NFL Picks Week 8: Every Game Predicted Straight Up, Against the Spread, Over/Under

NFL Picks Record at end of Week 7:

Straight Up:  67-36   Against the Spread:  60-43   Over/Under:  53-50

Here’s the obligatory Tim Tebow paragraph.

Tim Tebow is being shopped. Elway didn’t draft the kid. Fox wouldn’t know what to do with a franchise QB if he had one—which he probably doesn’t.

I don’t know for sure and I’ve never played quarterback, but don’t you think your accuracy would have improved after a year of professional practice? I do know that if he has even the barest necessary talent, Tebow will make it happen. I just don’t know if he has the ability. We’ll see.

But starting Tebow is not about Denver finding out if he has “the right stuff.” I believe that it is about polishing him up for an expensive trade. I think this for one reason:  the Broncos traded away Brandon Lloyd. If you want your young QB to have a chance at success as a passer you do not get rid of your best wide receiver. Please.

Denver is forcing Tebow to run around. He doesn’t have any A-level guys to throw it to. And he doesn’t have much of a running game. Moreno is a bust in my opinion and McGahee is remarkable considering his age. But, come on.

I saw college basketball coach John Calipari on the NFL Network today. Rich Eisen asked him what the difference was between college and pro coaching. He said that college was also about teaching life skills. If you have an out of control kid, you sit him down until he learns better. In the pros you can’t dothat. Calipari said, “In the pros you start him, you make sure he gets his 20 touches per game to shine, you talk him up in the media—and then you trade him.”

On to the game-picking, please!


New Orleans Saints at St. Louis Rams

Straight Up:  New Orleans

Against the Spread:  New Orleans –11.5 (this line has jumped all over the board—don’t go over two TDs)

Over/Under:  over 47.5  (unless somebody convinces Payton not to run up the score again)

Can we stop talking about Tom Brady for two seconds? I mean, unless you want to give the MVP award to Manning on the bench (and, honestly, a case could be made), you have to give the trophy to Drew Brees. And about time, too. In seven games, No. 9 has passed for 2477 yards, completed almost 71% of his passes, averaged 8.3 yards per completion, and thrown 18 TDs and eight interceptions. He had more touchdowns last week than incompletions. I have nothing to add.

The Saints do have some injury issues, particularly on defense where star LB Vilma and good LB Casillas are questionable. So are linemen McBride and Ellis. The good news is that they have another week to recover since New Orleans is playing the Rams. No offense, but seriously, there’s no offense in St. Louis (with all due respect to No. 39.)

The Saints re-activated RB Chris Ivory since Ingram is out. Fine, but it will be Thomas and Sproles running the rock. (Hint to the Rams’ D:  do not overlook little Darren or he will kill you.)

For the sake of mercy, I’ll keep this brief:  Bradford is out, three WRs are hurt, a tackle is doubtful. It will be Steven Jackson reprising his role as the entire Rams offense. Let’s see how that Saints’ D does when they know ahead of time that it’s a power running call.


Miami Dolphins at New York Giants

Straight Up:  New York Giants

Against the Spread:  New York –9.5

Over/Under:  under 41.5

This is one of those games that will be fun for Giants’ fans and not watched by anyone else. The only uncertainty will be whether Big Blue’s defense can get their act together and not give up the almost 30 points per game that they have averaged this month. Not going anywhere in the post season that way, boys.

Especially that run defense. One hundred and fifty-two yards per game against you? Excuse me? Do we need to pull Michael off of the FOX set?

Daniel Thomas will not be in the Miami backfield, so it’s up to Reggie Bush. Great. At least Hilliard and Slaton will be in reserve to actually run down the field. Matt Moore has sore ribs, but it doesn’t really matter since Sage Rosenfels is the backup and they are the same level of QB. The ‘Fins have been throwing the ball for a whopping 180 yards per game. Yeah.

The best thing I can say for Miami is that Sparano is impressing me in the character department by coaching hard and well with a safe hanging over his head.


