NFL Week 8 predictions: Nation likes Broncos over Packers, split on Bengals-Steelers

Here are our NFL Nation reporters' predictions for Week 8:


Detroit Lions: The Lions understand what it takes to play overseas, having done it last year, and made the intelligent move to head over earlier in the week than Kansas City. But ... the Lions have a new offensive coordinator, Jim Bob Cooter, who has never called plays at any level. And they still have the same offensive line that allowed Matthew Stafford to be pummeled last week. The new run game coordinator, Curtis Modkins, also has never officially called plays. So it is next to impossible to responsibly take a team with that much uncertainty against a defense that has held its past three opponents to less than 20 points. Chiefs 23, Lions 17. -- Michael Rothstein

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs’ long drought in forcing turnovers is finished. They have forced nine turnovers this season, including five in the past two weeks. The Lions have committed 18 turnovers, most in the league. These trends will continue and allow the Chiefs to win their second consecutive game. Chiefs 27, Lions 20. -- Adam Teicher


Tampa Bay Buccaneers: For the Bucs, this game could come down to whether Jameis Winston and Mike Evans can carry the offense. The Falcons are second in the NFL against the run, allowing just 78.6 yards per game. Tampa Bay lost its No. 3 wide receiver, Louis Murphy, when he was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with a torn right ACL. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson (knee) and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) also are dealing with injuries. The Bucs could make things interesting for a while, but the Falcons will be too much at home. Falcons 24, Bucs 13. -- Andrew Astleford

Atlanta Falcons: Maybe the Falcons won’t reach 50 points, as they did during last year’s 56-14 victory over the Buccaneers at the Georgia Dome, but Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the offense are sure to put up some points against a suspect Tampa Bay secondary. All the Falcons need to do is make sure Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy doesn’t turn into a one-man wrecking crew, like he was in a 41-28 win over the Falcons back in 2013. NFL leading rusher Devonta Freeman might find it tougher running against linebacker Lavonte David and McCoy, but no one really has slowed down Freeman as he looks for his fourth consecutive 100-yard game. Falcons 35, Buccaneers 17. -- Vaughn McClure


Arizona Cardinals: The Browns are last in the league in rushing defense, allowing a league-high 151 yards per game. So the Cardinals, who average 125.6 yards rushing per game, likely will get a big day from Chris Johnson and maybe even Andre Ellington. Cardinals 27, Browns 13. -- Josh Weinfuss

Cleveland Browns: Arizona ranks second in the league in points scored, eighth in points allowed and fourth overall in both total offense and defense. The Browns have too many holes on defense (literally and figuratively) and fewer weapons on offense. The only way the Browns have a chance is if the Cardinals give a half-hearted effort while traveling after a Monday night game. Bruce Arians won’t let that happen. Cardinals 31, Browns 17. -- Pat McManamon


San Francisco 49ers: Colin Kaepernick is on pace to be sacked 57 times after Seattle racked up six sacks against him last week, and the Seahawks are not known for their pass rush. The Rams, on the other hand, have one of the fiercest pass rushes in the league, as their 23 sacks, which ranks second in the NFL, would attest. Unless Kaepernick gets the ball out quickly, or Carlos Hyde and/or Reggie Bush get the running game untracked, this could get ugly. Rams 24, 49ers 10. -- Paul Gutierrez

St. Louis Rams: San Francisco has the benefit of additional rest, but it's hard to see where the points are going to come from for an offense that is the only one worse than the Rams' when it comes to yards per game. The difference is the Rams have the defense to ensure San Francisco's offensive woes continue and a running back in Todd Gurley who should be able to help open some things up for quarterback Nick Foles against the Niners' 31st-ranked pass defense. Rams 27, 49ers 10. -- Nick Wagoner


