You can’t cut a 17-game season directly in half, but Week 8 is generally the rough halfway point of the season. For teams that haven’t yet had their bye week, eight games will have been played, while other teams will play their seventh game this week.

It’s hard to believe the season is flying by, but the drama is just starting to heat up. The San Francisco 49ers undefeated record will be put to the test against a tough Carolina Panthers team on a four-game win streak. The Kansas City Chiefs have to try and stay afloat with Patrick Mahommes out, but have to host Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers this week.

The Buffalo Bills put their 5-1 record up against a struggling 3-4 Philadelphia Eagles team. Can Carson Wentz right the ship, or will the Bills improve to an unlikely 6-1?

Can either New York team win this week on the road?

For all the answers and more, my Week 8 NFL picks.

Picks Record

Week 1: 9-6-1

Week 2: 9-7

Week 3: 11-5

Week 4: 6-9

Week 5: 10-5

Week 6: 9-5

Week 7: 10-4

Overall Record: 64-41-1

Week 7 was my best yet, picking 71% of the games correctly. This raises my season average to 61%. Last week, I set my season goal to be at least 60%, so I need to keep up the pace.

In Week 7 I incorrectly predicted:

  • Giants over Cardinals
    • I had the Giants winning 31-28. Instead, Arizona won 27-21. Still a one-score game, not a horrible pick. But I won’t be picking the Giants again any time soon.
  • Bengals over Jaguars
    • Cincinnati didn’t get their first win of the season but this pick was also close: I had the Bengals winning 27-24, but they lost 27-17.
  • Lions over Vikings
    • For once, I feel like I didn’t make any dumb picks. The score doesn’t look great, 42-30, but Detroit had every chance to win in the fourth quarter.
  • Chargers over Titans
    • And once again, a close prediction that easily could’ve come true with just a turn of a play or two. I had Los Angeles winning 23-17. They lost to Tennessee 23-20, but were poised to score at least 23 if they didn’t fumble on their final drive.

Thursday Night Football

Image result for cousins vikings
(Photo: Vikings.com)

Washington Redskins (1-6) at Minnesota Vikings (5-2)

Line: Minnesota Vikings (-16.5)

The NFL world was quick to turn cold on Kirk Cosuins and the Vikings after a 2-2 start. But three straight wins later, the passing offense has come alive and the defense has proved it’s still capable. They don’t stifle opposing offenses, but for three weeks and five out of seven games this season, it’s been a winning formula.

A Washington team on the road on a short week doesn’t stand a chance. The spread is huge but I see Minnesota likely covering it as they move to 6-2.

Vikings win 30-13, Vikings win ATS

London Game

Image result for bengals sad
(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Cincinnati Bengals (0-7) at Los Angeles Rams (4-3)

Line: Los Angeles Rams (-13.5)

The Rams entered last week on a three-game losing streak. But that’s nothing a couple soft opponents can’t fix. Last week, they beat up on the lowly Falcons, and this time, they get a winless Bengals squad in a neutral London game.

We won’t get answers about how Los Angeles matches up with the NFL’s best teams right now, but the Rams will cruise to their second straight victory to earn a 5-3 record. Both the NFC West and NFC Wildcard races are loaded, so while the win might be easy, it’s one that can’t be taken for granted.

Rams win 41-17, Rams win ATS

Sunday Day Games

New York Giants (2-5) at Detroit Lions (2-3-1)

Line: Detroit Lions (-6.5)

Both teams hold just two wins so far, but have very different feels. New York looked resurgent for two weeks in wins over the Buccaneers and Redskins, but besides that, have been outmatched in their other five games. This includes losing to the Cardinals at home last week. Daniel Jones’ 2-0 start feels like a century ago.

If you look at Detroit’s results, you may think they’re in the same boat. A 2-0-1 start has been followed up with a three-game losing streak. However, these were tough fought losses to good opponents.

  • Lost to Chiefs 34-30 as Mahommes led a game-winning drive
  • Lost to Packers 23-22 as Rodgers and the referees led a game-winning drive
  • Lost to Vikings 42-30 but had a shot late in the fourth.

Detroit lost to three good, playoff-bound teams by narrow margins. You could fault the defense for giving up leads late in games, but that shouldn’t be an issue this week. The Giants won’t be coming back in the fourth quarter.

Lions win 27-17, Lions win ATS

Image result for sam darnold ghost
(Photo: Getty Images/Al Bello)

New York Jets (1-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4)

Line: Jacksonville Jaguars (-6.0)

Last week, I predicted the Jaguars would fall to the winless Bengals. I like Gardner Minshew, but I’m still not super high on Jacksonville. I’d almost be tempted to pick the Jets in an upset here.