Arizona Cardinals at Baltimore Ravens

Straight Up:  Baltimore

Against the Spread:  I’m going with Baltimore –12.5 I know they were downright putrid last week, but the Cards are giving up almost 33 points per game on D.

Over/Under:  under 43.5

After Monday night I’ll be surprised if anyone picks the Ravens to win by almost two TDs. But here is my rationale:  the Cards are traveling east and playing the early game, they are giving up a lot of points, their running game is weak and that lets secondaries put about five guys on Larry Fitzgerald. See? I’m not totally crazy.

I also think that the Raven’s D will be breathing fire (perhaps literally.) They were beaten by a rookie QB on Monday night. Okay, MJD helped, but still. I pity Kolb and No. 11. How much do we feel sorry for Larry Fitzgerald since Warner retired? A lot.

Despite all of the above, I do expect Arizona’s Mr. Stephens-Howling to break at least one big run. He’s just that kind of sneaky little back.

Flacco needs to have a great game or he won’t be able to show his face in the Harbor City. Help him out, Torrey and Anquan. And Ray, you know I love you, but hang onto the football this week. Finally, can someone please get the ball to Ed Dickson? He is the safety valve—or he should be.


Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers

Straight Up:  Carolina

Against the Spread:  Carolina –3.5

Over/Under:  over 47  It may be snowing on the East Coast now, but the weather report calls for 60 and sunny tomorrow.

This season has turned out to feature a lot of rookie-on-rookie quarterback matchups and here’s another one. Cam has had seven games and is right on the cusp of, well, of greatness. This man is going to end up being a combination of Ben Roethlisberger and Michael Vick. That may sound outrageous, but I saw him in person with my very own eyeballs last weekend. He is something to watch.

And Newton’s accuracy has improved big time. Just ask Steve Smith, who is making a case for Comeback Player of the Year based solely on finally having someone to throw him the ball again. Cam threw all the way across the field several times and dropped the ball into a cube of air around No. 89.  Smith did his part by giving new meaning to “snatching the ball out of the air.” Watch the highlights. It’s a beautiful combination, I’m telling you.

On the other side, Christian Ponder looked at home on a NFL field in his first start. As long as they go deep a few times early and open up the box a bit for Peterson, this offense should function.

The Vikes will lean heavily on their running game and their pass rush. So, the onus will be on Carolina’s Oline to keep Jared Allen away from Cam. All I can say about that matchup is that it is fortunate that No. 1 can scramble.

Bottom line: the teams match up evenly according to the numbers. But Carolina has the “believe” factor and they are at home.

Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans

Straight Up:  Tennessee

Against the Spread:  Indy +9.5

Over/Under:  under 44   Sun/cloud mix and low 60s

The overwhelming collapse of Indianapolis has overshadowed the overwhelming disappointment of the newly enriched Chris Johnson at running back. Holdouts always, without exception, hurt runners—but this is ridiculous. Less than 45 yards per game, two point eight yards per carry and one touchdown. That’s historically bad. Ah, but Indy is giving up 177 yards per game on the ground. That’s pretty dreadful too.

So, maybe Chris will get going today.

I was all excited for Matt Hasselbeck at the beginning of this year. And then Kenny Britt got hurt. It’s been all downhill since then. On top of that, Matt is practically the offensive coordinator. Watch him on the sidelines talking to Munchak; you’ll see what I mean.

Conversely, the Colts are giving up 160 on the ground themselves. And the less said about the offense the better I think. Now both starting LB Angerer and valuable (especially this year) punter McAfee has a hammy problem. Oh dear.

I have to give Tennessee the advantage on home field and the fact that Indy can’t run the ball either—and the Colts don’t have Matt Hasselbeck. But 10 points is a lot.


Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans

Straight Up:  Houston

Against the Spread:  Houston –10.5

Over/Under:  Over 40.5 (Houston scores a lot of points at home) It’s going to be sunny and hot on the field, but 70’s in the stands so get our there, Houston. It will help you recover from the World Series. Or perhaps Houston is happy that the Dallas team lost. Honestly, I don’t understand anything about Texas so what do I know?

It’s so easy to want to pick the Jags here. They killed the Ravens on Monday night and Houston still won’t have Andre Johnson. I have been telling people that the Jaguars’ D is for real since Week 2. The problem is a JAX offense only scoring 15 points per game.

So, I turned to the schedules for some illumination. Let’s see

1)    both teams beat Tennessee

2)    JAX beat Baltimore; the Texans lost to the Ravens

3)    The Jaguars kept it close with Pittsburgh and the Texans beat the Steelers

4)    They both lost to New Orleans

Well, gee, that wasn’t much help. I will go with Houston based solely on Arian Foster.


Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos

Straight Up:  Detroit

Against the Spread: Detroit –3.5

Over/Under:  over 41.5 probably mostly from Calvin Johnson

Speaking of Calvin, what are the odds that we will see Champ Bailey chasing him all over the field? I hope that TV covers that matchup; Champ isn’t going to be around too much longer. This pick only works if Matthew Stafford can play because Jahvid Best is still hurt, Jerome Harrison was just diagnosed with a brain tumor (fortunately at a very early stage), Ronnie Brown never made it to Detroit and that means that Kelland Williams will get the bulk of the carries. He might actually do well.

Oh, let’s face it; Detroit is the better team and they are (*%^$#ed off. In fact, I’m starting to think that Jim S. is always (*#$@ ed off. On the whole, that seems to be working for them.

None of this means that the Broncos can’t win. But I doubt it.


Washington Redskins at Buffalo Bills

Straight Up:  Buffalo 

Against the Spread:  Buffalo –5.5

Over/Under:  Over 45.5 The early snowstorm will pass and it will be mostly sunny at close to 50 degrees. Big break for the fans.

The Redskins injuries are mounting:  Cooley, Hightower, Moss. Rex Grossman was in the hospital this week with pneumonia so even if Beck struggles, he’ll probably stay in the game.

Congratulations to Ryan Fitzpatrick on his new contract (way to strike while the iron is hot, dude—must be that Harvard business degree.)  You know, on paper the Bills aren’t dazzling. Three hundred and twenty-six yards per game and 25 points. Their D gives up 24.7 points. So, this is a team of opportunity and heart. Cool.

Washington started out with some heart. Too bad they didn’t have a quarterback to go with it. But the defense is good, which could give Buffalo trouble.

The other thing that isn’t good for Buffalo is that their own run D is pretty weak and Redskin RB Torain is pretty good. (Fantasy owners take note.)

So why am I taking the Bills? Fred Jackson. If that doesn’t make sense to you, watch this game.


Cincinnati Bengals at Seattle Seahawks

Straight Up:  Cincy

Against the Spread:  Cincinnati  -2.5

Over/Under:  weather:  do you even need to ask? Of course it’s raining.  Under 38.5  If it clears up (yeah, right) switch to the over.

It’s too bad that this is the week Cedric Benson has to serve his suspension. Rookie QB Dalton has the Bengals’ O putting up almost 27 points per game. Yes, really. He is throwing for 237 yards each week and completing almost 63 % of his passes. Now that’s not bad for a rookie, with a rookie WR in the AFC North.

On the other hand, this is Bernard Scott’s opportunity to shine—particularly if it rains. He has return specialist speed and pretty good hands. Plus the Seahawks’ D is giving up 100-yard rushing games consistently.

If Marshawn Lynch can play for the Seabirds, they have a chance. If not—I don’t think so.


Cleveland Browns at the San Francisco 49ers

 Straight Up:  San Francisco

Against the Spread: Cleveland +9.5

 Over/Under:  under 39.5  October is the prettiest month by the Bay.

Tell me coaching is secondary. Jim Harbaugh is a first year Head Coach, taking over a losing team. Pat Shurmur is a first year Head Coach, taking over a losing team. Jim has a QB many have considered one of the all-time draft busts (Smith currently has a 95.2 QB rating.) Pat has a QB many aren’t sure can see the field or throw hard enough (Colt’s QB rating is 75.4 and he’s completing 56%.) Both coaches inherited decent defenses.

