Sunday Picks: NFL Week 8
Broncos @ Jaguars
Much like defeating a Japanese Samurai in the 1500s, it feels like the Broncos’ only hope for victory is a swift beheading of Trevor Lawrence considering the tailspin the franchise is in (and especially considering Russell Wilson only got one hour of sleep on the flight to London – amongst a myriad of other activities that I’m sure his teammates were huge fans of).
The Jaguars offense also looks much more prolific and effective thus far this season, as Lawrence is undoubtedly outplaying Wilson while the Jags trio of receivers is suddenly looking more productive than Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton.
.@swaggy_t1 with the wheeeeels!#NYGvsJAX on FOX pic.twitter.com/MZvbX690Do
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) October 23, 2022
While the Jaguars impressive offense is a monumental part of the equation in this pick, the Broncos putrid offense weighs equally as heavily.
So far in 2022, the Broncos rank:
- Last in points
- 31st in completion percentage
- 30th in first down percentage
- 22nd in yards per game
- 18th in turnover differential
Look for a ton of passing in this game as Javonte Williams is gone, Melvin Gordon looks sluggish and mistake-prone, and Lawrence looks like he’s coming into his own this year.
Pick – Jaguars win: 28 – 16
Dolphins @ Lions
When the 4-3 Dolphins visit the 1-5 Lions on Sunday, they should dominate Detroit as long as Tua remains at full health.
After all, how can we expect likely the worst defense in the NFL to stop Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle while they’re busy getting trucked by the opposing team’s RB all game?
The equation for most of the Lions last few games has been: First, let the opposing team run all over you. Second, look absolutely hapless while they do everything else they want offensively since the other team is basically in run-up-the-score mode like they’re in college and the point differential will effect rankings after the game.
Currently, Detroit’s defense ranks:
- 30th in turnover differential
- Worst in yards allowed per game
- Worst in points allowed per game
If you allow the most points per game and have the 3rd-worst turnover differential, its difficult to fathom how you win games consistently in the NFL.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins might have the best pair of WRs available with the exception of maybe Chase/Higgins, and both Waddle and Hill will run wild once they have the ball in their hands against this lackluster secondary.
Pick – Dolphins win: 35 – 27
Panthers @ Falcons
Two relatively evenly matched teams face off in Atlanta this Sunday, as the CMC-less Panthers travel to face a Falcons team that throws the ball about as much as teams did during WWII.
The difference in this game might come down to the play of Marcus Mariota versus Carolina’s P.J. Walker towards the end, but overall the team that wins on the ground will take home the W here.
Both offenses look uninspiring and unimaginative so far this season, as both teams find themselves ranked in the bottom six in yards per game in 2022.
While the Panthers are averaging the least points per game, look for them to continue their momentum from last week behind a new offense and a new coaching staff.
Just two weeks removed from winning NFC player of the week despite only throwing 14 passes, Mariota has had his share of bright moments but ultimately the offense looks limited by his throwing prowess.
Since both teams still have question marks around their QBs and passing games, both have made an obvious commitment to the run.
Although, it will have to be backups D’Onta Foreman for Carolina (Chubba Hubbard has been ruled out) or Tyler Allgeier for Atlanta who plow through defenders this week as Patterson is on IR, and CMC is in San Francisco.
Foreman looked incredible last week with his brief reps, and he showed last season while filling in for Derrick Henry that he has potential to be a bell-cow in this league on a per game basis.
My guess is the underdog Panthers barely pull out the win in this one behind a dominant day from Foreman and a few clutch plays from P.J. Walker.
Pick – Panthers win: 23 – 17
Bears @ Cowboys
It looks like the Bears revamped their offense during their mini-bye week, and their success last week definitely hurts my confidence with this pick.
However, it will take more than a week for me to be convinced that Justin Fields and the Bears offense has completely turned a corner, and it will be nearly impossible against one of the NFL’s best defenses this week.
The Cowboys defense has surrendered the 6th-least YPG, the 2nd-fewest points per game, and is tied for 3rd in total takeaways.
