Week 8 NFL game picks: Patriots upset Chargers; Colts close AFC South gap with win over Titans

Gregg Rosenthal went 7-6 straight up and 9-4 against the spread on his Week 7 NFL picks, bringing his season totals to 66-41 and 55-50-1, respectively. How will he fare in Week 8? His picks are below.

The lines below provided by Caesars are current as of Noon ET on Thursday, Oct. 28 unless otherwise noted below.

SUNDAY, OCT. 31

Cincinnati Bengals
ML: -550 · 5-2
New York Jets
ML: +400 · 1-5
  • WHERE: MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Bengals -10.5 | O/U: 43


The Bengals are the No. 1 seed in the AFC with Halloween approaching. I believe Cincinnati will cover a double-digit spread on the road. Everything is new and strange. The notion of the Jets' defense being underrated has taken a beating in their last two games, as have their fill-in linebackers. GM Joe Douglas traded for Joe Flacco, but coach Robert Saleh says that 2018 fifth-rounder and former Cowboy Mike White will start, which is almost a no-win situation for the organization. When Flacco outperformed Sam Darnold while filling in for him a year ago, it was an indictment on where the team stood in its ability to develop a quarterback. I don't expect White to similarly show up Zach Wilson, especially against one of the fastest, most cohesive defenses in football.

Indianapolis Colts
ML: -125 · 3-4
Tennessee Titans
ML: +105 · 5-2
  • WHERE: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Colts -1.5 | O/U: 51


The Titans have done a laudable job surviving their injuries in the secondary, and the offense is a different animal with A.J. Brown and Julio Jones on the field together. (Although Julio didn't make it to 30 snaps last week.) Mike Vrabel has never earned a season sweep over Frank Reich in three-plus seasons of trying, so a win on the road this week would be just as impressive as victories over the Bills and Chiefs. The Colts have won three games by 50 points combined since the two teams played in Week 3, with the blown lead in Baltimore their only defeat. This is the Colts' best chance to get back to relevance, and their top-ranked run defense in DVOA and EPA can slow down Derrick Henry just enough.

Los Angeles Rams
ML: -1000 · 6-1
Houston Texans
ML: +650 · 1-6
  • WHERE: NRG Stadium (Houston)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Rams -14.5 | O/U: 47.5


The Texans have scored six points on offense in the last two weeks combined. They have failed to log a touchdown in three of Davis Mills' five starts and scored nine points in another. I am not yet sure what this Los Angeles defense is all about, but it's good enough to maintain that trend for Houston, barring Tyrod Taylor's return to the lineup. The Rams' three-game tour against some of the worst teams in football should have Matthew Stafford and his underrated offensive line flying high with confidence, if they weren't already. 


UPDATE: Texans coach David Culley announced that Mills will start against the Rams and noted that Taylor is not yet ready to return.

Cleveland Browns
ML: -200 · 4-3
Pittsburgh Steelers
ML: +170 · 3-3
  • WHERE: FirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Browns -3.5 | O/U: 42


I was hoping the spread would be lower, so I could take Cleveland to cover against one of the best defensive fronts in football without much guilt. I am weirdly less interested in who starts at quarterback for the Browns than in whether Denzel Ward, Jadeveon Clowney and especially Jarvis Landry can get back on the field. (UPDATE: NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday that Baker Mayfield has been cleared to play and is expected to start.) I still trust the bones of a Cleveland squad that embarrassed Pittsburgh last January, especially the running game. I also trust this Browns defense more than last season's unit. If Cleveland's playoff triumph was a moment to savor, a win like this, when both teams are diminished, would be confirmation that the organization is still headed in the right direction. 

Philadelphia Eagles
ML: -180 · 2-5
Detroit Lions
ML: +155 · 0-7
  • WHERE: Ford Field (Detroit)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Eagles -3.5 | O/U: 48


The Lions' death-by-a-thousand-cuts offense matches up well on paper against an Eagles defense that loves nothing more than giving up a 7-yard pass. The problem is that the Lions never live in the end. They are well-coached, but their No. 1 wide receiver, Kalif Raymond, was essentially sixth on the depth chart when he was in Tennessee. It's the rare game where the Eagles are the more talented team, and things could start to unravel in Philadelphia if they can't win this one.

San Francisco 49ers
ML: -200 · 2-4
Chicago Bears
ML: +170 · 3-4
  • WHERE: Soldier Field (Chicago)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Bears +4 | O/U: 39.5


There have been games this season where Chicago's offense didn't look professional. But the Bears have been competitive most weeks, and have wins over the Raiders and Bengals. They were the rare team that beat the Lions convincingly. The 49ers are so thoroughly mediocre each week that at some point you have to believe what they are showing you. With Khalil Mack not expected to play, this could certainly be the game where San Francisco's offense puts it all together. But I'll wait until George Kittle and Trent Williams are healthy to take them to cover as a significant road favorite. 

Atlanta Falcons
ML: -160 · 3-3
Carolina Panthers
ML: +140 · 3-4
  • WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Panthers +3 | O/U: 46


Sam Darnold has been virtually unplayable for seven of his last eight quarters. Matt Ryan has played like a top-five quarterback in his last three games, albeit against three of the league's worst defenses. That's why this game remains exceedingly hard to pick. Carolina's defense, which should get Shaq Thompson back and debut Stephon Gilmore, is still likely the best unit in this game. The Falcons struggle to rush the passer, the type of defense Darnold was solid against in the first three weeks. I'd take any points in a game that's this much of a coin flip, even if I give Atlanta a slightly better chance to win.

