Here are my selections for Week 8 in the NFL
**Indicates Top Plays
Denver Broncos @ **Baltimore Ravens (-3) - The Ravens have the 9th best home defense, while the Broncos have the 3rd best road defense, clearly this game won't be in the 30s or 40s. Both teams are coming off bye weeks, and both teams are healthy. The Ravens need this game much more than the Broncos do, and the fact that they are at home is pivotal. Flacco is 8-3 in his career when he plays in Baltimore, and the 3 losses were by a total of 10 points. Clearly the Ravens play good football at home. If the Ravens lose this game it will be the 4th straight loss, and you can believe that Ray Lewis has this defense inspired to shutdown the Broncos running game and force them to be a passing offense, which the Broncos are not accustomed to doing. The Ravens are not great against the pass, but when they get beat they get beat deep, and the Broncos offense is more of a dink and dump styled passing game. The Broncos have a terrific defense, but this is the game where the defense won't be enough to get the win. I love Baltimore at home in a tough, physical matchup against Denver. Take the Ravens to win 17 - 13.
Cleveland Browns @ **Chicago Bears (-14) - The Bears are coming off a dismal performance in Cincinnati last week and they are happy the Browns are coming to town. You have to believe that the Bears will be alive and ready to get their train back on the tracks this week. I am expecting big things out of Matt Forte, Jay Cutler, Jay Cutler, Jay Cutler, and...YEP! JAY CUTLER. Cutler will redeem himself from his pathetic performance last week, and should have a big game against the NFL's worst ranked defense. Chicago over Cleveland 34 - 10.
Houston Texans (-3.5) @ Buffalo Bills - Everyone loves Buffalo this week except for me. The Texans know this is the type of game that they have to win in order to begin the escalation from mediocre team, to an above average team. Houston will be very prepared for the Bills offense, lack thereof, and they will be ready to stack the box and force backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to make decisions with the ball in his hands. Houston has been 5th against the run the past 4 weeks, and I expect them to prevent Mr. Lynch from having a big day. Houston will find success running the ball with Slaton, as well as hitting a deep pass or two against the Bills stingy pass defense. Houston over Buffalo 24 - 13.
San Francisco 49ers @ Indianapolis (-13) - Alex Smith gets the nod for the 49ers this week, and he gets to go against the Colts defense that is 6th against the pass, averages 2 turnovers a game, 2.5 sacks a game, and is only allowing 13 points per game. Smith better bring his A+ game to Indy because this looks like a tough game to play well in. I love the Colts, their offense is superb and they score effortlessly, and they always have a stud slot receiver (Collie and Garcon). The 49ers should be run heavy with Frank Gore, but if the Colts are able to shut him down and force the 49ers to throw the ball more than they would prefer, expect the Colts to run away with this one. Indy over San Fran 30 - 13.
Miami Dolphins @ **New York Jets (-3.5) - The Dolphins left it all on the line last week against New Orleans, and they fell short in the end (losing the 4th quarter 22-0). The play calling was questionable, the wildcat only gained 47 yards on 14 plays, and the defense could hold on long enough against the explosive offense of New Orleans. The Jets have won 17 of the last 23 games in this matchup, and I expect the loss to the Saints really taking air out of the Dolphins this week. The Jets are coming off a big blowout win in Oakland, and Mark Sanchez is prepared to have a productive game against the Dolphins secondary. New York Jets over the Miami Dolphins 20 - 13.
St. Louis Rams (+3.5) @ Detroit Lions - There's not much analysis to talk about for this game. If Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are able to go for the Lions, I give the edge to the home team. If they can't, the edge goes to S Jack and the Rams. That being said, I think the Lions will have Stafford and Johnson and they took advantage of the bye week and will take down the Rams. St. Louis doesn't have many pieces to their puzzle, I like the Lions to win at home 20 - 17.
Seattle Seahawks @ Dallas Cowboys (-10) - Dallas looked great last week against Atlanta. I saw chemistry between Romo and Austin, I saw life out of Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, and I saw strength out of the Cowboys defensive line. The Cowboys have the talent to be a good team, they just never seem to play well in December. I like the Cowboys to play well again at home, and expect them to run the ball against the Seahawks defense that just lost 3-time Pro Bowl MLB Lofa Tatupu to a torn pectoral muscle. The Seahawks had the bye week to prepare for this game, but I don't see it happening. They will be one dimensional, the run game won't have success against the Cowboys front seven, and Hasselbeck will force a few balls into tight coverage. Take Romo and the Cowboys to knock off the Seahawks 27 - 13.
