Week 7 began with a scary injury to perhaps the NFL’s brightest star at the moment and closed out its penultimate game with a statement victory in the NFC East. Patrick Mahomes’ dislocated kneecap Thursday night against the Broncos led to a tense 24 hours or so until an MRI revealed a likely 3-to-5-week recovery timeline. Then, the Cowboys put a cap on another eventful Sunday with a 37-10 walloping of the Eagles on Sunday night that sent an unequivocal message about who the top dog in the NFC East is for the time being.
Week 8 will begin with a Redskins-Vikings interconference battle on Thursday Night Football and will feature five additional games between AFC and NFC foes. The one that shaped up as the most intriguing by far prior to Week 7 — the Packers and Chiefs at Arrowhead on Sunday night — has lost a good bit of luster with Mahomes’ injury, however. The Eagles and Bills may now hold the mantle of the interconference game with the highest stakes, considering Philadelphia is now 3-4 and sliding after losing two straight and four of the last six overall.
Without further ado, here’s a live look at the lines at sportsbooks in the US as we begin looking toward Week 8.
NFL Week 8 odds
NFL Week 8 predictions and analysis
Washington at Minnesota (-15) — Thursday night
The Washington Redskins spent their Week 7 Sunday slipping and sliding in the muddy slop of FedEx Field against the San Francisco 49ers. Thanks to a constant downpour and the miserable conditions it caused, the ‘Skins fell by just a modest 9-0 score to the undefeated Niners. That may provide a false sense that Washington hung tough against a quality team for all four quarters. However, the weather certainly served as a 12th man for the ‘Skins. San Francisco understandably had a very difficult time putting together any extended stretches of offensive cohesiveness because of the weather.
For their part, the Vikings took care of business against a division rival on the road by toppling the Detroit Lions, 42-30. Kirk Cousins continued his impressive resurgence after a rocky start to the season. He tallied 337 yards and four touchdowns, despite playing without Adam Thielen for the last three-plus quarters due to the latter’s hamstring injury. Dalvin Cook turned on the jets frequently as well. He finished with 123 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns.
As of Monday morning, Thielen remained optimistic he’ll be able to take the field Thursday night. Naturally, that’s very much in question, given the uncertain nature of soft-tissue injuries and the short turnaround. Of course, Stefon Diggs is certainly capable of stepping up if needed. He demonstrated that again Sunday with a 7-142 line versus Detroit. Diggs has now eclipsed the century mark in three of his last four games.
The Redskins presumably plan to continue rolling out Case Keenum at quarterback for the time being. Both Keenum and Washington running back Adrian Peterson will be making their returns to a city where they enjoyed the greatest success of their respective successes. That should give each a bit of extra motivation. However, considering the typical ferocity of the Vikings defense at home, that may not matter much.
For the season, the Redskins are 2-5 (28.6 percent) ATS, including 1-2 (33.3 percent) on the road. The Vikings are 5-2 (71.4 percent) against the number overall, including 3-0 as a home team specifically.
The number here is an expansive one, especially considering Thielen could well miss this game. This is one to monitor over the coming 72 hours, as the receiver’s chances of playing will be clarified. That could also certainly have some effect on the number. As of Monday, I’d lean toward a Redskins cover, with a bet on the Over of a projected point total of 42 also in play. We’ll check back before Thursday night with an update.
Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints (-12.5)
There will be certain elements of uncertainty to this game until later in the week when Drew Brees’ status is clarified. A Week 8 return for the future Hall of Famer has been talked about for some time. However, Teddy Bridgewater is wildly exceeding expectations as a starter and a Week 9 bye looms for New Orleans. Therefore, coach Sean Payton could opt to hold Brees out until Week 10 and give the quarterback’s thumb another two weeks’ healing time.
Meanwhile, the growing legend of coach Kliff Kingsbury and the offensive renaissance he’s brought to the desert took yet another step forward in a Week 7 win over the Giants. Demonstrating his adaptability to game conditions and matchup, Kingsbury leaned on the running game heavily when New York proved incapable of slowing it down. All the more noteworthy is that “lean on the running game” didn’t equate to “lean on David Johnson”. Rather, second-year back Chase Edmonds enjoyed a breakout game with 126 yards and three touchdowns.
