NFL Week 8: Jaguars @ Cowboys

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Dallas Cowboys Sun. Oct. 31st 1pm EST

No other team in the NFL this season has been more disappointing than the Dallas Cowboys. No matter what this team does to improve their franchise over the offseason and through the NFL Draft, they never seem to produce enough on the football field and this season has been a nightmare to say the least as they will head into their Week 8 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars with a 1-5 record.

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As if having one win coming into Week 8 wasn’t bad enough for this team that was considered Super Bowl title contenders before the season began, the Dallas Cowboys will also have to play the rest of the season without their Pro Bowl quarterback and leader under center in Tony Romo. With a broken clavicle that he suffered last week in the loss to the New York Giants, Romo has been ruled out for at least six to eight weeks which is basically the rest of the season for this struggling franchise.

With that being said, the once potent offense of the Dallas Cowboys is going to look and play completely different from here on out as the starting quarterback will be Jon Kitna who really struggled against the New York Giants last weekend in place of Tony Romo.

So with Kitna taking the snaps, I see this season getting even worse for America’s team as they will almost certainly struggle even more to put points on the board with a veteran QB that was noticeably struggling to take over for his Pro Bowl counterpart.

Fortunately, the Dallas Cowboys will be able to take advantage of a bad team in Week 8 as they will face the Jacksonville Jaguars who are having their own quarterback problems as well. A few weeks ago, starting quarterback David Garrard went down with a concussion and handed the team over to Trent Edwards who also went down and handed the team over to Todd Bouman.

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Even though Todd Bouman played somewhat decent against the Kansas City Chiefs last week, he will almost certainly struggle this week against a very desperate Dallas Cowboys defense that will do everything within their power to dominate the Jacksonville Jaguars offense.

As of right now, the Dallas Cowboys are favored and favored fairly big to come out on top in this one with a -6.5 point spread. This is kind of surprising to me as the Cowboys will be playing with Kitna behind center, but even though the spread is a bit high for this game, I still believe that America’s team should come out on top and cover.

NFL Week 8: Vikings @ Patriots

Minnesota Vikings @ New England Patriots Sun. Oct. 31st 4:15pm EST

Coming into Week 8, the Minnesota Vikings will be in desperation mode as they have only won two games this season and are coming off perhaps their biggest loss of the season to their division rivals and Brett Favre’s former team in the Green Bay Packers.

Along with failing to live up to expectations so far this season, the Vikings also continue to have some serious injury problems as they will be without Pro Bowl wide receiver Sidney Rice for at least one week and for the first time in his 20-year career in the NFL, Brett Favre’s playing status is in serious doubt due to what is being called a fractured ankle.

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Obviously, any normal human being would instantly be on crutches and suffering some severe pain that can only be brought down by painkillers, but Brett Favre is the very definition of Ironman in the NFL as he has started 313 consecutive games in his Hall of Fame caliber career in the NFL. There is no question that the Silver Fox will almost certainly be considering sitting out this week’s showdown with the New England Patriots as he is no longer a young buck and will struggle to recover from this injury, but if he doesn’t rest that ankle he could be done for the year and his career.

So as of right now, the Minnesota Vikings seem to be more inclined to go with backup quarterback Tavaris Jackson in this Week 8 matchup with Tom Brady and company.

Even though most people believe that having Brett Favre under center always gives the Vikings a legitimate shot of being any team in their way, the three-time NFL MVP has really struggled this season and hasn’t looked anything like the dominant quarterback we saw last season.

Fortunately, I believe that Jackson is a viable backup for Favre and will prove that fact by keeping the New England Patriots secondary on their heels all day long. The one thing that Jackson brings to the Vikings offense that Favre doesn’t is mobility. With Tavaris Jackson’s quick feet and superstar running back Adrian Peterson coming out of the backfield, the Vikings offense will be a bit more dynamic in Week 8 and might just have enough to take down the Patriots who have lost one game this season to the New York Jets.

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As of right now, the New England Patriots are being given the edge in this one and for good reasons considering the Minnesota Vikings injury problems and inconsistent play.

The point spread right now is -5.5 for Bill Belichick’s squad and I believe that is just about right as the Patriots should come out on top in this one.

