A whole new slate of games awaits in Week 8 of the NFL season. As we should have learned by now, they hardly ever go according to plan.
Aside from the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers playing to a three-point margin, there are no certainties on Sunday. Tom Brady's New England Patriots fell flat to the New York Jets, while Peyton Manning's home reunion ended on a sour note.
Contrary to popular belief, the NFL is still a team sport, so these things happen. While those two legendary quarterbacks might not stand on the losing side again, they're getting the heavy benefit of the doubt in the early betting lines.
These favorites are receiving too many points as of Monday night. Bank on the anticipated outcome.
Note: All betting lines are courtesy of Vegas Insider.
|NFL Week 8 Picks Against Spread|
|Carolina Panthers (-6.5)||17-6||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|San Francisco 49ers (-16.5)||31-3||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|Dallas Cowboys||27-26||Detroit Lions (-3)|
|New York Giants (Spread not yet available)||31-28||Philadelphia Eagles|
|Cleveland Browns||16-27||Kansas City Chiefs (-7)|
|Buffalo Bills||20-35||New Orleans Saints (-12)|
|Miami Dolphins||17-21||New England Patriots (-6.5)|
|New York Jets||13-20||Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5)|
|Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)||17-12||Oakland Raiders|
|Washington Redskins||31-40||Denver Broncos (-13)|
|Atlanta Falcons||20-27||Arizona Cardinals (-2.5)|
|Green Bay Packers (-6.5)||30-13||Minnesota Vikings|
|Seattle Seahawks (-10.5)||24-6||St. Louis Rams|
Washington Redskins at Denver Broncos (-13)
One loss is not enough to abandon the Denver Broncos' bandwagon, but the defeat yet again highlighted a fatal flaw the team overcame during the first six weeks.
Denver's passing defense can't stop anybody.
Entering Week 8, the Broncos have surrendered a league-high 320 passing yards per game. While Tony Romo certainly inflated that average, the defense allowed Terrelle Pryor and Chad Henne to air it out with success.
The Broncos scored 33 points in their worst offensive week of football this season, so Manning's crew will fare just fine against a Washington defense that was bailed out despite allowing 41 points to the Chicago Bears.
But Robert Griffin III will post enough points to offset such a lofty spread.
Although the Redskins started at a disappointing 2-4, they have compiled the fourth-highest yards-per-game average at 415.8. Not only did Griffin rediscover his running game with 84 yards against Chicago, but he also found a new target in Jordan Reed, who caught nine passes for 134 yards and a score.
Expect the Broncos to return to the win column, but don't count on them winning by two touchdowns.
Prediction: Broncos 40, Redskins 31
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-6.5)
The Dolphins have only lost one game by more than three points. The Patriots have only won one game by more than seven points.
It's easy to look at this matchup and count the days until the Patriots demolish the Dolphins in an angry fit of revenge. They may win, but it's hard to forecast a blowout considering how vulnerable the Patriots have looked.
Yes, they lost on a rarely enforced penalty, but that's what happens when a team constantly plays down to the wire. They played with fire the previous week and remained unharmed after a last-second touchdown to top the New Orleans Saints.
But they were burned against the Jets in overtime, and frustrated fans can't blame it all on the referees. Brady completed fewer than half of his pass attempts on a measly five yards per throw, continuing the worst stretch of his storied career.
Miami has followed three wins with three losses, but Ryan Tannehill has a chance to regain his rhythm against a banged-up New England defense playing without Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and potentially Aqib Talib. Geno Smith made some deep plays through the air before Rex Ryan adopted an ultra-conservative scheme in the second half and overtime.
This game is nowhere near as lopsided as it appears at first glance.
Prediction: Patriots 21, Dolphins 17
Dallas Cowboys at Detroit Lions (-3)
This game is a toss-up, so Detroit gets the narrow edge as the home squad.
Fair enough, but this is precisely the type of game where an ill-timed call or fortuitous bounce can change everything.
Both defenses are rather bad, but Detroit ranks 31st in yards allowed while Dallas is a slightly less embarrassing 29th. Detroit's offense, however, collects 34 more yards per contest.
But Tony Romo's 68.3 completion percentage outclasses Matthew Stafford's 61.4 percent clip. Rookie receiver Terrance Williams has emerged as the legitimate No. 2 threat that has eluded Detroit over the years, recording 19 catches on 21 targets for 320 yards and three touchdowns over the past four games.
These squads are even, which gives Romo a golden chance to squash the nefarious "choker" label with a successful scoring drive late in the fourth quarter. Dallas isn't a strong bet to win, but no underdog ever is. If you're looking for a team tabbed to lose that sports a 50-50 shot of pulling out a victory, here you go.
Prediction: Cowboys 27, Lions 26
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