Week 7 was wonky in all the worst ways, and it was undoubtedly one of my worst of the season. Still, I’m working with a decent 55.1% win rate on picks against the spread this season, so if you bet on every selection I’ve made, you’d be up slightly. I’m feeling terrific about the Week 8 slate with some huge matchups on the horizon, and I’m going to start including confidence rankings at the end of this article every week so you can get a sense of which games I’m the most comfortable wagering on. As always, if you disagree with any of my picks or want further clarification on anything, hit me up on Twitter for discussion.
Teams on bye: Baltimore Ravens, Las Vegas Raiders
My Week 7 record: 8-5 SU, 6-7 ATS, 6-7 O/U
My record overall: 69-38 SU, 59-48 ATS, 51-55-1 O/U
Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals
Thursday, October 28, 2021 at 8:20pm ET
The Thursday Night matchup this week will be a can’t miss game between two of the top contenders in the NFC. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will be hoping to hand the Cardinals their first loss while Kyle Murray will continue to put his stamp on this season as a top MVP candidate. I had concerns about both of these teams suffering from the tendency to look ahead to such a huge game on the schedule, but both of these squads covered the spread comfortably in Week 7. Aaron Rodgers completed 77% of his passes and threw for three touchdowns against a poor Washington defense, but it was somewhat concerning to see Rodgers pressured six times and sacked three times. That’s something the Cardinals will look to exploit, mainly if Chandler Jones, Corey Peters, and Zach Allen can get back on the field after a COVID-19 outbreak hit the defensive line. The Packers got David Bakhtiari back to practice, and it’s hard to imagine a better time for him to get back on the field for games, especially with backup offensive tackle Dennis Kelly injured. Additionally, it now appears that Davante Adams will miss this game after testing positive for COVID-19, and that’s about as big a blow the Packers could be facing outside of Rodgers missing the game.
It’s hard to argue anyone is playing better football than Kyler Murray at the moment as he’s been lighting the league on fire and is an early top MVP candidate. He threw another three touchdowns on Sunday, including one to new offensive addition Zach Ertz who finished with three catches for 66 yards along with that score. With DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, and Rondale Moore rounding out the receiver room and the duo of Chase Edmonds and James Conner, a formidable RB tandem, the Cardinals arguably have more skill position talent than any other team in the NFL. Of particular interest in this matchup is the continued potential absence of Jaire Alexander, who landed on IR with a shoulder injury a couple of weeks ago. Alexander is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL, and him missing this game would be significant in terms of the Packers’ ability to cover Hopkins, one of the best receivers in the NFL.
Home-field advantage isn’t worth much this season in the NFL, and I’m tempted to pick the Packers to pull off a road upset, but the absences of Alexander and Adams are too much to overcome. Congratulations would be in order if you grabbed the Cardinals at the opening -3.5 line because that shifted significantly after Adams tested positive for COVID-19. Kyler Murray should keep the good times rolling for Arizona on Thursday, but I’ll take the Packers to keep it within a touchdown with Aaron Rodgers leading the charge.
Green Bay Packers: OT Dennis Kelly (back) Q, OT David Bakhtiari (knee – ACL) Q, DT Kenny Clark (ankle) Q, CB Kevin King (shoulder) Q, OLB Preston Smith (oblique) Q, WR Davante Adams (COVID-19) O, WR Allen Lazard (COVID-19) O, CB Jaire Alexander (shoulder – AC joint) IR, C Josh Myers (knee) IR, OLB Za’Darius Smith (back) IR
Arizona Cardinals: WR DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) Q, LB Isaiah Simmons (shoulder) Q, OG Max Garcia (Achilles) Q, LB Jordan Hicks (toe) Q, LB Devon Kennard (shoulder) Q, DT Corey Peters (COVID-19) IR, C Rodney Hudson (ribs) IR
Matchup To Watch: Billy Turner (GB OT) vs. J.J. Watt (ARI DE)
My Pick: Cardinals win 30-24, Packers cover, over 53.5 points
NFL Week 8 Betting Pick Video
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, October 31, 2021 at 1:00pm ET
Sam Darnold had another awful game on Sunday as he led the team to three points on their first drive before they failed to score for the remainder of the game. Darnold was eventually benched with the team down 15-3, and he averaged just 4.4 yards per attempt for the game. P.J. Walker didn’t fare much better in relief for Darnold as he completed a putrid 3 of 14 passes with just 2.4 yards per attempt. The Panthers’ offense is unrecognizable without Christian McCaffrey and he’s going to miss at least another couple of weeks as he’s on Injured Reserve. D.J. Moore has been solid, but he was limited to six catches for 73 yards as the Giants’ James Bradberry got the better of the offense with elite coverage on Moore, an interception, and a fumble recovery. As long as CMC remains out, it’s going to be challenging to trust Sam Darnold. Every day that goes by with the Panthers fielding a poor offense, the outcries from their fans will grow louder regarding the decision not to select rookie QB Justin Fields.
Matt Ryan, meanwhile, is coming off one of his best games of the season as he averaged 8.4 yards per attempt and tossed a couple of touchdowns against a poor Miami defense. Ryan benefitted from a well-timed bye week and is getting more comfortable in new head coach Arthur Smith’s offense. The Falcons don’t have the same potent offense that they did when Julio Jones was on the field for them, but Kyle Pitts is starting to find himself in the NFL, and he had seven catches for 163 yards last week. With Calvin Ridley, Cordarelle Patterson, and Russell Gage rounding out a solid skill position group, I have a high level of confidence in Ryan’s ability to move the ball against a Carolina defense that allowed Daniel Jones to register a decent stat line despite missing seemingly all of his top receivers.