The fact Arizona was able to take care of business while Kingsbury’s famed Air Raid attack produced just 104 yards and no passing TDs underscores the flexibility of an offensive attack that should only get more dangerous the more reps all of its players, including its rookie quarterback, soak up. Wide receiver Christian Kirk should also be back in action Week 8 after missing the last two games with an ankle injury. Johnson should also be available for a much more normal workload after only serving as an emergency back versus New York.
The Cardinals will have a tough assignment in the Saints, however. As alluded to earlier, New Orleans has hit its stride with Bridgewater under center. Payton has progressively opened up the playbook for Bridgewater, even in an environment such as Soldier Field in Week 7. Bridgewater finished with 281 yards and two touchdowns against Chicago. Latavius Murray, filling in for an injured Alvin Kamara (ankle), complemented him perfectly with 119 rushing yards and a pair of scores on the ground. The Saints’ defense has been impressive over the last pair of contests, although the caveat is they’ve faced Gardner Minshew and Mitchell Trubisky over that span.
FRIDAY UPDATE: Early in the week, the spread sat at 8.5 points and I’d said at the time I felt the Cardinals were capable of sliding under that number. It’s now been bet up another two points, putting me even more in the camp of Arizona managing to lose by 10 or less. Of note is that each team’s most prominent running back could miss this game — Johnson and Kamara are both listed as questionable on the final injury report with their respective ankle issues.
Cincinnati Bengals at Los Angeles Rams (-12)
This shapes up as arguably the biggest mismatch of the week on paper. The Bengals will not have A.J. Green (ankle) back for this game. Then, the Rams appeared to have fixed a lot of what ailed their offense Sunday against the Falcons. Naturally, the caliber of competition should be taken into account. However, the good news for Los Angeles is it gets easier, not tougher, in Week 8.
The Bengals’ lost season continued in Week 7 with a 27-17 loss to the Jaguars. The game wasn’t as close as the final score implies. Cincinnati is incapable of striking fear into any defense with its current receiving corps. There’s simply no consistent downfield threat, which, when coupled with an injury-riddled offensive line, makes for very long days for both Andy Dalton and Joe Mixon. Now, Cincy must travel multiple time zones to face a Rams team that is flush with newfound confidence after the trade acquisition of Jalen Ramsey and aforementioned walloping of the Falcons in Week 7.
Todd Gurley came back from a quadriceps injury against Atlanta, and although he struggled with efficiency on the ground, he scored a 13-yard touchdown on an impressive catch. The matchup will get easier for him in Week 8. The Bengals come in allowing the most rushing yards per game (189.0) per game and just facilitated a 131-yard performance for Leonard Fournette. Jared Goff, who bounced back from an atrocious showing against the 49ers in Week 6, came back to life at the expense of the Atlanta secondary in Week 7 and will also be primed for success against a Cincy defense that’s besieged by injury at cornerback.
While this is yet another bloated number, there’s little to no evidence an A.J. Green/John Ross-less Bengals squad can do much to overcome it against a healthy Rams team.
FRIDAY UPDATE: We had a half-point drop here in the spread over the course of the week. I naturally see the possibility of a Rams cover as even more likely as a result.
Los Angeles Chargers at Chicago Bears (-3.5)
An interconference matchup between two significantly underachieving teams can be unpredictable to handicap. That certainly applies to this Solider Field tilt. Chicago hasn’t done anything recently to be favored by 5.5 points over most teams. However, it so happens Los Angeles will arrive in the midst of its own ugly skid. They’ve lost five out of six after toppling the Colts in overtime to start the season.
The Bolts lost in heartbreaking fashion to the Titans on Sunday when Melvin Gordon failed to hold onto the ball at the goal line in the closing seconds. However, Los Angeles likely wouldn’t have been in a trail position had its secondary not proven highly vulnerable all afternoon. Making his first start in a Titans uniform, Ryan Tannehill picked apart the Chargers secondary to the tune of 312 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. Los Angeles also allowed 90 yards on the ground to Derrick Henry, making it a difficult day all the way around on that side of the ball.
The challenge in terms of opposing quarterback doesn’t appear as daunting in Week 8, if Mitchell Trubisky’s non-garbage-time play Sunday against the Saints in any indication. The third-year quarterback averaged a minuscule 4.6 yards per attempt and accumulated a good share of his final numbers with New Orleans playing prevent-type defense. Adding to the Bears’ troubles is the fact the running game continues to be largely non-existent. Chicago rushed for all of 17 yards in the Week 7 loss to the Saints.
