NFL Picks

Week 8 NFL Picks

Justin Herbert

Week 8 NFL Picks

This season, I’ll be providing my picks every week for you, our readers. I’ve been Gridiron Expers’ Pick ‘Em columnist for the past few seasons, and I’m glad to be back at it again! We’re hoping to have even more 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. You can also click over to see all our Free NFL picks for the week with more than a dozen Gridiron Experts picking each game.

Welcome back… it’s time for Football!

Carolina @ Atlanta (-3.5)

After winning their first 3 games, the Panthers sit at 3-4 on the season. Similarly, the Falcons sit at 3-3 but have won 3 of their last 4. The common factor between these two teams is that their wins have come against the lackluster competition, making them tough to read on any given week. Without Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers aren’t all that difficult to scheme against defensively, as their only true offensive threat is WR DJ Moore. QB Sam Darnold has cooled off a bunch since his torrid start, and Carolina finds themselves ranking 22nd in the league in points per game. Atlanta hasn’t been much better offensively, but certainly have the weapons to improve. With QB Matt Ryan at the helm, star WR Calvin Ridley, and breakout rookie TE Kyle Pitts, the Falcons certainly keep defenses guessing. Not to mention, they have all-purpose whiz Cordarrelle Patterson lined up all over the place, keeping defenses guessing. While I don’t see this as a high-scoring affair, I expect Ryan to outduel Darnold and get the win and cover at home. Falcons 24-18. 

Miami @ Buffalo (-13.5)

Buffalo is back from their bye week and will want to take out the frustration from their loss to Tennessee. Unfortunately for Miami, they’re next up on the schedule. The Dolphins have lost 6 straight, and seem to be completely lost on both sides of the ball, ranking 29th in points per game, and 31st in points against. The Bills are the complete opposite, ranking 2nd in points per game and 1st in points against. Buffalo is also forcing a ton of turnovers, ranking 2nd in the NFL with 10 interceptions. QB Tua Tagovailoa will need to protect the ball against Buffalo, or this could quickly become a blowout. I have no sense of confidence in the Dolphins’ ability to stop Josh Allen and this Bills offense, nor do I have any faith that they can figure things out offensively in Buffalo. They’ll need to pay for papers to win this one. They’ve barely used RB Myles Gaskin, and just lost Malcolm Brown to Injured Reserve. With others like Will Fuller and Devante Parker banged up, there’s not much hope for Miami. I’ll take the Bills to win and cover the lofty spread at home. Bills 31-14.

San Francisco (-3.5) @ Chicago

This is a must-win game for both teams, as they’re currently sitting in 3rd place in their respective divisions. Chicago’s biggest downfall this year has been its inability to generate offense, as they rank 30th in the NFL in points per game, and dead last in both passing yardage and total yardage. The loss of stud RB David Montgomery looms large, but rookie QB Justin Fields has also shown an inability to pass the ball thus far. In time, it’ll become clearer as to whether this is more of an indictment on Matt Nagy’s play-calling or Fields’ gameplay. In any event, Chicago has been unable to get its star WR Allen Robinson involved, and when your best offensive player isn’t making an impact, it severely limits your offensive potential. San Francisco hasn’t been much better, but they have been getting major offensive contributions from both their stars and youngsters alike. WR Deebo Samuel has racked up 648 receiving yards thus far, while RB Eli Mitchell, despite missing some time with an injury, has proven to be an effective starter for the 49ers. When the chips are on the table in the 4th quarter, I’m not sure I can trust Fields’ arm to lead a game-winning drive or stage comeback. Until I see it with my own eyes, I won’t bet on it happening. Give me San Francisco to win a controlled game on the road. 49ers 24-18. 

Pittsburgh @ Cleveland (-3.5)

Pittsburgh has won 2 straight games, evening up its record at 3-3, while the Browns pulled out a win over Denver last week to bring themselves over .500 on the season. Given these two teams’ history and proximity in the AFC North standings, this could be a pivotal moment in the playoff race. It looks like we’ll see the return of QB Baker Mayfield, and RB Nick Chubb for Cleveland, despite the stellar play of D’Ernest Johnson last week. I’d imagine Johnson stays involved, given his breakout performance on Thursday Night, as Cleveland boasts the top rushing offense in the NFL. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, ranks 29th in rushing offense and has struggled to find a rhythm on the ground. Rookie RB Najee Harris has been a Swiss Army Knife for Pittsburgh, and isn’t your typical plodding RB, as he’s added 34 receptions in this young season. QB Ben Roethlisberger continues to hone in on Harris, along with WRs Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. Big Ben will need to be at his best on Sunday, as Cleveland’s defense ranks 2nd in total yards allowed. In the end, I expect Chubb’s return to energize the home team, and for the Browns to do what they do best– run the ball and play defense. With Roethlisberger unable to pick apart defenses like he used to, I see the Browns controlling the clock, as they always do, and to win a close one at home. I think the line of 3.5 is a tough one to bet– but if I have to take a side (which I do), I think I like the Browns to win and cover. Browns 28-23. 

