NFL Week 8 Picks
After a season where I won the Gridiron Experts Staff Pick ‘Em contest, I’ll be providing my picks every week for you, our readers. Last year, I went 64.5% straight up, and 55.4% against the spread… so I’m hoping to replicate that success this year. Each week, I’ll give you my picks for the game, and a short write-up centered around the key reason why I’m making the pick that I am.
In Week 7, my picks were almost flawless. I went 12-2 straight up and 12-2 against the spread. My lock of the week also came through (6-1 for the season). We hope to replicate that same success here in Week 8!
You can also click over to see all our Free NFL picks for the week with the staff.
Washington @ Minnesota (-15.5)
The Vikings have won 3 in a row coming into Thursday Night Football, while the Redskins were shut out in their last contest against San Francisco. Kirk Cousins is playing some of his best football right now and that has spurred the resurgence of WR Stefon Diggs. In Diggs’ last 3 games, he’s caught 14 balls for 309 yards and 3 TDs. The Washington DBs will have their work cut out if they want to contain Diggs right now. The Vikings will be without star WR Adam Thielen for this contest, while the Redskins are still determining whether RB Adrian Peterson will be good to go. Otherwise, the Redskins’ top offensive weapon is rookie WR Terry McLaurin, who was sluggish in the Skins’ Week 7 loss. Ultimately, I think that Cousins will continue his success and that Minnesota has all the defensive tools to shut down Case Keenum & Co. in this one. Vikings 33-14. (LOCK OF THE WEEK)
Cincinnati @ LA Rams (-12.5)
The Bengals are so bad. Tyler Boyd is the only player producing, the defense is porous, and the Offensive Line is a collection of backups. Accordingly, Joe Mixon has done nothing this year. The Rams haven’t been amazing this year, but they still tout a high powered offense and a formidable defense. With Aaron Donald, Dante Fowler & Co. wreaking havoc in the offensive backfield, the frazzled Dalton will have very little time to think. I see the Rams defense and their newly acquired star Jalen Ramsey shutting down the Bengals completely. Goff and the offense will make timely plays, Cooper Kupp will get back on track, and Todd Gurley will have a workmanlike game on the ground. I like LA to win this one comfortably at home, covering the spread in the process. Rams 27-13.
Seattle (-5.5) @ Atlanta
The Falcons have been surprisingly dreadful this year. The defense has been horrid, allowing a league-worst 31 points per game. On the other side of the ball, the Falcons’ rushing attack has been nonexistent, ranking 29th in the league with 68.4 rushing yards per contest. Given the lack of a run game, teams have been able to key in on Matt Ryan and focus on stopping the passing attack. Ryan has thrown for 2170 yards (2nd in the NFL) but has faltered, throwing 8 INT this season. With Ryan listed as Questionable for this weekend’s game with an ankle injury, things can only get worse with Matt Schaub at the helm. Russell Wilson has been tremendous this year, logging 1945 yards and 15 TD to only 1 INT. Unlike the Falcons, Seattle touts a potent rushing attack with Chris Carson and Wilson’s dual-threat nature. Despite the loss of TE Will Dissly, Wilson has found his top target in Tyler Lockett. Lockett’s 40 catches, 515 yards, and 4 TDs all lead the team. Look for Wilson and Lockett to have standout performances as the Seahawks pick apart the Atlanta secondary in this contest. I like Seattle to win and cover on the road. Seahawks 28-21.
Philadelphia @ Buffalo (-1.5)
Are the Bills for real? Everyone is wondering. The team from Western NY jumped out to a 3-0 record before falling in a close game to the undefeated Patriots. Since then, they edged out Tennessee and beat Miami, to bring their record to 5-1 on the year. With a cupcake schedule coming up, the Bills could be cruising towards a playoff spot… but they need to take care of the Eagles first. Philadelphia has lost its last two games to Minnesota and Dallas, and neither contest was close. Teams have seemingly picked apart the Eagles’ secondary this year, and you can bet that Buffalo will try to do the same. Josh Allen will likely key in on WRs Cole Beasley and John Brown to exploit the Eagles’ weakness down the field. Look for Brown to have a breakout performance in this one, as he has the ability to take the top off the defense. However, it should be noted that Brown missed practice on Wednesday and should be considered Questionable for Sunday at this point. I do believe Carson Wentz will keep this game close, but the Bills’ defense is no joke. Their ability to rush Wentz will be key. If they’re able to disrupt his pocket presence and make him rush throws, I could see Buffalo forcing some turnovers in this contest. In the end, this game will be close, but I think the Bills are for real and like them to win this game with a late defensive stop. Bills 24-21.
