NFL Week 8 Preview and Odds
Zack GarrisonNo comments
Fresh off breaking Brett Favre’s career passing touchdown record, Peyton Manning and the 5-1 Broncos will take the field on Thursday against the 5-2 San Diego Chargers.
Elsewhere, two elite quarterbacks hook-up in New Orleans as Drew Brees and the Saints host Aaron Rodgers and the Packers; while in Cincy, the laboring Bengals have a pivotal home game against the surging Ravens.
Here’s your full week 8 NFL Preview:
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos -7.5 | Total: 51 (Thursday)
Last season, these two played two thrilling games. The Broncos came from 24 down to win the first meeting in San Diego. But QB Philip Rivers and company got some payback when they triumphed in Denver on another Thursday nighter. (Read into that what you will.)
Though Denver is uber tough at home (winning their four games by an average margin of 15 points), San Diego has played almost exclusively great football this season and will be hungry after a loss to the Chiefs last week. The points look like the play here.
Detroit Lions -3.5 at Atlanta Falcons | Total: 47
The Lions have proved (to both themselves and the rest of the league) that they can win games without WR Calvin Johnson. In order to keep pace with the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North, they need to win against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. The Falcons are just 2-5 on the season, but, as usual, have looked much better at home in the dome.
Minnesota Vikings at Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2.5 | Total 41.5
One of the lousiest games of the week 8 sees Tampa Bay (coming off a bye week) face the Vikings. Minnesota is coming off of a tough, last second loss against the Bills last week. They are also 0-5 ATS in their last five games against Tampa Bay. Tampa looked like it was getting on track after a week 4 win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh and a close week 5 loss (in OT) in New Orleans. Then they got throttled by the Ravens at home in week 6 and most of their fans left before halftime. Which Bucs team shows up on Sunday is anyone’s guess.
Houston Texans -2.5 at Tennessee Titans | Total: 42
The Titans named rookie Zach Mettenberger as their starting QB for this AFC South matchup against Houston on Sunday. Mettenberger will be the fourth rookie QB to make his debut this season; only Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater won in his first career start. Tennessee is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Houston. The Texans had a disastrous three minutes in Pittsburgh last night, committing costly turnovers and surrendering 24 points. Other than those three minutes, Houston trounced the Steelers 23-6. Unfortunately, they don’t count that in the win-loss column.
Chicago Bears at New England Patriots -6.5 | Total 49.5
The Bears travel to New England to take on the Pats. New England is a tough place to win, but the Bears, who are 3-4 on the season, have only won on the road so far this year. The bad news is they have already lost to two AFC East teams (Miami and Buffalo), and now they will be facing the cream of that crop.
Patriots QB Tom Brady is 3-0 against the Bears for his career, throwing 6 TDs and 3 INTs.
St. Louis Rams at Kansas City Chiefs -6.5 | Total: 43.5
The Rams and Chiefs both won in impressive fashion in week 7. The Chiefs took down the Chargers in San Diego while the Rams got their first home win of the year against the Super Bowl champion Seahawks. Which victory was more impressive? With all the turmoil in Seattle, I’d have to say Kansas City and I expect the Chiefs to keep rolling this Sunday. There is already an air of desperation in the AFC, with five teams (Denver, Indy, New England, Baltimore, and San Diego) looking like locks for the playoffs already. Do that math. That leaves one more spot for the 3-3 Chiefs to sneak into.
St. Louis is 0-5 ATS in its last five games against Kansas City.
Seattle Seahawks -4.5 at Carolina Panthers | Total: 44.5
For Seattle, the road to Super Bowl XLVIII last season started at Carolina, and this might be the place they get back on track after two losses in a row. The NFC Wildcard spots will be tougher to claim this year with the Lions, Eagles, and Cowboys all playing solid football. Seattle knows they need a win to stay within striking distance of the NFC West-leading Cardinals.
Though the NFC South has underperformed all season, the division-leading Panthers know they can’t afford too many more losses, either. In fact, if the Panthers lose on Sunday they could find themselves in a virtual dead heat with the Saints come Monday morning. The last thing Cam Newton and co. want to do is open the door – or even crack the window – for Drew Brees.
Buffalo Bills at NY Jets -3 | Total: 41
It will be interesting to see what WR Percy Harvin brings to the table with the NY Jets (1-6), but it’s hard to think he could make an impact afer just one week with the team. The NY Jets are 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven games, but 7-2 SU in their last 9 games when playing Buffalo.
Buffalo won ugly last week against Minnesota. But a win is a win (at least in the win-loss columns) and the Bills are now over .500 and just one game back of the AFC East-leading Patriots. Despite their winning record, the Bills come into the game as three point dogs to the floundering Jets, who have not won since opening week.
