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Week 8 NFL Picks

The NFC North stands alone, the Bengals may be in some trouble, and Aaron Rodgers needs an attitude adjustment.

Last Week:    6 – 8 – 0
Season:        56 – 47 – 4

Thursday Night (8:20PM ET)

Ravens 27 at Buccaneers 22
It’s not getting any better for Tom Brady and Tampa. The offense can’t run the football or protect Brady and it’s taking a toll. Brady is regularly worm-burning passes and the Bucs red zone offense is an outright disaster. They’re 29th in red zone scoring percentage. There’s no simple fix for what ails the Buccaneers, but improving the run game from 61.9 yards per game (last in the NFL) would be where I’d start. Fun fact: the last time Brady and Aaron Rodgers combined to lose six consecutive games was 2000never.

Confused by LeBron James’ Moral Compass (Bye Week)

Chiefs
There’s plenty of season left, but a Bills-Chiefs matchup to determine the AFC champion seems destined at this point. It’s still crazy to think there were real human beings who believed Patrick Mahomes would fall off this season without Tyreek Hill around.

Chargers
The Chargers might stink. I’m going to marinate on this for a week, but I’m not at all convinced this team is any good.

Early, Early Game (9:30AM ET)

Broncos at Jaguars
Russell Wilson is the corniest star athlete of my lifetime. Nothing he says or does seems genuine. It’s all a shtick. Instead of asking how a dude like this ends up with a pop star like Ciara, I think we have to ask: Is Ciara a cornball, too? The answer must be yes. As a couple, these two are a walking promotion. Everything is done to project a brand or promote a project. They’re robots. Their brand is their identity and at this point I think they’ve lost touch with reality. Too bad he’s not even good at football anymore. Broncos +2.5

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Panthers at Falcons

First place in the NFC South is on the line! The Panthers fired their coach, traded their star running back, started their 3rd string quarterback for the last two games and within two weeks find themselves in the thick of a playoff hunt. When the Carolina “firesale” began, I told my brother (a Panthers fan) they better not burn the team down. The NFL can be flipped upside down in one year and the Panthers have the pieces to be a playoff team in the very near future because that defense is young and outstanding. Brian Burns and Derrick Brown are both studs on the defensive line and are only 24. Their secondary is full of young talent as well. Jaycee Horn is a budding star, CJ Henderson may have found a home after a rough start in Jacksonville, and Jeremy Chinn is a proven starter at safety. All three are 24 or younger. I wouldn’t break up that core group for unproven draft capital. With DJ Moore and young tackle Ickey Ekwonu the offense isn’t a wasteland, either. FALCONS -4

Bears at Cowboys
Micah Parsons pops on film the same way a college star would in a high school game. It’s insane. His chase down tackle of Detroit’s Brock Wright was incredible, like Parsons hit the speed burst button or something. I know it saved a touchdown and the Lions fumbled at the goal line after that, but I can’t remember the last time an NFL player made other NFL players look THAT slow. And Parsons is a linebacker! BEARS +10

Dolphins at Lions
Speaking of the Lions… they’re almost back to full health. The excuse quota has been fulfilled. It’s time for Detroit to put up or shut up. We all enjoy Dan Campbell, but I’m not sure he survives another three win season. Only the Saints have surrendered more points in 2022. That’s inexcusable for a team and coaching staff that preached toughness as much as the Lions did. LIONS +3.5

Cardinals at Vikings
NFL divisions are wonky this year. There’s only one division in the league with real separation between first place and the rest of the division. Not accounting for head-to-head tiebreakers, the Vikings are the only team with a multiple game lead over their division rivals. (The Titans technically have 1.5 game advantage but whatever.) With a win Sunday, Minnesota could very likely have a four game lead in the loss column. I don’t think anyone had the Bears and Lions competing this season, but for Minnesota to quietly have one of the league’s best records and for the Packers to self-combust was not expected. With that said, I’m still terrified of backing the Vikings. Their last four victories have all been by a single score and three of those teams have losing records. CARDINALS +3.5

Raiders at Saints
The Raiders are coming. 6-4 heading into Thanksgiving is a real possibility. The AFC isn’t nearly as strong top-to-bottom like many expected, so Las Vegas to make the playoffs is a juicy proposition right now at +250. RAIDERS -1.5

