NFL Picks Week 8: Survivor Pool Locks and Games to Avoid
It's never too early to take make some picks for Week 8 in the NFL. Week 7 is barely cold, wrapping up with a stinker in Dallas on Monday Night Football, but a new week promises plenty of action.
The schedule for Week 8 was sent months ago, and the lines have just come in. It's time to rank each matchups, from survivor pool locks all the way down to games to avoid.
So get your wallet out. It's time to place your bets.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Arizona Cardinals
Line: Arizona -3
Why Tampa Bay Can Win: Raheem Morris says his is the best team in the NFC. Statistically, they don't do anything well, and they haven't beaten anybody that good... but if he says so. Going up against one of the worst quarterback tandems in football should help Morris' cause this weekend.
Why Arizona Can Win: They can't throw it. They can't run it. They can't stop it. Basically, they can't really do anything.
Prediction: I'll take the Bucs by six.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Oakland Raiders
Line: Oakland -2
Why Seattle Can Win: The leaders of the NFC West would probably be buried at the bottom of any other division, but they still deserve credit for their surprise season. They're yet another team that can't really do much on offense, but they're defense is pretty good at refusing to yield. They allow a lot of yards, but only four teams allow fewer points a game than they do.
Why Oakland Can Win: So that's what a healthy Darren McFadden can do for ya.... Yes, Oakland's win over Denver was amazing, and so was Run DMC. If he can do half of what he did against Denver, the Raiders stand a good chance of winning. But really, the Raiders need to do as much as they can from avoid asking too much of Jason Campbell.
Prediction: The Raiders won't drop 59 again. But they will win. Give me the Raiders by nine.
Minnesota Vikings vs. New England Patriots
Line: New England -5.5
Why Minnesota Can Win: Umm... can they? There doesn't seem to be a more hectic situation in the NFL than the one in Minnesota. As if Brett Favre wasn't bad enough, now he's hurt and feuding with his head coach. Good thing for Adrian Peterson, who is just behind Ahmad Bradshaw in rushing. New England's rush defense is tough, but so is All Day. The Vikings' best hope for victory is a thorough scouting report on the Patriots offense.
Why The Patriots Can Win: The Pats have won two in a row by a final score of 23-20. Their days of beating their opponents to a fine paste are long gone, but they somehow still lead the league in scoring. They're clearly better without Moss, and will probably only get better as the season unfolds.
Prediction: I like the Pats to win and cover the spread. I'll take the Pats by ten.
Washington Redskins vs. Detroit Lions
Line: Detroit -2.5
Why Washington Can Win: Washington was very sloppy on offense against the Bears this past weekend, and were actually outgained 322-309. But they keep pulling out close victories this year, and they do so in a variety of ways. They forced Chicago into making a lot of turnovers, and they do have one of the better defenses in the league. They bend, but don't break.
Why Detroit Can Win: Barring any setbacks, the Lions should get Matthew Stafford back this weekend. Stafford should help what is already a pretty decent passing attack, which also happens to be one of Washington's biggest weaknesses on defense.
Prediction: Trust Washington to win another close game. They should be able to dispatch a team with one win.
Denver Broncos vs. San Francisco 49ers
Line: San Francisco -1
Why The Broncos Could Win: Coming off a terrible blowout loss at hoe to the Raiders, the Broncos will probably look to do some soul searching in this game. With Alex Smith hurt, the Niners will probably look to run the ball plenty of times with Frank Gore, which means the Broncos will have to shore up what is one of the worst run defenses in the league.
Why The 49ers Could Win: The are also reeling, and David Carr is certainly not an upgrade over Alex Smith. They will need to run the ball on the Broncos, taking a lesson from Darren McFadden from their counterparts across the Bay. If they can limit Kyle Orton, who is second the the NFL in passing, they should be able to win.
Prediction: The 49ers will run the ball effectively on the Broncos and beat the by three.
Miami Dolphins vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Line: Cincinatti -2
Why Miami Can Win: The Dolphins will be going up against one of the best passing attacks in football, and they're going to have their work cut out for them given their mediocre pass defense. The good news is that Miami will be playing on the road, where they have gathered all three of their wins.
Why Cincinnati Can Win: Carson Palmer is going to have to pass the ball early and often. If the Bengals can build a big lead, they will force Chad Henne to beat them rather than Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Of course, they will definitely have to beware Brandon Marshall.
Prediction: Miami should be 4-2, and I like them to keep doing work on the road against a team that has dropped three in a row. Give me Miami by six.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New Orleans Saints
Line: New Orleans -1
Why Pittsburgh Can Win: At the start of the season, this game looked like it was going to be a test for Pittsburgh's studly defense. After Drew Brees' latest game, they must be licking their chops. The Steelers couldn't rush the ball effectively against Miami, and they're going to need to do so against the Saints to avoid getting in a potential shootout with Brees and the Saints, no matter how far they appear to have fallen.
