Tuesday, 22 October 2013

NFL Week 8 preview

Week 7 was built up as the week Peyton Manning returned home to Indianapolis, the place he spent the majority of his career and won his only Super Bowl ring at.  The week leading up to this tussle was overshadowed by the tweets and comments of Colts owner, Jim Irsay, some of which was at times derisory.

The Colts won somewhat convincingly, giving them a third victory over a Top 5 team following a home win over the Seattle Seahawks and the road win at San Francisco.  They have beaten those three supreme contenders by a total of 11 points. The three teams have a combined record of 17-1 and that one is Seattle defeating the Niners. 

The question coming into the game was also concerning the physical prowess of Manning himself, he and the Broncos offense has been on fire but against the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars the week before, a game they were meant to win by 30 points and only won by 16, Manning had an interception and fumbled.  It might have been a case of playing within themselves against a lesser opponent (the Jags have lost each of their games by double digits - a record), yet Manning's ball flight and accuracy seemed to diminish from the Cowboys victory on the road. 

Indianapolis had a game plan to attack Manning from his blind side with Robert Mathis leading the charge, and his sack which caused a safety led to Manning suffering immensely being unable to find targets downfield, but credit should be given to the Colts secondary who tied up Decker and Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker had some joy in the fourth quarter getting separation when needed and shorter passes found their target.  However, the Broncos were guilty of some poor play-calling. Having converted a short yardage touchdown with Moreno, the next time they were at the two yard line they handed off to Ronnie Hillman, who has a history of fumbling, and naturally fumbled making it a 9 point deficit instead of one point if Denver converted a two point conversation.

The Colts will feel great and Chuck Pagano should be ecstatic with the defensive performance thus far this season, yet they suffered a season ending injury to veteran Reggie Wayne, who suffered an ACL tear when turning on the field. A cruel injury that may well affect their offense, but the Kansas City Chiefs have shown you do not need a stellar offense if your defence can punch the opposing quarterback in the mouth.

Bye weeks this week for six teams - Chicago, Tennessee, Indianapolis, San Diego, Houston, Baltimore - meaning less games to pick:

Panthers (3-3) at Buccaneers (0-6)
The Bucs are a terribly poor side and to had to injury, Doug Martin has a torn labrum meaning he could be out for the season. So it is all change in the offensive department, although Mike Glennon's arm is still finding Vincent Jackson who had two more TDs this past weekend. The Panthers were too strong for the Rams (30-15) at home on Sunday, Cam Newton needed to have a long look at his own play before their bye week. Newton has returned better numbers, is turning over the ball less and making big plays. Expect them to heap more misery on Tampa.
Prediction: Panthers by 7

Cowboys (4-3) at Lions (4-3)
The Lions are a frustrating bunch, full of so much talent and potential yet they could not get the upper hand of a Bengals side. They still have Megatron whose two TDs showcased his amazing hands and Matt Stafford's belief in his receiver, amazing Stafford only has 4 INTs considering the bombs he throws so regularly.  The Cowboys shut down the Eagles (who have injury issues) and Tony Romo is having a great year, getting people involved and has momentum.
Prediction: Cowboys by 4

Browns (3-4) at Chiefs (7-0)
The Chiefs easy schedule is here still, yet you can only beat who is in front of you.  The vaunted defence had no sacks in the first half against Case Keenum (who had a great debut), yet had five in the second half and made the plays they needed to do. The worry for the Chiefs is their offense is not being productive at the moment apart from Jamaal Charles who is playing through the pain but they restrict turnovers to the opponent as Alex Smith leads them down the field. 
Prediction: Chiefs by 10

Dolphins (3-3) at Patriots (5-2)
Following the controversial call to end the Pats-Jets game on Sunday, where Nick Folk has a 56 yard field goal become an easier 42 yard attempt, the Patriots will be pleased to get home to Foxboro.  A win at home to another division rival will help cement the position atop the AFC East. The Dolphins have suffered two awful home defeats to the Ravens and Bills, games they should have won.  Hopefully Gronkowski who got some playing time will continue to get targets and hopefully Brady will aim for shorter passes and stop aiming downfield where his arm just cannot aim anymore.
Prediction: Pats by 4