But last week’s loss to the Patriots was pretty crushing for New York. The Patriots have rolled over six of their seven opponents (with the Bills putting up the only fight,) but they did so even more dominantly against the Jets on Monday Night. Sam Darnold and Adam Gase won’t see that kind of defensive pressure again this season, but the experience may leave the young QB scarred, as the “ghosts” he saw could follow him to Jacksonville.

The Jets put up a fight but the Jaguars ultimately improve to a cool 4-4.

Jaguars win 23-17, PUSH ATS

Seattle Seahawks (5-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-6)

Line: (No Line at time of writing)

There’s no line available for this game as I sip an iced coffee and write these picks on Thursday morning. I’d imagine that has to do with the question of Matt Ryan’s availability.

But that should only impact just how large of favorites the Seahawks are. If Ryan plays, the spread could be close, but if not, it could push 7-10 points.

Either way, the Falcons are a helpless team right now, and the Seahawks can use the opportunity to bounce back from their second loss of the season. In anti-typical Seattle fashion, the Seahawks are 3-0 on the road and just 1-2 at home this season. Russell Wilson takes the show on the road to Atlanta and comes out with a decisive victory.

Seahawks win 27-16

Image result for wentz sacked
(Photo: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) at Buffalo Bills (5-1)

Line: Buffalo Bills (-1.5)

This is a tough one, and the point spread is razor-thin. Despite having two more wins and three less losses, the Bills are only favored by 1.5 points, meaning in a neutral site or in Philadelphia, the Eagles would likely be favored.

The Bills are definitely a little less intimidating than their 5-1 record suggests, mostly because if the offense had to score 22 points per game to win, they would be 2-4. Their defense has been elite and instrumental to Buffalo’s hot start.

So I’d chalk up the Bills for another 17-21 points, putting the outcome of this game on Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense vs. the Bills defense. The Cowboys defense gave Wentz struggles all last Sunday night, and the task doesn’t get easier here.

This should be a close football game, but Wentz continues a shaky stretch of play and drops his third straight start for Philadelphia.

Bills win 20-17, Bills win ATS

Los Angeles Chargers (2-5) at Chicago Bears (3-3)

Line: Chicago Bears (-3.5)

The Chargers have been pretty bad this season, but if they didn’t fumble in the final minute of the game against the Titans, they could have just as many wins as the Bears this season.

On paper, and as the spread suggests, this looks like a pretty even matchup. But that’s not really giving enough credit to this Bears team. One-score losses to the Packers and Raiders, and a 36-25 loss to the Saints where they at least put up a fight, prove the Bears aren’t horrible. They’re not great, sometimes maybe not even good. But the Chargers aren’t any better.

Chicago’s defense helps Mitch Trubisky and the Bears grind out an ugly win.

Bears win 16-13, Chargers win ATS

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) at Tennessee Titans (3-4)

Line: Tennessee Titans (-2.5)

Not really sure to what to make of this game. Jameis Winston vs. Ryan Tannehill. It all depends on which team shows up, on both sides of the ball.

Rather than a nuanced look at who might be better, I’m just gonna go with the home team. Winston has struggled lately, and that continues here. The AFC South quietly starts stacking up the most wins from top to bottom, as the Titans, Jaguars, Colts, and Texans could all have four or more wins after this week.

Titans win 27-23, Titans win ATS

Denver Broncos (2-5) at Indianapolis Colts (4-2)

Line: Indianapolis Colts (-5.5)

While many panicked when Andrew Luck abruptly retired in August, the Colts didn’t really miss a beat, with a great all-around roster to surround Jacoby Brissett.

Indy isn’t dominating games, but they’re finding ways to win. All six games the Colts have played this season, win or lose, have been decided by 7 points or less.

They get a slight break with a bad Broncos team, and may be able to put a game away early for the first time this season.

Colts win 27-13, Colts win ATS

Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1) at New Orleans Saints (6-1)

Line: New Orleans Saints (-10.5)

Arizona is riding a three-game win streak, and even though they might not be beating top playoff contenders, winning three in a row with a rookie is impressive.

But now, the Cardinals aren’t just playing a playoff contender, but one of the best teams in the NFL, in their home stadium.

But I’m going to predict the Cardinals to cover the spread in a surprisingly gritty duel between Kyler Murray and Teddy Bridgewater. The Saints win, but Murray continues to turn heads with his play as a first-year player.

