NFL Week 8 Picks: Chris Simms' Selections for Each Game

Chris Simms@@CSimmsQBNFL Lead AnalystOctober 27, 2016

NFL Week 8 Picks: Chris Simms' Selections for Each Game

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    My kids have their Halloween costumes picked out already.

    Me? I’m thinking about going as my favorite kind of Twitter follower: the football hipster.

    They're the ones who knew about the Dolphins before they were good. They predicted the Eagles would beat the Vikings. They even tweeted that the Seahawks-Cardinals game might end in a tie! And they don’t waste a second to point out how wrong your picks were.

    Newsflash: Picking NFL outcomes is difficult! The only two game predictions I’ve ever heard Bill Belichick make were both wrong. But read the fine print before my picks; I’m not guessing in the dark here. There’s substance to these 13 picks I’ve made for Week 8.

    Or, slap on a Jerry Rice Broncos jersey, always call the "Texans" the "Oilers" and correct every analyst you follow. Where would I be without you, football hipsters?

Jaguars at Titans

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    When: Thursday at 8:25 p.m. ET (NFL Network)

    If the Color Rush jerseys don’t burn your eyeballs, the quarterback play will.

    On one end, Blake Bortles is showcasing some high school-level throwing mechanics. Tennessee’s pass rush is no pushover; guys such as Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo can use the extra split second of Bortles’ windup to disrupt his throws. That’s why weapons such as Allen Robinson and Julius Thomas have been quiet all year.

    On the other end, it’s Mr. Fumble-It-Away himself. Marcus Mariota has gift-wrapped a few wins this year with careless ball security. Jacksonville’s up-and-coming front should be on the lookout for any loose fumbles all night.

    The difference? Tennessee has an offensive line that can keep Mariota clean. Jacksonville doesn’t.

    Prediction: Titans 20, Jaguars 17

Redskins at Bengals (London)

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    Larry French/Getty Images

    When: Sunday at 9:30 a.m. ET (Fox)

    Will the next ex-Bengals assistant please step up?

    It’s Jay Gruden’s turn to take a crack at the old boss—in London. He’ll need to throw a few more wrinkles at Marvin Lewis than former co-worker Hue Jackson did last week.

    I’m not sure he can. Kirk Cousins leads a talented but predictable offense. I can see it now: overthrown deep balls to DeSean Jackson, short dump-offs to Chris Thompson and maybe a reverse for Jamison Crowder. That attack doesn’t excite me against Cincinnati’s deep secondary.

    Meanwhile, Josh Norman might be a no-go. That’s not ideal; Cincinnati’s deep-ball offense is one of the most impressive in football. And when they don’t throw, the Bengals’ front five are doing a much better job at opening running lanes.

    Prediction: Bengals 31, Redskins 27

Chiefs at Colts

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    When: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

    Here’s a spooky Halloween story for any NFL fright-seekers.

    Andrew Luck. At home. With an offensive line that’s looking better. And a defense that—outside of one drive in Houston—hasn’t played terribly the last two weeks.

    Can the Colts make it a third? Not if their problem run defense pops up again in Week 8. Only seven teams are surrendering more ground yards per game than Indy. Now it’ll be up against Spencer Ware and all the creative runs Andy Reid draws up.

    I’m scared about this pick, but I’m going with the more physical team on both sides of the football.

    Prediction: Chiefs 35, Colts 31

Cardinals at Panthers

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    Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

    When: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET (Fox)

    This time last year, Cam Newton and Co. were toying with the NFC.

    Now look at them. They’re on the brink of a 1-6 start—that’s almost a death sentence. Something tells me Bruce Arians would love to hammer the final nail in Carolina’s coffin, too.

    So rest in peace, Panthers. Newton will make his MVP-level plays, but he’ll struggle to top Arizona’s jelling secondary. Chandler Jones and Markus Golden will be there when he decides to run.

    Carson Palmer dropped 342 yards on Seattle’s amazing secondary last week. Imagine what he’ll do against a handful of rookies in coverage.

    Prediction: Cardinals 34, Panthers 23

Seahawks at Saints

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    When: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET (Fox)

    I tossed and turned over this game for a few nights.

    Drew Brees’ play settled it for me. As legendary as he’s been, the Saints signal-caller has a knack for throwing gigantic interceptions (see: last week in Kansas City). I don’t trust him to topple the ball-hawkingest secondary this side of Denver.

    I’m going with the better 53-man roster from top to bottom. I’m going with the better pass rush despite New Orleans’ improved ability to protect. And I’m going with an angry Jimmy Graham, who probably didn’t like getting traded from NOLA for a center.

    Prediction: Seahawks 24, Saints 20

Raiders at Buccaneers

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    When: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

    It's always a red flag for me when a team interrupts its normal routine.

    It's a double red flag when Florida is involved. Oakland stayed put in between road games in Jacksonville and Tampa Bay. Take it from me: Some Raiders will feel the warm weather and half-ass it at practice this week. When I played for the Buccaneers, we counted on it.

    I’m not sure Derek Carr can keep Oakland’s offense humming at maximum production. This Tampa Bay team is the scariest East Coast foe he's visited. Carr will make a few "wow" plays, but he's up against a sneaky-good (13th-best in football) Buccaneers defense. They're better than advertised.