Philadelphia (-3.5) @ Detroit

While both of these teams lost last weekend, they did so in different ways. The 0-7 Lions impressed many by hanging in there against the elite Rams, while Philly was dismantled by the Raiders early and lost by multiple scores on the road. Neither of these teams stands out offensively or defensively, and they both lack true star power. QBs Jared Goff and Jalen Hurts are both inconsistent and haven’t quite popped this season. Teams are starting to figure out Hurts’ tendencies, and can game plan accordingly, while Goff hasn’t quite inspired the confidence of many (including his head coach.) D’Andre Swift has been the best player on either team, as he’s racked up 653 all-purpose yards, despite ceding carries to Jamaal Williams. RB Miles Sanders will miss this game for Detroit, which should be a big blow to Philly. However, they’ve barely used Sanders this season, so how much could it matter? Instead, Boston Scott and rookie Kenneth Gainwell will split duties and hope to make an impact. I think that the home crowd will see the potential for a victory on Sunday and should come out energized. Look for Dan Campbell to create a game plan to limit (not shut down) Hurts, and keep it close. Then, I see the Lions finally getting over the hump and getting the win as the home dog on Sunday. Lions 25-24.

Los Angeles Rams (-14.5) @ Houston

The 6-1 Rams will travel to Houston to take on yet another 6-loss team. After knocking off Detroit last week (and not covering the spread,) Matt Stafford will look to pick apart this Texans defense that ranks bottom 3 in the NFL in points against. Houston isn’t quite effective on offense either, as they rank 31st in scoring offense. The Rams will look to shut this Texans offense down from the start, as their top-10 scoring defense touts one of the game’s best players in Aaron Donald and elite DB Jalen Ramsey. I don’t expect QB Davis Mills to be able to get much going at all offensively and feel that the likes of Cooper Kupp, Darrell Henderson, and Robert Woods will be too much for Houston to handle, giving LA the easy win here. The question, as it was last week, will be can they cover the 14.5 point spread. At this point, especially with the Texans trading away RB Mark Ingram and with Ramsey lined up against WR Brandin Cooks, I don’t see the Texans eclipsing 14 points. Given that, the Rams would need to score 29 points to cover the spread. On the season, they’re averaging 29.6 points per game. Good enough for me, especially against this hopeless Houston defense. I’ll take Los Angeles to cover. Rams 30-14. 

Tennessee @ Indianapolis (-1.5)

After two home wins over the AFC’s elite, Tennessee will travel to Indianapolis to take on the surging Colts. After a slow start, Indianapolis has won their last 2 games and sits at 3-4. Most of their success can be attributed to QB Carson Wentz and RB Jonathan Taylor. Wentz has been much better this year, throwing for 1,695 yards and 11 TD, compared to only 1 INT. Taylor has been equally impressive, logging 579 rushing yards and 5 scores on 105 carries in this young season. Stepping in for the injured TY Hilton, WR Michael Pittman Jr. has impressed with 508 receiving yards on the season as well. The Titans, on the other hand, have also been quite good offensively, ranking 6th in points per game, and 3rd in rushing yards per game. They also lead the NFL in Time of Possession, and it’s all thanks to their generational RB Derrick Henry. So far this season, Henry has amassed 869 rushing yards and 10 TDs, as the clear focal point of this Titans offense. Henry’s presence has also opened things up for QB Ryan Tannehill and the passing attack, which boasts WRs AJ Brown and Julio Jones, who both seem to be healthy. With all of its options available, this Titans offense is truly scary. However, the main difference-maker for Tennessee this year has been their defense. Their pass rush, led by Harold Landry III (7.5 sacks) has been greatly improved, and the secondary, albeit banged up, is playing considerably better as of late. While Indy is the favorite at home, I like the Titans to continue their hot streak and take the road win here. Titans 30-25.

