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Week 8 NFL games

Cardinals (1-5) at Ravens (4-2)

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1 p.m.

Ravens by 12½, 43

If it feels like your eyes have been hurting for the past six days, you probably can trace the problem to watching the Baltimore offense Monday night. The NFL should send a letter of apology to anyone who was subjected to the Ravens' 12-7 loss at Jacksonville. The Ravens gained 2.8 yards per play and had 146 total yards. The defense, No. 1 in the league, did its job. But for QB Joe Flacco, above, it's time to step up. Here's his chance against a team whose defense is ranked 26th overall (allowing 388.3 yards per game).

Ravens 28, Cardinals 14

Vikings (1-6) at Panthers (2-5)

1 p.m.

Panthers by 3½, 461/2

If you looked at these teams' combined wins (three), this looks like a dog of a game. It's anything but. Carolina rookie QB Cam Newton has been one of the more entertaining players around the league. And if last week's debut is any indication, Vikings rookie QB Christian Ponder, above, has a shot to be solid. He stared down the Packers and didn't flinch in a close loss. With the likes of Peyton Manning nearing the end of their careers, it is guys such as these we can look forward to watching for years to come.

Panthers 24, Vikings 21

Jaguars (2-5) at Texans (4-3)

1 p.m.

Texans by 9½, 40½

The Texans are starting to walk the walk. They just blew out Tennessee, a shot across the bow establishing them as the team to beat in the AFC South. It wasn't exactly Fort Sumter, but the Texans have never been very reliable in big games. What's just as important is taking care of business in afterthought games like this. RB Arian Foster, above, looks indefensible after his dual 100-yard day (rushing and receiving) against the Titans. But Jacksonville's defense, as it showed Monday, will make him earn every inch.

Texans 20, Jaguars 13

Dolphins (0-6) at Giants (4-2)

1 p.m., Ch. 10

Giants by 9½, 42

The Tony Sparano traveling circus hits the Big Apple (well, New Jersey) today. Is this the game that prompts Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to drop the hammer on his coach? Who knows? But every bit of info coming out of South Florida suggests it's inevitable (especially after last week's loss to Denver). Meanwhile, Giants QB Eli Manning, above, has thrown for 1,033 yards over his past three games. He has big tests ahead with games at New England and San Francisco in the next two weeks. Consider this a tuneup.

Giants 24, Dolphins 13

Saints (5-2) at Rams (0-6)

1 p.m.

Saints by 13½, 471/2

Drew Brees, above, must be living right. How does the prolific Saints quarterback wind up playing winless teams in consecutive weeks? Seriously? After witnessing what he did to last week's victim, the Colts, the Rams must be looking for creative solutions. Given their 29th-ranked defense, perhaps forfeiture is an option. In all seriousness, the Rams are a mess. QB Sam Bradford will miss another game with his ankle sprain. He probably will return next week, when their intense schedule starts to soften.

Saints 31, Rams 17

Colts (0-7) at Titans (3-3)

1 p.m.

Titans by 8½, 43½

Hello, is this thing on? Anyone seen Chris Johnson? The performance of the Tennessee running back, above, has been one of the biggest mysteries of this season. The 2,000-yard man got a fat contract extension before the season only to disappear once it began. He's averaging 2.9 yards per carry after entering the season at 4.8 for his career. Here's the good news: The Colts are the second-worst defense against the run. Even the Bucs took advantage, running for a season-high 192 yards in a victory earlier this season.

Titans 24, Colts 17

Redskins (3-3) at Bills (4-2)

4 p.m., at Toronto

Bills by 5, 45½

The Redskins have changed quarterbacks and running backs and probably more than that. Today, they will play in a different country. Don't expect a different result, though. Since a 2-0 start, Washington has lost three of its past four, and today, it appears headed for its first dip below .500. The Redskins are tied for the league lead in sacks, which indicates trouble for Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, above. But that's offset by the fact RB Fred Jackson will keep defenses honest. 'Skins can't sell out versus the pass.

Bills 27, Redskins 17

Lions (5-2) at Broncos (2-4)

4 p.m., Ch. 13

Lions by 3, 41½

He still has the funky windup, and calling him a pocket passer is a poor attempt at humor. But Tim Tebow, above, is the Broncos' quarterback — for now. Given that, Denver's coaches are going to have to take the handcuffs off. Tebow had five pass attempts during the first half last week at Miami. He finished with 27 throws — without an interception — and a win. But enough about Tebow. The guy who will be the difference — if he overcomes his achy ankle — is Detroit QB Matt Stafford.

Lions 23, Broncos 14

Patriots (5-1) at Steelers (5-2)

4:15 p.m., Ch. 10

Patriots by 2½, 52

Let's make something clear: The Patriots are not great on defense. They have given up an NFL-high 423 yards per game. But here's the thing: They have limited opponents to 22.5 points per game. And that has been enough for QB Tom Brady, above, and the offense to overcome. The question is if the Steelers can keep Brady in check, like, say, fewer than 400 yards. We think they can. Then watch the Steelers prove they can play offense, too. Look for Ben Roethlisberger and WR Mike Wallace to play a little catch.

Steelers 30, Patriots 27

Browns (3-3) at 49ers (5-1)

4:15 p.m.

49ers by 9, 38½

The Browns beat the Seahawks 6-3 last week in a game not worth rehashing. But there could be some carryover for Cleveland for today: It might have a similar offensive output. The 49ers are beasts against the run, and the Browns appear unlikely to have RB Peyton Hillis, above, because of a sore hamstring. The 49ers, meanwhile, will definitely have LB Patrick Willis. Advantage, San Francisco. Another thing the Niners have: homefield. They are 7-2 at Candlestick in their past nine games there.

49ers 29, Browns 13

Bengals (4-2) at Seahawks (2-4)

4:15 p.m.

Bengals by 2½, 37½

Admit it. If you have given any thought to the AFC playoff race, the Bengals are probably not a team that has come to mind. Yet here they are, a half-game behind the Steelers in the North and, at a minimum, in the thick of the wild-card hunt. They have done it with defense, allowing the second-fewest yards per game in the league (278.5). Seattle is a tough venue for a rookie quarterback. But Andy Dalton, above, and rookie sidekick A.J. Green should continue to excel. Seattle lost ugly last week, 6-3 to Cleveland.

Bengals 23, Seahawks 16

Cowboys (3-3) at Eagles (2-4)

8:20 p.m., Ch. 8

Eagles by 3, 48½

The Cowboys could come out on fire. Or they might not bother showing up. That's who they are and who they have been in recent seasons. But we're going to bet on DeMarco Murray, above. Last week, the Dallas running back ran for the second-most yards by a rookie in league history, tallying 253 against the Rams. If he can gash the Eagles, that puts QB Tony Romo in manageable situations. That way, he isn't tempted to try and do too much. A win could leave the Eagles, once 1-4, a game out of first in the East.

Cowboys 23, Eagles 21

Chargers (4-2) at Chiefs (3-3)

8:30 Monday, ESPN

Chargers by 3, 44

There has been an all points bulletin issued for Chargers QB Philip Rivers, above. Clearly, the guy playing under center for San Diego with seven touchdowns and nine interceptions this season isn't him. It's about time he snapped out of this subpar stretch. The AFC West race is shaping up to be a dogfight. Kansas City can pull into a tie with San Diego and Oakland for first place with a win here. That seemed a pipe dream a few weeks ago, but now it is a factor. The Chargers had better act accordingly.

Chargers 27, Chiefs 20

Week 8 NFL games 10/29/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 29, 2011 8:41pm]
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