Week 8 of the NFL season is upon us, and that means it's time for another round of bold predictions. As always, this week's edition of fearless prognostications includes a macho helping of audaciousness and abandon as we head into Sunday and Monday's contests. Warning: these predictions aren't for the faint of heart.
Bills become first team to sweep Pats in Brady era
Dynasties don't die slow deaths; they crumble quickly at the hands of a hated foe. Call me an optimist, but Buffalo's second 2016 win over the Patriots this Sunday will be the beginning of the end for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Forget the quarterback's stats since returning from suspension -- 1,004 yards, no picks in three games. Forget that New England hasn't been swept by a divisional opponent since 2001. Rex Ryan historically gives New England fits; he led the Jets to two wins in three games over the Pats in 2010. Of course, he also provides laughers; the one loss that year was a 45-3 beating in prime time (and oh, the Butt Fumble Game). We're never sure which Rex team will show up when he faces off against Belichick, his white whale, but after his Bills squad soundly beat a competitive Pats team in Foxborough, albeit sans Brady, Rex should be smelling blood. Anchored by a laser-focused performance from Ryan's overachieving linebacking corps, Buffalo contains LeGarrette Blount, jams the tight-end duo and holds Brady to a season-low completion percentage in an 18-15 victory. Down with tyrants! Viva Bills Mafia!
-- Jeremy Bergman
Brock Osweiler throws for 321 yards, 3 TDs versus Lions
This "bold" prediction is going to look really stupid on Monday, but Brock Osweiler has to have a big game this week. The Lions are on pace for the worst pass defense in NFL history, giving up a passer rating of 117.3. Detroit is allowing quarterbacks to complete 74.2 percent of their passes. AND they will likely be without top corner Darius Slay (hamstring). It's pretty simple: If Osweiler can't move the ball on Detroit, he's done. Brock has been Clipboard Jesus-level terrible of late, but passing against the Lions' secondary sans Slay should be only slightly more difficult than facing air. This is the week Osweiler busts out, leading to hollow praise for a week before he goes back to sucking. But this week, it's finally time for Brock to have fun.
-- Kevin Patra
Nothing bold happens
Let's check ourselves at the door. Would anyone really be surprised if Ezekiel Elliott runs for 200 yards this Sunday -- or any Sunday? Would your innards explode if Quarterback X throws for 500 yards? Or Team Fill-in-the-Blank drops 50 points on some beyond-the-pale NFL defense? Unless you're hyper-fresh-faced and new to the sport, very little from this season qualifies as "bold" or stunning or new. Is it really that mentally surprising that a rash of young quarterbacks -- trained from middle school onward to thrive at the position -- are making plays?
This regular season comes closer to suggesting that the bold move for the NFL would be a serious look at how watered down the league is right now. We can go through the song and dance of a marathon regular season, but the reality is this: Only three to four teams have any legitimate shot at the Super Bowl. The rest of the field finds themselves forging through an exercise certain to underwhelm. Week 8 will be forgotten like the leaves flickering down from dying autumn trees.
-- Marc Sessler
I have taken Marc Sessler's dose of sobering reality. It was bitter and definitely not bubble gum-flavored. And I have come out an optimistic, and more importantly, bolder man. Which is good, because I'll need it for this selection.
You see that header above? It's two words long. Not since Kanye West declared himself Saint Pablo has one been bolder in as few words. That's the state of the Browns in 2016. They're the lone winless team in the NFL, they turned to Kevin Hogan -- who was on the practice squad two weeks prior and ended up leading the team in rushing -- in the middle of last week's loss to Cincinnati, and in the final minutes of that same defeat, their head coach was so frustrated, he took off his headset for the afternoon.
Which means there is no better time than the present for the Browns to get off the schneid and stop flirting with sad history. The path to 0-16 ends abruptly Sunday when Cleveland's bruised, battered but not defeated (only because there are more games to be played) defense harasses Ryan Fitzpatrick into more interceptions, as the pile of picks inches closer toward causing an avalanche. The Browns bury the Jets, Cleveland rejoices and the Indians win the World Series. OK, maybe not that last part. But Cleveland wins in football. For one Sunday. That's bold.
-- Nick Shook