Bet On It: Week 8 predictions
You have to give me credit for consistency. I'm hanging tough at 4-6 week in and week out, which would be a great percentage for a baseball hitter. All I need is two more yards from Arian Foster or a Bears defensive back not to drop a ball and I would have been over .500 last week.
But we're learning valuable lessons that will pay off in the second half of the season. Never bet a receiver will go over 100 yards in a game (apparently defensive coordinators read this column and game plan around it), don't expect consistency from rookie quarterbacks and whatever you do, don't put too much faith in Brady Quinn.
Peterson ran for 153 yards against the Cardinals last week, but he'll face the NFL's third-ranked rushing defense on Thursday. Part of the reason Tampa Bay's numbers are good against the run is because it's so bad against the pass. The Vikes should try to open it up a bit more with Christian Ponder. And Minnesota should try to minimize how many touches Peterson gets with the short week of rest.
After watching Jackson's 216-yard performance last week, Minnesota's defensive gameplan is going to begin with slowing down the Bucs receiver. The Vikings will double-team Jackson all game and make someone else beat them. The Vikings are 11th against the pass after finishing 26th in 2011.
The Patriots' 29th-ranked pass defense isn't underperforming -- it's just bad. To be fair, teams do throw against them to try to keep up with the New England offense. But the Pats' DBs are not going to win a lot of one-on-one battles. Bradford has settled down after struggling last season and is averaging 227 yards per game. He should be able to move the ball well, and he'll air it out if St. Louis falls behind.
The Raiders rank 13th in the NFL against the run and should be able to keep Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles from going too crazy. That will create tougher down-and-distance situations for the Chiefs and allow the Raiders defensive line to get after Quinn.
The Falcons have allowed 5.2 yards per carry, while the Eagles rank 10th in the NFL with 122 rushing yards per game. Andy Reid had a bye week to figure out how to cure Philly's turnover problem. Plenty of LeSean McCoy runs seems like a reasonable strategy. And Vick is playing for his job, so he won't hold back running downfield.
Dolphins running back Reggie Bush was averaging 6.1 yards per carry against the Jets in Week 2 before leaving the game with a knee injury. Now he's in a war of words with Gang Green, who will be fired up to stop him. But New York has built a defense with lighter players who are built to chase quarterbacks and cover receivers, not stop the run. New York ranks 30th against the run. The Dolphins will try to wear the Jets' D out by keeping it on the ground.
With a depleted backfield, the Steelers will ask Big Ben to win it for them against the league's worst pass defense. Look for Pittsburgh big-play receiver Mike Wallace to get back on track -- he can't get much worse. Washington will try to control the game on the ground with Alfred Morris and keep it out of Roethlisberger's hands, but that's a tough assignment in Pittsburgh.
Everyone is focusing on Peyton Manning vs. Drew Brees and the potential for a pass-heavy shootout. But the Saints have the 31st-ranked rush defense and will have trouble bringing down the physical McGahee. Broncos head coach John Fox will stick to his game plan of establishing the run first, even though Denver has been struggling early in games.
Johnson has had three 100-yard games this season and had 94 yards against the Niners' elite defense. But he was shut down by the Bears' Charles Tillman last week, and the Seahawks will be able to get enough pressure on Matthew Stafford to disrupt the Lions' downfield passing game.
It's time. I'm back on the Tebow bandwagon after abandoning him last week. The Jets have to be tired of columns wondering why they have this guy. Tebow dives in from the 2-yard line and I break through with a huge week.