2018 NFL SEASON
Tuesday’s Gone: Week 8 #NFL Game Reviews
Week 8 results: 10-4 (wins); 6-8 (v. spread); 8-6 (O/U)
Season totals: 79-40-2 .664 (wins); 58-60-3 .492 (v. sp); 65-55-1 .542 (O/U)
Note/Key (when applicable): Statistical analysis based on the following metrics (abbreviations): Points scored (PF); points against (PA); Point differential (PD) Yards gained (YG); Yards allowed (YA); Red Zone TD efficiency (RZ); 3rd-down efficiency (3rd); Turnover ratio (TO); Time of possession (TOP); Yards per play (YPP); Sacks (S); Interceptions (INT); Penalty yards (PEN); Against the spread (ATS).
JJ Watt has stayed healthy so far in 2018 and it's paid dividends for the Houston Texans, winners of four straight after starting the season 0-3.
Miami Dolphins 4-3 (-7.5) @ Houston Texans 4-3 (44.5): Texans 27-20 Texans 42-23
Thursday, 8:20 PM, NRG Stadium, Houston, TX (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: The Dolphins started the season 3-0 and fools lined up to celebrate a team other than New England winning the AFC East for the first time in what seems like decades. Not so fast my friends, Lee Corso would say, because the Dolphins have since gone 1-3 since then and now sit as the worst team in the NFL by far with a winning record. Miami ranks in the bottom 25% of the league in both yardage metrics and points scored; they rank 18th in points allowed (25.3 ppg). The only thing the Dolphins do well is ball hawk; they rank 1st in INTs, which might come into play against the second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson, who has been running for his life all season. Speaking of the Texans, they’ve trended in the opposite direction of the Dolphins, winners of four straight after starting the season 0-3. The offense has crept towards mediocre while the defense, ranked 8th in PA (20.6 ppg) and 9th in total defense, has begun to play like the Texans defenses we’ve come to know, or better put, have played to their talent level, especially getting after the quarterback, where they rank 8th in sacks. The Texans are hot, playing well on defense and are at home. This should be a no-brainer, but I don’t like spreads of touchdowns or more with unproven teams, especially on Thursday Nights.
Deshaun Watson threw five touchdown passes Thursday night, didn’t turn the ball over and wasn’t sacked. That’s a pretty good way to get your name back in the “top quarterbacks in the league” conversation, one he was a part of weekly last season before his devastating injury. The Dolphins kept it close in the first half, 14-10, but the suddenly surging Texans blew the game open in the second half, outscoring Miami 28-13 and sending the Dolphins back to their confines of middling in the AFC East.
Philadelphia Eagles 3-4 (-3) @ Jacksonville Jaguars 3-4 (42.5): Eagles 24-17 Eagles 24-18
Sunday, 9:30AM, Wembley Stadium, London, England (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: Word on the street is several defensive players from the Jaguars got arrested at a nightclub in London after getting into a bar brawl over a $60K bill. If that’s true then Jacksonville has even less of a chance against the returning Super Bowl champions, especially with the Eagles fresh off giving up 21 4th quarter points to the Carolina Panthers to lose 21-17 after leading 17-0 going into the 4th quarter. In other words, the Eagles could be looking to take out some frustration on a group of Jaguars clearly licking their wounds. The home team Jaguars could be in trouble in front of the home crowd on their home pitch Sunday. That’s a Shahid Khan joke.
My source was correct, the Jaguars did get into an altercation that led to members of the team being detained. I’m quite sure it didn’t affect their game status, as three of the involved players were active and one was already questionable with an injury, but it clearly weighed on the team to some degree because they lost, and now sit at 3-5, losers of four straight games after starting the season 3-1 and looking like the new crown of the AFC after beating New England Week 2. The Eagles look like they’re back on track and have just traded for WR Golden Tate, which means maybe their season isn’t ruined after all.
Denver Broncos 3-4 (+10) @ Kansas City Chiefs 6-1 (53.5): Chiefs 31-20 Chiefs 30-23
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO (Weather: Sunny; low 60s)
Reasons: The last time the Broncos faced Wonder Boy Patrick Mahomes and the high-flying Chiefs they made Kansas City look like a normal team…for a half. Then Patrick went Mahomes on Denver in the altitude at Mile High and proved that the Broncos AFC West run was indeed over. That game was in Denver. This game is in Kansas City. I normally don’t like 10-point spreads, but when I do, it’s for the Chiefs facing Denver at home in the toughest place to play in the NFL.
