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NFL Week 8 game picks: Patriots edge Bills; Cowboys top Eagles

Is this the week the Patriots fall again?

Been receiving tweets -- and catching flak from colleagues -- about every team at the top of the Power Rankings losing the following week. Yet, if that's true, Tom Brady and Co. would have to falter against a Bills group potentially devoid of its best player. Last year, I predicted Rex Ryan's defense would give New England fits in Buffalo. Yeah, and Touchdown Tommy went *off*. Given that the Bills have a chance to sweep the Pats for the first time in forever, this matchup is one of the best in Week 8. Eagles at Cowboys is no bargain brand, either. Neither is Chargers at Broncos, for that matter.

Koy Detmer would come out of retirement. Then the Eagles would beat themselves by tying the game in regulation and missing a chip-shot field goal at the end of overtime. (Like that ever happens ...)

See what I mean? It's real. #PowerRankingsCurse

Well, check below to see how the Patriots will fare in #BillsMafia land. How about the Vikings, our former No. 1 -- will they rebound against a new, old quarterback in Chicago? Share your thoughts on all my prognostications: @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Now, let's get to it!

Elliot Harrison went 10-4-1 on his predictions for Week 7, giving him a record of 67-39-1 thus far this season. How will he fare in Week 8? His picks are below:

Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET, FOX

Now's the time for Matt Jones. Playing on the road, in a charged-up environment, Jones must eliminate his fumbling woes and produce another 100-yard game. Give Kirk Cousins, who has been playing well, the time to throw by providing a balanced attack. Also, Chris Thompson is even more effective as the change-of-pace back when Jones takes the reins. The Bengals finally got off the schneid (schnide? John Schneider)?) with their own ground game last week, putting up 271 yards in the rushing column. Both of these defenses have had difficulty winning the line of scrimmage with the front seven this year, as Cincy is 24th in run defense and Washington's 26th. Going with Andy Dalton and crew in this game -- the QB's passer rating at home is 103.5 (after being 105.2 last year). #WASvsCIN

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Who could forget that crazy playoff game in Indy a few years back? The Colts' 45-44 victory over the Chiefs on Wild Card Weekend was our No. 1 game of 2013, and one of the wildest rides of any postseason contest in NFL history. The same two quarterbacks -- Alex Smith and Andrew Luck -- will be facing off again this time, although methinks the K.C. defense will be the difference. Meanwhile, Indy's front seven has been destroyed this year. The Colts are allowing a whopping 4.7 yards per carry -- and it's not because they are a pass-rush-first, play-the-run-second kind of group. Indy has recorded all of 11 sacks in seven games. Erik Walden owns five of those, so that means everybody else has six. Easy math, cruddy football figures. Think Spencer Ware and the Chiefs run for a buck fifty -- at least. #KCvsIND

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

We all circled this game on the calendar back when the schedule was released in April. Now? Who knows what to expect from Cardinals at Panthers? Carson Palmer and the Arizona offense couldn't buy a touchdown last Sunday night. And if you've seen the Panthers' secondary this season, you might wonder if touchdowns only cost 50 cents in Carolina. What a ridiculous sport we watch. These were the two combatants in the NFC Championship Game nine months ago -- the best teams in the conference -- and now they sport a combined record of 4-8-1. Say what? Despite the poor records, the David Johnson-Luke Kuechly matchup will be top-shelf. The thinking here is that Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd will show up this week. The Panthers are allowing opposing passers a 100.8 rating, and they're producing zero pressure off the edge. #AZvsCAR

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

So, how many bad pirate jokes can we include in this blurb?? Why did the pirate say he liked the Raiders more than the Bucs? Because of Derek CAAAAAARGGGGHHHHH. How about the 13,789th best pirate joke: Who was the pirate's favorite player? Charlie GARRRRRGHHHHner. (Because he played for both teams, of course.) I can go all day, babe.

My colleague, @MattMoneySmith, called Bucs-Niners on the radio last weekend, and he implored me to take notice of a healthier, more active defense. Sounds like an endorsement for probiotics, but ... Money is especially high on rookie CB Vernon Hargreaves. Also, perennial Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy looks like his disruptive self. That said, three of the last four quarterbacks Tampa Bay has faced are Case Keenum, Derek Anderson and Colin Kaepernick. That lineup sure doesn't hurt when it comes to making your pass defense look better.

