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NFL Picks, Week 8: Cowboys expected to win 7th straight game

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Who will come out on top in the AFC North battle between Cincinnati and Baltimore? Can Carolina beat Seattle? SB Nation's expert panel weighs in with their picks for Week 8.

If you are lucky enough to have Sunday NFL Ticket or an NFL RedZone subscription, you probably weren't disappointed by the wall-to-wall action in an exciting Week 7, which featured one of the most thrilling set of games in more than 30 years. Five contests were decided by two points or fewer, the most in a weekend since 1982.

Despite all the dramatics, there were only a few upsets last week, as the contenders and pretenders have started to separate themselves with the midpoint of the season approaching. If the first month of the season is about trying to figure out who's for real based on preseason expectations, then the next four weeks are spent sorting out misleading first impressions made during the first month of games.

Trends have finally begun to emerge as we begin Week 8, and picking up on those trends becomes increasingly important for the rest of the season when we make predictions each week. Teams that can't win on the road so far probably will struggle away from home the rest of the year; if you haven't been able to run the ball in the first half of the season, there's not much hope you'll have a strong running game as the weather gets worse; and if your team doesn't look like a playoff team in the first two months, you probably can start thinking about the 2015 roster.

Perhaps the most striking trend is that for first time all season we have a consensus top team in the NFL power rankings. The Denver Broncos (5-1) made a huge statement in thrashing the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football, asserting themselves as the team to beat in the AFC by dominating San Francisco on both sides of the ball. Denver can bolster its claim as the league's premier team with a win this week against the San Diego Chargers (5-2), who sit just a half-game back in a tight AFC West race.

NFL power rankings

Although the elite teams in the NFL appear to be clearer than ever after nearly two months of games, there is still time for downtrodden teams to turn around their seasons. Consider this fact: under the current playoff format (established in 1990), 33 teams have had a losing record after seven games and made the playoffs, including the Philadelphia Eagles last year. What this means is that there are still no surefire predictions week-to-week and you never know what surprises you'll see on any given Sunday.

There are only two games in which our expert panel picked the same teams to win. Everyone seems to agree that the Oakland Raiders will not win against anyone, even as they suit up to face the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. The Browns allowed the Jacksonville Jaguars their first win in Week 7, but no one believes they will allow a victory to the NFL's lone winless team. On Monday night, the Dallas Cowboys are expected to make it a seven-game winning streak with a win over Washington.

On to the complete picks for Week 8 from our fearless experts here at SB Nation:

Week 8 Ryan Van Bibber Stephen White David Fucillo Danny Kelly PFT Commenter Matt Ufford Joel Thorman
SD vs DEN DEN DEN DEN DEN SD DEN DEN
DET vs ATL DET DET ATL DET ATL DET DET
STL vs KC STL STL KC KC KC KC KC
HOU vs TEN HOU HOU TEN HOU TEN HOU HOU
MIN vs TB MIN TB MIN TB TB TB MIN
SEA vs CAR SEA SEA SEA SEA CAR SEA SEA
BAL vs CIN BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL CIN CIN
MIA vs JAX MIA MIA JAX MIA JAX MIA MIA
CHI vs NE NE NE NE NE NE CHI NE
BUF vs NYJ BUF BUF BUF NYJ NYJ BUF BUF
PHI vs ARZ ARZ ARZ ARZ ARZ PHI PHI PHI
OAK vs CLE CLE CLE CLE CLE CLE CLE CLE
IND vs PIT IND PIT IND IND IND IND IND
GB vs NO GB GB NO GB GB NO NO
WAS vs DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL

Our panel consists of: David Fucillo, SB Nation's fantasy guru; Danny Kelly, SB Nation NFL contributor; PFT Commenter, SB Nation's hot takes expert; Joel Thorman, SB Nation NFL blogs manager; Matt Ufford, editorial producer, SB Nation studios; Ryan Van Bibber, SB Nation's NFL editor; and Stephen White, retired NFL defensive end and SB Nation NFL contributor.

Our panel's record last week and for the season:

Van Bibber White Fucillo Kelly PFTC Ufford Thorman
Week 7 8-7 10-5 10-5 11-4 10-5 9-6 9-6
Overall 61-45 60-46 67-39 62-44 59-47 64-42 65-41