The one thing to watch for throughout the week is the injury reports for Brett Favre’s playing status as it will almost certainly dictate the spread before this Sunday.

NFL Week 8: Packers @ Jets

Green Bay Packers @ New York Jets Sun. Oct. 31st 1pm EST

There is no question that there has been a tremendous amount of pressure put on the New York Jets this season as they have been dubbed as a legitimate Super Bowl title contender before this NFL regular season even began, but after the first seven weeks of the season they have proven to their doubters that they are for real and may be just as good on offense as they are on defense this season.

Even though the New York Jets have already been tested a few times this season against teams like the Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots, things won’t get any easier as they still have some tough games left on their schedule against some of the best teams in the league.

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Obviously, the New York Jets are circling the dates when they play the New England Patriots (Monday Night Football, December 6th) for a second time and when they get their first shot at the Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday, December 19th) this season, but they will have to get through the Green Bay Packers in Week 8 before they can look that far ahead.

Even though the Green Bay Packers haven’t exactly lived up to their Super Bowl title expectations this season, they are still a serious force to be reckoned with in the NFC Conference and after their big win over Brett Favre and the division rival Minnesota Vikings last week at Lambeau Field, they may have just have enough momentum moving forward in order to give the New York Jets a run for their money in Week 8.

Despite the Green Bay Packers seemingly heading in the right direction after finally beating Brett Favre last week, there is no question that they are really banged up right now as they are suffering from injuries to some of their best offensive players in running back Ryan Grant (knee) and tight end Jermichael Finley (knee).

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With both Grant and Finley out for the season, the Packers have become a one dimensional team as perennial Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been limited to using just the passing game to hurt opposing defenses. Even though backup running back Brandon Jackson had a decent game against the Minnesota Vikings last week with 58 rushing yards and a touchdown, that probably won’t be the case against the New York Jets this week as they have one of the best defenses in the league against the run by limiting running backs to a total of 90 yards per game.

Along with having one of the best run defenses in the league (7th best), the New York Jets have arguably the best ground game in the league with 159.2 rushing yards per game (2nd best). With both former NFL MVP running back LaDainian Tomlinson and up and comer Shonn Greene, I believe the Green Bay Packers won’t be able to stand a chance defending the New York Jets or scoring on them.

LeBron and Co. Fall to Celtics

The hoopla media is over and finally the trio of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James stepped on the court in Boston last night.

They finally got an opportunity to prove that two superstars and an all-star (Bosh is not a superstar in any sense of the word) can co-exist on one team. After their first game of the season, the Heat showed that they have lots to go through before they achieve some sort of chemistry.

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Let’s not overanalyze the first game of the Heat. In the last five minutes of the fourth quarter, Miami’s offense started to click when LeBron started to dominate the ball. It felt like watching LeBron in a Cleveland uniform. He started to drive to the rim more. In the first three quarters he settled for long jumpers. If he started taking the ball to the rim earlier, James would’ve opened up more opportunities by attracting double teams.

Wade played like Delonte West out there and Chris Bosh did his best JJ Hickson impression. It’s like James never left Cleveland. Bosh, in particular, was intimidated by the presence of Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O’neal. He played like a complete softy and was pushed around. No wonder why Shaq calls him the Rupaul of big men.

Boston showed them how it’s supposed to be done; unselfish play, great team defense and leadership. From early to mid-game Wade and James kept deferring to each other.
Wade gave way to James in the fourth, mainly because of a strained hamstring. But if he was healthy, James wouldn’t dominate the ball on offense. Let’s face it Wade is better in the clutch than James is.

James needs to realize that he isn’t in Cleveland anymore. His teammates are Wade and Bosh, perennial all-stars. He needs to channel his skill and ability to create for his teammates.

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What the Big 3 in Boston had when they started was Rajon Rondo. The New Big 3 in Miami don’t have a point guard as skilled as Rondo, who is willing to create shots and to defer to them. Rondo is a team player that is willing to play a team game and have the spotlight shine away from him.

The Heat needs a Rondo type player. A point guard that can set them up and can distribute shots among the three since LeBron isn’t willing to be that guy.

