Week 7 was a much more stable week in the NFL; most of the favorites took care of business. As a result, we had a bounce-back week in terms of our predictions will go, and hopefully, that happens again this weekend. Then again, it could be another week of upsets galore; this has been a very unpredictable year of football. What will it be? Who’ll improve their playoff positions, and who’ll fall behind the rest of the pack? Let’s predict every game of Week 8!
TNF: Redskins (1-6) at Vikings (5-2)
Spread Pick: MIN (-16.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (42)
Score Prediction: Redskins 3 Vikings 27
It’s the quarterback revenge game on Thursday Night Football! Both Kirk Cousins and Case Keenum will face their former teams, as the Vikings host the Redskins. Minnesota will be without star receiver Adam Thielen in this game, which could help level the playing field, but still, I’m all over the Vikings in this game, despite the gargantuan spread. Washington’s secondary and linebackers are concerns, so expect Minnesota’s offense, whose offensive line won’t be challenged, to find success with play-action passes and a heavy dose of running back Dalvin Cook. Plus, if the Redskins continue to try the run the ball constantly in this game, they’ll have no success against one of the best run defenses in the NFL, and their offensive line will be overwhelmed against a talented pass rush. This is a complete mismatch, though I like the under with two weak offensive lines against two strong defensive lines, and honestly, I’d be surprised if the Redskins even score a touchdown in this game.
Seahawks (5-2) at Falcons (1-6)
Spread Pick: SEA (-7)
Over/Under Pick: Under (53)
Score Prediction: Seahawks 30 Falcons 14
Had we had two healthy quarterbacks in this game, perhaps we could have had an entertaining shootout in this game. Alas, it’s unclear if Matt Ryan will play in this game, which diminished any hope of them pulling off an upset against the Seahawks. Ryan and the Falcons passing attack has been the only source of optimism this season, and without him healthy and with receiver Mohamed Sanu in New England now, Atlanta won’t be able to take advantage of the Seahawks’ suspect secondary. Then, there’s the Falcons defense, who have played so poorly that an argument can be made their performance has been worse than the Dolphins at times. They give up a significant amount of explosive passing plays on blown coverages, and Seattle, led by MVP favorite Russell Wilson, has a very well-designed vertical passing game. Assuming Ryan doesn’t play, I see an absolute blowout for the Seahawks in what could be a “get right” game for them, similar to the Rams against the Falcons last week.
Eagles (3-4) at Bills (5-1)
Spread Pick: PHI (+2)
Over/Under Pick: Over (42.5)
Score Prediction: Eagles 27 Bills 24
Is this Eagles-Bills game the matchup of polar opposites? While the Eagles, many’s Super Bowl pick, has disappointed with a 3-4 start, the Bills have been a pleasant surprise with a 5-1 start. In a way, that makes this game a little easier to predict; a regression back to the mean can be expected. The main culprit of the Eagles’ secondary has been their secondary, particularly versus deep passes. However, Josh Allen is actually the worst passer in the NFL currently with passes over 20 yards; he’s not the quarterback the expose those issues. Plus, Philadelphia’s offense is at its best when it can be balanced, and Buffalo’s minor problems in run defense could be an issue; the Bills defensive line is filled with undersized players who are excellent pass rushers, but given the Eagles’ success in pass protection, they likely won’t have much of an impact in this game. The Bills have yet to beat a winning team, while the Eagles’ early schedule has been filled with tough opponents; the public perceptions of these teams have been skewed incorrectly, and this game should serve as a reminder that the Eagles’ talent is still impressive, while Buffalo isn’t quite capable of beating high-quality opponents yet.
Chargers (2-5) at Bears (3-3)
Spread Pick: CHI (-3.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (40.5)
Score Prediction: Chargers 10 Bears 23
Coming into the season, the Chargers and Bears were seen as Super Bowl contenders. Now, the two teams have a combined record of 5-8; this is essentially the “disappointment bowl”. While it’s hard to side with a team quarterbacked by Mitchell Trubisky, how can one possibly pick the Chargers at this point? The offensive line play is atrocious, and the Bears pass rush, which still remains elite, should have a field day against that group. Additionally, receiver Keenan Allen may not play in this game, which further will allow Chicago’s defense to single-handedly win this game for them. It also doesn’t hurt that the Bears offense, which functions better when they can take the ball out of Trubisky’s hands, face a weak Chargers run defense; this is the type of team Chicago is built to feast upon, and I fully expect them to do just that in this game.
