On any given Sunday, one football team has an opportunity to go out and beat another football team. Records do not matter. Reputation does not matter. Past matchup history does not matter. Nothing matters, except for one thing. After 60 minutes, who has more points on the scoreboard?
And sometimes, the team that ends up with the higher score is the one you would not expect. It’s no surprise, and we see it every single week. However, predicting when the unexpected will happen can be difficult, but that’s why I am here.
I will pick three games each week that I believe involves a team on upset alert. I will provide a preview of the matchup and explain why that team is in danger as well as why I think the underdog can be victorious. After my analysis, I will provide my game prediction. Ready? Week 8, let’s go!
Carolina at Tampa Bay (- 2 ½)
The fact that Carolina is an underdog here is mind-blowing. I get it, they’ve lost back to back games and Cam Newton is playing with zero consistency. One week you’ll get Super Cam in MVP form and the next week you get an average Joe lucky enough to have a job in the NFL.
However, Tampa Bay’s pass defense has been absolutely shredded this year as they are allowing 294.8 passing yards per game. That same defense ranks 29th in the league in points allowed at 25.2 per game. They are better at home, but I still expect Cam and his crew to move the ball with ease and put some points up.
For Tampa Bay, this game has huge implications on their season. If there is a must-win game for a team in week 8 then this is it. The Bucs have been putting some points up lately, but they still sport one of the most unbalanced offensive attacks in the league.
They need to get Doug Martin and the run game going, but that is unlikely to happen this week against that nasty Panther front seven. Carolina ranks 1st in the league in rushing yards allowed on the road this year at 62.2 yards per game. Tampa Bay will be in obvious passing situations all day and that fierce Carolina pass rush will be coming after Jameis Winston in full force.
My prediction: Tampa Bay will not be able to match up with Carolina’s physicality. And if Luke Kuechly is back on the field, game over.
Carolina 23 Tampa Bay 20
Atlanta (-7) at New York Jets
Atlanta is 8-4 in its last 12 games dating back to last year. Those 4 losses all came to AFC East teams. What division do the Jets play in? AFC East. To say Atlanta is in a funk would be an understatement.
Their offense under new OC, Steve Sarkisian, has yet to return to its 2016 record-setting ways. I fully expect them to right the ship at some point as this team has far too many weapons to be held down all year.
The Jets, on the other hand, have already won 3 games, which is more than most experts pegged them to win in the whole season! Todd Bowles has his team playing hard and although their wins may not be impressive, they are wins, and that’s what counts.
I absolutely love their 1st and 2nd round draft picks on the back end, Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, those dudes are studs! The pass rush has been lacking, but if they can get it going on Sunday they may be able to sneak away with the upset.
My prediction: Although I think the Jets will put up a fight, Atlanta will find a way to squeak it out in the end.
Atlanta 24 New York 19
Dallas at Washington (-2)
Dak Prescott is straight balling, and Dallas is averaging over 200 rushing yards per game over their last three games as well.
Their defense has struggled at times, but one thing that has been consistent is their ability to get to the quarterback. The Cowboys are averaging 3.5 sacks per game, good for 2nd in the NFL. Demarcus Lawrence has 9.5 of those by himself and has looked like a man amongst boys for most of the season. That pass rush could be a huge factor on Sunday when Washington will potentially be without four starters on the offensive line. If that’s the case, oh boy, Kirk Cousins and the Redskins could be in for a long afternoon.
Washington is hopeful that they can get Josh Norman back on the field this week. Since Norman has been sidelined, Washington’s defense just hasn’t been the same. In the first 3 games of the season, Washington allowed 272.1 yards of total offense per game. In contrast, they have given up 378.3 yards per game since Norman has been out. Also, with Norman on the field, they held their opponents to 20 points per game. Without Norman, their opponents have been dropping a cool 29 per game on them!
My prediction: Josh Norman could be back and that will help, but the Cowboys run game coupled with Prescott’s ability to make plays with his arm and legs will be too much for Washington to handle. I like Dallas on the road in this one.
Dallas 30 Washington 22