Why New Orleans Can Win: Something's up with Drew Brees. After having 11 interceptions all of last season, he has 10 already in 2010. The Saints themselves just look flat and uninterested, and are pretty clearly suffering from a Super Bowl hangover. It doesn't help that they're dealing with a bevy of injuries as well. This one's going to be tough for them.
Prediction: I like the Steelers by three.
Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts
Line: Indianapolis -5.5
Why Houston Can Win: The Texans showed us that the Colts can be run on when Arian Foster went for 231 yards on opening day. And indeed, the Colts defense has one of the worst rush defenses in the league. Matt Schaub can definitely chuck it too, and Andre Johnson is one of the baddest men in the league catching the ball. The bad news is that the Texans have the worst pass defense in the league, and have already had Manning rip them for 433 yards and three touchdowns.
Why Indianapolis Can Win: The Colts need to do what they did the first time around against Houston, and that's pass the ball as much as possible. The Colts receiving corps may be beat up, but Manning is the best quarterback in the league when it comes to spreading the ball around. They definitely need to stop Foster though.
Prediction: I like the Colts to get their revenge in this one, and I'm going to say they'll win by seven.
Green Bay Packers vs. New York Jets
Line: New York -6
Why The Packers Can Win: Teams have been able to pass on the Jets this season, who give uo just over 220 yards passing per game. That number should improve with a healthy Darrelle Revis returning to action, but it's probably never a good idea to doubt Aaron Rodgers' ability, no matter who he's playing. If only the Pack could run the ball...
Why The Jets Can Win: They're known for their shut down defense, but the Jets also boast the second best rushing attack in football. The Pack got burned by Adrian Peterson on Sunday night, who carried the ball 28 times for 131 yards. The Jets should also look to run the ball as much.
Prediction: The Jets will probably win, but it's going to be closer than six points.
Carolina Panthers vs. St. Louis Rams
Line: St. Louis -3
Why Carolina Can Win: Matt Moore managed to provide a lift for a pretty lackluster Carolina passing attack. St. Louis' pass defense is mediocre, but they're very good at getting after the quarterback. We're all still waiting for the Panthers to run the ball effectively, and they once again need to try and get DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart going.
Why St. Louis Can Win: The Rams could definitely be 4-3 right now, and are obviously much improved form last year. They're also 3-1 at home this year. The bad news for Sam Bradford is that Carolina's pass defense is, statistically, one of the best in the NFL, allowing less than 185 yards a game. However, Stephen Jackson should be able to carve them up.
Prediction: Give me St. Louis by a touchdown. They'll cover.
Tennessee Titans vs. San Diego Chargers
Line: San Diego -3.5
Why Tennessee Will Win: Tennessee's defense is the unsung hero of the 2010 NFL season. They lead the league in sacks, picks, red zone defense, and are second in points allowed. On offense awaits Chris Johnson, who is obviously much more dangerous than his non-league-leading stats suggest. Also, Vince Young could be back.
Why San Diego Can Win: There's a lot that they do right, but even more that they do wrong. The question is how long they will keep up the latter trend. Remember, they got off to a slow start last season, and then won out starting in mid-October. Phillip Rivers has more passing yards than anyone, and the Chargers themselves move the ball better than any team in the NFL. They also allow fewer yards than anybody. Does not compute.
Prediction: This is not a lock, but I like San Diego to snap out of it in this one. Give me San Diego by 7.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Dallas Cowboys
Line: Dallas -6.5
Why Jacksonville Can Win: David Garrard is supposed to be back, and he's definitely an upgrade over Todd Bauman. But they really need to get Maurice Jones-Drew going. He's had only one 100-yard game this season. The bad news is that Dallas's rush defense isn't all that bad.
Why Dallas Can Win: Jon Kitna played well after he subbed for an injured Tony Romo, throwing for two touchdowns. Dallas has virtually no rush game to speak of, so Kitna is going to have to duplicate Romo's numbers. They also need to blitz Garrard early and often, and see if they can't get him tentative since he's just coming back from a concussion.
Prediction: Dallas is a bad team that just got worse with Romo's injury. I'll take Jacksonville by six.
Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Line: Kansas City -7.5
Why Buffalo Can Win: Don't look now, but Ryan Fitzpatrick has figured things out in the last couple games. In Buffalo's past three, he has 722 yards and nine touchdowns. The Bills may be winless, but they're definitely not hopeless. They could have beaten Baltimore on Sunday.
Why Kansas City Can Win: They're on top of the AFC West, and it doesn't look like any of the teams below them are going to catch up any time soon. They've also topped 30 points in three of their last four. Their weakness? A lame pass defense that allows more than 240 yards a game.
Prediction: Kansas City will win, but not by more than a touchdown. Give me the Chiefs by three.