Week 8 is one of the unofficial halfway marks of the NFL season, since you can’t cut 17 weeks perfectly in half. The league is starting to take shape, and games are beginning to hold more meaning.
For example, the marquee matchup of the week will be the 6-0 Pittsburgh Steelers taking on the 5-1 Baltimore Ravens. Should Pittsburgh prosper, they’ll be in the driver’s seat for the AFC North and even the AFC’s top seed in the playoffs. But reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens are a regular season powerhouse, and will do everything they can to down their divisional foe.
In the NFC West, the 5-1 Seattle Seahawks and 4-3 San Francisco 49ers meet for the first time this season. With all four teams in the NFC West vying for playoff positioning, every win will count, especially within the division.
In another standout game, the 5-2 Buffalo Bills and create some separation in the AFC East by downing the 2-4 New England Patriots. How would Cam Newton, Bill Belichick, and the Patriots respond to dropping to 2-5?
MVP Watch: Quarter Season
Week 1: 10-6
Week 2: 11-5
Week 3: 8-7-1
Week 4: 10-5
Week 5: 7-7
Week 6: 10-4
Week 7: 10-4
Overall: 66-38-1 (63% correct)
Last week I incorrectly predicted:
- Cowboys over Washington (I didn’t think Dallas would be that bad against Washington, though Andy Dalton did exit early. Just three points is embarrassing)
- Patriots over 49ers (Again, expected a competitive game, but New England was flat-out humiliated and put up just six points)
- Seahawks over Cardinals (I had the three-point margin right, just for the wrong team. But basically called it how it was, no shame here)
- Bears over Rams (Chicago didn’t show up on Monday night)
Thursday Night Football
Atlanta Falcons (1-6) at Carolina Panthers (3-4)
Line: Carolina Panthers (-2.5)
Most of the time, Atlanta’s offense is capable of putting up points a good amount of times. But pretty much all the time, their defense is prone to giving up even more points. Carolina hasn’t exactly been burying opponents this season, so this matchup might be close and high-scoring. I’ll take Teddy Bridgewater and the Panthers.
Panthers win 33-27, Panthers win ATS
Sunday Day Games
New England Patriots (2-4) at Buffalo Bills (5-2)
Line: Buffalo Bills (-3.5)
The Buffalo Bills have stumbled a bit after a 4-0 start, going 1-2 since with only an 18-10 victory over the Jets. Josh Allen’s offense failed to find the endzone in that game, and if the opponent weren’t the Jets, the outcome may have been different.
The Patriots are in an even worse place, experiencing the biggest drop in my Post-Week 7 NFL Power Rankings.
It’s hard to peg where these teams are at: they both looked great early this season, but have since faded. I think Buffalo is playing better right now, but I’m gonna go with the Patriots as a bit of a wildcard pick.
Patriots win 20-17, Patriots win ATS
Tennessee Titans (5-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-5-1)
Line: Tennessee Titans (-5.5)
Over the past calendar year, since Ryan Tannehill took over for Marcus Mariota at quarterback, the Tennessee Titans have been a dominant team. The Cincinnati Bengals? Not so much. While Joe Burrow and the Bengals are capable of scoring at times, they won’t be able to compete with last year’s runner-up in the AFC.
Titans win 28-18, Titans win ATS
Las Vegas Raiders (3-3) at Cleveland Browns (5-2)
Line: Cleveland Browns (-2.5)
While the Las Vegas Raiders haven’t risen to the occasion every single week this season, they’re good more often than not, and have some impressive wins over the Saints and Chiefs under their belt.
The Cleveland Browns are 0-2 against the Steelers and Ravens, but a perfect 5-0 against the Bengals, Cowboys, Washington, and the Colts this season. Personally, I think Cleveland is making strides. Beating bad teams consistently is important in the NFL.
But Las Vegas isn’t a bad team. While I don’t see a true blowout, I think Derek Carr and the Raiders will take care of the Browns with relative ease.
Raiders win 31-17, Raiders win ATS
Indianapolis Colts (4-2) at Detroit Lions (3-3)
Line: Indianapolis Colts (-3.0)
This is a tough game to call. The Detroit Lions are suddenly playing well, with three wins in the past four weeks and a near-upset of the Saints. The wins weren’t too strong, however, and that’s something I would also say when it coms to the Indianapolis Colts.
I think the Lions recent success could be a sign of things to come. But I’m not 100% sold, and I feel safer picking Philip Rivers and a well-rounded Colts team.
Colts win 27-26, Lions win ATS
Minnesota Vikings (1-5) at Green Bay Packers (5-1)
Line: Green Bay Packers (-6.5)
Aside from the disparaging records and fortunes of these two teams this season, the Packers are simply the better football team. Green Bay defeated Minnesota 43-34 in Week 1, and while another high-scoring affair would be fun, I fear the result won’t be as close this time around.
Packers win 36-22, Packers win ATS
New York Jets (0-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-1)
Line: Kansas City Chiefs (-19.5)
While this doesn’t touch the record for largest spread in an NFL game (The Jacksonville Jaguars were 28.0-point underdogs to Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos in 2013,) it’s the largest spread of the season thus far. If the Jets can keep the Chiefs under 30 points, they might be able to cover the astronomical spread. I actually don’t think we’ll see any crazy 50-point Kansas City performance. Patrick Mahomes and the starters may be able to take the fourth quarter, or even second half, off in this one.
