Off Topic - NFL Picks Week 8

At least it can't get any worse for my beloved Bears this week. They're on a bye  so I get to take a closer look at every other team in the league. I have a feeling I'll be seeing a ton of mediocrity. The NFL likes to call it parity. We know better. In we go.

Denver vs San Francisco
The 49ers agreed to it but they got jobbed out of a home game here. Not that it matters much. Things are so desperate in Frisco, head coach Mike Singletary is calling on Troy Smith to right the ship. I understand being upset over the fact they've only won one out of 7 games this year but doing something crazy like putting Troy Smith in a game is the kind of thing that will cost a struggling coach his job. Having delusions of grandeur about winning the division after this bad of a start just makes it worse. They might actually be able to compete in this game though. The Broncos are a mess. I would discount last week's debacle but it can not be skipped over. What the hell was that? 59 points given up to any team is embarrassing. That many points given up to the Raiders is downright debilitating. After last week, they're done. Well, after this week they are. Broncos 23-10

Jacksonville vs Dallas
This is essentially a meaningless game. Although on the surface it looks okay with the participation of the Cowboys and the Jaguars record somehow hovering around .500, neither of these teams will be around toward the end of the season. It was officially declared over for Dallas last week when Tony Romo broke his clavicle. After that happened, I called my brother, a monster Cowboys fan, and told him I'm happy that all those ungrateful Cowboy fans who were calling for Romo's head for so long now, including my father, another monster Cowboys fan, are finally going to get a taste of what life is like without him. And they will learn that the grass is not as green on the other side. They're still good enough to beat a team like Jacksonville but this could be the last time they please their fanbase this year. Cowboys 27-14

Miami vs Cincinnati
Two teams that are easily identifiable. The Dolphins can't beat the elite of the league, which represents their winless record at home, but can beat everyone else, which represents their unbeaten record on the road. It's not that they are better on the road than they are at home, it's that the matchups have been so exceedingly difficult down in Miami. Combined record of teams they've played at home - 15-3. No matter, they're faced with yet another winnable road game. The Bengals have some of the best individual stats amongst their stars, but not much to show for it. That's because a lot of those numbers come in garbage time when the game is already out of reach. All that talent should equal more than a 2-4 record. It doesn't and you can make it 2-5. I almost feel stupid for making them my pre-season Super Bowl pick from the AFC. Dolphins 30-20

Buffalo vs Kansas City
This is my pick for game of the week. Might seem crazy if you look at each teams record but neither team has much of a defense and they both have potentially explosive offenses. I wouldn't be surprised if we get a repeat of the Bills-Ravens game from last week. Buffalo showed exactly the kind of year it will be for them in that game. Good teams find ways to win close games while bad teams find ways to lose them. The Bills represent the latter. The Chiefs have so far been the former more times than not but I still can't say I"m sold on them. They probably have the easiest schedule of any team in the league, at least on paper. But that schedule is littered with games like this. One they should win, but is entirely possible they will lose. In the end, I trust their number one ranked rushing attack more than I do the arm of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Clock control beats aerial assault almost every time. Chiefs 34-21

Washington vs Detroit
Here's the thing about this game. The Lions have been associated with losing for so long that it's easy to see a matchup against a team with a winning record and think they are going to lose. But this year's version of Detroit is a bit different. The offense is actually rather impressive considering the level of talent. While Matthew Stafford was injured, and he'll be back for this game by the way, Shaun Hill came in and performed wonderfully. Sure, he threw a few costly interceptions and the team only won once under his guidance but they were competitive in every game. They're actually 11th in the league in scoring at 24.3 points a game. The Redskins? 22nd at just 18.6 points a game. They're about as inconsistent as it gets. They had no business beating the Bears last week but of course they were playing a quarterback who loves to give the ball away. No telling how healthy Stafford's shoulder will be coming into this game and it really can't be trusted. The Lions have struggled mightily on defense and Ryan Torain has impressed me quite a bit in his short time with Washington. This just might represent his big breakout game. Redskins 31-17

