It’s hard to believe that we are at Week 8 of the 2011 NFL season. It seems like only yesterday that we were fretting over a football season that would not be. Now, we find ourselves at the midway point with a view of the regular season’s end on the horizon. Only the strong will survive the remaining eight games and make it into the post season. Who will be the chosen few?
Well, the high priests of predictions at ESPN, and yours truly, are here to help you make sense of it all. Each week I take a shot at fortune telling, alongside the eight esteemed members of the ESPN brain trust and their two trusted robots. How did they do last week? How did I do? Who are we collectively picking this week? Read on to find the answers to the questions that bother you so.
Colts @ Titans: This should come as no surprise to those who have been following along with my picks this season. Indianapolis will continue to work for the #1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. ‘Nuff said. Titans win.
Saints @ Rams: Speaking of the #1 pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, St. Louis are also knee deep in the heat for that coveted slot. Whether or not the 1st overall pick goes to the Colts or the Rams, one thing is for sure – the Rams will not be looking to replace Sam Bradford. Therefore, Andrew Luck will go to the Colts. Oh, almost forgot…Saints win.
Dolphins @ Giants: This is a pretty easy pick. However, it is one of those games that scare the hell out of Giants fans. Big Blue faced the Seahawks in Week 5, in what was considered an “easy win.” Those are just the type of games that the G-Men seem to have trouble with. However, the Giants are coming off of a Bye Week and have some reinforcements coming back into play, like Chris Snee, Justin Tuck and possibly a few more. Sitting alone atop of the NFC East, the Giants are not looking to lose that spot anytime soon. With the home field advantage and the full steam ahead momentum that they have going for themselves, the choice is clear…and every pundit at ESPN feels the same. Giants win.
Vikings @ Panthers: This has been a havoc wreaking week for Minnesota. On top of being a franchise in turmoil, they are now down two of their best players. CB Chris Cook has been suspended, without pay, for felony domestic assault and Bernard Berrian has been released. The Viks have too many adjustments to make in order to beat the high powered offense of the Carolina Panthers. In my opinion, they just don’t have that kind of time to make them all. Panthers win.
Cardinals @ Ravens: Arizona is 0-3 on the road. Baltimore are undefeated at home. Last week, the Ravens put on their most humiliating performance of the season. Dare I delve further into that comment? Absolutely! The Ravens came into last week’s game at 4-1 and had to do battle with the 1-5 Jaguars. Not only did they lose, but they were completely shutdown for three quarters. You can bet the farm that this week they will be looking to save face at home. I would hate to be an Arizona Cardinal this week. Ravens win.
Jaguars @ Texans: As mentioned, the Jaguars won last week. But they were only able to put up field goals. Yes, a win is a win. But they are still the Jaguars. Houston had a rather impressive win last week against the Titans who are a talented football team. The Texans going at it against the Jaguars? The Jacksonville staff will have a long day of peeling their players off of the field. Pick of the week. Carnage. Texans win.
Redskins @ Bills: Buffalo is coming off of a Bye Week. Not just that. They are coming off of a Bye Week after losing to the New York Giants whom are the current leaders of the NFC East. Since, the Bills will not get another shot at the G-Men, in the regular season, the next best thing to revenge for them will be to take their frustrations out on the Washington Redskins, whom used to be the leaders of the NFC East. The Bills are still the same explosive team that they were, and a well rested one at that. The Skins got off to a good start but are definitely on a downhill roll. Bills win.
Patriots @ Steelers: This will either be a very competitive game or a very lopsided one. Both teams are capable of big plays. But only one of them has been consistent on a week to week basis. That team is the Patriots. Pittsburgh, despite being in 1st place of their division, have been a bit of a disappointment this season. They got blown out in the season opener, struggled against the Colts and Jaguars and lead the league in turnovers. Even though New England’s defense is ranked dead last, the Steelers will still not have enough gas to put this particular game in their win column. Patriots win.
Browns @ 49ers: In case you missed it, San Francisco handed Detroit their only loss of the season in Week 6. After that, they headed off into the sunset to enjoy a restful Bye Week. Of course, the Lions went on to lose to the Falcons the following week, but I digress. Here’s another little tidbit that might make your head spin. The Niners share the same impressive record with the New England Patriots (5-1). As mentioned, SanFran is coming off of a Bye Week and definitely have their legs underneath them. I don’t think this week will be much of a problem. 49ers win.
Bengals @ Seahawks: Only in the NFC West can you have a 2-4 record and be in 2nd place. I shouldn’t knock the Seahawks too hard as one of those wins comes from their defeat of the Giants. The Hawks came off of their Bye last week, after beating the G-Men 36-25. I’m not sure what they did with their week off as they were only able to put up three points against the Browns – who themselves were only able to put up 6. Cincy is a solid team that are viable contenders for 1st place in the AFC North. The Seahawks’ banged up offense will not stand a chance against the 2nd ranked defense in the league. Bengals win.
Cowboys @ Eagles: This is the one to watch, Giants fans! Dallas is creeping its way up the ladder and are only one game behind us (as are the Redskins). Philly was able to put their second win of the season in the record books right before heading into their Bye Week. They have rest, extra practice and the home field advantage on their side. However, they still have a number of issues that just can not be fixed in that short amount of time. Yes, the birds have an explosive offense. But they are also 2nd in the NFL in turnovers (-8). There are too many bruised egos on that team to pull the rest of this season together. The Cowboys, on the other hand, have been pulling it together slowly but surely. They too, have an explosive offense and the #1 rushing defense in the league. it will be a mash ‘em up, bang ‘em up NFC East game, with a playoff feel. In the end, the dreams of those that once flew high will perish. Cowboys win.
Chargers @ Chiefs: Let’s talk Raiders for a moment. Despite a 4-3 record, which isn’t all that bad at this stage of the season, they are a very talented team. They have found a way to beat some of the best teams around the league and put up a good fight against others. Having said that, Kansas City went into the Raiders’ house last week and shut them down completely. The Chiefs got off to a dismal start, losing their first 3 games. One of those losses was to the Chargers. Fast forward 4 weeks, one of them being a Bye, and you have a completely different team than what the Chargers faced last. The Chiefs are coming off of 3 straight wins and a Bye Week in between. While Phillip Rivers is capable of big things, I think he may still be shook up from last week’s loss to the Jets. I am all alone in this pick, folks. But…here goes…Chiefs win.
Bring on Week 8, baby!!!
**Teams with Bye Weeks: Jets, Raiders, Bears, Packers, Falcons and Buccaneers.**
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