New York Giants: The Saints have been balanced in recent weeks, running the ball with Mark Ingram while Drew Brees seems recovered from his shoulder issues of the early part of the season. The Giants continue to struggle to find a run game and have been much worse at stopping the run during the past few weeks than they were earlier in the year. I think Eli Manning can throw on the Saints’ defense, but the Giants’ inability to pressure quarterbacks will cost them against Brees. The two premier quarterbacks the Giants have faced this year – Tony Romo and Matt Ryan – picked them apart in the fourth quarter, and Brees should be able to do the same in a place where the Giants haven’t won since 1993. Saints 38, Giants 31. -- Dan Graziano

New Orleans Saints: If the Saints can protect the football, they’ll have a great chance to win three consecutive games for the first time since 2013. The Giants rank 29th in the NFL in total defense, 30th in passing defense and 31st in sacks. However, the Giants have forced 16 turnovers, third in the NFL, and their turnover ratio of plus-10 is the best in the league. The Saints can’t let them be so opportunistic on Sunday. Saints 26, Giants 23. -- Mike Triplett


Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings haven’t won at Soldier Field since 2007, and they’ll probably have a tougher game than expected against a Bears defense that’s sixth in the league against the pass this season. The Bears could try to sell out against the run, as the Chiefs and the Lions did the past two weeks, and make Teddy Bridgewater beat them. But opponents have torched the Bears for a 93.8 QBR off play-action, the fourth-highest figure in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information. If Bridgewater can be as successful with play-action as he was against the Lions, the Vikings can end one of their more odious losing streaks. Vikings 20, Bears 17. -- Ben Goessling

Chicago Bears: This is another winnable game for the Bears, who used their bye week to rest banged-up starters Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal and Antrel Rolle. The key is turnovers. The Vikings have one of the NFL’s top scoring defenses. The Bears are minus-1 in turnover ratio. Expect a close game, but a late Chicago miscue paves the way for Minnesota to win its first game at Soldier Field since 2007. Vikings 24, Bears 23. -- Jeff Dickerson


San Diego Chargers: The Chargers have not won on the road this season and the Ravens are 0-2 at home, so something has to give. Baltimore has just four takeaways this season; San Diego’s offense has turned the ball over 13 times this season. Combine that with a Baltimore running game averaging more than 100 yards per game facing a San Diego run defense that’s second worst in the NFL, and the Ravens get off of the schneid at home. Ravens 27, Chargers 21. -- Eric D. Williams

Baltimore Ravens: It's hard to pick the Ravens when their struggling secondary faces the NFL's leading passer in Philip Rivers. More than that, the Ravens just have a tough time bouncing back from Monday night games. Baltimore has lost three straight on short weeks, and the Ravens fell to the Chargers after playing a Monday night road game last season. Chargers 27, Ravens 20. -- Jamison Hensley


Cincinnati Bengals: On paper, this looks like a winnable game for the Steelers. They’re at home, have a sense of urgency after a loss at Kansas City and are getting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back from a knee injury. But the Big Ben the Steel City has been used to won’t be on the field Sunday. Although medically cleared to play, Roethlisberger won’t be as mobile as normal. Geno Atkins and the Bengals’ defensive line ought to get great pressure on him as a result. Combine that with the fact Roethlisberger’s worst passing numbers in this series have come at Heinz Field and you have this result: a Bengals victory to improve to 7-0 for the first time in franchise history. Bengals 27, Steelers 21. -- Coley Harvey

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Bengals' defense is so much better than last year, but I still don’t trust it to play mistake-free when the Steelers finally have a full offensive arsenal of Big Ben, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Andy Dalton plays well – it’s a 1 p.m. game, after all – but a last-minute drive falls about 20 yards short. Bell will go off after the way last year’s game ended. Steelers 31, Bengals 27. -- Jeremy Fowler


Tennessee Titans: While the Titans have the NFL’s No. 2 pass defense, the Texans have the No. 4 passing offense. DeAndre Hopkins is going to make plays for Houston, and the Titans have given nobody a reason to anticipate a win. Texans 20, Titans 17. -- Paul Kuharsky