Fun with numbers: The Bucs are 3-13 since 2015 when they don't win the turnover battle. Oakland is plus-eight in that category this year -- tied for second in the league. The craziest number as it pertains to this matchup, though? Zero. As in, zero playoff wins for either franchise since they faced off in Super Bowl XXXVII. #OAKvsTB

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

This is a game the Seahawks' defense wins almost on its own. First, the unit will have to produce favorable field position for a dysfunctional offense that needs all the midfield starts it can get. Second, look for a big takeaway somewhere in the middle of this contest. I realize Seattle didn't produce one in Arizona last Sunday night, but anyone who watched that game had to come away impressed with the Seahawks' intensity on that side of the ball. Will New Orleans rookie Michael Thomas be ready for this kind of challenge? The Saints have leaned on him, as Willie Snead has been so-so of late. If not a massive disappointment, Mark Ingram and the ground game should certainly be deemed subpar. The Brandin Cooks-Richard Sherman matchup fascinates. Drew Brees and the offense will have to earn this win, should they get it, due to the fact the Seahawks have allowed the fewest 10-yard rushing plays -- and big pass plays -- in the league. #SEAvsNO

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

Even thinking the Lions might win four games in a row gives me the heebie jeebies. So why am I picking Detroit? Many of you probably assume it's because of Brock Osweiler's play. But you know what they say about assuming ... Sometimes you're exactly right! It's because of Brock Osweiler's play. This past Monday night, I found myself daydreaming about T.J. Yates leading this team to a win on "Monday Night Football" last year. That sounded weird. You get the point. Houston must get DeAndre Hopkins involved early, even though Osweiler's numbers when targeting Hopkins are terrible: 36 for 69, 3 TDs, 6 INTs. Oy. Matt Stafford is the antithesis of his counterpart in this game, enjoying his best season to date. (Yes, even over 2011, when threw 41 touchdown passes.) His 68 percent completion rate and 105.7 passer rating are career highs. #DETvsHOU

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

How many of you are uber curious to see how this game goes? How many Bills fans Uber to games? Buffalo doesn't seem like an Uber kind of joint. You take the family truckster down to the parking lot. Of course, you wear a Joe Ferguson road white jersey from 1980, yo. The George Foreman grill is in the back somewhere. That's how Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium should go. But can the Bills Mafia see its team win with a hobbled LeSean McCoy (if he's even active)? It's going to come down to third down. Tom Brady has been the best in the bidness this year on pro football's most important down, converting 53.6 percent into first downs. Moreover, the guy owns a ridiculous 149.3 passer rating on third down. Moreover, moreover is not a word we should use when chatting up the workmanlike Bills. Bad^*$ is a little better, because that's what the defense is on third down in the red zone. Offenses have converted one of 12 third downs inside the Bills' 20. That's no empty stat. That's a four-point play, right? The Gronk/Bennett combo will be key. #NEvsBUF

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Could this be the Browns' first win? No, unfortunately not. Who is playing quarterback? Potentially Josh McCown? Kevin Hogan? The latter performed admirably last Sunday, particularly with his legs (see: seven carries for 104 and a score), against a defense ill-prepared to confront his abilities. But those legs wouldn't catch the Jets by surprise. And New York's weakness is the secondary, anyway. That's an area McCown would be able to exploit, in theory. If he doesn't start or gets knocked out of the contest again -- as has been the narrative for Browns QBs this season -- it's unclear what kind of passer Hogan could be with such little preparation as an NFL starter. But hey, Ryan Fitzpatrick has had a dozen years to prep and he's been somewhere south of terrible for the bulk of this season. So there's that. #NYJvsCLE

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

The Chargers' chances to win come down to how well Philip Rivers plays.

I could type that line every week. The only team I can think of that is as dependent on its quarterback as San Diego: Indianapolis, with Andrew Luck.

