NFL Week 8: Game Picks

The NFL has always been a fickle beast, but this 2022 season is on a different level. Just last week we saw three colossal upsets: The Commanders, Panthers, and Bears downed the Packers, Buccaneers, and Patriots respectively. I don’t think anyone had Rodgers and Brady both with losing records as we near midseason on their preseason bingo card, and certainly no one expected both to lose to two bottom five teams — in the same week, nonetheless! Regardless, that’s where we are in this year of pretenders and middle of the road teams. No one except for the Bills, Eagles, and Chiefs have proved themselves, and I lack confidence in some of this year’s biggest surprises (Giants, Jets) to continue their play for the latter half of the season.

I should introduce myself, and mention why I’m the one writing this article. “Why should I care about your game picks?” is a very fair question. Right now, I’m sitting with a record of 72-35 (and -1, if you include the Week 1 tie), ahead of nearly every expert. I have devised a formula — sort of — that predicts each week’s winners. I take into account a mathematically-predicted amount of upsets there will be in each week, as well as the average amount of home and away victories. From there, I factor in current home and away records, exploitable mismatches, injuries, and other key statistics that affect game results. Thus far, some of the major upsets I have nailed include: NYG over TEN (Week 1), MIA over BAL (Week 2), CAR over NO (Week 3), NYJ over PIT & SEA over DET (both Week 4), ATL over SF (Week 6), and SEA over LAC (Week 7), among many others. Picking those upsets would have jumped you quite a few places in your pick ‘em pool. As for weekly records, my season high is 14-2 in Week 4, and I just came away from Week 7 with a 10-4 record despite the three major upsets. Now, let’s get to my Week 8 picks!

Denver Broncos (2-5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5); London
There’s no reason Denver can’t win this game with Russell Wilson likely returning, but the Jaguars have looked significantly more competent all year long, keeping games close and generally not being painful to watch. Both teams have burned me quite a few times this season, but I’m taking Jacksonville to win on the back of a return to their pass rush’s early season form.
Prediction: Jaguars 23, Broncos 17

Arizona Cardinals (3-4) @ Minnesota Vikings (5-1)
This feels a bit like a prove it game for the Vikings. The Cardinals are looking to keep their season on track coming off of a TNF win that wasn’t as close as the score made it look, while the Vikings have rolled to 5-1 with the help of more than a little luck. This has all the makings of an upset, but I’m taking an extremely healthy Vikings offense to show exactly what they are capable of against a Cardinals defense that is allowing over 25 points per game — the 6th most in the league.
Prediction: Vikings 38, Cardinals 24

Carolina Panthers (2-5) @ Atlanta Falcons (3-4)
Just last week, the Panthers completely dominated Tom Brady’s Bucs in a game that less than 1% of pick ‘em poolers saw coming. Can they beat the up-and-down Falcons who just got smoked by Joe Burrow and Co.? I don’t think so. The Falcons have a very exploitable defense, especially against the pass, allowing the 3rd most yards per game. Unfortunately for Carolina, they have what has been inarguably the worst offense in the league. They will not be able to take advantage of the Falcons’ weaknesses, and the surprisingly competitive Falcons will take home another win.
Prediction: Falcons 24, Panthers 13

Chicago Bears (3-4) @ Dallas Cowboys (5-2)
To the surprise of nearly everyone, the Bears came out last Monday night and didn’t just look competent — they manhandled the Patriots in Foxborough, far from an easy feat. I am the rare Vikings fan who thinks that the offensive changes we saw may be the start of a pattern that keeps the Bears’ offense competitive, but they are simply overmatched against the league’s second or third best defensive squad.
Prediction: Cowboys 20, Bears 7

Las Vegas Raiders (2-4) @ New Orleans Saints (2-5)
Two of the season’s less notorious underperformers meet in what should be a sneakily good offensive game. When they aren’t throwing picks, the Saints put up yards and points at an elite pace — currently the 7th most points per game and the 3rd most yards per game in the league. The Raiders are no slouches either, averaging over 27 points per game. On the other side of the field, both defenses have been nothing short of atrocious. We may have a game in which both teams top 30, and possibly 40. With Chris Olave returning, I’m taking the Saints in a shootout.
Prediction: Saints 48, Raiders 38

Miami Dolphins (4-3) @ Detroit Lions (1-5)
The Dolphins and Lions share one major, unfortunate characteristic: Both offenses have looked borderline incompetent for the last two weeks after starting out hot. Detroit has been held to 6 points in the last two games combined, and Miami turned it over 3 times against the Vikings before being held to 16 points (and 0 in the second half) against the Steelers last week. I’ll take the team that has the coach and talent to get back on track, and per usual, that description doesn’t fit Detroit.
Prediction: Dolphins 28, Lions 10