LA Chargers @ Chicago (-3.5)
The Chargers have also disappointed this year. Sunday was an especially low point for Los Angeles, as the Chargers were a mere 1 yard away from knocking off the Titans. Melvin Gordon’s fumble on the goal line sealed the Chargers’ fate as they fell to 2-5 on the year. Philip Rivers has accumulated his fair share of yardage (2,114), however, his 11:6 TD to INT ratio through 7 games speaks to the lack of production we’ve seen out of this offense. RB Austin Ekeler has undoubtedly been a bright point for the Chargers, posting 736 all-purpose yards and 7 TDs through 7 games. With Ekeler’s production, the Chargers didn’t necessarily need Gordon to return; and since he has returned, he hasn’t been very effective at all. On the other hand, WR Keenan Allen is one of the game’s best and can take over a contest at a moment’s notice. Chicago QB Mitchell Trubisky made his return in Week 7 but averaged a terrible 4.6 yards per attempt in their loss to the Saints. He’ll have to be a whole lot better to help the Bears compete in this contest. In the end, both teams have a playmaker or two to fear. Look for Allen Robinson to make a few big plays, as he’ll be Trubisky’s main target. However, I think the Chicago defense and their stud Khalil Mack will give Rivers fits on Sunday. The loss of lineman Forrest Lamp certainly doesn’t help matters and I could see Rivers taking multiple sacks against Chicago’s fearsome front. I’ll take the Bears to win and cover on the back of their defensive unit. Bears 28-23.
NY Giants @ Detroit (-6.5)
Daniel Jones has the capacity to be quite good. But, unfortunately, he’s not surrounded by elite talent. The Giants come into this game on a three-game losing streak, as Pat Shurmur finds himself on an increasingly hot seat. While the G-Men were aided by the return of their star RB Saquon Barkley, the Giants offense sputtered against the below-average Cardinals defense, scoring only 14 points on Sunday. Along with Barkley, the Giants have WR Golden Tate, who continued his production since returning from his suspension with a 6 catch/80-yard performance. Detroit has also lost 3 in a row, but in a much different manner. Their losses have all come against quality opponents, and two of the three losses were quite close (KC and Green Bay). Matt Patricia has aided in this team’s turnaround. However, the loss of Kerryon Johnson to injured reserve will certainly hurt Detroit’s offensive attack. In any event, the Giants’ greatest weakness is their porous secondary and I suspect that Matt Stafford and Kenny Golladay will show out on Sunday. Marvin Jones Jr. snagged 4 TDs last week and could find his way into the end zone again in this game with how bad the Giants’ secondary has performed. I think Detroit will lean on Stafford and their newfound defensive success to knock off the Giants and cover the spread in the process. Lions 27-18.
Oakland @ Houston (-6.5)
Deshaun Watson has been the heart of this Texans offense. Watson could be considered one of the best in the game right now and has the ability to change any game at the drop of a hat. Watson has thrown for 1952 yards and 13 TD compared to only 5 INT through 7 games. He’s also added 196 yards on the ground and 5 TD, making him a true rushing threat as well. However, he lost a major weapon in WR Will Fuller V, whose hamstring injury will apparently cost him several weeks. This will open up more targets for one of the game’s best in DeAndre Hopkins and speedster Kenny Stills. On the ground, Houston has leaned on RB Carlos Hyde, who has rumbled for 461 yards and 3 TD thus far. Oakland will certainly have a tough task in slowing down the dynamic Houston offense, as they rank bottom 10 in the league in points allowed. Additionally, they only have 10 sacks on the year and have only recorded 3 interceptions. They’ll need to find more ways to steal the ball on defense if they want to compete in the crowded AFC West. The Raiders have been exceedingly average on offense but will get a spark back with the imminent return of WR Tyrell Williams. Tight end Darren Waller has been the brightest point of this offense, as he leads the team in receptions and yardage by more than double the next highest Raider in each category. Waller will need to change this game to lead Oakland to victory. In the end, I expect Gruden & Co. to keep this game close… but I trust Deshaun Watson to pull the game out in the end. I’ll take Houston to win a close one. Texans 24-20.
