NFL Game Picks: Week 8
Host Danny Murray and analyst Zac Kaye break down each game in Week 8 of the NFL:
It’s hard to believe, but the 2018 NFL season is already almost halfway over. A handful of winless and undefeated teams still remain, and big headlines are starting to arise, including some blockbuster trades and a knee injury to reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes, which is expected to keep him sidelined for the next three weeks. Even without the game’s most electrifying player, pro football rolls on, and we’ll sort through what it’s in store in Week 8 with the latest edition of the NFL game picks series.
Washington Redskins (1-6) at Minnesota Vikings (5-2)
As expected, firing Jay Gruden really hasn’t changed anything in Washington. The Redskins offense couldn’t do a thing at home against San Francisco last week, putting a goose egg on the scoreboard. Minnesota looks far better, especially recently, as the Vikings have put up at least 38 points in consecutive weeks for the first time since 2015. Perhaps Kirk Cousins is finally settling into the role that the Vikings wanted him to have: franchise quarterback. Let’s pump the brakes on that idea for now, but let’s push down the gas pedal on another easy Minnesota victory.
Prediction: Minnesota 30, Washington 13
Seattle Seahawks (5-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-6)
The Seahawks have a very odd tendency to play like a Super Bowl contender for weeks at a time, then completely collapse for one game. That happened as last week, as Seattle followed up three straight wins with an atrocious home outing against Baltimore. It’s time for Russell Wilson and crew to pick up the pieces once again, and that should be a pretty easy task to complete in Week 8. The Seahawks will take on the struggling Falcons, which could be without Matt Ryan on Sunday due to an ankle sprain. This one could get very, very ugly very, very fast.
Prediction: Seattle 32, Atlanta 12
Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) at Buffalo Bills (5-1)
Going forward, the first thing that the Eagles have to do is erase Sunday night’s disaster from their minds. Instead, focus on what needs to be fixed: Carson Wentz’s mechanics and the secondary’s coverage abilities. Neither of those can really be mended in a week’s time, but they’ve got to start somewhere. Buffalo, meanwhile, survived a scare last week from Miami. The Bills looked fairly shaky out of the gate against the Dolphins. That needs to be patched up right quick in order to keep the playoff dream alive. They’ll keep it alive with a win in Week 8.
Prediction: Buffalo 22, Philadelphia 17
Los Angeles Chargers (2-5) at Chicago Bears (3-3)
The Chargers must be the masters at finding obscure ways to lose. Instead of relying on Austin Ekeler, who put up a solid outing in Tennessee, Los Angeles put the ball in the hands of Melvin Gordon on the final drive, and he fumbled away the Chargers’ hopes of a last-second win. The Bears have a lot of cleanup work to do too. The NFL’s best defense got torched by the Saints offense, and Mitchell Trubisky doesn’t look like he belongs anywhere near an NFL field. In the battle of slumping teams, the Chargers come out on top due to a slightly more consistent offense.
Prediction: LA Chargers 18, Chicago 12
Cincinnati Bengals (0-7) vs. Los Angeles Rams (4-3)
The title of the NFL's worst team may not be decided yet. Cincinnati looked absolutely pathetic last week against Jacksonville, ceding 18 points in the fourth quarter alone. The Rams, meanwhile, appear to be getting back on track after losing three straight, as Los Angeles trounced Atlanta 37-10 last week. With Todd Gurley and Jared Goff looking better as the season progresses, there’s still plenty of time for the Rams to jump back into the conversation for the NFC West title. In front of the London crowd, Los Angeles demolishes the Bengals.
Prediction: LA Rams 42, Cincinnati 10
Denver Broncos (2-5) at Indianapolis Colts (4-2)
Just when things were starting to look up in Denver, the Broncos’ hopes were dashed in dramatic fashion, as the Chiefs whooped the home team 30-6 despite the absence of Patrick Mahomes for most of the game. It’s just the opposite for the Colts, which are rolling. Jacoby Brissett has filled in the starting quarterback role quite well, and his latest 326-yard, four-touchdown performance against Houston proves it. Denver only had false hope. Things are truly looking up in Indianapolis. The Colts keep their lead in the AFC South with another win in Week 8.
Prediction: Indianapolis 26, Denver 14
New York Giants (2-5) at Detroit Lions (2-3-1)
What a waste it’s been for Detroit. Back-to-back heartbreaking losses against Kansas City and Green Bay were followed up by a shoddy defensive performance, as the Lions allowed 42 points to the Vikings and squandered a four-touchdown day from Marvin Jones. This descent needs to stop quickly, and it will in Week 8. New York visits Ford Field off a three-game losing streak, as the team is still struggling to find its offensive identity. The return of Saquon Barkley last week helps, but it isn’t enough. Detroit pulls through and puts itself back in the NFC North race.
