We’ve reached Week 8 of the NFL season as we near the halfway point of the season. Every time that is playing this week that hasn’t had a bye week will reach their halfway point of the season as they play in their 8th game of the season. Everyone else has or will play in the 7th game of the season.
This is the time of year where we start to see teams separate themselves. The schedules even out, newly acquired players and rookies start to gain confidence in new schemes and every team has had a rash of injuries to deal with. Every team has had their share of good and bad breaks so there is nothing fluky in the standings anymore.
The theme for this week is parity with all but one game getting a line less than 6 points. That one game is the revenge game for the Patriots against the Bills and that game only gets a 7 point line. You have a lot of bad teams playing each other, some .500 teams playing each other and some really good teams playing each other as well.
This week is going to play out similarly to Week 1 when every game was close except the Eagles-Browns and the two Monday night games that week. Great for fans, stressful for the degenerates of the world.
Washington vs Cincinnati Bengals(-3) in London: I initially took Washington, but with no Matt Jones and very unlikely to be without Jordan Reed as well I switched back to Cincy. I like Washington’s offense a lot and I think it’s a top 5 offense with a competent quarterback, but I think last week’s blowout of Cleveland woke up that sleeping Bengals offense. In this international games I like the more veteran team. I also expect Cincinnati to play with a lot of urgency now that Big Ben is out for a significant amount of time. The AFC North has opened back up for the Bengals and this is a game they need to win to keep pace. The Steelers enter their bye week at 4-3 while the Bengals enter this game at 3-4.
Detroit Lions(+1.5) at Houston Texans: Another toss-up game, but I could say that for 7 other games this week. The Texans have the better defense and run game, but I love Matthew Stafford this season. He lost Calvin Johnson, he’s lost about every running back he had going into the season and he has carried this team to a 4-3 record with all three losses by 7 points or less. I think this game will be close and decided late, which means picking the team with Stafford is a no-brainer.
Seattle Seahawks at New Orleans Saints(+1.5): I love the Saints at home in this one. The crowd noise gives them an advantage with the running game and in pass protection and I think their depth at receiver will be a tough match-up for the Seahawks and their now heavy man cover defense. I also expect both Seattle and Arizona to have letdowns this week after that 5 quarter “thriller” from last Sunday night.
New England Patriots(-7) at Buffalo Bills: This one doesn’t need to be very wordy. Tom Brady is still pissed and Bill Belichick will not lose to Rex Ryan twice in the same season. Patriots in a rout.
New York Jets at Cleveland Browns(+2.5): The Browns have been pretty good against the spread this season. They have only failed to cover 3 times. Once in Carson Wentz’s debut(hard game to predict), Tom Brady’s return(they had no chance) and last week against the Bengals(difference was a freak hail mary play right before halftime). The Browns are 0-7, but they are a really competitive 0-7. This week they get Josh McCown back while the Jets are forced to start Ryan Sixpatrick.
Oakland Raiders(-1) at Tampa Bay Bucs: Tampa Bay is a weird team this season and is not to be trusted in the betting world. They’re 3-3 and have beat the division leading Falcons and the defending NFC champion Panthers, but they also lost to the Rams and gave up 37 points in the process. It’s risky to take a west coast team on the road on the east coast, but the Raiders are 2-o on the east coast this season. Take the team that’s been more consistent and better coached this season.
Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts(+3): This one is a favorable match-up for Indy and a great chance for them to get back on top of the AFC South. They’re at home, their horrid secondary faces an average passing attack and the Colts offense has been playing pretty well since the London game.
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers(-3): Carolina is going to have a resurgence after the bye week and luckily for them it starts against a team that is still probably a little drained from that 5 quarter game last week. The Panthers secondary is still a major liability, but Carson Palmer has been really bad this season and I don’t think he is the quarterback capable of exposing them this week. You also have a healthy Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart coming off the bye week so this offense should be rolling.
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos(-4): San Diego is a really tough match-up for Denver. They are the second highest scoring team in the league and have already beat Denver once this season, plus the Broncos are now without C.J. Anderson. On paper San Diego should win or at least cover, but I like Denver in a revenge game. They should control the line of scrimmage and move the ball with ease against a really bad Chargers defense.
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons(-3): I think this is the week that things really fall apart for the Packers. This has become a short passing Packers offense without much of a rushing attack and a pretty lousy secondary. The Falcons should feast on the ground with their two-headed rushing attack while at the same time the Packers will have to give extra help to contain Julio Jones. You have to pick your poison on defense against Atlanta which is why two of their three losses have come against teams who scored over 30 points against them. I don’t think Green Bay is capable of scoring 30 points on anyone right now.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys(-5.5): The Eagles fan in me really wants to be wrong here, but a power running game is the perfect counter against an aggressive defensive line scheme the the Eagles employ. If they can’t stop the run they are going to need to put up at least 30 points in this one and they really aren’t built to do that at this point. Playing without Bennie Logan this week will really hurt the Eagles run defense. Their best hope is attacking through the air, but they probably go with a more conservative game plan with a rookie quarterback, rookie right tackle and no wide receivers who can stretch the field.
Minnesota Vikings(-5) at Chicago Bears: This has all the makings of a blowout. The Vikings are coming off a loss and face maybe the worst roster in football right now. This is a good week for the Vikings to help settle in their two new offensive tackles and establish their ground game again. By the way, this is the fourth time the Bears will get a prime time game on national tv. Who is scheduling these games? The first two were against teams who had a losing record last season. The good news for people who like interesting prime time games is that this is the Bears last scheduled night game.