Bills (3-4) at Saints (5-1)
The Saints come off a bye at home to the Bills who won at the Dolphins with Thad Lewis getting his first NFL win. The Saints are having that nice balance of star studded offence but getting plays on defence from Rob Ryan's scheming.  The Saints should have too much for the weaker Bills.
Prediction: Saints by 7

Giants (1-6) at Eagles (3-4)
The Giants will not have the No.1 pick in the draft, they were never as bad as the record indicated and the zest they showed in the defeat to Chicago paid off with a home victory to the sorry Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night. The Eagles meanwhile lost at home to the Cowboys, their ninth consecutive home defeat - a franchise record, they ended up with Matt Barkley under centre who promptly had three INTs.  The Giants might have turned the corner here and if their D-line can shut down and pressure whomever the QB is, maybe it will be their 2nd win and Phillies 10th home defeat.
Prediction: Giants by 3

49ers (5-2) at Jaguars (0-7)
I'm going to watch this car crash at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, me and my mate are considering having a drinking game of downing a pint for every TD scored. Expect to be drunk by halftime. Its a worrying trend how bad the Jaguars are and how many bad teams there are in the NFL this season.
Prediction: 49ers by 20 pints, sorry points

Jets (4-3) at Bengals (5-2)
The Bengals got another big win on the road at Detroit, the Jets held firm at home to the Pats thanks to their defence making turnovers.  Andy Dalton is a walking interception and if their d-line can shut down the dual running backs, the Jets benefited from Chris Ivory having a stellar day.  The Jets have a limited pool of talent but they are getting results, and if the game is tight they are winning those games. Upset of the week.
Prediction: Jets by 3

Steelers (2-4) at Raiders (2-4)
Two 2-4 teams face off on the west coast, the Raiders are coming off a bye and the Steelers coming off two consecutive victories.  The defence has turned up for the Steelers and if they can pressure Tyrelle Pryor then Big Ben will do enough to win this game in a low scoring affair.
Prediction: Steelers by 3

Redskins (2-4) at Broncos (6-1)
It appears RG3 is back like his old self, his movement is better and he is making plays as well as support from his running crew. Roy Helu had 3 TDs off of 49 yards and Jordan Reed at tight end is an imposing target. The Broncos questionable pass defence was put to the sword by Andrew Luck and his crew of Heyward-Bey, Wayne and Hilton.  The Broncos need to get pressure to Manning, but if Manning can get some consistency in his targets then it should be an easy win, but this is the sort of game RG3 could surprise you in, much like his debut at New Orleans last year. Is it too much to ask for an upset? The Redskins have shown they can score, and although Matt Forte had 3 rushing touchdowns Moreno and Hillman are not his equal
Prediction: Redskins by 2

Falcons (2-4) at Cardinals (3-4)
This game does not interest me, yet it is the type of game Arizona could win, but the Falcons should have Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez back as weapons for Matt Ryan.
Prediction: Falcons by 6

Packers (4-2) at Vikings (1-5)
The Vikings are as bad as the Jags, Browns, Bucs and that is with Adrian Peterson.  The Packers might be without Jermichael Finley who was in ICU on Sunday night, so the receiving core for you fantasy guys will be play Jordy Nelson and Boykin who had 100+ yards and a TD. Otherwise this will be a blowout as the Vikings cannot go pound for pound with Rodgers.
Prediction: Packers by 10

Seahawks (6-1) at Rams (3-4)
Poor Sam Bradford, finally getting some offensive weapons and targets getting good numbers and then boom, one tackle on the sideline means back up Kellen Clemens will be throwing the rock. Surely some Rams fans would prefer Kurt Warner back in the white and blue.  Clemens' first start of the season, is an easy one, against the best defence in football the Seattle Seahawks who will need a win to stay one game ahead of the Niners who will undoubtedly win in London this Sunday. The only bright spot is that the Seahawks are not as formidable on the road as at home, though Russell Wilson had one of his better games of his young career at Arizona last week. The Seahawks have an 11 day rest for this game, the Rams are in confusion before they even start.
Prediction: Seahawks by 12

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