For now Miami has to contend with all the criticism that comes with losing the first game of the season. It seems that the MVP of their team is Mike Miller. He’ll give the Heat an outside threat that they clearly lacked against the Celtics. Maybe then LeBron will be more than happy to share the ball.

Green Bay Packers end skid with win over Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings

Coming into Week 7 both the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings had a lot at stake as they were set to face off in this NFC North showdown that would determine the second place standing in the division and quite possibly which team will be competing for the division title and which team could be on the outside looking in on the playoffs.

There is no question that this game was bound to be a close one with the Brett Favre saga continuing and so much at stake, but despite this matchup almost certainly coming down to the wire, Aaron Rodgers and company were favored to come out on top with a -2.5 point spread.

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No other rivalry in the NFL over the past two years has gotten as much publicity or hype than when the Packers and Vikings go head to head, but this game one Sunday night was emotional to say the least for one man as it would be the last time Brett Favre would be under center at Lambeau Field.

Fortunately, this game between these two NFC Conference heavyweights was epic to say the least as it was decided in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter.

Even though both teams had their fair share of turnovers as Brett Favre threw three interceptions and Aaron Rodgers also threw a couple, this game came down to the wire as the Minnesota Vikings had an opportunity to seal the deal in the fourth quarter as they were down 28-24 and in striking distance to deliver the final blow to the Green Bay Packers.

So with only seconds remaining, Brett Favre and company were doing everything within their power to get in the endzone, but unfortunately, they weren’t so lucky as the Silver Fox’s last pass at Lambeau Field was just over the head of superstar wide receiver Randy Moss in the endzone and the game was officially over.

There is no question that the Minnesota Vikings had plenty of opportunities to win this game and probably should have, but the Green Bay Packers were ahead when the final whistle blew and now Brett Favre and his boys will have to find a way to win over the next eight weeks of the NFL regular season.

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Despite being 2-4 and winless on the road this season, the Minnesota Vikings will have a chance to turn things around this year, but it will not be easy as they will have an even tougher task ahead of them next week against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

Personally, I believe that the Vikings can get the best of Tom Brady and company next week, but the Patriots continue to prove that they are arguably the best team in the league right now with just one loss on the season to the New York Jets.

It will be interesting to see what happens in Randy Moss’ return to Foxboro!

NFL cracks down on hard hits

One of the biggest draws for NFL viewers these days and ever since the game was created for that matter has been the bone crushing hits and collisions you get to see every single Sunday and Monday on the gridiron.

No matter whether your football fan or not, most people love to see the hard hits that occur when the best athletes in the world go toe to toe and try to take each other’s head off on the football field. There no question that no one wants to see anyone get hurt or be taken off the field on a stretcher, but this game is as tough and rough as they come where hard hits are a part of the game.

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Obviously, there is limit to the brutality of this sport and some hits are just uncalled for as they either occur after the play has been called dead or the intention of the hit is to injure the other player. There are rules in place in the NFL to avoid these kinds of hits, but in Week 6 there were some big time hits put on players that resulted in concussions that quite literally knocked players out of the game.

This unfortunately forced the hand of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as he has taken another look at last week’s hard hits and given out fines to the players that gave them.

Not only did big-name players like the Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson suffer a severe concussion that could keep him out some considerable time, but the defensive players that made these crushing hits were ultimately fined because the hits were considered to be against the rules.

One of the defensive players that were fined for their hard hits of Week 6 was former Defensive of the Year and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison. Not only was Harrison outraged by receiving a fine for something he has done 100s of times during his football career, but the new rules impacted him so much that he was seriously considering retirement as he believed this was no longer the game he had come to know and love playing.

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Personally, I am all for protecting players from suffering serious injuries that could have easily been avoided, but when it comes at the expense of changing the game and the passion players have for playing football, there is something wrong and it needs to be corrected or more players like James Harrison could end up calling it quits.

Obviously, with a big-name player like James Harrison speaking out about this and many more bound to follow and express their discontent with the league, the NFL will continue to receive some harsh criticism for these fines throughout the season and well in the offseason.

