The Week 8 schedule in the NFL is fairly light with six teams on byes, but there will be plenty of critical matchups as the contenders begin to separate themselves before the stretch run.
While there are some overwhelming favorites that should dominate come Sunday (think Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos hosting the abysmal Washington Redskins defense and the Seattle Seahawks paying Kellen Clemens and the St. Louis Rams a visit), there will be some upsets.
Three in particular come to mind. All lines used are courtesy of Vegas Insider.
Detroit Lions (-3 vs. Dallas Cowboys)
Both the Lions and Cowboys are sitting at 4-3 through seven games, but Dallas has a bit more momentum on its side.
Detroit looked vulnerable against the Cincinnati Bengals last week in a loss that would not have been as close as it was had Calvin Johnson not come down with a de facto Hail Mary against three defenders. Dallas has won two in a row since its shootout with the Broncos and will look to seize control of a middling NFC East with another victory.
Bryant may not be better than Calvin Johnson, but his team will be on Sunday.
Prediction: Cowboys by seven
Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5 at Oakland Raiders)
When you are a proud franchise like the Pittsburgh Steelers and start 0-4, every game is a desperation contest the rest of the way out. Ben Roethlisberger and Co. have won two straight, but that brief renaissance will come to an end in the Black Hole Sunday.
The Raiders are 2-0 in home games in which Terrelle Pryor plays, and Darren McFadden should be closer to 100 percent following a bye week, per Steve Corkan of the Contra Costa Times. Pryor and McFadden will control the clock with the running game against a vulnerable Steelers front.
Oakland’s defense racked up seven sacks and three interceptions in its two home victories and will look to pressure Roethlisberger all day. This one comes down to a turnover and a Sebastian Janikowski field goal.
Prediction: Raiders by two
Arizona Cardinals (-2.5 vs. Atlanta Falcons)
While Vegas may have the Cardinals as slight favorites against the banged-up Atlanta Falcons, Carson Palmer is still under center in Arizona.
That means another week of Larry Fitzgerald fantasy owners throwing remote controls and another Cardinal loss. Speaking of Fitzgerald, he is still dealing with some hamstring issues, which will only make life tougher for Palmer.
Palmer will add to his 13 interceptions Sunday, and the potential return of Steven Jackson, according to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, to the Falcons backfield will prove critical. Roddy White probably will not be able to go, but Matt Ryan won’t need him for this one.
Prediction: Falcons by 10
Other Week 8 Picks
|Week 8 Spread Picks|
|Date||Road Team||Home Team||Spread||Pick|
|Oct. 27||49ers||Jaguars (in London)||SF -16.5||SF|
|Oct. 27||Browns||Chiefs||KC -7.5||KC|
|Oct. 27||Dolphins||Patriots||NE -6.5||NE|
|Oct. 27||Bills||Saints||NO -11||BUF|
|Oct. 27||Giants||Eagles||PHI -5.5||NYG|
|Oct. 27||Jets||Bengals||CIN -6.5||CIN|
|Oct. 27||Redskins||Broncos||DEN -12.5||DEN|
|Oct. 27||Packers||Vikings||GB -9||GB|
|Oct. 28||Seahawks||Rams||SEA -11||SEA|