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Thursday, 23 October 2014

2014 NFL Week 8 Predictions: Minnesota Rebound

Bye teams: New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers


Thursday, Oct. 23


San Diego Chargers (5-2) @ Denver Broncos (5-1), 8:30 p.m.

The Chargers are coming off of their first loss since Week 1, while Philip Rivers and Branden Oliver both recorded their lowest yard totals of the season. The Broncos have a nice defensive front that should be able to contain Oliver. They will struggle, though, to contain the Chargers' plethora of talented pass catchers. Antonio Gates is the player to watch in this offense, as the 34-year-old tight end has been playing his best in years.

While the Chargers are coming off of a loss, the Broncos are coming off of what may be their best win so far. After putting up 41 and 42 points against the Cardinals and 49ers, respectively, while allowing them to score just 37 combined points, the Broncos look better than they were last year. Peyton Manning and the Broncos will be up against the third-best pass defense. The Chargers have allowed just 210 passing yards per game,

Denver Broncos Win, 31-27


Sunday, Oct. 26


Detroit Lions (5-2) @ (London) Atlanta Falcons (2-5), 9:30 a.m.

While Matthew Stafford has struggled at times, failing to top 300 yards since Week 1 and having trouble with turnovers, he matches up favorably against the Falcons' pass defense. The Falcons have allowed a league-high 8.8 yards per attempt, while sacking opposing quarterbacks just seven times. The Falcons also have one of the league's worst run defenses, allowing 13 touchdowns through the ground. Joique Bell has struggled so far this year, but he will fare well.

Matt Ryan and his receiving corps will look to rebound after losing four games in a row, but they will be up against one of the league's most aggressive defenses. The Lions have 21 total sacks so far, while also being one of the few teams that has recorded my picks than passing touchdowns allowed. Steven Jackson has averaged 12 attempts per game and just 3.6 yards per carry as a Falcon. Do not expect Jackson to make much of an impact against the Lions.

Detroit Lions Win, 35-20


St. Louis Rams (2-4) @ Kansas City Chiefs (3-3), 1 p.m.

Both teams are coming off of unexpected victories against divisional favorites. The Chiefs have limited big plays in both the passing and the running game, allowing just 18 plays of 20+ yards. The Chiefs are also one of the few teams that have yet to allow a rushing touchdown. Rookie Tre Mason broke out last week, rushing for 85 yards and a touchdown off of 18 attempts. He should not have too much trouble topping that yard total, as the Chiefs have 4.7 yards per attempt, sixth-highest in the NFL.

Before sacking Russell Wilson three times, the Rams have managed just one sack all year. If the Rams' line plays like they did against the Seahawks, then the Chiefs will struggle to move the ball. If they play like they have in week previous, though, the Chiefs' offense will be in for a good game. The Rams are one of the six teams to allow a passer rating of 100.0 or higher, while they have allowed nine rushing plays of 20+ yards and three of 40+ yards.

Kansas City Chiefs Win, 29-24


Houston Texans (3-4) @ Tennessee Titans (2-5), 1 p.m.

Arian Foster has been one of the league's best running backs this year, as he is second in rushing yards despite missing Week 3 and playing limited in Week 4. The Titans' defense has been solid against the run, allowing just four yards per carry and just one run of 20+ yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick will have trouble with picks, as the Titans have eight interceptions on the year, good for third in the NFL.

The Titans have been disappointing since their Week 1 upset over the Chiefs, topping 20 points just once. While the Texans have a wrecking ball of a player in J.J. Watt, the defense as a whole has been nothing more than average. In a Charlie Whitehurst-led offense, the Titans themselves will not be much more than average. They should be able to produce at a decent level against the Texans, though.

Houston Texans Win, 24-20


Minnesota Vikings (2-5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5), 1 p.m.

Teddy Bridgewater has struggled tremendously in the past two weeks, throwing just one touchdown to five picks. The Buccaneers, however, have the league's worst pass defense, allowing 295 yards and a passer rating of 111.9, both league-highs. Jerick McKinnon is said to be the starting back, and he should fare well against a defense that has struggled to contain the run.

