Week 8 of the 2021-22 NFL season brings some good matchups with some potentially important ramifications in the race for the playoffs. There’s still plenty of time to go in the NFL’s first-ever 18-week season, but matchups including a Thursday Night clash between the Green Bay Packers and undefeated Arizona Cardinals, an AFC South game where the Indianapolis Colts can claw into the Tennessee Titans division lead, and an NFC South bout where the New Orleans Saints could make the division a two-team race by defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could all have larger implications in the overall playoff hunt.

In a rare treat that only happens once every six or seven years, the majority of the week’s games will take place on Halloween, which falls on a Sunday this year. Sam Darnold will need to avoid seeing ghosts if he hopes to end the Carolina Panthers three-game skid, and the Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers, and Chicago Bears will look to clear the skeletons out of their closet as they attempt to end skids of their own.

To debate or discuss these picks, be sure to join the conversation with @SakSports on Twitter.

Picks Record

Week 1: 6-10

Week 2: 12-4

Week 3: 11-5

Week 4: 12-4

Week 5: 13-3

Week 6: 10-4

Week 7: 9-4

Overall: 73-34 (68%)

My best season ever in terms of picks continued in Week 7, going 9-4. My only upset pick of the week that hit was Titans over Chiefs, but getting toss-ups correct (Browns over Broncos, Falcons over Dolphins) also feels good. If I was on ESPN’s pick panel, I would be tied for first place with 73 wins through seven weeks.

In Week 7 I incorrectly predicted:

  • Panthers over Giants
  • Ravens over Bengals
  • Eagles over Raiders
  • 49ers over Colts

See Also: 2021-22 NFL Season Predictions

Thursday Night Football

After Candid Exchanges, 'All Love' Between Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins
Photo: Ron Hopkins/AP

Sak Sports Blog Game of the Week: Green Bay Packers (6-1) at Arizona Cardinals (7-0)

Line: Arizona Cardinals (-6.5)

For the first time this season, my Sak Sports Blog highlight game of the week is the Thursday Night Football matchup. Kyler Murray and the undefeated Arizona Cardinals host Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in this midseason NFC clash. With Green Bay losing their first game of the season but winning their next six, these two teams have combined for 13 straight wins heading into this game. Something has to give, as one of these two elite teams will fall on Thursday night.

Arizona has already downed some tough competition, including the Titans, Browns, and Rams. Even more impressive, none of those three games were even close, all coming by 17 points or more. The Cardinals have only played in two one-score games this season, surviving close calls against the Vikings and 49ers. Murray and Arizona’s high-flying offense have scored 225 points this season, or 32.1 points per game, the fourth-highest average in the NFL.

Rodgers and the Packers will present a real test for the Cardinals, but the same could be said if you flip the roles. The Cardinals have beaten four teams that are currently in the playoff picture for their conference, while the Packers have only beaten one. This will easily be the Packers toughest matchup of the season so far, and with a narrow +22 point differential through seven weeks (lower than most teams above .500), Green Bay needs to prove their 6-1 record isn’t just a result of a soft schedule.

The Cardinals likely won’t go 17-0, and this is one of the tougher spots on their schedule. But I can’t pick against them in good faith here: Arizona gets it done at home in a statement game.

Cardinals win 33-26, Cardinals win ATS

Sunday Games

Roaring Bengals look to keep rolling vs. lowly Jets
Photo: AP/Gail Burton

Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) at New York Jets (1-5)

Line: Cincinnati Bengals (-10.5)

Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals are on the rise in my weekly Power Rankings after knocking off the Ravens in blowout fashion last week. The New York Jets, on the other hand, finished dead last in the Power Rankings after giving up 54 points to the Patriots, as well as losing second overall pick Zach Wilson for a few weeks. This Cincinnati team is too good for Mike White to overcome in his first NFL start, and it probably won’t be close.

Bengals win 38-10, Bengals win ATS

Carolina Panthers (3-4) at Atlanta Falcons (3-3)

Line: Atlanta Falcons (-3.0)

A few weeks ago, this would’ve been a slam dunk pick in favor of Sam Darnold and the upstart Carolina Panthers. But Carolina has dropped four straight games, and some against inferior competition like the Eagles and Giants. The Atlanta Falcons, on the other hand, have won three of four games, even if their opponents haven’t been too strong. Atlanta may not have too many more wins coming their way this season, but against a Carolina team in freefall, the Falcons should be able to take care of business at home.