Patriots at Jets
What Bill Belichick did to Mac Jones Monday night was not cool. For a coach that’s made a career off being boring and lacking drama, he sure did create quite the predicament for the Patriots. Regardless of who was at quarterback, New England was losing that football game because their defense was trash. The Patriots allowed the Bears to generate 100 yards over their season average. The Bears converted 61% of their 3rd downs. Prior to the game they converted only 35.6%. Everyone knows Justin Fields and the Bears can’t throw the football. Stop the run and you win. Nope. New England’s defense surrendered twice their season average. Maybe Belichick should worry less about who is under center and more about his defense. PATRIOTS -2.5

Steelers at Eagles
The Eagles can’t lose focus over the next month. Their schedule is a gift that must be exploited. There’s really no excuse for this team not to be 10-0 at Thanksgiving. Winning games in the NFL can never be taken for granted, regardless of opponent, but still, the Eagles are better than the Steelers, Texans, Commanders and Colts. Nick Sirianni has proven to be an excellent coach at getting his players to focus week in and week out. This next month may prove to be his toughest stretch to date in that regard. STEELERS +10.5

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Titans at Texans
Remember when the AFC South was the best division in football? Haha, me either. Kudos to Mike Vrabel, though. The Titans are the Patriots of the South. Show up, run the football, play solid defense and you’re going to emerge victorious more often than not. If you remove the Buffalo shellacking, the Titans defense is allowing a measly 17.4 points per game, good enough to be among the top 5 in the NFL. I understand that’s not how stats work, just go with it. Thanks. TITANS -3

Commanders at Colts
No Carson Wentz revenge game. No Matt Ryan. I know it may be easy to write this game off as a waste of time. But before you do, remember this… football will be gone soon. We’re almost halfway through the NFL season. College football is already past the halfway point. Don’t take football for granted. It’s the best four months of the year. Even when it’s gross and boring, embrace it, because in February you’ll be bored out of your mind wishing you could sit down and watch Sam Ehlinger and Taylor Heinicke go head-to-head. COMMANDERS +3

49ers at Rams
It feels like one of these two is going to let go of the rope soon. Both seasons have been disasters. The Rams can’t protect Matthew Stafford, Stafford can’t protect the football, and their ground game is 31st in the league. The 49ers committed to and built their offense around their young quarterback only to lose him five quarters into the season. That was after losing their starting running back a week earlier. Now, after two straight losses where their defense has looked broken, the 49ers hope bringing in Christian McCaffrey can add a boost to a struggling offense. 49ERS -1.5

Giants at Seahawks
An intriguing matchup of two of the NFC’s top five teams. Imagine typing that in August. Someone asked me this week if I (an Eagles fan) was afraid of the Giants. My response: “Not necessarily, but I’m sure we’ll find ourselves trailing late in the 4th quarter and have no idea how we got there.” I think that sums up the Giants. They’re just there in the 4th quarter staring at you, waiting to be put away. And when you fail, they take the game from you and walk away with another win, leaving you bewildered. Also, did you watch Saquon Barkley in that 4th quarter last week? Like Micah Parsons, Barkley makes plays that make him seem like a man among boys. Must be a Penn State thing. GIANTS +3

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Packers at Bills
If the 2022 Green Bay Packers were a movie, Jordan Love would walk up to the big, bad bully quarterback who’s blaming everyone else for the team’s struggles and punch him square in the face. Love would then walk onto the field, lead an epic comeback against the best team in the NFL and the Packers would be on their way as Aaron Rodgers walked solemnly into the locker room, alone and broken. In other words, Rodgers is Jon Voight in Varsity Blues. I like Rodgers. He’s a lone ranger who thinks for him self. I don’t agree with most of what he says but I respect the independent spirit. With that said, I have no idea what he thinks his weekly public criticism of his team and coach is going to accomplish. They all must hate him. Maybe try accountability and encouragement after this loss. Ok old buddy? BILLS -11

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Bengals at Browns
The Ja’Marr Chase injury is a big blow to the Bengals. Joe Burrow and that offense finally found their 2021 groove and now they’ll be without their star receiver for at least a month. While Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd would still qualify as one of the NFL’s top ten receiving duos, the Bengals are in a bit of pickle. The division isn’t running away from the Bengals, however, the schedules of Cincinnati and Baltimore trend in opposite directions. Not including their head-to-head matchup to close the season, take a look at the win percentages of their remaining opponents; Bengals: .489 Ravens: .304. In fact, outside of the Falcons and the aforementioned finale against the Bengals, all of Baltimore’s remaining opponents are currently 2-5. Meanwhile, the Bengals have the pleasure of a 1st place schedule and must deal with the Titans, Chiefs and Bills. I hope Joe Cool is ready for a rough ride. BENGALS -3

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