119 yards and a touchdown. The Texans in the absence of Andre Johnson should look at this game as a reminder of what to do without him. The Texans have two talented running backs that can win games for them. Ben Tate also had fifteen carries for 104 yards.
The once NFC East leading Washington Redskins are about to hit a freefall. News hit today that the Redskins have lost their starting running back Tim Hightower to a season ending injury as he tore his ACL against the Panthers on Sunday. The Redskins also lost in the same game stand out wide receiver Santana Moss as he broke a bone in his left hand. The Skins couldn't afford anymore injuries as they already have lost starters among their offensive line and Chris Cooley. The Skins benefited in the beginning of the year to having great chemistry among all of their offensive players and now all of that is gone with the injuries. Beck played decently in his debut as the Skins starter at quarterback but a majority of his stats came at the end of the game when the game was already over. With the Cowboys and Giants playing better and at top of the division already and the Eagles nipping at their heels, things don't look good for the Redskins.
EDITED Power Rankings
Green Bay Packers (7-0)
The Packers remain the only undefeated team in the NFL, but certainly could play better defense.
New England Patriots (5-1)
Benjarvus Green-Ellis has been playing well for them giving them a more balanced attack
New Orleans Saints (5-2)
I feel bad for what they did to the Colts
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2)
Mike Wallace broke the longest pass play in Steelers history, I'm sure it won't be the only record of the Steelers he breaks.
San Francisco 49ers (5-1)
The Niners are rallying behind their rookie head coach, and they are all playing hard
Baltimore Ravens (4-2)
Cam Cameron needs to stick to the run to help out Flacco. He needs to also be reminded that Joe Flacco is not an elite quarterback
Buffalo Bills (4-2)
The Bills defense has been suspect in the second half of games
New York Giants (4-2)
The Giants have had the ball bounce their way
Houston Texans (4-3)
A win over the Titans helps their chances of hopefully winning the division this season
Atlanta Falcons (4-3)
The Falcons have had two key wins as they have returned to form relying on Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White. The injury to Julio Jones has been a blessing in disguise.
San Diego Chargers (4-2)
The Chargers played flat against the Jets on Sunday, don't expect them to repeat that performance on Monday Night against Kansas City
Detroit Lions (5-2)
Suh will be probably be fined for what he did on Sunday, but he needs to worry more about stopping the run.
New York Jets (4-3)
The Jets are getting their confidence back as they have also gotten their running game going again.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-3)
Josh Freeman's game didn't carry over to well overseas.
Oakland Raiders (4-3)
Injuries are catching up to them, who would have thought an injury to Campbell would be the biggest injury
Cincinnati Bengals (4-2)
The defense has done enough to help them win games
Dallas Cowboys (3-3)
Who would have thought DeMarco Murray would burst on to the scene like that?
Philadelphia Eagles (2-4)
The bye week serves them well and under Andy Reid the Eagles are undefeated after a bye week
Chicago Bears (4-3)
The Bears gained ground in their division overseas
Tennessee Titans (3-3)
The offensive line has not been playing up to par.
Washington Redskins (3-3)
The Redskins have now lost five starters to injuries, all of them being key players
Kansas City Chiefs (3-3)
Facing the Chargers on Monday Night the Chiefs could improve their standing in the division with a win
Carolina Panthers (2-5)
Cam Newton has the Panthers and Carolina believing in themselves.
Cleveland Browns (3-3)
The Browns won their recent game, but the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals outscored them in the World Series.
Denver Broncos (2-4)
Tim Tebow has the Broncos playing with passion
Arizona Cardinals (1-5)
Things have not been going the way Ken Whisenhunt expected.
Seattle Seahawks (2-4)
The Seahawks may have been better off with Tarvaris Jackson after all
Minnesota Vikings (1-5)
Ponder was impressive in his home debut against the Packers
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4)
Great defense, horrid offense
Indianapolis Colts (0-7)
Not only do you lose 62-7 but your old head coach talks about drafting Andrew Luck and trading Peyton Manning. Ouch
St. Louis Rams (0-6)
Sam Bradford took enough hits, its a good thing he didnt play against Dallas
Miami Dolphins (0-6)
Maybe some Luck will come there way
Arizona Cardinals at Baltimore Ravens
My Pick: Ravens
The Cardinals have been struggling on both sides of the ball. They can never get into a rhythm and when they do they never maintain it on the offensive side of the ball while the defense has just been bad. The Ravens have been up and down as well on the offensive side, but they still execute much better then Arizona. Baltimore should have a big game against the lowly Cardinals as Kolb has struggled with the amount of pressure he has seen game in and game out. Kolb's offensive line hasn't given him anytime at all in the pocket to scan the field for his receivers down field.
Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
My Pick: Panthers
Two first round picks will be facing off against each other as Cam Newton faces off against Christian Ponder. Newton has been playing at a very high level and has been very efficient. Ponder also does not have the weapons that Newton does, and Newton has the benefit of playing a home and being on a better team.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
My Pick: Texans
The Texans have a vastly more talented team and while the Jags may be able to slow down the Texans offense, there is nothing that the Jags offense can do. Gabbert has been better than McCown but the pieces around him are subpar to say the least.