Buffalo Bills
ML: -900 · 4-2
Miami Dolphins
ML: +600 · 1-6
  • WHERE: Highmark Stadium (Orchard Park, N.Y.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Dolphins +14 | O/U: 48.5


I do not envy Tua Tagovailoa, who has handled a difficult situation off the field with far more grace than his employers have afforded him. He is making progress on the field despite a rough offensive line that makes everything look so hard for Tua, who is not blessed with a skill set that dominates with physical traits. He's shown he can move the ball against lackluster defenses, but the Bills are a rested, cohesive group ready to show that the end of the Titans game was an anomaly. I'll take the Dolphins to cover out of mercy because I don't want to imagine what happens in Miami if they get blown out by Buffalo again. 

New England Patriots
ML: +190 · 3-4
Los Angeles Chargers
ML: -230 · 4-2
  • WHERE: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, Calif.)
  • WHEN: 4:05 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Patriots +5 | O/U: 49


Bill Belichick has eyes and knows that Justin Herbert is going to be one of the league's top quarterbacks for a long time. Belichick also has a memory, which should find solace in the Patriots shutting out Herbert last season. This is a very different secondary, however, with Stephon Gilmore in Carolina and underrated slot corner Jonathan Jones on injured reserve. The only way to beat the Chargers will be to pile up points and stay as aggressive as the Pats were against the Jets. Damien Harris is the perfect interior runner to gash Brandon Staley's run defense and keep the score closer than five points, even if New England doesn't win outright. 

Seattle Seahawks
ML: -170 · 2-5
Jacksonville Jaguars
ML: +145 · 1-5


Trevor Lawrence is getting better, but a lot had to go right for the Jaguars to get their first victory of the season in London. This Jacksonville defense is the rare group that Pete Carroll may want to throw the ball against on first down, when it's easier for quarterbacks, especially backups like Geno Smith. Mercifully out of prime time, this Seahawks team still has the superior talent and coaching to win a game like this, get to the bye and pray for Russell Wilson to return in Week 10.

Washington Football Team
ML: +145 · 2-5
Denver Broncos
ML: -170 · 3-4
  • WHERE: Empower Field at Mile High (Denver)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Washington +3 | O/U: 44.5


It sounds strange to say, but the Football Team's loss to the Packers last week was the best they looked this year. They didn't have breakdowns in the secondary, and not so coincidentally, their defensive front four controlled the action. The return of Jerry Jeudy offers the Broncos hope this week, but Denver's offense hasn't been the problem. Vic Fangio's expensive defense is 26th in DVOA, per Football Outsiders, despite a soft schedule overall. In a game this ugly, take the points.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
ML: -250 · 6-1
New Orleans Saints
ML: +205 · 4-2
  • WHERE: Caesars Superdome (New Orleans)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Saints +5.5 | O/U: 50


It's the next stop on the "We aren't the 2020 Buccaneers" tour. After avenging a loss to the Bears with flair, the Bucs face a Saints team that swept them last regular season, including a 38-3 beatdown in Week 9 a year ago. This New Orleans defense, with Marcus Davenport looking good in his return and David Onyemata returning from suspension, could be better than a year ago. That's why I like this division matchup to go down to the wire. Sean Payton will have to let Jameis Winston be aggressive in attacking this Bucs secondary, but it's not a Saints offense that looks ready to put up 30 points. Even with a good New Orleans defense, that's probably what it will take. 

Dallas Cowboys
ML: -125 · 5-1
Minnesota Vikings
ML: +105 · 3-3
  • WHERE: U.S. Bank Stadium (Minneapolis)
  • WHEN: 8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
  • SPREAD: Cowboys -1.5 | O/U: 55


I missed both of these teams last week. The Cowboys will get O-lineman La'el Collins back and wideout Michael Gallup may not be far behind. The Vikings' run defense has been a problem most of the season, and losing a resurgent Patrick Peterson will hurt the secondary. While I love Mike Zimmer's defensive flexibility, Mike McCarthy is the one here that is aware he's running an offense-first team. I trust the Cowboys to know who they are and stay aggressive, at least until the final two minutes. This should be a great game on Twitter. 


UPDATE: Dak Prescott’s status is highly uncertain heading into the weekend. If Prescott is ruled out, I’ll pick the Vikings to cover the current spread -- they are three-point favorites as of 5 p.m. ET on Friday.

MONDAY, NOV. 1

Kansas City Chiefs
ML: -450 · 3-4
New York Giants
ML: +350 · 2-5


The weekly problem of wanting to know who might suit up for the beleaguered Giants is compounded by my deadline and them playing on Monday night this week. The team’s defense dominating last week was likely a Sam Darnold mirage, but Daniel Jones is playing well enough to compete each week, especially if he can get more of his receivers back. 

THURSDAY'S GAME

Arizona Cardinals
ML: -280 · 7-0
Green Bay Packers
ML: +230 · 6-1


The Cardinals could be catching the Packers at the right time. Left tackle David Bakhtiari still might not quite be ready for this game and Jaire Alexander's absence looms even larger. No team's perimeter passing game tests a secondary's depth more than the Arizona's. The Green Bay defense has proven resourceful despite huge workloads for pickups like Rasul Douglas and Isaac Yiadom, while the right side of the offensive line was dominated by Washington last week. Recent signees like Jaylon Smith and Whitney Mercilus are seeing significant playing time, too. The Cardinals' strengths, including a varied pass rush, match up well against the Packers' offensive line, and it's a rare game where Aaron Rodgers isn't the best playmaking quarterback.


To put it another way: I wrote the paragraph above and had a six-point margin before I knew that Davante Adams and Allen Lazard aren't going to play. 

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter.

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