Massimo’s NFL Blog
NFL Predictions | Week 8 Pigskin Picks: NFL Football Picks and NFL Football Predictions
By Massimo Russo – Featured Writer Silver and Blue Report & Hook’em Report
Texas Killer! Eli Manning has tormented the Dallas defense in “The House That Jerry Built.” Will his perfection continue this weekend in a pivotal divisional showcase showdown?
Thursday Night Football, October 25 8:20 PM ET – TV: NFL Network
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-4 @ Minnesota Vikings 5-2
Amazing how Adrian Peterson has performed nine months after having reconstructive knee surgery. He’s third in the league in rushing averaging 4.8 yards per carry, banging his way through defenders. Peterson isn’t the only thing that’s good in Minnesota. Percy Harvin, the games best all-purpose player is having the best season of his career. Having said all that’s good with Minnesota, don’t expect an easy going game for them against Greg Schiano’s hard-nosed Bucs. Tampa has been in all six of their games played. Don’t be fooled by records. Pick: Vikings 20, Buccaneers 16.
Final Score: Buccaneers (3-4) 36, Vikings (5-3) 17
Sunday, October 28
1:00 PM ET
Carolina Panthers 1-5 @ Chicago Bears 5-1 – TV: FOX
Enough of this bashing Cam Newton stuff already. It seems like the world expects him to win games for Carolina all on his own. This team has two running backs, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart that have big play ability. I just don’t understand why they don’t try to establish the run? You have to take the weight off of Cam’s shoulders anyway you can, and they just won’t do it. And to make matters worse for Carolina’s defense that isn’t good against the run, they’ll have their hands full trying to stop Chicago’s Matt Forte. Pick: Bears 31, Panthers 17.
San Diego Chargers 3-3 @ Cleveland Browns 1-6 – TV: CBS
Looking to bounce back coming off their bye week, Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers need this one badly after blowing a 24-0 lead on October 15, losing to the Denver Broncos 35-24. “When you lose it’s rough, especially in a game where you had a big lead and so much at stake,” said Philip Rivers, who had career highs with four interceptions and six turnovers against Denver. San Diego’s iffy left tackle Michael Harris has a tough task going up against Cleveland’s Jabaal Sheard. In this case, I expect San Diego to run the ball effectively on the opposite side of Sheard, and use an extra blocker on passing downs to protect Rivers. Pick: Chargers 27, Browns 19.
Seattle Seahawks 4-3 @ Detroit Lions 2-4 – TV: FOX
Six games in for Detroit’s offense that’s expected to do big things, and yet nothing good cooking in the kitchen. Matthew Stafford, who threw 41-touchdown passes in 2011, has only 5 at this point. And Calvin Johnson, “The Megatron”, who caught 16-touchdown passes a year ago, has only 1. Detroit’s offensive coordinator Scott Linehan needs to dig deep into his back pocket and try something other than slow developing pass-plays. His offense gets a very physical Seattle defense that will challenge receivers at the line of scrimmage. Expect the Seahawks to put Brandon Browner, a physical corner on Johnson and roll a safety over the top wherever Johnson is lined up. Linehan, you have “The Megatron,” so do things megally if you’re living in the same world as Calvin Johnson, living in world full of a bunch of mega-things with only one “Megatron” living in it. Get him the ball anyway you can. Pick: Lions 23, Seahawks 20.
New England Patriots 4-3 @ St. Louis Rams 3-4 London, UK – TV: CBS
If the Rams have any chance against New England at Wembley Stadium in the UK, the defense is going to have to get a huge performance from Chris Long rushing off the edge to get consistent pressure on Tom Brady. Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson need to provide an effective running game with time consuming drives to keep the Patriots high powered offense off the field. New England’s offense did struggle somewhat last week, but I expect offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ plan to negate Chris Long will be in full effect to help the Patriots offense get back to doing things the way they should, and that’s using a mixture of runs and passes on first down, keeping the Rams defense on their heels. Pick: Patriots 34, Rams 23.
Miami Dolphins 3-3 @ N.Y. Jets 3-4 – TV: CBS
In the three games Reggie Bush has played against the Jets, he’s averaged 6.5 yards per carry. Jets head coach Rex Ryan has ordered his defense to put some “hot sauce” on Reggie, meaning to deliver bone-crushing hits. They’ll have to, because Miami will feed the rock to Reggie, and try to get him effective on screens and dunk passes. New York will crowd the box and play bump and run on the outside on Miami’s receivers, something I give New York a slight advantage putting Miami’s rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill in third and long situations for most of the afternoon. Pick: N.Y. Jets 20, Dolphins 17.
Atlanta Falcons 6-0 @ Philadelphia Eagles 3-3 – TV: FOX
Two days after their overtime loss to the Detroit Lions on October 16, Eagles head coach Andy Reid fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. Before the firing of Castillo, the defense allowed two straight game losing drives. So in Castillo’s replacement, Reid elected to go with special teams coordinator Todd Bowles, whose first crack as defensive coordinator will be against the leagues only undefeated team, the Atlanta Falcons. “He relates to us well and we all like him as a coach, and off the field he is a great guy,” Eagles safety Nate Allen said of Bowles, who played safety for seven NFL seasons. “He’s smart so it’s going to be a good thing. He talks to us like men. He’s not real up in your face. He’s not a loud guy. He expects you to know what you have to do as a man and as a professional.” The Falcons have made most of their noise through the air with Roddy White and Julio Jones, but the running game has yet to do anything spectacular. I don’t think Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan can drop back to pass for most of the afternoon against one of the most talented pass-rushing units in the league. Look for Atlanta to try to work the Eagles defensive front by grounding and pounding with Michael Turner, and using a mixture of some short passes on first down to try to set up the deep ball. Ultimately, this game is all on the shoulders of LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick for the home team. It’s time to put it in gear. No messing around anymore, a message I’m pretty sure coach Reid has sent to the inner core of his team. Pick: Eagles 34, Falcons 20.
