Week 8 is upon us. Teams are starting to separate themselves and are laying claim to their divisions. Some preseason darlings are struggling, and the surprise teams are popping up. Unfortunately, it’s a weak slate of games this week, with very few marquee matchups. But we pick them all here, so lets get to it.
(Home team in CAPS)
Lions (- 3 ½) over Falcons (in London). The NFL’s second London game of the year. Unlike most of them, which start at 6 PM London time to fit into the NFL’s window, this game is being played at 2:30 London time, kicking off at 9:30 AM EST. Depending on how the ratings are for this game, this may become an annual tradition. As for the game, this looked a lot better on paper in April than it does today. The Falcons have struggled mightily all season. They can’t run the ball nor can they protect the quarterback. Matt Ryan doesn’t have enough time to be effective, and the Falcons have struggled to be competitive most weeks. Detroit may still be without Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson, but they should be able to win this game by a touchdown or more.
Vikings (+ 2 ½) over BUCCANEERS: Two downtrodden squads will rekindle their old NFC Central rivalry. Both teams feature struggling offenses, and mediocre defenses. The Vikings let one get away last week in Buffalo, but Teddy Bridgewater had his best game as a pro. He protected the ball, and didn’t make mistakes. This game should be low scoring, and when thats the case, I always take the points.
PATRIOTS (- 5 ½) over Bears. Since being left for dead at 2-2 after their blowout loss to Kansas City, the Patriots have reeled off three straight wins, while Tom Brady has thrown nine touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Expect that to continue against a Bears team that does not play defense like it used to. Chicago is stinging over last week’s loss to Miami, and there is both internal and external strife about the team and it’s quarterback, Jay Cutler. I do expect a good showing from Chicago in this one, but I also expect them to fall short by about a touchdown at Foxborough.
CHIEFS (-7) over Rams. The toughest bet on the board. The Rams played inspired last week, and dug deep into their bag of tricks in their upset of the Seahawks. Andy Reid will have his Chiefs ready for the trickery, and will control the clock with Jamaal Charles and the run game. Austin Davis has been quite good for the Rams to date, and St. Louis is not a pushover, but the Chiefs veteran presence will be enough for the win.
PANTHERS (+5) over Seahawks. The Seahawks of old are back. Not the same team on the road. Not even close. I bought into them last week, when Seattle OC Darrell Bevell claimed Marshawn Lynch was going to be more involved in the offense. He still only had 18 carries, as the Seahawks fell behind early and couldn’t complete the comeback. Carolina is as hot and cold as any team in the league this year, but every team is fired up when the Super Bowl Champions come to town.
Bills (+ 3) over JETS. I just can’t lay points with a 1-6 team. I’m very interested to see how the Jets use Percy Harvin. He could be a definite game changer for New York. But until I see it, I can’t expect much from the Jets offense. So I expect another slow, plodding, low scoring game. Kyle Orton will make less mistakes than Geno Smith, and the Bills will steal one here.
DOLPHINS (-6) over Jaguars. Jacksonville is flying high after their first victory of the season last week, while the Dolphins looked excellent while dismantling the Bears. The Dolphins can make a statement in this game and I expect them to do so.
Texans (- 3) over TITANS. Tennessee was so embarrassed losing at Washington last week that they have now turned their reigns over to their third string quarterback, rookie Zach Mettenberger. The Texans will reap the rewards here, as their excellent defense should feast on the rookie. Houston is no world beaters themselves, but a comfortable 17-3 victory should be in the cards here.
Ravens (- 1) over BENGALS. If AJ Green is active, I’m changing my pick. But as of Friday, it looks like Green will miss one more game with his toe injury. The Bengals are a much different team without Green, and their offense will struggle once again without him. Green does a great job opening up the field for Andy Dalton, but without him, the Ravens should be able to focus on Gio Bernard and bottle him up. These games between these two are always close, but the Ravens will pull this out.
Eagles (+ 2 ½) over CARDINALS. The marquee game of the afternoon, this game has all the makings of a shootout. Philadelphia’s offense has yet to find it’s groove, but Chip Kelly made some adjustments during the bye week. They should be ready. Carson Palmer will do his best to keep up, but the Eagles defense will make a big play or two, as they have all season. That will be the difference in this one.
Colts (-3) over STEELERS. Andrew Luck continues his masterful season. I don’t see the Steelers slowing him down at all. Pittsburgh was lucky to escape with a win on Monday night, as they benefitted greatly from a 2 minute Houston breakdown at the end of the half which resulted in 21 points. Antonio Brown will get his, and the Steelers will make a game of it, but I expect this game to be a comfortable Indianapolis lead in the 4th quarter and an easy 10 point win.
Raiders (+7) over BROWNS. Last week I said the Browns wouldn’t overlook the Jaguars. I was wrong. Because of that reason, I’m not expecting them to not overlook the Raiders. Oakland hung tough again last week against Arizona, so I could see this game being close. If the Browns want to be taken seriously, they need to blow Oakland out.
SAINTS (-2) over Packers. At least we get an excellent Sunday night game. If the Saints are going to make a stand, this is the time. They are still an excellent home team, and I can see Drew Brees going shot for shot with Aaron Rodgers. This could be a last team that has the ball wins kind of game. I’ll go with the home team.
Redskins (+ 10) over COWBOYS. I just want the Redskins to win. Odds are Dallas will wipe the floor with the overmatched Redskins, especially with Colt McCoy under center. Robert Griffin III is a game time decision for Monday night, but that’s a long shot. The way Dallas has looked this season, this is a total mismatch. So I wouldn’t take my advice on this game.
BEST BET: Miami
SEASON RECORD: 6-8