The Chargers have yet to lose a game by more than a touchdown and the Bears defense is proving to be nowhere near as intimidating as it was early in the season. While they’re capable of tightening up here and getting to an immobile Phillip Rivers, my early-week gut feel is that a bet on a Los Angeles cover is worth considering.
FRIDAY UPDATE: As we’d figured, the Bears’ projected advantage has come down two points to 3.5. I’d still lean toward the Chargers coming in under the number, although I’m not quite as confident as I was when it was two points higher.
New York Giants at Detroit Lions (-6.5)
The Danny Dimes hype train has essentially come to a grinding halt over the last four games. It’s not that Jones has been bad per se; in fact, he’s more than holding his own as a rookie quarterback. However, he set a high bar by throwing for 336 yards back in his Week 3 starting debut against the Buccaneers. He’s also taking an inordinate amount of sacks – Jones has been taken down a total of 18 times overall in his five-game starting stint.
The Lions have their own problems, though. A defense with some solid names on it continues to be far from consistent. They had no answer for Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook and Stefon Diggs in a 42-30 Week 7 loss to the Vikings. Detroit is now allowing the third-most passing yards per game (289.5) and only has 10 sacks on the season, with those two numbers certainly correlated to an extent. The Lions’ inability to put quarterbacks under duress could certainly be a boon to Jones’ fortunes.
New York will hope to have Sterling Shepard back from his concussion for this contest as well. If he’s able to return, Jones will have a full arsenal of weapons to work with – a Shepard appearance would place him, Golden Tate, Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley, who returned from his ankle injury in Week 7, all on the field together for the first time. Factoring in the dome environment for this game, the confluence of circumstances could lead to a fruitful showing for the G-Men’s offense.
The Giants’ defense will have its hands full on the other side of the ball. Despite Detroit’s losing record, Matthew Stafford continues to play at an All-Pro level. The health of running back Kerryon Johnson, who left the Week 7 loss with a knee injury, will be important here. However, the wide receiver duo of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones – the latter having scored four touchdowns Sunday – could wreak havoc here against a New York defense allowing the second-highest average yards per attempt (8.9).
The touchdown spread (as of Monday afternoon) feels a bit high for me. I can see a healthier Saquon and a fully stocked Giants attack giving the Lions defense a bit of trouble here and New York possibly sliding in under that number. An Over bet on the current projected total of 50 is worth considering here as well.
FRIDAY UPDATE: The spread has come down another half-point to 6.5, which jives with my early-week perspective on the Lions not actually being a touchdown better than the Giants. However, Shepard will not return for this game after all, but his absence is somewhat offset by the absence of former Lions safety Quandre Diggs, who was traded to the Seahawks earlier in the week. I still lean toward a Giants cover and the Over on a total that’s now down slightly to 49.5.
New York Jets at Jacksonville Jaguars (7)
Another rookie who’s come back to earth a bit after a spectacular debut is the Jaguars’ Gardner Minshew. He’s exceeded the 275 yards he threw for in Week 1 emergency duty only once since then. Yet, he’s still held down the fort by helping lead Jacksonville to a 3-3 record in Nick Foles’ (collarbone) absence. Leonard Fournette also continues to decimate opposing defenses and log some of the highest usage of any running back in the league – he turned 31 touches into 145 yards Sunday against the Bengals.
The Jets will face the Patriots on Monday night. Consequently, they’ll come into this contest on abbreviated rest and possibly a little worse for wear. However, irrespective of Monday’s extremely difficult matchup, it’s worth noting Gang Green’s offense looked completely rejuvenated in Week 6 with Sam Darnold back under center. The likes of Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder and even Demaryius Thomas were relevant again in the win over the Cowboys. And while Le’Veon Bell was stymied for much of the game, he did score a rushing touchdown and naturally has the talent to break out in any given week.
We’ll jump back into this game Friday, at which point the number will likely have moved one way or the other largely based on the Jets’ Monday night performance.
FRIDAY UPDATE: And that line has indeed moved, as the Jaguars are now six-point favorites as of Friday afternoon. A complete junior varsity performance by the Jets against the Patriots on Monday night did the trick on that front. Naturally, the Jets will look nowhere near as bad in this spot as they did against New England’s elite unit. They’ll be on short rest, but also highly motivated to put that stinker behind him. Therefore, I strongly lean toward New York at least sliding in under the number, with an outright upset very much in play.
