National Football League predictions: week eight

Patriots will defeat Rams at Wembley Stadium; Packers to dominate Jaguars

Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets

Sunday, Oct. 28 1 p.m.

In an AFC East Showdown, the Dolphins travel to New York to take on the Jets. Miami is coming off a bye week after winning two straight games against Cincinnati and St. Louis. Week after week, they continue to dominate against the run, allowing just over 75 yards a game. This means it’s up to Mark Sanchez to win the game for the Jets, which he may not be capable of doing. Although Sanchez played well in his past two games, he is still one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks in the league. The Jets made far too many mental mistakes in their game against the Patriots last week, which cost them the win. Games in the AFC East always seem to go down to the wire, and this one should be no different.

Prediction: 23-17 Dolphins

San Diego Chargers @ Cleveland Browns

Sunday, Oct. 28 1 p.m.

Although San Diego comes off a bye week, they also recently suffered an awful loss to the Denver Broncos. They had a huge 24-0 lead going into halftime before allowing 5 straight touchdowns to lose 35-28. After their promising 3-1 start, it appeared that the Chargers had finally gotten over their well-documented early-season struggles. However, after dropping two straight games their playoff potential is questionable. Last week against the Colts, Brandon Weeden threw two touchdowns but didn’t get enough help from his rushing game to win. Trent Richardson played with an injury but was largely ineffective. Although Weeden has improved since the beginning of the season, the Browns do not have enough talent to beat a reeling Chargers team.

Prediction: 27-10 Chargers

Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans

Sunday, Oct. 28 1 p.m.

Andrew Luck became the first Indy quarterback to run for two touchdowns in a game since 1988 in the Colts’ 3rd win last season. Luck has already led them to more wins than they had last season, and he has everyone talking playoffs in Indianapolis. The Titans recently won a close one with the Buffalo Bills, mostly due to an outstanding effort from Chris Johnson who rushed for almost 200 yards and had his best game of the season. Johnson cannot be expected to perform this way every week, however. He has been incredibly inconsistent throughout his entire career, mostly because of his running style. If Johnson cannot break any long runs, he is largely ineffective for the majority of the game. The Colts will need to contain him if they want to win this game. However, considering that their run defense is not particularly stout, this may prove difficult.

Prediction: 20-16 Titans

New England Patriots @ St. Louis Rams

Sunday, Oct. 28 1 p.m.

Technically, this is a home game for the Rams, but in name only. Both teams will travel to Wembley Stadium in London, England to battle this week. This may actually be good news for St. Louis as they normally play in a dome known to have a faster surface than natural grass. The Patriots usually thrive in dome settings because they can move the ball quickly down the field. New England comes off a game that they probably should have lost. Save for one half against the Bills and their game against Tennessee, they have lacked their normal dominance this season. Lately all of their games seem to be decided in the closing minutes, and they really need to avoid allowing the Rams to hang in the game. New England’s biggest problem is their secondary. If they allow Sam Bradford to move the ball down the field and keep St. Louis in the game, it could turn out just like the Seattle game from earlier in the season with the Rams winning in the waning minutes.

Prediction: 31-27 Patriots

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Green Bay Packers

Sunday, Oct. 28 1 p.m.

Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew sprained his foot and Blaine Gabbert injured his shoulder last week in the loss against Oakland, which hampers the Jaguars’ chances of winning. Former Dolphins QB Chad Henne should start this week, but it won’t matter. The Packers are coming together again after looking stagnant early in the season. The loss of Charles Woodson to a broken collarbone will hurt them in future games, but they have plenty of talent on their defense to stop Jacksonville. Expect a big game from Aaron Rodgers and a big Packers win.

Prediction: 38-13 Packers

Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday, Oct. 28 1 p.m.

Michael Vick plays his old team as the Falcons come to town. Andy Reid is notorious for winning games after coming off a bye week. In fact, the Eagles have never lost in the game after their bye in his entire tenure. The key to this game will be how well the Eagles can run the ball. If Philadelphia can rush effectively, they should be able to take advantage of Atlanta’s weak run defense. The Falcons haven’t looked particularly good these past three weeks, even though they won all three games. Michael Turner has seemingly disappeared this season, as he’s been totally ineffective on the ground. Look for LeSean McCoy to have a big game and for the Eagles to pull out a thriller.