Cincinnati (-10.5) @ New York Jets 

The Jets have been truly bad, sitting at 1-5. To make matters worse, they just lost QB Zach Wilson to a knee injury, leaving Mike White to start this game for the Jets. Cincinnati, on the other hand, is red hot and fresh off a huge win in Baltimore. QB Joe Burrow has been amazing so far this year and has facilitated the breakout of WR Ja’Marr Chase, who has an eye-popping 754 yards and 6 TD on the season. RB Joe Mixon has also been great and finally seems to be healthy. With Burrow just shy of 2,000 yards on the year, it seems that it’ll be hard for the Jets to slow down this Bengals offense. White’s best source of playmaking ability will be WRs Corey Davis and Jamison Crowder. Davis has logged only 349 yards on the year and leads the team. Directionally, it’s easy to see how the Jets rank dead last in points per game (13.3) with stats like those. I just can’t bring myself to take Mike White over (arguably) the NFL’s hottest team. Despite being on the road, I expect a Cincinnati blowout in this one.  Bengals 34-14.

New England @ Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5)

The 3-4 Patriots will head across the country to play the 4-2 LA Chargers. With Los Angeles fresh off a bye, you can bet that QB Justin Herbert and company will be well-rested and ready for this showdown. LA boasts one of the game’s best dual threats in RB Austin Ekeler, who has totaled 598 all-purpose yards and 7 TDs through 6 games. On the outside, Herbert leans on WRs Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, who seem to be at full strength after the bye. Williams has been fantastic this year, as he’s broken out with 498 receiving yards and 6 TDs. New England’s breakout performers have been RB Damien Harris and rookie QB Mac Jones. While Jones’ stats aren’t elite, his game management and poise have many in New England excited for his future. Harris, on the other hand, has amassed 437 yards on the ground, along with 5 scores. While Los Angeles has more offensive weapons, New England has one of the game’s best minds in HC Bill Belichick. When you combine Belichick’s game plan with a competent defense, I think the Patriots will do enough to keep this game close. But, in the end, the Chargers have too many options for the Patriots to limit. Look for a LA home win, but for New England to keep it close. I like New England +6.5 here. Chargers 28-23.

Jacksonville @ Seattle (-3.5)

The last time we saw Jacksonville, they broke their year-long losing streak with a win in London over the Dolphins. Seattle, on the other hand, has dropped 3 straight and 4 of their last 5 contests. With QB Russell Wilson on Injured Reserve, Seattle has had to lean on Geno Smith to quarterback the team. Despite getting off to a hot start with an 84-yard passing TD on Monday Night, Smith turned in an incredibly mediocre performance, completing 12 of 22 passes for 167 yards and that lone score. With Smith’s lack of playmaking ability, WRs DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett will need to step up. Aside from Metcalf’s big TD, they certainly didn’t do so on Monday Night, logging only 3 more catches for a total of 24 yards. Now, the weather certainly didn’t help, but when a team’s stars are limited to that extent, it’s almost impossible to get excited about this offense. However, the cure just might be a date with Jacksonville, as they rank second-to-last in the NFL in passing yards against per game. The star on Jacksonville’s offense is unquestionably RB James Robinson, who has rushed for 460 yards and 5 TD so far this year. QB Trevor Lawrence hasn’t quite broken out yet but has shown more promise the last few weeks. He’ll need to have a more consistent connection with WR Marvin Jones Jr., keep Robinson in the mix, and spread more targets to Laviska Shenault if he wants to unleash the potential of this offense in any way. On Sunday, I see Smith getting the ball to Metcalf and Lockett just enough and RB Alex Collins having a solid game against this awful Jags’ defense. While it’s hard to get excited about either offense in this game, I think home-field advantage helps the Seahawks and rattles the rookie here. Give me Seattle to win and cover. Seahawks 25-20.  

Washington @ Denver (-3.5)

Both of these teams have underwhelmed through 7 games and sit below .500 on the season. Washington has lost 4 of their last 5 by multiple scores, while Denver has dropped 4 in a row after starting the season 3-0. QB Taylor Heinicke has been a feel-good story for Washington and has performed admirably as the Football Team’s starter. He’s leaned mostly on WR Terry McLaurin and RBs Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic to produce offensively. However, the Football Team’s kryptonite has shockingly been its defense. They rank dead last in the NFL, having allowed 210 points over 7 contests. Luckily, they’ll face a below-average offense in Denver this weekend. While QB Teddy Bridgewater has played well at times, it’s hard to be confident in him, given the losing streak at hand. However, Teddy B will get a huge boost this weekend from the return of WR Jerry Jeudy who will be available after recovering from his ankle injury. With Jeudy back in the fold, Denver now has a formidable 1-2 punch in their receiving corps with Courtland Sutton amid a strong season. Denver is a tough place to play, and objectively, I think the Broncos are the better team here. Until the Football Team figures things out defensively, it’ll be hard to take their side moving forward. Give me Denver to win and cover at home. Broncos 24-18.