It’s hard to trust either of these teams at the moment, but I’ll happily place my confidence in the veteran Matt Ryan playing at home over Sam Darnold on the road with how poorly he has played. The Panthers’ defense is better than it looked against Daniel Jones on Sunday, but I still like the Falcons to win and cover at home.
Carolina Panthers: LB Shaq Thompson (foot) Q, OT Cameron Erving (illness) Q, WR Terrace Marshall Jr. (concussion) Q, CB C.J. Henderson (shoulder) Q, CB Stephon Gilmore (quadriceps) PUP, RB Christian McCaffrey (hamstring) IR
Atlanta Falcons: CB A.J. Terrell (neck) Q, DE Dante Fowler (knee) IR
Matchup To Watch: Kaleb McGary (ATL OT) vs. Haason Reddick (CAR DE)
My Pick: Falcons win 27-20, Falcons cover, under 48.5 points
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
Sunday, October 31, 2021 at 1:00pm ET
The Bills are coming off a much-needed bye week, allowing them to get a breath of fresh air after their deflating loss to the Titans on Monday Night Football. Now at 4-2, Buffalo is slipping in terms of its apparent stranglehold on the top of the AFC as the Chargers, Bengals, Ravens, and Titans are right there with them in terms of overall record. The Dolphins are coming off a disappointing home loss to the Falcons, but Tua Tagovailoa played one of the best games of his career. He had a couple of costly mistakes, but he recovered incredibly well and finished with an 80% completion rate for 291 yards and four touchdowns to two interceptions. The Dolphins have tons of issues on both sides of the ball, but Tua is not one of them, and he’s the centerpiece of their long-term rebuild. Tua was only on the field for four passing attempts before leaving the game the last time these teams played, but he should be fired up for another shot at one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Josh Allen is an early MVP candidate this season with 15 passing touchdowns to just three interceptions. Still, it wasn’t his most impressive performance against the Dolphins in their last meeting, as he completed just 51.5% of his passes. Dawson Knox is expected to miss some time with his fractured hand, but the Bills still have plenty of pass-catching talent with Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, and Cole Beasley ready to overwhelm a poor Dolphins’ pass defense. Tommy Sweeney had a touchdown catch on Monday and will likely fill Knox’s role in the offense if he is sidelined. A majority of last Monday’s loss to Tennessee can be chalked up to poor play-calling and a couple of significant mistakes, and the bye week should help the Bills overcome those deficiencies.
A loss to the Titans isn’t enough for me to completely give up on the Bills as one of the best teams in the NFL as they are still elite on both sides of the ball. Buffalo’s offense should feast against Miami’s struggling defense, and the Dolphins are prone to turning the ball over, so I don’t doubt the Bills can cover the two-touchdown spread at home.
Miami Dolphins: CB Noah Igbinoghene (knee) Q, WR DeVante Parker (shoulder) Q, WR Will Fuller (finger) IR, S Jason McCourty (foot) IR, RB Malcolm Brown (quadriceps) IR
Buffalo Bills: OT Spencer Brown (back) Q, TE Dawson Knox (hand) O
Matchup To Watch: Stefon Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders (BUF WRs) vs. Byron Jones and Xavien Howard (MIA CBs)
My Pick: Bills win 37-24, Bills cover, over 49.5 points
San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears
Sunday, October 31, 2021 at 1:00pm ET
All across the Bay Area, 49ers fans are calling for Kyle Shanahan’s head after a home loss to the Colts, the team’s eighth home loss in its last nine games. The only teams with a worse home record since 2020 are the Lions and Jaguars. Luckily for the Niners, they hit the road this week, but they have a lot of questions left unanswered after falling to 2-4. Deebo Samuel has been one of the lone bright spots on offense this year, and he grabbed seven catches for 100 yards and a touchdown on Sunday night, his third 100-yard receiving game of the year. Brandon Aiyuk has disappeared in his sophomore season, and Trey Sermon, a highly-touted third-round pick, has been overtaken by Elijah Mitchell. The latter finished with 18 carries for 107 yards and a touchdown against the Colts. However, the team struggled to keep Jimmy Garoppolo’s pocket clean without Trent Williams on the field, and it seems unlikely he will be able to play this week as he continues to deal with an ankle injury. His absence will put Garoppolo in a tough spot against Khalil Mack, one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL. Akiem Hicks has a groin issue, and Robert Quinn is on the COVID-19 IR, but second-year defensive end Trevis Gipson has stepped up in their absence.
Many analysts were excited about Justin Fields’s potential last week against a Buccaneers secondary that has been vulnerable all year. Still, he was constantly under pressure and unable to take advantage as Tampa racked up four sacks. Fields threw three interceptions and finished with a paltry QBR of just 1.9 in the loss. While Jason Peters has turned back the clock in his age 39 season, the offensive line as a whole has been one of the worst in the NFL. Against the likes of Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead, that should make Bears fans very queasy heading into this game. With David Montgomery on Injured Reserve, rookie Khalil Herbert has been excellent with 75+ rushing yards in three straight games. It’s incredibly impressive that he could run for 100 yards on 18 carries against the best run defense in the NFL, especially in an unfavorable game script. However, this offense is bland overall, and they haven’t been able to use Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney to their full effect. It’s unlikely that changes this week.
I’m staying away from this game overall as I don’t trust either of these head coaches, but this game will be decided by these teams’ elite pass-rushers facing injured, mediocre offensive lines. I’ll take the veteran quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo to get the win, but I’m hedging a bit with the Bears ATS. Don’t bet on this game.
