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NFC Preview: Week 8

Athletes in Motion
Athletes in Motion
October 30, 2015
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NFC preview week 8

Sports Analyst Tim CarrollTim is a freelance Sports Reporter with previous work in the Daily Vidette at Illinois State University.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) at Atlanta Falcons (6-1)


The Falcons have faced their first bit of turmoil this season, losing in New Orleans and then barely squeezing out a win in Tennessee. Kyle Shanahan’s play calling has been questioned now. But, with all due respect to coach Lovie Smith, if there is a defense that’s talented that can give up a big performance to an offense struggling, it’s this Buc’s D. The Tampa 2 defense is known for capitalizing on QBs mistakes. The only problem with that philosophy is that if a QB isn’t mistake-prone, the defense isn’t nearly as impressive. Meanwhile, the Falcon’s D has been middle-of-the-road at its best, so Jameis could have a nice game if he’s not getting hit. Ideally though, this game is going to come down to talent and firepower, and the Falcons have more of it.

Prediction: Atlanta 30. Tampa Bay 20.

Minnesota Vikings (4-2) at Chicago Bears (2-4)


For the first time since 2008, Jared Allen isn’t a part of a Vikings-Bears game. Allen infamously said last year before the year began (his first and only whole season as a Bear) that he was excited to finally win a game at Soldier Field (the Vikings never won in Chicago while he was there). Ironically, the Bears didn’t win a home game last season until they played the Vikings at home in week 11. Now the Vikings are the team looking for a playoff berth, and the Bears are rebuilding. Matt Forte vs. Adrian Peterson has a nice ring to it, but this game will come down to whether or not the Bears can stop the Vikings offense.

Prediction: Minnesota 24, Chicago 21.

San Francisco 49ers (2-5) at St. Louis Rams (3-3)


The Rams are still holding on to the hope of going on a run to put themselves firmly in the playoff picture, while the 49ers are just looking for things to build on. San Fran paid Kaepernick all this money, and he isn’t pulling the weight his contract indicates he should. Meanwhile, St. Louis feels like they are a QB away from really competing in the postseason. Perhaps a trade should go down… just kidding. Expect Kaepernick to take a beating all day, even behind that 49ers offensive line, which is pretty good. The Rams will hope to get their offense going, hoping Todd Gurley can continue his huge plays. Expect a low-scoring, but entertaining football game.

Prediction: St. Louis 21, San Francisco 17.

New York Giants (4-3) at New Orleans Saints (3-4)


In a matchup of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, Eli Manning and Drew Brees square off in the Superdome. Both teams are hanging around the playoff race, with the Saints getting going following victories against Atlanta and at Indy. I’m not entirely convinced this team is playoff worthy, but the Saints are always deadly at home. The Giants are also hanging around in an NFC East that is still anybody’s. The Giants are the obvious default choice, being the healthiest and facing the least turmoil. This could get bad though if the Giants lose this week, as the Cowboys are starting to get healthy again. Both teams have a lot on the line this week, but I think home-field advantage means something when it comes to the Saints.

Prediction: New Orleans 28, New York 26.


Tennessee Titans (1-5) at Houston Texans (2-5)


I seem to have missed this one the other day when reviewing the AFC home games. Can you blame me? Is there anything intriguing about this game? Of course there is, but it’s not so obvious. The Titans can’t catch a break this season. It’s almost as if Mariota’s week 1 performance set him up for failure, knowing that they couldn’t possibly fly under the radar for the rest of the season. The Texans appear to have taken a step back. They were a sleeper team to compete for a playoff berth, but mediocre quarterback play derailed their chances after week 1, similar to the Titans. Luckily, both these teams play in the AFC South, which is still wide-open since the Colts are not playing how they should. The winner of this game could go on a run for a division title.

Prediction: Houston 22, Tennessee 20.

Seattle Seahawks (3-4) at Dallas Cowboys (2-4)


Both of these teams were considered contender before the season, but injuries and chemistry issues have seemingly derailed both teams so far. The Cowboys are hoping their stars get back soon, as things have become a train wreck without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. Meanwhile, the Seahawks got back on track after 2 straight losses, and are in position to still go on yet another run. They have banged up Dallas this week, then Arizona and San Fran at home. If they get these 3, we may forget all about this slow start. Rumor has it Dez Bryant will play, but if Romo isn’t out there, doesn’t do the team much good.

Prediction: Seattle 26, Dallas 17.

Indianapolis Colts (3-4) at Carolina Panthers (6-0)


You know the story by now. The Colts, everyone’s AFC Title favorite (not everybody’s, but you get what I meant), have just looked flat. The culprits are obvious, Luck’s injury as a result of poor offensive line play. The defense has been mediocre as usual, but when a guy with Luck’s talent and leadership is behind center, anything is possible. Meanwhile, the Panthers can match last season’s win total with a home win here. The Panthers returned to being awesome after a sub-par season last year (that STILL resulted in a playoff win). Cam Newton has shown excellent leadership skills, and his legs are so deadly. He makes plays in the running game for a quarterback that are very running back-like. He gets away with it too because he’s so big, it’s so hard to make him pay for it. His passing leaves you wanting more, but this team has found a good balance. That issue can also be blamed on the fact that Kelvin Benjamin is out for the year, and Devin Funchess has not yet found a rhythm. Expect that to change next year, but for now, they’re doing what they can to win behind their stellar defense.

Prediction: Carolina 27, Indianapolis 19.

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