We’re halfway through the NFL season and teams are already making their claim for the throne while others are wishing they could omit the 2011 NFL year. With so much buzz and story lines going into Week 8, here are the things that I will be paying close attention to this weekend.
1. Brady dominates the Steelers in the regular season. Will it continue?
There’s no hiding the fact that Tom Brady owns the Steelers. In fact, when Brady starts the Pats are 6-1 against Pittsburgh, including last year’s 39-26 win in Heinz Field. The 4WR and 5WR sets the Pats throw at the Steelers troubles them and Steelers have yet to figure it out. What gives the Steelers a shot this year against New England is the fact that the Patriots are last in total yards allowed and pass defense. Ouch.
Prediction: Big Ben needs to find Mike Wallace and find Mike Wallace alot for them to keep this one close. Brady is too cool under pressure though. Expect a game-winning drive in the final two minutes.
NE 34 PIT 30
2. How real are the Bengals?
At the beginning of the year Las Vegas Sportsbooks were predicting the Bengals finish around four wins for the entire season. They have already met that mark. With a tough defense (ranks top 5 in all major defensive categories) and a stellar rookie quarterback-wide reciever tandem, the Bengals have become one of the biggest surprises this year. Now traveling to Seattle (another team with a strong defense), you can expect the first team to 17 to win this game.
Prediction: Seattle is very tough at home, even with Jackson or Whitehurst at the helm. Turnovers will be crucial in this game. Bengals have a favorable schedule so they should remain in the playoff hunt.
CIN 13 SEA 16
3. Will the “Suck for Luck” trend continue in Indianapolis, Miami & St. Louis?
Tony Sporano thinks fans are idiots for wanting their team to tank. Peyton isn’t pushing for the next Peyton to come walking through that door. St. Louis might already have their quarterback of the future but may want an upgrade. All three teams are double-digit underdogs this week and I don’t expect any of their games to be close. I wonder if Luck has already gone house shopping in Miami? Him and LeBron neighbors? Why not?
Prediction: Luck to the Colts. Laundry Jones to the Phins. Rams go defense with their 1st pick.
4. The Giants are finally back to full strength. Now what?
If you had to pick one NFL team who had the worst luck with injuries over the first 8 weeks, the Giants are the unanimous decision. Secondary torn to shreads. Both defensive and offensive lines needing help and a hurt Brandon Jacobs. Well, Week 8 is here and all the pain is gone. Tuck, Jacobs, Snee and first round pick Prince Amukamara return. Ahmad Bradshaw fantasy owners, be cautious.
Prediction: Possible division winners. Definitely in the playoffs unless Eli returns to 2010 form.
5. The Tebow Show rolls on.
Denver is terrible. We know this, but Tim Tebow has suddenly turned this team into one of the best teams to look out for on the NFL schedule. After Cam Newton and Michael Vick, I would say Tim Tebow is the most exciting quarterback to watch. What stands him apart from everyone else is that his bad plays are even exhilarating to watch. Surprisingly enough, Tebow faces his old arch enemy from the SEC days as he takes on Georgia’s former QB Matt Stafford. Stafford has Megatron. Tebow has… Tebow.
Prediction: Tebow’s first home game in Denver. Crowd will be on Chris Brown like levels. Detroit’s lack of a running game and Denver’s lack of a defense makes this game a push in my eyes. Megatron shows up, but Tebow gets the final call.
DET 13 DEN 14
6. Which Philadelphia Eagles team will we see?
Coming off their bye week, the Eagles are rested and ready. Will we see the forever-knocked-down-Vick-absent-DeSean-Jackson-defense-can’t-stop-a-runny-nose Eagles or how about the LeSean-McCoy-is-really-good-Vick-isn’t-human-defense-made-some-great-plays Eagles? Who knows. This week I expect a mix against the rising Cowboys. Defensively the Eagles will have their hands full with Romo and his gang of options, but offensively if they can contain Ware, Vick and company will put up numbers.
Prediction: Eagles passing game comes alive with Vick passing for 400 yards. Murray has another stellar game, but not enough. Possible fight breaks out between Dez Bryant and DeSean Jackson.
DAL 27 PHI 42
7. Will Philip Rivers get out of his funk?
Has their been a more disappointing story in 2011 more than Rivers? (Wait. Chris Johnson) Ok, there has, but at the same time Rivers is not living up to his potential. In my Super Bowl predictions, I had Rivers winning his first ring over Rodger’s Pack. That prediction isn’t looking solid as of right now. Chargers are sitting a half game ahead of the Raiders in the division with a one game lead on the Chiefs heading into Monday night. It’s do or die (later) time for the San Diego signal caller.
Prediction: Chargers play a primetime game on the road under the lights in a hostile environment. Sound familiar? (Week 2 @NE – loss 21-35) The Chiefs aren’t the Patriots but Chargers haven’t been the Chargers either. This will be close and home field advantage will win for KC. (Chargers will still make the playoffs at 9-7)
SD 20 KC 23
8. Does Baltimore bounce back from Monday Night’s shocker?
Of course. Flacco may suck and suck terribly (1 passing yard in the first half. One.) but with Terrell Suggs calling out the offense, expect a big game from Ray Rice and (I’m scared to say this) Joe Flacco. Playing against the identity-less Cardinals at home. This will be a favorable win. Possible blowout.
AZ 9 BAL 28
9. Will Terrell Owens make an NFL roster this year?
Fantasy Starts: Braylon Edwards. He’s coming off an injury, playing against his former team at home and is available in 80% of leagues. All those Packers WRs are on byes. I’m sure you need a quick sub.
Fantasy Sit: Chris Johnson. Give it up already. How many times do we have to go over this? If I own CJ268, I’m trading him while he still has “potential” value. Maybe next year.
Spreads to Cover: Saints (-14.5), Niners (-10) & Patriots (-3)
Ok, enough talk. Play football. Go Skins!