San Francisco 49ers: OT Trent Williams (ankle) Q, QB Trey Lance (knee) Q, DE Dee Ford (concussion) Q, S Jaquiski Tartt (knee) D, DT Javon Kinlaw (knee) O, DT Maurice Hurst (calf) O, TE George Kittle (calf) IR, LB Dre Greenlaw (groin) IR
Chicago Bears: OLB Khalil Mack (foot/rib) Q, DE Akiem Hicks (groin) Q, S Tashaun Gipson (hip) O, TE Jimmy Graham (COVID-19) IR, S Deon Bush (quadriceps) IR
Matchup To Watch: Jason Peters (CHI OT) vs. Nick Bosa (SF DE)
My Pick: 49ers win 20-17, Bears cover, under 43.5 points
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Sunday, October 31, 2021 at 1:00pm ET
There are no excuses in the NFL, but the Browns are one of the most injured teams in the league right now as they are missing key players on both sides of the ball. Baker Mayfield has been dealing with shoulder injuries all season, including a torn labrum and a fractured shoulder bone, and it remains to be seen if he will be able to retake the field this week. Undoubtedly, the Browns will be hesitant in an attempt to protect their franchise player in a matchup against a ferocious Pittsburgh pass rush. Offensive tackle Jack Conklin missed last week’s game with a knee injury, and if he is unable to play this week, it would be a massive absence against a Pittsburgh front seven featuring T.J. Watt and Cameron Hayward. Sophomore OT Jedrick Wills has been dealing with an ankle injury all year that has limited his productivity. Cleveland is also likely to be missing its top two running backs in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. De’Ernest Johnson was excellent last week as he finished with 168 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in his first career start, but the offense isn’t the same without the league-leading RB duo of Chubb and Hunt.
Ben Roethlisberger has struggled mightily in his aged-39 season, and he’s on pace to post the second-worst passer rating of his storied career. The Steelers are starting to think about potential replacements for Roethlisberger. His inability to pass under pressure has held the offense back all season, particularly with one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney are among the best pass-rush tandems in the NFL, perhaps only surpassed by the Steelers’ elite pass-rushers, and Pittsburgh’s offensive line is no match for those two. However, with rookie linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah on IR, the Browns are more vulnerable to the run, and rookie Najee Harris should exploit that. In addition, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool can get enough YAC to move the chains.
The Steelers will be motivated to exact some revenge with how the last meeting went between these teams when Cleveland ran out to a 28-0 first-quarter lead in the playoffs. However, the Browns had a full complement of players for that game, and Pittsburgh’s defense will be ready to take advantage of an injured offensive line. Whether it’s Baker Mayfield or Case Keenum under center for Cleveland, they’re going to struggle in this matchup, and I’m taking the healthier team to get the win.
Pittsburgh Steelers: DE Stephon Tuitt (undisclosed) IR, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (shoulder) IR, DE Tyson Alalu (ankle) IR
Cleveland Browns: WR Odell Beckham Jr. (shoulder) Q, WR Jarvis Landry (knee) Q, DE Jadeveon Clowney (ankle) Q, DT Malik Jackson (ankle) Q, WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (groin) O, CB Denzel Ward (hamstring) O, OLB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (ankle) IR, RB Kareem Hunt (calf) IR
Matchup To Watch: Jedrick Wills Jr. (CLE OT) vs. Cameron Hayward (PIT DE)
My Pick: Steelers win 22-19, Steelers cover, under 43 points
Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions
Sunday, October 31, 2021 at 1:00pm ET
Sharp bettors were all over the Eagles in Week 7 in a matchup against a Raiders team looking for its new identity under an interim coach, and that pick did not go swimmingly as Las Vegas came away with an 11-point home win. Philadelphia has suffered from inconsistent play from quarterback Jalen Hurts all year, and you have to wonder how much longer he will last as the starter. For the third time in as many games, Hurts completed less than 60% of his passes. The offensive line didn’t do him many favors as he was constantly under fire and pressured a total of seven times. Still, his inability to consistently complete passes downfield hamstrings what should be a decent offense. DeVonta Smith led the way with five catches for 61 yards while Dallas Goedert had three catches for 70 yards, and it will be interesting to see if those two can continue to succeed against a beatable Detroit secondary. Miles Sanders was carted to the locker room, and as of now, it seems unlikely he will play this week, leaving Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott to lead a solid rushing attack against a susceptible run defense.
Last week, the Lions pulled out all of the stops to generate three extra possessions on a successful onsides kick after their opening drive touchdown and two successful fake punts. It didn’t matter, though, as the Rams still won by 9 points. Dan Campbell has guts and heart and resolve, but it hasn’t counted so far as the Lions sit at 0-6 in line for the #1 pick this season. With a relatively demanding remaining schedule, Detroit is running out of winnable games, and this may be one of the last ones on the slate. Jared Goff has quietly been pretty decent for the Lions this year, although his two interceptions against the Rams on Sunday ultimately cost his team any chance at an upset win. D’Andre Swift continues to light the NFL on fire with another 153 yards from scrimmage on Sunday, and he should destroy a mediocre Philadelphia defense. Kalif Raymond stepped up last week with his first 100-yard output of the season, but this team is short on consistent pass-catchers outside of Swift and T.J. Hockenson. It’s unclear if Taylor Decker will suit up this week, and Frank Ragnow is out for the remainder of the season, and those two veterans were the strong spots on what appeared to be a decent offensive line at the start of the year.
I bet on the Lions to have the worst record in the NFL at the start of the year, and I see this as a spot to hedge on that bet as I’m not sure if there is a game more winnable than this one for the rest of their season. Jalen Hurts does not seem long for the NFL as a starting QB, and I like the Lions if you can get them at +3.5, a key number in football betting.