The #DETvsDAL Radio Call of the Week features the @DegarrickSamuel "hat trick!" ??#DallasCowboys | @1053thefan pic.twitter.com/ng5kIycVWs
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) October 26, 2022
While this is unlikely to be a high-scoring affair, with Dak Prescott back in the fold the Cowboys offense should return to normal sooner rather than later.
Just on paper, Prescott, Lamb, Zeke, and Gallup are are more talented than Fields, Mooney, and David Montgomery and have definitely outproduced the Bears best offensive weapons this season (and throughout their careers).
Given the trend the Bears offense has been on, picking against the Cowboys at home with Dak back would be like saying Christopher Columbus actually discovered America and never committed any atrocities towards native people, or saying that climate change/global warming isn’t becoming an immediate existential threat – it would just be factually incorrect.
Pick – Cowboys win: 24 – 14
Cardinals @ Vikings
After last week, the Cardinals offense looks unlocked now that their #1 receiver is back.
Hopkins balled out and Murray looked comfortable making plays in an offense that looked closer to the explosive one we saw last season versus the mediocre one we’ve seen this year.
Murray has been a skillful decision-maker, a dynamic passer, and a jaw-dropping athlete in 2022. Through the first seven weeks, Murray currently ranks:
- 9th in passing yards
- 5th in rushing yards among QBs
- 4th in YPC among QBs
- Tied for 10th in TD passes
Regardless if James Conner is healthy in this one (update: Conner has been ruled out), a Cardinals team comprising of Hopkins, Kyler Murray, Zach Ertz, and even a productive Eno Benjamin in place of Conner will likely be too much for the Vikings defense to handle.
On the other hand, the Vikings with their own offensive firepower of Justin Jefferson, a healthy Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, and a currently diming Kirk Cousins should make this a close but relatively high-scoring contest.
While Minnesota comes into this week with two more wins than Arizona, I’m picking Arizona to win this one because Kyler Murray, Hopkins, and the Cardinals offense simply looked too unstoppable in their 42-point performance against the Chiefs.
Murray has handled the 2022 Cardinals’ lack of offensive creativity and game-planning as well as arguably any QB could.
Pick – Cardinals win: 38 – 33
Raiders @ Saints
This is a proverbial Toilet Bowl as far as 2022 teams go, as both squads have just one win and have an unfathomable number of issues on both sides of the ball.
Winston and Dalton appear to be turnover machines, the Raiders’ passing game is underperforming, and both teams seem too obsessed with their top receivers to focus on other trivial concepts – like productive football and wins.
Like the United States bringing over sleuths of German scientists after WWII, Josh McDaniels brought over his own squad of up-tight misfits (Brandon Bolden, Jarrett Stidham, Duron Harmon to name a few), but unfortunately for McDaniels the results are closer to Pearl Harbor than building the first atom bomb.
For some reason, McDaniels inexplicably refuses to give third down reps to the clearly more talented Josh Jacobs, instead offering nearly every possible opportunity to Brandon Bolden, who has been in the league for a decade and never been anything more than a special teams player and emergency 3rd-down back in New England.
Beyond his weird Bolden obsession, McDaniels play calling (or at least coaching on execution) deserves to be questioned considering the obscene target share Davante Adams is accruing which often costs the Raiders games.
Neither defense is particularly imposing, and both Saints and Raiders have scored over 20 points in four straight weeks (scoring over 30 in two of those) so this is likely to be decently high-scoring in comparison to the low-scoring NFL season we’ve seen so far.
The first Raider to record over 140 rushing yards in 3 straight games.
A look back at @iAM_JoshJacobs' record-breaking Sunday ? (via @NFL) pic.twitter.com/26uKR3YBeX
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) October 24, 2022
Despite that anti-Raiders rant, the Saints are worst in the NFL in turnover differential, and its a well-known fact that turnovers don’t correlate with wins.
