Joe Flacco is starting to get that Eli Manning look in his eyes, the one when he realizes even restructuring his bankrupting contract won't do the trick.
2017 NFL SEASON
Week 8: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis)
Week 7 results: 12-3 wins (season: 53-40; .570); 9-6 v. spread (season: 47-46; .505)
Miami Dolphins 4-2 (+3) @ Baltimore Ravens 3-4 (37.5): Dolphins 20-17
Thursday, 8:25 PM, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD (Weather: Clear; low 50s)
Reasons: The Dolphins come into Thursday night’s game winners of three straight, despite losing Jay Cutler (7 TDs; 5 INTs), because Matt Moore might be a better fit anyway. The Ravens have lost two straight, and four of their last five, although one of those loses came in OT (27-24 to CHI) and three of those four losses have come against three of the best defenses in the NFL (JAX, PIT, MIN). Now Baltimore faces their fourth top-10 defense in five weeks as Miami comes into the game ranked 10th in yards allowed and 6th in points allowed; the Dolphins also happen to have one of the worst offenses in the league (31st points scored; 32nd yards gained), which makes the Ravens task not as daunting. Baltimore isn’t the same team anymore, though, and their polarizing leader Terrell Suggs is questionable, meaning the Ravens defense that yields over 145 rushing yards a game could let the Dolphins and running back Jay Ajayi (442 rushing yards; 3.5 ypc) run wild.
Minnesota Vikings 5-2 (-9.5) @ Cleveland Browns 0-7 (38): Vikings 24-17
Reasons: Normally I’d crack a joke about how we’ve given London the worst slate of games imaginable, but the truth is, the London games have been pretty exciting, at least from a scoring standpoint. There may not be much scoring Sunday morning (in the United States, anyway) as the Vikings come into the game with one of the most feared defenses in the NFL to accompany a pretty good offense, with or without Sam Bradford. The Browns, on the other hand, are hopeless.
Oakland Raiders 3-4 (+2.5) @ Buffalo Bills 4-2 (45.5): Bills 21-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, New Era Field, Buffalo, NY (Weather: Chance rain; high 40s)
Reasons: The Raiders are slowly climbing back into existence, just when their division became clogged, but unfortunately for them they run into the buzz saw known as the Bills (4th points allowed) Sunday. Buffalo is no offensive juggernaut, but they only average two fewer points and 12 fewer yards than the Raiders, who supposedly are one.
Indianapolis Colts 2-5 (+10.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals 2-4 (41.5): Bengals 27-17
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH (Weather: Mostly sunny; low 70s)
Reasons: It’s hard to believe the Bengals have nearly the same terrible record as the woeful, Luckless (pun intended) Colts. Then again, nothing is hard to believe with the most unpredictable team in the NFL the past decade. This one shouldn’t be too hard to predict, though, as Cincinnati is home and Indianapolis is one of the three worst teams in the league, statistically and eye-test speaking.
Bill Belichick seems to have found something in his defense, which might've included benching their top free agent acquisition, cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
Los Angeles Chargers 3-4 (+7) @ New England Patriots 5-2 (48.5): Patriots 27-24
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA (Weather: Heavy rain; low 60s)
Reasons: New England is 2-2 at home through their first four games for the first time in a long time, and Los Angeles is one of the hottest teams in the NFL, winners of three straight. That doesn’t mean my money is on the Chargers to win, per se, but the Patriots getting seven points considering the aforementioned information, seems a bit excessive. Perhaps the people in charge of such things are looking at the radar and seeing a game won on the ground, in which the Patriots gain 31 more yards per game, the same amount the Chargers defense yields to opponents, relative to the Patriots.
Chicago Bears 3-4 (+9) @ New Orleans Saints 4-2 (47.5): Saints 28-21
Sunday, 1:00 PM, SuperDome, New Orleans, LA (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: The Saints actually are the hottest team in the NFL, and although the Bears have certainly shocked many people the past two weeks, especially with a rookie quarterback throwing less than 50% of the tiny amount of pass attempts the Bears allow him, likely because he’s played top defenses (BAL; CAR), but the Saints are home and Drew Brees is locked in.
Atlanta Falcons 3-3 (-6) @ New York Jets 3-4 (45.5): Falcons 24-21
Sunday, 1:00 PM, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Weather: Heavy rain; low 70s)
Reasons: The Falcons have lost three straight, after winning their first four, and all three of those loses have come against the AFC East - all of them. What’s worse is the high-flying Falcons have managed fewer than 14 points against all those AFC East opponents (BUF, MIA, NE). There are answers: The Dolphins and Bills possess two of the best defenses in the NFL and the Falcons had the unpleasant task of facing the team that humiliated them in SBLI in the thickest fog people could remember in 25 years. The Falcons have a great chance to redeem themselves with a solid running game against a scrappy, but inconsistent Jets team, but the weather could have the most impact.