Philadelphia Eagles at Buffalo Bills (-1.5)
Due to the 37-10 spanking they received at the hands of the Cowboys, the Eagles have reached one of those critical midseason forks in the road. Philadelphia is falling considerably below preseason expectations at 3-4. Now they enter one of the more hostile road environments in the NFL. It’s worth noting their hosts also played below their optimal level in a Week 7 win over the lowly Dolphins.
Carson Wentz looks out of sorts on many weeks and already has three sub-200-yard efforts. His bad pass percentage has also climbed from last season’s 17.4 percent to 22.4 percent. He now faces a Buffalo defense yielding the fourth-fewest passing yards per game (201.3) and allowing a pedestrian passer rating of 70.3. Philadelphia’s lack of a consistent running game isn’t doing him any favors, even as both Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders have had their moments. Here, too, the assignment will be tough for Philly – the Bills are surrendering a modest 91.3 rushing yards per game.
For their part, Buffalo may have been suffering from a bit of overconfidence coming out of their bye Week 7 against the Dolphins. Miami actually held a 14-9 early fourth-quarter lead before the Bills came back via John Brown and Cole Beasley touchdown grabs to seal the victory. Miami was able to consistently move the ball on the ground and through the air against Buffalo’s defense. The Bills figure to take this game a lot more seriously, especially considering it’s an opponent they don’t know well.
Philly will be desperate in this spot, but that was the case in Week 7 against the Cowboys as well and they fell flat. However, the Eagles’ ability to make the Bills potentially one-dimensional with their typically formidable run defense could force the risk-taking Josh Allen into putting up more passes than ideal. With a thin one-point spread as of Monday afternoon, this is one I’ll withhold judgment on until later in the week.
FRIDAY UPDATE: Philadelphia’s Jekyll-and-Hyde season continued with a complete dud of a performance against the Cowboys last Sunday night. That performance helped push the spread up to 2.5 points in favor of the Bills. While I see Philly its heart out here, I lean toward Buffalo squeaking out a win by a field goal or more.
Seattle Seahawks (-7.5) at Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons open a new week with two glaring open questions: Will Matt Ryan take the field in Week 8 after suffering a second-half ankle injury versus the Rams on Sunday? And, will head coach Dan Quinn still be his boss by then? Both are arguably up for discussion after another embarrassing loss for Atlanta against Los Angeles in Week 7. Factoring in the 37 points surrendered Sunday, the Falcons have given up over 30 points in each of their last three games, even as the final touchdown they surrendered Sunday came on a fumble return.
Those numbers bode especially poorly with Russell Wilson coming to town. Wilson finally threw his first interception of the season Sunday and appeared a bit flummoxed by the Ravens defense. However, the downgrade in competition here is significant – Atlanta is now surrendering 274 passing yards per game and tied with the Cardinals for an NFL-high 17 touchdown passes allowed. Throw in the fast track of the dome setting and the speed of wideouts Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, and the potential for an explosive bounce-back performance for Wilson and the entire Seahawks offense exists.
Meanwhile, we’ll be up in the air about the Falcons offense until an update on Ryan is available, likely late in the week. Matt Schaub was effective in a garbage-time drive Sunday versus Los Angeles. However, as with most backups, especially aging ones, it would likely be a different story if a team has a whole week to prepare for that quarterback. There’s also the matter of significant game rust for Schaub, which surely didn’t get eliminated with his brief appearance. The 38-year-old had only put up 10 pass attempts combined over the prior three seasons before his cameo against the Rams.
This is another spread that will need a fresh Friday look, as Ryan’s fate should be clearer at that point. As it stands, the 3.5-point projected edge for the Seahawks as of Monday afternoon seems a bit smaller than it should be.
FRIDAY UPDATE: Smaller than it should be indeed. Seattle’s projected edge has doubled here, even with Ryan still having a chance to play in this game after returning to practice Friday. With Atlanta at home and in desperate need of a win, I lean toward a Falcons resurgence and cover here if Ryan is able to make it back. However, if it’s Matt Schaub that ultimately gets the call for the Falcons, I see the Seahawks covering this number.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Tennessee Titans (-2.5)
Speaking of teams on the hot seat, Bruce Arians’ Buccaneers are 2-4 coming out of the bye week and now draw a thorny road challenge in the form of the Titans. Tennessee’s offensive makeover Sunday was dramatic with a new quarterback under center. Ryan Tannehill threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns (with one interception), displaying a command of the offense Marcus Mariota rarely had this season.
