Week 8 of the NFL started with a clunker. What an embarrassing effort by Jacksonville Thursday. More importantly, I was on the wrong side of a three and a half point spread. The good news is I was a season best 10-4-1 last week, including calling the Chargers upset of Atlanta. 53-54-5 is my record for the year. With six teams on byes this week, the slate is a bit light. My picks are bolded and outright upsets have an asterisk. Here is to keeping the good roll going.
Redskins at Bengals (-3) (London) – What an odd matchup for the NFL to send to London. These teams almost never play each other. The Redskins suffered a crushing loss in the final seconds to Detroit last week, while the Bengals did exactly what they were supposed to do with Cleveland. You have two teams with similar records that are starting to trend in opposite directions. Additionally, A.J. Green should have a field day against an injury filled and underperforming Redskins secondary. Cin 27 Was 17
Cardinals at Panthers (-3) – After last week’s error filled yet fascinating tie, Arizona is now looking way up at both the Seahawks and Rams in the NFC West and on the wrong end of tiebreakers should they come into play. After outplaying Seattle so thoroughly and having nothing to show for it, I expect a hangover. Conversely, professional pride must kick in for the Panthers following the bye week. Their fall from 15-1 to 1-5 is mind-boggling. Fortunately, they are catching the Cardinals at the right time. Car 28 AZ 17.
*Lions at Texans (-2.5)-This is one of those lines that is almost too good to be true, which means I will end up looking stupid. That being said, has anyone watched these two teams play in the last month? Matthew Stafford is the hottest quarterback in football and Brock Osweiler just plain stinks. With Minnesota and Green Bay suddenly dealing with significant issues, the Lions are primed for a playoff push. It starts by winning this game. Det 34 Hou 24
Chiefs (-2.5) at Colts-This is my favorite pick of the week. The Chiefs are a really good football team. Indianapolis has not beaten one of those this year. On the other hand, the Colts are simply a collection of quarterback Andrew Luck and 52 other guys. Luck is plenty good enough to beat teams like Tennessee all on his own, but this is not Tennessee. KC 30 Ind 20
Patriots (-6) at *Bills-This is not a mistake. As we already saw once of this year, Buffalo’s top-flight running game and physical defense are a bad matchup for New England, with or without Tom Brady. Even with LeSean McCoy banged up, the threat of quarterback Tyrod Taylor taking off should open up lanes for whoever the running back is. No offense is dangerous when they are standing on the sideline, even the Patriots. Also, we really have not seen Brady get hit since he returned. Regardless of the outcome, the Ryan brothers and their blitz heavy scheme will make sure he gets hit on Sunday. No player reacts well to that, especially when it has been a while. Buf 24 NE 20
Jets (-3) at *Browns- Ryan Fitzpatrick is like a bad cold. The Jets organization just cannot get rid of him, no matter how hard it tries. He will start again here out of necessity. Cleveland’s never ending game of musical quarterback chairs rolls on. Both teams are a mess. After this game, every team remaining on Cleveland’s schedule could be a playoff team. If not now for the Browns to win a game in 2016… When? Cle 20 NYJ 17
Raiders at Bucs (PK) – Oakland has feasted on bad teams in order to accumulate its perfect road record. However, Tampa Bay simply is not a bad team. At .500, the playoffs are not a huge stretch. The Raiders may also be looking ahead to next week’s primetime showdown with division rival Denver. The defense is still giving up over six yards a play. We will see a duel between two very promising young quarterbacks in Jameis Winston and Derek Carr. They both could be the faces of this league for years to come. TB 28 Oak 24
Seahawks (-2.5) at Saints- Seattle managing to pull out a tie Sunday night in Arizona was actually quite impressive… Seriously. They were beaten by roughly double in every major statistical category. At times, this offense is hard to watch, but they always seem to do just enough. Going to the Superdome is never an easy task, but Seattle will be able to stop the Saints offense enough to get the job done. There is something about Russell Wilson and this team. They get outplayed fairly often, but somehow manage to hang around long enough for something good to happen. In this matchup, they are simply the better team. Sea 26 NO 20
Chargers at Broncos (-5) – I said it would happen and here it is. I am picking against the Broncos. The upset in Atlanta last week for the Chargers should put the whole league on notice. With Philip Rivers playing like he is, the Chargers are an uncomfortable matchup for anyone. The Broncos finally got back to being themselves Monday night running the ball down Houston’s throat and reminding everyone why they did not pay Brock Osweiler big money. However, the loss of C.J. Anderson for an extended period of time really hurts this offense. Young players who may not be ready now have to shoulder more of the load than they are capable of. It will take a few weeks to adjust. However, the defense is still great. This has the feel of a field goal game one way or the other. Den 24 SD 21.
*Packers at Falcons (-3) – Aaron Rodgers still is not quite himself, but he was better last Thursday with no conventional running game to speak of. After last week, Atlanta looks a lot like last year’s team that went 5-0 and missed the playoffs. With that defense, 30 points is the bare minimum required by the offense (Matt Ryan and Julio Jones) in order to win. That is a tough way to live in the NFL. I will take Aaron Rodgers and points every single time. The Falcons defense is exactly what the Packers offense needs. GB 31 Atl 28
Eagles at Cowboys (-4.5) – Dallas is simply a machine right now. They do have a quarterback decision looming, but right now all Dak Prescott has to do is ride on Ezekiel Elliott and that offensive line to victory while making a few big-time throws in the process. Carson Wentz has yet to lead his Eagles into a road game of this magnitude against a quality opponent. Not to mention Philadelphia is a young team coming off a huge win last week. I see a pretty one-sided game. Dal 34 Phi 20
MNF: Vikings (-4.5) at *Bears– Halloween night will serve as the backdrop for this game. Strange things tend to happen. Why not call for an upset? Sam Bradford is simply not good enough to make up for the lack of talent around him all season long. Another performance like last week from the offensive line, and he will not make it through the game. When you only have one loss and the coach calls the team’s performance “soft” and “embarrassing”, it is time to panic. After reluctantly boarding the Vikings bandwagon, I am backing off. On the other side, Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler may be playing for his career. He has too much God-given talent not to rise to the occasion. This one will not be pretty. Chi 14 Min 10