It’s hard to believe that the 2011 NFL regular season is nearing its midway point, much like it’ll be equally as difficult seeing snow in some of the football stadiums, while playing games in the month of October.
Either way, Week 8 features a handful of the NFL’s elite teams coming off a bye and immediately being thrust into key matchups, mainly the Philadelphia Eagles (who host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football) and the New England Patriots, who travel to Pittsburgh to take on Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers.
In the “Pick Your Knows” department, it was another solid week for me, as I further pushed myself up the ranks. I still remain off last year’s pace, but there’s plenty of time to right that ship.
Last Week: 8-5
This Season: 54-49
Last Season: 144-112
It’s once again time to “Pick Your Knows” – the only time it’s not a disgusting habit – and here are Week 8’s scheduled games (with spreads as they appear through CBSSports Fantasy).
Pick Your Knows: 2011 NFL Week 8 Picks Against the Spread
Arizona Cardinals at Baltimore Ravens (-12.5)
Baltimore’s three home games have all been double-digit victories over quality opponents, including the Jets, Texans and Steelers. Last week, Baltimore’s offense struggled mightily and will look to bounce back against a weaker Arizona defense. The Ravens are a different team at home that also has the NFL’s top defense, while the Cardinals could likely be without Beanie Wells. Baltimore covers at home, and rebounds from last week’s poor performance.
KP’s Pick: Baltimore
Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers (-3.5)
Here is yet another matchup of two rookie quarterbacks, with Cam Newton facing off against Christian Ponder. Newton has been consistent all season, but so has the Carolina run defense, which has been consistently bad. Ponder had a solid debut last week versus Green Bay. Minnesota will throw a heavy dose of Adrian Peterson at Carolina’s 29th ranked run defense and a filthy pass rush (21 sacks – 1st in NFL) at Cam Newton. Take the Vikes and the points.
KP’s Pick: Minnesota
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-10.5)
The Texans will be without Andre Johnson for yet another week. Last week, it didn’t slow down Houston’s offense, but this week could pose a challenge against Jacksonville’s sixth-ranked pass defense. The biggest key will be how Houston’s run defense (99.3 ypg allowed) can handle Maurice Jones-Drew. The Jags gave Baltimore’s offense fits, and if they can manage another solid performance, keeping this matchup under ten points is a good possibility.
KP’s Pick: Jacksonville
Miami Dolphins at New York Giants (-9.5)
The key stat to this game will be protecting the quarterback. The Dolphins have allowed 22 sacks on the season, the third most in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Giants have 21 sacks, tied for the most in the league this season. The Giants return from a bye week, allowing the team to get healthy and prepare for a home game against Miami. All signs point to the Giants covering on this day.
KP’s Pick: New York Giants
New Orleans Saints at St. Louis Rams (+11.5)
Sam Bradford’s high ankle sprain will keep him out of the lineup this weekend, leaving A.J. Feeley to try and keep up with the Saints offense. Consider that to be unlikely, and playing on the artificial turf, Darren Sproles will likely torch the Rams defense. The disappointing season continues for St. Louis… as New Orleans covers on the road.
KP’s Pick: New Orleans
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-9.5)
Much has been talked about regarding the struggles of Titans RB Chris Johnson, with many saying that he could finally break out against a struggling Colts defense that ranks 30th overall and 31st against the run. Meanwhile, the Colts are coming off one of the most embarrassing losses in the history of football, falling to the Saints 62-7 last week. Here’s guessing CJ doesn’t figure it out, and the Colts can hang around for four quarters. Take Indy and the points.
KP’s Pick: Indianapolis
Washington Redskins vs Buffalo Bills (-5.5)
The Bills return from a bye, playing in Toronto against an injury-riddled Redskins offense that lost its top running back and top wide receiver last week. John Beck will start again for Washington, but could have challenges moving the ball. The Redskins have 21 sacks (tied 1st in NFL), while the Bills have allowed just seven sacks (fewest in NFL). Something has to give in the trenches, but either way, Washington’s depleted offense could fail to keep up. Buffalo covers.
KP’s Pick: Buffalo
Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos (+3.5)
Matthew Stafford is questionable with an ankle injury, but all signs appear to be pointing to him playing on Sunday. Tim Tebow has no doubt sparked the Broncos, but while the former Gators QB can run, he has struggled passing the ball. The Lions pass defense ranks in the top ten and overall has more INT’s (10) than TD’s allowed (8). With that in mind, it’s a good bet that the Lions will get back in the win column – and cover, too.
KP’s Pick: Detroit
New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers (+2.5)
Tom Brady and the Pats return from a week off, rested and ready to take on the Steelers at a hostile Heinz Field. Pittsburgh’s offense has improved over the last few games, but the running game has still mostly struggled. The key matchup will be New England’s top ranked passing offense versus Pittsburgh’s second ranked pass defense. In a spread this low, it’s hard to bet against Brady, especially with a week to prepare. Take the Pats to cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: New England
Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers (-9.5)
Cleveland enters this game with the number one passing defense in the NFL, but one that has only managed 4 INT’s on the year. Clearly, the result of this game will rely heavily on Frank Gore and whether he can continue his hot streak. Gore will face the 20th ranked run defense, which has allowed nearly 120 ypg. A two-score victory may be a stretch, but adding a week of rest while playing at home, I’ll bank on the NIners winning by 10.
KP’s Pick: San Francisco
Cincinnati Bengals at Seattle Seahawks (+2.5)
The Bengals are rested and will be without running back Cedric Benson due to a one-game suspension. Either way, Seattle has held running games in check, so the key here will be Andy Dalton on offense and the Bengals shutting down Seattle’s struggling offense. Seattle plays better at home, but the Bengals are clearly the better team right now. Cincy covers.
KP’s Pick: Cincinnati
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5)
Here’s the tricky part: Andy Reid is 12-0 coming off a bye, so which angle do you take, that he’s due to lose or that he just knows how to prepare a team coming off a bye? I don’t stick much to a record like this, because many games could have been against sub-par opponents. The biggest key will be how DeMarco Murray fares against an Eagles run defense that has been beatable all year. Bank on a three-point game, especially in this NFC East. Take Dallas and the points.
KP’s Pick: Dallas
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (+3.5)
The Kansas City defense has intercepted 11 passes, third most in the NFL this season. Meanwhile, Philip Rivers and the Chargers have struggled offensively, and battled injuries as a team. The Chiefs have rebounded, winning three straight, and often play better at home. With the San Diego offense banged up across the board, it’s a good possibility that the Chiefs manage to keep this game within a field goal. Take the Chiefs and the points.
KP’s Pick: Kansas City