This week, two dominant AFC North squads, the Ravens and Steelers, face off. The Bills have a chance to prove themselves as they host the Patriots. The Browns have an important game against the Raiders. In the NFC, the Saints and Bears face off. The Seahawks face their division rival, the defending NFC champion 49ers. This could be the week when many of these top contenders prove that their strong starts are going to lead to strong finishes. We’re about halfway through the season. Which strong starts are sustainable? Which ones are a fluke? Check out my Week 8 picks below to find out what I think. Last week, I went 9-5, bringing my overall record to 67-37-1 (68-37-1 including TNF). We’ll see if I can beat that this week after two straight 9-5 weeks.
Lock of the Week
Lock of the week is an understatement, this might be my lock of the season. I think QB Sam Darnold tosses his sole touchdown to WR Denzel Mims, but struggles due to his lack of other healthy weapons. The Jets got rid of their two best players from last season, RB Le’Veon Bell and S Jamal Adams after frustration in Adam Gase’s system. Bell will be hungry for revenge against his former team, and Gase will not be any better off without those two. I expect the Chiefs to start the game off with some big passing plays and finish it off with the RB duo of Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Bell for a blowout victory.
Upset of the Week
The Eagles are getting a couple key offensive pieces back against a weak Dallas D: WR Jalen Reagor and TE Dallas Goedert. I think that will allow the Eagles to make this a very close game. However, even with QB Ben DiNucci forced to start, I think the Cowboys have the NFC East’s best offense and can edge out an upset victory here.
|Posted to Social Media Thursday||I expect Carolina’s offense to continue to thrive against a disappointing Falcons D. However, the Falcons receiving corps are fully stocked and ready for a big game of their own. I have Atlanta pulling the upset in a pass-heavy shootout.|
|As much as I believe in the Patriots, I can’t see them winning in Buffalo against a Bills team that has looked like a legit Super Bowl contender. The Pats would make it closer if they had WRs Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry and CB Stephon Gilmore healthy. Without those guys, it will be a comfortable victory for Buffalo as New England’s playoff hopes start to fade.|
|This one will be close. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick looked good in this offense, and I’m expecting rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa to look even better. He will lean on RB Myles Gaskin and the TE corps in his debut. This is because WR DeVante Parker is preparing to be shadowed by CB Jalen Ramsey. The Rams offense should look similar to how it has all year: impressive, but not amazing. That won’t be enough to take down Tua.|
|This is a very important game for both squads. The 6-0 Steelers and 5-1 Ravens are battling for the AFC North lead. Both squads comfortably took down an otherwise strong Browns team, so both these teams appear to be legit. I’m expecting a defense heavy game here, as Baltimore’s secondary shuts down QB Ben Roethlisberger’s receivers and Pittsburgh shuts down the Baltimore run game. This will be close, but I expect QB Lamar Jackson to bail out the Ravens in OT.|
|Speaking of the Browns, they have a test of their own against the Raiders, another potential wild card team. I think Vegas will look strong on offense as they have all year. However, I’m expecting a big game out of RB Kareem Hunt against an inconsistent Raiders D. He’ll be the X-factor as the Browns pull off a victory without RB Nick Chubb or WR Odell Beckham Jr.|
|I think the Titans will pick up the victory in the end, but that won’t prevent the Bengals from keeping this close and competing. I think QB Joe Burrow and his impressive trio of WRs will post a strong game, but fall short against a Titans offense that has dominated since QB Ryan Tannehill took over last year.|
|This Lions offense has been on fire the last couple of weeks. Indy’s defense has been strong as well, but I don’t see them slowing Detroit’s momentum. RB D’Andre Swift will continue to thrive and QB Matthew Stafford will connect well with star WR Kenny Golladay alongside his other receivers. I do think Indy’s RB duo posts a strong game, but QB Philip Rivers will not be able to keep up with the Lions here.|
|RB Dalvin Cook is back and RB Aaron Jones is still missing, so this will be very close. I think the difference for Green Bay comes in the form of two players: WR Davante Adams and CB Jaire Alexander. QB Aaron Rodgers will rely on a big game from Adams to succeed. Alexander will lead the Green Bay secondary to prevent Minnesota from keeping up with Rodgers and Adams.|
|QB Justin Herbert has been on a roll, but doesn’t have the winning record to show for it. After a 1-4 start, I’m expecting the turnaround to continue for this Chargers squad as Herbert and the offense push to get into the playoff race. The Broncos can rely on their young TE duo to keep up here, but it won’t be enough for a win. I think the Chargers D outperforms Denver’s D and Herbert outperforms QB Drew Lock to allow LA to win on the road.|
|The Saints are missing half their receivers, so if they want a win it will have to come through good defense. I think WR Allen Robinson will struggle in his return as he faces CB Marshon Lattimore. Meanwhile, the Saints front seven will succeed in slowing down RB David Montgomery. I have them edging out a victory here mostly due to the defense but also partially due to success from star RB Alvin Kamara.|
|I think this will be lower scoring than other Seahawks games have been. In addition, the 49ers will keep it close in a battle of two squads in an extremely competitive NFC West. I think QB Russell Wilson will keep cooking, tossing 3 TDs. The 49ers will make it close as QB Jimmy Garoppolo relies on TE George Kittle and rookie WR Brandon Aiyuk.|
|MNF||Without WR Chris Godwin, this game won’t be as easy of a victory for Tampa as one might think. This Giants defense has been flying under the radar. I still think the Bucs edge out a victory here in their last game before WR Antonio Brown is activated.|
That’s all for this week’s picks. Stay tuned for more NFL coverage coming up as the midway point of the season approaches.