Another strong week for the Winners crowd, as an 11-2 week has propelled us to a 69-38 record overall which places these picks ahead of 299 out of every 300 would-be prognosticators in the world. If you haven't been sold yet, it's time to realize that these picks aren't a fluke. One of these days I'm going to wise up and start charging for them. Anyhow, without further ado, here are my picks for Week 8 of the NFL season.
Josh Freeman is coming off of a 400-yard performance, and good, second-year Christian Ponder reverted hard to bad, rookie Christian Ponder last week. The re-emergence of Vincent Jackson and the two-game inefficiency stretch by the Vikings should be enough to give anyone pause when automatically defaulting to the home team. That said, I'm picking the Vikings to win for a few reasons, the first of which being the redirection of the purple offense through the bionic man-beast Adrian Peterson. Still well short of a year from watching his knee disintegrate, Peterson is running as fearlessly as ever before, forcing the single most missed tackles in the NFL to date.
Secondly, while AP leads the league in missed-tackles forced, the NFL leader in missed-tackles-forced-per-play is wide receiver Percy Harvin. I'm pretty sure that the Vikings haven't thrown the ball more than 15 yards downfield all season, but with two of the best playmakers in the league at their disposal, there's no real need to. Thirdly, despite glimpses of offensive brilliance, Tampa Bay has really only produced against bad defenses, and the Vikings are not that.
Look for the Viks to continue being the most surprising team in the NFL.
THE PICK: VIKINGS
This game is in London, so the Patriots get to skate on playing an 8th true road game, while the Rams get one of their home dates stripped from them. I don't expect Tom Brady and Co. to go easy on the Rams, as the NFL's most successful team of the past decade will look to continue Roger Goodell's Murdochian expansion over the globe. If Danny Amendola were healthy, i'd give it second though (yes, he's that important), but he's still a couple weeks away at least. I'm taking New England big in this one.
THE PICK: PATRIOTS
As it stands right now, Chicago is posting the 4th best defensive DVOA through Week 7 in NFL history. Cam Newton has looked bewildered as his entire state looks to the youngster to somehow captain the cracked-hulled ship that is spiraling downward into a vortex (fire Ron Rivera). The offense has, for some reason, shifted from a vaunted pro-style attack to a tepid, read-option heavy look (fire Ron Rivera) that the battered O-line is incapable of sustaining. This inexplicable step backwards (fire Ron Rivera) is costing one of the most dynamic players in league history a valuable year of development (fire Ron Rivera).
The Bears, for their part, are more than just a nasty defense (fire Ron Rivera?). They trot out a running back, Matt Forte, and a receiver, Brandon Marshall, that can each make a solid claim to being among the ten best at their position. The offensive line has figured their shit out and Jay Cutler has, in most of their games anyway, been saved from himself by his team not needing him to play the hero.
Side note: after this week, buy low on Newton in fantasy football. Trade for him after he likely stinks up Soldier Field -- an offensive strategy shift is coming and his schedule gets much, much easier from here on out.
THE PICK: BEARS
Make no mistake about it, the Chargers are a bad football team. They had a beautiful five year championship window open but AJ Smith refused to let them look through it to the glorious other side. Now, the window pane has slammed shut. Cleveland, on the other hand, isn't exactly rising (had lost nine straight games before last week's victory, which we predicted), but Brandon Weeden looks like a bona fide NFL quarterback and if he had any receivers that didn't have waffle-irons for hands, you'd be hearing a lot more Andy dalton-type buzz around him. I'm taking Cleveland here, and if Norv Turner survives this one, I'll finally be convinced that he is but a messenger sent by his ancient turtle people to slowly subvert the human race through slow, seemingly idiotic manipulation of our favorite distraction.
THE PICK: BROWNS
Calvin Johnson will get "on track" soon (fact: he's already on track and is playing at the same level he did last year, everyone is just talking about a drop off because his TD total has suffered a more than natural regression -- I'm looking at you, Matthew Stafford), but I doubt it'll be this week. Megatron will be going up against Richard "CB Terror" Sherman all game, and you better believe Sherman's ready, considering that he changed his Twitter handle to Optimus Prime this week.
