WhatIfSports 2014 NFL Week 8 Predictions
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Game of the Week: Eagles at Cardinals
The Eagles' 5-1 record is admirable but far from unexpected. Following a switch under center, Philadelphia won eight of its final 10 games in 2013. With a full offseason of digestion into Chip Kelly's up-tempo attack, it stood to reason the Eagles would be a formidable opponent this campaign.
The same could not be said for the Arizona Cardinals. Like the Eagles, Bruce Arians' club finished last fall with a 10-6 record. Alas, the team lost defensive playmakers Daryl Washington and Darnell Dockett before the season, and when Carson Palmer suffered a pinched-nerve ailment in Week 1, the 2014 forecast looked bleak.
Yet, on the backs of a stout front seven and balanced offense, it's the Cardinals who sit atop the competitive NFC West as the season reaches its midway point. This desert rendezvous between playoff aspirants serves as our WhatIfSports.com Game of the Week.
Despite its strong start, not all is well in the City of Brotherly Love. While Nick Foles flaunts an exemplary 13-3 mark in the last two seasons, the Philly field general's ball security, or lack thereof (seven interceptions, three fumbles), is becoming increasingly confounding. As the former Arizona Wildcat threw just two picks in all of 2013, these turnovers have hung like a dark cloud over the Eagles' early-season success.
Luckily for Philadelphia, the team has been bolstered by an unlikely source: its defense. The Eagles' resistance, a maligned unit that surrendered a league-high 290 yards per game last year, has made a quantum leap this fall. Though it's still allowing its fair share of yardage, the Philly defense has been an opportunistic group this fall, scoring a league-best five touchdowns. Along with three blocked kicks and two scores on special teams, the Eagles are a threat to score at all times.
Looking to extinguish Philadelphia's scoreboard fireworks will be an Arizona defense that's done a commendable job in such endeavors thus far. Entering Week 8, the Cards are one of just five teams in the NFL holding opponents under 20 points per contest. The big men up front, led by veteran linebacker Larry Foote, have spurred this attack, yielding a league-low 72.5 rushing yards per game. Facing the Eagles' fast-paced offense could present its problems, but look for Arizona to hold its ground.
As good as the defensive has been, all eyes in Phoenix are focused on Palmer. In his abbreviated time in 2014, Palmer has a lone interception against six aerial scores. That's markedly better than last season's 22 passes to the wrong team. The Heisman winner is no longer the Pro Bowl player he was in his Cincinnati tenure, but he's far from washed-up and more than capable of guiding a proficient attack. For the Cardinals to continue their hot start, Palmer's efficiency is imperative.
So who wins this battle of NFC contenders? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com football simulation engine, the Cardinals come out on top 50.9 percent of the time by an average margin of 22-21. For the rest of this week's scores, check below:
|NFL Week 8 Predictions|
|Matchup||Win %||Avg. Score|
|@ Cleveland Browns||76.5||29||Simulate Game|
|@ Dallas Cowboys||73.9||29||Simulate Game|
|St. Louis Rams||31.8||20||Boxscore|
|@ Kansas City Chiefs||68.2||27||Simulate Game|
|San Diego Chargers||34.2||22||Boxscore|
|@ Denver Broncos||65.8||28||Simulate Game|
|@ Arizona Cardinals||50.9||22||Simulate Game|
|@ New England Patriots||51.0||25||Simulate Game|
|@ Tennessee Titans||39.5||22||Simulate Game|
|@ New York Jets||38.9||20||Simulate Game|
|@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers||37.6||21||Simulate Game|
|@ Carolina Panthers||37.4||21||Simulate Game|
|@ Jacksonville Jaguars||34.4||18||Simulate Game|
|@ Pittsburgh Steelers||33.8||21||Simulate Game|
|@ Cincinnati Bengals||33.3||17||Simulate Game|
|@ Atlanta Falcons||27.6||20||Simulate Game|
|Green Bay Packers||73.4||30||Boxscore|
|@ New Orleans Saints||26.6||22||Simulate Game|
For additional statistics, view our sortable weekly NFL predictions.