That said, Melvin Gordon could be the key to a San Diego upset this week. The Broncos have struggled with pass catchers out of the backfield in the past (see: Week 5 vs. Atlanta). Gordon was heavily involved in the passing game last week, catching six balls for 53 yards and a touchdown. Getting a lead early won't mean much for the Chargers, as Denver hasn't led a football game at the conclusion of the first quarter since Super Bowl 50. The Broncos also haven't been swept by San Diego since 2010. Tebowmania started one of those games, and not well. #SDvsDEN

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX

This trip to Atlanta marks the first leg of a stretch that sees the Pack playing away from Lambeau in four out of the next five games. Sunday's outcome, at least in my eyes, is contingent on two factors:

A) How effective Matt Ryan is on intermediate throws against the Green Bay secondary.

B) Mike McCarthy's play calling: vanilla ... or aggressive in fully exploiting the versatility of Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb?

The latter point is in response to the grumblings I've heard that McCarthy is not helping his quarterback with the old play charts. Ever since the then-undefeated Packers were stunned in Denver last November, it seems the offense hasn't lived up to our expectations. Over the past 16 regular-season games -- starting with that ill-fated outing against the Broncos -- the Packers have averaged 21.5 points per contest. In 2014, they averaged 30.4 (a league-high). Quite a difference. Matt Ryan, on the other hand, endured his worst game of the season last week, and it appears he won't have Tevin Coleman at his disposal this week. If Devonta Freeman can't shake free of Green Bay's stout run defense, this deal will be all on Ryan. #GBvsATL

Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC

Think the Eagles' defense is going to have its hands full this Sunday night. As fantastic as Jim Schwartz's unit has performed, think about the running backs these guys have faced: Isaiah Crowell, Jeremy Langford, DeAngelo Williams, Theo Riddick, Matt Jones and Jerick McKinnon. Sure, some of those dudes are decent players. Crowell averaged over 5 yards per carry against the Eagles. Matt Jones laid well over a hundy on them. So what do you think Zeke is gonna do? This Eagles front seven -- which has earned my respect -- hasn't seen an offensive line even close to this Dallas group. On the other side, I expect Carson Wentz to be effective, especially given the Cowboys' troubles with the pass rush. (They should go get one.) The issue is that Rod Marinelli's defense is getting much-needed rest when the offense goes on another long march. The Great Wall of Dallas 2.0 vs. Schwartz's stingy defense = great freaking football. #PHIvsDAL

Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Vikings should win this game, based on the fact they have been knocked out of the top spot of the Power Rankings. Holding the No. 1 place has downed every team I've put there. Little-known fact: Teams batting in the two-hole of the Power Rankings have won six weeks in a row. So trends show that Minnesota should prevail this Monday night in Chicago. The Jay Cutler axiom says the same thing. Boy oh boy, coming back from an injury to face a pissed-off Vikings defense can't be fun. At least the game is in Soldier Field. Opposing quarterbacks over the last nine games against Mike Zimmer's defense: 2-7, 56.6 completion percentage, 9:14 TD-to-INT ratio and a 66.7 passer rating. Those numbers are horrific enough for this game to be played on Halloween. Those numbers are as bad as "Jason X," the Friday the 13th with Mr. Voorhees in space. #MINvsCHI


Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET, NFLN

You might remember a Thursday night clash between these two teams from last year, when each wore their color rush jerseys -- it looked Captain Kirk's shirt blitzing Mr. Spock, and it wasn't pretty. Marcus Mariota's legs kept Tennessee in the game on that November day, but ultimately Blake Bortles won it with his arm. That latter part just isn't happening this year. Bortles' elongated delivery has produced mixed results -- more bad than good. His passer rating is a paltry 76.4. Meanwhile, Mariota's arrow is pointing upward, as the former second overall pick has thrown eight touchdowns to one pick over the last three games. Overall, this Thursday night game is huge for both clubs. The Titans must win these kinds of games at home if they want to win the AFC South. For the Jags, the season -- and perhaps Gus Bradley's stewardship in Jacksonville -- is riding on this contest. The fourth-year head coach is 14-40.

Side note: You have my pick for Thursday night, but be sure to make yours, as well. Go to to vote for "Which Can will Win" or use #JaguarsCan or #TitansCan on Twitter.

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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