Week 8 NFL Picks

Here we are. Just about halfway through the NFL regular season (it always goes so fast–TOO fast) and at the dreaded bye week for the Packers. I hate the Packers’ bye every year but this year this is especially true–I have no idea how common or weird this is but I actually dream their games in advance. I absolutely cannot get enough of this team and wish that there could be some way I could see them play 162 games a year without the players’ bodies being brutally dismembered.

I am aware that this is a new golden era for Packers fans and must constantly remind myself to fully appreciate it for how special it is. This is happening. We are truly lucky to have this team. The Packers are defending Super Bowl Champions (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), 7-0 and in a tier by themselves atop the NFL power rankings, and set up for sustained success. Aaron Rodgers is having a historically brilliant season and the rest of the team is full of great players who, as an added bonus, are also likable characters. In Thompson and McCarthy I trust. Not too many fans can say that unconditionally about their GM and head coach.

How many NFL teams even have half as many jersey-able (as in you could buy the jersey and know that it will be relevant for years, whether or not the player is still with the team) players as the Packers do? Aaron Rodgers, Josh Sitton (just because no one buys o-line jerseys doesn’t mean they shouldn’t…), Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, BJ Raji, Clay Matthews, AJ Hawk (who has been underratedly solid the past 1.5 years), Desmond Bishop, Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Nick Collins (on IR but still very jersey-able), and the possible emergences of Randall Cobb, Sam Shields, and Morgan Burnett. That is 13 with the possibility/probability of 16! That is unheard of and I am aware of how lucky I am. It’s gonna be hard to make it all the way until next Sunday without my Packers crack.

On to the picks:

Previous Records:
Week 7: 7-5-1
Season: 55-43-5

Week 7: 5-7-1
Season: 55-43-5

Indianapolis @ Tennessee (-8.5)

Ryan: First game in and we already have a prime candidate for the Black Zone Channel which, if you don’t recall, is the new NFL venture that showcases punting, passes thrown over receivers’ heads and at their feet, and offensive (pun intended) action in team’s own territory. These two teams combined to lose 103-14 last week so something’s gotta give. Colts cover.

Asif: It’s pretty apparent that nothing is going to prevent the Colts from sucking as hard as possible for Andrew Luck. We can only pray that the Dolphins find a way to suck more, which they’re perfectly capable of doing. The Hasselbeck renaissance (Hasselbeckaissance?) appears to have come to an abrupt end, but I think that the Titans will hold off until the end of the season before starting Jake Locker. At least I hope they do because I really want to see Locker succeed. Anyway, just a hunch here, but Indy covers.

Jacksonville @ Houston (-9.5)

Ryan: For some strange reason, the Jaguars are still fighting viciously for Jack Del Rio. Last week’s win against the Ravens was not some sort of fluke where Baltimore thought it could coast; the Ravens were trying and couldn’t generate ANY offense on the Jags. Aside from their 32-3 loss Week 2 versus the Jets, the Jaguars haven’t been getting blown out.

The Texans were unbelievable on both sides of the ball against the Titans, beating them into submission–last week, some people (ahem, Asif) were talking about the Titans as the favorites to win the AFC South. Now, there are rumblings that Jake Locker could be the starter soon. This is a fickle league. This line seems three points too high. Jags cover.

Asif: Last week’s Monday night game between Baltimore and Jacksonville was stab your eyes out with a pencil awful. I blame that more on Joe Flacco’s being the most overrated QB this side of Mark Sanchez than Jacksonville’s actually being good on defense. I’ll admit that I jumped the gun a bit on burying Houston; they’re definitely the AFC South favorites now and they will definitely get blown out in a first round home playoff game. Still, I could see some letdown from a cathartic win over the Titans last week. Jags cover.

Minnesota @ Carolina (-3.5)

Ryan: If you separate out his 72-yard completion to Michael Jenkins on the Vikings’ first play from scrimmage, Christian Ponder was 12-31 for 147 yards. Not exactly awe inspiring. The Vikings kept their game against the Packers last week way closer than it had any business being.

The Panthers looked like they were starting to come together last week–they may be on the path to joining the middle of the league while the Redskins could end up in the group of 11 awful teams I alluded to in last week’s column. Panthers cover.

Asif: I know, I know, Christian Ponder wasn’t that great, but I’m not buying the Panthers’ ability to stop Adrian Peterson. Also, the Vikings weren’t THAT bad when Donovan McNabb was their QB. It’s kinda hard to understate how much McNabb was actively hurting that team. Now at least Donovan can achieve his dream of eating a McRib on the sideline during the third quarter.

I’m still not sold on the Panthers, they’ll have to do more than beat a team led by John Beck to convince me they’re actually good. Vikings cover and I roll in the money from my $10 bet with Ryan.