San Francisco is 5-1 and Cleveland is 3-3, courtesy of wins over Seattle and Miami. The 49ers offense has hope for the first time in years and the Browns’ offense is in almost total disarray. Go on, what were you saying about coaching?

I just looked this up:  the 49ers are rushing for almost 200 yards per game. I haven’t seen something like that in a while. They’re also scoring over 32 points each week.

Cleveland’s D is good—especially the secondary. But their only hope in this game is to finally achieve what they espouse every week from the podium:  the offense must get in gear from the first snap.

Let’s see what you got, Mr. Shurmur.

New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers

Straight Up:  Pittsburgh

Against the Spread:  Pittsburgh +2.5

Over/Under: 51.5 – mostly sunny

Although I would prefer if both teams would lose, I will not miss this game. The key will be whether New England’s D can handle Mike Wallace and whether Pittsburgh’s D can get to Tom Brady and handle his two TE sensations. And they should keep an eye on that Welker guy, too.

New England’s under-rated running game could get a boost because neither Pittsburgh NT is really healthy. And don’t forget that James Harrison is still out and Farrior has a calf strain (although I’m sure he’s going to play.)

I expect the Steelers to try and stick to the running game so that

a) Tom Brady doesn’t get the ball and

b) maybe the Patriots won’t notice that Hines Ward is hobbled with a sprained ankle

I’m going with the power of the Terrible Towel.


Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles

 Straight Up:  Dallas

Against the Spread:  Dallas +3.5

Over/Under:  over 48.5  (Sunny and 40s) This must be the shortest snowstorm in history.

The battle of the over-rated franchises. Philly’s win over Washington probable helped their locker room. And, heaven knows, that locker needs all the help it could get.

Now Tony Romo is not only a newlywed, he is an expectant father. How about a few more distractions for the besieged QB?

The numbers favor Dallas slightly: they score almost five more points per game and give up two points less. That’s hardly definitive.

This could be a running demo film with McCoy and Murray tearing up the turf. Add in two very talented but inconsistent quarterbacks and this one will be offensively fun if nothing else.

Defensively, the Eagles played much better against the ‘Skins and the Cowboys played much better against New England. So, they should be respectable on Sunday Night.

I expect a good game with some offensive fireworks, some offensive disasters and some solid and hard-hitting defense. I go with Dallas as an underdog with a better attitude and a better coach.


San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs

Straight Up:  Kansas City

Against the Spread:  Kansas City +3.5

Over/Under:  over 44.5 Arrowhead fans will enjoy a lovely fall day. Hurray for the passing game.

A tale of two coaches:  Norv Turner took over a 14-2 team and is slowly grinding them into mediocrity and Todd Haley took over a disaster and is improving them markedly.

The Chiefs suffered multiple disastrous injuries early in this year and opened the season with multiple losses. Haley somehow kept his team united and, son of a gun, they are turning it around. I base this pick on momentum and that unity. And on running stud Jackie Battle. Now the Chiefs are injury-free and feeling cocky, like their coach.

Oh, and RB Matthews is hurt for the Chargers (though he is probable) and backup runner Tolbert is doubtful and second WR Floyd id doubtful. Gee, think that the Chiefs might cover Vincent Jackson just a bit?

The keys will be how many stupid mistakes the Chargers make and whether the San Diego secondary can shut down Matt Cassel—which is entirely possible.

The Chargers are absolutely the better team and KC really hasn’t beaten anyone good. But I think that San Diego is descending into a morass of confusion and demoralization. Happy, A.J.?

As we enter the second half of the season and the leaves turn, teams are starting to separate as the NFL cream rises. May your picks be strong and your Sunday happy.

Check out my articles on Bleacher Report:

Sunday Night Football – Flex Scheduling Please!   

Hope for Cleveland Browns   


Inheriting a NFL Coach









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