NFL Week 8 Picks

 We’re sneaking up on the half way point for this NFL season, meaning that by the end of next week, every team will have played at least half its games (I smell a 2nd half predictions column in the works!). There have been some strange results this year as Danny wrote, but I think this is the week we see some statement games from the true contenders. Away we go!

Picks by Brad

Carolina Panthers (4-3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4); Line: Bucs by 1

I’ve been thinking lately that I need to stop placing so much emphasis on the quarterback when I do these picks, but that is probably going to have to wait because in this matchup, QB play is THE discussion. I have routinely accused Famous Jameis of being immature, but at least the guy isn’t storming out of press conferences like an upset toddler. While Cam’s feud with the media is idiotic, I don’t think it impacts his play on the field. However, it does make me question his leadership which is a big part of being the QB and a team captain. Speaking of leadership, fortunately for the Panthers it looks like Luke Kuechly will play. As for Tampa, they blew a 7-point lead in the fourth quarter last week en route to a narrow loss at Buffalo. Winston’s numbers have been pretty good this season, but he just seems to turn the ball over at the worst possible moment. The Buccaneers have been unable to run the ball effectively and that will hurt against a stiff Carolina defense. Panthers 23, Bucs 20

Chicago Bears (3-4) @ New Orleans Saints (4-2); Line: Saints by 10

I’m glad I didn’t watch the Bears play last weekend because that game had to have been atrocious, but I’m also curious about some of the statistical outcomes. The 17-3 scoreline is strange a bit of a surprise, but the real shocker to me, and one of the things the league has been talking about all week, is Mitch Trubisky attempting just seven passes in the Bears’ victory. It’s going to take a lot more offense against a Saints team that has found some magic on offense over the last month. The Adrian Peterson experiment failed, but now that he’s gone, Sean Payton is utilizing his running backs in a way that just makes more sense for the team. Could the Saints ultimately be the third straight team from the NFC South to reach the Super Bowl? I think it’s in play if they can get home field advantage. On a fast track in the dome it’s hard to keep up with Drew Brees. The Bears will fall behind early and get boat-raced as they play outside their comfort zone trying to catch up. Saints 34, Bears 13

Denver Broncos (3-3) @ Kansas City Chiefs (5-2); Line: Chiefs by 8

This game feels like two teams headed in opposite directions although each lost to a division rival last time out. KC is coming off the mini-bye after a tough-to-swallow loss to a desperate Raiders team on Thursday Night Football. It’s a 50-50 game on the short week. The officiating was questionable. The ending was wonky. I’m giving the Chiefs a pass. Denver, on the other hand, was a complete no show on Sunday in Carson. They couldn’t run the ball at all and game manager Trevor Siemian wasn’t able to make enough plays in the passing game. As Chris mentioned, it was the first time the Broncos have been shutout since 1992. The Broncos will get on the board this week, but the Chiefs will be focused and ready to get back to winning. Chiefs 23, Broncos 13

Picks by Chris

TNF Bonus Pick! Miami Dolphins (4-2) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-4); Line: Ravens by 3

I’ve been persuaded to throw in a bonus pick this week, but I didn’t need much convincing. My favorite train wreck is back and I can’t wait to see what happens! The anemic Baltimore Ravens face off with the Miami Dolphins at home and who wins this one is anyone’s guess. If we were solely focused on the record, the Dolphins appear poised for another win, but frankly, I don’t know how they’re 4 and 2. Meanwhile, everything I know about the Ravens this season says they’re going to lose this game, but it feels like ANYTHING is possible with this Dolphins squad, including a catastrophic meltdown.

Still, Joe Flacco, the worst contract in NFL history, has seemingly lost his touch, and I don’t know how they’re going to score any points. I’ll take Jay Ajayi for 600 Alex, Dolphins win this match-up, 21-14.

Somehow.

Oakland Raiders (3-4) @ Buffalo Bills (4-2); Line: Bills by 2.5

The Buffalo Bills may want you to pick against them but that doesn’t mean you should. Their defense fought hard last Sunday against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense that finally performed on the field. Jameis Winston played his role in throwing the game, but the win was as much a victory for the Bill’s defense as it was a loss for Winston’s offense. Meanwhile, the Raiders eked out a win over the Kansas City Chiefs, but I don’t believe the Bills are going to give Derek Carr four opportunities to stay in the game. As long as Tyrod Taylor performs well and doesn’t commit any key turnovers, Buffalo will win this game.

