Hammering it Out: Week 8 Predictions

We’re almost halfway through the season! Thank you very much for reading this column. Regardless as to how well I’m doing, it’s been fun so far and I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you moving forward. Cheers!

This week sees Atlanta (4-3), Chicago (4-3), Green Bay (7-0), Oakland (4-3), New York Jets (4-3), and Tampa Bay (4-3) all on bye.

It was a rough week of football and moving forward  it will be interesting to see how teams fare going with their backups at several positions.

Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-9.5)

I’m not exactly sure what happened last week to either of these teams, who gave up a combined 103 points defensively. Offensively, both teams are struggling. Obviously, the Colts are going to struggle to move the ball without Peyton Manning. Tennessee is struggling with the loss of Kenny Britt (Matt Hasselbeck was averaging over 300 yards a game with Britt and around 175 without him). The problem here is that Chris Johnson is still Chris Johnson and this Colts defense has more holes than Sarah Palin’s campaign platform. I have to continue to doubt that the Colts are capable of winning, but something about this match-up has me intrigued. Is Chris Johnson really playing that bad or is this his week to bust out? We shall see. -Jared

Jared -  Titans win by 9 or less, tie, or lose

I can’t explain last week except to say that the Saints opened up the weaknesses than many have been pointing at all season. Yes, the Titans have been bad, and specifically Chris Johnson — and that is not going to change this week as Johnson has never had much success against the Colts. Look for Hasselbeck, who has been struggling some without Britt, to have success throwing the ball to Jared Cook, exposing the Colts weakness in the middle of the field where linebacker Pat Angerer is injured. The Colts passing game should be better than last week but I just don’t think that it is going to win Indianapolis the game.

Travis – Titans win by 9 or less, tie, or lose

New Orleans Saints at St. Louis Rams (+10.5)

I understand that Sam Bradford is likely to play, so I’m going to assume that means there’s a chance the Rams break into double digits in scoring. I see the addition of Brandon Lloyd as a positive for St. Louis as well. The problem is, the New Orleans offense is on fire and is showing no likelihood of slowing down anytime soon. -Jared

Jared – Saints win by 11 or more

Sam Bradford still hasn’t practiced but if he plays I think the chances of the Rams offense producing will go up dramatically, especially as he gets his timing down with Brandon Lloyd. Trying to develop some kind of offense against the Saints is not a winning proposition. New Orleans is on fire and a struggling team is not going to stop them.

Travis – Saints win by 11 or more

Miami Dolphins at New York Giants (-9.5)

This prediction is by no means bold, but the Giants are getting healthy. While this game appears to be another “Suck for Luck” entry by the Dolphins, I wouldn’t expect them to lay down. The Giants have a ton of holes in their defensive secondary, and were it not for the already dangerous New York offense getting healthier, I’d expect the Dolphins to go ahead and give New York a run for its money. Run all you want, Miami. This one should be ugly. -Jared

Jared – Giants win by 10 or more

Starting for the Miami Dolphins is possibly… J. P. Losman. Not much more should need to be said. Giants are getting healthy and have a dangerous offense while Miami is lucky if they can get one on the field, let alone a defense.

Travis – Giants win by 10 or more

Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers (-3.5)

It might be a little premature to say this, but I think Cam Newton and Christian Ponder will be seeing more and more of each other as their careers progress (meaning they may meet each other in the postseason). Albeit obvious, I think this game comes down to the play of Cam Newton against the Viking defense (who struggled with Michael Vick earlier in the season) and Adrian Peterson (Carolina’s run defense is awful). -Jared

Jared - Carolina wins by 3 or less, ties, or loses

I really liked what I saw from Christian Ponder last week. I think this week we will see him make more progress as he develops his timing and puts more touch on the ball. I look for Ponder to have more opportunities to throw the ball down field and for Peterson to get some good runs against this Carolina run defense. Carolina’s offense is pretty good but they need their run game to be effective in order for their pass game to open up more than other teams because of Cam Newton. While the Panthers have ranked eighth overall running the football they are going against the 4th ranked run defense this week and 3rd ranked run offense.

Travis – Vikings win, tie, or lose by less than 4. (in my opinion Vikings likely win by at least a touchdown)

Arizona Cardinals at Baltimore Ravens (-12.5)

If you are a Ravens fan and are looking for a cure to last week’s awful game, it has arrived in the form of a home game against the absolutely awful Arizona Cardinals. I see this game as a sort of pick-me-up for Baltimore. Their offense struggled in Week 7’s loss to Jacksonville, but Arizona provides no such challenge. -Jared

Jared – Ravens win by 13 or more

The Ravens had major issues on Monday Night Football. I expect them to put extra focus on the run game after what happened last week. Unlike the ESPN “experts,” I don’t think them coming out “angry” is going to lead to them killing the Cardinals — who are not as bad as their record indicates. Arizona’s run game is nonexistent because of injuries but I think the Cardinals defense is going to step up and that the passing game will click.
Travis – Cardinals win, tie, lose by less than 13 points
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-9.5)

While I do not believe the Texans defense is in the neighborhood of the Ravens, I expect the Houston offense to be just as effective as they were last week. This dynamic will provide more of a challenge to the Jaguars, especially considering they’re coming off a close win and a short week after playing Monday night. -Jared

Jared – Houston wins by 10 or more

I am not sure if Andre Johnson is playing in this game (my fantasy team hopes he does). As bad as the Jags have looked on offense, their defense is actually ranked top 10 in rushing, passing, and points allowed per game. On the other hand, Texans are ranked even better in those areas and also ranked top 10 on offense. I like the running game to be a key to the game here.

