NFL Week 8

Let’s just jump right in.

Sunday, Nov. 1				

Early Games
** BALTIMORE RAVENS 3½ Denver Broncos 41½ **
Big matchup in the AFC, a potential AFC playoff preview, and still it’s nearly a must win for the Ravens who don’t want to fall below .500 and don’t want to slip 3 games behind the division leaders. I, like most people, still think this Ravens team is a playoff team and a loss here puts them in a bad position to even claim a wild card. I think Denver is going to have quite a hard time running the ball against the Ravens front. The Ravens have been beaten through the air much of the season and it’s been strong armed downfield passers that have generated the most trouble for this defense. I’m not entirely convinced that Orton’s quasi-spread system will be quite the threat to the CBs that Favre, Palmer and Brady were. Still, I don’t think the Ravens can cover Marshall all day long but will they be able to sustain drives. The Ravens D is no longer elite but I think this will be the best the Broncos will face since Week 1. On the other side of the ball the matchup is equally difficult for the offense, with Dumervil getting to feast on the rookie Oher all day long. I expect Flacco to be running for his life and I don’t think Mason will be open all day long with Bailey shutting him down. For the Ravens to have a chance they need to rededicate to the running game but they are facing a team that’s basically shut down Dallas, Cincy and San Diego’s running games. Both team are coming fresh out of the Bye and you can be assured that they’ll have good gameplans in place. I think the Broncos have the edge at a few key spots that will make the difference.

The Pick: Broncos 21 - Ravens 20

** CHICAGO BEARS 13 Cleveland Browns 40 **
This game is a HUGE one for the Bears, it’s ridiculous that it is, but that’s the position they’ve put themselves in. Frankly a win alone won’t do the job, they’ll be under a ton of heat if this game is within the spread. Last week was an embarrassment on all levels and everyone seems baffled as to what changed. They are making some long overdue roster moves by dumping Omiyale for last years starter Beekman and flip flopping Hillenmeyer and Roach again on the D. Beekman should pay immediate dividends in both the running game and pass protection, I expect to see a dramatic change in the amount of penetration surrendered on the left side. This might be the final chance Pace gets to start as well, if he has another poor game expect Shaffer to get onto the field at either the left or right side. Cleveland is a terrible team that’s given up a ton of rushing yardage each week, and the retooled line and Forte absolutely must dominate that phase of the game. They could probably win on Cutler’s arm if they had to, but this team needs to build some balance this week. Defensively we’re a much better team than we showed last week, but it appears that the effort we saw over the first 4 weeks was largely a mirage. Lucky for the Bears Cleveland doesn’t do anything particularly well on offense and while the O line is pretty solid they Bears will still be able to generate just enough pressure to force mistakes and shut down the run. St Clair could be in for a long day against his former practice opponents. If the Bears can force a draw in special teams this should be a blow out. If it’s not the wolves will be howling.

The Pick: Bears 34 - Browns 13

** Houston Texans 3½ BUFFALO BILLS 41½ **
Are the Bills a decent team or are they a team that’s have a decent schedule? They got whipped last week in every category as I predicted but Delhomme committed so many turnovers that it was a Bills blowout anyways. The Bills running game has been pretty formidable and has bailed out their passing attack a bit but the Texans run defense has been pretty good recently. The Bills pass defense has been surprisingly good and with Andre Johnson potentially out it could be a unusually low scoring affair for the Texans. Owen Daniels has become an elite TE and if he goes off again the Bills will be in trouble, but with a cold and wet forecast the it could be a game decided on the ground. We will find out if the Texans are for real or if this will be another 8-8 year, good teams handle their business in games like this. I have a hunch they won’t if Johnson is out.

The Pick: Bills 17 - Texans 16

** INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 12 San Francisco 49ers 44 **
How about Crabtree coming up with a impressive first game last week, maybe… just maybe, my drafting him as a keeper in He Hate Me could be a stroke of genius. That’s a big spread over a team that’s played pretty well defensively for most of the season and seemed to find a groove last week with Smith at the helm. The Colts will be without Donald Brown putting the bulk of the load on Addai and Mike Hart to keep this offense balanced, the Colts got Sanders back last week and this week he’ll be critical to contain the emerging Vernon Davis in the middle. The Colts defense has been almost as scary as the Colts offense and with Frank Gore still not back in his groove the 49ers will be hard pressed to sustain an attack that will rival Peyton on the road. Still, 12 points feels like too many even in the dome.

