There aren’t many compelling matchups in Week 8 with six teams on bye, but there are some games that stand out. One such contest pits the top two teams in the AFC East, when the Patriots visit the Bills, looking to get revenge for the Bills’ victory at Gillette Stadium earlier in the season, when QB Tom Brady was serving his Deflategate suspension. The Packers head to Atlanta to take on the Falcons in a battle of two of the best teams in the NFC. The same can be said for the Sunday night game, which features the Eagles visiting the Cowboys, in a battle for first place in the NFC East. I went 7-8 last week to bring my record to 47-60 for the season. I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick is in red
Byes: Ravens, Rams, Dolphins, Giants, Steelers, 49ers
Thursday Night Football
Jaguars at Titans (-3.5) – It’s the seemingly annual Thursday night game between the Jaguars and Titans, the two worst teams in the mediocre AFC South. The Titans suffered a tough loss against the Colts last week, losing a chance to get a piece of the division lead. The Jaguars offense, led by QB Blake Bortles, has been underwhelming this year, while Titans QB Marcus Mariota has been showing signs of improvement in recent weeks. Neither team’s defense is great so I’ll go with the team with the better offense, the Titans.
Sunday morning London game
Redskins at Bengals (-2.5) – The Redskins could only put up 17 points against a below-average Lions defense last week. The Bengals’ offense is looking strong of late. The running game is going well, with RBs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill both running well, and WR A.J. Green is coming off a 8-catch, 169-yard performance. I give the Bengals the advantage in this one.
Sunday 1PM games
Patriots at Bills (+6.5) – The Bills’ injury situation is not looking good. RB LeSean McCoy may have to sit out with his hamstring injury, while WR Marquise Goodwin is in the concussion protocol, leaving his status for Sunday up in the air. The receiving core is already depleted so if Goodwin can’t go, that doesn’t leave many players for QB Tyrod Taylor to pass to. The Patriots are going to continue putting up big numbers like they have since Brady returned from his suspension, and they should easily win the game.
Jets at Browns (+3.5) – The Browns are still looking for their first win of the season, and a home game against a 2-5 Jets team look like it would provide a good opportunity to get it, but I’m not sure it’ll happen. With QB Cody Kessler leaving Sunday’s game early with a possible concussion, rookie QB Kevin Hogan had to come into the game in relief. If Kessler can’t go this week, Hogan would likely get his first career start and I don’t think he’ll be able to do much against a Jets defense that looked decent last week. Even if Kessler plays, I don’t think they have enough weapons to beat the Jets. I think the Browns go 0-8, halfway to a winless season.
Lions at Texans (-2.5) – The Texans didn’t look good against the Broncos on Monday night, with QB Brock Osweiler unable to complete passes farther than 10 yards. The Lions’ defense isn’t nearly as good as Denver’s, but the Lions have a better offense than the Broncos. If the Texans want to win the game, they’ll likely have to be involved in a shootout and I don’t see that happening. I think the Lions win outright so I’ll take them and the points.
Chiefs at Colts (+2.5) – The Chiefs seem to be playing their best ball in recent weeks, while the Colts haven’t been impressive yet this season. Chiefs RB Spencer Ware is the best player on either offense and I think he’ll be able to run on the Colts. If WR Donte Moncrief is able to return from his shoulder injury and play this week, as it looks like he might, that would give the Colts a boost on offense, but I still don’t think it would be enough against a decent Chiefs offense. I pick the Chiefs on the road.
Raiders at Buccaneers (-0.5) – For the second straight week, the Raiders play a 1pm ET game in Florida and are 0.5-point underdogs. This time it’s against the Bucs and, like last week, I think the Raiders are clearly the better team and should be able to win the game outright despite the early start on the East Coast.
Seahawks at Saints (+3.5) – The Seahawks are coming off of a 6-6 tie against the Cardinals in a game that they couldn’t do much offensively. QB Russell Wilson doesn’t appear to be completely healthy. It’s a home game for the Saints, which is usually when they do better, so QB Drew Brees and the rest of the offens should be able to put points on the board. I think the Seahawks are the better team but I think the Saints can outscore them. Since I give the Saints a better-than-average chance to win the game, I’ll take New Orleans and the points.
Cardinals at Panthers (-2.5) – Two of the more disappointing teams in the NFC this season. The Cardinals are the other team in that tie game that didn’t get much done on offense. QB Carson Palmer hasn’t looked good this season and their receiving core is hurt. WR Jaron Brown suffered a season-ending ACL tear last week while WR John Brown sat out Sunday night’s game and his availability for this week is unknown. Given that, I think the Panthers have the offensive advantage behind QB Cam Newton. I expect a relatively low-scoring game but I think the Panthers will get their second win of the season, covering the 2.5-point spread in the process.
Sunday 4PM games
Chargers at Broncos (-5.5) – QB Philip Rivers leads the Chargers into Denver to take on the defending Super Bowl champions looking for the season sweep after being them at home in Week 6. Broncos RB C.J. Anderson is out of at least a few weeks, and possibly for the season, with a knee injury, leaving rookie RB Devontae Booker to get his first career start. Booker has looked good with his limited workload thus far, and has been getting more carries in recent weeks. I think the Broncos defense will be able to keep the Chargers from getting a high score, and I expect the Broncos to score more than they did last time. Broncos win and cover.
Packers at Falcons (-2.5) – The Packers may not be doing as good as they usually do, but I still find it hard to bet against QB Aaron Rodgers when he’s getting points. The Falcons have been playing well — particularly WR Julio Jones — and the Packers are dealing with injuries, but I’m going to take the points with Rodgers.
Sunday Night Football
Eagles at Cowboys (-4.5) – It’s a battle of rookie quarterbacks with QB Carson Wentz leading the Eagles into AT&T Stadium against QB Dak Prescott and the Cowboys. The Cowboys are expected to get WR Dez Bryant back from his injury, which would be big for them as it gives Prescott and additional weapon to throw to. With QB Tony Romo beginning to throw, Prescott likely needs to continue to play the way he has been if he wants to keep the starting job. On the other side, Wentz has started to come back to Earth a bit after getting off to his strong start. This is a key game in the NFC East, and I give it to the Cowboys at home.
Monday Night Football
Vikings at Bears (+6.5) – The Vikings head to Chicago to take on the 1-6 Bears in the final game of Week 8. QB Jay Cutler returns to the field for the Bears after QB Brian Hoyer went down with an injury in last week’s game. He will likely be rusty after not playing for a few weeks, and that won’t be good when facing a defense the caliber of the Vikings. Minnesota might be without RB Jerick McKinnon, who hurt his ankle in Week 7, but it’s looking like he’ll be able to play. I don’t think the Bears will score many points in this game, so the Vikings win and cover.