NFL Nation predictions: Scores for every game

NFL Nation predictions: Scores for every game

NFL Nation reporters predict the outcomes and scores for Sunday’s and Monday’s Week 8 games:


There’s no way the Vikings lose this game, right? Minnesota traveled to London riding a three-game win streak after its defense held the Ravens to 208 yards on 64 plays, the fewest yards allowed in Mike Zimmer’s four-year tenure. While the injury report was pretty full for the Vikings, including a chest injury that limited quarterback Case Keenum in practice, the Browns are far worse in that department. Spencer Drango is starting at left tackle in place of injured veteran Joe Thomas. His first assignment is to block Everson Griffen, who is looking for his eighth consecutive game with a sack. Despite some hiccups, Minnesota’s offense has played well enough to stay in games and is in far better shape with its uncertain quarterback situation than Cleveland, which is going back to DeShone Kizer after he already was benched this season. If you believe in trap games, that’s fine, but this isn’t one. Barring a monumental collapse, the Vikings will head into their bye at 6-2. Vikings 30, Browns 14 — Courtney Cronin

Myles Garrett is in concussion protocol, Joe Thomas is recovering from surgery and DeShone Kizer is the team’s best option at quarterback despite a league-high 6.0 interception rate. The biggest loss: Thomas, whose absence will be easily noticed against a nasty Mike Zimmer defense. Vikings 19, Browns 6 — Pat McManamon


That giant exhale you heard coming from Oakland last week was a sigh of relief from the Raiders’ offense to the tune of 417 yards passing and three touchdowns from Derek Carr, plus 11 catches on 19 targets for 210 yards from Amari Cooper against the Chiefs. Sure, the sideshow that would be Marshawn Lynch returning to face the franchise that drafted him in 2007 will be missed as he serves his one-game suspension for making contact with an official. But the Raiders need to take advantage of a beat-up Bills secondary that has surrendered an NFL-high 350 yards passing per game since Week 5. And unless weather totally grounds Carr & Co., the good times should continue for the Raiders, who also enjoyed a lengthy mini-bye having played on Thursday night. Or, as new middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman told Carr before beating Kansas City, “You handle that ‘O,’ and I’m going to get this defense right.” Raiders 27, Bills 23 — Paul Gutierrez

The Raiders’ passing offense, which gained 417 yards last week against the Chiefs, might have awakened at the right time. Since Week 5, the Bills’ defense ranks 30th in opposing Total QBR (73.5), 32nd in passing yards per game (350.5), 31st in net yards per pass attempt (8.76), 26th in third-down conversions (46.2 percent) and 21st in points allowed per game (23.5). With safety Jordan Poyer (knee) and cornerback E.J. Gaines (hamstring) uncertain to play Sunday, the Bills will have their work cut out for them against Derek Carr and his receivers. Raiders 28, Bills 21 — Mike Rodak


The Colts are about to face a Cincinnati defense that’s not as good as Jacksonville’s, but they can expect the Bengals to put plenty of pressure on quarterback Jacoby Brissett after he was sacked 10 times against the Jaguars in Week 7. Cincinnati has the No. 5-ranked defense in the NFL and the unit already has 18 sacks. Sunday will be a perfect opportunity for the Bengals to improve their 29th-ranked offense. That’s because the Colts have gotten worse and worse each week on defense. They’re 31st in the league in yards allowed, 31st against the pass and last in points allowed at 31.7 a game. The downward spiral to the season continues for the Colts. Bengals 38, Colts 14 — Mike Wells

ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Bengals an 85.4 percent chance to win, their highest percentage since the 2009 season. The Bengals are going to be able to get pressure defensively against a team that gave up 10 sacks last week, and their days of struggling to run the ball likely will end against the Colts’ 26th-ranked run defense. The Colts’ 31st-ranked pass defense probably won’t do much better containing A.J. Green, either. Bengals 28, Colts 9 — Katherine Terrell


The Chargers will be competitive in this one because of the defense’s ability to create pressure up front. The Chargers will use a ball-control offense and try to play keepaway from Tom Brady. But the Patriots will exploit the Chargers’ weakness on defense — stopping the run. The Chargers allow 141 rushing yards per game, second worst in the NFL. Patriots 27, Chargers 23 — Eric Williams