Giants (2-5) at Lions (2-3-1)
Spread Pick: NYG (+7)
Over/Under Pick: Over (49.5)
Score Prediction: Giants 31 Lions 35
Are the Lions heading down a similar path to last year? For the second straight season, they started the year as a sneaky playoff contender, only to start to fade over time. By dropping three straight games, with the defense allowing 33 points per game, Detroit has suddenly gone from being arguably the best team in the NFC North back to a mediocre football team. That alone should make people hesitant to back the Lions as seven-point favorites, but as far as to win the game outright, I have confidence they’ll be able to do so. Detroit’s faced a brutal schedule during their three-game losing streak (Chiefs, Packers, Vikings), and naturally, they should fare better against a far inferior team. Said inferior team (the Giants) have one of the worst secondaries in the NFL, and considering the Lions’ passing game has been quietly excellent this season, that looks to be a complete mismatch. Plus, Matt Patricia is one of the smarter defensive minds from his New England days, and even if his defense is faltering as of late, I have confidence he’ll be able to disguise enough coverages to confuse rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. Detroit is the better team, the more desperate team, and will certainly get a great performance from Matthew Stafford, at least on paper; it may not be as easy as expected, but the Lions should get back on track this weekend.
Broncos (2-5) at Colts (4-2)
Spread Pick: DEN (+5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (42)
Score Prediction: Broncos 20 Colts 17
Following their win against the Texans, the Colts have been hyped up this week as potentially the second-best team in the AFC, while head coach Frank Reich has put himself in the driver’s seat to win the Coach of the Year award. Meanwhile, the Broncos just traded away receiver Emmanuel Sanders, and were a laughingstock in an embarrassing primetime loss to the Chiefs. Similar to Eagles-Bills, are we in line for a course correction in this game? On paper, the Broncos match up really well with Indianapolis. Their top run defense should help neutralize Indianapolis’ strong rushing attack, and if they can make Jacoby Brissett beat them, I like their chances. Especially, since they also have a very strong secondary, and in Chris Harris Jr., have a cornerback that can line up with TY Hilton on the outside and in the slot; Denver will be able to take away the Colts’ two main assets, thus making them very vulnerable. Then, there’s Indianapolis’ poor run defense, facing an offense centered around rushing the football; if the Broncos can run the ball effectively in this game, and sprinkle in some competency from the passing attack, they’ll be in a good position to take control of this game early and also keep the Colts from dominating the time of possession, which is the formula of how to beat them. Indianapolis has defied the odds on multiple occasions, and are very well-coached, but I trust Broncos head coach Vic Fangio on a longer week; I’m sensing an upset.
Jets (1-6) at Jaguars (3-4)
Spread Pick: NYJ (+6.5)
Over/Under Pick: Over (40.5)
Score Prediction: Jets 28 Jags 17
In classic Jets fashion, they were humiliated by the Patriots on Monday Night Football. As a result, New York has gone from a 4.5-point underdog to a 6.5-point underdog at Jacksonville; the public has reacted harshly to their primetime loss, which is noteworthy; spreads that are inflated from the opening line usually don’t work in favor of the favorite. Sam Darnold played awful against New England, but who hasn’t? Before then, he was dicing up a very solid Cowboys defense, which just happens to have a lot in common with the Jags. In fact, with athletic linebackers, a defense that relies on their defensive line, a lot of zone coverage, and an offense that becomes stagnant when they become obsessed with the rushing attack, Jacksonville is essentially Dallas, but without the talent; on paper, the Jets look a juicy bet. Focusing more on the Jaguars offense, Gardner Minshew can at times struggle reading coverages and holds onto the ball long, which he cannot afford to do against a Gregg Williams defense that will throw a lot of different blitzes at him; Minshew could make a few costly mistakes in this game that could put New York in the driver’s seat. The Jets should be angry after the amount they’ve been ridiculed this week, and I expect them to play enough inspired football to win on the road against a team they’re honestly as talented as; how are they 6.5-point underdogs?