This pick mostly comes down to the Raiders being just a little less inept than the Saints. Mainly because with the Saints are tied for 3rd-worst in total takeaways, rank worst in the league in turnovers, and Raiders are actually 3rd in the NFL (trailing only the Bills and the Chiefs) in total points.
To top all that off, the Saints give up the 2nd-most points per game (trailing only the Lions).
Pick – Raiders win: 29 – 20
Patriots @ Jets
The Jets defense is top-10 in a variety of critical statistics, and the Patriots are coming fresh off a game where they looked like they might suddenly have the most questionable and unpredictable QB situation in the NFL.
The Jets defense has allowed the 11th-fewest rushing yards and the 10th-least PPG while managing to rank 4th in takeaways so far in 2022.
Right now it looks like Bill Belichick is struggling mightily to replace his past HOF QB play which hasn’t historically resulted in winning football.
In spite of Rhamondre Stevenson being nothing short of spectacular when called upon to carry the offensive load, the two less wins the Pats have vs the Jets signify its not enough to quell their defensive lapses and overall offensive ineptitude.
On the other side, Robert Saleh is making chicken salad out of chicken excrement and coming up with big wins left and right (much like his other New York counterpart in the same position).
Furthermore, the turnover-ravenous rookie Sauce Gardner is looking like a top-5 corner in just his first NFL season, shutting down opposing #1 receivers left and right.
Combine elite DB play with a top-5 defensive line, and you’ve got a legitimate top-10 team so far in 2022.
Despite the fact that New England has eaten up young QBs in years past, this game likely won’t come down to the QB play for either side and the Jets should scrape past the Patriots in this AFC East rivalry clash.
Pick – Jets win: 14 – 10
Titans @ Texans
A battle of running back Titans more than anything else with Derrick Henry and Damien Pierce squaring off in this AFC South showdown, both ground games will look to get going early.
This should lead to a clock-churning, but moderately high-scoring (as far as 2022 goes) game that ends in fantasy points galore for Derrick Henry and Damien Pierce.
Regardless of fantasy ownership or team fandom, both of these backs are absolute pleasures to watch.
You’ve got to give it to Henry though, if he doesn’t get injured it looks like he’ll return to the dominance we’re all used to.
Best plays from @KingHenry_2's dominate day vs. Colts ? #INDvsTEN
?: More coverage on @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/CVou4MGSVd
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) October 24, 2022
Through the first eight weeks of the season, Derrick Henry ranks:
- 4th in rushing yards
- Tied for 3rd in rushing TDs
- Tied for 6th in runs for first downs
Not to mention, Henry has done all of that against mostly stacked boxes due to an unthreatening Tennessee passing game.
Look for Henry to run roughshod over a Texans D devoid of playmakers and talent, but the Texans could easily come out with the win if they force some turnovers and get Pierce going early.
Pick – Titans win: 23 – 14
Commanders @ Colts
Like attempts to sink submarines in early WWI, the Commanders and Colts’ respective attempts at what in the NFL is called “offense” this season have been rudimentary, ineffective, and laughable.
The Colts don’t have the dominant run game they had last year, their pass-blocking leaves a lot to be desired, and they just benched their starting QB that they went out of their way to acquire just this offseason.
On the other side, the Commanders are fortunate the inventor of the sack fetish himself (Carson Wentz) is not playing this week, but Taylor Heinicke didn’t exactly look like a QB1 in his fill-in performance.
Granted, I prefer Heinicke to Wentz almost any day, but neither quarterback will likely show out in this one.
Resembling Titans/Texans, the game script for both teams will probably be as run heavy as it gets, likely ending in a down-to-the-wire, clock-winding affair.
Yes, the Commanders are terrible; however, the Colts are ranked worse than them in a number of dismal categories including:
- Turnover differential (2nd-worst)
- PPG (3rd-worst)
- Rushing yards per game (3rd-worst)
This ought to be a low-scoring contest dominated by both ground games, and hopefully for fantasy owners a performance from Taylor and the Colts that is reminiscent of 2021.