The Vikings have struggled to defend both the run and the pass, so expect the Buccaneers' offense to be firing on all cylinders. Mike Glennon should be able to lead the offense, while third-year running back Doug Martin will look to rebound after a rocky, injury-riddled start.

Minnesota Vikings Win, 40-30


Seattle Seahawks (3-3) @ Carolina Panthers (3-3-1), 1 p.m.

The Panthers' defense has been one of the most inconsistent this year, from holding the high-flying Lions to just seven points to allowing the lowly Steelers to put up 37. It is not just week to week, the Panthers allowed the Steelers to put up 28 points in the second half alone, while they shut down the Bengals in the first and third quarters. The Seahawks are coming off of their second straight loss, but their offense should be able to rebound against what used to be a top-tier defense.

The Panthers will not look to run the ball, as the Seahawks' run defense is as stout as ever. Instead, the Panthers will look to rely on Cam Newton to move the ball, as the Seahawks have picked off opposing quarterbacks just twice while allowing a passer rating of 103.9. This should a close, high-scoring game, and if the Panthers are to win, Newton must control the clock and consistently move the chains.

Seattle Seahawks Win, 34-27


Baltimore Ravens (5-2) @ Cincinnati Bengals (3-2-1), 1 p.m.

Joe Flacco may be coming off of his first two-pick game, but do not expect that to affect him. The Bengals have struggled in coverage throughout the past three weeks, while having trouble stopping the run all year. With a mix of Lorenzo Taliaferro and Justin Forsett, the Ravens will be able to run all over the Bengals, and their offense as a whole will not have too much trouble moving the ball.

The Ravens' defense has stepped it up in recent weeks, and it will show in Cincinnati. Andy Dalton has been as inconsistent as ever, while the Bengals still do not have a stable running game. Without A.J. Green, this offense struggles against above average defenses. This will be close like the first one, and a really good game.

Baltimore Ravens Win, 28-24


Miami Dolphins (3-3) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6), 1 p.m.

Ryan Tannehill is well known for being extremely inconsistent, but the third-year passer has scored six touchdowns and has averaged 8.5 yards per attempt in the past three games, while scoring four touchdowns and averaging just 5.03 yards per attempt in the first three. It is fair to say that Tannehill is starting to find a rhythm, and going up against a Jacksonville defense that has struggled mightily against the pass in week previous, he should fare well. Lamar Miller, who had strouble last year, has scored four touchdowns in the past three games, more than he did in his first two seasons combined. Look for Miller to once again make a big impact.

Coming off of their first win, and it being a big one, that Jaguars are fired up. The Jaguars, though, will be going up against a defense that has been stout against both the run and the pass. The Dolphins have allowed just 18 plays of 20+ yards, while allowing just 6.0 yards per pass attempt and 3.8 per rush attempt. Blake Bortles and Denard Robinson will have to show up big if the Jaguars are to win this one.

Miami Dolphins Win, 31-17


Chicago Bears (3-4) @ New England Patriots (5-2), 1 p.m.

The Bears have been up and down all season, but Matt Forte has finally found his rhythm, the Bears just need to use him more. Jay Cutler has thrown it 30+ times and has completed 60% of his passes in every game, but he has struggled with down-the-field reads, averaging less than six yards per attempt in three of his games. The Patriots' pass defense has improved exponentially throughout the year, while their run defense has not, so the Bears' best bet is to run it right up the gut.

The Bears' defense, a lot like their offense, has been very inconsistent. Tom Brady has led may not have productive weapons outside of Rob Gronkowski, but the offense has fared well since putting up just 14 points against the Chiefs. Expect the Patriots to run the ball often against the Bears, as their defensive front has struggled all year long.

New England Patriots Win, 30-24


Buffalo Bills (4-3) @ New York Jets (1-6), 1 p.m.

The Bills have done a surpringly good job holding up against tougher opponents, outside of their Week 6 match-up against the Patriots. The Jets' run defense is back to their old form, and with the injuries at running back, do not expect the Bills to rely too heavily on the run. The Jets have struggled in pass coverage, so Kyle Orton should be able to move the ball with consistency.