And while hot starts by interim quarterbacks can often dissipate with each passing week, that may not be case for Tannehill. Not only has he proven capable extended stretches of strong play before, he’ll draw an excellent matchup in Week 8. The Buccaneers have allowed the most passing yards per game (304.5) and a 93.5 passer rating. Tannehill displayed solid rapport with speedsters Corey Davis and A.J. Brown in Sunday’s win over the Chargers. He appears to have the accuracy and arm to capitalize on their big-play potential in a way Mariota wasn’t consistently able to.
On the other sideline, Jameis Winston had plenty of time to reflect on his disastrous Week 6 performance against the Panthers in London. Winston committed six turnovers (five interceptions, one fumble) in the contest. He draws a matchup versus a defense that’s typically pretty adept at disguising coverages and adapting its approach based on opponent. That’s the type of unit that can often goad Winston into mistakes, especially on the road. Given what Winston put on film in Week 5, Titans coach Mike Vrabel and defensive coordinator Dean Pees will have plenty to work from, even as they must deal with trying to contain the formidable receiver duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Coming off the bye week and with a veteran coach like Arians, the Bucs figure to be well prepared in this spot. I like the possibility of a Tampa upset here at plus money. The Under on a projected total of 46.5 points (as of Monday afternoon) is an appealing secondary bet.
FRIDAY UPDATE: The spread remains the same here, but the total has gone down another point to 45.5. That drop, combined with the fact I’ve rethought this game overall a bit, now leads me to lean toward the Over.
Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts (-5.5)
The Broncos crashed back to earth in Week 7 after a brief two-game winning streak. They dropped a 30-6 decision to the Chiefs despite KC losing Patrick Mahomes to a knee injury in the first quarter. Many of the same issues on offense that have plagued the Broncos throughout the season surfaced again. Joe Flacco averaged a modest 6.3 yards per attempt and totaled a modest 213 yards passing. The running game managed just 3.4 yards per carry. Then, the Colts shined in a divisional home win over the Texans. Jacoby Brissett continued his ascent with four touchdowns and his second 300-yard game of the campaign.
Denver will have its work cut out for it once more facing Indy on its home turf. The Colts have a 2-1 mark at Lucas Oil Field. Brissett’s three best passing performances of the season have also unfolded there. In turn, the Broncos have scored a total of just 52 points in three road dates. They would appear to have the names – Flacco, Lindsay, Freeman, Sutton and Sanders – to keep up with teams better than they have. However, a porous offensive line that most recently gave up nine sacks to the Chiefs has certainly played a part in their struggles.
On the other side, Brissett is likely to encounter a bit more resistance through the air than he did against the Texans. Denver is allowing the third-fewest passing yards per game (195.3), although that figure was certainly helped by facing Matt Moore and not Mahomes for three-plus quarters in Week 7. The Broncos have also mostly cleaned up the run defense problems that plagued them early in the season – they’re now yielding a respectable 107.3 rushing yards per contest.
I’ll reserve judgment on the spread until the end of the week, but an Under bet on the current projected total of 44 looks appealing due to coach Vic Fangio’s sharp defensive schemes and Denver’s pedestrian offense.
FRIDAY UPDATE: The line has come down a full 1.5 points here, even as the Denver offense has been further neutered by the trade of Emmanuel Sanders to the 49ers earlier in the week. I like a Colts cover as a result. Meanwhile, that 44-point total that seemed to be calling for the Under has unsurprisingly dropped to 42.5 points. I’m now neutral on that figure and would stay away myself.
Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans (-6.5)
The Raiders offense continues to progress under Jon Gruden’s tutelage despite the albatross of key injuries. They proved that again in Week 7 despite suffering a 42-24 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field. Considering Oakland is currently forced to with a makeshift receiving corps that features Hunter Renfrow as its top wideout on paper, they’re arguably exceeding expectations by scoring 24 points apiece the last two games without Tyrell Williams (foot).