Prediction: 27-21 Eagles

Washington Redskins @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Sunday, Oct. 28 1 p.m.

Washington lost a heartbreaking game last week to the Giants as they allowed Eli Manning to formulate a late game comeback. Fumbling the ball in key situations did the Redskins in last week. Otherwise, they played their best game of the year. Rookie Alfred Morris continues to impress on the ground and Robert Griffin is maintaining his stellar play. Pittsburgh is coming off a bye week, so they should have a good game plan to at least slow down Washington’s great running game. Ben Roethlisberger should be able to take advantage of the Washington secondary through the air, but this game will depend on how well the Steeler defense can step up and slow Griffin and Morris.

Prediction: 24-20 Redskins

Seattle Seahawks @ Detroit Lions

Sunday, Oct. 28 1 p.m.

Detroit hasn’t looked right the entire year. Matt Stafford has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns and Calvin Johnson only has 1 TD so far on the year. They are 2-4 and are suddenly in “must-win” territory, especially in the incredibly competitive NFC North. They will have more struggles this week against Seattle, as the Seahawks boast one of the best defenses in the NFL. Seattle hasn’t allowed more than 23 points in a game this season and they have some impressive wins on their schedule. The biggest problem with the Seahawks is their inconsistency in the passing game. They have the 31st ranked passing attack in the NFL, which is not good enough to make opposing defenses respect their throwing game. To win, Detroit must key in on Marshawn Lynch and force Russell Wilson to beat them through the air, which they should be capable of doing.

Prediction: 17-10 Lions

Carolina Panthers @ Chicago Bears

Sunday, Oct. 28 1 p.m.

Carolina is in a tailspin. After three straight close losses, they travel to Chicago to play the scorching-hot Bears. Chicago is on a four game winning streak, mostly due to their incredibly tough running game. They average over 130 yards per game, while only allowing 71 yards against them. Cam Newton will struggle to find running lanes all game, and he will need to try to win through the air. Chicago should have no problem taking advantage of Carolina’s defense and win easily.

Prediction: 17-6 Bears

Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs

Sunday, Oct. 28 4:05 p.m.

Oakland won an incredibly ugly game last week against the Jaguars, but every win counts the same. They go into this Chiefs game at 2-4 in a very winnable AFC West division. Oakland will need to find a way to try to slow down Jamaal Charles. If Charles can break a few big runs, the Chiefs will literally run away with the game. Carson Palmer has been decent this season, only throwing four interceptions. He will need to continue to hold onto the ball for the Raiders to have a chance at the playoffs.

Prediction: 16-13 Raiders

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys

Sunday, Oct. 28 4:25 p.m.

In the matchup of the week, the Giants battle the Cowboys for bragging rights in the NFC East. Eli Manning led the Giants on a comeback drive last week against the Redskins and he has cemented himself as an early MVP candidate. The Giants are tough to stop because their offensive attack has been so balanced this year. If an opponent tries to take away one dimension of their offense, New York can just win with the other. The Cowboys will simply have to play a solid all-around defensive game. Dallas has one of the best pass defenses in the league, so they will not make it easy for Manning to move the ball. The winner of this game may be decided by whichever quarterback can lead their team on a key drive late in the game, and in those situations, Eli Manning has proven to be one of the best in the league.

Prediction: 30-27 Giants

New Orleans Saints @ Denver Broncos

Sunday, Oct. 28 8:20 p.m.

In a battle of marquee quarterbacks, the Saints come into the game as one of the worst teams in the league in everything but passing. They have practically no running game to speak of, and their defense has been absolutely awful this year. This should leave an opening for Denver to pick up another win this week, as Peyton Manning has feasted on bad pass defenses for his entire career. Even now, with a lower velocity on his throws, he should have no problem picking apart this Saints defense. The Broncos win in a shootout.

Prediction: 38-31 Broncos

San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals

Sunday, Oct. 28 8:35 p.m.

The key to the 49ers’ season is how well Alex Smith can manage the game, and this one is no different. Arizona is known for their defense, so Smith will have to avoid making mistakes. The 49ers would do well to keep the ball in the hands of Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, so they can pound the Cardinals with their No. 2-ranked rushing attack. Arizona will have a very hard time moving the ball against the San Francisco defense, especially with John Skelton running the show. The 49ers should win in a defensive struggle.

Prediction: 20-9 49ers