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA (Weather: Heavy rain; low 70s)
Reasons: This is your classic trap game, with the winless 49ers coming across the country to play an early afternoon game against the best team in the NFC, but if we’re being realistic, the only trapping part of this game is the spread, which, even given the remarkable circumstances, is a little ridiculous at 12.5 points. The Eagles are missing their left tackle in Jason Peters, gone for the season, so although the Eagles managed to win big last week, it’ll be interesting to see how Philadelphia handles the absence going forward.
Cam Newton needs to get his head straight before the most talented football athlete of our generation wastes another season of his great, but polarizing career.
Carolina Panthers 4-3 (+1.5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-4 (46): Buccaneers 21-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL (Weather: Sunny; low 70s)
Reasons: I don’t trust the Carolina Panthers or their mentally fragile quarterback at all, even with an arguably equally mentally fragile quarterback across the field. Of course both observations could be characterized as passionate and misunderstood, but there’s a reason the NFL wants the head of their proverbial snake to be both cerebral and simultaneously calm under any type of pressure, whether that be on or off the field. Both quarterbacks seem to struggle with both at times, which is why both teams struggle at times. Cam Newton might thrive on pressure, but he’s been under pressure for two years now and the results have been mixed at best. Meanwhile, the chip on Jameis Winston’s shoulder from a recent benching is so big it could feed the greater Tampa region. Don’t we all want just a little bit more from two number one overall draft picks who both won Heisman trophies and both won National Championships? What, did you forget about all that?
Houston Texans 3-3 (+6) @ Seattle Seahawks 4-2 (45.5): Seahawks 24-21
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Century Link Field, Seattle, WA (Weather: Clear; mid-50s)
Reasons: Rookie quarterback sensation Deshaun Watson is about to get his first dose of true NFL reality Sunday afternoon as the Texans face the league’s top scoring defense (15.7 ppg), also top-10 in the league in yards allowed (8th). The Texans are a relatively average team statistically, with the exception of scoring offense, where they rank 3rd by only a few tenths of a point, but that surge has come mostly on the arm of the aforementioned Watson, who will be under duress most of the day.
Dallas Cowboys 3-3 (-2) @ Washington Football Team 3-3 (49): Cowboys 24-23
Sunday, 4:25 PM, FedEx Field, East Landover, MD (Weather: Heavy rain; high 50s)
Reasons: The most evenly matched game of Week 8 will decide who is still at least two games behind the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East, but more importantly, will be decided by Mother Nature, who will be raining heavily upon the field throughout the game. That means the team with the best ground game most likely wins, which is clearly Dallas, and that running game compounded with Dak Prescott’s dink-and-dunk skills, we have a recipe for a Cowboys win.
Pittsburgh Steelers 5-2 (-3) @ Detroit Lions 3-3 (45.5): Steelers 28-27
Sunday, 8:30 PM, Ford Field, Detroit, MI (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: The Steelers are hot and might have the best overall defense in the NFL (2nd points allowed; 3rd yards allowed), but the Lions have Matthew Stafford and are completely inconsistent, so you never know what to expect. Detroit started the season 3-1 with a defense yielding 16.5 ppg; since then they’re 0-2, both against the questionable NFC South (NO; CAR), and now their defense is yielding more than double that per game (39.5 ppg). Regardless, it’s hard to bet against Matt Stafford, especially getting three points at home.
Matt Stafford is about to become the highest paid player on a team with no other highly paid players, which means if he wants to win, he'll end up not being the highest paid player.
Denver Broncos 3-3 (+7) @ Kansas City Chiefs 5-2 (43): Chiefs 27-21
Monday, 8:30 PM, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO (Weather: Partly cloudy; high 30s)
Reasons: The Chiefs went from the best team in the NFL to unpredictable in four days last week, and the Kansas City defense, considered perhaps the best in the league at one point in the season, is now ranked 29th in yards allowed and 19th in points allowed - not exactly fear-inspiring. The Broncos, however, are a mess. The Denver defense remains top notch (1st yards allowed; 9th points allowed), but the offense is becoming atrocious. Since their Week 2 win against Dallas Cowboys, in which they scored 42 points, the Broncos are 1-3 averaging 10.5 points per game, with each game producing fewer points then the last. It’s on the shoulders of Trevor Siemian to make things right, which means Denver is in trouble.
Week 8 #NFL byes: Arizona Cardinals; Green Bay Packers; Jacksonville Jaguars; Los Angeles Rams; New York Giants; Tennessee Titans
Stay tuned for Tuesday’s Gone: Week 8: #NFL Game Reviews coming Wednesday morning!