Philadelphia Eagles: OT Lane Johnson (ankle) Q, S Anthony Harris (groin) D, RB Miles Sanders (ankle) IR, OG Brandon Brooks (pectoral) IR
Detroit Lions: OLB Trey Flowers (knee) Q, RB Jamaal Williams (thigh) Q, CB Ifeatu Melifonwu (thigh) IR, OT Taylor Decker (finger) IR, C Frank Ragnow (toe) IR, WR Tyrell Williams (concussion) IR
Matchup To Watch: Lane Johnson (PHI OT) vs. Trey Flowers (DET OLB)
My Pick: Eagles win 23-20, Lions cover, under 48.5 points
Los Angeles Rams at Houston Texans
Sunday, October 31, 2021 at 1:00pm ET
The Lions put a good scare in the Rams last week. Still, the final margin of victory of 9 points relied heavily on some absurdly successful special teams plays by Detroit, including an onside kick and two fake punts that would have made LA punter Johnny Hekker proud. Los Angeles’s pass rush was surprisingly ineffective in only generating four QB hits and two sacks against Jared Goff. Still, this week, I wouldn’t expect the same struggles against an injured Houston offensive line missing its two starting offensive tackles in Laremy Tunsil and Marcus Cannon. Tyrod Taylor is reportedly ready to get back on the field for Houston, but this won’t be a fun matchup for him to come back to as Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd should be chasing him all afternoon. This season, Brandin Cooks has been the only reliable skill position player for the Texans, but this is not an ideal matchup for him. With Darious Williams out, rookie Robert Rochell has played some great football. Of course, Jalen Ramsey remains one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Even with Taylor back this week, it’s hard to imagine the Texans putting up enough points against a tough LA defense to keep this game close.
The mind-meld between Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp has been incredible to watch week after week, and the duo combined for another ten receptions for 156 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. Robert Woods has been more productive lately, and he finished with six catches for 70 yards against Detroit, but it’s evident that Kupp is the preferred target in Los Angeles. Darrell Henderson was surprisingly held in check last week as he finished with just 15 carries for 45 yards, but he should have more success against a vulnerable Houston run defense. Sony Michel could also get in on the action if the Rams can pull away in this game. Matthew Stafford may not have the volume statistics by the end of the year to be in line to win the MVP award. Still, he’s playing excellent football and has 19 passing touchdowns, the second-most in the NFL, to just four interceptions as he is enjoying playing with his new team.
There honestly isn’t a ton to say about this game, and I have confidence in the Rams being able to pull ahead significantly when it’s all said and done. There might be some excitement about Tyrod Taylor’s return, but he won’t be enough against a talented defense in a clear get-right spot. Los Angeles should handle this game easily, even on the road.
Los Angeles Rams: CB Jalen Ramsey (illness) Q, CB Robert Rochell (knee) Q, LB Terrell Lewis (ribs) Q, S Jordan Fuller (knee) Q, DT Sebastian Joseph-Day (pectoral) O, WR DeSean Jackson (rest) O, OT Andrew Whitworth (knee) O, CB Darious Williams (ankle) IR
Houston Texans: LB Christian Kirksey (thumb) Q, C Justin Britt (knee) Q, TE Pharaoh Brown (thigh) Q, QB Tyrod Taylor (hamstring) IR, OT Laremy Tunsil (thumb) IR, OT Marcus Cannon (back) IR
Matchup To Watch: Brandin Cooks (HOU WR) vs. Jalen Ramsey (LAR WR)
My Pick: Rams win 34-17, Rams cover, over 46 points
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
Sunday, October 31, 2021 at 1:00pm ET
The first time the Titans and Colts played this season, Tennessee earned a 25-16 win that was arguably closer than it looked as the game was within one score the entire time until late in the fourth quarter. Since that game, however, the Titans are on an impressive run of momentum with significant upsets of the Bills and Chiefs in Tennessee. Now, they hit the road to face a Colts team that has won three of its last four games and pushed a talented Ravens’ team to overtime a few weeks ago. Carson Wentz has been playing gutsy football lately. While his final stat line against the 49ers isn’t impressive, he made some huge plays to get his team the impressive road win and has surprisingly only thrown one interception all season despite his perception. Second-year wideout Michael Pittman Jr. has emerged as a reliable go-to target for Wentz, and he finished with four catches for 105 yards and the game-sealing touchdown on Sunday. T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell are dealing with injuries, but Pittman and Jonathan Taylor do enough to keep this offense very potent along with Wentz’s strong play.
Tennessee is one of the hottest teams in football with two impressive home wins over the Bills and Chiefs, and holding Patrick Mahomes to three points is incredibly difficult to pull off no matter what defensive personnel you have. Ryan Tannehill played a very efficient game while A.J. Brown finished with eight catches for 133 yards and a touchdown in his best effort of the season. It’s good to see that connection between quarterback and receiver get back on track. However, with Taylor Lewan injured, Tannehill may be vulnerable against a Colts’ pass-rush that is getting help from many different players. Derrick Henry is a unique offensive weapon that should overwhelm the Indianapolis defense, but the Colts have a lot of front-seven talent that can at least keep Henry in check. Darius Leonard, DeForest Buckner, and standout rookie Kwity Paye should be up to the challenge.
The first matchup between these teams was an incredibly close contest ultimately won by the home team, and I’m predicting a similar outcome in their second meeting. If the Titans weren’t coming off their two wins over the Bills and Chiefs, this line would be a lot closer to the Colts favored by 3, and I think you’re getting value on a team that is playing its best football of the season.
