The Arizona Cardinals will be aiming to protect a perfect record when they host the Green Bay Packers in Week Eight of the NFL as both sides make their play for NFC supremacy.
In his main column this week, our NFL expert Nat Coombs delivers his NFC power rankings as we head into a crucial run of games which will give us a clearer picture of who is on course for a deep run in the post-season.
Below are Nat’s predictions for the Week Eight fixtures. He has a hit rate of 63% from 103 picks this season.
NFL Week Eight predictions
Arizona Cardinals vs Green Bay Packers
Green Bay is the solid contender no one is really talking about, and the lack of hype may become deafening if they lose to a red-hot Cards team that will relish the thought of playing the Packers minus their leading receiver Davante Adams. The Pack are 0-6 without Adams since Matt LaFleur took over in 2019. Arizona should win, but Green Bay need to be taken more seriously than they are right now.
Prediction: Arizona Cardinals
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New York Jets vs Cincinnati Bengals
Cincy is for real and should find no real challenge in a Jets side tailspinning into the void. The Joe Flacco bashing has been a little OTT — the man has a Super Bowl ring and 40,000 career yards for goodness’ sake — but his presence may actually help the struggling Zach Wilson, who will miss up to four weeks. Quarterback battles are too often the primary focus of a matchup, but Joe Burrow vs Mike White? This could get ugly.
Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals
Indianapolis Colts vs Tennessee Titans
The Titans offensive game plan is looking genius right now. Load the box against Derrick Henry, and watch Ryan Tannehill torch you with either AJ Brown, Julio Jones, or both. Or offset to contain, and watch Henry run for 394 yards (that’s Urban Meyer math!). This could be a trap game — the Colts are better than advertised and finding their groove. If anyone can keep Henry in check it’s Darius Leonard, but I’m backing the Titans to edge it on the road.
Prediction: Tennessee Titans
Houston Texans vs LA Rams
Asking the Texans to compete against this Rams side is a little like asking the open mic comic who’s had 5 career gigs to follow Chris Rock on a Saturday night at The Improv. LA are riding high in my power rankings for multiple reasons, not least a favourable schedule and the form of Cooper Kupp, who ranks first in receptions (56), receiving yards (809), receiving touchdowns (nine) and target rate (32%) entering Week Eight.
Prediction: LA Rams
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Cleveland Browns vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Two middle-of-the-pack sides — the Browns due to injury, the Steelers by design. Both are falling into must-win territory given how dominant Baltimore and Cincy look in their division, with a Wildcard the most realistic option if they want to make the playoffs. Check injury status on this one: will Baker Mayfield return? Will Nick Chubb? Leaning Pitts if the Browns stay banged up.
Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers
Detroit Lions vs Philadelphia Eagles
Detroit has to win at some point, right? Right?! This is as good a landing spot as any to avoid their 2008 feat — an 0-16 record which led them to Matthew Stafford. Trouble this time is there’s no obvious franchise quarterback in the 2022 Draft, and so the Lions may be stuck with Jared Goff a little while longer. Not that their woes are all down to him. The battle the team — and the under fire quarterback — have shown at times gives hope that Dan Campbell has the motivational skills to slowly drag them out of the mire.
Prediction: Detroit Lions
Chicago Bears vs San Francisco 49ers
In an alternate reality, this could have been a matchup of two dynamic, zeitgeist teams, with rookies Trey Lance and Justin Fields duking it out, as two playoff-contending slingers marshalling over next-gen offenses. Instead, it’s the footballing equivalent of the Maroon 5 Super Bowl Half Time Show. MOR.
Prediction: Chicago Bears
Atlanta Falcons vs Carolina Panthers
The fact that Atlanta is in playoff contention and one of the form teams of the NFL is one of the crazier storylines of the season so far. And as the Falcons have kicked on, so too have the Panthers regressed, as though video game-style they’re sucking the life force out of Sam Darnold & Co and re-upping their own energy. Atlanta’s post-season push? Game continued!
Prediction: Atlanta Falcons
Buffalo Bills vs Miami Dolphins
Miami’s apparent obsession with Deshaun Watson will dent Tua Tagovailoa’s (above) already shaky confidence irrevocably, and that’s a crying shame. It’s far too soon — like walking out of a movie that’s been promising if not remarkable, after 14 minutes, because you’re not sure if it’s Oscar-worthy. Pre-season this looked like a possible divisional decider. Instead, Buffalo — the team who backed their raw, unproven first round pick in successive seasons — are cruising to the AFC East and Miami are crashing out of playoff contention.
Prediction: Buffalo Bills
Los Angeles Chargers vs New England Patriots
I’ve been pushing the Pats for the playoffs line for a while, and while this is a tough matchup — LA coming off a bye week, still very much contenders despite their Baltimore blowout — I’m intrigued to see how Bill Belichick, armed with the tape on how the Ravens stifled Herbert, deals with the Chargers offense. It’s a reach, but I’m sticking my neck out that the improving Pats offense will eke out enough to at least cover the line, if not take the overall win.
Prediction: New England Patriots
Seattle Seahawks vs Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags are off a bye week, buoyed by their London win, and could pose Seattle problems if their ground game keeps cooking. Trevor Lawrence will have taken significant confidence from that first NFL career win, and has looked increasingly poised as the season has gone on. I’m rolling the dice on another road win.
Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars
Denver Broncos vs Washington Football Team
Terry McLaurin is the Davante Adams of the WFT — he’s seen over 40 more targets than any other receiver on his team, as per PFF. On my podcast pre-season, long time Denver beat writer Jeff Legwold told me that Patrick Surtain II may be the best corner he’s ever seen – and that’s a high bar indeed.
Prediction: Denver Broncos
Minnesota Vikings vs Dallas Cowboys
The Colts, the Falcons and the Vikings are among the teams that no-one is really talking about as a playoff side who could conceivably make the post-season — and Minnesota are the best placed. An improving defense, a dangerous offense and the prototypical good-but-not-great quarterback in Kirk Cousins. Dallas is balling though — its defense one of the surprise stories of the season so far.
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys
New Orleans Saints vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Jameis Winston Revenge Bowl? If you’re an NFL quarterback that’s gonna get moved on, bringing in the GOAT to replace you is some comfort. Winston has improved significantly under the direction of Sean Payton and will relish the chance to take on a banged up Bucs secondary. This is a serious defense that Brady & Co face — as he well knows, after two tough breaks last season. Of course, Tampa Bay won the one that mattered, and I think they’ll get the W this weekend.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kansas City Chiefs vs New York Giants
The NY defense battled hard last week against Carolina, but their Week Eight opponents represent an altogether different proposition. A wounded Kansas City, who have been written off by pretty much everyone in the few days. I’m still a believer that they can turn this around — and this is as perfect a landing spot as they can find. A jumping Arrowhead on MNF is like the candidate behind in the polls who wants a fan rally to gee them up. The Giants won’t have enough to exploit the defensive shortcomings of the Chiefs.
Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs
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Nat Coombs is a British writer, broadcaster and NFL expert who has been anchoring live sport across UK TV & radio for over ten years. Nat will be providing Squawka with predictions for the 2021 NFL season.