The Pick: Colts 24 - 49ers 14

** NEW YORK JETS 3½ Miami Dolphins 40½ **
Rematch of the embarrassment in Miami 3 weeks ago and this time the Jets are going to be without Leon Washington. Since Miami the Jets seem to have gotten back to using the run and have stopped forcing the ball to Edwards which will help them here even without Washington, Green looked great last week in Oakland and I don’t think there’ll be much drop off in the running game. Special Teams are a different story though. I suspect that the Jets will make some adjustments to the Wildcat but overall I think offensively the Dolphins will have another good game. I don’t expect them to be nearly as flawless, especially in the cold of Jersey, but Ryan’s frustration will continue. Two other injuries will be critical with Will Allen out leaving a rookie to cover Edwards and with Jenkins out in the middle of the Jets D. Jenkins is the one that will be decisive, the Dolphins were already a scary running team and the Jets simply couldn’t afford to get softer in the middle.

The Pick: Dolphins 20 - Jets 16

** DETROIT LIONS 4 ST Louis Rams N/A**
What a pig of a game this is. Yet I find myself morbidly curious to watch it. Pretty much everyone thinks the Rams are the worst team in football, but I’m no longer convinced that’s the case. It’s still unclear if Stafford or Megatron will be back on the field and I suspect neither will be, most of the talk from Motown seems to be of the cautious type. Coming out of the Bye it will be interesting to see if Detroit puts together a effective gameplan or if they look as inept as they did in Green Bay. The reason I expect the Rams to play better is because Steven Jackson seems to be almost unstoppable between the 20s and the Rams issues in the red zone and with turnovers simply cannot continue by odds alone. The Lions allowed big rushing performances to two subpar backs in Grant and Forte and I think Jackson puts together an impressive game, this is the week he wins a game all by himself.

The Pick: Rams 17 - Lions 16

More to come later…

Hmm, it was just a few weeks ago that we saw the first NYJ/MIA battle. How often do you get the divisonal games 3 weeks apart like this?

A decent amount of good games this week. I’m sort of becoming a Miami fan not in the sense that I care about them or want them to win but because their games and style of play is always entertaining. That should be a good one.

NYG @PHI, I don’t understand how there’s an NFC east game that’s at 1pm. Some sort of scheduling error? Did they bump up against the max primetime games clause? Still, should be pretty good.

I hope Favre gets knocked in two in his return home. I don’t really hate Favre but he did thumb his nose at a franchise that has always treated him well and it would be nice to see them crush him. Besides, I’ll almost always take the hardcore old school football team over some purple-wearing dome-playing cheerleader-having sissy squad.

It’s probably more common than we realize. The first Pack-Vikes game was 3 games ago as well, but they had a bye week in there. It seems like I recall a situation in the news a few seasons ago where 2 teams played 3 times in the span of like 6 weeks due to a situation like this and a Wildcard game.

They flip-flopped the Giants-Eagles game with the Packers-Vikings game this week. I wish I understood the NFL broadcasting schedule. I’ve never understood why there are so few 4:15 games and why there’s 2 games broadcast at Noon every week regardless of when the local team plays. Wouldn’t make sense to have 1 game on when the home team plays and 2 to choose from in the other time slot? It’s a goofy system and I’m not sure who it benefits.

Far be it from me to defend dome teams, but how hardcore old school can you be while wearing a foam rubber hunk of swiss on your dome?

I suppose so. Seems like there’s usually a 5-6 week gap at least.

I agree that the scheduling is goofy. I don’t see why they can’t have 2 games for both slots. Doesn’t really affect me since I go out to a bar to watch all the games anyway, but there are some weird rules.

I was being sarcastic though - I actually saw the NYG/PHI game and thought “hmm, 1 o’clock? The NFC east has to lower themselves to playing alongside all of plebes.”

I don’t view the sort of goofy gimmicky team support stuff like that as being anti-oldschool/hardcore. In fact it probably enhances it. For the most part I like goofy unique stuff that some fanbases do.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Green Bay because I view them as the best fans in the league alongside Browns fans, in terms of the massive amount of support out of a small (and/or poor) market, old school/traditional uniforms, a storied past, and all that stuff. Chicago also ranks pretty highly up there - they don’t have the same need to squeeze fanatical support out of a small market, but they’re clearly an old school purist franchise and I appreciate that.

Why is the NFC East playing early? Well, this is the one week of the season they can’t have a Sunday night game because of the World Series. I’m sure Giants/Eagles would be the Sunday game if there was a Sunday game this week.

Aha! I forgot about that. Mystery solved.