Cardinals (3-3-1) at Saints (6-1)
Spread Pick: ARI (+10.5)
Over/Under Pick: Over (48)
Score Prediction: Cardinals 34 Saints 24
Will it be Drew Brees or Teddy Bridgewater under center? That’s the question for the Saints, who also aren’t sure if they’ll have the services of running back Alvin Kamara for this game. Either way, this confusion cannot be ideal for a team that’s been stable ever since Brees went down with the injury. Even if he’s the superior option, Brees could be rusty, and the team’s transition back to him could very well not be smooth. In some weeks, that’d be fine, but against a hot Cardinals team? Not so much. New Orleans secondary is still susceptible to big plays, and that’s exactly what they’ll be in danger of allowing against dynamic rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, who’s athleticism could also expose New Orleans’ slow linebackers. Speaking of the Saints’ front seven, their lack of athleticism is also a problem against Arizona’s outside, quick rushing attack, with or without David Johnson, and it could be a rough day for the pass rush against one of the better pass protecting offensive lines; this isn’t the Bears or Jaguars; head coach Kliff Kingsbury has designed a very efficient offensive scheme in Arizona, and he’ll be able to expose what inferior offenses couldn’t with the Saints defense. Meanwhile, New Orleans has still yet to address their lack of receiver depth, and assuming corner Patrick Peterson is able to neutralize receiver Michael Thomas, there aren’t a lot of clear ways in which the Saints can have enough success offensively to keep up with the Cardinals offense. Arizona has found their identity on both sides of the ball, while the Saints are in a minor identity crisis right now; the Cardinals should come out firing in this game on their way to a rather convincing win.
Bengals (0-7) at Rams (4-3)
Spread Pick: LAR (-11)
Over/Under Pick: Under (47.5)
Score Prediction: Bengals 0 Rams 38
Following the acquisition of star corner Jalen Ramsey and a blowout victory in Atlanta, there seems to an impressive sense of energy with the Rams right now. Now, they practically get a gift; the face a hapless Bengals team that is on the verge of a firesale. Cincinnati’s offensive line is a disaster, and now they’ll face a Rams pass rush led by Aaron Donald and Dante Fowler Jr., with Ramsey taking away their only weapon in receiver Tyler Boyd. Good luck, Andy Dalton. On the other side of the ball, Los Angeles’ offense is at their best when they can be balanced, and they’ll be able to pass and run the ball well against a Bengals team with an injured secondary and no run defense; the Bengals also have oversized, slower linebackers, and they could be exposed against Los Angeles’ zone rushing attack. London games are always weird, but this one looks pretty straight forward; the Rams should absolutely demolish Cincinnati in every facet of the game.
Buccanneers (2-4) at Titans (3-4)
Spread Pick: TEN (-2.5)
Over/Under Pick: Over (45.5)
Score Prediction: Bucs 17 Titans 29
Oh boy. For those who predict games, there are two teams that stand out as the hardest to peg: the Buccaneers and the Titans. In fact, since they’re the most erratic teams in their respective conferences, this can be seen as the Super Bowl of unpredictability. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians has had a lot of success off of bye week in his career, and coming off of multiple poor games, Jameis Winston seems due to have a big game (it’s what he does). However, Tampa Bay is also without multiple offensive linemen in this game, which is extremely problematic; with Cameron Wake and first-round rookie Jeffrey Simmons back healthy, along with Jurrell Casey, Daquon Jones, and edge rusher Harold Landry, Tennesee suddenly has one of the best pass rushes in the NFL. Getting pressure on Winston could force him to make mistakes, especially since their defense is built to limit explosive passing attacks, especially slot receivers. That last note is particularly significant, as Tampa Bay’s best receiver, Chris Godwin, does most of his damage in the slot. Yes, it’s hard to trust Ryan Tannehill, but it’s not as though he’s facing much of a test; the Bucs once again have one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, and with a solid offensive line and a deep group of receivers, I expect him to have another above-average performance. I could easily see Tampa Bay, off of two losses, and Tennesee, off a win, reversing roles in this game, but I’ll take the Titans at home.
Panthers (4-2) at 49ers (6-0)
Spread Pick: SF (-5.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (41)
Score Prediction: Panthers 13 49ers 23
In what is definitely the best late-game off the week, two premier NFC teams will face off when the Panthers travel to San Francisco to take on the undefeated 49ers. With Kyle Allen under center, Carolina is 4-0, and has played sound football on both sides of the ball. While that may on the surface look like strong evidence that they’re a better, and revived team with Allen, there are some red flags. For starters, Allen has yet to play a strong defense in his four-game stretch, has a fumbling problem, and his zero interception pace is clearly unsustainable. Expect him to see some regression against one of the league’s most fearsome defense, which includes the best pass rush in the league that should exploit. Additionally, the Panthers defense has played sound zone coverage, but their pass rush may struggle against one of the better offensive lines in the NFL, while head coach Kyle Shanahan’s scheme is built to destroy zone coverage. Carolina is the type of feisty team that could easily stay in this game, but at least on paper, they appear to be overmatched in this game.