It’s not going to be a high scoring affair, expect a close one at 24-21 in favor of Buffalo.

Houston Texans (3-3) @ Seattle Seahawks (4-2); Line: Seahawks by 5.5

As many of you have gathered, I’m a Deshaun Watson fan. And if you weren’t paying attention, go read some of our previous predictions, here’s one, I think I made my position pretty clear. But this week will be Deshaun’s biggest test of the season. I’m not worried about him turning the ball over, that’s probably going to happen. The best quarterbacks in the league have struggled throwing the ball against this defense over the years and they’ve played well recently. This one will be a battle, the Seahawks have a surprisingly strong pass rush this season, especially for a young quarterback on the road. But this is the type of environment where we discover what this rookie really brings to the table. Previous experience with Watson shows us a man that’s unfazed by adversity, and I believe we see that on Sunday.

I think, Wilson and the Seahawks lose the war of attrition the Texans are prepared for, 24-21 in favor of the Texans.

Dallas Cowboys (3-3) @ Washington Redskins (3-3); Line: Cowboys by 1

Earlier this season I wrote about the Cowboy’s needing Dak Prescott to step up. He struggled early, and some, myself included, felt it was because of a tougher schedule and more focused game planning designed to disrupt the surprise Rookie of the Year from 2016. I may have been right about the outcome of that game, but it’s clear to me that Dak Prescott’s success last year is no fluke. With a QBR of 98.2, 14 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions, he’s not the reason the Cowboys are 3-3. Their offensive line has lost a step this season, and injuries to their defensive unit (read: Sean Lee) are likely big contributors to the on field inconsistency. This offense still has the ability to put up huge numbers though, as evidenced by last week’s 40 to 10 blowout of the San Francisco 49ers.

I don’t think the Redskins have the firepower to contend with this team, especially with the injuries they’ve sustained in recent weeks. I’m calling this 31-21 in favor of the Cowboys.

Picks by Danny

Los Angeles Chargers (3-4) @ New England Patriots (5-2); Line: Patriots by 8.5

After last Sunday’s dismantling of the Atlanta Falcons, the New England Patriots have returned to the top of most power rankings. While I believe that Patriots are a very good team, I’m not ready to say they are the best team in football given their defensive woes do not appear to be behind them. The Patriots defense continues to give more yards per play than any other team in the league. They would likely be near the bottom in points allowed had they not been on the fortuitous side of several fluky plays over the past couple of weeks. The Chargers have yet to beat a team with a winning record, but have been competitive in nearly every game they have played. They have also won more games on the road than they have at home (if you can call it a home). The Patriots have also shown some vulnerability at home where they are currently .500 on the season.

I really want to go out on limb and pick the Chargers here, but that is a little too steep for a team flying across country to play the early game. However, I do believe that Philip Rivers passing attack will cause problems for the Patriots. In the end the Patriots will score more points than Los Angles, but they won’t cover the spread. Patriots 31, Chargers 28

Atlanta Falcons (3-3) @ New York Jets (3-4); Line: Falcons by 4.5

This game is much more intriguing than it looked six or seven weeks ago. The Jets are better than just about anyone predicted and the Falcons are still struggling to resemble the team they were a year ago. These are two teams who are unfamiliar with each other in theory, however Todd Bowles and Dan Quinn faced each other regularly when they were both defensive coordinators for Seattle and Arizona respectively. The Jets are a scrappy team and have been able to gut out some big wins this season but from a pure talent perspective, they will be out classed by a Falcons team that is looking to get right after last week’s loss to the Patriots.

The Falcons get back on the right track, but their lack of a pass rush causes some problems. Falcons 27, Jets 21

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) @ Detroit Lions (3-3); Line: Steelers by 2.5

I was high on the Lions after the first couple of weeks of the season. The defense appeared to be much better than last year and Matthew Stafford was avoiding some of the stupid interceptions that had cost his team in years past. In recent weeks the Lions offense has been absent and this is a defense that is not meant to carry the team. The Steelers bring one of the league’s best pass rushes to town this week and their offense looks to have righted itself after some truly ugly performances (Jacksonville). The Steelers have demonstrated they can go on the road and win in tough environments (if you don’t believe me, check out their performance at Kansas City two weeks ago).

I think this game will be close, I’m giving a slight edge to the Steelers because I am a believer in defense. Steelers 21, Lions 20

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