NFL Week 8 Picks Against the Spread: Ravens, Lions and Eagles

Kevin Hanson@EDSFootballAnalyst IIIOctober 29, 2011

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 16: Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens hands the ball off to running back Ray Rice #27 during the first half against the Houston Texans at M&T Bank Stadium on October 16, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens won 29-14.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Picking three NFL games against the spread (ATS) on a weekly basis, I felt pretty good going into the Monday Night Football matchup with a 2-0 record and the Ravens (-8) as my third pick last week.

Of course, that pick did not go as expected and it dropped me to 2-1 ATS for the week and 15-4-2 ATS for the season through seven weeks.

Some folks learn from their mistakes.

Perhaps, I'm not one of them as the Ravens are again one of my three picks for Week 8:

Baltimore Ravens (-12.5) over Arizona Cardinals

To say that the Ravens' offense sputtered in Week 8 would understate how badly it performed. The offensive playcalling and performance left Terrell Suggs (and everyone else) "baffled."

Not only did quarterback Joe Flacco throw for a season-low 137 yards, Ray Rice, the team's do-it-all back and most explosive offensive player, had only eight carries. The last time he had fewer carries was during his rookie season when he backed up Willis McGahee. Plus, the Ravens did not get their first first down until the third quarter.

There is no doubt that Rice will see a boost in his workload in Week 8. While the Cardinals are allowing only 3.8 yards per carry, they also have allowed eight rushing touchdowns -- only three teams have allowed more.

As far as Flacco's performance goes, he has alternated from solid to poor performances throughout the season. Here are his yardage totals from Weeks 1 to 7, respectively: 224, 197, 389, 163, (bye week), 305 and 137. Against a pass defense that ranks in the bottom five in the NFL, Flacco should bounce back this week.

From a defensive standpoint, the Ravens are as good as it gets as they rank first in defensive scoring (13.8 points allowed per game) and have created 19 turnovers (six interceptions and a league-high 13 forced fumbles).

After last week's disappointing loss in prime time, the Ravens will take out their frustrations all game long on the Cardinals and this game will turn into a laugher. When the Ravens are big home favorites (10.5 points or more), they typically take care of business: 11-4 against the spread in past 15 games.

Detroit Lions (-2.5) over the Denver Broncos

Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow led the Broncos to an amazing come-from-behind victory as he worked his magic last week on "Gator Day" in Miami.

Regardless of what tricks Tebow may have up his sleeves at home this week, a repeat performance is unlikely. While I admire his determination and will and he makes plays as a runner, there is little debate when it comes to Tebow's accuracy. Several of his throws last week weren't even close to their intended receiver.

The Lions rank ninth in the NFL in pass defense (204.6 yards allowed per game), have sacked the quarterback 17 times and are one of five teams to intercept double-digit passes.

It appears as though quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has a sprained ankle, will play on Sunday. While it would be hard to not have good chemistry with Calvin Johnson, Stafford and Megatron have connected on a league-high ten touchdowns through their first seven games. Johnson has 100-plus yards in three straight games and in four of his past five games.

The Lions are 4-0-1 ATS in their past five road games and the Broncos are 5-12-1 ATS in their last 18 games overall.

Philadelphia Eagles (-3) over Dallas Cowboys

Based on expectations entering the season, both the Cowboys and Eagles enter their Sunday Night Football matchup as two teams not living up their potential.

It would be accurate to say that the Eagles have been a bigger disappointment. Not only do they have a worse record (2-4), but the "Dream Team" entered the season as the Super Bowl pick for many. Coming into the season, expectations for the Cowboys were somewhat tempered by their less-than-inspired performance in 2010 that caused their head coach to get fired.

Coming off the bye, betting against Eagles coach Andy Reid has been a losing proposition. In the game immediately after the bye in his 12 seasons as head coach of the Eagles, Reid is 12-0.

Led by the league's top-running quarterback, the Eagles rank first in the NFL in rushing offense (170.0 YPG). Meanwhile, the Cowboys rank first in the NFL in rushing defense (69.7 rushing yards allowed per game).

That said, I expect the Eagles to use LeSean McCoy more in the passing game than they have this year. McCoy, who led running backs in receptions (78) last year, has only 21 receptions for 123 yards, but McCoy is averaging a career-high 94.8 rushing yards per game (fifth in the NFL) through six weeks.

Philadelphia, who has yet to allow a 300-yard passer this season, picked off Rex Grossman four times in their last game. For the Cowboys, Tony Romo is prone to making mistakes in key moments as evidenced by the team's historic blown leads to the Jets and Lions.

In a must-win situation (falling to 2-5 would be a nearly insurmountable hurdle), the Eagles continue their game-after-bye winning streak under Reid.

For the rest of our Week 8 picks, check out The Weekly Blitz.

If you're looking for fantasy football rankings, here are our Week 8 rankings, which will continue to be updated up until the first kickoff on Sunday.

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