Gruden’s squad has proven to be a tough out for the most part this season. The Broncos, Colts and Bears have found that out first-hand, although only one of those three wins have come on the road. Yet the Raiders’ offense could be in an advantageous spot against the Texans in Week 8. Houston continued to have plenty of trouble defending the pass in Week 7, allowing 326 yards and four touchdowns to Jacoby Brissett.
Derek Carr has shown a much better grasp of Gruden’s offense in Year 2 and is completing a career-high 74.1 percent of his passes despite also averaging a career-best 7.5 yards per attempt. Rookie running back Josh Jacobs is proving to be an excellent complement to Carr’s efforts, averaging 5.1 yards per carry and posting back-to-back 100-yard games.
The biggest conundrum here for Oakland figures to be pass defense. Aaron Rodgers carved them up for five passing touchdowns Sunday, and Houston’s Deshaun Watson has proven to have similar upside this season. Will Fuller (hamstring) is hurt again for the Texans, and his absence would bring Houston’s passing potency down a notch. However, the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Kenny Stills and Keke Coutee still pack plenty of firepower.
The Texans have been inconsistent this season, making the current 6.5-point number as of Monday afternoon one the Raiders could conquer.
FRIDAY UPDATE: The number has another half-point to a full touchdown projected advantage for the Texans, even with Fuller now confirmed out. Both Jacobs and Williams are considered questionable for the Raiders as well. Were Williams to miss, I wouldn’t be swayed from my conviction of the Raiders beating this number. However, if Oakland is also forced to go without Jacobs, I’d be off the game altogether.
Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers (-4.5)
The 49ers have rightfully been lauded for their shutdown defense this season. However, somewhat under the radar, the Panthers have been causing nightmares for offensive coordinators themselves. The most recent example came in a Week 6 dismantling of the Buccaneers in London. Jameis Winston may have produced the most deceiving 400-yard game in the history of the NFL, considering a good chunk of that production came with Carolina in prevent mode. Moreover, the Panthers picked him off five times and caused him to fumble twice, recovering one.
The 49ers rolled on in Week 7 with a shutout victory over the Redskins in the aforementioned monsoon on Sunday. No conclusions should be derived from San Fran’s lack of offense, as the weather legitimately affected the passing game. However, it’s worth noting Jimmy Garropolo has been turnover-prone even under perfect conditions this season (eight total turnovers) and the Panthers defense is adept at causing them, as their performance versus Tampa attests.
Coach Ron Rivera has already confirmed it will be Kyle Allen under center for the Panthers again in Week 8. Allen appears to legitimately be a threat to Cam Newton’s starting job over the long term and has yet to throw an interception. The playbook should continue expanding for him with each passing week, but the matchup here will be the toughest one he’s faced yet. Ditto for Christian McCaffrey, who’ll face a San Fran defense allowing just 90.0 rushing yards per contest.
The 49ers have the ability to be a touchdown better than virtually any team at the moment. Thus, the early-week spread is a manageable one for them to cover. Additionally, an Under bet on the current 41.5-point total is in play as well, given the quality of both defenses.
FRIDAY UPDATE: We remain at the same 5.5-point projected advantage here for the Niners, but with a total that’s climbed a half-point to 42. I’m therefore still of the same mindset as early in the week — a 49ers cover and the Under.
Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots (-10.5)
The embattled Browns seemingly can’t catch a break. They’ve dropped two straight and now must travel to Gillette Stadium to face the stingiest defense in the NFL. There will be a major rest edge in Cleveland’s favor here, although it’s fair to question if it will matter. Baker Mayfield and company are coming off a bye, while the Patriots will have played a Monday night road game against the Jets.
The fact the spread is less than two touchdowns in favor of the Pats might be the oddsmakers’ nod to that disparity. This number is likely to move in some form after New England’s game Monday night against the Jets, but likely not by much. The biggest obstacle for Cleveland coach Freddie Kitchens here might be keeping Mayfield in one piece and away from any turnovers. New England’s opportunistic defense has taken the ball away an NFL-high 16 times, and that’s before Monday night’s game.
With the Patriots still to play in Week 7 as of this writing and Josh Gordon’s availability to suit up against his old squad in Week 8 also in question due to a knee injury, we’ll revisit the line later in the week and provide a more informed take on the game at that point.
FRIDAY UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, the spread has climbed another half-point after the Patriots’ thorough domination of the Jets last Monday night. Gordon is no longer available after being placed on injured reserve, but no matter — this New England defense should be too much for a mistake-prone Mayfield. Cleveland could well give the Pats a battle here for some time, but I ultimately see at least a two-touchdown win for the defending champs.