The Chiefs led 30-14 in the 3rd quarter before the Broncos scored nine unanswered 4th quarter points making the game appear much closer in the box score than the game really was. Patrick Mahomes (303 passing yards; 4 TDs; 1 INT) is from another planet, or at least it would seem that way, but when Sammy Watkins (8 receptions for 107 receiving yards; 2 TDs) is your fourth skill option you have a deep team. The Broncos just traded off Demarius Thomas and it would seem Denver has started to wave the white flag after being swept by the clear new king of the AFC West.
Cleveland Browns 2-4-1 (+8) @ Pittsburgh Steelers 3-2-1 (42): Steelers 24-23 Steelers 33-18
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA (Weather: 60% rain; low 50s)
Reasons: The last time these two teams faced each other they played to an uninspiring tie opening week, the first of a few ties to start the 2018 NFL season, and not much has changed for either team since. The Browns have played in a million OT games and the Steelers have been wading in mediocrity and team drama as Le’Veon Bell continues to play with their money and their emotions. The weather also remains the same, although that won’t bother either of these teams. Rookie Baker Mayfield (6 TDs; 5 INTs) has had an up-and-down season, which will likely continue Sunday in Pittsburgh, but Mayfield is no punk, and he’d love the chance to get that elusive win against the Steelers on the road, so those eight points are almost an insult.
Things are starting to look normal again. The Browns are now 2-5-1, the Steelers are 4-2-1, the Browns just fired head coach Hue Jackson instead of terrible play-calling insubordinate Todd Haley, and rookie quarterback and franchise savior Baker Mayfield has a major injury. Looks like it’s on to 2019 for the Cleveland Browns, while the Steelers have seemingly righted the ship, all the while without constant tease and holdout Le’Veon Bell, as James Connor (24 carries for 146 yards; 2 TDs) has filled in nicely.
Antonio Brown is as capable of jump kicking his own team as he is his opponents, but the Steelers aren't the same team without him.
Washington Football Team 4-2 (-1) @ New York Giants 1-6 (42): WFT 27-24 WFT 20-13
Sunday, 1:00 PM, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Weather: Cloudy; high 50s)
Reasons: The Giants are imploding before our very eyes and have just traded off the remaining quality players on defense other than Olivier Vernon, so imagine the disrespect Washington feels being one-point favorites against these 1-6 Giants after going 3-1 in their last four against quality competition (GB, NO, CAR & DAL) and leading the NFC East. Blame it on history, but if we’re talking history, these Giants might be the worst Giants team in their history.
Holy sh*t the Giants are bad. It’s not like Washington isn’t good, because they are certainly one of the better teams in the league, at least statistically, but how does a team with as much talent as the New York Giants fail to win even two games in the first half of the season? New York’s defense played well, anchored by Olivier Vernon and Landon Collins, the only real talent left on the defensive side of the ball, but they couldn’t contain Adrian Peterson (26 carries for 149 rushing yards; 2 total TDs), who was the difference in the game.
Seattle Seahawks 3-3 (+3): @ Detroit Lions 3-3 (49.5): Lions 24-23 Seahawks 28-14
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Ford Field, Detroit, MI (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: The take home message with these two teams is they’re both better than we thought they’d be before the season or even a few games into it, yet something has to give. Essentially, we have one of the better offenses in the league taking on one of the better defenses in the league, the latter of which is traveling across the country to play in a 1:00 game. Las Vegas says they’re even, which they aren’t, but under the transcontinental circumstances they probably are.
Don’t look now, but the Seahawks aren’t bad. Russell Wilson threw for three touchdowns, all in the second quarter, which was enough in itself to beat the Lions Sunday. It didn’t hurt Seattle that Detroit turned the ball over three times (1 INT; 2 FUM), two by Matt Stafford.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-3 (+4.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals 4-3 (54): Bengals 28-27 Bengals 37-34
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH (Weather: 50% storms; high 50s)
Reasons: Well, it’s not prime time so the Bengals have a chance. Featured in this match up are two of the league’s worst defenses, hence the ridiculous 54-point O/U. Of the 13 combined games these two teams have been featured in nine have breached at least 50 points and the remaining four have had combined scores of 44, 48, 48 and 49 points. I’m fascinated by the surge of points and touchdowns, specifically in relation to the over/under, in which 50 is a relatively high number. Week 8 features six games with 50+-point O/Us, making that the fifth week in a row with at least four games with such O/Us. The NFL says the fans want more points, so tune in for this game if that’s the case. Bring an umbrella.