Chiefs win 35-15, Chiefs win ATS
Los Angeles Rams (5-2) at Miami Dolphins (3-3)
Line: Los Angeles Rams (-3.5)
The Miami Dolphins are playing some pretty good football, but made the shocking move with Tua Tagovailoa being named the Dolphins starting quarterback in Week 8 despite soli efforts from Ryan Fitzpatrick through six weeks. Tagovailoa made his NFL debut in Week 6 against the Jets, but this will be his first start.
It will probably take a good amount of points to beat the Rams, and Tagovailoa will have little room for rookie mistakes. An upset would be a great story, but on paper, this is the Rams game for the taking.
Rams win 33-23, Rams win ATS
GAME OF THE WEEK: Pittsburgh Steelers (6-0) at Baltimore Ravens (5-1)
Line: Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)
Prior to this week, I think the most anticipated matchup of the year was the Ravens and Chiefs, the best two regular season teams in the AFC and NFL last year, duking it out in Week 3. But as the season has progressed, just one undefeated team remains: the Pittsburgh Steelers. Up until last week, they hadn’t faced any super tough tests, but took care of business and dispatched the previously undefeated Titans 27-24.
But to really see where Pittsburgh stands, we have to see how they match up with the reigning AFC North champions, the Baltimore Ravens. Aside from a loss to the Chiefs, Baltimore has been blowing teams out this season.
The Steelers employ a winning formula of better than average offense and better than average defense to win games. The Ravens largely rely on playing their brand of football, and when it works, it works.
Baltimore has scored 179 points this season while giving up an NFL-low 106 points. The Steelers have actually scored a couple more points, 183, and given up 118 points. These are two teams that tend to dominate on both offense and defense.
The result? A classic Pittsburgh-Baltimore AFC North grudge fight we haven’t seen in a few years. I think there are legitimate concerns that Pittsburgh’s defense could shut down Lamar Jackson’s passing game and make him one-dimensional. But overall, I find Baltimore to be the more well-rounded team: and they keep adding pieces.
Ravens win 27-26, Steelers win ATS
Los Angeles Chargers (2-4) at Denver Broncos (2-4)
Line: Los Angeles Chargers (-3.0)
If you keep up with my Power Rankings, then you know I’m pretty high on the Chargers despite their poor record. They’re losing one-score games against good teams with a rookie quarterback at the helm.
The Denver Broncos can be competitive with Drew Lock at quarterback, and have a good defense despite the absence of Von Miller.
This game could really go either way. I think it has the potential to be “fun-” something I usually say about high-scoring games. But give me a 20-19 Chargers win here on a game-winning field goal in a different definition of fun.
Chargers win 20-19, Broncos win ATS
New Orleans Saints (4-2) at Chicago Bears (5-2)
Line: New Orleans Saints (-4.0)
These are two good teams, with the potential to be great, but with some flaws. For the Bears, their inconsistent offense can spoil the work of their solid defense. For the New Orleans Saints, it’s quite the opposite: the offense is usually good, but the defense can be subject to bad games.
It will be interesting to see how strength on strength works out here. Chicago did handle the high-flying Buccaneers 20-19. While the Saints offense hasn’t been as consistently good as Tampa Bay’s this season, I think New Orleans will put up enough points to outpace Nick Foles and the Bears.
Saints win 26-18, Saints win ATS
San Francisco 49ers (4-3) at Seattle Seahawks (5-1)
Line: Seattle Seahawks (-3.0)
After Ravens-Steelers, this NFC West matchup is the runner-up for the standout game of Week 8. In 2019, the Seahawks and 49ers treated NFL fans to two of the tightest games of the year. While San Francisco hasn’t looked as good as they did last year, with injuries largely to blame, they’re playing better as of late.
The Seattle Seahawks have basically played the same game every week this season: score 30-40 point and hope it’s enough. It worked five out of six times, but Seattle fell short to the Cardinals 37-34 in overtime last week.
Normally I wouldn’t expect the 49ers to keep up in a shootout like that, but they dismantled the Patriots 33-6 last week. If they can show up again with that time, they’ll have a great chance to upset Seattle. But with pretty inconsistent results this season, I’m not confident enough to predict a 49ers win.
Seahawks win 30-23, Seahawks win ATS
Sunday Night Football
Dallas Cowboys (2-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-4-1)
Line: Philadelphia Eagles (-9.0)
If Dak Prescott, or heck, even Andy Dalton, were under center for the Cowboys, this would be a gritty, fun NFC East matchup. Instead, Dallas is down to a third-string quarterback, with the worst defense in NFL history, and only put up three points last week against Washington.
I usually like to write more about the primetime games, but this one has little intrigue. Barring a miracle, I don’t think the Cowboys even sniff the nine-point spread.
Eagles win 33-13, Eagles win ATS
Monday Night Football
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2) at New York Giants (1-6)
Line: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-10.5)
It think the NFL has generally done a good job selecting primetime matchups this season. There’s no way they could have predicted how abysmal the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants would all be at this point in the season.
When the schedule makers penciled Giants-Buccaneers into the Monday night slot, they probably envisioned a Tampa Bay squad that was good but not great yet, and a New York team coming into their own under new coach Joe Judge. But the loss of Saquon Barkley is just one of many things that has hindered the Giants this season.
The Buccaneers have one of the most best offenses in the NFL, and a pretty stout defense to boot. The only way the Giants stay in this game is if Tampa Bay makes mistakes that allows them to. New York has played their last two games close, with a one-point win and one-point loss, but Washington and Philadelphia are not in the same class as Tampa Bay.
Buccaneers win 29-15, Buccaneers win ATS
Teams on Bye
- Arizona Cardinals (5-2)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6)
- Washington Football Team (2-5)
- Houston Texans (1-6)
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Travel and Hiking
Header Photo Credit: Acquired via BetOnline.ag