2018 NFL Picks Week 8: Gotta Pick 'em All!
Last Week: 6-5-1
We were one ludicrous garbage-time touchdown away from reaching .500 on the year, and Eli Manning just had to ruin it. Bad beats aside, we’re moving in the right direction, and this week presents some suspiciously easy-looking lines. They’re so tantalizing, in fact, that I couldn’t walk away from any of them. Let’s see how all 14 go!
Miami Dolphins +7 at Houston Texans
This week I learned about Deshaun Watson making the drive from Houston to Jacksonville last week while his teammates flew because doctors weren’t sure it was safe for him to fly given the condition of his lungs. His lungs are injured. The Houston offensive line “leads” the NFL in sacks and QB hits allowed, which is bad news even if your quarterback can seem to perform magic at times. Miami isn’t exactly inspiring, especially with Brock Osweiler at quarterback, but a touchdown seems like a huge spread for two teams so close in record and DVOA. I never want to pick Brock to win a game, but he can certainly score a garbage time touchdown to lose by 6.
Philadelphia Eagles -3 “at” Jacksonville Jaguars
This game is in London, so the standard 3-point spread for the home team doesn’t explain the line here. I’ve been impressed with Carson Wentz so far, and if the Philadelphia defense can regain any semblance of last year’s form, they’ll be more than a match for the version of Blake Bortles who has been playing in America lately. In Jacksonville’s last three games, Bortles has completed 55% of his passes with 2 TDs and 5 INTs. It’s difficult to overcome quarterback play that terrible, and the Eagles need this win after blowing a 17-point lead to the Panthers last week. Expect Philly to get the lead early and hold on.
Kansas City Chiefs -10 vs. Denver Broncos
The Chiefs have blown out the Broncos in their last two meetings at Arrowhead Stadium, and I don’t expect this game to go any differently. Denver looked good last week, but it’s easy to look good against Arizona this year. The Chiefs need to keep winning to stay ahead of the Patriots in the AFC standings, and no one has been able to stop their offense yet this year. When Kansas City gets ahead early and the home crowd starts ruining Denver’s on-field communications, you’ll want to change the channel.
Washington Redskins -1 at New York Giants
Hmm…were we supposed to be impressed by New York’s ability to bring the score within 3 points in Atlanta last week? Atlanta hasn’t been great all year, and they were practically inviting the Giants to score by the end of Monday’s game. The Giants are 1-6 this season, and it’s not like they’ve been looking better as of late. All Washington has to do to cover this spread is win, and there are only about 3 teams I wouldn’t expect to beat the Giants.
Seattle Seahawks +3 at Detroit Lions
Detroit has been an extremely difficult team to pick this year. Their wins came against the Patriots, Packers, and Dolphins, while they’ve lost to the Jets, 49ers, and Cowboys. They somehow rank 30th in defensive DVOA while employing a high-level corner in Darius Slay and boasting the best adjusted sack rate in the league. That doesn’t seem possible. The Seahawks, meanwhile, haven’t been the rebuilding trainwreck most people predicted coming into the year despite struggling as much as we thought to protect Russell Wilson. I really have no idea what to expect, but I like taking the statistically superior team getting points.
Cleveland Browns +7.5 at Pittsburgh Steelers
Look at the scores of the past four meetings; Pittsburgh hasn’t lost, but they also haven’t won by more than four points. At this point, I think the Browns can take any team to overtime. Traveling to New England in December with the Patriots in need of a win? Overtime loss. In London playing the Raiders? Overtime win. Home in Cleveland hosting the visiting Bills? Overtime tie. I don’t know how many years it will be before I expect Cleveland to beat Pittsburgh, but I definitely expect them to keep things close.
Cincinnati Bengals -4.5 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston is extremely fun to pick against. Need a pick-six to swing the line as far as possible? You won’t have to wait long. The Buccaneers statistics are still inflated by the early-season FitzMagic, and the Bengals have been able to force turnovers all season long. With this game in Cincy, 4.5 is just too low.
Chicago Bears -7 vs. New York Jets
The Bears will be home for a second straight week with the Jets coming off a big loss to the Vikings. Sam Darnold, like many rookies, has alternated between impressive performances and duds, and the Bears’ defense is good enough to provoke another dud. On the other side of the ball, I still think Trubisky is going nowhere, but I can’t argue with the results Nagy’s offense has produced. They’ve scored more than 20 points in all but one game this season, and the home field advantage should allow them to cover a full touchdown this week.
Carolina Panthers +1.5 vs. Baltimore Ravens
I know Baltimore has looked good this year and should have at least gone to overtime with the Saints last week, but the Panthers have been solid, right? So why are they getting 1.5 points at home? It has all the makings of an ugly, low-scoring game, in which case I like the home underdog.
Indianapolis Colts -3 at Oakland Raiders
Clean sweep in the advantage column up there, Oakland just traded their best receiver (low bar, but still), and the Colts are only giving up 3 points. So far Oakland’s only win required a last-minute comeback and overtime to beat the Browns, and we’ve covered how anyone can manage such a feat. Andrew Luck shouldn’t have any trouble with the Raiders’ 29th-ranked defense, their defense will let Derek Carr slow himself down by never throwing the ball more than 5 yards downfield, and the rout will be on. The teardown continues in Oakland/Las Vegas.
Arizona Cardinals EVEN vs. San Francisco 49ers
At first I was confused by the lack of a spread in this game. Didn’t the Cardinals just recently beat C.J. Beathard’s 49ers in San Francisco? Then I realized the real meaning: no one is going to watch this game, and the oddsmakers were just as bored as we’ll be. Maybe Josh Rosen can drum up a couple touchdowns against San Francisco’s mediocre defense and pass rush, or maybe Arizona’s still-respectable defense can create some points like they did last time. Either way, I need Arizona to win for our wins pool, so I’m doubling down.
Green Bay Packers +9 at Los Angeles Rams
Picking the Rams this year has been a good way to go, but I still can’t bring myself to count Aaron Rodgers out. If they’re down two scores with 5 minutes left, do you really think he won’t score one more touchdown against the Rams’ 10th-ranked defense? If Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib were both back and healthy, I’d consider giving up 9 points more strongly. As it is, I think the Packers will make 8-0 hard.
New Orleans Saints +1.5 at Minnesota Vikings
The Saints face their second defensive road test in a row, traveling to face the Vikings after a narrow win in Baltimore last week. Adding to the intrigue is the recent history between these two teams, with the Minneapolis Miracle last season ending the Saints’ playoff run. Minnesota’s defense has been playing better lately, but I don’t know if they’re ready for a real test like New Orleans and the league’s 4th-ranked offense. I like getting points with Drew Brees and Sean Payton this year, even if they insist on running plays for Taysom Hill.
New England Patriots -14 at Buffalo Bills
The Patriots have won one game this year by more than 14 points, and their only road win was last week against the Bears. The Bills aren’t just any team, though. The Bills are a team who view Nathan Peterman as a viable NFL quarterback. The Bills are a team who play top-10 defense but still lose by double digits in five of their seven games. I admire their defense for playing as well as they have so far, but defense is never the answer against Brady and Belichick.
That's all for this week! Kick back, grab a drink, and feel free to blame me if you put money on these picks and come out behind. I won't compensate you, but maybe your significant others will send their wrath in my direction instead of yours.