Washington Redskins 3-4 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 3-3 – TV: FOX
We have an ultimate coaching genius battle here. The genius in Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, if you give him time, he will find the right running back for his system. Running back Alfred Morris, a sixth round draft pick is second in the league in rushing behind Houston’s Arian Foster by a yard. On the opposite sideline, you have Steelers Hall of Fame player and coach, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who needs to get a banged up struggling Pittsburgh defense not only ready to gang tackle Morris, they need to find a way to contain Robert Griffin III. I expect LeBeau’s defense to contain them both from making big plays, and with Washington’s defense being a solid run stopping unit, the Steelers offense will let “The Big Burger Eater Man #7” work his magic on critical passing downs. Make it two straight weeks RGIII’s good performance falls short to a super bowl winning quarterback. Pick: Steelers 26, Redskins 22.
Jacksonville Jaguars 1-5 @ Green Bay Packers 4-3 – TV: CBS
With Maurice Jones-Drew and Blaine Gabbert out with injuries, things keep getting worse for the struggling Jags. As for fantasy football owners of Aaron Rodgers, it’s a safe bet that he’ll rack up a huge amount of points unless he has some freakish injury, so just knock on wood after reading this, and you’ll be just fine. Pick: Packers 44, Jaguars 13.
Indianapolis Colts 3-3 @ Tennessee Titans 3-4 – TV: CBS
Looks like Chris Johnson is back to his old form, a game breaking running back, slashing and dashing between and outside the tackles. And with veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck throwing game winning touchdown passes, a sense of restored confidence appears to be brewing in Tennessee. Titans head coach Mike Munchak has stated that if Jake Locker (left shoulder) is ready to go anytime soon, the 2011 first round draft pick will get his starting job back. I’m not feeling Munchak here, because if Tennessee continues its winning ways with Hasselbeck under center, I say stick with what’s working. Sometimes veteran leadership can spark a team and be a great mentor to a youngster like Locker’s future. Pick: Titans 26, Colts 21.
4:05 PM ET
Oakland Raiders 2-4 @ Kansas City Chiefs 1-5 – TV: CBS
This game has the making of the sloppiest game of the week. Both offenses are a dreadful mess in terms of team discipline, consistently making mistakes from penalties to fumbles and interceptions. After doing all my searching for reasons to make my pick in a game that can go either way, I have to take a veteran quarterback, Oakland’s Carson Palmer over Kansas City’s Brady Quinn. Pick: Raiders 22, Chiefs 17.
4:25 PM ET
N.Y. Giants 5-2 @ Dallas Cowboys 3-3 – TV: FOX
Eli Manning has been a stone cold killer in all three of his games at Cowboys Stadium throwing for 1,036 yards and eight touchdown passes, winning all three contest. It’s been all about the A-pluses for the Giants in the lone-star state dating back to the 07 season, when the Giants after being swept by Dallas in the regular season defeated the Cowboys in the NFC divisional playoff in route to their third super bowl title. Last year, the Cowboys had a 34-22 lead with just under six minutes left to play before Eli Manning would lead the Giants to a come from behind 37-34 victory, the first of two wins against Dallas that helped New York capture the NFC East in route to their 4th super bowl title, and second in five seasons. Dallas got the best of New York on opening night defeating the Giants 24-17, but since then, the Cowboys have been inconsistent, a trend that has been the downfall of this team. The Dallas defense will have to do it without linebacker Sean Lee who suffered a season ending toe injury against Carolina last week. On the offensive side of the ball, running back DeMarco Murray who ran for 131-yards in the season opener will be out for the second straight week with sprained left foot. Those are two key players Dallas needs in this game. In any event, I expect this game to come down to the wire and once again, someway, somehow, Eli gets the ball last with a chance to win it. Same old story type feel looking into my crystal ball. Pick N.Y. Giants 27, Cowboys 24.
Sunday Night Football in America 8:20 PM ET – TV: NBC
New Orleans Saints 2-4 @ Denver Broncos 3-3
New Orleans’ pass defense is allowing the most yards per pass attempt in the league, and they face a Denver offense that has a well balanced attack running the football with Willis McGahee and a passing game with Peyton Manning spreading the football around to multiple receivers. And if you can’t get any pressure on Payton Manning, he will dissect your secondary. That’s the main advantage he has over Drew Brees in this matchup, he has no one to get after him unlike Brees who will have to worry about Elvis Dumervil rushing off the edge on passing downs. Pick: Broncos 37, Saints 31.
Monday Night Football, October 29 8:30 PM ET – TV: ESPN
San Francisco 49ers 5-2 @ Arizona Cardinals 4-3
It’s never easy to win in the desert. That’s factual, and another fact is Arizona having no running game. Not a good matchup for them going up against a 49ers defense that will most likely play more coverage schemes and challenge Arizona’s receivers by playing bump and run. Arizona has a stingy defense of their own that will keep them in this game until the different looks San Francisco’s defense gives John Skelton, gets into his head and forces him into a key game-changing mistake. Pick: 49ers 24, Cardinals 13.
Bye: Buffalo 3-4, Cincinnati 3-4, Baltimore 5-2, Houston 6-1