New Orleans (-13) @ St. Louis

Ryan: Last week, we saw what happens when the Saints play against terrible teams. 62-7. It’s hard to believe the Rams are 36 points better than the Colts (math: 45 – 13 (spread) – 6 (home field differential)). Saints have issues in the secondary but it looks like Sam Bradford might be out again this week, not that he would have been doing anything this season to take advantage of it otherwise. Saints cover.

Asif: This line should be at least seven points higher. I’m almost completely certain that the Rams are going to grab the second or third pick in the draft and extort a ransom from whatever QB-desperate team loses on Luck and is willing to give up a fortune to get Landry Jones. Drew Brees seems like he might be pretty good at football. Saints cover.

Arizona @ Baltimore (-13)

Ryan: The issues that Baltimore had on Monday versus the Jaguars are ones that will rear their head later on this season. It is extremely alarming for the Ravens that Joe Flacco is not a better quarterback; there are long stretches of games where he just cannot move the ball and he misses a lot of passes that he needs to be completing at this stage of his career. The Ravens defense can only do so much and at this point I think that Flacco gives the franchise a defined ceiling for the entirety of his tenure. That being said, the Cardinals are horrible and the thought of Kevin Kolb going on the road against said Ravens defense is horrifying. Ravens cover.

Asif: The next person who calls Joe Flacco an elite quarterback gets punched in the face. I’m looking at you ESPN analysts. Given that ol’ unibrow is perfectly capable of stinking up the joint again, I’m a bit hesitant to take the Ravens as 13 point favorites. Then again, the Cardinals appear to have given up after Week 2 and you can bet that the Ravens D will be out for blood after an embarrassing loss. Baltimore covers.

Miami @ NY Giants (-10)

Ryan: The Dolphins lose every week but they are feisty. They have only been truly blown out once in their six losses. Unfortunately, this resilience has not been enough to keep Tony Sparano from begging the referees for his job. No, seriously, that happened.

This isn’t a game that the 4-2 Giants can afford to mess around in, though. After this cupcake, here is their schedule for the next six weeks:

@New England
@San Francisco
@New Orleans
Green Bay

In that stretch, they play perhaps the four best teams in the league (Packers, Patriots, 49ers, Saints), so they absolutely HAVE to take care of business this week. Giants cover.

Asif: The Giants absolutely have to win this game. As Ryan mentioned above, their schedule over the next six weeks is brutal and any playoff hopes they have rest on building a nice cushion in the NFC East now. The good news is that the Dolphins are God awful. Seriously, Matt Moore is their starting quarterback, they just lost a game to Tim Tebow, their coach is clearly just going through the motions now, and their best player, Brandon Marshall, has mental health issues. Giants cover.

Washington @ Buffalo (Toronto) (-6)

Ryan: Depressingly, this is probably the best game on the early slate on Sunday. The Redskins’ collapse started last week against the Panthers, a few weeks earlier than I was predicting/hoping for. Prior to this season, Mike Shanahan said that he would stake his reputation on John Beck and Rex Grossman. The only possible explanations for this comment are that he was being insincere or that he does not have eyes. They are who we thought they were.

Coming off the bye, this is a game that the 4-2 Bills need in order to preserve their momentum. Bills cover.

Asif: The Redskins are in freefall mode and I’m feeling kinda silly for believing in a team that made a conscious decision to enter the season with John Beck and Rex Grossman as its QBs. The Bills are coming off a tough loss to the Giants, but I think they should be able to pull this one out on their NOT HOME field in Toronto. Bills cover.

Detroit (-2.5) @ Denver

Ryan: Love Tim Tebow, or HATE Tim Tebow–there really doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. Every NFL pundit had to have an opinion on him before the draft and has maintained an agenda in hoping this prophecy comes true. I don’t really have an opinion on whether he will be good or not–my best guess is yes–but at least he’s interesting. The Broncos are much more fun to watch now with Tebow than Kyle Orton.

This week, Tebow’s slow release could be an issue against the beastly Lions defensive line. Even if Shaun Hill starts for Detroit, I think Lions cover.

Asif: Put me down firmly in the HATE Tebow camp. The last thing we needed in this world was another bible thumping sports figure for the media to fellate. Tony Dungy and Ray Lewis are enough, but at least they’re good at football. Tebow unequivocally sucks. Try and argue otherwise. The guy got outplayed by Matt Moore for most of last Sunday’s game. He couldn’t do sh*t against one of the worst defenses in NFL history. But then the Dolphins remembered that it was in their best interest to lose to Denver and now I have to deal with another week of Tebow worship. As for Tebow’s being more exciting than Kyle Orton… CHILD PLEASE. Any time Orton steps on the field there’s at least a 15% chance that he’s drunk. God boy has never touched a drop of the Devil’s water in his life.

Have you heard of Tebowing? I hate myself because I have. If you ever see anyone doing this, just kick them in the face. They’re leaving it right out there for you.