But I’d be more likely to bet on Heinicke magic and an offensive line on the other side that resembles a moldy slice of swiss cheese just a little bit less.
Pick – Commanders win: 20 – 12
Steelers @ Eagles
Jalen Hurts and the Eagles are playing like the best team in the NFL, and that shouldn’t end against a Steelers team that possesses the same failure concoction as many of the losers on this list – unanswered questions at quarterback.
With one of the best duos of receivers the NFL has to offer in A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, the Steelers defense will find it difficult to find the resources to blanket both wideouts while maintaining enough manpower to stop Jalen Hurts from gashing off big runs.
Big runs, long passes, and an expertly ran offense by Jalen Hurts has been the story of the Eagles season.
Throw in an offensive line that is just absolutely steam rolling opposing defenders and stifling the NFL’s best pass rushers (see Micah Parsons last week), and you’ve got maybe the most complete team in the NFL.
It’s no shock to Eagles fans, but right now Hurts is playing like an MVP and ranks:
- 10th in completion percentage
- 3rd in YPA
- 9th in adjusted QBR
- 6th in passer rating (per ESPN)
- 4th in rushing yards among QBs
- 1st in rushing TDs among QBs
Coming off a bye week, there’s a reason Philadelphia is a 10.5 favorite in this one. They are clearly the more polished team with a more productive offense and a smothering defense.
This one shouldn’t be close.
Pick – Eagles win: 32 – 13
49ers @ Rams
Cooper Kupp will get his usual double-digit targets against a still somewhat banged-up 49ers defense, but if the Rams offense continues to look as stagnant as it has in weeks past, the 49ers will squeak by them this week.
It’s not a confident pick, but the 49ers should scrape this win off the floor via an unlocked Christian McCaffrey running wild through the Rams defense like Josh Allen and the Bills did on opening night.
A somewhat interesting storyline here will be if the Rams try and shut down the new shiny McCaffrey toy given all the reports that the Rams were trying to outbid the 49ers and vice versa down to the wire.
Either way, the Rams are underperforming, Matt Stafford is a turnover machine like he’s JaMarcus Russell, and McCaffrey might be the most ideal back possible for the 49ers.
Lookin' good in red and gold.
Highlights from @CMC_22's 49ers debut.
Next up, #SFvsLAR on FOX. pic.twitter.com/LxBbUrX4xm
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) October 24, 2022
McCaffrey’s running style, intelligence, vision, and instincts align perfectly for what Kyle Shanahan would want to draw up in his perfect RB.
Oh and yes – Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle are all still some of the best players at their respective positions and should have even more room to work with as a result of more defensive attention on McCaffrey.
Deebo Samuel might not end up playing in this game, but the pick would be the same regardless.
For you fantasy owners, if you weren’t already considering starting Aiyuk as a result of his recent performances, he’s an absolute lineup lock in Week 8 if Deebo Samuel is ruled inactive.
Given the Rams are almost always basically playing an away game, 49ers fans should end up traveling well to watch what will hopefully be a great game for football fans in general, but a win at the hands of McCaffrey’s breakout game as 49er.
Pick – 49ers win: 31 – 20
Giants @ Seahawks
This game features maybe the two most surprising teams and quarterbacks of 2022. I mean, preseason every media pundit in the country predicted the Giants would be 6-1 with Daniel Jones looking like a franchise QB, and the Seahawks would have a winning record while Geno cooked better than Russ ever did… right?
With almost zero receivers the average fan could name, Daniel Jones is somehow running the Giants towards wins every week.
Meanwhile, Geno is just leading the NFL in completion percentage and QB rating while running the Seahawks offense to perfection each week.
Similarly to the game above, this looks like it has the potential to be a fun, back-and-forth game all fans can get behind.
The tantalizing QB duel everyone predicted between Jones and Smith ought to come down to the final moments. With both QBs in the top 6 in adjusted QBR (per ESPN), that last sentence would have been a joke in preseason, but it certainly shouldn’t be one anymore.
Pick – Giants win: 28 – 20