It seems like these two teams are involved in a shoot-out every week and Sunday was no different. Both teams combined for 978 total yards and 71 points, but in the end, turnovers did the Bucs in. Jameis Winston threw another four INTs Sunday, his 10th of the year in only four games. In fact, since Winston’s return Week 4 he has thrown at least two INTs in every game, and these aren’t the wide receiver’s fault, as Cris Carter claims nearly 60% are. No these are terrible decisions by former top draft pick and only the second freshman in NCAA history to win the Heisman Trophy, a quarterback with loads of talent but not much of a head for the game. Meanwhile the Bengals continue to confuse everyone, but have as much talent in the league in Joe Mixon (21 carries for 123 yards; 2 TDs) and Tyler Boyd (9 receptions for 138 yards; 1 TD) to compliment AJ Green (5 receptions for 76 yards; 1 TD), who injured his foot Sunday.
New York Jets 3-4 (+7.5) @ Chicago Bears 3-3 (45): Bears 27-21 Bears 24-10
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Soldier Field, Chicago, IL (Weather: 80% rain; high 50s)
Reasons: This game features one of the league’s best defenses (CHI) and good defenses (NYJ) against offenses that have crept up on us at times in the 2018 season. Combine that with the potentially awful weather and we have a potential dud here. Don’t necessarily trust me when it comes to the weather, but do you trust Mitch Trubisky enough to give the Jets over a touchdown? I don’t, although it’s getting harder not too.
Nothing to see here but your basic football game played between two accurately described teams. I was, however, wrong about Mitch Trubisky, who seems to becoming more of a real quarterback by the week.
It's been an up-and-down season for the rookie Sam Darnold, the 3rd pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but lucky for him Khalil Mack is questionable.
Baltimore Ravens 4-3 (-2) @ Carolina Panthers 4-2 (44): Ravens 24-21 Panthers 36-21
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC (Weather: Sunny; mid-60s)
Reasons: Talk about a clash of titans. This game not only features two of the better defenses in the NFL, but two of the biggest egos, between Cam Newton’s and the one possessed by the Baltimore defense and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. The Ravens are coming off a devastating loss to the Saints after Justin Tucker missed the tying PAT, while the Panthers are coming off a miraculous win of sorts last week after they came back down 17-0 in the 4th quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles to win 21-17. Seems to me the Ravens are still hungry while the Panthers might be feeling a little blessed. That’s a bad combination, one that’ll likely have Sour Cam out for the post-game presser.
Many people could have called the Panthers winning the game at home, but few would’ve had the courage to say the Ravens top-ranked defense would give up 36 points. Cam Newton led the team in rushing again (10 carries for 52 yards; 1 TD) in addition to throwing for 219 yards and two more touchdowns, essentially single-handily beating the Ravens at home. I told you about those ego, and Cam’s came to play Sunday.
Indianapolis Colts 2-5 (-3) @ Oakland Raiders 1-5 (50): Colts 28-24 Colts 42-28
Sunday, 4:05PM, Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA (Weather: Sunny; low 70s)
Sunday, 4:05PM, Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA (Weather: Sunny; low 70s)
Reasons: Only a matter of time before Chucky trades himself out of Oakland, right?
This game featured five lead changes and two horrible defenses. By today’s standards the game was great, and the 50-point O/U bore fruit, which I was hesitant about analyzing the game despite the low ranking of both defenses. The Raiders took the 28-21 lead into the 4th quarter, but 21 unanswered 4th-quarter points by Colts, mostly on the legs of Marlon Mack (25 carries for 132 rushing yards; 2 TDs), sealed the victory. Both young(ish) quarterbacks played well, but neither team is going anywhere anytime soon with their defenses.
San Francisco 49ers 1-6 (+1) @ Arizona Cardinals 1-6 (42.5): 49ers 24-21 Cardinals 18-15
Sunday, 4:25 PM, Univ. of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ (Weather: Indoors)
This was one of the worst football games I’ve ever seen. Five or so years ago this score would’ve reflected these two team's stellar defense, but it's 2018 and all this score does is reflect two atrocious offenses. The bright spot for Arizona besides the win was rookie Josh Rosen leading the Cardinals to a win in the 4th quarter after being down 15-3, throwing two touchdowns and a two-point conversion in the process. Maybe Rosen is the next Brett Favre. Baby steps.
