Ramblin’ Fan’s NFL Picks and Predictions: Week 8


Home field advantage certainly meant a huge difference in Week 7 with home teams going 12-3 and outscoring their visiting counterparts 383-272. The Rams were one of those home teams to record a win thanks in large part to an attitude that clearly exhibited desperation and guts. That’s the kind of gameplan that makes the NFL, and specifically the Rams, exciting to watch. With plenty of intriguing matchups on the sked for Week 8, we look at just how they will all shake out.

What is the spread? In the gambling world, a “spread’ is a term used to handicap games by allowing a team to lose or win by a certain number of points while still winning for a bettor. If the Rams are +3 against the Seahawks, that means that the Rams could win outright or they could lose by two points and still be a victory for a bettor. In the same situation as above, the spread could also read as the Seahawks -3 which again would mean they have to win by three or more points to cover the spread.


San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (-7.5)

The Chargers have built their season on controlling the run games and forcing turnovers, but the Chiefs managed to beat one of the top teams in the NFL at their own game. San Diego struggled along the defensive line and Phillip Rivers threw the one turnover the Chiefs needed to win last week. Lost in the media hype that was Peyton Manning was an absolutely dominant defensive performance by the Broncos defense. Denver’s D  was creating chaos for the 49ers causing six sacks and hit Kaepernick 10 times. The Chargers will look to get back to their game plan against the Broncos, but they will be looking for opportunistic turnovers that Manning will not be offering. Broncos win 35-28 (Chargers cover)


Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons (+3.5)

Some big game heroics gave the Lions the win last week, but it still seems that they are punching above their weight class right now. The team is averaging just 3.1 yards per attempt and Stafford is still getting hit a lot. The defense is this teams savoir and they could be a real threat if the offense picks it up. How the mighty have fallen. The torrent pace that the Falcons showed at the start of the year has proven to be unsustainable and the team has now lost four straight. Atlanta has been outscored 127-68 over their losing skid and it seems that Mike Smith may be on his way out. The Lions keep finding a way to win and I think they do the same against a Falcons team faltering. Lions win 20-17 (Lions cover)

St. Louis Rams at Kansas City Chiefs (-7)

I think we all saw how fun the Rams are when Jeff Fisher just throws caution to the wind. Though most people completely washed their hands of the Rams against the Seahawks, inventive and ingenious play calling ensured a win. Aside from that, the biggest takeaway for the Rams was the improved play of Tre Mason. With both the rookie back, offensive line and Austin Davis playing better; St. Louis looks like they could be a real offensive threat that teams need to respect. Add that to a defensive line that finally became deserving of their ‘Sack City’ moniker and there could be some joyous days ahead for the Rams. Fisher will see a foe he dominated in Andy Reid, who has gone 0-4 in their careers against each other. The Chiefs have been wildly inconsistent this season. Kansas City has beaten teams (Patriots and Chargers), but have fallen flat against the Titans and 49ers. I believe Fisher has finally opened up the ‘desperation’ playbook and I think he will continue to play gutsy football and lead the Rams to a second straight win. Rams win 27-21 (Rams cover)

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (+2.5)

Houston still continues to be tough and solid, but their Monday night loss highlighted their problems this season. Houston’s secondary got torched for three touchdowns in two minutes to close the first half. How do you lose to a team that has Colt McCoy at quarterback? The Titans found a way due to the inability to cover anyone. If you subtract Pierre Garcon’s 70 yard touchdown from McCoy the former Longhorn averaged 5.8 yards per completion. This was not the Titans linebacking unit falling apart, most of those catches went to the outside too. With both secondary’s struggling I’m going to go with the much tougher Texans defensive line to be the difference maker in this game. Texans win 17-14 (Texans cover)

Minnesota Vikings at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3)

I’m sure Teddy Bridgewater will be great, but it’s hard to tell when the offensive line for the Vikings has been so horrible. The Louisville product has been sacked 13 times in the last two games. Yes Bridgewater has thrown a lot of interceptions, but I’m sure a seasoned quarterback would be throwing picks with that type of pressure let alone a rookie. No team needed a bye week more than the Buccaneers. This is a team that was supposed to get a defensive boost thanks to Lovie Smith, but they now are last in points allowed and yards allowed. Tampa Bay will make any team look good, remember that let Joe Flacco throw for five touchdowns in less than 20 minutes, and Bridgewater should show glimpses of what will be a franchise QB. Vikings win 20-13 (Vikings cover)

Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers (+5)

The Seattle Seahawks have had their weaknesses exposed for the first time in recent memory. Defenses have been able to slow down Seattle’s running game, Marshawn Lynch is averaging 70 yards per game and has only three touchdowns on the season, causing Russell Wilson to beat them. Wilson is a game manager and the cannot carry the team week in and week out. The Panthers continue to be one dimensional and that is causing them to falter. Carolina’s leading rusher through seven games is Cam Newton, who has 190 yards on the ground. Defensively, the team is not nearly as strong as what people wanted to believe before this season started. I can’t imagine the Seahawks dropping three in a row, especially to a Panthers team that is confused. Seahawks win 28-24 (Panthers cover)

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-1)