The Chargers’ pass rush, led by Melvin Ingram (8.5 sacks) and Joey Bosa (7.5 sacks), is a concern, and Tom Brady has stressed the importance of getting the ball out quickly. Brady already has been sacked 18 times this season, and not all of those were solely the result of protection; there were times he could have got rid of the ball quicker. That’s the storyline of the week, and why this game could be closer than some anticipate. Patriots 24, Chargers 20 — Mike Reiss


The Bears’ magical two-game winning streak ends in the Superdome for one reason: They can’t score points without defense and special teams. Chicago is ranked 26th in points per game with 17.4. The Saints boast the NFL’s fourth-highest scoring average at 28.5. Chicago’s defense has been great the past two weeks — six takeaways and three defensive scores — but that won’t last forever. Saints 27, Bears 14 — Jeff Dickerson

Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky has thrown 48 passes in three career games, while Saints QB Drew Brees has thrown 48 passes in a single game 33 times in his career. The Bears’ defense has been playing great, but so has New Orleans’ defense. So if the Saints can avoid game-changing mistakes, they should be able to take advantage of the quarterback disparity at home. They should also be able to lean on their dynamic RB duo of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, who both went over 100 yards from scrimmage at Green Bay last week. Saints 27, Bears 19 — Mike Triplett


The Falcons are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and have averaged just 13.6 points per game during the skid. One would expect better from a team that averaged 33.8 points per game last season, but the transition from Kyle Shanahan to new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian hasn’t been seamless. That being said, the Falcons seem intent on fixing their mistakes against a Jets team that allows 23 points per game. “We just have to make sure everybody communicates,” wide receiver Julio Jones said. If the Falcons stay committed to the running game (coach Dan Quinn wants high 20s in rushing attempts), fix their third-down woes, score touchdowns in the red zone and keep the Jets under 100 rushing yards, they should get back on a winning track. Falcons 23, Jets 17 – Vaughn McClure

What happens when two teams that can’t hold a lead face each other? It could get wild at MetLife Stadium. The Falcons are in a serious offensive funk, but they still have enough playmakers to win this game. The Jets struggle against elusive runners such as Devonta Freeman, and their corners will have trouble with Julio Jones. The Jets have allowed 583 passing yards and six touchdown in the past two games. They blew 14-point leads in each game (both losses), the ideal elixir for Matt Ryan & Co. Falcons 31, Jets 24 — Rich Cimini


The Niners have lost 10 consecutive games in the Eastern time zone and are coming off a 30-point loss while Philadelphia is riding the wave of a five-game winning streak. Beyond that, the Eagles have a dominant defensive front (3.81 yards per carry allowed, 18 sacks) matching up with a banged-up Niners offensive line that’s trying to protect a rookie quarterback in C.J. Beathard making his first road start in the NFL. Even history is against the Niners, who at 0-7 are trying to become just the second team in 16 tries to beat a team that’s 6-1 or better in the Super Bowl era. Eagles 34, 49ers 13 — Nick Wagoner

The forecast in Philly calls for heavy rain Sunday, with 1 to 2 inches expected. Depending on the accuracy and timing of the predicted weather, it could make for a sloppy game. Perhaps that would benefit the 49ers, who enter as heavy underdogs and could use the help of outside elements to topple the 6-1 Eagles. Otherwise, it could be a long day at the office for a winless team that will be facing MVP candidate Carson Wentz and the third-ranked offense in football. Eagles 30, 49ers 16 — Tim McManus


It’s not that the Panthers have been stagnant offensively the past two weeks. They just keep having turnovers and negative yardage on key situations to stop long drives. The Bucs, meanwhile, aren’t stopping anybody, allowing 408.5 yards a game and ranking last in the NFL with seven sacks. The lack of pressure on quarterback Cam Newton should allow him to get back on track. Panthers 23, Bucs 20 — David Newton

The Bucs are 6-1 at home since Week 10 of last season, tied with the Packers for the best home winning percentage during that span. But they’re struggling big time on defense right now. They can’t get off the field on third down, they can’t pressure the quarterback and they surrendered 144 rushing yards to LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor last week and 134 yards to Adrian Peterson the week before. That doesn’t evoke much confidence with Cam Newton coming to town. Panthers 27, Bucs 24 — Jenna Laine


