NFL Week 8: Injuries Take Toll on Several Teams at Midpoint of Season
Week 7 of the National Football League season left many teams looking more like a M*A*S*H unit than a professional football team. Several key injuries (in some cases, season-ending) have affected many teams, which will have a direct impact on not only the Week 8 roster of games but also on the potential for several team’s potential playoff hopes (home team in CAPS, choice for game in BOLD, lines from the Mirage in Las Vegas).
Carolina Panthers (-6.5) vs. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Surprisingly, it is the Panthers that have emerged as the contenders against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South rather than the Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers have a .500 record at 3-3 and, with a win on Thursday against Tampa, will be two games back of the Saints and in the running for a Wild Card spot. The Bucs, however, aren’t heading that way at 0-6 and, with running back Doug Martin out for the game, will have a difficult time in putting up any offense against a stout Panther defense.
Dallas Cowboys (+3) vs. DETROIT LIONS
Dallas stunned many in not only defeating their division rival Philadelphia Eagles last weekend, they did it by holding the high-powered Chip Kelly offense to only three points (admittedly, they knocked out Eagles QB Nick Foles to make it easier). I can see Detroit taking this game due to the fact that it is the second consecutive road game for the ‘Boys, but I don’t see them beating the spread. Take Dallas and the points here and sit back for what should be a shootout.
Cleveland Browns vs. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-7.5)
The Browns have been bitten by the injury bug badly this year. First it was starting QB Brandon Weeden, who was felled by a knee injury that led to QB Brian Hoyer taking his place. Hoyer himself was injured two weeks ago which put Weeden back in the lineup. Things have gotten so bad for the boys on the banks of Lake Erie that they recently signed QB Jason Campbell and, instead of Weeden, he will get the start on Sunday against the last undefeated team left in the NFL.
This one is going to be a mauling as the Chiefs, now with control of the AFC West over Denver but two games against them in the next four week, look to maintain their dominance in the AFC towards what was, at the beginning of the season, an unlikely playoff trip.
Miami Dolphins vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-6.5)
Remember last week when I said, “Don’t bet against Tom Brady unless he’s in a coma”? He was…only 144 yards passing in an overtime loss to the New York Jets on the road. Don’t expect a repeat of that performance this weekend with the Pats back home and especially with TE Rob Gronkowski back in the fold. New England realizes that, with both the Jets and the Dolphins lurking close behind them, it is time to start putting their foot down to maintain their dominance in the AFC East.
Buffalo Bills vs. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (-11)
The Bills may have had a nice road win against the Dolphins last weekend, but they are going to run into a buzz saw in the Big Easy. The Saints, coming off of a bye week, are rested and ready with QB Drew Brees and the second ranked passing offense in the NFL. Count in the Saints’ ninth ranked passing defense and it will be a long afternoon for the Bills.
New York Giants vs. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (-6)
If Philadelphia is going to get back into the NFC East title picture, then they are going to need this win over the Giants. The squad from Gotham has shown signs of life over the past couple of weeks (even if it was in an ugly Monday night game against a limited Minnesota Vikings team for their first win of the year), but they will revert to form in losing this game to the Eagles. QB Michael Vick is expected back for the Eagles this week after sitting out the last two games with a hamstring injury and he will be a welcome addition to the Eagles offensive attack.
San Francisco 49ers (-17) vs. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Nothing more needs to be said about this game than this fact: To this point in the season, the Jags have scored 76 points. As they have played seven games, they aren’t even averaging ten points a game. The 49ers aren’t going to be merciful as they look to catch up with the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West.
New York Jets vs. CINCINNATI BENGALS (-6.5)
While their win against New England was impressive last week, the Jets always get up for that rivalry game. Expect a letdown this week as they travel to the Queen City this week against a strong Bengal team that is looking to put some distance between them and a bye week Baltimore Ravens squad that is looking to defend their Super Bowl championship.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. OAKLAND RAIDERS (+2.5)
Although the Steelers are on a two-game winning streak, they have to travel west this week to face a pesky Raiders team that is coming off a bye week. The Steelers haven’t shown that they can run the ball well, playing into the Raiders’ tenth ranked rushing defense. If they can shut down QB Ben Roethlisberger – and get some performance out of their own QB in Terrelle Pryor – the Raiders should at the minimum cover the spread in this game.
Atlanta Falcons (+2.5) vs. ARIZONA CARDINALS
The Falcons are one of the teams that have been beset by injuries. QB Matt Ryan looks down the field when he drops back and, instead of seeing WR Roddy White or Julio Jones, is now looking at Harry Douglas and Jason Snelling. Ryan still has TE Tony Gonzalez to fall back on, however, and with the return of RB Stephen Jackson in this game (and the continued excellent performance from RB Jacquizz Rodgers), the Falcons should pull the “upset” (hey, by the line it is) in the desert this Sunday.
Green Bay Packers (-9) vs. MINNESOTA VIKINGS
After the performance they put up on Monday night against the Giants, the Vikings should have their entire front office drug tested. The Josh Freeman Experiment was a disaster in New York earlier this week and, as it turns out, Freeman has been experiencing concussion-like symptoms that might keep him out of this game. Enter a QB with a damaged psyche in Christian Ponder, who will not be able to bring enough to the table to stave off the Packers defense.
With this said, the Packers aren’t exactly coming in at full strength either. TE Jermichael Finley may have experienced a career-ending neck injury in their win against the Cleveland Browns, leaving an already depleted receiving corps even worse off. QB Aaron Rodgers can make up for those deficiencies, however, against a weak Vikings D.
Seattle Seahawks (-11) vs. ST. LOUIS RAMS
Although they haven’t been as terrifying on the road as they are at home, the Seahawks are catching the Rams at just the right time. Rams’ QB Sam Bradford is gone for the season with a torn ACL, which led the Rams to look into the possibility that BRETT FAVRE might be interested in coming out of retirement. Cooler heads prevailed in the Gateway City, however, as backup QB Kellen Clemens will get the start. If you’re looking for Clemens to be the Rams’ savior, however, you may need to get drug tested yourself.
Last Week: Another tough week (especially with New England and Denver going down) led to a 6-8-1 record for the week. Normally you would like to be around the .600 mark by this point in the season, so this is something that has to change.
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