Green Bay Packers 3-2-1 (+9.5) @ Los Angeles Rams 3-0 (56.5): Rams 30-20 Rams 29-27
Sunday, 4:25 PM, Los Angeles Memorial Stadium, Los Angeles, CA (Weather: Clear; mid-60s)
Reasons: This is the kind of game where Aaron Rodgers is so miffed about being the largest underdog of his career that he single-handily takes the Packers and puts them on his shoulders and wins the game against the Rams. Wait, that’s what Rodgers does every game, hence the 9.5-point spread. The Packers absolutely suck, despite their confusing defensive metrics, which make them look good on paper. No, Green Bay is a one-dimensional team in that Rodgers is their one dimension, assisted by All-Pro wide out Davante Adams. The Rams, conversely, are as far from one-dimensional as a team could get, although one could argue the Rams are truly one-dimension – they line up and smash you in the mouth with an All-Pro offensive line and an All-Pro running back in Todd Gurley, who is my mid-season candidate for runaway MVP. Las Vegas doesn’t get much wrong, so if they say the Packers suck relative to the Rams, I believe it.
Of course Aaron Rodgers was so humiliated by his underdog status and the 9.5 point spread that he came out and made sure any of us taking the Rams to cover suffered. Alas, Ty Montgomery fumbled a late 4th quarter kickoff return, squabbling away any chance for Rodgers to be the hero again and beat the Rams, not just cover. Montgomery was traded 72 hours later.
Drew Brees quietly has the New Orleans Saints sitting at 5-1 in the midst of another MVP-caliber season..err...career.
New Orleans Saints 5-1 (+1) @ Minnesota Vikings 4-2-1 (52.5): Vikings 28-27 Saints 30-20
Sunday, 8:20 PM, US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN (Weather: Clear; high 30s Err, Indoors)
Reasons: The Vikings seem to have righted their war ship just as the seas got really rough, which is good considering the best team in the NFL still under the radar sails into Minneapolis Sunday Night for the Game of the Week and Drew Brees is on a mission. Let’s see what Everson Griffen has to say about Brees staying lit in Minneapolis, because he’s back on the team after dealing with mental health issues, and it was pretty clear the Vikings weren’t the same team without him. They could be without Xavier Rhodes Sunday night, which could be a huge problem, but if Rhodes is a go I wouldn’t expect the Saints to be firing on all cylinders in the chill like they have been all season indoors or in great weather and winning their fourth road game in five weeks.
If I told you Drew Brees threw for only 120 yards against the Vikings, would you give them any chance of winning? Probably not, but they did, despite being outgained, out-possessed and out "first-downed". The problem is always turnovers, and a key Adam Thielen fumble was returned 45 yards for a touchdown by PJ Williams, which made a close 20-13 game with the Vikings matriculating a 27-13 blowout that Minnesota couldn’t recover from. I'm also not really sure why I've always thought the Vikings played in an open stadium, a la Dallas. Maybe if people read my website that mistake would've been pointed out long before my cousin did. Thanks, Cousin Pauli. By the way, he doesn't read my site either, it just came up in conversation.
New England Patriots 5-2 (-14) @ Buffalo Bills 2-5 (44.5): Patriots 31-16 Patriots 25-6
Monday, 8:15 PM, New Era Stadium, Buffalo, NY (Weather: Cloudy; low 40s)
Reasons: Here we go again, the Bills and Patriots involved in spreads of two or more touchdowns. I hate touching these games, because it seems so obvious to not pick a team favored by egregious amounts of points, as the Bills have proved already on the road this season, and it would be an especially bad idea to bet those points against the home team…right? Well, every time I bet against the Patriots in similar spreads I get burned. The Patriots are on fire offensively and the Bills couldn’t score when their quarterback situation wasn’t a nightmare, so all signs point to the Patriots destroying the Bills in Buffalo. Then you have to consider the history of these two teams and the fluky past they have when it comes to home and away match ups between the Bills and Patriots. Normally I’d never pick the Patriots to cover 14 points at Buffalo at any point in the season, but these particular Bills at this particular point in the season are particularly bad.
It was the Stephen show for the first three quarters, with Gostkwoski (4) and Huaschka (2) trading field goals until the 4th quarter when James White scampered into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown run. Devin McCourty then secured the cover with a pick-6, the Patriots first defensive touchdown in 40 games. In the end they were who we thought they were.
BYEs: Atlanta; Dallas; Tennessee; Los Angeles Chargers
Stay tuned for Week 9: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis)coming Thursday & Sunday!