We are just about halfway through the NFL season already and it has been a strange one. The Jaguars and Rams are relevant, the Eagles have the best record in football, the Browns are winless… okay that one is not so weird, but how about the AFC East finally being a pretty competitive division? Or the AFC North being a bad one? It has all been hard to figure but we will continue to pick ’em. Here are my picks/thoughts for the thirteen Week 8 games.
Last Week: 11-4
Thursday, October 26th, 8:25 e.t.
Miami Dolphins (4-2) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-4)
The last handful of Thursday night affairs have been pretty solid games, especially last week in Oakland. This one, on paper, doesn’t scream quality matchup but who knows? I do like the Ravens at home though, and here is why. Baltimore’s defense is due for a breakout game and the Dolphins come into town with Matt Moore at the helm. Is he that much of a downgrade from Jay Cutler, maybe not, but I do think he will struggle with a short week hitting the road against a team desperate to stay relevant.
Baltimore 23, Miami 10
Sunday, October 29th, 9:30 am e.t.
Minnesota Vikings (5-2) @ Cleveland Browns (0-7) (in London)
What a clash at the Twick! Okay, that was a lie. London seems destined for another poor game with one of the best teams in the league taking on the worst. This is actually not the biggest mismatch with records of the week, but it is the biggest in terms of talent. The Browns hung tough with the Titans at home but that was more of an aberration in my opinion. They don’t have the skill players on offense to make much headway against this swarming defense from the Vikings.
Minnesota 31, Cleveland 7
Sunday, October 29th, 1:00 e.t.
Carolina Panthers (4-3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4)
The Panthers are certainly a week-to-week proposition because one week they look like world-beaters and then the next they can fall flat on their face. I could see them blowing this game out or getting blown out. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay’s offense has been inconsistent on the year. They’ve yet to put a complete game together and their defense has been very bad to this point. Against a Panther team with a good defense and an, at times, scary offense, I do not like their odds of pulling this game out.
Carolina 30, Tampa Bay 24
Indianapolis Colts (2-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (2-4)
A couple of two win teams hook horns in Cincy here when the Colts face the Bengals. After getting shut out by the Jaguars, Indy’s season can officially be considered done while the Bengals are desperate to stay alive. I like them to do just that at home with an offense that until last week under Bill Lazor has looked pretty good. The Colt “D” is not very good.
Cincinnati 33, Indianapolis 13 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***
San Francisco 49ers (0-7) @ Philadelphia Eagles (6-1)
This game pits the team with the best record in the league, at home mind you, against the team that is tied for the worst record. The Eagles lost two key players in their Monday night win over the Redskins in Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks, but that is not going to matter this week. Carson Wentz cemented his case for being in the MVP discussion on Monday and he is capable of carrying the team. He won’t have to this Sunday as the Eagles should win easily with their running game and defense.
Philadelphia 27, San Francisco 14
Oakland Raiders (3-4) @ Buffalo Bills (4-2)
This game is one of the better ones on the docket for Week 8 and it is probably the hardest one for me to pick. I think I am going to go with the Raiders to win because they seem to have found their mojo on offense and could be at the beginning of an upswing. Marshawn Lynch will miss his chance to play in Buffalo for the first time since being traded due to a suspension so that could hurt, but I think that Tampa Bay exposed the Buffalo “D” a bit last week and I like the well rested Raiders to pick up on that.
Oakland 26, Buffalo 19
Los Angeles Chargers (3-4) @ New England Patriots (5-2)
The Patriots played their best game of the season last Sunday night at home against a reeling Falcon team and seem to be peaking as we forge towards November, like they usually do. The Chargers defense did just shut out the Broncos and has been a very underrated unit to this point in the year and I like them to keep this game close through three quarters. However, you can only slow Tom Brady for so long and I can see them running away with this one in the fourth quarter at home.
New England 33, Los Angeles 17
Atlanta Falcons (3-3) @ New York Jets (3-4)
The Atlanta offense has been struggling lately and has people calling for O.C. Steve Sarkesian’s job. They are 0-3 against the AFC East and desperately need a win to keep pace with the suddenly hot Saints in their own division. I think they get something going on offense against the Jets and take this one on the road. New York hung tough but eventually blew the game against Miami and can do the same thing here. The thing is, if this does turn into a shootout I don’t think that Josh McCown can keep pace with Matt Ryan.
Atlanta 27, New York 20
Chicago Bears (3-4) @ New Orleans Saints (4-2)
The Saints have won four straight games and will now host the Chicago Bears who just won a game with only five first downs! They are going to have to do a heck of a lot better than that this week if they want to hang in there against the Saints who can actually lean on their defense and running game a bit. For the first time since 2013 New Orleans has a winning record and it is no fluke as I believe they are favorites to win the south at this point in the season. They should improve to 5-2 with a win over the Bears who do not typically travel well this year.
New Orleans 29, Chicago 15
Sunday, October 29th, 4:05 e.t.
Houston Texans (3-3) @ Seattle Seahawks (4-2)
The Texans are coming off of their BYE Week and immediately get thrown back into the fire on the road in Seattle. DeShaun Watson has been fantastic for Houston this year but I don’t like his chances going against Seattle’s defense on the road here. The Hawk’s offense looked great against the Giants last week, even though they struggled to finish some drives. I think they put it together this week and blow out the Texans.
Seattle 39, Houston 14
Dallas Cowboys (3-3) @ Washington Redskins (3-3)
I like this game. The loser is going to have a tough time getting back into the NFC East race, especially if it’s Washington having already lost twice to the Eagles. The Cowboys looked phenomenal on the road in San Fran and it was mostly because of the efforts of Ezekiel Elliot. He makes this team better and Dallas can keep pace with Philly if he stays on the field. I was going to take the Redskins here because they will be desperate, but I really don’t like the way their defense stacks up to the Cowboys. Dallas should take this one on the road.
Dallas 28, Washington 22
Sunday, October 29th, 8:30 e.t.
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) @ Detroit Lions (3-3)
Will this be the week that Al and Cris finally get a good game? I think it is. I really like Pittsburgh and where they are going this year, but I am going to take the Lions at home. Detroit is coming off of a BYE and almost made a 35 point comeback the week prior. Of course, they played poorly enough to go down by 35 in the first place but if the game is on the line I think we can all trust that Matthew Stafford will make some plays. Look for this one to go down to the wire on Sunday night.
Detroit 30, Pittsburgh 28 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***
Monday, October 30th, 8:30 e.t.
Denver Broncos (3-3) @ Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)
Both of these teams come into this game having lost two straight contests but I feel much better about KC than I do Denver. The Bronco offense has vanished over the past couple of weeks while the Chiefs attack looked great against the Raiders. It was their defense that let the game get away. Playing at home on a Monday night for the second time this year, I think that they can use that crowd to their advantage and really get after Trevor Siemian. Look for the Chiefs to get back to their winning ways.
Kansas City 34, Denver 17