Can the Eagles defense slow down the league’s best running game in Dallas?
By: Elias McMillan
Last Week: 7-7-1
Big Five Games of the Week
New England @ Buffalo – The Bills were riding high after winning four straight coming off the firing of their offensive coordinator. But last week, Buffalo fell for the trap on the road in the Miami Dolphins. Buffalo couldn’t stop the Dolphins rushing attack and their own best offensive weapon, LeSean McCoy, was injured and not effective. Buffalo will return home this week but they will have the New England Patriots waiting for them. New England didn’t look too impressive last week in Pittsburgh but they were still able to win convincingly against a shorthanded team. The Patriots enter a similar situation this week on the road again. Buffalo will be without their best player so the Pats will need to take full advantage of that. Buffalo was able to beat the Patriots before Tom Brady returned but despite that, Bill Belichick and company will have revenge on their minds this Sunday. For Buffalo to have a chance, they will need to run the ball as well as they did in their first meeting this season in New England. I think that will prove to be impossible without Shady McCoy. Brady and Rob Gronkowski usual have big performances in Buffalo and I think that is what we will see this team. Prediction: Patriots 32 – Bills 20
Detroit @ Houston – The Texans are the leaders in the AFC South right now but they have to be feeling pretty low after what happened to them last Monday night. The Texans might be able to back into a division crown again but they will not be taken seriously around the league. Brock Osweiler has been proven to be a bust of a free agent signing already. He can’t get star receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, involved. And the defense is playing well but not well enough to win ball games for the underachieving offense. The Detroit Lions haven’t been the most impressive team so far this season but I like the way the fight until the final whistle. Last week, they were in another situation where they could have let that game get away. But they fought hard and were led by their leader, QB Matt Stafford, and he got them the victory. Both moods from these football teams will ride with them into this week’s matchup. Houston is trying to find a way to pick them selves off the mat while Detroit is looking to continue to fight the good fight for all 4 quarters. I think Osweiler’s woes continue and the Lions will score the road victory. Prediction: Lions 28 – Texans 21
San Diego @ Denver – Denver hasn’t looked too impressive recently. If Houston’s QB was worth anything, the Broncos could be going into Week 8 on a three game losing streak. Instead, the Broncos will be looking for revenge against a Chargers team that beat them a few weeks back on the road in a Thursday night matchup. For Denver, it is going to continue to be about their defense. Trevor Siemian and the Broncos will not be dynamic enough to win ball games for this Denver team. They will have to do just enough to put the game in the hands of their talented defense. And that task will be tougher going forward now that staring RB, CJ Anderson, is out for the rest of the season. San Diego has its flaws and they have lost a couple of close ones this season but they are trending upwards right now. Phillip Rivers and the passing game is performing well and Melvin Gordon has the run game going in San Diego finally. The Chargers have a weakness in the secondary on defense but their front seven is really starting to become a difference maker this season. I don’t know how long it has been since the Chargers have swept the Broncos in the season series but I see that happening this Sunday in a close one. Prediction: Chargers 31 – Broncos 30
Green Bay @ Atlanta – I think all of the worries about the Packers are valid. I’ve watched them recently in past weeks and I can’t understand why they are not playing at a level that we were use to seeing. Aaron Rodgers would have more than enough time in the pocket to be his old dominant self but he just kind of stands there now, waiting for something to happened instead of making it happen. Green Bay’s offense will be hurt going forward as well now that Eddie Lacy has been shut down for the rest of the season because of injury. Atlanta had a hiccup last week but I think they’ll be ready to rebound quickly this week at home against the Packers. I think Atlanta’s pass rush will be able to get after Rodgers. Green Bay also will not have an answer for the Matt Ryan-Julio Jones connection. RB Tevin Coleman will be missing time because of injury but Devonta Freeman is more than capable to carry the load on the ground for this Falcons offense. Atlanta will have to win the battle on the line of scrimmage if they hope to really put Green Bay away on Sunday. If they can keep Ryan protected and created rushing lanes for Freeman, the Falcons will have a chance to look really impressive this week. Prediction: Falcons 30 – Packers 20
Philadelphia @ Dallas – You gotta hand it to the Eagles for what they did to an undefeated Vikings team last week. But really, Minnesota was due for a loss. It was amazing by itself that Vikings were starting the season so hot after losing starter after starter due to injury. Philadelphia had a plan to expose their weaknesses last week and it work perfectly, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Eagles defense will have to come up strong again this week as they travel to Dallas to take on a rested, division leading Cowboys team. This game, like most, will be all about the players up front on the line of scrimmage. The Cowboys offensive line has taken on all challengers so far this season. Green Bay had the top run defense in the league when they faced them and they were still able to take care of business. I think Philadelphia’s front seven will prove to be a great challenge for the Cowboys upfront. We all know what kind of player Fletcher Cox is but really, the Eagles front seven usually does a great job upfront at disrupting the run while pressuring the QB. Rookie QB Dak Prescott has been a tough cookie to crack so far for opposing NFL defenses. While Prescott isn’t exactly putting up big numbers, his ability to not get rattled has been his greatest attribute so far in his career. The Eagles sole goal this weekend on defense will be to rattle Prescott. But a lot can go right for Dallas if the offensive line can continue to be dominant. Ezekiel Elliott can continue his unreal streak of 100-yard games on the ground in a row. Plus, we might see Prescott excel as a down the field passer with the return of Dez Bryant who has historically toasted the Eagles on many occasions. The other matchup in this game between the Eagles offense and the Cowboys defense is pretty lackluster and I don’t see it being a factor. Can Carson Wentz play well enough to outscore the Cowboys offense? Can the Cowboys defense take advantage of an offense that struggles with protection and with running the ball? Both questions are a coin flip. But the Cowboys have been very consistent so far this season and they are even healthier coming off the bye week. Prediction: Cowboys 29 – Eagles 23
The Rest of Week 8
Titans over Jaguars – Jacksonville maybe in trouble of losing their head coach.
Bengals over Washington – I bet Cincinnati is hoping to see what they saw in Jeremy Hill every week. I wonder how Cincinnati football fans feel about losing a home game to London this year.
Jets over Browns – A lot of talk about the QB position in NY but the RB, Matt Forte, will be the difference in this game.
Chiefs over Colts – I feel that this game is a toss up but Alex Smith had some impressive days as a passer playing indoors in Indianapolis.
Seahawks over Saints – I know that Seattle played poorly last week but New Orleans’ defense is still trash. Can Drew Brees keep them in this game for all 4 quarters?
Raiders over Buccaneers – Oakland might be in first place in the AFC West heading towards the midpoint of the season.
Panthers over Cardinals – Carolina is having a rough season but their offense actually got it together before the bye. I think Carolina has some momentum going into this one.
Vikings over Bears – I don’t think Chicago has the resources to expose Minnesota’s weaknesses. That defense will get Jay Cutler to play like Jay Cutler.
Week 8 Fantasy Football Picks
QB: Russell Wilson (Seahawks) – Wilson will be facing a defense that allows the third most yards through the air in the league on Sunday.
RB: DeMarco Murray (Titans) – People need to take notice to what Murray is doing in Tennessee. Murray is among the league leaders on the ground after a loss season in Philly.
WR: Mike Evans (Buccaneers) – The passing game will be Tampa’s only chance on Sunday so, I would expect Jameis Winston to be looking for his best threat multiple times this weekend.
TE: Jimmy Graham (Seahawks) – I sure, that Graham will be very motivated to show out against the team that traded him.
DEF: New England – The Patriots defense will have its chances to play well against a shorthanded, one-dimensional Bills offense.