Travis – Jags win, tie, lose by less than 10

Washington Redskins at Buffalo Bills (-5.5)

Let me set this one up for you. Washington has lost their best wide receiver (Santana Moss), best running back (Tim Hightower), and a great tight end (Chris Cooley) in the last week. Add to that the fact that the Redskins have also replaced Rex Grossman with the just as ineffective John Beck. On the flipside, the Bills are healthy and undefeated at home. It can’t get any uglier for the Redskins (or can it?). -Jared

Jared – Bills win by 6 or more

Jared sums it up well. The Skins are banged up and have switched starting QB’s. Bills get back on track and win.

Travis – Bills by 6 or more.

Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos (+3.5)

I’ll most certainly be one of the people standing and clapping for Tim Tebow, but a comeback win against the hapless Miami Dolphins shouldn’t be called a comeback. I’m aware the Lions are a little banged up, but Detroit most certainly presents a better defensive threat than the Dolphins did. Plan accordingly. -Jared

Jared – Lions win by 4 or more

Lions are having some offensive struggles but they are facing a Broncos team on the border of being horrible. I do hope that Tebow can become a decent QB but he isn’t at this point in his career. Chances of a win go up for the Broncos if Stafford is unable to play but we saw last year they can still be an efficient team.

Travis – Lions win by 4 or more

Cincinnati Bengals at Seattle Seahawks (+2.5)

From the outside looking in, I can see the suspension of Cedric Benson hurting the Bengals offensive plan. However, no matter who you throw in the Bengals backfield, the one thing this Seattle team does fairly well is play run defense. That said, look for everyone’s favorite red-headed step-child Andy Dalton to have a big game. -Jared

Jared – Bengals win by 3 or more

Never thought you would hear this did you? If Tavaris Jackson plays and is near 100% I think they have a shot at winning this game. I think the loss of Cedric Benson is going to hurt the Bengals but not kill them. I was high on Dalton coming out in the draft I do think he is a solid rookie quarterback and better than Jackson, so the Bengals pull this game out.

Travis – Bengals win by 3 or more

Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers (-9.5)

THIS SHOULD BE THE WORST GAME OF THE WEEK.

Yet another week goes by and the Browns refuse to pay Peyton Hillis, so he refuses to play. I’m not the only one that sees this, right? The 49ers play defense and are moderately successful at not turning the ball over on offense. The Browns, on the other hand, have a moderately successful defense and an offense that resembles an off-season pick-up game. Meh. -Jared

Jared – 49ers win by 9 or less, tie, or lose

At this point it is expected that we will see Peyton Hillis play this week. The Brown defense isn’t bad by any means but the 49ers is good, especially against the run, which means it may not matter if Hillis plays or not. To me this game is going to be a battle of Alex Smith vs. Colt McCoy. It is going to be sloppy if either quarterback has to carry their team. I give 49ers a bit of an advantage in the ground game.

Travis – 49ers win, tie, or lose by less than 10

New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers (+2.5)

THIS HAS MY “GAME OF THE WEEK” NOD.

Both of these teams appear to be healthy, hungry, and motivated. Defensively, the Steelers are a better team. Offensively, the Patriots have a little too much going on for the Steelers. The one thing the Patriots seem to be good at defensively is shutting down one player. Mike Wallace should be that guy. -Jared

Jared – Patriots win by 3 or more (I’m guessing a field goal)

This should be a hard fought game that is probably low scoring (under 25 points).

Travis – Patriots win by 3 or more.

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5)

So far this season, when Dallas has lost, it hasn’t been by more than 4. I understand that the Eagles are coming in off of a bye week and should look a bit sharper than they have previously. Dallas has an above average defense and a bordering on elite offense. This game should have a ton of fireworks, but with two reasonably unreliable (yet potent) quarterbacks, it could also turn into “Is DeMarco Murray on LeSean McCoy’s level?” Plan accordingly. -Jared

Jared – Eagles win by 3 or less, tie, or lose

Going into this game we see two teams I don’t trust. I don’t trust them because they are both inconsistent. Of the two, I think that Dallas has proven that when healthy they are the most complete team. While they are not completely healthy, the receiving corps is which helps Romo. As a result, I will go with them in this match-up.

Travis – Dallas wins, ties, loses by less than 4

San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (+3.5)

I’m not sure what is going on with either of these teams, but I don’t like it. Not one bit. San Diego managed to make Mark Sanchez look like an All-Pro while their own All-Pro quarterback Philip Rivers looked like a second-year player having his sophomore slump. The Chiefs may have lost their best play-maker in Jamaal Charles, but the Chargers are having trouble keeping their own play-makers healthy. I’m not sure which team shows up this week, but I have to figure it could be pretty ugly. -Jared

Jared – Chargers win by 3 or less, tie, or lose

Philip Rivers is playing like he did 4-5 years ago, Chiefs are coming off their best game of the year (albeit against a raiders team adjusting to a new quarterback). I still don’t trust that Gates is healthy but it is clear he is getting to where he is going to start playing, which helps out Rivers and the Chargers receivers. Despite their struggles, the Chargers are still a better team, and I think that Ryan Mathews could have a big game this week.

Travis – Chargers by 4 or more

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