Tennessee Titans: OT Taylor Lewan (concussion) Q, S Amani Hooker (groin) Q, WR Julio Jones (hamstring) O, CB Kristian Fulton (hamstring) IR, LB Jayon Brown (knee) IR
Indianapolis Colts: CB Xavier Rhodes (calf) Q, OT Braden Smith (foot) Q, WR T.Y. Hilton (quadriceps) Q, S Julian Blackmon (Achilles) IR, WR Parris Campbell (foot) IR
Matchup To Watch: Michael Pittman Jr. (IND WR) vs. Jackrabbit Jenkins (TEN CB)
My Pick: Colts win 27-24, Colts cover, over 49.5 points
Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets
Sunday, October 31, 2021 at 1:00pm ET
The Bengals’ 41-17 defeat of the Ravens was arguably the biggest upset and most impressive win of the year, particularly after the streaking Chargers got demolished in Baltimore last week. Joe Burrow continues to play excellent football, and he torched the Ravens’ defense on his way to 416 yards and three touchdowns. Ja’Marr Chase was the star once again in the offense as he grabbed eight catches for 201 yards, including an 82-yard touchdown that was one of the week’s highlights. With Joe Mixon, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and C.J. Uzomah (who had two touchdowns on Sunday) rounding out an elite offense, the Bengals will roast a Jets’ defense that just allowed 54 points to the Patriots. New England ran for four touchdowns last week, so perhaps even Samaje Perine and Chris Evans get in on the fun in this game. Burrow has entered the NFL MVP conversation after destroying Lamar Jackson on the road last week.
Meanwhile, the Jets could be without Zach Wilson after he suffered what is being described as a PCL injury. He said his knee felt “like something is off as far as being loose or unstable a little bit.” I wouldn’t say Wilson had much success when he was on the field, but backup quarterback Mike White threw two interceptions in his first NFL action. It’s rare to see a team with a rookie QB not have an experienced veteran on the roster, and perhaps that speaks to New York’s level of confidence in the rookie Wilson, but I have no faith in White against what is shaping up to be one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Jets’ final offensive numbers were misleading last week as both Michael Carter and Ty Johnson went over 65 receiving yards against soft underneath coverage by the Patriots. It’s hard to trust any of the team’s pass-catchers with Mike White the likely starter.
I grabbed the Bengals at -3.5 before Week 7 as I thought that line was way too low, and I’d still be heavily invested in Cincinnati at -9.5. The Bengals are also a phenomenal teaser piece this week. The perception of the Bengals remains poor due to some previous bad seasons, but this group is entirely different, and Joe Burrow leads a team that has to be taken seriously in the AFC. The Bengals are one of my best bets of the week.
Cincinnati Bengals: RB Chris Evans (hamstring) Q, CB Trae Waynes (hamstring) IR
New York Jets: OLB Quincy Williams (concussion) Q, MLB C.J. Mosley (hamstring) Q, TE Tyler Kroft (back) Q, WR Corey Davis (hip) D, RB Tevin Coleman (hamstring) O, QB Zach Wilson (knee – PCL) O, OT Mekhi Becton (knee – MCL) IR
Matchup To Watch: Ja’Marr Chase (CIN WR) vs. Bryce Hall (NYJ CB)
My Pick: Bengals win 31-10, Bengals cover, under 43.5 points
New England Patriots at Los Angeles Chargers
Sunday, October 31, 2021 at 4:05pm ET
This is one of the games I bet on early this week, and I’m ready to say I’m confident in Mac Jones. No, it’s not just because of the Patriots dropping 54 points on the Jets last week, although putting up 54 points on any team is deserving of praise. Jones has thrown for over 230 yards in each of his past four games and has completed over 73% of his passes over that span. His confidence is contagious for the rest of the New England offense, and if you bet on the Cowboys to cover against them a couple of weeks ago, Jones kept you on the edge of your seat for the entirety of that game. He’s done all of this without an elite X receiver and has instead relied on a bunch of different weapons, including Jakobi Meyers, who catches seemingly every ball in his sight. Meyers will likely see a lot of Chris Harris Jr. in the slot this week, a tough matchup for him but one that should be relatively even between two outstanding players. Damien Harris, meanwhile, has run for over 100 yards in two straight weeks and should have a great game against a Chargers defense that has allowed the most rushing yards per game in the NFL. Trent Brown remains on Injured Reserve for New England. Still, Michael Onwenwu’s ability to fill in at any position makes him one of the most valuable offensive linemen in the NFL.
It’s easy to forget how good the Chargers were before they went on the road and got beaten down by the Ravens before their bye week. Justin Herbert has thrown for 14 touchdowns to four interceptions in six games and still deserves to be in the MVP conversation. However, Los Angeles has some obvious issues that need to be resolved. While the left side of the offensive line has been rejuvenated from drafting Rashawn Slater and adding Matt Feiler and Corey Linsley, the losses of Oday Aboushi and Bryan Bulaga have left the right side of the O-line vulnerable. That’s going to be a problem this week when the Chargers have to contend with Matthew Judon. Mike Williams has had an excellent season, and Keenan Allen is still a dynamic receiver, and the Patriots’ secondary has been suspect at times. However, Bill Belichick is a legend for taking away the opposing team’s best weapon and forcing them to beat him with someone else. In the eyes of Belichick, that could be Ekeler, who has 598 yards from scrimmage, the ninth-most per game among RBs.
The last time these teams played, the Patriots stomped on the Chargers 45-0 in Los Angeles as Justin Herbert turned in arguably the worst game of his young career (Week 6 against the Ravens may have been worse, but I digress). That walloping was with Cam Newton at quarterback for New England and with Gunner Olszewski as the leading receiver for the Patriots. To the Chargers’ credit, Brandon Staley has already proven to be a massive improvement at head coach, and the improved offensive line should help Herbert produce a better game. However, Mac Jones can move the ball against a good-not-great LA defense, and the 6-point line is too large for how the Patriots have looked recently despite their losing record.