Prediction: Detroit 31, NY Giants 20
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) at Tennessee Titans (3-4)
Take any prediction made about the Titans with a grain of salt. Since 2017, Tennessee has been, quite easily, the most unpredictable team in the league. Back-to-back single digit losses were followed up with a 23-point performance in a home victory over the Chargers. There’s nothing surefire with this team. Tampa Bay is also quite unpredictable. Sometimes Jameis Winston balls out, and other times, he looks downright terrible. Off a home win and boasting a top-10 defense, Tennessee should win easily, right? So mark down the Buccaneers for a road victory.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 25, Tennessee 16
Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1) at New Orleans Saints (6-1)
Save for the Patriots, there might not be a more complete team in the NFL right now than the New Orleans Saints. Without Drew Brees, without Alvin Kamara, facing the NFL’s best defense on the road, the Saints still put up 36 points and got the W. Teddy Bridgewater is now 5-0 in the starting role this year, and unless Kyler Murray is able to pull out some tricks next week, you can make that 6-0. At home, New Orleans should feast on the inexperienced Cardinals, moving to 7-1 with the possibility of Drew Brees returning to the starting role in Week 9. Goodness.
Prediction: New Orleans 35, Arizona 20
New York Jets (1-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4)
The Jets pulled a fast one on their fans yet again. After the triumphant return of Sam Darnold resulted in a 24-22 victory over Dallas and a glimmer of hope for the New York faithful, the Jets expertly dashed those hopes with a crushing 33-0 defeat to division rival New England. It’s clear that Sam Darnold needs more time to recuperate, as well as more talent around him to become a promising star of the future. Fresh off a victory in Cincinnati, the Jaguars return home and take advantage of the lowly Jets, climbing back into the AFC South title picture in the process.
Prediction: Jacksonville 24, NY Jets 12
Carolina Panthers (4-2) at San Francisco 49ers (6-0)
San Francisco finally looked mortal last week, scoring only 9 against Washington. Thankfully for the Niners, that dominant defense kept the opposition scoreless, but the offense definitely needs to kick things up a notch. The recent addition of Emmanuel Sanders from Denver should help with that. Carolina enters Santa Clara from the bye week, which gave MVP frontrunner Christian McCaffrey a much-needed rest before this daunting task. Despite McCaffrey’s best efforts, the San Francisco defense comes up big once again, and the 49ers find themselves at 7-0.
Prediction: San Francisco 21, Carolina 20
Cleveland Browns (2-4) at New England Patriots (7-0)
Counting Cleveland, the Patriots’ first eight opponents field a combined record of 14-36. Needless to say, it hasn’t been much of a struggle for the defending Super Bowl champs. Still, you can’t discredit that defense, which has been absolutely terrifying for opposing offenses week after week. Even when Tom Brady has his off days, New England can rely on its defense to earn the victory. That should remain true for Week 8, as a struggling Baker Mayfield leads his Browns into New England off the bye week. Don’t expect the unexpected. New England stays perfect.
Prediction: New England 34, Cleveland 17
Oakland Raiders (3-3) at Houston Texans (4-3)
The Texans are the AFC’s equivalent of the Seahawks: a very talented team that often lights up the field but also tends to trip over itself on a handful of occasions. The latter was true last week, as Houston’s defense just couldn’t stop Jacoby Brissett and company. With AFC South title hopes on the line, the Texans need to stay afloat by winning the games that they’re supposed to win. Week 8 is one of those games, as the middle-of-the-pack Raiders take a visit to Houston. Deshaun Watson gets his crew back on track as the Texans pull out the much-needed victory.
Prediction: Houston 30, Oakland 18
Green Bay Packers (6-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)
What a shame about Mahomes. This one had game-of-the-year potential written all over it until the third-year QB got banged up last week in Denver. Now, the Matt Moore-led Chiefs will do their best to foil a stingy Packers defense, while a mediocre Kansas City defense is tasked with cooling down Aaron Rodgers, who torched Oakland last week for 429 passing yards and five touchdowns. Although Moore does have the weapons necessary to keep the offense alive, there’s no way the defense stops Rodgers. The Packers leave Arrowhead with a win on Sunday night.
Prediction: Green Bay 38, Kansas City 30
Miami Dolphins (0-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4)
Although the term “must-win” is thrown around far too often these days, this is a “must-win” for Pittsburgh. With Mason Rudolph returning after having time to heal from his Week 5 injury, the Steelers are back in attack mode. The defense has done most of the heavy lifting so far, but the offense has a great opportunity to step up against the lowly Dolphins. A loss to the tanking Fins would almost certainly signal the end of Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes. Thankfully for the Steelers, they get it done on Monday night and return to the postseason discussion.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 26, Miami 10
Byes: Baltimore Ravens (5-2), Dallas Cowboys (4-3)
DJ Bauer is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.