Miami Dolphins -5 at Jacksonville Jaguars | Total: 43
The Dolphins’ victory over the Chicago Bears last week was the first time I saw QB Ryan Tannehill dominate an opponent’s defense from start to finish. He finally looked like the franchise QB the Fins have waited three full years for. One game doesn’t make a career, but Tannehill has a great chance to build some momentum (for both his team and himself) on Sunday against the lowly Jags.
That said, the lowly Jags are not as lowly as they once were, after a surprise 24-6 thumping of the Cleveland Browns. While rookie QB and No. 3 overall pick Blake Bortles showed some promise in the win, the W belongs to the defense and the run game. Denard Robinson, the ex-Michigan QB, ran for 127 yards and a touchdown, while Browns QB Brian Hoyer was held to just 16 of 41 passing.
Miami won the last meeting against Jacksonville in 2012 (24-3).
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals -1 | Total: 46
This game is a repeat of week 1 and could have huge ramifications for the AFC North come season’s end. The Bengals won the opener in Baltimore and, in doing so, looked impressive on both sides of the ball. But a lot has changed since then. Cincinnati hasn’t won since week 3 (0-2-1), getting obliterated by the Pats, tieing the Panthers, and, most recently, getting shutout by the Colts. The Bengals have suffered several key injuries, both on offense and defense, and help may not be on the way. Star receiver A.J. Green is still questionable for week 8 and the Bengals offense looked lost without him last week.
Baltimore, on the other hand, seems to be getting stronger by the week. They have won five of their last six, with their only loss coming in Indianapolis (20-13) to an equally hot Colts team. The Ravens are currently one point underdogs. If Green is ruled out for the Bengals, look for that to change.
Baltimore is 1-4 ATS in its last five games when playing on the road against Cincinnati.
You can check out our more in-depth preview here.
Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals -2.5 | Total: 48
The Arizona Cardinals are 5-1 this season. They have taken advantage of slow starts by the 49ers and Seahawks and sit atop the NFC West. Arizona has also capitalized on their opponent’s mistakes all season long while minimizing their own; the Cardinals are third best in the NFL with a +7 turnover margin.
The Eagles are coming off a bye week and need a win to stay level with the Cowboys at the top of the NFC east. LeSean McCoy is hoping to stay hot after the bye, but Philly may be more focused on victimizing the Cards’ pass defense, which is second worst in the league.
Philadelphia is 1-4-1 ATS in its last six games when playing Arizona.
Indianapolis Colts -3 at Pittsburgh Steelers | Total: 49
Colts QB Andrew Luck will play the Steelers for the first time in his career. He comes into the game leading the NFL in passing with 2,331 yards and 19 TDs. The Colts, as a team, have been equally impressive lately, stringing together five straight wins (after opening the season with two close losses). Pittsburgh comes to this game on a modest one game winning streak – the only kind of winning streak they have been able to put together this year. Last week, the Steelers beat the Texans on Monday Night Football. Despite putting up 24 points in just three minutes against Houston (mostly thanks to turnovers), Pittsburgh looked very average for the remainder of the game.
Oakland Raiders at Cleveland Browns -7 | Total: 43
The Oakland Raiders are the only team in the NFL that hasn’t won a game this season. The embarrassment max out when you are a seven point dog to the Cleveland Browns.
That would be less funny if the Browns were riding a three game winning streak into this game. Instead, after impressive wins against the Titans and Steelers, the Browns laid an egg against the formerly winless Jaguars and got spanked 24-6. Though Mike Pettine said Brian Hoyer is “firmly” the starter over Johnny Manziel, the Browns faithful may be clamoring for change if the Raiders pick up their first win of the season on Sunday.
Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints -1.5 | Total: 54.5
Aaron Rodgers leads the way against Drew Brees and the Saints. For his career, Rodgers has a 3-1 record and has amassed 9 TDs to just 4 INTs against New Orleans. Brees has even better numbers than Rodgers head-to-head, despite a losing record. The former Boilermaker has thrown 14 TDs and 2 INTs against Green Bay in his career.
After a slow start, the Packers are coming into this game on fire. Rodgers and receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have led the Packers to four straight wins. Only one of those wins was close (a last second 27-24 win in Miami in week 6).
You can check out our more in-depth preview here.
Dallas Cowboys -10 at Washington Redskins | Total: 49.5 (Monday)
Possibly the only team hotter than the Packers right now are the Dallas Cowboys. Jason Garrett’s crew has ridden a dominant running game and a lunch-pail, no-name defense to a 6-1 record and first place in the NFC East. Washington, on the other hand, is 2-5 and in the NFC East basement. With RGIII still sidelined and Kirk Cousins underperforming, Jay Gruden turned to former Texas Longhorn Colt McCoy at halftime in week 7. The move paid dividends with McCoy throwing a TD pass on his first attempt and ultimately leading Washington to a 19-17 win over the Titans. McCoy will likely be the starter on Monday night.