Miami Dolphins at New York Giants
My Pick: Giants
The Giants have quite the easy opponent coming off of their bye week as they face the winless Miami Dolphins. Things have been getting testy in Miami as well as Reggie Bush has voiced his displeasure with his teams lackluster performance. Matt Moore hasn't been to awful in his starts as the quarterback but this team has a good amount of talent and is very surprising how far they have fallen. Eli Manning and company should be able to have their way with the Dolphins.
New Orleans Saints at St. Louis Rams
My Pick: Saints
The winless Rams have had a hard time defending anyone and blocking anyone. Sam Bradford missed his first game of his career last week against the Cowboys but should be back this week against the Saints. He will also have a new weapon in Brandon Lloyd who is very familiar with the offensive system as he played for Josh McDaniels last year in Denver. The Saints however, if the Colts game was no indication, have been playing hungry ever since their loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Saints offensive attack will prove to be too much for the Rams struggling defense.
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
My Pick: Titans
The Colts were embarrassed on prime time television and will look to rebound from that loss against their divisional opponent. Sadly, the Titans also have something to prove as they were also embarrassed last week. The Colts still have an issue at quarterback as Painter still hasn't been able to get it done for the Colts. To make matters worse, former head coach Tony Dungy called for the Colts to draft Andrew Luck and trade Peyton Manning in the off-season. It is a problem that the Colts are even thinking about the off-season when it is only week eight. The Titans have more talent even though they are banged up they should be able to pull out the victory in their own backyard.
Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos
My Pick: Lions
The Lions are coming off two straight losses where they have been destroyed by the opposing running backs. Luckily, starting running back Willis McGahee is out for this game and even more shocking, McGahee has played well this season. Matthew Stafford got dinged up in the final seconds against the Falcons where he got up limping. It's a scary sight as Stafford has been injured so frequently in his career, this has been the longest time that Stafford has managed to be healthy. Tim Tebow will be the starter again at quarterback and will have a hard time getting any kind of rhythm going as the Lions will surely be coming after him early and often. Hopefully they wont be calling for the cart this time.
Washington Redskins at Buffalo Bills
My Pick: Bills
The Redskins are incredibly injured coming into this game against the Bills who are coming off a much needed bye week. The Bills defense has struggled in the second half of their past two games and that had to be addressed during the bye week. John Beck will be without stand out wide receiever Santana Moss and starting running back Tim Hightower. Beck already will have alot of pressure on him as the Redskins will also be without three starting offensive linemen. The inexperienced quarterback will have a hard time with the aggressive defense of the Buffalo Bills.
Cincinnati Bengals at Seattle Seahawks
My Pick: Bengals
The Bengals have a top defense in the NFL, which surprises many, and a young offense on the other side. The Bengals have been one of the most surprising teams, while the Seahawks have been one of the most disappointing teams. The Bengals are also coming off of a bye week where they were given the opportunity to prepare an extra week and after seeing the Seahawks struggle to only score three points in their 6-3 loss to the Browns, I'm sure the Bengals are that much more confident about their chances of winning this game.
Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers
My Pick: Niners
Jim Harbaugh's biggest assignment over the bye week was to learn proper post-game handshake routines as his teams performance two weeks ago was almost forgotten due to his silly moment with Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. The Niners have been playing some of their best ball in quite some time, and a good portion of it is due to the great coaching job that Harbaugh has done. The moves the Niners made in the off-season picking up maligned defensive backs Carlos Rogers and Donte Whitner have turned out very well for them. The Browns have had an up and down six games as Peyton Hillis has been on the sidelines a majority of the season.
New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers
My Pick: Patriots
The Steelers have what it takes to expose the Patriots defense, while the Patriots offense can pick apart and spread out the Steelers defense. The Patriots would welcome a shoot out and if they get one, the Patriots would walk away from this game with another win. The offensive lines of both teams will need to be able to keep their quarterbacks upright, and that has been a problem for the Steelers. Luckily for the Steelers, the Patriots do not have a legitimate pass rush.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
My Pick: Eagles
In the Andy Reid era, the Eagles are undefeated coming out of a bye week. The Eagles also have the benefit of playing with a do or die mentality for the rest of the season as they have a pressing need to win now considering all the moves they made in the off-season. The Eagles looked much better defensively two weeks ago against the Redskins and will look to improve upon their performance this week against another division rival in the Cowboys. The Cowboys will mostly look to Felix Jones or DeMarco Murray to bury the Eagles, but the Eagles rush defense did very well in their last game.
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
My Pick: Chargers
The Chargers came out very flat last week against the New York Jets and will not have a repeat performance as they cannot afford it. The Chiefs have surprisingly come roaring back from their 0-3 start as they have won their past three games with many new players in the fold as starters. Jackie Battle has done an admirable job filling in as the starting running back for the Chiefs. Matt Cassel since getting into an agrument on the sidelines with head coach Todd Haley against the Vikings has played much better, so maybe it was for the best after all.
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