Geno Smith played his best last week, but the Bills' front four will be able to generate pressure early and often. Look for the mistake-prone quarterback to regress against the Bills. The Bills have one of the league's best run defenses, so Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson will struggle. The Jets' offense as a whole is in trouble, as the Bills' defense matches up favorably in almost every aspect.

Buffalo Bills Win, 23-14


Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (5-1), 4:05 p.m.

LeSean McCoy will be in for another rough game after his first productive game. The Cardinals' run defense has allowed 3.2 yards per carry and only one of 20+ yards. Nick Foles has had a few rough games, but he will have to rebound against what is a very athletic and dangerous secondary. Foles will be relied on to lead the offense, especially with Darren Sproles now out.

The Eagles' defense played horribly prior to shutting out the Giants last week. Ranked 23rd in both the run and the pass game, it is a defense that can be torn up by both Carson Palmer and Andre Ellington. However, if the Eagles' defense plays as well as it did against the Giants, it may be able to keep this game within their reach.

Arizona Cardinals Win, 31-28


Oakland Raiders (0-6) @ Cleveland Browns (3-3), 4:25 p.m.

The Raiders remain winless, but the Browns did lose to the previously winless Jaguars last week. The Raiders do not have a prolific running game, but neither did the Jaguars. The Browns' run defense is among the worst in the league, so Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden will both get extensive playing time. Expect both backs to make a big impact in what is a very possible win.

Brian Hoyer had his first bad game of 2014, throwing a pick while completing just 39% of his passes. The Raiders' secondary is unreliable, so look for Hoyer to bounce back. Ben Tate, who is determined to prove that he is a starting back after a shaky start to his career as a Brown, is also likely to bounce back. The Raiders' run defense is nothing more than average.

Cleveland Browns Win, 26-21


Indianapolis Colts (5-2) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3), 4:25 p.m.

On a five-game win streak, the Colts are hot, but the Steelers managed to bounce back after three consecutive poor outings. The Steelers' injury-riddled defense is just about average, and the Colts' high-flying offense should be able to consistently put up points.

Ben Roethlisberger has had a passer rating of 100 or better in five of the Steelers' games, while possessing a rating of 65 or lower in his other two games, where the team has gone 0-2. Roethlisberger must keep the ball away from the defense and find a way to move the chains if the Steelers are to win. With weapons like Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell, he should be able to keep up with the Colts.

Indianapolis Colts Win, 37-35


Green Bay Packers (5-2) @ New Orleans Saints (2-4), 8:30 p.m.

Eddie Lacy has been a little inconsistent after his shaky start, and the Saints have played well against the run, so do not expect the Packers to rely on Lacy to move the ball. MVP-candidate Aaron Rodgers should be able to tear up the Saints, who have struggled to contain any team's passing attack. Rodgers has thrown 17 touchdowns to zero picks in the past six games, while the Saints' pass defense is ranked 28th in the league in yards allowed.

The Packers' defense has held their own for the most part, but they have been torn up through the ground. Allowing 4.6 yards per attempt, the Packers will struggle to contain the former first-round pick, Mark Ingram. The Packers, though, have been one of the best against the pass. Drew Brees has produced, but he has turned over the ball way too much, throwing five picks in the past three games. The Packers are one of the few teams with more picks than touchdowns allowed, but the pressure will be taken off of Brees by Ingram and the Saints' running game.

Green Bay Packers Win, 38-31


Monday, Oct. 27


Washington Redskins (2-5) @ Dallas Cowboys (6-1), 8:30 p.m.

Colt McCoy is expected to start, but even after a nice outing against the Titans, he does not match up faovrably against the Cowboys. The Cowboys' pass defense has been stout, despite the lack of pressure, recording only seven sacks on the season. The Cowboys' run defense, however, is well below average, allowing 4.9 yards per carry, so Alfred Morris should be able to get on the right foot after his rocky start.

The Redskins' front seven is very potent, both in stopping the run and rushing the passer. The Cowboys, though, have one of the league's best lines, even without Doug Free. Tony Romo should get enough time to pick apart the Redskins' weak secondary, while DeMarco Murray should produce as well as always. Do not expect Romo and Murray to play as well as most expect, though, the Redskins have a mean linebacking corps.

Dallas Cowboys Win, 31-21


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