This week in: The NFL – Week 8 2012

Rob Ninkovich forces a fumble from Mark Sanchez in OT to setup the Patriots’ win

The New England Patriots sneaked past the New York Jets in overtime last Sunday, winning a game in which they both threw away a big lead and came from behind to force the extra period.  Trailing 23-13 heading into the fourth quarter, Mark Sanchez led the Jets down the field on a 14 play, seven-minute drive to bring them back within three, then had to settle for a field goal to tie the game on their next possession, after wide receiver Stephen Hill dropped a pass on third down.  From the resulting kickoff, the Patriots fumbled and Antonio Allen recovered the ball with the Jets, who moved into a three-point lead following another Nick Folk field goal.  However, Tom Brady led New England to tie the game as time expired in regulation, then a forced fumble by Sanchez on the first drive in overtime allowed the Patriots to win 26-23, through another Stephen Gostkowski kick.  While it was not an emphatic win for Bill Belichick’s team, a narrow win over a divisional rival – having lost three games in the last two minutes already this season – should give them confidence for the rest of the season.  After the four teams in the AFC East had been all tied with 3-3 records going into the weekend fixtures, New England now has sole possession of first place thanks to defeating the Jets, while the Bills lost at home, 35-34 against the Titans, and the Dolphins had their bye week.

At the end of their game against Washington, many of the New York Giants players were effusive in their praise of the Redskins’ quarterback, Robert Griffin III, who threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 89 yards.  It was easy for the Giants to be magnanimous about one of their opponents, as Griffin’s performance came in a losing effort, with Eli Manning leading the home team to a 27-23 victory via a 77 yard touchdown pass to Victory Cruz with little more than a minute remaining.  Also in the NFC East, the Cowboys moved back to an even record for the season with a 19-14 win in their road game against the Carolina Panthers, while the Philadelphia Eagles were inactive.

The Minnesota Vikings continued their impressive start to the year, beating the Cardinals 21-14 at home, in large part thanks to running back, Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown and has completely overcome the ACL and MCL injuries he suffered at the tail end of the 2011 season.  That result means the Vikings record for far this year is five wins and two defeats , putting them a half game behind the Bears, whose 13-7 win over the Lions on Monday night moved them to 5-1.  Chicago’s sole loss came against Green Bay, whose 30-20 success in St. Louis gave them consecutive fixtures for the first time this season, after an inconsistent start had seen them lose three of their first five.  The bad news for the Packers was an injury to safety Charles Woodson, who will be out for six weeks with a broken collar-bone. 

Houston recovered from their week 6 thrashing by Green Bay, to rout the Ravens 43-13, with QB Matt Schaub throwing two touchdown passes and Arian Foster adding two more on the ground.  The 30 point margin of victory for the Texans was particularly impressive as Baltimore’s only previous loss this season had been by a single point against Philadelphia.  New Orleans won for the second game in succession with a 35-28 triumph in Tampa Bay; their defense gave up more than 500 yards to the Buccaneers offense, but the Saints clinched the game thanks to four touchdown passes from Drew Brees and a great saving tackle by Malcolm Jenkins on the 1 yard line, which stopped Vincent Jackson scoring on a 95 yard play.  The other games in week 7 saw the 49ers beat the Seahawks, 13-6 in San Francisco; Indianapolis overcame Cleveland 17-13;  Pittsburgh won on the road for the first time this year, defeating the Bengals 24-17; and the Jaguars led 20-6 in the third quarter in Oakland, but ultimately lost to the Raiders in overtime, 26-23.

This week’s fixtures include the Giants heading to Dallas to try to avenge their loss to the Cowboys in the opening game; the Bears host the Panthers; the Steelers will attempt to contain RGIII when the Redskins come to Pittsburgh; a banged up Packers defense takes on an injury plagued Jaguars offense in Green Bay; the Colts and Titans meet in Tennessee; and Michael Vick plays against his former club, as the Eagles entertain the 6-0 Falcons.  The NFL’s annual trip to Wembley is this weekend, with St. Louis and New England meeting in London; Oakland face the Chiefs in Kansas City; Seattle travel to Detroit; the Jets have a home game against their division rivals, the Dolphins; the Vikings and Buccaneers have a short week as they play in Minnesota on Thursday; New Orleans take on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Sunday evening; and the Cardinals will try to avoid a fourth straight defeat this season when they host the 49ers on Monday Night Football.

Predictions

Last week, 6-6; Season 54-49

Home teams in bold

Thursday

Buccaneers +6.5 over Vikings

Sunday

Bears -7.5 over Panthers

Chargers -2.5 over Browns

Seahawks +2.5 over Lions

Packers -13.5 over Jaguars

Colts +3.5 over Titans

Patriots -6.5 over Rams (in London)

Jets -2.5 over Dolphins

Falcons +2.5 over Eagles

Redskins +5.5 over Steelers

Raiders +1.5 over Chiefs

Cowboys +1.5 over Giants

Broncos -6.5 over Saints

Monday

49ers -6.5 over Cardinals

 

 

 

 

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