NFL Week 7: Eagles @ Titans

Philadelphia Eagles @ Tennessee Titans Sun. Oct. 24th 1pm EST

The Philadelphia Eagles took a huge gamble before the NFL regular season by trading six-time Pro Bowl quarterback and the face of the franchise in Donovan McNabb to the division rival Washington Redskins. Even though this was a risky move to say the least for this perennial playoff team, head coach Andy Reid and company were confident it was the right one as they had quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick to take over under center.

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Just as it was anticipated, the Eagles made quarterback Kevin Kolb their starter and Michael Vick the backup, but after Kolb went down with a concussion against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1, Vick was thrown into the mix and played much better than anticipated by showing signs of his former self.

Unfortunately, even though Michael Vick was driving opposing defenses crazy with his impressive play both with his arm and his quick feet, the former Atlanta Falcons superstar went down with a torn rib cartilage injury against the Washington Redskins and has had to sit for the last two weeks.

Even though this was thought to be devastating blow for the Philadelphia Eagles who were starting to look like the favorite to come out on top in the NFC East division, Kevin Kolb was able to step in and pick up the slack and lead his team to two straight wins.

In Week 7, it was thought that Michael Vick might be ready to return against the Tennessee Titans, but apparently he isn’t ready just yet and Kevin Kolb will get the nod for at least one more week as their supposed new starting quarterback continues to try and rehab from his injury.

A few weeks ago this probably would have been considered a bad thing for the Philadelphia Eagles as Kevin Kolb hadn’t really looked all that good under center, but with his impressive play over the last two weeks, the Eagles will have a solid chance to pull off the slight upset against the Titans.

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Personally, I believe the Philadelphia Eagles are the better football team on both sides of the ball, but without Michael Vick under center and wide receiver DeSean Jackson having to sit out with a severe concussion he sustained against the Atlanta Falcons last week, the Eagles will be going to ground game with running back LeSean McCoy leading the way.

With the Philadelphia Eagles offense being one dimensional this week, I would say that the Tennessee Titans defense could have a field day and dominate from start to finish. Even though both of these teams are more than capable of putting a lot of points on the board, I believe this will be an uncharacteristically low scoring affair in which the Titans should ultimately come out on top.

NFL Week 7: Bengals @ Falcons

Cincinnati Bengals @ Atlanta Falcons Sun. Oct 24th 1pm EST

The Atlanta Falcons have been arguably one of the best teams in the NFL over the last two seasons, but despite being able to turn things around after drafting franchise quarterback Matt Ryan a couple of years ago, they have been unable to get the best of the NFC South division rival and defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. Marvin Lewis and Andy Reid – Dan Rooney and Bill Bidwill and Jerry Jones

With the Saints standing in their way of the NFC South division title, the Falcons have had to compete with the rest of the NFC Conference for the NFC Wildcard in order to get back into the playoffs, but this season they have been able to beat the Saints in their first meeting this season and take control of first place in their division.

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Obviously, the defending champs are still the favorites to win the division title once again, but I believe the torch may have been handed over to the Atlanta Falcons and they could quite possibly be on their way into the playoffs with a division title.

So even though the Atlanta Falcons could be on their way to a division title, they will still have their work cut out for them this season starting with the reigning AFC North division title champion Cincinnati Bengals in Week 7.

Despite dominating their division last season and finally making it back into the playoffs with a healthy Carson Palmer under center, the Cincinnati Bengals have been pretty streaky this season with some impressive wins over teams like the Baltimore Ravens and the Carolina Panthers, they have lost against teams they should have beaten this season like the Cleveland Browns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in consecutive weeks.

There is no question the Bengals are a very talented football team, especially on the offensive side of the football, but they just haven’t been able to play consistently well and they will need to do so in order to get the best of the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7.

Unfortunately, both teams are coming off disappointing losses coming into this Week 7 matchup, but only one will be able to come out on top this time around.

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As of right now, the Atlanta Falcons are favored to win this game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 7 with a -3.5 point spread, but even though I believe it is just a matter of time before Carson Palmer and company begin to turn things around, it won’t happen this weekend as the Falcons will almost certainly come out with the win.

