Madden Ratings: Week 7 analysis, Week 8 predictions

Sorry if this week's article is getting to you late. I made the mistake of borrowing Ryan Mallett's alarm clock. Oh, don't worry, though, he has plenty of free time now to get that fixed. (For all you millennials out there, an alarm clock is what we used before smartphones. Google it.)

What's even funnier about Mallett's ordeal is that he had to fly commercial to join his (former) team in Miami. Just picture Mallett standing at the gate waiting for elderly folks and families with small children to board before him. Classic. Hopefully, he didn't use up too many frequent flyer miles on that trip. He's going to need them now.

But at least he'll be able to enjoy the Week 8 slate of games. We've got Aaron Rodgers facing off against Peyton Manning in a battle of undefeated teams in the Mile High City. Big Ben will likely make his return to take on the unbeaten Cincinnati Bengals. And, Andrew Luck leads his Indianapolis Colts into Carolina to take on the 6-0 Panthers. Remember, too, that Luck would've been a Panther had he declared for the 2011 NFL Draft instead of returning to Stanford. It'll be interesting to see if the fans hold any ill will towards him even though they've got Cam Newton now.

So, enjoy those games, Mallett. And, look on the bright side: Sunday is daylight saving time, so you've got an extra hour to work with.

On to the ratings.

Moving On Up

Amari Cooper is establishing himself as one of the best receivers in the league. Cooper is averaging 86.5 yards per game, which is the most for a player 21 or younger in NFL history. He's also the first rookie with three 100-yard receiving games in his team's first six games since Mike Ditka back in 1961. Cooper is up two points this week to 85 OVR.

Todd Gurley is up two points to 83 OVR. You'd think he'd get a higher bump considering he is the St. Louis Rams offense. It's amazing that this guy isn't even one year removed from tearing his ACL.

Mike Evans had a career-high eight receptions Sunday against the Redskins for 164 yards and a touchdown. He must love playing in our nation's capital. He had 209 yards and two touchdowns there last year. He's up two points to 88 OVR.

Moving On Down

Brandon LaFell is down only two points to 81 OVR after his disastrous performance last Sunday. His catching (CTH) is down four points, too. Let's see how well he does against the Dolphins on Thursday night.

Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas is down a point this week to 97 OVR. You have to feel bad for this guy. Cleveland needs to get their act together because they are wasting the prime years of one of the best tackles to play the game.

Nick Foles is down a point to 78 OVR. It's nice to see that the Bradford-Foles trade turned out mediocre for both sides.

Great Caesar's Ghost

Can we talk real quick about the new picture of Jared Leto's "Suicide Squad" Joker? I thought he looked good in the trailer, but this new Empire cover has me scratching my head. He looks like a hipster Frankenstein. Plus, why does he have Joker tattooed across his body? It's like he's Jason Derulo, who feels the need to introduce himself in every song. We know who you are! Anyway ...

Six bold predictions for Week 8


EA Sports

6. The final international game of 2015 will take place on Sunday in London between the Detroit Lions and the Kansas City Chiefs (exciting stuff). Instead of waiting until their bye week, the Lions decided to shake things up by firing offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi before their overseas matchup (a very Lions thing to do). Now, they have Jim Bob Cooter running their offense; a man with a name you can believe in. Win or lose, Detroit's season is over, but that doesn't mean they can't put on a good show for the jolly good folk across the pond. Calvin Johnson hasn't had a 200-plus yard receiving game since he hauled in 14 catches for 329 yards back in 2013 against the Cowboys. A change of scenery (and country) will do him good and he'll get one Sunday.

5. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers saw their pirate ship sink last week courtesy of the historic comeback by the Washington Redskins. Tampa Bay showed flashes of brilliance on offense, thanks in part to a big game from Mike Evans. The Bucs are still a bad team trying to find their identity as they build towards the future. That loss hurts, but how they respond in Week 8 on the road in Atlanta will say a lot about their resolve and ability to bounce back. I'll take Lovie Smith and company over the Falcons in Atlanta.

4.Colin Kaepernick will finish with more rushing yards than Todd Gurley on Sunday. This prediction is beyond bold, especially when you look at how great Gurley has been since his lackluster debut. San Francisco's defense ranks near the bottom of the league, but you've got to figure that even head coach and red meat aficionado Jim Tomsula knows that Gurley is more of a threat to his team than Nick Foles. The Niners will do everything they can to stop the run and force Foles to beat them through the air (easier said than done). Kaepernick is not a pocket passer, and the Niners would be wise to finally let him do what he does best: RUN! Last week against Seattle, Kaepernick had zero rushing attempts for the first time in 46 career starts. At this point, the Niners have nothing to lose, so why not let Kap go wild in St. Louis?

3.Ben Roethlisberger makes his return this weekend, marking the end of the Landry Jones era in Pittsburgh. My fondest memory was that time when he ... or maybe it was that throw that was ... actually, it's just the beard. Yes, that glorious, lumberjack beard. In Big Ben's absence the Steelers went 2-2, and considering the backups they had on their roster they should be celebrating up and down the Allegheny River. With Roethlisberger back, we'll also see the return of Antonio Brown, who despite not being injured hasn't been seen the end zone since Week 2. Roethlisberger will throw for over 400 yards and Pittsburgh hands Cincinnati their first loss.

2. A Broncos fan in Italy tweeted at me last week asking if I was going to predict a Denver loss even in their bye week. I didn't, although I'm pretty sure that whatever Peyton Manning did last week, he did poorly. I'm kidding (kind of). But seriously, Manning has heard all the criticism. Justified or not, the future Hall of Famer knows that this season is his best (and last) chance to win another Super Bowl. With a defense as good as his, he just needs to limit turnovers and manage the offense ... but that's not Peyton Manning's style. He wants to prove he still has some fuel left in the tank. So, Broncos fans, I'll predict Manning throws five touchdowns against the Packers and says, "Buona notte" in the win (that's Italian for "good night," just FYI).

1. As good as the 6-0 Panthers have looked, the Colts are at the point of desperation, and you never want to face a team that's got nothing to lose. Owner Jim Irsay reportedly got into a heated locker room exchange with general manager Ryan Grigson after last week's embarrassing home loss to the New Orleans Saints, and we all know that Chuck Pagano's seat is hot enough to make flapjacks on. But why are we so quick to look past Andrew Luck's inconsistent play? Luck has a lot to prove after his team's 3-4 start, and I think he turns it on Monday night and guides the Colts to a huge upset in Carolina, bringing peace to the Colts' household ... at least for one week.

Colin J. Liotta is a Digital Features Editor and Writer for You can follow him on Twitter @TheSportsHero.

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