With Deshaun Watson under center, the Texans feel they have a chance in any game, but the Seahawks’ defense could slow him down on Sunday. Watson has thrown 12 touchdowns in three games but faces the No. 1 defense in points allowed per game. It will be a close one — and Watson will keep the Texans in the game — but Houston will lose their fifth consecutive game to an NFC West opponent. Seahawks 20, Texans 14 — Sarah Barshop

Watson has looked like the real deal, but he faces a tough challenge on the road against a Seahawks defense playing as well as it has in recent memory. The Seahawks have allowed only 33 points during their three-game winning streak, elevating them back into their familiar place as the NFL’s top-scoring defense. And this game is at CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks are 4-0 against rookie quarterbacks since 2011 while allowing only 179 pass yards per game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Seahawks 27, Texans 21 — Brady Henderson


Since losing the de facto NFC East championship game in Week 17 in 2013 at FedEx Field, the Cowboys have won four consecutive games at Washington. Three of the four games have been decided by eight total points. Over the past four seasons, the Cowboys are 19-8 away from home, including 2-1 this season. Why? Their offense has traveled well. In their eight road wins over the past two seasons, the Cowboys have scored touchdowns on 21 of 27 red zone possessions. This season, Washington has allowed touchdowns on 11 of 17 red zone possessions. Only three teams are worse. Cowboys 27, Redskins 23 — Todd Archer

The Redskins are banged up along the offensive line, with four of the five starters dealing with injuries — and there’s a chance at least two will sit out Sunday. That’s problematic facing a team that records a sack on 9.5 percent of dropbacks, seventh best in the NFL. The Redskins will have to use a lot of bootlegs and rollouts to compensate, or stay in manageable third downs against a defense that ranks 26th in this area. Quarterback Dak Prescott can burn them with his poise and off-schedule plays. The Redskins have been hurt by mobile quarterbacks Alex Smith and Carson Wentz this season. In the second meeting vs. Washington last season, Prescott averaged 3.05 seconds before each throw (his third highest of the season). That resulted in key third-down conversions and big plays downfield. Indeed, in three combined games vs. Wentz and Smith, the Redskins allowed 22 of 38 third downs to be converted compared to 11 of 40 vs. other teams. It’s not a coincidence. Third-down defense and injuries are too much this week. Cowboys 24, Redskins 21 — John Keim


The Steelers’ defense is hitting its stride, allowing 49.5 rushing yards per game over the past two weeks, while holding all receivers to 61 yards or less since Week 1. Pittsburgh has won each of its past six Sunday night games with a 20.3-point average margin of victory. Ben Roethlisberger loves playing in domes, completing 72.8 percent of his passes for 1,517 yards, seven touchdowns, two interceptions and four wins in his past five starts indoors. The Lions’ receivers are beat up. The Steelers will enter the bye 6-2. Steelers 24, Lions 20 — Jeremy Fowler

Detroit may have used its bye to get healthier, but the Lions still are hurting at left tackle, where Brian Mihalik or Bryce Harris could get the start. If you’re wondering who those players are, you’re not alone. Considering Pittsburgh’s pressure-packed pass rush that is sacking quarterbacks on 11.1 percent of pass attempts, that does not bode well for Matthew Stafford. If the offense is disrupted, that’ll give more chances for the Steelers’ balanced offense to wear down Detroit. The Lions stay in it, but Pittsburgh is the better team. Steelers 28, Lions 24 — Mike Rothstein


The Broncos have had more than a few clunkers in their visits to Arrowhead Stadium, and last year’s 33-10 blowout loss on Christmas night is certainly on the list. They’ve lost three of their past four games, have an offense that’s put together just three touchdown drives in those four games and are coming off their first shutout loss in a quarter of a century. Quarterback Trevor Siemian and all involved in the team’s offense have to be better, have to finish drives, and even when things aren’t working, the group simply has to play mistake-free. Or this year’s visit will look a lot like last year’s disaster. Chiefs 24, Broncos 13 — Jeff Legwold

The Chiefs are the one team that seems to know how to score consistently against the Broncos. They have 29, 30 and 33 points in their past three games against the Broncos, and as a result their three-game winning streak in this series is their longest since 2000. Big plays often have decided recent games between the teams. The Chiefs have three offensive touchdowns of 70 yards or longer in the past three games against Denver and a fourth on a kickoff return. The Chiefs, who have six touchdowns this season of at least 60 yards, could easily add to that total. Chiefs 27, Broncos 23 — Adam Teicher

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October 27, 2017 at 06:31AM


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