Raiders (3-3) at Texans (4-3)
Spread Pick: HOU (-6.5)
Over/Under: Over (51.5)
Score Prediction: Raiders 17 Texans 42
With both of the two teams in this Raiders-Texans matchup with three losses, this game should be even, right? Not so fast. Oakland has played spirited football, but at some point, their talent deficiency was bound to catch up to them, and it appeared to in their 42-24 blowout loss in Green Bay last week. Even if trading cornerback Gareon Conley (to Houston ironically) doesn’t hurt their pass defense, having practically zero pass rush and a poor secondary is a major issue, but it’s especially true this week. Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense has been extremely explosive this season, and I expect them to absolutely destroy the Raiders defense on every level. Yes, Oakland has had an underrated passing attack that should neutralize Houston’s pass rush with quick passes, but their offense runs best when they can complement Derek Carr with a strong rushing attack, and it’s unlikely they’ll be able to keep up with their “mauler” identity up front against a stout Texans offensive line. These two teams are simply on different planets in reference to their talent; this is one of the easier games to pick.
Browns (2-4) at Patriots (7-0)
Spread Pick: NE (-11)
Over/Under Pick: Under (43.5)
Score Prediction: Browns 7 Pats 27
At the beginning of the season, this looked like a potential statement game for the Browns; this was seen as a “old-school” versus “new-school” type of affair. Now, we’re looking at another three-score win for the Patriots. While Cleveland has been an undisciplined mess this season – their talent has yet to mesh together – New England takes advantage of those types of teams. Their defense, which is playing at a historic level, is phenomenal defending deep passes, which is essentially the Browns entire offense, and Bill Belichick’s disguised coverages are bound to confuse Baker Mayfield, and cause him to commit multiple turnovers. Furthermore, the Browns run defense has been disastrous this season, which plays right into what the Patriots offense wants to exploit; they’re a run-first power rushing attack that should control the ball and clock, thus forcing Mayfield to try to play hero anymore. Long story short, I’d be surprised if this game is closer than three scores; both teams should continue their usual ways this week.
SNF: Packers (6-1) at Chiefs (5-2)
Spread Pick: GB (-5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (47.5)
Score Prediction: Packers 34 Chiefs 10
At the beginning of this season, a Packers-Chiefs Sunday Night Football matchup looked a game of the year possibility. Not only would we be seeing Aaron Rodgers, but we’d be getting to watch him face his younger clone in Patrick Mahomes, in addition to watching two of the best teams in the NFL face off. Well, with Mahomes out with a knee injury, it’ll be Matt Moore under center for Kansas City, but the injuries don’t stop there. Tackle Eric Fisher, guard Andrew Wylie, defensive tackle Chris Jones, edge rusher Frank Clark, and slot corner Kendall Fuller all won’t play in this game with various injuries; the Chiefs will not only be hurt badly on offense, but their few talented defensive players are gone. Yes, their well-coached by Andy Reid and have an outstanding home-field advantage, but there’s no way that’s enough to overcome all that adversity to stay competitive against one of the best teams in football; expect Green Bay to dominate.
MNF: Dolphins (0-6) at Steelers (2-4)
Spread Pick: PIT (-14)
Over/Under Pick: Under (43)
Score Prediction: Dolphins 3 Steelers 31
Monday Night Football is really having a rough time this season. They’ve had a lot of blowouts this season, and now, it may hit an all-time low; the tanking Dolphins travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Mason Rudolph-led Steelers. Pittsburgh may not have a lot working for them, but this matchup between teams with a combined 2-10 record favors them significantly. They’ve had arguably the most productive pass rush this season, with a strong front seven that also is great in run defense. Luckily for them, they get to face the league’s worst offensive line, and although playing against Ryan Fitzpatrick is scary, coming off back-to-back solid games, he’s due for a letdown game filled with ill-advised turnovers. Furthermore, Rudolph has a very task against a hapless Dolphins pass defense, and Pittsburgh is notorious for dominating on Monday Night Football. That trend will almost certainly continue; the Dolphins still don’t look to be close to winning a game, and honestly, just don’t have the hope that the Steelers have managed to preserve.