There is no longer denying that the Ravens are real. They have an above average quarterback, a top 10 receiver and a running game that is exceeding expectations. A lot of credit goes out to Gary Kubiak, who has taken a team that has been mediocre for years and transforming them into a great offensive team. Ever since the Bengals bye they are 0-2-1 and have been outscored 107-54. Last week an offense without star receiver AJ Green managed 135 yards and a defense allowed 506 yards against. The Ravens are for real and the Bengals were simply a mirage to start the season. Ravens win 28-20 (Ravens cover)

Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars (+6)

Last week proved that the Dolphins can be a really good team if their line play is playing on the right level. Despite giving up four sacks, the offensive line was doing a surprisingly good job at keeping Ryan Tannehill safe aside from those miscues. The Jaguars got their first win of the season and despite some poor decision making from Blake Bortles, the team’s future is looking bright. With the influx of young talent having the chance to learn and grow this season a few more wins is not out of the realm of possibility, but this team could become a real threat two years down the road. With nobody on the Jaguars defense to really push the Dolphins offensive line, expect Tannehill to have another good game. Dolphins win 24-17 (Dolphins cover)

Chicago Bears at New England Patriots (-5.5)

Even though the team is ripe with talent, it became obvious that once Kyle Fuller went down that the Bears were in trouble. The secondary of the Bears continues to be a point of weakness and they got torched once the top defensive rookie in the game left. It was not the game that the Patriots wanted, but the they will take the win on the short week. The New England offense was still playing well, despite a stagnant run game, but the defense allowed way too many yards to a subpar Jets team. It’s hard to ever doubt the Pats in Foxborough, but the Bears know their season is riding on a good performance in this game. With the weight of the world on Chicago’s back they will keep it close, but will fail to pull out the win. Patriots win 34-31 (Bears cover)

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (-3)

Though it was far from pretty, the Bills won last week when the offense relied heavily on Kyle Orton. The elder statesmen played okay despite giving up a late fumble in the red zone that caused the game to be too close for comfort. If this team’s season relies solely on Orton, it could be a long half a season. The Jets came extremely close to topping, what many consider, a superior Patriots team thanks to a good game by the offense. Geno Smith did not throw an interception and the team rushed for 218 yards. It’ll be interesting to see how they use newly acquired Percy Harvin as the team now boasts three great slot receivers. I figure this game will be ugly and I can’t get excited about either of these teams, but I think the Bills walk away with this one due to Smith’s error prone play. Bills win 17-13 (Bills cover)

Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals (-2.5)

Coming out of the bye week, the Eagles will be looking to stake their claim to being the best team in the NFC. Even though no individual player has stood out for Philly, their team mentality has propelled them this season. The Cardinals rank in the bottom third in the league in most meaningful offensive stats, but the team threw their first interception of the season last week. The Cards have dominated the turnover battle and have caught other teams beating themselves, which is an approach that has them playing well. Nick Foles has just as many interceptions as touchdowns this year and I expect the Arizona defense to get the opportune pick to put their team over. Cardinals win 28-21 (Cardinals cover)

Oakland Raiders at Cleveland Browns (-7)

The Raiders are working hard, but this team is destined to fail until they put some talent around Derek Carr. Oakland backs have a 3.7 yards per carry average and the receivers are frankly terrible. After starting the season efficiently, Brian Hoyer has only completed 42 percent of his passes and has two interceptions to one touchdown. It’ll be interesting to see how the Browns move forward without Alex Mack, because he was a huge part of their run game being successful this season. I think the Raiders pull a shocking win and we start to hear Johnny Manziel media hype once again in Cleveland. Raiders win 17-13 (Raiders cover)

Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers (+3)

You look on paper and the Colts should not be competing with the top teams in the NFL, but when you watch them it is impossible to see people beating them. Indy has been decimating teams on both sides of the ball outrushing teams by an average of almost 30 yards a game while almost doubling opponents sack numbers. The inconsistency the Steelers are showing is baffling. Pittsburgh managed to score 24 points in under three minutes, but aside from that torrent stretch they looked so dull. The Steelers are a team that looks better on the stats sheet then they will on the field, but it’s going to catch up to them when they face a truly good team in Indy. Colts win 38-21 (Colts cover)

Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints (-2)

The Green Bay Packers have quietly become one of the best teams in the NFC after a 1-2 start. Aaron Rodgers is a big reason for this stunning turnaround that has led to four straight wins. In that winning streak Rodgers has put the team on his back throwing for 13 touchdowns and no interceptions. Simply stated, the Saints are not the team we have been accustomed to in recent memory. The team has been based on the abilities of Drew Brees for years and he is simply not making the right decisions this season, with seven touchdowns to five interceptions. Even though this game would have been a major quarterback duel the last few seasons, Rodgers is fair and away the better QB now. Packers win 34-21 (Packers cover)


Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (-10)

Colt McCoy is going to get the start for the Washington Redskins and that says a lot. Once looked at as an area of strength has now divulged into a messy quarterback affair. People like to point at McCoy’s efficiency last week, but once you remove one explosive play he averaged a mere five yards per completion. I don’t think anyone can deny that the Cowboys should be looked at as the best team in the NFC right now. Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray have formed a power trio that has not been witnessed in Dallas since the golden days in the ’90s. A date with the Redskins should be a pretty easy affair for the Cowboys as long as they play the same they have this season. Cowboys win 28-14 (Cowboys cover)