This will most likely be a hard fought battle in the first half with two potent offenses going at it, but in the second half I see the Atlanta Falcons pulling away and sealing the deal was they will get their fifth win of the season and stay atop the NFC South division.

The Chargers fall to 2-4 after loss to St. Louis

Over the past decade or so, the San Diego Chargers have become one of the elite teams in the NFL and have absolutely dominated the AFC West division in the process by winning the division title five times in the last six years, but this season it appears that things have started to change in the AFC West division as Philip Rivers and company have really struggled in the first six weeks of the season while other teams in the division have started to improve.

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Fortunately, there is still plenty of football to be played in this NFL regular season and the San Diego Chargers will have opportunities to turn things around, but in Week 6 they failed to do just that as they weren’t able to get the best of the lowly St. Louis Rams who came out with the 20-17 victory.

Even though most people anticipated the St. Louis Rams to continue to be one of the worst teams in the NFL once again this season, rookie quarterback and number one overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft in Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford has proven to be worth what the Rams paid for him as he has improved his play with every passing week.

Obviously, the St. Louis Rams could still be a few years away from contending for a playoff spot in the NFC Conference, but they have had the ability to beat some very talented teams this season like the Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks and the San Diego Chargers.

Ironically enough, just one week before the Rams took on the Chargers in Week 7, Sam Bradford and company really struggled against a team that hadn’t won one game all season long in the lowly Detroit Lions. Even though the Detroit Lions are a very talented team with a bright future, they weren’t considered a team that could put 44 points on an up and coming team like the St. Louis Rams.

Not only did the Detroit Lions shred the St. Louis Rams defense, but they couldn’t score on offense with the Rams accounting for just six points off field goals.

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In Week 6, it was thought that the San Diego Chargers had the perfect opportunity to get back on track by taking advantage of a team that just got pounded the week before, but the complete opposite as Philip Rivers and company just couldn’t play consistently well and the Chargers defense let Rams running back Steven Jackson rush for 109 yards and a touchdown.

Unfortunately, the Chargers lost their second consecutive game to an opponent they should have beaten and beaten with ease.

There is no question at this point in time that there are some serious problems that the San Diego Chargers have to address as they could be headed for some drastic changes in the near future if they continue to struggle.

Are the Jets the best team in the NFL?

The Jets own the best record in the NFL with five wins and one loss. Their only loss was way back in Week 1 where they couldn’t outlast the Ravens in a grind-it-out game.

Since then, the Jets have won five straight. Their defense hasn’t really surprised anyone because it’s expected to dominate. The Jets are sixth in the league in points allowed. They can keep any elite QB from taking over a game. And as displayed in the second half against the Patriots, future Hall-of-Fame receivers like Randy Moss can be shut down without top-tier corners.

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What’s refreshing about the Jets is their offense. New York is fourth in the NFL with most points scored per game with 26.5. Mark Sanchez has done a great job protecting the ball and making safe throws. He may not light up the boxscore but the kid doesn’t play beyond what’s expected of him. He has turned the ball over only three times this season.

Head coach Rex Ryan is comfortable with Sanchez not attempting 50 passes a game. He knows the Jets are built to play old-school, physical grind-out offense. It’s pretty easy to build your game like that with running backs Shone Greene and LaDanian Tomlinson on your team. While Greene has been great averaging 4.5 yards per carry, it’s Tomlinson that deserves recognition. Thought to be washed up by the Chargers and left for dead on the shore, LT caught on with the Jets and has been a great fit for them. Tomlinson is currently averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Virtually the same average he had in 2006 when he won the NFL MVP award.

With Sanchez’s continuing development, Greene and Tomlinson’s steady production, the Jets offense is one of the most versatile in the league.

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The Jets, shockingly, are mediocre against the pass. The Lions, Rams and Browns give up fewer yards to opponents. But numbers are misleading Mr. John Hollinger. Darrelle Revis’ presence in the secondary and his ability to cover receivers single handedly allow the Jets to blitz more liberally with safeties. Opponents rather rush the ball than take chances in the air.

With all that said, are the Jets the best right now?

It would be unfair to the Steelers to name them so. But it would be hard to argue against the reasons given above.

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