Falcons win 30-24, Falcons win ATS

Miami Dolphins (1-6) at Buffalo Bills (4-2)

Line: Buffalo Bills (-13.5)

The Buffalo Bills may have lost the last time they took the field in Week 6, but it was a hard-fought game against Tennessee that could have gone either way. Regardless of that outcome, Josh Allen and the Bills are multiple classes above the Miami Dolphins, who have lost to the Jaguars and Falcons over the past two weeks. Remember the Bills that dominated their opponents for four straight weeks? We may see some of that again here.

Bills win 42-17, Bills win ATS

San Francisco 49ers (2-4) at Chicago Bears (3-4)

Line: San Francisco 49ers (-4.0)

Two underperforming teams, riddled by injuries and uncertainty at quarterback, meet in Chicago this Sunday. Jimmy Garoppolo returned for the 49ers last week but lost at home to the Colts. Justin Fields turned the ball over five times in an embarrassing 38-3 loss to the Buccaneers last Sunday. Neither team is coming into this matchup with positive momentum.

I can see why the 49ers are favored, with a talented roster, but Chicago has had flashes of decent to good play in their three wins this season. I’m going with the underdog here, betting on a bounceback game from Fields.

Bears win 20-17, Bears win ATS

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) at Cleveland Browns (4-3)

Line: Cleveland Browns (-3.5)

Coming in to this season, the Cleveland Browns were a legitimate contender to win the AFC and participate in Super Bowl 56. While the possibility still exists, Cleveland has been banged up by injuries left and right, with nine players on injured reserve and 16 players, mostly on the offensive side of the ball, on the injury report this week. Even if Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, and Odell Beckham Jr. all play, they won’t be 100%. When healthy, the Browns are better than the Pittsburgh Steelers, which is something you can’t say too often. But in this instance, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers are able to outlast a depleted Browns squad in Ohio.

Steelers win 24-17, Steelers win ATS

Philadelphia Eagles (2-5) at Detroit Lions (0-7)

Line: Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5)

This one is tough, as both teams have participated in more close games than their records suggest. Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles have a pair of one-score losses to the 49ers and Buccaneers, while the Detroit Lions list of “almost wins” is one of the most impressive in the NFL: giving the 49ers, Ravens, and Vikings one-score scares, and playing pretty well in a 28-19 loss to the Rams last week.

I don’t think the Lions are as bas as their 0-7 record would imply, and I don’t think they’ll finish 0-17. At the same time, the Eagles seem due for a win of their own, and likely see Detroit as an opportune opponent. I’m going with Philadelphia, but this game is closer to a toss-up than the betting line suggests.

Eagles win 27-24, Lions win ATS

Los Angeles Rams (6-1) at Houston Texans (1-6)

Line: Los Angeles Rams (-14.5)

In the biggest mismatch of Week 8, the 6-1 Los Angeles Rams take on the 1-6 Houston Texans. Matthew Stafford and the Rams aren’t the type of team to play down to their opponent, so Los Angeles should have a scoring fest in Houston as their defense shuts down any attempts from Davis Mills and the Texans offense.

Rams win 38-10, Rams win ATS

Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry help Titans top Colts - National Football Post
Photo: National Football Post

Tennessee Titans (5-2) at Indianapolis Colts (3-4)

Line: Indianapolis Colts (-1.0)

The betting line here absolutely baffles me. Sure, all things even the home team tends to be favored by 3.0 points, meaning the Tennessee Titans would be 2.0-point favorites in a neutral site. But as I see it, the Titans are much more talented than the Indianapolis Colts. This may seem contradictory, as if you follow my Power Rankings, I’ve routinely been apologetic towards the Colts even when they were 0-2 or 1-3. But while I think the Colts are slightly better than their record shows, the Titans are right up there with the best teams in the league. Especially after downing the Chiefs and Bills, there’s no way I would pick the Colts over the Titans.

That being said, if Indianapolis somehow manages to pull off a win here, they would suddenly be right back in the AFC South race. This game is an important one in that regard, but Derrick Henry and the Titans should be able to roll to 6-2.

Titans win 30-20, Titans win ATS

New England Patriots (3-4) at Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)

Line: Los Angeles Chargers (-5.0)

Mac Jones and the New England Patriots looked incredible in a 54-13 win over the Jets last week… but they still haven’t beaten anyone besides the Jets or Texans. The 3-4 record looks alright on paper, but until the Patriots can beat a team that isn’t among the worst in the league, I can’t pick them against a team as solid as the Los Angeles Chargers. Justin Herbert and the Chargers did suffer a bad loss to the Ravens in their last outing, but coming off a bye week, Los Angeles should be able to get back to their winning ways against the Patriots.