NY Jets @ Jacksonville (-5.5)
Last week was tough on both the Jacksonville and New York. The Jaguars lost their best player last week when Jalen Ramsey was traded to the Rams. On the other hand, the Jets were trounced by the Patriots on Monday Night by a score of 33-0. However, the Jets recently had a moment of brilliance when they knocked off the Cowboys in Sam Darnold’s return from Mono. Darnold’s return was a major upgrade over his backup, Luke Falk. A matchup with the league’s best defense brought him back down to earth, but you can’t ignore that the kid has talent. Now, with the void of Ramsey’s departure, he’ll have a much softer secondary to attack. Le’Veon Bell is the most dangerous weapon on the Jets, but he hasn’t quite broken out yet. This would be one heck of a time for him to do so, as the Jets need him to thrive in the worst way. Darnold will key in on WRs Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder as he attacks the Jacksonville defense. The Jags are experiencing a better year than usual offensively. QB Gardner Minshew II has cooled off as of late. However, RB Leonard Fournette is more effective than ever. He’s one of the league’s leaders with 715 rushing yards through 7 games. While he’s only scored once this year, he’s due for a Touchdown correction soon if he keeps up this rushing rate. DJ Chark Jr. is also one of the AFC’s top WRs so far this season, logging 581 yards and 5 TDs. I see this game as competitive, and a good candidate to hit the Over. Given the number of weapons they have both offensively and defensively (even without Ramsey) I like Jacksonville to win a close one at home here. Jaguars 27-24.[the_ad id=”79528″][the_ad id=”69556″]
Arizona @ New Orleans (-9.5)
Will this be the return of Drew Brees? It’ll spell bad news for the Cardinals if so. However, Teddy Bridgewater has played well in the Hall of Famer’s absence. Bridgewater has completed 67.7% of his passes, throwing for 1370 yards and 9 TD to only 2 INT. His quality play has led New Orleans to a 6-1 record and 5 consecutive wins. By avoiding mistakes, Teddy B allowed this offense to stay potent and for his elite skill players to thrive. Alvin Kamara has had a bit of a down year, as he’s been slowed by injury. He should be viewed as genuinely questionable for Sunday and we might get a strong dose of Latavius Murray again. Murray was fantastic last week filling in for Kamara, rushing for 119 yards and 2 TD to lead the Saints to victory. Michael Thomas has produced as he always does, pulling in 62 balls for 763 yards and 3 TD through 7 games. The Cardinals are notoriously awful at covering Tight Ends, so look for Jared Cook (if active) and Josh Hill to find the end zone in this contest. Kyler Murray & Kliff Kingsbury have led the Cardinals to a surprising 3-3-1 record in the competitive NFC West. Murray has had a roller-coaster season, throwing for 1,768 yards, 7 TDs, and 4 INT. He’s also added 266 yards and 2 TD on the ground. The biggest question mark for Arizona is whether or not RB David Johnson will play significant snaps on Sunday. Last week, Chase Edmonds thrived against the terrible NY Giants defense, but Johnson is undoubtedly the preferred option when healthy. WR Larry Fitzgerald has also been fantastic, but the Cardinals will miss his partner-in-crime, Christian Kirk. In the end, I think the Saints are better on both sides of the ball and that they’ll outscore Arizona on Sunday, covering in the process. Saints 32-20.
Tampa Bay @ Tennessee (-2.5)
Tennessee sealed their victory over the Chargers last week with a memorable Goal Line Stand. Rookie defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons played a crucial role in limited snaps on Sunday and should be a mainstay in the Titans lineup for years to come. The Titans defense has paced the whole team this season, as it has asserted itself as one of the league’s most complete units. The defense ranks 5th in points allowed and is in the top third of the league in both sacks and interceptions. Having recently changed the guard to Ryan Tannehill as their starting QB, Tennessee seems to be reinvigorated on offense. Look for Corey Davis and rookie WR AJ Brown to step up their production moving forward, and for Derrick Henry to benefit from this newfound run/pass balance. Tampa Bay, on the other hand, has one of the league’s worst defenses so far this year. They rank 28th in points allowed, allowing an average of just under 31 points per game. Jameis Winston’s propensity to turn the ball over also adds to the defense’s time on the field. Winston has thrown 10 INT compared to only 12 TDs. Their rushing attack has also been inconsistent with both Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber failing to break out. The true bright spot has been WR Chris Godwin, who has taken 43 receptions for 662 yards and 6 TDs. Godwin has had to share targets with All-Pro Mike Evans, who has added 464 yards and 4 TDs for Tampa Bay this year. I think the Titans’ defense will get to Winston in this contest, and that they’ll force multiple turnovers. Look for Henry to get a heavy workload and for Tannehill to make the timely throws he needs to as a game manager. I like the Titans to win and cover with their home-field advantage in Nashville. Titans 24-20.
