So last week in the Viewer's Guide, I said there would be a shootout between the Browns and Seahawks. That's like saying "The Playboy Club" just missed finding its audience. I can't tell you the flak I got for that one on Twitter and in our newsroom. I actually had one person say to me "Jason, I'm going to the bathroom, can I expect a shootout in there?" (Note: I think the only place you can get a shootout in the bathroom is in a Tarantino movie.)
But that's OK. This week, I'll get back right at it with a shootout prediction, as well as all the other must-sees in Week 8.
THE GAME WE'LL BE TALKING ABOUT MONDAY: Patriots-Steelers. I'll be interested to see if Tom Brady falls victim to the post-bye blues. It's been a crazy trend -- well, not so crazy when you think about how legally the players have to be away from the team for four days during byes. Thanks, CBA! But quarterbacks coming off the bye haven't played as well. Last week Matt Cassel, Philip Rivers, Charlie Whitehurst, Matt Hasselbeck and Tim Tebow (for 55 minutes) all were underwhelming. And only La'Rod Stephens-Howling turning a swing pass into a 73-yard score saved Kevin Kolb, who still can't get the football to Larry Fitzgerald. But this is Tom Brady. I think it takes a little while but New England makes enough plays to keep this close. Ben Roethlisberger is back to playing at a high level again, and the Steelers know they can trust Rashard Mendenhall about as well as Redskins RB fantasy owners can trust Mike Shanahan. If Pittsburgh's pass-to-run ratio is at least 60/40, they pull out the win. Antonio Brown is an emerging star.
THE BLOWOUT ON PAPER THAT WON'T BE A BLOWOUT: Colts-Titans. Nothing says this should be close except for this: Tennessee is playing worse and worse every week. Chris Johnson is non-existent (like Lindsay Lohan's pride). Tennessee has been outscored their past two games by a 78-24 margin (which, I admit, was almost the Saints-Colts final score). But we're starting to see who the Titans really are. And they're just not that good. Matt Hasselbeck's QB rating has declined every game since Week 2. I'm not saying Indianapolis wins it 35-3, but this is going to be a close one and Curtis Painter is going to have a chance to win it at the end. And St. Louis and Miami will be spilling champagne if Indy is lucky enough to pull off the upset.
BEST FINAL 2:00: Cowboys-Eagles. And not just because Vegas will be rampant with prop bets on a Tony Romo pick in the final 120 seconds. The Eagles are still figuring out who they are on defense, and while they have the extra time to get ready for this game, I don't know that they're ready to deal with Dallas' newfound firepower. Tony Romo won't be taking painkilling injections for his ribs for the first time in a month, and he says he feels more comfortable. Also making him comfortable is the presence of DeMarco Murray and a running game. For the first time ever, Romo doesn't have to do it all by himself. That's huge. You're going to see the results in a big way Sunday night. I think the final two minutes will be Dallas keeping the football and grinding out the clock, or a mixture of passing and running for the game-winning FG. And if that happens? You can officially stick a fork in the Eagles' playoff hopes at 2-5.
THE GAME MOST LIKELY TO CAUSE AN EARTHQUAKE: Lions-Broncos. You can see this coming, can't you? Matthew Stafford is banged up. The Denver crowd will be Zombie Apocalypse-like with Tim Tebow's first home start since the Miracle in Miami. Detroit is reeling after their 5-0 start. They were never as good as that record. Are they a 10-win team? Yes. Are they going to the playoffs? Yes. The NFC is mediocre. But we bought into the hype because they were a good story as much as a good team. The Lions can't run the football and outside of Megatron their offense is containable. Tebow and Knowshon Moreno are more than capable of carving holes through that 29th-ranked run defense. Detroit gets another L before they get another W and the Legend of Tebow grows so much John Fox cracks a smile in his post-game presser when talking about his QB.
THE BEST GAME YOU WON'T WATCH BUT SHOULD: Vikings-Panthers. We have two special QBs here. Cam Newton is doing something we've never seen a rookie QB do -- he's going to blow away Peyton Manning's rookie season, widely regarded as the best rookie QB season in the modern era (26 TDs and 28 INTs, which currently passes for a normal season for his brother Eli). And the Vikings defense is allowing 275 yards per game through the air. So Newton has that going for him. Which is nice. But Christian Ponder is also really interesting. He made plays outside the pocket in his debut and showed fearlessness and an accuracy going downfield -- but not in going short. I guess that's like being far-sighted? Or near-sighted? I always get those confused. He'll play that improvisational style that all rookie QBs do early, where looking at tape won't help you on defense. And when you have fast weapons like he does, you can succeed. This game will have a ton of offense in it, but Newton will lead the Panthers to a wild win. Maybe even a Buffalo Wild Wings win where Ponder gets tackled by the ref on a late 4th down. Scoff if you want, but it almost happened during UCLA-Arizona.
See Jason Smith on "NFL Fantasy Live," airing Sundays at 11:30 a.m. ET on the NFL RedZone channel, and Tuesday-Friday on NFL Network at 2 p.m. ET and 12 a.m. ET/9 p.m. PT. He writes Fantasy and other NFL pith on NFL.com daily. Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.