Week 8 NFL Picks

The coin flip came through last week and has the mojo headed back in the right direction. Now it’s my turn to make it all go sideways.

Last Week:   9 – 4 – 0
Season:       49 – 52 – 5

Thursday (8:20PM ET)

Buccaneers 18 at Bills 24
That was quite the backdoor cover by the Buccaneers. Is there a receiver in the league more disgusted by his situation than Mike Evans? It’s quite hilarious. After any failed 3rd down conversion, Evans stomps directly off the field. Never argues to the referees for a penalty. Never looks back at Baker Mayfield to question his throw or decision. Just walks straight off the field. I know he wants a contract, but the pettiness of grown men is always high comedy. Also, has anyone EVER seen a Hail Mary go directly to the ground like it did last night? Untouched. Not tipped. Not deflected. Directly to the ground. That was strange.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Rams at Cowboys
I think this could get dicey for Dallas’ secondary. I’m not saying the Cowboys will lose. I’m just saying I think Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua are going to have a fun afternoon. Why do you think a top five passing defense is vulnerable? Well, for one, I think that ranking is a fraud. Dallas has played the 32nd, 29th, 28th, 21st, 11th and 8th ranked passing offenses in the NFL. Against the 49ers (ranked 11th), Brock Purdy didn’t throw a single 4th quarter pass because he scorched Dallas for 252 yards and 4 touchdowns in the first three quarters. Sure, the Cowboys did a nice job against the Chargers before their bye. However, the Charger’s Offensive Coordinator is who? Oh yes, Kellen Moore, Dallas’ Offensive Coordinator for the prior four years. It’s not a stretch to believe the Cowboys had a solid idea of what Moore would try to do. Anyway, if I’m Dallas, I’m running the football to protect the back end of my defense. I know Mike McCarthy is incapable of running the ball and will probably just air it out, but getting into a shootout with the Rams would be a mistake. RAMS +6.5

Vikings at Packers
Which does Aaron Rodgers love more: watching the Jets win or Matt LaFleur’s offense drown in mud? I’ve read a number of media guys defend Jordan Love this week. I’m not a professional, but I don’t see how you can watch the Packers film and argue Love isn’t a major problem. I have yet to see Love not underthrow a deep ball. Yes, the talent is young on the outside but it’s still talent, and Love is missing them. I can’t believe I’m backing the Packers again but this is their season on the line. PACKERS +1.5

Falcons at Titans
Desmond Ridder was the worst quarterback on any field last Sunday and that’s a distinct achievement when Jordan Love, Mac Jones and the guys the Bears and Raiders threw out there were in action. I promise not to say it again after this, but I don’t understand what Arthur Smith and Atlanta is doing… at all. You spend a top 8 pick in three consecutive drafts on offensive talent and then you essentially ignore them on a weekly basis. I’m not even talking about the bizarre Bijan Robinson situation. Poor Kyle Pitts and Drake London are just doing cardio on Sunday afternoons. Either Atlanta whiffed horribly at the top of the draft (which I believe is not the case), or Smith has no idea how to utilize the weapons he hand picked. Both are fireable offenses. TITANS +2.5

Saints at Colts
In March, New Orleans committed $150 million over the next four years to Derek Carr ($100 mil guaranteed). If the Saints signed Gardner Minshew instead they’d probably be running away with the NFC South and saving over $100 million as well. Minshew can also pull off the mustache look. Carr cannot. COLTS +1

Patriots at Dolphins
I didn’t think for one second that Mike McDaniel’s offense was a gimmicky offense that exploits lousy defenses and dumb coordinators. I’m beginning to question it now. Miami “only” scored 24 against Bill Belichick’s Patriots in Week 2 despite a win. They scored 20 and lost to Sean McDermott in Buffalo and then scored less than 20 against Sean Desai and the Eagles a week ago. Miami has the Patriots, Chiefs, Jets x2, Dallas and Buffalo on the schedule and I’m going to pay extra attention to how productive their offense is against better defenses. The Dolphins did this last year and I chalked it up to injuries and a team settling in with a new coach. Now I’m questioning if the Miami offense is the equivalent of a good stats – bad team guy in the NBA. PATRIOTS +9.5

Jets at Giants
Daniel Jones is out. Not sure if that’s good or bad for the Giants. When you can’t decide if missing your starting quarterback is good or bad… you don’t have a starting quarterback. Maybe the Giants should’ve saved $100 million and signed Gardner Minshew. GIANTS +3

Jaguars at Steelers
Speaking of Giants quarterbacks… Bill Simmons declared Kenny Pickett is the new Eli Manning and I could not think of a more perfect way to describe Pickett. He’s a disaster for quarters on end and then makes one or two heroic plays and the Steelers somehow emerge victorious. I will say, when Pickett throws downfield to George Pickens on a prayer it does illicit some Plaxico Burress flashbacks. If Pickett keeps finding Pickens things will likely continue to trend upward. STEELERS +2.5