Carolina @ San Francisco (-5.5)
The 49ers are the real deal. There’s no questioning that after they started out their season with a 6-0 record. However, they’ll find themselves with a true test on Sunday when they face off with the 5-2 Panthers. It seems that Cam Newton will miss another week and QB Kyle Allen will yet again be under center for Carolina. Allen still has not lost a game as the Panthers’ signal-caller, but he also hasn’t faced a defense like San Fran’s. Thankfully, Allen will have the game’s best running back in his corner. Christian McCaffrey has been absolutely unreal this year, logging 923 scrimmage yards and 9 TDs. McCaffrey will have to absolutely take this game over if Carolina wants to be competitive. Otherwise, Allen will hone in on WRs DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel, along with TE Greg Olsen as his primary options. San Francisco will also have its work cut out, as Carolina ranks 1st in the league in QB sacks, and 2nd in interceptions. QB Jimmy Garoppolo will have to take good care of the ball in this one and avoid making costly mistakes. The 49ers are run-first, and their tandem of Matt Brieda and Tevin Coleman is one of the league’s most productive duos at this point. The WR corps got a shot in the arm this week as San Fran acquired veteran Emmanuel Sanders. Otherwise, the 49ers receiving options are mediocre, with Marquise Goodwin, Deebo Samuel, and Kendrick Bourne leading the way. TE George Kittle is undoubtedly the team’s best skill player, and he’ll have to play fantastically in this one. In the end, Allen doesn’t have a game-changing arm, and I suspect that the 49ers will focus solely on shutting down McCaffrey, thus forcing Allen to be the one that beats them. If that’s the case, I’ll take this elite San Francisco defense over Kyle Allen. 49ers 28-21.
Denver @ Indianapolis (-5.5)
The Colts are one of the league’s more surprising squads thus far. They currently lead the AFC South with a record of 4-2 and QB Jacoby Brissett has been playing very effective football, throwing for 13 TDs compared to only 2 INTs. His top two targets have been WRs TY Hilton and Zach Pascal who have combined for 545 yards and 8 TDs. Brissett’s duo of Tight Ends, Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle have accumulated 355 yards and 4 TDs. When you take these 4 solid options, it’s clear to see that the Colts have a very balanced attack. Marlon Mack paces the game for the Colts’ rushing attack, having rushed for 514 yards and 2 TD so far this year. On the other hand, the Broncos’ offense is one of the league’s worst. Joe Flacco quarterbacks the Denver offense, which relies heavily on its duo of running backs, Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. On the outside, WR Courtland Sutton has experienced a breakout year, logging 564 yards and 3 TDs. Unfortunately for Denver, this is where their weapons start and end. Both teams have middling defenses, but for me, Quarterback play will be the difference here. Joe Flacco just doesn’t scare me at all. Take away his best WR, and I fear him even less. I’ll take the Colts to win by 2 scores and cover at home. Colts 30-18.
Cleveland @ New England (-12.5)
On one side of the ball, Baker Mayfield has thrown 11 interceptions through 6 games for the 2-4 Browns. To add fuel to the fire, Cleveland’s offensive line has been awful. On the other side of the ball, the Patriots defense leads the league with 18 (yes, eighteen) interceptions and ranks 2nd with 25 sacks. Do the Browns have Nick Chubb and Odell Beckham Jr.? Yes. Will it matter? Probably not. Patriots 33-17.[the_ad id=”80759″][the_ad id=”66090″]
Green Bay (-4.5) @ Kansas City
The Packers are one of the league’s most formidable teams through 7 weeks, logging a record of 6-1 for their rookie head coach Matt LaFleur. While Green Bay has been known for its prolific offense for the past decade, it’s their defense that has made the difference so far this season. The Packers’ defensive unit ranks 3rd in the league in interceptions, 11th in sacks, and 12th in points against. Kansas City will most likely be without their MVP QB Patrick Mahomes (although he did log a limited practice on Wednesday). Matt Moore will lead the KC offense should Mahomes be unable to go. Needless to say, this will be a major downgrade for the Kansas City offense and their elite skill players like Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. QB Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, is fresh off his best game in the season where he notched 6 TDs en route to a victory over Oakland. Rodgers looked as good as he’s ever looked and didn’t miss injured WR1 Davante Adams for a second. Instead, he relied on the likes of WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling and TE Jimmy Graham to reel in his passes and trusted Aaron Jones to pace the rushing attack. Jones has been particularly potent this year, rushing for 399 yards and 8 TDs. He’s also added a receiving score for good measure. If Mahomes doesn’t play, I envision the Green Bay defense taking the ball away from Moore a couple of times. Given that, I like the red hot Packers to continue their success, even in a hostile environment like KC. Packers 28-20.
Miami @ Pittsburgh (-14.5)
The Steelers are having an off year, but have some bonafide studs in RB James Conner and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster. Miami has been better than I expected in the last two weeks. Despite being 0-6, they’ve been competitive in both of their last two games. OK… I said something nice about the Dolphins. Now onto the cold, hard facts. Miami ranks 31st in the NFL in points scored. They rank 31st in points against. They’re 31st in yards per game, 28th in pass yards per game, and 31st in rush yards per game. They’re 30th in sacks and 31st in interceptions. How can I pick such a team to do anything except lose big at Heinz Field on Monday Night Football? I can’t. James Conner has his best game of the season, the Steelers force multiple turnovers, and the Dolphins move one week closer to picking #1 overall in the NFL Draft. Steelers 28-12.
Enjoy the games! Until next week…