For the second consecutive season, the Philadelphia Eagles will return from their bye week for a matchup against the Arizona Cardinals
Also, for the second consecutive season, I’ll be on the road to see my Birds in person as a visiting spectator.
Let’s hope this trip turns out better than last December’s venture to Minnesota did.
At 5-1, the Eagles are near the top of the NFL. But, they’ll get a stiff test this Sunday when they head to University of Phoenix Stadium for a matchup with Bruce Arians’ 5-1 Arizona Cardinals. For Philadelphia, the bye week came at just the right time. With Mychal Kendricks and Darren Sproles both returning to practice this week, the Eagles could return two of their best playmakers on both sides of the ball. If they’re going to overcome a hostile road venue, they’ll need all the help they can get.
The last time Philadelphia took the field, they clicked on all cylinders, blowing the doors off of the New York Giants, 27-0. Philadelphia’s pass rush will get another opportunity against an immobile, pocket passer in Arizona’s Carson Palmer. The 2003 #1 overall pick has been steady if unspectacular for Arians’ club. Arizona will rely on RB Andre Ellington (105 att – 393 yards) and the dynamic receiving duo of Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald. Philadelphia hasn’t been tested by big receivers too much this season. So, it will be interesting to see how the much maligned secondary holds up after a strong performance two-weeks ago.
On offense, the story will once again revolve around LeSean McCoy. After a dismal month, McCoy blossomed for 149 yards on the ground against the Giants. When it comes to “Shady,” the offensive line is what matters most. If the Eagles can dominate the LOS (line-of-scrimmage) like they did against New York, this could be a long afternoon for a banged up Arizona defense.
Last year, Philadelphia overcame a late collapse to edge Arizona at Lincoln Financial Field. Arians is still bitter over the defeat, as his post game tirade complaining about the refereeing in that game is still fresh in the minds of the media masses. While both teams look likely to make the postseason this year; it’s clear that the winner of this one will be in a much better position to grab a home playoff game than the team that falls in defeat.
Line: Arizona -2.5
Prediction: Philadelphia, 27-23
Now, onto the rest of SkoodSports’ week eight picks…
Last Week: 7-8
2014 Season: 46-40
San Diego Chargers (5-2) AT Denver Broncos (5-1) – Broncos -8
Prediction: Broncos, 31-21. As if San Diego didn’t have it bad enough. Not only did they lose a tough home matchup against Kansas City on Sunday (an upset, I might add, that SkoodSports correctly predicted). But, now they have to face the NFL all-time touchdown pass king in Peyton Manning and the dominant Denver Broncos. San Diego may see their division hopes crumble in the course of 4-days.
Detroit Lions (5-2) AT Atlanta Falcons (2-5) – Lions -4
Prediction: Falcons, 26-23. In perhaps the most star-studded London game ever, the Falcons and Lions play the first ever 9:30 AM EST Sunday game. It will be interesting to see which of these teams gets the early lead. If it’s Detroit, this game could be over fast. But, Atlanta’s season is basically riding on the line here. I expect Matt Ryan to put together a vintage performance at Wembley.
St. Louis Rams (2-4) AT Kansas City Chiefs (3-3) – Chiefs -7
Prediction: Chiefs, 28-24. Kansas City’s come-from-behind win against San Diego really put a jolt into their season. The Chiefs have now beaten both the Chargers and Patriots over the last month. They’ll get a much easier opponent at home this week. St. Louis was able to salvage a victory against the Seahawks on Sunday. But, it will take a lot more than a couple of gimmick plays on special teams to go into Arrowhead and come out alive.
Houston Texans (3-4) AT Tennessee Titans (2-5) – Texans -2.5
Prediction: Texans, 26-13. The Tennessee Titans’ two victories this season have come against Jacksonville and Kansas City (in week one). They’ve had some close ones but it’s unlikely that veteran backup Charlie Whitehurst is going to lead this team to anything more than a 5-11 record. On the other hand, the struggling Texans have lost three in a row and need to win this one if they have any hopes of a playoff push.
Minnesota Vikings (2-5) AT Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5) – Bucs -3
Prediction: Minnesota, 17-16. This is easily the most unwatchable game of the season so far. On one end, you have the inconsistent play of rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater. On the other, you have a 6’6″ backup QB named Mike Glennon who looks more like Sean Bradley’s ginger cousin than a championship QB. Tampa has dragged defeat from the jaws of victory over-and-over this season. I don’t expect that to change thanks to a bye week.