Carolina vs St. Louis
Steve Smith makes a huge difference. When he was gone the Panthers looked hopelessly overmatched, no matter who they played. As soon as he came back, he made both Matt Moore and the team as a whole, look competent. He even played a big part in getting them their first win of the season last week against the 49ers. Considering the team it was against, it shouldn't be overstated but it certainly makes one feel better about their chances in this game. While the Rams are much improved from last year, they still have a few glaring deficiencies, one of which is the lack of weapons on offense. The injuries have mounted in a hurry for the young team and you can only expect so much from a rookie quarterback. Steven Jackson has become a threat again but he's still facing enough 8 man fronts to hold him in check. Carolina's defense has had their share of problems but overall they're a solid unit that should be good enough to get the job done here. Panthers 17-10

Green Bay vs NY Jets
Should be an outstanding game. The Packers started the year as a favorite in the NFC while the Jets have solidified themselves so far this season as the favorite in the AFC. The key to this matchup unfortunately for the Packers, is likely health. They're still missing a ton of guys to injury while the Jets are coming off of their bye week and as healthy as they have been all season. Green Bay's wideouts might have trouble getting off the line of scrimmage against the dynamic duo of Antonio Cromartie and a hamstring healthy Darrelle Revis. That's where Jermichael Finley would have came in but he's not around for this one. They wouldn't have been able to run the ball no matter who was in the backfield so that really leaves the defense to save the game for them. While Mark Sanchez hasn't been a world beater, he's been about as good as the Jets could ask for. LaDainian Tomlinson has experienced the career resurgence no one thought he could and the offense has been firing on all cylinders all season. There is absolutely no reason to pick the Packers to win this game. So I won't. Jets 24-14

Tennessee vs San Diego
If there was ever a team that drove home the fact that statistics don't tell the whole story, it's this year's San Diego Chargers. #1 offense, #1 defense, #1 passing offense, #1 passing defense, #4 rushing defense, #7 points per game. Record through 7 games? 2-5. You read that correctly. Absolutely incredible. Horrific special teams combined with an inability to consistently run the ball and turnovers at the worst possible times have led the Chargers to where they are right now, which is the bottom of one of the worst divisions in the NFL. Philip Rivers has already thrown for 2,344 yards and 13 TD's. You would think that's a good thing but it speaks to the fact that their leading rusher has just 300 yards. In contrast, Chris Johnson, the venerable leader of the Titans ground attack, has more than double that with 662 yards. In fact, he has more than the top two Chargers running backs combined. Eventually, the wins will start to catch up with the amazing stats. The Titans are a good team but they present the best matchup in terms of a game that may catapult the Chargers back into the race to the playoffs. A loss means they're all but out of contention and desperation can be an extremely motivating force. Chargers 28-23

Minnesota vs New England
Other than the Cowboys, is their any more disappointing team this year than the Vikings? They can't seem to get anything right. At some point they'll realize the Brett Favre circus show just isn't worth the trouble and cut their losses. He had a great year last year, sure, but that doesn't mean it translates to this year and we've seen that with his erratic play. He cost them the game last week in Green Bay, the most important game of their season to date. Some of those interceptions were just bone-headed throws that he has no excuse for. Of course, he played up the ankle injury after the game and is still doing so now, actually. The smart thing to do is sit him and give the ball to Tavaris Jackson. What that accomplishes is two things. 1) They suddenly remember that the best player on the team is the running back and he gets the ball a lot more and 2) He can actually be controlled by the head coach and do what he's told. They don't have it easy this week, no matter who's under center. Randy Moss will have a minimal impact as far as knowledge of what New England likes to do on offense. He might be able to provide some insight but I don't see it translating to a win for his team. They're far too banged up and much too unorganized to beat a well disciplined team with Tom Brady at the helm. Patriots 20-17