Tampa Bay (-5.5) @ New Orleans

Jameis Winston will face his old team at home this weekend. Unfortunately for Winston, they’re also the defending champs and sit at 6-1 on the season. This year has been a rebirth for Winston who has shockingly learned how to take care of the football. So far this year, Jameis boasts a 13:3 TD to INT ratio– a far cry from his carelessness at the helm of Tampa Bay. Even more impressive, Winston has done so without a truly elite receiving option. While the likes of Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harris have been serviceable, Winston’s top target remains RB Alvin Kamara. So far this year, Kamara has logged 241 yards receiving, along with 5 scores. He’s also added 419 yards and a score on the ground, making him one of the league’s best dual-threat players. However, though Winston has taken care of the ball, he’s not being asked to throw a ton and has only compiled 1,114 yards on the season (185.7 ypg, 31st in the NFL.) On the other hand, Tampa Bay & all-time great QB Tom Brady lead the league in passing yardage (333 ypg.) Brady has been amazing this year, leading Tampa Bay’s offense to a #3 ranking in scoring. The defense has also been stout, and will surely look to make Winston resort to his old habits. With WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as effective as ever, RB Leonard Fournette having a fantastic year, and TE Rob Gronkowski returning to action, I find it hard to believe that Winston will be able to keep up with Tampa’s scoring rate. Look for the Brady Bunch to pull away late, and cover the spread on the road. Buccaneers 31-23.

Dallas (-1.5) @ Minnesota

The 5-1 Cowboys and the 3-3 Vikings have been preparing for each other for almost 2 weeks now, with both teams coming off of a Bye. QB Dak Prescott has been fantastic so far in 2021, compiling 1,813 yards and 16 TDs in his comeback campaign. He’s relied on WRs CeeDee Lamb (33/497/4) and Amari Cooper to rip off big plays, while RBs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard pace the offense otherwise. This balance is what makes Dallas’ offense so truly elite. They rank 5th in passing yards per game, 2nd in rushing yards per game, and 1st in points scored per game. Dallas’ attack is diverse, and opposing defenses need to be prepared from all angles. Minnesota’s defense just might be up to the task, as they rank 7th in points against, and 1st in the NFL with 21 sacks. If their pass rushers can disturb Prescott’s flow, it’ll certainly bode well for Minnesota. In the meantime, QB Kirk Cousins will have to keep up with Prescott & Co. to give Minnesota a chance. Cousins has been fantastic this year and has some elite targets in WRs Justin Jefferson (41/542/3) and Adam Thielen. When you combine that duo with a horse like Dalvin Cook at RB, the Vikings’ attack is just about as balanced and potent as the Cowboys’ offense. I’m very excited to see these two teams battle on Sunday Night and believe we’ll see a true shootout in Minnesota. In the end, the biggest worry is Prescott’s health. With his status in doubt, I have trouble taking Dallas here. Vikings 30-27.

New York Giants @ Kansas City (-9.5)

The Giants are quite banged up heading into Week 8 for a tough road contest in Kansas City. QB Patrick Mahomes has not been himself this year but remains one of the league’s best young players. When combined with elite pass catchers like TE Travis Kelce and speedster WR Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs have a potent offensive attack. They’re a bit down right now after being held without a touchdown last weekend in Tennessee but are due for a bounceback. The Big Blue are hopeful that their key offensive pieces will find their way back into the lineup on Monday Night to battle Kansas City. They’ve been without RB Saquon Barkley, WRs Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, and Kadarius Toney, and will certainly need them on Monday Night to have a chance. It seems all of the aforementioned Giants were at practice on Wednesday, so that bodes well for their availability. However, bettors will need to keep a close eye on the injury report as we get closer to Monday Night. It’s possible that even if they play, they’ll be limited. QB Daniel Jones will have the chance to pull the upset up against this hapless KC Defense, which ranks 29th in the NFL in points allowed. With New York so banged up and the Chiefs looking to get back on track, I find it hard to believe they can pull out this win in Kansas City, despite the flaws of the Chiefs defense. If all of the Giants’ stars return to the lineup, I might change my tune here, but as it stands I just don’t think they’ll be healthy enough to keep up with this Kansas City offense. Chiefs 34-20.

Enjoy the games! Until next week…

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