NFL Week 8 Picks: 4 Division Leaders in Danger of Upset

Colin KennedyFeatured ColumnistOctober 25, 2012

Matt Ryan could see his impressive streak come to an end this weekend in Philadelphia
Matt Ryan could see his impressive streak come to an end this weekend in PhiladelphiaKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As expected, the results thus far in the 2012 NFL Season have been anything but expected. So heading into week 8, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that many of the league's division leaders are in danger of being upset. 

With 17 of 32 teams within a game of .500 (or .500 exactly), this upcoming slate figures to be moving week inside most divisions. 

Pretenders will be separated from contenders. 

And power will be shifted among divisional opponents. 

One unbeaten remains, and all 32 teams now have at least one victory to their name. 

Is this the week Atlanta falls back down to earth? 

Here are a few division-leaders who might be adding to their loss column come Monday--


New England Patriots at St. Louis Rams

Bill Belichick's group has been overwhelmingly inconsistent through the first seven games of the young season. Lopsided victories over Tennessee and Buffalo have been evened out with heartbreaking losses against Arizona, Baltimore and Seattle. The Patriots made easy work of Peyton Manning's Broncos, yet struggled to beat Mark Sanchez's Jets. So what can we expect?

A close game, that's for sure. 

The Rams are coming off consecutive defeats, but they have been competitive against everyone but Chicago. Impressive victories against the Redskins, Seahawks and Cardinals show St. Louis is certainly capable, and a close game with the Packers this past weekend should give them confidence. Sam Bradford's team is 3-1 at home so far (although this game will be in London), and their stingy run defense could give the Pats some problems if Brady doesn't get it going early on. 

Denver Broncos vs. New Orleans Saints

It's tough to pick against Peyton Manning coming off of a bye week, but the Saints finally have something going. After starting the year 0-4, New Orleans has rattled off back-to-back impressive victories at home against the Chargers and on the road against the Buccaneers. Drew Brees is playing out of his mind, and with the return of interim coach Joe Vitt, expect the Saints to be energized for their match-up against Peyton.

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys

NFC East match-ups might be the most unpredictable games in the entire NFL. But after the Cowboys managed to upset the defending Superbowl Champions at home in the season-opener, don't be surprised to see another Dallas victory in week 8. 

The two teams are pretty evenly matched in terms of personnel—each squad filled with star-talent on both sides of the ball. Familiarity with the opposition could mean the game comes down to special teams or critical turnovers. And while history sides with New York in terms of clutch late-game performance, Tony Romo and Co. just might take the game out of Eli's hands in the unpredictable divisional match-up.

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles

The records and resumes would indicate that Atlanta's week 8 test in Philadelphia shouldn't be too challenging. Facing a team riddled with under-performance and speculation, the Falcons have to be the clear-cut favorite on Sunday. 

But after digging a bit deeper, signs show that there could be zero remaining undefeated teams after this weekend. 

The Eagles are an incredible 13-0 after bye weeks under Andy Reid. And though Philadelphia has been largely inconsistent in recent times, their talent allows them to compete with any team in the NFL. LeSean McCoy is poised for a breakout performance if the Eagles dare to take the ball out of Michael Vick's hands. And though the Falcons stand unscathed, they have appeared vulnerable in their last three against Carolina, Washington and Oakland.