    His counterpart will keep the Bucs rolling, too. Jameis Winston and Mike Evans have reconnected as the one-two punch everyone feared they'd be. And Jacquizz Rodgers should pose a real threat against a sorry Silver and Black run defense.

    Prediction: Buccaneers 38, Raiders 34

Lions at Texans

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    When: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET (Fox)

    This week is a telltale one for Brock Osweiler’s future, and not just in Houston.

    As always, he’ll do enough to string us along another week. Detroit’s secondary is still short-handed, and Osweiler’s weapons are still good. It shouldn’t be as tough to move the ball this week as Denver, New England and Minnesota made it look weeks prior.

    Matthew Stafford is the wild card. If this game is close in the fourth quarter, the Lions quarterback and Texas native will steal it. Can Stafford hold it together until then? He has no options in the running game, and that’s Houston’s main defensive weakness.

    Prediction: Texans 24, Lions 23

Patriots at Bills

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    Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

    When: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

    Rex Ryan had something special up his sleeve for this year’s first Bills-Patriots meeting.

    He might not have any magic left. Buffalo is too banged up on offense to top New England twice, particularly if LeSean McCoy can’t produce. Bill Belichick only needs to keep Tyrod Taylor in the pocket.

    Then he’ll hand things over to the quarterback who didn’t play earlier this month. The Bills have only beaten Tom Brady three times in his 17-year career. There’s a reason for that.

    Prediction: Patriots 33, Bills 20

Jets at Browns

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    Al Pereira/Getty Images

    When: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

    Todd Bowles doesn’t care if his former-turned-current starting quarterback is pissed off.

    He wants to see results. For the first time since early September, Ryan Fitzpatrick is poised to deliver them.

    It has less to do with the Browns’ 31st-ranked defense than it does with FitzMagic himself. I saw a more cautious and careful quarterback play in relief of the injured Geno Smith last week. He released the ball earlier, and he didn’t force throws to Brandon Marshall that weren’t there. It felt like he was delivering a big middle finger to all his detractors, myself included. I like that.

    Fitzpatrick can also lean on a resurgent Matt Forte in Week 8. His 154 total yards last week signaled a shift in the way Chan Gailey is calling the offense. Finally, it might be run first and back-shoulder fades later.

    Prediction: Jets 23, Browns 21

Chargers at Broncos

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    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    When: Sunday at 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)

    Remember: Denver was on its way to a Thursday night comeback in San Diego a few weeks back.

    Its offensive play has only improved since Demaryius Thomas lost a fluke fumble. Quarterback Trevor Siemian has shaken the aftereffects of his concussion. The offensive line is healthy and dominant. Even without C.J. Anderson, the run game should be fine.

    But this game centers on defense. The Broncos’ group got its swagger back by beating around Osweiler for four quarters. San Diego’s is improved, but Joey Bosa isn’t sneaking up on Denver again. It knows he’s coming and will adjust.

    Prediction: Broncos 20, Chargers 16

Packers at Falcons

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    When: Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)

    A Packers defense at the top of its coverage abilities would still struggle against Julio Jones.

    So imagine what a half-strength defense will do. Green Bay’s top corners have been hobbled or sidelined in recent weeks; Jones should plug passes with ease against them all game long.

    He’ll get every chance to do so. Matt Ryan doesn’t care about two or three guys on Jones. He throws it up and expects to win. This weekend, those expectations look realistic.

    Can Aaron Rodgers respond every time? Once again, it's all on his shoulders to carry a vanilla Packers passing game. He’ll find yards against Atlanta, but a Vic Beasley-led pass rush could keep him out of the end zone for stretches.

    Prediction: Falcons 27, Packers 20

Eagles at Cowboys

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    When: Sunday at 8:30 p.m. ET (NBC)

    I look at the Eagles defensive line and see so many stars.

    But I look at Dallas’ results from Weeks 1-7 and see that it doesn’t matter. Fletcher Cox and Co. can play as well as they have all year and still get steamrolled by the best offensive line we’ve seen since the 1990s.

    The Cowboys match up well against the Eagles. Their cornerbacks are slow, but so are Philadelphia’s receivers. Their defensive line is opportunistic, and Philadelphia’s line lets pass rushes in.

    Rod Marinelli’s unit is nothing if not disciplined. All of the window dressing Carson Wentz puts on to run speed sweeps and bootlegs will be a tad less effective this weekend.

    Prediction: Cowboys 23, Eagles 20

Vikings at Bears

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    When: Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

    With Brian Hoyer out, the Bears seem ready to turn their offense back over to a familiar face.

    They should be preparing for Option C, too. Jay Cutler is healthy enough to return, but Minnesota’s defense won’t take any prisoners off its first loss of 2016.

    Linval Joseph and other big Vikings should shut down the run game with ease. Cutler's throws will determine if Chicago keeps it competitive. I’m not sure that’s ever been its preferred path to success.

    A serviceable Cutler still might not be enough. Chicago’s defense is simple—two safeties back, soft zone coverage. Sam Bradford won’t need rock-solid protection to exploit it. I expect a bounce-back performance from the Vikings’ QB1.

    Prediction: Vikings 22, Bears 13