New England Patriots: TE Jonnu Smith (shoulder) Q, LB D’Onta Hightower (elbow) Q, FS Devin McCourty (abdomen) Q, OG Shaq Mason (abdomen) Q, C David Andrews (ankle) Q, LB Josh Uche (shoulder) Q, LB Kyle Van Noy (groin) Q, S Kyle Dugger (neck) Q, K Nick Folk (knee) Q, WR Kendrick Bourne (shoulder) Q, OT Trent Brown (calf) IR, DE Chase Winovich (hamstring) IR, OT Trent Brown (calf) IR
Los Angeles Chargers: RB Austin Ekeler (hip) Q, S Nassir Adderley (hip) Q, LB Drue Tranquill (chest) Q, OT Bryan Bulaga (back) IR, LB Kenneth Murray (ankle) IR
Matchup To Watch: Jakobi Meyers (NE WR) vs. Chris Harris Jr. (LAC CB)
My Pick: Chargers win 27-24, Patriots cover, over 48.5 points
Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, October 31, 2021 at 4:05pm ET
The Seahawks showed a lot of heart in their tight home loss to the Saints last week, but the unfortunate reality for them is they are now 2-5 and effectively out of the playoff picture in the NFC. The Jaguars were never really in the playoff picture, to begin with, so this is probably the grossest game of the week. However, Trevor Lawrence has started to play much better football lately, and this should be an excellent opportunity to get another win under his belt. Lawrence threw for over 319 yards and a touchdown in his last game while not throwing an interception for just the second time all season. It hasn’t always been pretty this year for Lawrence, but the upside is evident, and he’s flashed elite passing talent at times. The Jaguars have a surprising amount of offensive talent surrounding him with James Robinson, Marvin Jones, and Laviska Shenault while their offensive line is playing better than most would expect. That offensive line could be missing Ben Bartch, A.J. Cann, and Brandon Linder this week, three of their starters, but the Seahawks’ pass rush isn’t consistent enough to make that a significant factor in this game.
Geno Smith is not Russell Wilson. The Seattle roster is not loaded with talent, and that puts Smith behind the eight-ball as he’s not a great quarterback to begin with. For the second straight week, Smith got sacked five times and has struggled behind an offensive line that has been eroded in recent years. Duane Brown, their most consistent offensive lineman, is 36 years old and is starting to decline in his career. He’ll have to contend with Josh Allen, who has quietly been one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL this season. DK Metcalf is always good for a couple of huge plays as one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL, but it’s hard to trust Smith to consistently complete passes downfield while he’s constantly under fire. Alex Collins has not risen to the occasion with Chris Carson out, and he ran for just 2.2 YPC against the Saints. Rashaad Penny didn’t do much better with just nine yards on six carries in his first game action since Week 1. The Jaguars’ defense should be susceptible to the run with Myles Jack likely out again this week, but none of these RBs are instilling confidence at the moment.
Without Russell Wilson, the Seahawks are one of the worst teams in the NFL, and I don’t expect their home-field crowd to be quite as fired up for a matinee Sunday game against the Jaguars as they were for a primetime game against the Saints. Trevor Lawrence is ascending, and I’m picking him to get his second straight win coming off the team’s bye week.
Jacksonville Jaguars: CB Tyson Campbell (toe) Q, DT Jay Tufele (hand) Q, OT Ben Bartch (concussion) Q, OG A.J. Cann (knee) IR, C Brandon Linder (knee – MCL) IR
Seattle Seahawks: OT Duane Brown (illness) Q, RB Alex Collins (groin) Q, DE Darrell Taylor (neck) Q, OT Brandon Shell (ankle) Q, OG Damien Lewis (shoulder) Q, QB Russell Wilson (finger) IR, RB Chris Carson (neck) IR
Matchup To Watch: Duane Brown (SEA OT) vs. Josh Allen (JAX DE)
My Pick: Jaguars win 20-17, Jaguars cover, under 43.5 points
Washington Football Team at Denver Broncos
Sunday, October 31, 2021 at 4:25pm ET
The Broncos have tons of issues on both sides of the ball at the moment, and I haven’t been burned more by anyone team this season, save for the Chiefs. Teddy Bridgewater has been competent at times and head-scratching at others, but he isn’t the long-term answer for Denver at a spot where they have been desperately searching for precisely that. Outside of Garrett Bolles, the offensive line has struggled to offer Bridgewater consistent protection, and that’s concerning against the likes of Chase Young, Montez Sweat, and Jonathan Allen this week. Washington’s defense has quietly started to find itself in recent weeks, even with William Jackson out, and it could be due for a signature performance. After all, this was one of the best defenses in the NFL last year, and that talent hasn’t simply evaporated. Complicating matters somewhat is the possibility that Jerry Jeudy, the Broncos’ exciting second-year wide receiver, is expected to make his return this week after not playing since Week 1. He’ll join Courtland Sutton as what should be a potent wide receiver duo, but the question remains of whether or not Bridgewater will have enough time in the pocket to put their talents to good use.
Taylor Heinicke deserves some credit for making the most of a bad situation. Still, the offensive line evaporated in front of him on Sunday as he was hit nine times and taken to the ground four times against a potent Packers’ pass rush. Denver doesn’t have the same level of front seven talent, particularly with Bradley Chubb, A.J. Johnson, and Josey Jewell all on Injured Reserve. Von Miller has been excellent, but it’s easier to double-team him when you aren’t worried about the rest of the defensive line getting after the quarterback. Washington hopes to have Samuel Cosmi and Brandon Scherff back this week, which would immensely help the offensive line, especially as the offensive skill players are hurt. Antonio Gibson has been playing through a hairline fracture in his shin, Terry McLaurin has been dealing with a hamstring issue, Logan Thomas remains on IR, and Curtis Samuel has hardly played at all this season with a groin injury dating back to training camp.