Eagles at Commanders
Limiting the Dolphins to 17 points was an incredible achievement Sunday night. Yes, technically seven of those points were the result of a pick six, but Tyreek Hill also dropped a touchdown pass a few plays prior so I’m keeping it at 17. New Philadelphia Defensive Coordinator Sean Desai and DB’s coach DK McDonald have done a tremendous job piecing together a unit ravaged by injuries. They even found a gem in undrafted rookie Eli Ricks. Ricks was a projected top 10 pick years ago, so the potential has always been there. Credit the Eagles for bringing the best out of him. Ricks finally gives the Eagles a fast, twitchy corner that can keep up with NFL speedsters. James Bradberry has clearly struggled against such players like Terry McLaurin, Cooper Kupp and Hill. EAGLES -7

Texans at Panthers
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Bryce Young won’t be playing in the Super Bowl this season. This game is Young’s Super Bowl. He’s trailing CJ Stroud in the rookie quarterback rankings by a wide margin. That is never good, but it’s even worse when your team unloaded assets to move up and draft you over the other guy. Stroud is the other guy. Stroud has looked composed, capable and has his team flirting with the playoffs. Young has looked panicked and has yet to win a game. I thought Young looked the most comfortable he has looked two weeks ago before the bye, so he’s making progress. He just needs to make sure he hangs with Stroud here or the panic in Charlotte will accelerate. PANTHERS +3.5

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Browns at Seahawks
The Deshaun Watson situation is cloudy and to be honest, I don’t even feel bad for the Browns. When you commit $230 million to a reckless weirdo you’re going to have to live with instability. I think… actually I’m pretty certain… Cleveland is the only team in the league looking at Russell Wilson’s contract and whispering hey that’s not too bad. As for the game, there are injuries all over. Jerome Ford is down. The aforementioned Watson is too. The Seahawks are banged up on offense and I have no idea who will be in or out come Sunday. I guess I’ll ride with the home team. SEAHAWKS -3.5

Chiefs at Broncos
Russell Wilson is not living up to his contract. At this point in life, he never will. If you can move past that, you’ll see Wilson isn’t a melting down nuclear reactor this season. In fact, he’s having what I would call a Carson Wentz season. The stats are all there; 214 yards per game, 66% completion, 13 TD, 4 INT. Again, NOT living up to the contract, but above average numbers and certainly good enough to win games. And then you watch the tape. Despite the numbers, you cringe multiple times at missed throws, slow reactions and poor reads. A classic Carson Wentz season. Only two more seasons, Denver. Hang in there. CHIEFS -7

Ravens at Cardinals
When Kyler Murray returns, count me in as an intrigued viewer. The Cardinals have made it clear this season is about getting the highest draft pick possible and it’s no secret that pick is quarterback Caleb Williams. (Maybe that has changed slightly in recent weeks, but I’m guessing he still goes number one.) Essentially, Murray is playing for his job in Arizona. For a young talent who has lacked urgency in his career, there’s no better test than knowing your teams WANTS to replace you. Murray absolutely has the talent to be a top quarterback in the league. He has proven as much. The question is does he WANT to be a top quarterback or just skate through collecting checks. We should know over the next few months. RAVENS -9.5

Bengals at 49ers
This is a significant stretch for the Bengals. They’ve found their footing a little over the last month but the real tests lie ahead. The 49ers are coming off two straight losses and the Bills, Texans, @Ravens, Steelers and @Jaguars are waiting on deck. I don’t think they survive. Sure, the Bengals looked better beating up on the Cardinals. However, in their victory over Seattle, the offense again looked out of sorts and went scoreless in the 2nd half but for a field goal drive that went zero yards. I get that Cincinnati will never be a ground and pound team. It doesn’t fit their strengths. However, even as the 29th ranked rushing team in 2022, Cincinnati was rushing for 26 yards more per game than they are in 2023. Maybe the return of Tee Higgins this week fixes what ails the offense. Whatever it is, the Bengals remind me of a Super Bowl losing hangover team like the 2017 Falcons. BENGALS +4

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Bears at Chargers
Is it too early to flex this? I don’t know the rules, but why would the NFL want this in prime time and why would anyone want to go out of their way to watch? So let’s talk baseball real quick… All the talk about parity in the baseball playoffs is intriguing. I understand why some hate the parity. I hate too many major upsets in March Madness. Yes, they are fun in the moment, but I want the best teams to stay in as long as possible. I don’t think baseball has this problem, though. The two best teams right now are in the World Series. The Astros couldn’t pitch and the Phillies couldn’t hit, so here we are. I also don’t believe parity nullifies the regular season. There were six teams within seven games of a playoff berth that did not qualify for the postseason. Four of those teams were within two games. The regular season DOES matter if there are half a dozen teams within striking distance of the final playoff spots. In fact, the parity we’ve seen in the postseason only makes the regular season more important. Every single game matters more now because all you have to do is get in, get hot and you could find yourself taking cuts in November. That kind of parity doesn’t happen in the NBA – where the regular season really doesn’t matter. BEARS +8.5

Monday Night (8:15PM ET)

Raiders at Lions
I’ve been arguing with folks for weeks that the Detroit Lions are a good team but not a legitimate contender. One game obviously doesn’t make me right. It does, however, further advance my belief that the Lions are more the product of their schedule than their ability. Dan Campbell’s Lions only victory over a team with a positive point differential was in Week 1 against the Travis Kelce-less Chiefs. I’m not saying Detroit is a fraud, or that they can’t upset someone in the playoffs, but I also don’t believe they belong in the conversation with the 49ers, Cowboys, Eagles and perhaps even Seattle when it comes to NFC contenders. LIONS -8

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