NFL Week 8 is finally here and with matchups between the Green Bay Packers vs Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings, it promises to be a slate of games fans won’t forget.
There won’t be a day on the NFL schedule this week without a major storyline. The Packers-Cardinals clash will have huge ramifications on the NFC standings, much like Dallas-Minnesota on Sunday night. But we could also remember this stretch for how it impacts the NFL trade deadline and award races across the league.
Let’s dive into our bold predictions for NFL Week 8.
Kyler Murray racks up 450-plus yards against Green Bay Packers
A clash between reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers and current MVP favorite Kyler Murray is ripe for a shootout. These are two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and even when they face great defenses, the All-Pro talent comes out. While Rodgers is on fire right now (15-1 TD-INT ratio in last six games), the matchup favors Murray.
Entering NFL Week 8, Green Bay’s defense allows the second-most rushing yards (238) to opposing quarterbacks. Keep in mind, a majority of that damage came from Jameis Winston (37 yards), Jared Goff (46 yards) and Taylor Heinicke (95 yards). Imagine what a quarterback with a 4.31 40-yard dash and 54 career runs of 10-plus yards will do against this defense.
Keep in mind, that might only account for 80-100 of Murray’s yardage total. He will also face a secondary that is without Jaire Alexander. For Green Bay, that means putting rookie Eric Stokes (23 receptions allowed, 60.4 PFF coverage grade), Chandon Sullivan (20 receptions allowed on 28 targets) and Rasul Douglas in coverage against DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk and A.J. Green. It’s going to be a long Thursday night for the Packers.
Buffalo Bills shutout Miami Dolphins
If the Miami Dolphins are looking for any more reasons to give up on Tua Tagovailoa, this NFL Week 8 matchup against the Buffalo Bills will be it. With all the circulating Deshaun Watson trade rumors, it could potentially be a rough final start for Tagovailoa.
Coming into Sunday’s matchup, the Dolphins have allowed the most pressures (110) and quarterback hurries (89) in the NFL. That’s a problem regardless of opponent, but even worse against Buffalo. The Bills boast the fourth-highest pressure rate (28.5%) in the NFL and their 14.5% hurry rate is third among NFL defenses. Unfortunately for Tagovailoa, it gets worse.
Tagovailoa ranks 36th in passer rating (37.9) and 28th in average depth of target (9.4) when under pressure. It’s especially worrying because Buffalo won’t have to blitz much to get home, it can win with four pass rushers. No running game, a depleted receiving corps and a glaring weakness against an opponent’s strength. That’s a recipe for a potential shutout.
Derrick Henry buries the Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts are feeling confident right now, riding a winning streak and feeling like their plan is finally working. But as Mike Tyson once said, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. For the Colts, that punch is going to be Derrick Henry.
Henry, on pace for a 2,000-yard season with 20-plus touchdowns, already decimated Indianapolis once before. He totaled 144 scrimmage yards on Sept. 26 against Indianapolis. We also just witnessed the Colts allow 124 rushing yards to the Houston Texans in Week 6 and a 107-yard game to Elijah Mitchell in Week 7. Expect Henry to deliver another monster performance, giving the Titans a three-game lead and a season sweep over their lone AFC South challenger.
Dak Prescott delivers MVP performance on Sunday Night Football
The Minnesota Vikings defense is much better than the unit we saw struggle in 2020. Heading into Sunday Night Football, Minnesota leads the NFL in quarterback hurries (46) and ranks first with an absurd 32.1% pressure rate. Because of the front seven dominating, the secondary holds opponents to a 61.% completion rate (5th) and an 87.5 passer rating (8th). That should bode well for this matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.
Here is the problem for Minnesota. The Cowboys boast the best offensive line in the NFL, allowing the fewest pressures (41), sacks (two) and the fourth-fewest hurries (eight). Dallas received the second-best mark in Pro Football Focus’ pass-blocking efficiency, too. Oh, La’el Collins is also returning to the lineup on Sunday.
The Vikings are welcome to send more blitzes, which they already do 23.5% of the time. But if that happens, it plays right into the Cowboys’ hands. Dak Prescott holds a 104.7 passer rating with a league-high 12 touchdown passes when blitzed. Plus, if Minnesota’s front four doesn’t get home, one of the worst cornerback rooms in the NFC will be exploited by Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. Ultimately, Prescott wins with a big game.
New York Giants stun the Kansas City Chiefs
Even with quarterback Patrick Mahomes cleared and Saquon Barkley likely out for NFL Week 8, the Kansas City Chiefs entering this matchup as a double-digit favorite feels ridiculous. The New York Giants are by no means a quality NFL team, but there’s at least a path to victory here against Kansas City.
We know the Chiefs are going to allow the Giants to score, every opponent finds the end zone with relative ease against Kansas City. One way the Giants’ offense can move the ball, let Daniel Jones take off and run. The Chiefs have allowed the most rushing yards (241) to quarterbacks this season and Jones (5.6 ypc) can move.
If the Giants can take an early lead, that puts pressure on Mahomes. He remains one of the best players in the NFL, but he is trying to do far too much right now. Hero ball worked for years without any regression, but that bad luck (11 turnovers) finally arrived. If the Giants can create two takeaways, which is plausible against an opponent that leads the NFL with 17 giveaways, we could see a Monday Night Football stunner to end NFL Week 8.
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Author: Matt Johnson