Seattle Seahawks (3-3) AT Carolina Panthers (3-3-1) – Seahawks -5.5
Prediction: Panthers, 23-20. A lot has been made of how this is going to be the bounce back game that the Seahawks need after two consecutive losses. But, Carolina is another team that is in desperate need of a rebound after they tied Cincinnati and got the doors blown off in Green Bay. The Panthers are still very talented, even if their defense has looked like a shell of their 2013 unit. Upset city, population Carolina. Cam Newton will come to play.
Baltimore Ravens (5-2) AT Cincinnati Bengals (3-2-1) – Ravens -1
Prediction: Bengals, 20-17. Cincinnati’s offense has been anemic without AJ Green. The good news is that the former Georgia Bulldog star is back this week against the Ravens’ ferocious defense. If the Bengals have any hopes at a division title, they’ll need Andy Dalton to find Green for at least one score. I think that will happen, and Cincinnati will complete a sweep of the Ravens.
Miami Dolphins (3-3) AT Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6) – Dolphins -6
Prediction: Dolphins, 27-10. Even in Jacksonville’s first victory a week ago, rookie QB Blake Bortles looked uneasy. He’ll need to find his stride if the Jags are to get their first winning streak in years. Miami, meanwhile, looked brilliant in rebounding from a debilitating loss to Green Bay when they trounced the Bears in Chicago. The Dolphins saw Ryan Tannehill put together one of the finest games of his young career. Expect more of the same as Miami goes above .500 once again.
Chicago Bears (3-4) AT New England Patriots (5-2) – Patriots -6
Prediction: Bears, 27-24. This has all the makings of your classic “trap game” for New England. Not only do they play Peyton Manning and the Broncos the following week. But, New England also has to deal with the deteriorating health of their defense. Jarrod Mayo was already out for the season. Now, the Patriots will have to make due without their best pass rusher, Chandler Jones, for at least a few weeks. Add into that their already well pronounced inability to stop the run (and the prowess of Chicago’s Matt Forte), and you have a recipe made for disaster. Darrelle Revis showing up late to practices and being sent home by Bill Belichick certainly doesn’t help. Chicago is 3-1 away from Soldier Field. They’ll move to 4-4 overall with all of those wins coming on the road with a win on Sunday.
Buffalo Bills (4-3) AT New York Jets (1-6) – Jets -3
Prediction: Bills, 19-14. Rex Ryan has a new toy in Percy Harvin. But, I wouldn’t expect Harvin to make too much of an impact against Buffalo, whose defense ranks near the top of the league. The Bills have their own problems, with both Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller out due to injury. Expect the emergence of Bryce Brown to ensue, as the Bills keep their division title hopes alive with a victory.
Oakland Raiders (0-6) AT Cleveland Browns (3-3) – Browns -7
Prediction: Browns, 31-21. So, Cleveland gets to play winless teams in back-to-back weeks. They’ll have to hope this time around turns out better than last week’s disastrous defeat at the hands of Jacksonville. Brian Hoyer really struggled in Jacksonville. But, he’ll return home to the friendly confines, where he’s played exceptionally well in 2014. Expect a bounce back for Hoyer and continued failures for the soon-to-be 0-7 Oakland Raiders.
Indianapolis Colts (5-2) AT Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) – Colts -3.5
Prediction: Colts, 24-17. The Steelers are coming off a short week, with their Monday night victory over Houston still fresh in the minds of their fans. That won’t help against a Colts team that shutout Cincinnati last Sunday. If Pittsburgh has any hope, it’s getting the run game going with Bell and Blount. They’ll also need to contain Andrew Luck, who has continued his ascent towards the top of the NFL’s quarterback rankings. I don’t see it happening, as the Steelers will likely fall back to .500 despite playing at home.
Green Bay Packers (5-2) AT New Orleans Saints (2-4) – Pick ‘em
Prediction: Packers, 38-27. First off, I really don’t understand how this is a pick ‘em game. This reminds me all too well of a 2011 Philadelphia Eagles type of spread. That is, a team that’s so wildly overhyped in the preseason that continues to get the benefit of the doubt until November. The Saints’ defense is abysmal, and the offense hasn’t been all that much better in crunch time. We’re really supposed to believe that they can hang with a red-hot Packers team (winners of four in a row) just because they’re playing at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome?
Washington Redskins (2-5) AT Dallas Cowboys (6-1) – Dallas -10
Prediction: Washington, 27-24. Most will call me insane. They’re probably right. But, there’s something about the idea of Colt McCoy returning to Texas, where he played collegiately for the Longhorns, and beating the Cowboys on their own turf. After all, Dallas has long had trouble with the Redskins at home, regardless of whether their QB was Jason Campbell or Todd Collins. For the Redskins to win, they’ll need to stop the run and pound the rock with Alfred Morris. At least one of those things is likely to occur. That’s good enough for me, especially considering how much I disdain the Cowboys.