There are a lot of other angles to this game, and you'll hear all about them on this site over the next few days, but the Johnson-Sherman battle is the one I'll be watching the closest. I think pretty much everything except homefield advantage is in the Seahawks favor this week. I'm taking the Good Guys in this one.
THE PICK: SEAHAWKS
The 15.5 line in this game is the biggest of the season, as Green Bay has been playing phenomenal football since losing to the Colts and own the league's second-best DVOA. Combine that with the Jags playing without Blaine Gabbert or Maurice Jones-Drew and you've got the recipe for a bloodbath. I expect Jacksonville to sneak a backdoor cover in this one, but I still think the Packers win this one comfortably.
THE PICK: PACKERS
I expect another wild-as-an-orangutan-brawl offensive shoot out in this one, something that the Titans have come out on the winning side of twice this year. That run ends here, as Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne play backyard football all day en route to their fourth win of the season.
THE PICK: COLTS
The loser of this game is likely out of the playoff race, since neither team is really good enough to catch New England and I'm not keen on either team's ability to remain competitive. Call it a coin flip, but I'm taking the Jets here.
THE PICK: JETS
Yesterday, I wrote about whether or not the Seahawks record was really fool's gold. While I'm far from saying that the Falcons are a pretender, the league's lone remaining undefeated team are not a true-talent 6-0 team. After all, they sport a lower overall DVOA (9th) than Seattle does (8th). Combine the faulty pedestal the Falcons are so precariously perched upon with the fact that Andy Reid is 14-0 lifetime when coming off a bye and you've got a perfect opportunity for the insufferable 1972 Dolphins players to toast their annual champagne.
THE PICK: EAGLES
No Troy Polamalu, no way to stop Robert Girffin the Third. Yep, he's that good already.
THE PICK: REDSKINS
Two words: Brady Quinn. Two more words: no defense. The first couplet is the woebegone Chiefs' starting quarterback and the second characterizes the downfall of the Raiders. it will be a hard-fought battle of attrition, as each team strives to show the country that THEY are the worst team in the league's worst division. In cases of two bad teams playing each other, I'll take the home squad nearly every time. including in this one.
THE PICK: CHIEFS
The Giants are a very good, borderline great team this year. the Cowboys caught them in Week 1, before Eli manning and company hit their stride. I don't expect huge numbers from the Giants' incredible air attack, as the Cowboys sport one of the best pass defenses in the league, but I don't see how they'll be good enough, despite that, to beat the Giants. Look for New York to return the favor on Sunday, and stay tuned to hear another horribly uninspiring postgame victory speech from Tom Coughlin.
THE PICK: GIANTS
Yes, I know the Saints have won two games in a row and yes, i know that their offense is "clicking" again, similar to what we've grown accustomed to over the past few years. Drew Brees remains one of the three best quarterbacks in the world and, even without Jimmy Graham at full speed, are capable of hanging 30+ points on nearly any team in the league. But have you seen that defense? It might literally be the worst D I've ever seen. They seemingly have no assignment awareness and they tackle in the open field as well as a Scooby Doo villain.
And don't look now, but Peyton Manning is back to being Peyton Manning. Just six games off of neck surgery and adapting to a new team for the first time in his career, Manning is completing 67.8% of his passes (4th) for 301 YPG (2nd), has 14 TDs (4th), has a 3.5 TD/INT ratio (4th) and the a passer rating of 105 (4th). He's really freaking good, you guys.
THE PICK: BRONCOS
PlayoffRace.com predicts that a San Francisco win would increase the Seahawks playoff odds by 0.27%. A Cardinals win would decrease those odds by 0.33%, so cheer for whoever you want, just don't be mistaken about who the better team is.
THE PICK: 49ERS
Best of luck to everyone, and don't forget to find me on Twitter to figure out where to send my 5% cut of your winnings. You think I'm joking...