New England Patriots (3-4) @ New York Jets (5-2)
Surprisingly, the Patriots are favored over the 5-2 Jets, despite coming off of an embarrassing blowout loss — at home! — to the formerly hapless Chicago Bears. One major reason for this could be the season-ending knee injury suffered by Jets RB Breece Hall, who was on pace to lock up the Offensive Rookie of the Year award in no time. All of this hasn’t prevented 75% of pick ‘em poolers from picking New York. This screams value pick to me — most people will be down on teams the week following a primetime loss, regardless of the matchup. A direct comparison can be made between this game and 49ers @ Rams in Week 4 — 77% of picks incorrectly stuck with the Rams due to the 49ers coming off of a primetime loss to Denver. Take this week’s huge value pick and take the Patriots to repeat what the 49ers did from Week 3 to Week 4.
Prediction: Patriots 26, Jets 17

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5) @ Philadelphia Eagles (6-0)
Don’t overthink this one. I believe Kenny Pickett will figure it out at some point. Maybe that won’t be until next season, but it certainly won’t be this week against an undefeated Eagles squad.
Prediction: Eagles 33, Steelers 17

Tennessee Titans (4-2) @ Houston Texans (1-4-1)
If the Saints and Patriots weren’t big enough upsets (according to public opinion) to get you going, this one’s for you. If there’s one thing I want to get across, it’s do NOT underestimate the effect of key injuries on games. Titans usual starting QB Ryan Tannehill is out, leaving rookie Malik Willis to start. Willis has the physical skills, but looked incompetent against preseason competition. I don’t think Henry will be enough to save the Titans in this game, especially with all 3 of the Titans’ interior linemen questionable to play Sunday. The Texans will overcome their league-worst run defense and steal a win from a Titans team that I think is worse than their record.
Prediction: Texans 23, Titans 20

New York Giants (6-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (4-3)
I said in my introduction that I don’t trust either New York team to keep it up. I’m sticking with that assertion and taking the Giants to lose along with the Jets this week. By now, everyone knows Geno Smith and the Seahawks’ offense is performing far better than expected. Seattle’s defense has woken up in the past couple weeks, making this a complete team that most teams should be at least a little nervous to play. I truly think Seattle can beat anyone at any time, and this fluky Giants squad is no different.
Prediction: Seahawks 30, Giants 22

San Francisco 49ers (3-4) @ Los Angeles Rams (3-3)
The Rams are just not good. The last time we saw them, they were playing rather poorly against a bottom-feeding Carolina Panthers team. The 49ers are angry coming off of a blowout loss to Kansas City, and may be getting quite a few key players back healthy. I’ll take the Niners to sweep the struggling Rams in a hard fought victory.
Prediction: 49ers 27, Rams 23

Washington Commanders (3-4) @ Indianapolis Colts (3-3-1)
Two backup QBs meet in this matchup of teams that have everyone wondering how they have scraped and clawed their way to a “3” in the win column. The Commanders’ defense — and especially the defensive line — has looked like the above average unit they are capable of being in the past couple weeks, which is a recipe for disaster for Sam Ehlinger’s first start. I will caution against underrating Ehlinger — he has all the tools to succeed, both physically and mentally. The Colts’ offensive line will just not be able to hold up against a talented Commanders DL.
Prediction: Commanders 21, Colts 19

Green Bay Packers (3-4) @ Buffalo Bills (5-1); SNF
This game screams disaster for the Packers. Had they won against a bad Commanders squad last week, they wouldn’t be in such an awful situation. I don’t give them any chance in this game, as Buffalo is simply too good all around. I’m reluctant to completely rule out Rodgers, but they are in trouble.
Prediction: Bills 34, Packers 20

Cincinnati Bengals (4-3) @ Cleveland Browns (2-5); MNF
Cincinnati is finally hitting their stride offensively. Cleveland’s defense is tied for the 4th-most points allowed per game, which spells trouble against a Cincy offense that has scored 27 or more points in 4 of its last 5 games. This shouldn’t be particularly close, but the Browns are effectively playing for their season, which can lead to some crazy results.
Prediction: Bengals 41, Browns 24

Key Takeaways & Notes:
Upset of the Week: Houston Texans over Tennessee Titans, 23-20
Lock of the Week: Philadelphia Eagles over Pittsburgh Steelers, 33-17
Note: My formula, which does not factor in betting spreads but rather my own determination of what games are upsets, has 3 upsets occurring this week. I am only picking two in the Texans and Commanders, but the Cardinals, Panthers, and Lions are viable upset picks as well.

Confidence Rankings (1 = Most Confident):
1. Eagles; 2. Bills; 3. Bengals; 4. Cowboys; 5. Dolphins; 6. 49ers; 7. Falcons; 8. Vikings; 9. Jaguars; 10. Seahawks; 11. Patriots; 12. Commanders; 13. Texans; 14. Saints; 15. Ravens
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