Neither of these teams is exceptionally healthy, and it’s difficult to trust either one right now as Denver is 1-4 ATS in its last five games and Washington is 1-6 ATS on the season. However, I’ll back the team with the better coaching staff to get the win, particularly as I expect Washington’s pass rush to have its way with a mediocre Denver offensive line.
Washington Football Team: OG Brandon Scherff (knee – MCL) Q, CB William Jackson (knee) Q, WR Cam Sims (hamstring) Q, WR Curtis Samuel (groin) O, OT Samuel Cosmi (ankle) O, WR Dyami Brown (knee) O, TE Logan Thomas (hamstring) IR, LB Jon Bostic (pectoral) IR, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (hip) IR
Denver Broncos: OLB Von Miller (ankle) Q, LB Baron Browning (concussion) Q, OLB Bradley Chubb (ankle) IR, LB A.J. Johnson (pectoral) IR, WR Jerry Jeudy (ankle) IR, CB Michael Ojemudia (hamstring) IR, TE Albert Okwuegbunam (hamstring) IR
Matchup To Watch: Garrett Bolles (DEN OT) vs. Montez Sweat (WAS DE)
My Pick: Washington wins 21-17, Washington covers, under 44 points
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
Sunday, October 31, 2021 at 4:25pm ET
The Saints got the better of the Buccaneers twice during the regular season last year, and of Tom Brady’s twelve interceptions on the season, five came in those two games. The Bucs exacted some revenge with a 30-20 win during the playoffs last year, but there’s no question that Brady and his offense will be riled up to make a statement against their biggest divisional rival. This season, Brady is registering MVP-caliber numbers with 21 passing touchdowns to just three interceptions and a league-leading 2,275 passing yards. He’s on a monstrous 17-game pace of 5,525 passing yards and 51 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. It seems unlikely he finishes the season with that type of stat line, but it would be hard to imagine him not being the MVP. Brady is supported by some elite skill position talent, although it’s unclear if Antonio Brown or Rob Gronkowski will return this week. Still, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are two of the league’s best wide receivers to offer. Evans has had some epic battles with Saints’ cornerback Marshon Lattimore in the past, and it should be fun to see those two go at it again this week. New Orleans has an excellent defense, but I’d still give the Bucs the upper hand.
Tampa Bay is far from healthy defensively, with its top three cornerbacks injured by Sean Murphy-Bunting, Carlton Davis, and Richard Sherman. However, a pass-rush led by Shaquill Barrett’s 5.5 sacks should put plenty of pressure on Jameis Winston, particularly with left tackle Terron Armstead, not 100% healthy. I don’t have a ton of faith in Winston’s ability to consistently push the ball downfield in this game with the offensive line not at 100%, and the Bucs’ defense should be in line to add to its 14 takeaways are tied for the third-most in the NFL. Tampa knows Winston quite well as the team that drafted him, and it will be interesting to see which version of Winston we get this week as it’s been quite the roller-coaster ride for him. Alvin Kamara has had an up-and-down season of his own, particularly in terms of rushing production, and yards on the ground will be hard to come by against arguably the best run defense in the NFL. Marquez Callaway is fun to watch, but this offense is missing a couple of pieces to make this team genuinely competitive with a Super Bowl contender in the Bucs until Michael Thomas comes back.
The importance of this divisional matchup on the road won’t be lost on Tom Brady, particularly with how the Bucs were decimated by the Saints in the regular season last year. It was fun to see Brady get some early scouting in on this defense on the Mannings’ Monday Night Football broadcast, and I’m not picking against the potential MVP frontrunner, even on the road against a tough defense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Richard Sherman (hamstring) Q, TE Rob Gronkowski (ribs) Q, LB Lavonte David (ankle) Q, LB Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) Q, WR Antonio Brown (ankle) O, CB Carlton Davis (quadriceps) IR, CB Sean Murphy-Bunting (elbow) IR
New Orleans Saints: DE Payton Turner (calf) Q, OG Andrus Peat (pectoral) O, RB Dwayne Washington (neck) O, WR Michael Thomas (ankle) PUP
Matchup To Watch: Terron Armstead (NO OT) vs. Shaquill Barrett (TB DE)
My Pick: Buccaneers win 30-20, Buccaneers cover, under 51 points
Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, October 31, 2021 at 8:20pm ET
The NFL is treating us to a Sunday Night Football showdown between two of the hottest offenses in the league, and both teams should be very well-rested following their Week 7 byes. The last time we saw the Cowboys, they were winning a thrilling road game over the Patriots in overtime on the back of a 445-yard passing effort by Dak Prescott. CeeDee Lamb stole the show with nine catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime. He has lived up to the hype this season and is quickly becoming one of the best receivers in the NFL. We can’t forget about Amari Cooper, though, who is still an elite wideout. Those two will possibly be joined by Michael Gallup this week, who was cleared to return to practice following an IR stint. Dalton Schultz is perhaps the biggest surprise of the group with 31 catches for 359 yards and three touchdowns this season, but even Cedrick Wilson and Noah Brown can make big plays. The Cowboys also have the elite RB tandem of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard behind arguably the best offensive line in the league now that La’el Collins is back and joining a healthy Tyron Smith and Zack Martin. The Vikings have seen inconsistent play from its secondary with Patrick Peterson on Injured Reserve, and their cornerbacks will be in trouble in this game. Minnesota has had an excellent run defense, but the Cowboys offensive line can clear holes against any front seven.