Saints win 20-13, Cardinals win ATS

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(Photo: Panthers Wire/USA Today)

 

Carolina Panthers (4-2) at San Francisco 49ers (6-0)

Line: San Francisco 49ers (-5.5)

The marquee matchup of the week: the undefeated 49ers host the Panthers, who are on a four-game win streak after an 0-2 start. Carolina is coming off a bye, and is well-rested against a team that just grinded out a 9-0 win over the Redskins.

The 49ers will win 12 or more games this year, but they’re not going undefeated. The season’s second half brings both tougher opponents and unexpected results that come as a result of wear and tear over the season.

If these teams meet again in the playoffs, the circumstances might be different. But as it stands in Week 8, the 49ers luck runs dry for a week as they suffer their first loss of the season.

Panthers win 24-20, Panthers win ATS

Cleveland Browns (2-4) at New England Patriots (7-0)

Line: New England Patriots (-13.0)

Both undefeated NFL teams take the field in the afternoon games, but the Patriots task is much less tall. They get a struggling Browns squad and Baker Mayfield, who has looked especially vulnerable lately. The Patriots defense will look to shut him down early and often as they did to Sam Darnold last Mondy night.

Patriots win 27-10, Patriots win ATS

Oakland Raiders (3-3) at Houston Texans (4-3)

Line: Houston Texans (-7.0)

An AFC matchup with more on the line than you might think. First of all, both teams could find themselves fighting for a wildcard spot at the season’s end, so a head-to-head win would mean wonders. Both teams are both also fighting in their respective divisions. The Chiefs have a hold on the AFC West for now, but with Mahommes out for 3-6 weeks, the Raiders time is now to make a push in the standings. The Texans are also facing a potentially crowded AFC South, especially if the Colts, Texans, and Jaguars pick up wins this week (as predicted.)

The Texans are the better team here, make no mistake. But they’ve dropped the ball a few games this season, while the Raiders can sometimes play better than expected.

I’m going with Houston, at home, but I don’t expect a blowout.

Texans win 23-17, Raiders win ATS

Sunday Night Football

Image result for packers rodgers
(Photo: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports)

Green Bay Packers (6-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)

Line: Green Bay Packers (-3.5)

Patrick Mahommes knee injury robs NFL viewers of a great quarterback matchup that won’t be available for another four years, barring a Super Bowl meeting (which isn’t too far-fetched…)

Rodgers is one of the most talented players to ever play the position: but Mahommes has been playing even better through his first NFL seasons.

But in this instance, we get Rodgers vs. Matt Moore.

I think Moore can keep the ship afloat in Kansas City, and split his starts with a 50% win rate. But he won’t be able to outscore Rodgers on Sunday night.

Packers win 27-20, Packers win ATS

Monday Night Football

Image result for dolphins ryan fitzpatrick sack
(Photo: Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Miami Dolphins (0-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4)

Line: Pittsburgh Steelers (-14.0)

Steelers-Dolphins continues a head-scratching trend of Monday Night Football games. Jets-Browns, Redskins-Bears, and Jets-Patriots were all duds. On paper, this game would’ve been Ben Roethlisberger vs. Josh Rosen or Ryan Fitzpatrick. I’m not sure if ESPN got the short end of the stick when it came to scheduling, or if they predicted some teams to be a little more interesting to watch.

This gritty Pittsburgh squad grinds out their third win of the season, bouncing back from an 0-3 start.

Steelers win 26-10, Steelers win ATS

Teams on Bye

  • Dallas Cowboys (4-3): Just 1-3 in their last four games, the Cowboys still couldn’t be happier heading into their bye: they blew out the Philadelphia Eagles in their last game. Obviously, Dallas can’t bask in that win for too long, as their three-game skid raised many questions that can’t be answered by just one win. Dallas’s next four games see them at Giants, vs. Lions, at Vikings and at Patriots. It won’t be an easy stretch.
  • Baltimore Ravens (5-2): From 2-2, the Ravens have rattled off three straight wins, with the last one being an impressive one over the Seahawks. I think Lamar Jackson had been incredible, but he still has doubters, including my brother. Baltimore’s next game is against the Patriots, and they also face Texans, 49ers, and Rams over the next few weeks. It’ll be a hard slate, and it will tell us a lot about this Baltimore team.

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Be sure to follow Sak Sports Blog on Twitter for more NFL updates, or to debate my picks.

Header photo credit: Acquired via Panthers Wire/USA Today

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