Week 8 of the NFL season has arrived, which means we are already at the midway point of the season. Where has the time gone?
There is only one undefeated team left in the league (Pittsburgh), and there’s still one winless team in the NFL (N.Y. Jets) and I don’t think either of those goose eggs will break this week.
For the record, I went 10-4 with my straight-up picks last week and a dismal 4-9-1 against the spread, so there is some room for improvement entering Week 8.
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers (-2.5) The NFC South combatants clash in Carolina to open Week 8 of the season and the hometown Panthers (3-4) could have star running back Christian McCaffery back on the field after he suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 2. The 1-6 Falcons are still trying to sort out how they blew a last-minute lead against Detroit on Sunday, and lost 23-16 to the Panthers back in Week 5. Carolina 23-21
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (-3.5) Neither of these two teams are playing their best football right now. Buffalo stopped a two-game losing streak last week but barely beat the lowly New York Jets. New England is on a three-game losing skid for the first time since 2002 and just got shellacked 33-6 at home by San Francisco in a game in which starting QB Cam Newton was benched. The Bills take advantage of what appears to be a crumbling dynasty. Buffalo 24-20
Los Angeles Rams at Miami Dolphins (+4.5) The 3-3 Dolphins give the ball to rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa who will make his first start in the NFL against one of the best defences in the league, led by two-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. Miami is refreshed after its bye week and the 5-2 Rams are on a short week after beating Chicago on Monday Night Football, but L.A. is the better unit and should come out on top. L.A. Rams 27-20
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) The top two teams in the AFC North always put on an epic show when they get together and this game should be no different. Pittsburgh is 6-0 and is playing on the road for the second consecutive week, while the 5-1 Ravens are coming off their bye. My head tells me that Baltimore is the smart play here but there is something about the way the Steelers are playing that is forcing me to lean their way. Pittsburgh 27-24
Indianapolis Colts at Detroit Lions (+2.5) Riding the No. 2 ranked defensive unit in the league, 4-2 Indianapolis travels to 3-3 Detroit as the Colts try to keep pace with division leader Tennessee. The Lions are back to .500 after back-to-back wins over Atlanta and Jacksonville, who are a combined 2-12. Indy is fresh off its bye week and should do enough to stifle Detroit QB Matthew Stafford and the Lions’ attack. Indianapolis 21-20
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-6.5) These two teams have progressed in opposite directions since their first meeting in Week 1. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers torched the Vikings defence in a 43-34 victory on Sept. 13 and have blitzed all but one of their opponents en route to a 5-1 record thus far. Coming off their bye week, Minnesota is going to be playing catch up the rest of the way after a dreadful 1-5 start and simply don’t have an answer for Rodgers. Green Bay 38-23
Tennessee Titans at Cincinnati Bengals (+6) Cincinnati and rookie QB Joe Burrow showed a lot of gumption in their 37-34 loss against Cleveland last week, a game that included an NFL record five lead-changing touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. There is no way 71 points are going to be scored in Cinci this week, not with Tennessee running back Derrick Henry controlling the flow of the game, and the clock. The Titans get back on track after losing last week at home to Pittsburgh. Tennessee 31-23
Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns (-2.5) You can’t blame the Browns for feeling a little down after losing star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for the rest of the season due to an ACL injury. But Baker Mayfield and the rest of the offence managed to score 37 points last week, even if it was against a leaky Bengals D. Cleveland faces an equally challenged Raiders defence this week and should be able to outscore 3-3 Las Vegas to improve to 6-2. Cleveland 30-28
New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs (-19.5) You read that number correctly. 19.5. That’s a big number, but that’s what you get when one of the best teams in the league hosts the most inept team in the NFL. 6-1 K.C. crushed Denver 43-16 last week and is averaging 31.1 points per game this season, the fifth-highest total in the NFL in 2020. The Jets, at 0-7, are averaging a league-low 12.1 points on offence. This game will get ugly. Kansas City 41-9
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos (+3) The Chargers and Broncos are both 2-4 but each enter this game with a different mindset. Justin Herbert was finally rewarded for his great play by picking up his first NFL win last Sunday when Los Angeles outslugged Jacksonville while Denver was blown away by the Chiefs. The weather won’t be a factor in Denver this week, unlike the cold and snowy conditions last Sunday. The Bolts take advantage. L.A. Chargers 20-18
New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears (+4) 4-2 New Orleans puts its three-game winning streak on the line this weekend when they take on the 5-2 Bears in the Windy City. Saints’ stud receiver Michael Thomas remains iffy to play due to a hamstring injury, however, Drew Brees has a number of other weapons to go to, including running back Alvin Kamara and receiver Emmanuel Sanders. After back-to-back wins over Tampa Bay and Carolina, Chicago slipped on Monday night against the Rams and are trending in the wrong direction. New Orleans 24-17
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (-3) Seattle’s dream of a perfect season ended last Sunday with an overtime loss against division rival Arizona. The 5-1 Seahawks face another NFC West opponent when the 49ers stroll into town on a high after they pounded the Patriots 33-6. Despite being ravaged by injuries, San Francisco has rattled off a couple of wins in a row against the Pats and Rams. The ‘Hawks let one slip away last week and are too good to make the same mistake this week. Seattle 27-23
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (OFF) The winner of this game will have sole possession of first place in the NFC East with three wins! Reminder, this is Week 8. Dallas has been obliterated by the injury bug, most notably at quarterback with Dak Prescott gone for the remainder of the year and backup Andy Dalton recovering from a concussion. Despite losing two of their last three games, the Eagles have been playing better of late and add to their win column. Philadelphia 34-24
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants (+10.5) The 1-6 Giants are big underdogs against 5-2 Tampa Bay, and rightfully so. Apart from their very different win-loss records, the Buccaneers have scored 100 more points than New York and have allowed 32 fewer points so far this season. Tom Brady and the Bucs will feast on a weak Giants defence. Tampa Bay 34-13
Overall straight up 68-39-1
Overall against the spread 45-57-3
Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, news and senior sports director at Global News Radio 900 CHML.