Green Bay Packers (-4.5) at Kansas City Chiefs — Sunday night
This game turned from potential instant classic to a somewhat less anticipated matchup last Thursday night. That’s when Patrick Mahomes went down with a dislocated kneecap against the Broncos. Matt Moore did a serviceable job in his stead and helped lead KC to the 30-6 victory over Denver. However, this Week 8 scenario shapes up differently for Moore. The Packers have technically had 10 days to prepare for Moore as the starter given the timing of Mahomes’ injury.
Moore has more than enough experience to step in. However, it’s how the Chiefs passing game might be forced to adapt to his limitations that’s the X-factor. Andy Reid has naturally had those same 10 days to devise a gameplan around Moore’s strengths. Arm strength is one of the biggest potential obstacles for Moore. His average ability in that department is bound to take some of the vertical dimension out of the Chiefs’ passing attack.
The talented backfield duo of LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams, with possible contributions from Darrel Williams, could therefore have a big role in this contest. The Packers’ run defense could be accommodating in that regard. They’ve yielded 128.9 rushing yards per contest. Then, tight end Travis Kelce could be set up for success. Not only could he see an even more expanded role than usual due to his ability to operate in the shorter passing window, but Green Bay has also allowed the fifth-most receptions (38), ninth-most receiving yards (382) and second-most touchdowns (four) to the position.
Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams could thrive on the ground in their own right in this matchup. The Chiefs did an excellent job against the Broncos’ tandem of Philip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, but they’ve still been among the most vulnerable teams to the run across the board. Even with Mahomes out, coach Matt LaFleur may opt to keep the ball away from Kansas City as much as possible by sticking with a run-centric approach. The Chiefs’ top-10 ranking in pass yards allowed per game (228.6) could encourage that strategy as well.
This number completely flipped upon Mahomes’ injury. The Chiefs will be looking to prevent a third straight loss in front of the Arrowhead faithful here, so even without Mahomes, my early-week feel is they do enough to at least prevent a Packers cover.
FRIDAY UPDATE: The line holds steady at four points for the Packers, so my outlook likewise remains the same, especially with KC likely buoyed by the fact Mahomes was actually able to already work back into practice this week and could potentially suit up Week 9.
Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers (-14) – Monday night
Consider what the likelihood of a Steelers team without Ben Roethlisberger being favored by over two touchdowns would have been prior to the season and you have a snapshot of what type of downright wacky year it’s been in the NFL thus far. The Dolphins are demonstrating improvement week to week under first-year head coach Brian Flores. Yet the oddsmakers aren’t buying it in this spot, the real scare Miami put into the Bills on the road in Week 7 notwithstanding.
Ryan Fitzpatrick turned back the clock to his highly successful Buffalo days Sunday in returning to the field where he put together the best multi-season stretch of his long career. He might be in line for more feel-good vibes Monday night, facing a Steelers team he lit up for 411 yards and three touchdowns in Week 3 of last season while with the Buccaneers. However, Pittsburgh will come in well-rested and presumably well-prepared after having had its bye in Week 7.
Miami may have found a viable running back in Mark Walton (14 carries, 66 yards against Bills). However, he’ll have another tough assignment against a Steelers D that’s been stout against the run. When taking to the air, the Fins will do well to beware of former teammate Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was traded to the Steelers earlier in the season and thus knows the Dolphins’ offense very well.
Pittsburgh should have a very strong matchup irrespective of whether they choose to attack on the ground or through the air. Miami has been vulnerable to both and could once again be missing Xavien Howard (knee) and Reshad Jones (chest) in the secondary. Mason Rudolph is cleared to return from his scary head injury in Week 7 and was seemingly making progress as a passer before going down against the Ravens, so his play will be interesting to watch in this game. Running back James Conner should be available as well after dealing with a knee issue before the bye.
I’m predicting this number gets bet down some during the course of the week. At 14.5 points, I would lean toward jumping on a Dolphins cover, especially considering they’ve lost their last two games by less than two touchdowns.
FRIDAY UPDATE: The number did indeed get whittled down this week, but only a half-point. I still see the Dolphins giving Pittsburgh a competitive enough matchup here to at least lose by less than two scores, even with multiple injuries in the secondary.