The Lions have come back to Earth a bit, and you can almost hear the bones breaking from people jumping off their bandwagon. O ye of little faith. I’m sticking this one out to the end. Detroit covers and if there’s any benevolent force in the universe, Ndamukong Suh tears Tebow’s head off and then taunts his corpse.

New England (-3) @ Pittsburgh

Ryan: Forgive me for not quite buying into this Steelers renaissance after three straight victories when they have come against the Titans, Jaguars, and Cardinals. The Patriots aren’t exactly stellar at getting to the quarterback but I like their chances when Bill Belichick has two weeks to prepare for Pittsburgh’s abysmal offensive line; the Patriots have won eight straight years–and are 9-2 overall–coming off the bye under Belichick. It really seems like Vegas is begging us to take New England here but I’ll bite. Patriots cover.

Asif: This week’s manufactured Boston sports story of the moment was Rob Gronkowski having his picture taken with a porn star. Gronkowski actually apologized for the incident. In what universe is that actually something that any unmarried person should have to apologize to anyone for? God, I hate the Boston media.

The Steelers beat up on bad teams, but I don’t think that they’re good enough to handle a team like the Pats. After a horrendous start, New England’s defense looks like it is rounding into shape. It was really good against Dallas in Week 6–Albert Haynesworth looked motivated and Andre Carter might be a real find. This seems too easy, but Pats cover.

Cleveland @ San Fransisco (-8.5)

Ryan: Has there ever been a worse 3-3 team than the 2011 Cleveland Browns? It doesn’t seem possible. Their three wins have come against the Colts, Dolphins, and Seahawks (combined record: 2-17). I think that San Francisco is legit good and wins this game in a landslide. 49ers cover.

Asif: To answer Ryan’s question, no I don’t think there has been a worse 3-3 team than the Cleveland Browns. I can’t think of a single thing the Browns do well. Peyton Hilllis hasn’t even been that good this year. In fact, they suck so predictably that I’ve managed to pick every one of their games correctly (one push). I’ll put my streak on the line and take a very good 49ers team to cover. Like the rest of us, I’m in complete shock that we live in a universe where Alex Smith is a decent NFL QB.

Cincinnati (-3) @ Seattle

Ryan: Why no love for the 4-2 Bengals? Their two losses have come by a combined seven points. The Seahawks had 137 yards of total offense and two turnovers last week. Not exactly a banner performance. Bengals cover.

Asif: Remember when I insinuated that the Seahawks might not be that bad and that Charlie Whitehurst may be an upgrade over Tarvaris Jackson. Scratch that, they are that bad and to my surprise Whitehurst isn’t an upgrade over T-Jack. The Bengals have two rookie of the year candidates in Andy Dalton and AJ Green, the best defense of any team not from Baltimore, and a share of the AFC North lead. Cincy won the division just two years ago so I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising that they’re this good, but I don’t think anyone saw this coming. Bengals cover. BTW, that Carson Palmer trade is looking better by the minute, with two first rounders this year the Bengals could be contenders for the next several years with a young core.

Dallas @ Philadelphia (-3.5)

Ryan: Finally, a dank primetime game! I actually think that both of these teams are better than their records; they might be the 3rd and 4th best teams in the NFC behind the Packers and the 49ers. Since Andy Reid started coaching the team in 1999, the Eagles are 12-0 (!) coming off a bye. They are at home and need this game just a little bit more than the Cowboys do. Eagles cover.

Asif: DIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIE. I hate even looking at this match-up. I’ll take Dallas to cover because I want Philly to be buried before they start their annual late season run, but really I’m rooting for a meteor to hit the Linc.

Monday Night:

San Diego (-3.5) @ Kansas City

Ryan: Another dank night game! The winner of this game holds the tiebreaker for first place in the AFC West.

What in the world is wrong with Philip Rivers this season? Jason Lisk thinks that this is random error and that Rivers will rebound. I would tend to agree but usually when the Chargers have issues this time of year, Rivers is not the problem.

Kansas City, meanwhile, has been coming on hard the last few weeks. After starting out 0-3 and looking like they were going to fire Todd Haley sooner than later in the middle of this season, they have won three in a row. I don’t want to say that the Texans and Chiefs are as good as last year’s Packers, but there is some value in having injuries happen earlier than later.

Right now, the Chiefs and Chargers are headed in completely opposite directions. This is not to say that the momentum cannot or will not change but right now I’m going to roll with it. Chiefs cover.

Asif: If KC wins this game, they take a share of the AFC West lead. Commentators as a whole seem to be ignoring that Philip Rivers has suddenly morphed into Jay Cutler. He sulks, cusses at his coach, throws stupid interceptions–all symptoms of Cutlersuck. My guess is he finally got tired of playing for Norv Turner (who can blame him) and is dogging it this season to get Norv fired. Too bad he doesn’t realize that Norv has pictures of Chargers GM AJ Smith with a Thai ladyboy and thus will be coach for life. Chiefs cover.


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