NFL Week 8 Picks

I’m going to chalk the 9-6 record last week up to the fact that I was sitting in an airport trying to rush through things. Still, to manage 9 correct picks in those conditions, with a wonky wifi connection and screaming babies in my ear, I’ll take it. The overall is at 66-41, still in the thick of things with ESPN’s experts. We march on.

Your byes for Week 8: Chicago, Tennessee, Indy, Baltimore, San Diego, Houston

Carolina Panthers (-6) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Thursday, 8:25pm

It was another defensive show for the Panthers last week against the Rams—in their three wins this year, Carolina has held teams to a combined 25 points (just over 8 per game). This week they get to go up against a Tampa  Bay team that ranks 31st in yards per game (297.8) and points per game (14.5), and that is still searching for its first win—a perfect storm for the team that gives up the third lowest total yards per game (302.2) and second fewest points per game (13.8), which includes a 38-0 shutout of the Giants. Panthers win 28-10

New York Giants (+6) @ Philadelphia Eagles, 1pm

The end result here is entirely dependent upon the health of Michael Vick. I’m going to go on the assumption that he plays and stays healthy enough to finish the game. It’ll be the running game that has the biggest say in the final outcome of this one. If the Birds can get McCoy going, with a little flash from Vick every once and again (but not enough to reinjure the hammy), the league’s top rushing attack should thrash a New York defense that has given up 110 yards per game on the ground (21st overall). Eli was able to avoid throwing an interception for the first time all season, but still hasn’t really looked like the same quarterback at all. Even against one of the worst pass defenses, and all of his weapons, I expect the ill-conceived throws to rear their ugly heads again. Eagles win 33-28

San Francisco 49ers (-16.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars, 1pm

I’m really starting to believe that Jax might not win a game this year and well into next. Dating back to the start of the 2012 season, the Jags are 2-21, and they haven’t won a meaningful game since beating Tennessee at home on November 25th. 49ers win 34-13

Dallas Cowboys (+3) @ Detroit Lions, 1pm

Detroit is coming off of a stinging defeat at home against Cincy, while the Cowboys come in having taken control of the NFC East, holding one of the more high-powered offenses in the league to just 3 points. It’ll be quite the spectacle seeing how Megatron and Dez Bryant try to outperform each other in this one. If the same Dallas D shows up as the one that was in Philly, they could sneak out of Detroit with a win, but the Lions offense—and the chip that they’ll be playing with—makes me think they’ll get their first home win against Big D since a 9-7 shootout in 2002. Lions win 27-24

New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins, 1pm

Tom Brady rules the world. Pats win 27-16

Cleveland Browns (+7) @ Kansas City Chiefs, 1pm

The Chiefs could conceivably head into their bye week 9-0, looking ahead to a matchup with Peyton Manning and the now one-loss Broncos at Denver. They can’t look over their next two games against the Browns and Bills, and if there is one thing that Andy Reid was exceptional at (other than burning time outs) it was having his teams prepared to play and focused solely on the task at hand. Oh, and Brandon Weeden sucks balls. Chiefs win 24-9

Buffalo Bills (-12.5) @ New Orleans Saints, 1pm

The Bills have run the fourth most plays in the NFL this season (498), but they’re averaging just over 333 yards per game (18th) and just under 23 points per game. Middle-of-the-pack numbers, but that’s not going to cut it against a Saints team that can put up points almost at will. Further, they’re coming off of a bye and an excruciatingly tough loss to the Pats (remember that insane Tom Brady-esque drive in front of a half-empty stadium, followed by the Sad Rob Ryan face?) and are going to be out for some vengeance. Saints win 35-19

New York Jets (+6.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals, 4:05pm

This one, despite the healthy spread, might be the toughest call of the weekend. The Jets are coming into the game with a hell of a lot of momentum after knocking off Brady and the Pats for the first time in the last seven tries, while the Bengals—who many thought were in line to take over the AFC North in 2013—struggled to eek out a win against the Bills. I don’t like to put a lot of faith in rookie QBs (with the exception of essentially the entire 2012 draft class of ’em), but Geno Smith has done one hell of a job, all things considered, and the Jets D hasn’t missed a beat since losing the rights to Revis Island. They’ve been wildly inconsistent this year, trading Ws and Ls, but I think I like the Jets to get their first back-to-back wins of the year, mainly because Andy Dalton folds against top-notch defenses. Jets win 27-23

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) @ Oakland Raiders, 4:05pm

No matter how well the Steelers have played in recent years, the Oakland Raiders have basically had their number. In the four games they’ve played since 2006, Oakland holds the 3-1 edge and has put up 81 points in their three victories. Also, the Steelers haven’t won a game in the bay area since 1999 when they beat the 49ers, and they haven’t won at Oakland since 1995—they’re 4-9 all-time facing the Raiders on the road. There may have been a resurgence in the Steel City over the last two weeks, but I’m going to go with the historical trends on this one. Raiders win 17-13

Washington Redskins (-13) @ Denver Broncos, 4:25pm

Losing consecutive games isn’t something that Peyton Manning does very often. In fact, since 2002, he’s only lost back-to-back games 9 times (with one three game losing streak in there in ’02, and one instance where the team was resting players for the playoffs, but Manning refused to sit). After losing his homecoming game, he’s going to be looking to make someone pay, and unfortunately for Washington, they’re the next team up on the schedule. With or without the dirtiest player in football at safety, they were bound to struggle in this one. Washington’s putrid pass defense has given up 24 passing plays of 20 or more yards (9th most) and has a 102.1 passer rating against (4th worst). There’s no sugarcoating this one. Broncos win 48-20

Atlanta Falcons (+2.5) @ Arizona Cardinals, 4:25pm

It’s been a rough go for the Falcons this year on the injury front, but without Julio Jones and Roddy White, Harry Douglas stepped up in a monster way last week against the Bucs to help Matt Ryan and the NFL’s 3rd ranked passing attack keep things moving through the air. This week they travel to Phoenix to take on a Cardinals team that struggles to stop the pass (252.7 yards per game, 19th overall), and in establishing their own air attack. Don’t let the 2-4 fool you, this is still a dangerous Falcons team. Falcons win 24-19

Green Bay Packers (-10) @ Minnesota Vikings, 8:30pm

Greg Jennings gets to exact some revenge against the team that maybe wanted him, but didn’t really, that he then went on a tirade against, and who know is hurting at the very position he could’ve been a huge help at. It’s just a shame that he has Josh Freeman chucking the ball his way once every few possessions. If there was ever a time for him to step it up, it would be this game to get said revenge. Even if he puts up huge numbers (which, for my fantasy team’s sake I hope he does…) I don’t think the Vikes have a shot to stay in this one. I mean, we’re talking about a team that couldn’t force the king of interceptions this year into even one turnover. Pathetic. Packers win 34-21

Seattle Seahawks (-11) @ St. Louis Rams, Monday 8:30pm

St. Louis’s season, and any hopes they had of success, were torn to shreds along with Sam Bradford’s ACL. To give you some context to how bad the situation is there, they signed Brady Quinn and some developmental project in Austin Davis (who was on the roster previously) to back up Kellen Clemmens. Things are going to go south in a hurry for the Rams. Seahawks win 37-16

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