Tampa Bay vs Arizona
The Cardinals scoring ratio is minus 62. That's pathetic. Somehow they're still 3-3 and hanging right with the Seahawks and Rams in the NFC West. The Bucs, if the playoffs started today, would be a wildcard team. How crazy is that? The fact of the matter is this. The Cardinals quarterback situation is abysmal and they don't have the running game to make up for it. Beanie Wells officially became the starter this week but how much does that matter? The way that offense is playing right now, I can't see them winning another game. Unless of course they do like they did against New Orleans and get enough turnovers to steal one. The Bucs aren't exactly reckless with the ball though. I've talked all year about Josh Freeman and how great he's played for them. Raheem Morris made some comments recently though that underscore the confidence this team is exuding despite their track record. He said he believes Tampa Bay has the best team in the NFC. If he really thinks that, he's delusional, but it's good if he can use it to inspire his ball club. They're overachieving right now and he probably knows it. They should be able to come away with another win here and that will be big in the crowded NFC. Bucs 20-10

Seattle vs Oakland
The Seahawks are a surprising 4-2 while the Raiders are a surprising 3-4. Both teams feel like they are better than their records indicate and want the respect they are not given from the fans and media alike. The Raiders probably have a better claim to that than Seattle right now after the absolute beatdown they laid on the Broncos last week. Darren McFadden has got to be considered at least somewhat close to a star now in the NFL. His 4 touchdowns last week led the charge in that 59-14 rout of their division rivals. What makes it all the better was that it was a road game. Can they ride Jason Cambell, Bruce Gradkowski or Kyle Boller to the playoffs or even a winning record? Probably not. Just too much inconsistency. The defense is good enough to keep up with a team like Seattle but they've been prone to giving up big plays and Mike Williams has finally lived up to his potential from years ago. Marshawn Lynch might be just what the Seahawks need to make their push into the NFC playoffs. I've gone back and forth on who I think is going to win this game but eventually I couldn't help but settle on the more consistent team. The travel won't be much of a factor and I just can't trust the Raiders to put in consecutive winning performances. Seahawks 21-14

Pittsburgh vs New Orleans
Ah, yes. The last two Super Bowl winners square off. Nice little narrative tied right in there. It's a good matchup and one I believe favors the Steelers. I still haven't quite figured out what's wrong with Drew Brees this year but he better get better and fast or the Falcons, and maybe even the Bucs, are going to run away with the NFC South. He's still one of the best quarterbacks in the league but he's been making an awful lot of uncharacteristic mistakes this year. If he doesn't get back into the kind of groove he enjoyed last year, they might not even be a .500 level team. Losing to the Browns the way they did, at home no less, is unacceptable for a playoff contender. Now they've got to gameplan for one of, if not the, best defenses in the entire league. The Steelers offense has settled into a nice rhythm after just two games back from suspension for Ben Roethlisberger. There has been a slight drop off in his play but guys like Hines Ward have benefited tremedously from his return. They needed help to win last week though and they're certainly not perfect. Ben needs to protect the ball better and the Saints still have a defense that will create a few turnovers. I'm going to bank on Brees bouncing back in a big way after the debacle of last week and the Saints making things really interesting in both conferences. Saints 23-17

Houston vs Indianapolis
The first time these teams met, back in week 1, Arian Foster was introduced to the world with a career day. This time the Colts know what they're up against, so I don't expect anything close to what he did last time although it would be nice as he plays for my fantasy team. That's not to say he won't have a great deal of success. After all, it is the Colts we're talking about but they know they have a tough task in front of them. The Texans offense has given every team trouble this year, save for the Cowboys. If they manage to find some balance on offense the way they were able to the first time, they might be able to secure the sweep of their division foe. That would be a first in the brief history of the team and give them a big edge in the standings in the AFC South. They're catching the Colts at the perfect time too. Dallas Clark is gone for the year and both Joseph Addai and Donald Brown are injured. Not only that but they're also going to be without Austin Collie for this game, who's been such a beast for them all season. Pierre Garcon and Reggie Wayne are both highly capable wideouts but the Texans will be able to key on them with no other major weapons on the Colts offense being able to go. Does that mean they will be able to stop them? I don't think they will. The achilles heel for Houston all year has been the horrific defensive play. They're getting no pressure on opposing quarterbacks and have given up enough yards through the air for a whole season's worth of games. I just can't go against Peyton Manning at home in a big divisional game at this point in the season, even with all the injuries. Colts 33-28

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.

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