By the way, fuck baseball. The NFL should run the Detroit/St. Louis game on SNL and when it beats the world series in ratings we should just blow the whole thing up.

** DALLAS COWBOYS 9½ Seattle Seahawks 46 **
Well, it seems like the Cowboys offense has sorted itself out finally, Austin looks like he’ll be a regular fixture and they are once again mostly healthy at running back. Romo needs to continue to play mistake free ball and I’ll still question them when the big lights come on, but that shouldn’t be a factor this week. The Seahawks get the benefit of the Bye week for this game and coming off a whipping at the hands of the Cards they needed it. They should be healthier than they have been all season and if Hasselbeck can stay on his feet and run the hurry up there’s a good chance that they’ll take a few big bits out of the Cowboys defense. Still the aggressive play that took Atlanta out of it’s gameplan last week should be as effective if not better this week against a shaky Seattle front. It wouldn’t shock me to see Seattle keep this close, but I have a feeling that the stretch of games where Dallas looks great and teases it’s fans began last week and continues until week 12 or so.

The Pick: Cowboys 28 - Seahawks 17

** PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 0 New York Giants 44 **
This game will be a big one with both teams coming into the game disappointed with their play and falling short of expectations. Each only has two losses but perhaps feels like that’s well behind where they want to be. The team that wins this week with have a big leg up on the divisional race and with the Cowboys rounding into form they could fall into a tough hole. Of the two teams its the Eagles who have disappointed me the most and looked the most out of sorts in the last two games which is ironic since they are 1-1 to the Giants 0-2. That victory over the Redskins was actually a more disappointing result than either of the Giants 2 losses. There’s always so much talk about the Eagles defense and their blitzing but when you look at the games they’ve played this year it seems to be more sizzle than steak. They’ve given up more points than you’d expect to some of the worst teams in the league. The weather won’t be great which could result in another subpar day for Eli but with Westbrook almost certainly out (Reid is just trying to be coy) the Eagles offense will lose a bit of it’s potency as well. If the Giants can get the running game clicking they win, if the Eagles can keep McNabb upright and get the ball to his guys in space they’ll win. I really don’t know which matchups will go which way, but just based on the impressions each team has left me with I like the Giants on the road.

The Pick: Giants 26 - Eagles 20

Late Games
** SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 16½ Oakland Raiders 41½ **
Funny, it was just 2 weeks ago that the Raiders were a team that just upset the Eagles and were only a minor underdog to the Jets. What a difference a week makes. I think don’t know what to make of the Chargers hot and cold streaks but these seems like another one of those games where you just throw it out because the opponent is that bad. The recent comments from Russell deflecting blame certainly don’t bode well and it wouldn’t shock me to see this team completely quit on him, especially the offense. LDT might find some big openings against a doughy run defense and my fantasy teams are hoping Rivers, Gates and Jackson have monster games.

The Pick: Chargers 37 - Raiders 7

** TENNESSEE TITANS 3 Jacksonville Jaguars 45 **
The Titans have really sucked and they are starting Vince Young this week. Count me as flabbergasted that they are getting points against the Jags. It makes no sense whatsoever. Vegas essentially thinks these teams are equal? Do they not remember that the Jags whipped Tennessee 4 weeks ago? Did they not notice the Titans getting blown out over and over again? Both teams are coming off Byes and the Titans needed that time to get Young ready to go, but he’s still Vince Young. The same Vince that looked JaMarcus like last time we saw him under center. Gerrard will have a field day against that pass defense and unless Chris Johnson goes completely crazy this should be a W for the Jags. Even still if Young makes mistakes early the crowd will turn and this could get ugly fast. The only caveat is that the Jags have completely disappeared the last couple weeks and if Young somehow seizes this opportunity we could see a team that looks a little like the Titans of a year ago, but I give that chance 1 in 20.

The Pick: Jaguars 23 - Titans 10

** ARIZONA CARDINALS 10 Carolina Panthers 41 **
I really like the upcoming stretch of games for the Cardinals. They are set up to make a serious run at the Saints in the next 5 games or so for the NFC and I expect them to get things underway here against the miserable Panthers. Last week they posted good numbers but Delhomme just killed them. I expect more of the same this week with an opportunistic Cards defense and a run defense that should contain DeAngelo. But really I think it’s the Cards offense that is hitting its stride that will carry this game regardless of what the Panthers do. It’s a decent secondary but in the dome it will be too much and Beanie Wells will finally have a break out game against a pudding run defense.

