NFL Week 8 Predictions: Mid-Tier Edition

I see Week 8 with a lot of mid-level matchups and an appropriate main event in Philadelphia-Dallas on Sunday night. Of course, the Bears somehow got another stinker scheduled in prime time to end the week. But here are my thoughts on some of the games that should be helpful in judging where these teams are at the almost halfway point of the season.

Redskins vs. Bengals

Seriously, back-to-back London games at 9:30 a.m.? No thanks again, as I’ll just wait for the fourth quarter to see if Kirk Cousins can avoid the big mistake or not. I thought when the Bengals were down big in Dallas that even with a likely 2-4 start, the playoffs were not in doubt with the schedule lightening up as well as a very soft AFC (more on that later this week). Tyler Eifert is back at tight end, and Jeremy Hill had some big runs last week. Of course, it was the Browns, but the Redskins have been a poor run defense too, and they have some health issues in the secondary right now. That’s a bad recipe for defending A.J. Green, but this Cincinnati offense can be about more than just Green now. I like the AFC team here.

Chiefs at Colts

If this is half as good as the 2013 wild-card game…But the Chiefs have been so inconsistent this year (32nd in DVOA variance). The Colts (5th in variance) have been a pillar of consistency: they score and allow at least 20 points in every game, and Andrew Luck has had the ball in his hands late with a chance to lead his team on a GWD. He’s come through four times, but the defense wasted the Week 1 effort against Detroit. I think Spencer Ware should have a field day against the Indy defense, but wouldn’t expect a huge performance from Alex Smith. Luck should have a few more weapons back this week, but he’ll need to avoid going to the Marcus Peters well too many times. Peters can make him pay on a pick-six, but with Donte Moncrief and Philip Dorsett back, Luck shouldn’t have to force passes to T.Y. Hilton. Generally, I think Luck has played very well this season, but he’ll need to be on point in this one. My gut tells me KC, and I usually have a great gut for Colts games, but I still think I have to trust the Colts at home this week. Arrowhead? I’d say prepare for one of their blowout losses from 2012-2015, but I think they pull this one out.

Lions at Texans

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I expect Brock Osweiler to have a really solid game due to how terrible the Detroit pass defense is. He’s also at home, where things have gone much better this year than the difficult road trips to New England, Minnesota and Denver. That has to be the toughest road schedule in the league so far. That’s not to say Osweiler didn’t play like hot garbage, but as we saw against Chicago and late in the Colts game, he can still come through against a crap defense. That’s what Detroit has right now, and it will be on Matthew Stafford to have an exceptional road performance for Detroit to pull off the win.

Patriots at Bills

One of the dumbest things any team did this year was Buffalo’s waffling on playing Shady McCoy last week in Miami. Just let him rest with the hamstring issue and turn the ball over to Mike Gillislee. Instead they tried to play both, and it was just a mess after Miami’s front seven ate the Bills alive. Now McCoy is unlikely to play in what is essentially the biggest game of the season for the Bills: a chance to sweep the Pats and become a factor in the AFC. So poorly managed. Tyrod Taylor is down receiving weapons in what was already a limited passing game. I expect a far different outcome than the 16-0 shutout win that Buffalo got with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback for New England. Tom Brady was supposed to annihilate Pittsburgh through the air last week, but it’s more likely to come here in Buffalo.

Seahawks at Saints

Injury concerns are legit for Seattle again with Kam Chancellor and Michael Bennett out. You never want to be down key defensive starters in the Superdome against Drew Brees. Russell Wilson seems to get a new injury every week — I had no idea about the pectoral issue when I wrote Tuesday’s fantasy article about stacking him with Jimmy Graham. I still think the potential for a big day is there since this is the Saints defense, and Graham will want to show up his old team, but the injuries definitely are a concern. Wilson has 22 runs for 33 yards this season. He’s clearly had to change his playing style due to the leg injuries and throw from the pocket more, but it hasn’t been as effective. Again, at least this is a putrid defense and likely not one Wilson will need his legs against often. He can beat the Saints from the pocket, but I wouldn’t trust Seattle here if the game becomes a shootout.

Chargers at Broncos

I think this game can look a lot different from the recent TNF matchup, won by San Diego. The Broncos are now the home team, Gary Kubiak is going to be coaching this one, and Trevor Siemian is healthier. C.J. Anderson is out, but I think Devontae Booker fills in well at RB. Denver’s defense should be strong again as it was for much of the last meeting. Philip Rivers hasn’t had a good go of things against this Wade Phillips-coached D yet, and I expect that to be the difference this week.

Packers at Falcons

The Falcons need to stop the bleeding here. I think a big game for Julio Jones is in store, and the Falcons could have better rushing success against Green Bay than anyone not named Dallas this season. Matt Ryan needs to atone for the late interception at home last week. While the Falcons have allowed six game-winning drives in their last 16 games, we are talking about Green Bay here. If the Packers don’t start well, I wouldn’t expect a comeback win. I still think the offense was struggling against Chicago despite the odd stat line from Aaron Rodgers, but you could clearly see Chicago’s defense was worn out in the second half from having to defend so many passes and not getting any help from the offense. Atlanta’s offense will help the defense at home here. While I think getting creative with Ty Montgomery is good for Green Bay, I don’t think his small average gains are going to be enough here, nor do I expect Davante Adams to star in back-to-back games.

Eagles at Cowboys

This one could have really cranked up the drama if Tony Romo was making his season debut, but alas it’s two rookie quarterbacks. Dak Prescott has clearly been better than Carson Wentz. The Cowboys certainly run the ball better than the Eagles, and they throw it better too. I really like Ezekiel Elliott coming off a bye week behind that offensive line. The Eagles had a horrific run defense performance against Washington a few weeks ago, and even made Minnesota’s impotent attack look competent last week. I’ll take the Cowboys here.

2016 Week 8 Predictions

Starting to get a better hang of things this season. I had the Titans without any hesitation on Thursday night, and they blew the doors off the hopeless Jaguars.

Winners in bold:

  • Redskins at Bengals
  • Chiefs at Colts
  • Lions at Texans
  • Patriots at Bills
  • Jets at Browns
  • Cardinals at Panthers
  • Raiders at Buccaneers
  • Seahawks at Saints
  • Chargers at Broncos
  • Packers at Falcons
  • Eagles at Cowboys
  • Vikings at Bears
  • Week 1: 7-9
  • Week 2: 10-6
  • Week 3: 8-8
  • Week 4: 8-7
  • Week 5: 7-7
  • Week 6: 12-3
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Season: 62-45

I would normally give myself a tie for the Seattle-Arizona game, because if those teams don’t have to take a loss, why the hell should I after losing hours of my time to not see a winner? But since I said last week that I liked Seattle by 8 points, or more than they scored in five quarters, I’ll take the loss here.

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