Minnesota’s offense doesn’t have quite the same depth as Dallas’s, but it presents plenty of matchup challenges nonetheless. While Adam Thielen is starting to slow down in his age 31 season, he and Justin Jefferson still belong in the conversation among the best wide receiver tandems in the NFL. Jefferson has 41 catches for 542 yards and three touchdowns this season as he continues to establish himself as one of the best receivers in the league. Everyone will want to talk about Trevon Diggs and his league-leading seven interceptions in six games. Still, it’s Anthony Brown who has been the more consistent cornerback in coverage this season. Dallas has also seen Randy Gregory blossom in the wake of DeMarcus Lawrence’s long-term injury as he has a team-leading four sacks. Rookie Micah Parsons isn’t far behind, and he has made a significant impact for this team with a team-leading 31 tackles and 10 QB hits as he’s been used as an edge rusher and middle linebacker. Dalvin Cook has been dealing with some injury issues, and hopefully, the bye week has allowed him to improve his health. The Vikings are certainly better when he’s on the field. Kirk Cousins is in the midst of a very efficient season with a 69.5% completion rate and 13 touchdowns to just two interceptions.
These teams have elite quarterbacks, tons of offensive skill position talent, and defenses with playmakers. However, I’m more comfortable with the Dallas coaching staff this season, and the Cowboys have a better offensive line and better depth on offense overall. Dallas has played its way into being a legitimate Super Bowl contender, and Dak Prescott should continue to put his stamp on this season as a potential MVP finalist.
Dallas Cowboys: QB Dak Prescott (calf) Q, OT Tyron Smith (ankle) Q, WR Michael Gallup (calf) IR, DE DeMarcus Lawrence (foot) IR
Minnesota Vikings: DT Michael Pierce (elbow) Q, CB Patrick Peterson (hamstring) IR
Matchup To Watch: Christian Darrisaw (MIN OT) vs. Randy Gregory (DAL DE)
My Pick: Vikings win 28-21, Vikings cover, under 53 points
New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs
Monday, November 1, 2021 at 8:15pm ET
The Chiefs are broken, and I’m not even sure a matchup with the lowly Giants can fix them. I have no idea what happened to this once-proud team that made two straight Super Bowls, but they suddenly have one of the worst defenses in the NFL. That would have been a manageable reality in the past, but this team just finished a game against a poor Titans’ defense with just 3 total points. Patrick Mahomes’s 18 touchdown passes still rank third in the NFL, but he’s tied with Zach Wilson for the most interceptions in the league. Let that sink in for a minute. Mahomes ranks 30th in the NFL in average depth of target, meaning he’s not frequently pushing the ball down the field, making those interceptions even more embarrassing. The Chiefs’ offensive line is very good. Still, Mahomes holds onto the ball for far too long as he waits for receivers to get open, and they just aren’t getting the same level of separation they used to – perhaps defenses have begun to figure the Kansas City offense out. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are still excellent, but if you find a way to take those two away, who’s left? Mecole Hardman hasn’t developed the way we expected, and the Chiefs have struggled to find depth on offense.
Daniel Jones is as meme-able a quarterback as they come. Still, he deserves credit for keeping the Giants’ offense afloat in a tough matchup against a solid Carolina defense despite Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Sterling Shepard all being out. The Giants should hope that a group of skill position players can return this week, especially since this game is on Monday and not Sunday. New York declined to put Barkley and Golladay on IR when their injuries happened two weeks ago, indicating they believed they could return before the three-week minimum IR stint. Even if one or two of those players came back, it would help a ton with an offense heavily reliant on Darius Slayton, Evan Engram, and Dante Pettis last week. Andrew Thomas’s ankle injury was particularly devastating as the second-year offensive tackle had seemingly begun to turn a corner in his development. Still, the Chiefs don’t have the type of pass-rushers who can reliably take advantage of a weak Giant offensive line.
On paper, this should be a comfortable win for the Chiefs, but they are tough to trust right now. The Giants arguably have a better defense than the Titans, who just held the Chiefs to 3 points, and Kansas City is 0-3 ATS at home this season. I’m not betting on the Chiefs again until we see any signs of life from the former powerhouse, even against the middling Giants.
Key InjuriesNew York Giants: WR Kadarius Toney (ankle) Q, WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring) Q, DT Danny Shelton (pectoral) D, RB Saquon Barkley (ankle) O, WR Kenny Golladay (knee) O, LB Lorenzo Carter (ankle) O, OT Andrew Thomas (ankle) IR, LB Blake Martinez (knee – ACL) IR, S Jabrill Peppers (knee – ACL) IR
Kansas City Chiefs: S Tyrann Mathieu (illness) Q, OG Mike Remmers (knee) Q, CB Charvarius Ward (foot) Q, DE Chris Jones (undisclosed) Q, MLB Anthony Hitchens (triceps) Q, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (knee – MCL) IR
Matchup To Watch: Creed Humphrey (KC C) vs. Leonard Williams (NYG DT)
My Pick: Chiefs win 27-20, Giants cover, under 52.5 points
- #1: Buccaneers -4.5
- #2: Bengals -9.5
- #3: Cowboys -2
- #4: Cardinals -5.5
- #5: Patriots +5.5
- #6: Steelers +3.5
- #7: Falcons -2.5
- #8: Colts -1.5
- #9: Bills -13
- #10: Rams -14
- #11: Giants +10
- #12: Washington +3.5
- #13: Lions +3.5
- #14: Jaguars +3