New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles (+1) - Huge Sunday in Philly: Eagles vs Giants, Pearl Jam concert, and Yankees vs Phillies Game 4 of the World Series. Wow. The fans will be crazy on Sunday in Philly. Advantage: Philly. The Eagles are coming off an unimpressive win in Washington on Monday night, while the Giants are coming off two straight beat downs against the Saints in New Orleans, and then last Sunday night against the Cardinals in NEW YORK. Both teams exploited the Giants secondary, passing for 369 yards and 4 TDs by Drew Brees, and 231 yards and 2 TDs by Warner. Only 2 sacks by the Giants in those two games, compared to the 14 in the previous 5 games. The Eagles, seems like they will have Westbrook, have an explosive offense and McNabb likes to spread the wealth around to all of the receivers and backs on the field. I like McNabb at home on a big day in Philly. I think the Eagles defense steps up against Eli, and they create a turnover or two that changes the game. Philadelphia over the Giants 24 - 20.
Oakland Raiders @ San Diego Chargers (-17) - The Raiders are not a good football team, nor do they show signs of being a consistently bad football team. They have played 7 games this season and their defense has played well in 4 of them. Last week, the Jets didn't need a quarterback, they ran it all over the Raiders defense. This week, the Chargers will run the ball with LT and Sproles in order to open up the play action pass game for Phillip Rivers. The Chargers defense showed new signs of life last week against the Chiefs, and I expect that to continue this week against the Raiders offense. The Chargers over the Raiders 30 - 6.
Jacksonville (+3) @ Tennessee Titans - The Jaguars and Titans are both coming off bye weeks. The Titans had some noise during their week off as Head coach Jeff Fisher wore a Peyton Manning jersey to a fundraising event, while the Jaguars only noise was Maurice Jones-Drew hyping his team up and explaining that he feels the Jaguars are for real. Well, they are playing an 0-6 team that they pounded in week 4 37 -17. David Garrard threw for 323 yards and 3 touchdowns in that game. The Titans are not the team I thought they would be this season, but they still have plenty of talent on their roster. Due to the 0-6 start, the Titans have decided to make the switch at quarterback and let Vince Young see some live game action. In 5 career games against the Jaguars he has a 50.5 QB rating, 8 interceptions : 3 touchdowns, and was sacked 10 times. Look for Young to have better than a 50.5 rating, but not by much. Jacksonville over the Titans 24 - 17.
**Minnesota Vikings (+3) @ Green Bay Packers - Game of the week as Brett Farve heads back to Lambeau Field where he made his career as a Packers quarterback. Farve will be very prepared for this matchup as he was able to have plenty of success in Week 4 against Green Bay where he was 24-31 for 271 and 3 tds. Look for Farve to have pretty good numbers this week, but I expect Adrian Peterson to have the big game for the Vikings. Peterson was held to 55 yards on 25 carries when these two teams battled last, and I believe he is poised to have a much bigger impact in this game in Green Bay. Looking at it from the Packers perspective, Aaron Rodgers has been tremendous this season, but in order for the Packers to win this game their offensive line has to keep Rodgers from getting sacked. And with the Williams brothers lined up in the middle, and Jared Allen on the end, I am predicting at least 5 sacks for the Vikings. I love this matchup, and I think the Packers will play a tough game since they have the home field advantage, but I see Farve coming out on top. The Vikings hung with the Steelers in Pittsburgh last week, and if it weren't for the turnovers the Vikings win that game. I think the Vikings will protect this ball this week and take down the home team. Minnesota over Green Bay 27 - 24.
Carolina Panthers @ Arizona Cardinals (-10.5) - The Cardinals are hot, the Panthers are cold, and with home field advantage you have to like the Cardinals in this matchup. The Panthers have a terrible quarterback and for them to win games they have to run the ball well. Well, the Cardinals are #1 against the run and looked very good against the pass last weekend in New York against Eli Manning. If the Cardinals can shut down Eli Manning in New York, what do you think they will do to Delhomme in Arizona. I agree with you... Cardinals over the Panthers 31 - 13.
Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints (-10.5) - The Saints are coming off a huge win in Miami last week and if this were in Atlanta I would call it a trap game. However, it is in New Orleans and this bodes very well for the Saints as they play fired up football when they are at home. The Falcons are very bad against the pass, and they should only look worse this week as they go against the most efficient quarterback in the league this year, Drew Brees. Brees should be able to torch the Falcons secondary, and in the same time the Saints rushing attack should have success as well. The Falcons on the other hand are going against a very solid New Orleans defense that ranks 8th against the run and 14th against the pass. The Falcons have a good thing on offense, with Ryan, Turner, and Gonzalez, and if they want to win this game they will need a lot of offense to keep up with New Orleans. I think Ryan will struggle against the Saints secondary, leading the NFL with 13 interceptions, they just play better at home. I love the Saints to win big on Sunday, New Orleans over Atlanta 34 - 14.