Chargers win 31-20, Chargers win ATS

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) at Seattle Seahawks (2-5)

Line: Seattle Seahawks (-3.0)

The Seattle Seahawks, my preseason pick to win the NFC West, have had a disappointing start to the season to say the least. Seattle was 2-3 through five Russell Wilson starts, and have dropped back-to-back games started by Geno Smith. On the bright side, the defense is tightening up, and Seattle lost to the Steelers and Saints by just three points each with Smith under center. The Seahawks get a reprieve here against a very beatable Jacksonville Jaguars team before a bye week and then daunting back-to-back games against the Packers and Cardinals. The Jaguars will look to win their second straight game, but Jacksonville will have to hold their horses as they search for a multiple-win season for the first time since 2019-20.

Seahawks win 23-16, Seahawks win ATS

Washington Football Team (2-5) at Denver Broncos (3-4)

Line: Denver Broncos (-3.0)

The bleeding will stop for one of these two teams, who have combined to lose seven straight games. It’s hard to get a read on exactly where either team stands: the Denver Broncos started 3-0 but against three of the worst teams in the league, and Washington Football Team has dropped five games but against the Chargers, Bills, Saints, Chiefs, and Packers. That’s three Top Ten teams and two others, the Saints and Chiefs, that are hard for the average team to beat.

It’s a bit of a toss-up, but I’ll put my metaphorical money on Teddy Bridgewater and the Broncos to win their fourth game of the season. Washington’s defense, which was supposed to be their strength coming into the season, has just been too poor this season.

Broncos win 27-20, Broncos win ATS

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-1) at New Orleans Saints (4-2)

Line: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-5.5)

Jameis Winston and the New Orleans Saints get their first shot at Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in this NFC South matchup. Much like the Titans-Colts matchup earlier in the day, there is clearly a better team here, the Buccaneers, but a Saints win would make the NFC South awfully interesting. The gap between the two teams isn’t quite as large though, so New Orleans should have fighting chance. But after barely beating the Russell Wilson-less Seahawks and losing to the Giants at home a few weeks ago, it only makes sense to bet on the more consistent product: the Buccaneers, coming off a 38-3 shellacking of the Bears.

Buccaneers win 36-28, Buccaneers win ATS

Sunday Night Football

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott to not practice Monday
Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn/USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys (5-1) at Minnesota Vikings (3-3)

Line: Dallas Cowboys (-1.5)

Coming off a bye week, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliot, and the Dallas Cowboys will look to keep marching towards an NFC East title, a race in which they already hold a substantial lead over two-win Washington, Philadelphia, and New York teams. Remember, the Cowboys only loss was in Week 1 to the Buccaneers, and even that was almost a win if not for a missed field goal. Dallas is an NFL powerhouse once again, and the offense will look to keep chugging along in Minnesota.

And yet, Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings can’t be counted out. They’re 3-3, but one-score losses to the Bengals and Cardinals in Weeks 1 and 2 suddenly aren’t looking so bad. Winners of three of their last four games, the Vikings could threaten the Cowboys on Sunday night. Unfortunately, Minnesota’s offense has been just good (24.5 PPG) while Dallas’s offense has been downright filthy (34.2 PPG.) In a best-case scenario, we get a fun shootout, but all signs point to the Cowboys putting up more points.

Cowboys win 34-24, Cowboys win ATS

Monday Night Football

Photo: Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

New York Giants (2-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-4)

Line: Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5)

I’m not exactly sure what constituted this game being nationally televised heading in to the season, as expectations for the New York Giants weren’t particularly high and the Kansas City Chiefs play a slew of quality opponents. However, the matchup could be closer than expected, with Patrick Mahomes coming off one of the worst games of the year as well as a concussion.

But even so, the Chiefs are more talented than the Giants and while their 3-4 record is way worse than expected, the losses have at least come to quality opponents. Losing to Daniel Jones and the Giants would officially trigger disaster mode in Kansas City, but the Chiefs should win this game. Maybe it won’t be as pretty as they’re used to, or maybe they’ll get back to their blowout-winning ways, as the Giants would be ill-equipped to compete in a shootout.

Chiefs win 37-24, Chiefs win ATS

Teams on Bye

  • The Baltimore Ravens (5-2) blew out the Chargers two weeks ago but got manhandled by Joe Burrow and the Bengals last week. Luckily, as Baltimore looks to stay on top in the AFC North, the next few weeks look less daunting, with games against the Vikings, Dolphins, and Bears before launching into a Browns-Steelers-Browns slate.
  • The Las Vegas Raiders (5-2) are first in the AFC West, winning back-to-back games after Jon Gruden’s unceremonious exit. They get the Giants next week in New York before facing a real test that includes two games against the Chiefs as well as one against the Bengals and one against the Cowboys over the following five games.

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