The Pick: Cardinals 30 - Panthers 17

** GREEN BAY PACKERS 3 Minnesota Vikings 47 **
This is the hype monster of the week for good reason. Normally I always root against the Packers, especially at home since I love seeing Cheeseheads weep, but this week I probably won’t be able to. The Bears need the Vikes to come back to earth some more and my dislike for Favre might just outweigh my dislike for the Pack. The Packers seem to be straightening out their pass protection ever so slightly of late but I don’t expect a complete reversal of that first matchup, being at home will certainly help though. For all the attention that Favre and Rodgers will get in this game I think the players to watch will be Peterson and Grant. The weather will be cool and the field could be wet, I suspect it’ll be a challenge for both teams to go downfield and the crowd noise will help the Packers pass rush quite a lot. Thus far the Vikings have yet to be beaten on the ground badly but the Packers will have to get Grant involved somehow, and with what Rice did out of the passing game that could be the trick. On paper you have to like Peterson and the Vikes but I think (hope?) the crowd gets to Favre and the rest of the team a little bit and the Packers win a slugfest.

The Pick: Packers 24 - Vikings 22

No Sunday night game because of the World Series. Boo!

Monday, Nov. 2				

** NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 10 Atlanta Falcons 54½ **
This is an exciting game and it’s a testament to how dominant the Saints have been that they are a 10 point fave over a divisional rival that’s having a pretty solid year. As has been said before it’s the Saints defense that’s making the big difference this year and it was the defense that allowed them to fight back last week when they were down. The Falcons have a tall order ahead of them and Ryan will have to play flawlessly and Turner will also need a monster effort to keep pace with the Saints. The key will be long, steady drives chewing up clock and making fewer mistakes than the Saints. In the Superdome that’s too tall a task. The Falcons are too balanced offensively to think they’ll get held down completely in this one but I don’t think they’ll be good for 30+ and you can count on the Saints for 40 against just about anyone at home.

The Pick: Saints 40 - Falcons 28

Bye Week Teams:** Cincinnati, Kansas City, New England, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington**

That SD/Oak line is way too generous IMO. The QB switch may actually cause a spark rather than making the team any worse. I mean with Bruce Gradkowski in there… oh, right. That guy. Nevermind.

Still, is San Diego good enough to be a 16.5 point favorite over anyone? I’m thinking of betting Oakland, I could see a relatively low scoring game - maybe 17-10.

Russell is still starting, there’s been no talk of Gradkowski starting that I know of. I though the Jets were getting too many points too, look how that turned out and this ones on the road.

Booooooooooo!!! :mad:

The 49ers are going to totally go into the Colts’ house and beat the crap out of them. Now, excuse me while I hold this in. <cough>


Walter Jones going on IR is going to hurt Seattle for a long time. That’s quite the loss there.

Demarcus Ware will be able to fully concentrate on the rush and further justify his huge contract now that it’s a done deal. I like your analysis and hope the Romo/Austin combo can exploit another D before some better teams invade their schedule.

Gradkowski did win his first two starts for Tampa (with good passing numbers), and there’s no game film of him outside his 2005 half-season. If he does ever get the start, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a couple of good games.

Incidentally, part of the reason you think the Jags disappeared for the last couple of weeks is that they were on a bye last week :wink:

Plus, they were without Mike Walker against Seattle, and he is obviously the engine that makes their passing game go right now.

Dude!!! …It’s puff, puff, pass

Have at it, it’s good stuff. It causes some delusions, is all.

There’s games of him playing in Cleveland after our third QB went down. It’s true, he was pretty awesome, I think he lead us to a field goal once.

In all seriousness he would be a big upgrade over Russell. Watch a Raiders game and you will see WRs wide open all the time, they actually have pretty good players and a seemingly solid play caller. A accurate QB could put up some points there from the looks of things. Russell misses wide open WRs by huge margins and leads them into contact or takes them to the ground with his throws. It’s like he’s drunk out there. Gradkowski isn’t a pin point guy but just being able to get a ball to a WR who’s running free would be a huge upgrade.

If Gradkowski can’t throw the deep balls Al Davis orders via phone, he won’t play.

As always, very interesting analysis Omniscient. Thanks.

I have a question though. What are the numbers on the top line? They look like they might be a betting line, but I haven’t been able to figure it out. For example look at this: TENNESSEE TITANS 3 Jacksonville Jaguars 45

So in this case it looks like the Titans are favored by three. But what is the 45?

It’s the Over/Under. The betting line for total combined points.