NFL Week 8 Predictions


Week seven of the NFL season was full of close games, game-winning field goals and missed opportunities.


Seven of the 14 games played last week were decided by one possession. Five of those seven games were decided by a field goal. Two of those five games were decided by missed field goals.


Dallas Cowboys' kicker Brett Maher lined up for a 47 yard field goal with three seconds left on the clock in Washington. A penalty by the long snapper moved the ball back five yards, lessening the chances of a successful kick. Maher missed the 52 yard field goal as time expired with the ball hitting the upright, falling inches away from tying the game.


The Baltimore Ravens' and the most accurate kicker in NFL history, Josh Tucker left New Orleans with a one point loss. Tucker, who had never missed a PAT in his career, sliced the ball hard right leaving everyone including Tucker in disbelief.


Ravens' kciker Justin Tucker (via USA Today)

They say football is a game of inches or in the Bears' case, a game of one yard.


The Chicago Bears and New England Patriots battled it out at the frigid Soldier Field. Tom Brady and Mitchell Trubisky put on a show and lit up the scoreboard for a combined 69 points.


Even with the high scoring total, the Bears still found themselves down by seven with one second left on the clock. A hail marry throw by Trubisky was caught by Kevin White at the one yard line but the Patriot defense stuffed the receiver ending the game and securing New England's fourth win in a row.


Only two other teams in the NFL have a longer win streak than the Patriots, the Rams and Saints. The Rams play the Packers while the Saints will have their hands full with the Vikings in rematch of last year's NFC Divisional round game.


NEW ORLEANS SAINTS VS. MINNESOTA VIKINGS


The Minneapolis Miracle (via Yahoo Sport UK)

The Minnesota Vikings host the New Orleans Saints this Sunday for the first time since the "Minneapolis Miracle" that sent the Vikings to the NFC Championship.


A last second play and a missed tackle is what it took for the Vikings to beat the Saints last January. This Sunday the outcome will be flipped.


The Saints come in riding a five game win streak and the offense is rolling. Drew Brees has led the Saints to at least 21 points in all six of New Orleans' games in 2018. During their five game winning streak, the Saints have averaged 32.8 points. If their week one loss to the Buccaneers is included, the Saints average 34 points a game only behind the Chiefs for tops in the NFL.


Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram combine for the most touchdowns according to NFL.com. The two are the most dynamic running back duo in the NFL with 34 total touchdowns in the last two seasons. Along with Kamara and Ingram, the Saints have one of the best young wideouts in the game.


Michael Thomas is tied for title of second ranked overall receiver, according to NFL.com. Thomas has been one of the most consistent wideouts in the entire NFL and is on track to break his own record for the Saints franchise record in receptions. Thomas is also on pace for his third straight 1,000 yard season.


A dominant offense has led the Saints to a 5-1 record but the defense has left the door open for opposing teams to stay in games.


The Saints' allows the sixth most points in the NFL but the defense has played far better in recent weeks. An average of 20 points have been given up by the New Orleans defense since week four which would put them in the top ten. Unfortunately, week one and three were not kind to the black and gold.


Giving up a combined 85 points set the precedent of a weak New Orleans defense and that still stands true. The Saints give up the sixth most yards per game and the third most yards per play.


Surprisingly, the Vikings defense ranks only two spots above the Saints in yards per play. The difference is Minnesota can get to the quarterback. Racking up 21 sacks may sound impressive but the Saints offset any pressure the Vikings get by having the third best offensive line in the NFL.


The only hope for Minnesota is to out play the Saints on offense.


The Vikings have an average offense that is explosive at time. Minnesota averages 25.3 points a game, 14th in the NFL. The average ranking stems from a poor rushing attack with Dalvin Cook dealing with a hamstring injury.


Latavius Murray has played noticeably better in recent weeks giving Minnesota some optimism in the backfield. Even if Murray does not play up to standard, Kirk Cousins is playing at an all-pro level.


Cousins has the most completions, most first downs and is third in total passing yards. Cousins may not be the flashiest quarterback and may not be on any highlight reel but he has been elite to say the least. The majority of Cousins' throws end up in the hands of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.


Thielen and Diggs have hauled in a total of 115 receptions and eight touchdowns. Only the Bengals' AJ Green and Tyler Boyd have more touchdowns. While Diggs may be the bigger name, Thielen has had the most success in 2018.


Thielen leads the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and is only two touchdowns away from being tied for the league lead. Thielen is the best statistical receiver in the NFL hands down.


This Sunday will be a match-up that goes down to the wire but do not expect another "Minneapolis Miracle."


Verdict:


Both teams come into Sunday riding high after week seven victories and both carry win streaks that date back at least three weeks.


The Saints and Vikings are nearly evenly matched with each teams strength being offset by their weaknesses.


Minnesota has the defensive edge based on personnel but New Orleans has played just as good if not better in the last three weeks.


Just like last weeks Patriots and Chiefs game, this Sunday's match-up will come down to offenses.


Although Michael Thomas has been elite and one of the most consistent receivers since his rookie season in 2016, the Vikings have the advantage when it comes to receivers.


It is unknown if the newly acquired Eli Apple will play for New Orleans but even then, expect Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs to have a touchdown a piece and nearly 200 yards between them.


Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram will own the running game and prove too much for Minnesota. Kamara has seen a decrease in touches since Ingram's return. Expect that to change this week as the Saints will unleash last year's offensive rookie of the year on the Vikings' defense.


The Drew Brees and Kirk Cousins match-up is the most intriguing as both have been phenomenal. Cousins has the statistical advantage but Brees may have the key to New Orleans' success.


Drew Brees does not turn the ball over. Brees has 13 touchdown passes and zero interceptions on the season giving him the best touchdown to interception ratio in the NFL.


Brees also averages more yards per play and more completions over 20 yards. In short, the Saints' passing game is more explosive and does not turn the ball over making them a bigger threat to put up more points.


The Saints even average nine more points than the Vikings making this Sunday's prediction even easier.


Although Minnesota has won the last two meetings and have a better statistical quarterback, Drew Brees and the Saints will reign supreme on Sunday.


The defensive edge goes to Minnesota but offensively the Saints will be too good for a Minnesota team that only averaged 19 points at home. The Saints will have revenge on their mind Sunday and best believe Drew Brees and Saints will be out for blood.



FINAL SCORE: Saints 27, Vikings 23



Week 8 Predictions:


Dolphins vs. Texans: Texans 23, Dolphins 16 (Thursday Night)


Eagles vs. Jaguars: Eagles 26, Jaguars 13


Ravens vs. Panthers: Ravens 24, Panthers 21


Broncos vs. Chiefs: Chiefs 28, Broncos 20


Browns vs. Steelers: Steelers 27, Browns 17


Seahawks vs. Lions: Seahawks 26, Lions 24


Buccaneers vs. Bengals: Bengals 24, Bucs 19


Jets vs. Bears: Bears 31, Jets 16


Redskins vs. Giants: Redskins 24, Giants 16


Colts vs. Raiders: Colts 22, Raiders 17


49ers vs. Cardinals: 49ers 23, Cardinals 21


Packers vs. Rams: Rams 34, Packers 27


Patriots vs. Bills: Patriots 36, Bills 10 (Monday Night)


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