Houston Texans: The Titans' defense ranks fourth in yards allowed per game and second in passing yards allowed per game. They've had some close games, including against the Atlanta Falcons, who beat the Titans 10-7 but led the Texans 42-0 at one point. This is a winnable game for the Texans, but I have a hard time picking them after last week's debacle in South Florida. Titans 24, Texans 23. -- Tania Ganguli


New York Jets: Unless they’re still experiencing Brady fatigue, the Jets should have enough on defense to slow down the suddenly hot Raiders. The game plan doesn’t have to be sophisticated: Just put Darrelle Revis on rookie sensation Amari Cooper, forcing Derek Carr to throw elsewhere. Offensively, the Jets should be able to move the ball on the league’s 32nd-ranked pass defense. The Raiders are a young, inconsistent team; the Jets are the opposite and should be able to meet this road challenge. Jets 27, Raiders 17. -- Rich Cimini

Oakland Raiders: The combined record of the three teams the Raiders have beaten this season is 5-16. The combined record of the three teams Oakland has lost to is 14-4. The Jets are 4-2, and thus provide a big test for the upstart Raiders. Yet, Oakland is coming off its first complete game of the year with a victory in San Diego and I expect that to continue. Oakland quarterback Derek Carr will challenge the Jets’ stout defense. He has thrown six touchdown passes of 20 yards or longer. Defensively, the Raiders have at least two takeaways in five consecutive games, their longest streak in 15 years. The Raiders might be peaking and I expect a win over a good team. Raiders 23, Jets 17. -- Bill Williamson


Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks will have all 22 projected starters from the preseason available as they look to improve to 4-4 on the season and go into the bye at .500. Even though the defense has had its fair share of ups and downs, the Seahawks are limiting opponents to 4.97 yards per play, fourth best in the league. The offense will have to avoid negative plays, but Seattle will harass Matt Cassel and come out of this one with a double-digit victory. Seahawks 24, Cowboys 13. -- Sheil Kapadia

Dallas Cowboys: It looks like Dez Bryant will be back after missing five games with a broken right foot. Cassel should be more comfortable in his second game as the Cowboys’ starter. Dallas finally got its running game going last week with Darren McFadden rushing for 152 yards. Things are looking up for the Cowboys, who have lost four straight. But this is the Seahawks, the two-time defending NFC champions. While they might not be as good as those Seahawks right now, they provide matchup problems for the Cowboys’ offense. The Cowboys will be in this one because Seattle’s offense isn’t explosive, but in it and winning it are two different things. Seahawks 24, Cowboys 20. -- Todd Archer


Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers was 0-4 last season on the road against top-five defenses (including playoffs). The Broncos lead the NFL in total defense and rank second in fewest points allowed. This could be a defensive struggle few might have anticipated considering it’s Rodgers vs. Peyton Manning. Broncos 20, Packers 17. -- Rob Demovsky

Denver Broncos: There is no question the Broncos will need more than they’ve gotten to this point from Manning, the offensive line in front of him and the team’s struggling run game to win. But the Broncos' defense, if it limits the Packers’ run game and limits Rodgers’ ability to get the ball to wide receiver Randall Cobb, will set the table for the Broncos to move to 7-0. The Broncos are 24-2 at home in the regular season since Manning signed with the team in 2012. Broncos 24, Packers 23. -- Jeff Legwold


Indianapolis Colts: Slow starts, the inability to protect the ball and playing on the road don’t favor the Colts against the Panthers. Indianapolis has been shut out in the first half in three of its seven games this season and has turned the ball over 15 times. The undefeated Panthers have the seventh-best defense in the NFL and they’re tied for eighth in the league in sacks with 18. Quarterback Andrew Luck, who has been sacked seven times in the past two games, is still holding on to the ball too long. Luck loses three straight games for the first time in his NFL career. Panthers 24, Colts 14. -- Mike Wells

Carolina Panthers: Strength vs. weakness. The Panthers lead the NFL in rushing with 144.7 yards per game. The Colts are 23rd in rush defense, allowing 122.7 yards per game. They gave up 183 rushing yards to the New Orleans Saints last week. Enough said. Panthers 27, Colts 13. -- David Newton