This Week in: The NFL – Week 8 and Updated Power Poll

The new guard beat the old in Indianapolis last Sunday
The new guard beat the old in Indianapolis last Sunday

On his return to Indianapolis – a city where he had played for thirteen years – Peyton Manning could not lead the Broncos to a win over his old franchise, as the Colts became the first team to defeat the Broncos in the 2013 season, beating them by a 39-33 scoreline.  It was Manning’s replacement in Indianapolis, Andrew Luck, who had the better performance of the two quarterbacks, throwing three touchdown passes, while his opposite number also threw for three scores, but also gave up an interception as well as a fumble in the endzone that resulted in a safety.  Although the defeat marks the first time that the Broncos had lost in the regular season since Week 5 of 2012, it again calls into question Peyton Manning’s ability to win the big games: in his career, he has a 159-71 record in the regular season, but a 9-11 mark in the postseason and his teams have gone out in their first playoff game on eight separate occasions.  Denver’s start to this season has been impressive and their offense has been scoring at a record rate, but their six wins have come against teams who have a total of 13 wins between them (Dallas 4; Baltimore 3; Philadelphia 3; Oakland 2; NY Giants 1; Jacksonville 0), while the Colts’  five victories have included successes over the 5-2 49ers and the 6-1 Broncos and Seahawks.  If they cannot usurp the Kansas City Chiefs – who are now the only unbeaten side after they sneaked past the Houston Texans, 17-16 – in the AFC West, then they could find themselves as the number 5 seed in the playoffs and back in Indianapolis for a postseason game – if that happens, do not be surprised if Andrew Luck can once again outperform the man he replaced.

There was a controversial to the ending of the Jets and Patriots matchup in the AFC East, as New England were penalized for one teammate pushing another while defending a field goal attempt in overtime.  The kick was missed by Nick Folk, which meant that Tom Brady – who had an unimpressive game once again – would have had a short field to try and get the Patriots into scoring position, but the penalty on the play gave the Jets a new set of downs and moved them 15 yards closer, giving Folk a second chance to win the game, which he took.  It was the second time this season that Rex Ryan’s team have snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat, as they did the same in Week 1 thanks to a penalty for a late hit on QB Geno Smith by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which moved them into field goal position to give them another narrow win.  If their opponents had been more disciplined – on neither occasion did the offense actually prove useful, since Smith was out-of-bounds already against the Buccaneers and the push by the Patriots was away from the ball and they did not block the kick – then the Jets would be 2-5 after seven weeks; instead, they have a 4-3 record and are only a singe game behind New England in the division.

Green Bay – who were already without Randall Cobb and James Jones – lost another player to injury in their 31-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns, as tight end Jermichael Finley suffered a bruised spinal cord after a hit from safety, Tashaun Gipson.  Finley spent time in the Intensive Care Unit but has thankfully since regained all movement in his arms and legs, but his return to the Packers is unclear, either this season or at all, as his career may not be able to continue following such a serious injury.  On the field, the win for Green Bay moved them to the top of the NFC North, as the Lions lost at home to the Cincinnati Bengals 27-24, and the Bears ended up on the wrong end of a 45-41 shootout with Washington, a game that also saw Chicago lose their starting quarterback, Jay Cutler, for the next four weeks with a torn groin muscle.  The other team in that division, the VIkings, were the first team to suffer a defeat against the New York Giants in 2013, as the new man under center, Josh Freeman, who signed with Minnesota after being cut by the Buccaneers – misfired in his debut and the G-Men prevailed, 23-7.

Elsewhere last weekend, Pittsburgh won for the second week in a row, beating their old rivals Baltimore 19-16 – somehow games between those two always seem to end with one side winning by just three points; Dallas moved clear at the top of the NFC East as they beat the Eagles, 17-3 in Philadelphia; St. Louis lost their first choice QB, Sam Bradford, for the season with a torn ACL and suffered a 30-15 defeat against the Panthers; and the San Diego Chargers pushed the Jaguars to 0-7 with a 24-6 in Jacksonville.  Atlanta got just their second win of the year as they kept the Buccaneers winless; the 49ers remain a game behind the Seahawks in the NFC West as they both emerged victorious in Week 7, against the Titans and Cardinals respectively; and Buffalo sent the Dolphins to their third consecutive defeat, as the Bills prevailed 24-22 in Miami.

Power Poll

For an explanation of the math behind the rankings – got to my Week 6 post where it is all explained.  This week, the Seahawks have claimed the number 1 spot, just ahead of the undefeated Chiefs; while the Vikings loss to the previously winless Giants sees them drop to bottom of the standings.  New Orleans, who had claimed the top position for the first two weeks of this power poll, dropped down to fourth during their bye week, as the team that beat them, New England, lost again, thus inflicting a heavier penalty on that defeat for the Saints.

(Last week’s ranking in brackets)

1. (=4) Seattle Seahawks

2. (3) Kansas City Chiefs

3. (6) San Francisco 49ers

4. (1) New Orleans Saints

5. (2) Denver Broncos

= (10) Indianapolis Colts

7. (=4) New England Patriots

8. (9) Cincinnati Bengals

9. (7) Green Bay Packers

10. (11) Detroit Lions

= (16) San Diego Chargers

12. (=17) Dallas Cowboys

13. (12) Chicago Bears

= (=17) Tennessee Titans

15. (22) New York Jets

= (=14) Arizona Cardinals

= (8) Miami Dolphins

18. (14) Cleveland Browns

19. (24) Buffalo Bills

20. (20) Philadelphia Eagles

= (21) Houston Texans

22. (27) Washington

= (=25) Carolina Panthers

24. (23) Oakland Raiders

25. (13) Baltimore Ravens

= (19) St. Louis Rams

27. (29) Pittsburgh Steelers

28. (25) Atlanta Falcons

29. (31) New York Giants

30. (28) Jacksonville Jaguars

31. (32) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

32. (30) Minnesota Vikings

Week 8 Predictions

Last week, 10-5; Season, 61-45

Home teams in bold

Buccaneers +6.5 over Panthers

Saints -12.5 over Bills

Chiefs -7.5 over Browns

Cowboys +2.5 over Lions

Dolphins +6.5 over Patriots

Eagles -5.5 over Giants

49ers -16.5 over Jaguars (Being played at Wembley Stadium, London)

Bengals -6.5 over Jets

Steelers -2.5 over Raiders

Falcons +2.5 over Cardinals

Broncos -13.5 over Washington

Packers -9.5 over Vikings

Seahawks -10.5 over Rams

 

 

 

 

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