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October 28, 2015

Week 8 NFL picks

Eagles NFL
102915JerryJones Brandon Wade/AP

Which way is your season headed, Jerry?

For the gambling degenerates, here are my Week 8 picks. To note, the helmets indicate who I think will win the game, not cover the spread. At the end of the picks, I'll note a few teams that I like based on the spread.

Dolphins at Patriots (-8): In their first four games under fired coach Joe Philbin, the Dolphins went 1-3 and scored 16.3 points per game. Under new head coach Dan Campbell, the Dolphins are 2-0 and have scored 41 points per game. Granted, they waxed a pair of awful AFC South teams in the Titans and Texans, but it looks like the Dolphins are alive and kicking. Doesn't matter. They aren't beating the juggernaut Patri*ts.

Chiefs helmet
Lions at Chiefs (-4.5): The Lions have turned the ball over 18 times this season, which is the most in the NFL. They're tied for the most INTs, with 10, and second in fumbles lost with 8. Lightweights. A season ago, the Eagles achieved the "Triple Crown of Turnover Awfulness" when they led the league in all three of those categories.

Buccaneers at Falcons (-7.5): The Falcons are probably the most overrated team in the NFL after jumping out to a 5-0 start. They're going to cruise to a playoff berth, however, because of their second-easiest remaining schedule, according to But they could be a quick out in the divisional round -- unless they get an NFC East team.

Cardinals (-5) at BrownsThe Cardinals are the only team in the NFL in the top five in total offense (406.9 yards per game - 4th) and total defense (321.1 yards per game - 4th). Meanwhile, they have a point differential of +96, which is best in the NFL. The Browns have a point differential of -35, which is eighth worst. Why is this line only 5?

49ers at Rams (-9): Earlier in the week, we showed that 36.9 percent of the Eagles' points have come off of takeaways. The only team who relies on their defense to generate points than Philly? The Rams, who "lead" in that category by a wide margin, at 45.4 percent:

 TeamTakeaway points Total points % of points off takeaways 
 Rams49 108 45.4 
 Eagles59 160 36.9 
 Broncos47 139 33.8 
 Titans37 119 31.1 
 Jets45 152 29.6 
 Buccaneers41 140 29.3 
 Cardinals66 229 28.8 
 Giants45 166 27.1 
 Chiefs40 150 26.7 
 Panthers42 162 25.9 
 Falcons46 193 23.8 
 Steelers36 158 22.8 
 Bears27 120 22.5 
 Bills35 176 19.9 
 Raiders26 144 18.1 
 Dolphins26 147 17.7 
 Vikings22 124 17.7 
 Seahawks27 154 17.5 
 Jaguars25 147 17.0 
 Saints26 161 16.1 
 Lions21 139 15.1 
 Colts22 147 15.0 
 Packers23 164 14.0 
 Bengals25 182 13.7 
 Ravens22 161 13.7 
 Browns20 147 13.6 
 49ers12 103 11.7 
 Redskins16 148 10.8 
 Texans15 154 9.7 
 Patriots20 213 9.4 
 Cowboys121 5.8 
 Chargers165 4.2 
 NFL AVERAGE30.5 152.9 19.9 

I would never trust a team that can't score offensively to cover a 9 point spread.

Giants at Saints (-3): The Saints have won two straight and three of their last four, so I get why they're favored by three. However, I haven't forgotten that their defense is garbage, as they're allowing 6.4 yards per play (31st in the NFL) and 404.9 yards per games (also 31st). The Giants have struggled on offense in recent weeks, but they'll have enough to outscore the Saints.

Vikings (-1) at Bears: OK, I'm beginning to buy the Vikes a little bit, especially because their schedule is so easy. As we noted a week ago, prior to their road win against the Lions last Sunday, the Vikes had a 2-15-1 road record since 2013. They now have their first road W under their belt this season (albeit against a terrible team), and they'll head on the road again against the equally bad Bears. Take the Vikes -1.

Ravens helmet
Chargers at Ravens (-3): Here are two seemingly talented teams who have drastically under-performed this year. When the schedule came out, this looked like it might have been a good one. Now, not so much. The Chargers lead the NFL in total offense, by a wide margin, at 430.7 yards per game. A slew of those are garbage yards. I pick these two teams wrong every week. This week will be no different, I'm sure.

Bengals (-1.5) at Steelers: This decision is easy if Pittsburgh is rolling with Landry Jones at quarterback, but I kinda like Cincinnati here even if the Steelers get Ben Roethlisberger back from injury. The Bengals can open up a 3.5 game lead in the NFC North with a 2-0 divisional record if they can take care of business in Pittsburgh.

Titans at Texans (-4): Here are two of the worst teams in the NFL. The Titans are averaging 10 points per game over their last three games, and will probably be without Marcus Mariota again. However, the Texans got embarrassed a week ago when Miami raced out to a 41-0 first half lead last Sunday.

Jets (-2) at Raiders: The Raiders have elevated themselves to one of those unpredictable teams that scores 37 one week and loses to the Bears another. In a sense, they're the #NextRams, in that they aren't going to sniff the playoffs but they'll beat enough good teams that they're no longer the pushover that they once were. Still... Jets.

Seahawks (-6) at Cowboys: The Cowboys are a league-worst -9 in turnover differential, and only have three takeaways on the season. You aren't going to win many games generating 0.5 takeaways per game in the NFL. Meanwhile, DE/woman beater Greg Hardy is slapping clipboards and former starting RB Joseph Randle is crying about being replaced in the starting lineup. The Cowboys are beginning to look like a train wreck. 

Packers (-3) at Broncos: Getting back to turnovers, unlike the Cowboys above, the Broncos generate turnovers in spades. On the season, Denver has forced 17 turnovers, or 2.83 per game, which is best in the NFL, and the reason they're undefeated. Their ability to create turnovers will be lost on Aaron Rodgers, who doesn't make mistakes.

Panthers helmet
Colts at Panthers (-7): As we noted in this week's hierarchy/obituary:

The Panthers are the only team in the NFL that has run the ball more than they have passed. Opposing defenses know they're going to run it, and they're effective anyway. This is a legitimately good "old school" type of team that can run the ball and play good defense. They aren't going away.

Byes: Bills, Eagles, Redskins, Jaguars.

Picks against the spread: Vikings (-1), Seahawks (-6), Cardinals (-5), Giants (+3) 49ers (+9), Packers (-3).

Last week, straight up: 9-5

Season, straight up: 68-37

Last week, ATS: 2-2

Season, ATS: 18-15

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski