The Week 8 NFL slate is stacked with great matchups. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the keys to every game, a bold prediction for each matchup and final score predictions.
Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information provides a stat to know for each game, and the Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a matchup rating (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a game projection. ESPN Fantasy‘s Kyle Soppe and ESPN Chalk‘s Mackenzie Kraemer hand out helpful nuggets as well. It’s all here to help get you ready for a loaded weekend of NFL football.
Let’s get into the full Week 8 schedule, including Aaron Rodgers in prime time against the Chiefs.
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 52.3 | Spread: TEN -2.5 (45.5)
What to watch for: Keep an eye on how Ryan Tannehill and the Titans’ receivers do against the Bucs’ defense, which is giving up an NFL-worst 304.5 passing yards per game. Tennessee will need to score points against the Bucs, who have scored 24 or more themselves in four consecutive games. — Turron Davenport
Bold prediction: Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston will throw two interceptions, while Tannehill will throw for 300 yards in consecutive weeks for the first time since 2016. Winston is coming off one of the worst outings of his career, throwing five interceptions against the Panthers and turning the ball over six times. The Titans have an opportunistic secondary that gets its hands on a lot of passes — that’s not a great recipe for a bounce-back game. — Jenna Laine
Stat to know: Tampa Bay’s Chris Godwin has posted 125 receiving yards in three straight games, the longest streak in Buccaneers history. The last player in the NFL to do it in four straight games was Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014.
Betting nugget: Tennessee is 0-4-1 against the spread (ATS) this season when the line is between +3 and -3. The only time it pushed was last week when the Chargers fumbled at the 1-yard line down by three with under a minute left. Read more.
Laine’s pick: Titans 26, Buccaneers 21
Davenport’s pick: Titans 27, Buccaneers 24
FPI prediction: TB, 50.5% (by an average of 0.2 points)
Matchup must-reads: Top draft picks at a crossroads: What went wrong for Winston and Mariota … ‘No risk it, no biscuit’: What Bruce Arians’ coaching lingo teaches us … Titans’ DL Simmons caps ACL recovery with disruptive debut
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 52.3 | Spread: CHI -4 (41)
What to watch for: Can Mitchell Trubisky move the ball through the air against a vulnerable Chargers pass defense? He is 29th out of 31 eligible quarterbacks in Total QBR (34.3) and is averaging just 5.2 yards per attempt (34th in NFL). However, opposing quarterbacks have a 66.3 QBR (No. 25 in NFL) against the Chargers and are allowing 8.2 passing yards per attempt (No. 28). — Jeff Dickerson
Bold prediction: The Bears’ defense will force a minimum of three turnovers. Chicago led the league last year in takeaways and interceptions but is tied for 13th with just 10 takeaways in 2019. However, Los Angeles’ offense is tied for 22nd with 12 giveaways. — Eric D. Williams
Stat to know: Melvin Gordon is averaging just 2.3 yards per rush this season, second worst in the NFL among those with at least 30 attempts. And the Chargers are averaging only 2.1 yards per rush since Gordon’s return (last in NFL).
Wiliams’ pick: Chargers 24, Bears 20
Dickerson’s pick: Bears 20, Chargers 13
FPI prediction: CHI, 64.2% (by an average of 5.0 points)
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 51.2 | Spread: NO -10.5 (47.5)
What to watch for: Drew Brees appears to have a good chance of returning just five weeks after thumb surgery, but the Saints could decide to play it safe and let backup Teddy Bridgewater try to extend his record to a perfect 6-0 with one last clip for his free-agent audition tape. Either way, the Saints should be licking their chops against a defense that ranks in the NFL’s bottom five in both yards and points allowed. — Mike Triplett
Bold prediction: Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson will hold Saints receiver Michael Thomas to fewer than 50 receiving yards while shadowing him the entire game. Peterson didn’t shadow any receivers Sunday in his return from a six-week suspension, but that will change with Thomas on deck. — Josh Weinfuss
Stat to know: Kyler Murray has four total touchdowns and zero interceptions in his past three games — all wins — after being responsible for five total touchdowns but also four interceptions in his first four games. The Cardinals have gotten more success from Murray by finding more balance; he dropped back to pass 53.7% of the time in the past three games as opposed 73.3% in the first four.
What to know for fantasy: Saints tight end Jared Cook has scored in his past two games, and Josh Hill scored last week as a fill-in option. The Cardinals have allowed 161 tight end fantasy points this season, 52 more than any other defense. See Week 8 rankings.
Betting nugget: Arizona is 5-1 ATS as an underdog this season (3-2-1 straight up), including three straight outright wins. Read more.
Victor Cruz doesn’t care who plays quarterback for the Saints, as long as Sean Payton is the coach New Orleans will be in good shape.
Weinfuss’ pick: Saints 31, Cardinals 24
Triplett’s pick: Saints 34, Cardinals 19
FPI prediction: NO, 83.1% (by an average of 13.0 points)
Matchup must-reads: Murray’s freedom to check plays ‘rare for a rookie quarterback’ … Payton making early Coach of the Year case in Brees’ absence … ‘Pass-rush assassin’ Jones, CB Patrick Peterson fuel each other
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 50.3 | Spread: IND -6 (43)
What to watch for: Look for the Colts get back to their running game, because the Broncos have the third-stingiest pass defense in the NFL, giving up only 195.3 yards per game through the air. The Colts were limited to just 62 yards on the ground against Houston in Week 7 after rushing for at least 167 yards in three of their first five games. — Mike Wells
Bold prediction: Wide receiver Courtland Sutton will have the second 100-yard receiving game of his career. In six games this season, the Colts have surrendered five such games, including two in last week’s win over the Texans. Sutton is now the unquestioned No. 1 after the trade of Emmanuel Sanders. — Jeff Legwold
Stat to know: The Colts are the third team since the 1970 merger with a winning record through six games and with all games having been decided by seven points or fewer (1995 Colts, 1983 Colts). No team in that time has started 5-2 or better with all seven games decided by seven points or fewer.
What to know for fantasy: Sutton is one of three players with at least 75 receiving yards in each of his past three games, and the Broncos traded away Sanders earlier this week. See Week 8 rankings.
Betting nugget: Thirteen of the past 15 Denver games went under the total, including each of the past three. Overall, Denver games are 17-5-1 to the under in the past two seasons, the best under percentage in the NFL. Read more.
Legwold’s pick: Colts 27, Broncos 16
Wells’ pick: Colts 27, Broncos 10
FPI prediction: IND, 63.5% (by an average of 4.7 points)
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 45.8 | Spread: SEA -6.5 (52.5)
What to watch for: Atlanta coach Dan Quinn knows Russell Wilson well from his days as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator, but that doesn’t mean he will find a way to pressure him. The Falcons haven’t recorded a sack since Week 3 against the Colts and have a league-low five sacks. Wilson could have a field day. — Vaughn McClure
Bold prediction: Wilson will throw four touchdown passes. His 29-7 record following an in-season loss is the best by a quarterback since the 1970 merger. Now he faces a defense that ranks next-to-last in pressuring opposing QBs. — Brady Henderson
Stat to know: The Falcons have allowed 223 points this season, their second most allowed through seven games in franchise history (they allowed 250 through the first seven games of the franchise’s inaugural season in 1966).
Betting nugget: Atlanta has failed to cover in five straight games and is now 6-17 ATS over the last two seasons, the worst record in the NFL. It is 2-7 ATS as an underdog in that span (1-4 this season). Read more.
Henderson’s pick: Seahawks 31, Falcons 25
McClure’s pick: Seahawks 35, Falcons 17
FPI prediction: SEA, 53.5% (by an average of 1.3 points)
Matchup must-reads: Seahawks hope Reed can spark their lagging pass rush … WR Sanu swap shows Falcons could be busy before trade deadline … CB Diggs: I was ‘blindsided’ by trade from Lions to Seahawks
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 43.4 | Spread: BUF -2.5 (43.5)
What to watch for: Philadelphia allows the sixth-most passing yards per game in the NFL, but Buffalo’s passing game ranks 21st. It’s yet to be seen which team is more capable of exploiting the other’s weakness, but the Eagles can’t afford to get into a multiple-score deficit against an elite Bills defense. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Bold prediction: Carson Wentz will throw three touchdown passes against that tough Buffalo defense, and Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills, in his second game back from a foot injury, will create a turnover. — Tim McManus
Stat to know: The Eagles have allowed 75 points over the past two weeks. Dating to 1967, they have allowed 35 points in three straight games only once in franchise history.
What to know for fantasy: Buffalo’s Josh Allen was undrafted in 79.3% of leagues, while Wentz was an eighth-round pick this summer. But over their past three games, Allen has outscored Wentz by 8.1 fantasy points. See Week 8 rankings.
Betting nugget: Eagles coach Doug Pederson is 12-7 straight up and ATS as an underdog of four or fewer points. Read more.
McManus’ pick: Eagles 23, Bills 17
Louis-Jacques’ pick: Bills 20, Eagles 14
FPI prediction: PHI, 52.9% (by an average of 1.0 points)
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 40.4 | Spread: LAR -13 (48)
What to watch for: The Bengals have one of the worst offenses in the NFL, averaging 305 yards and 16 points per game. That’s unlikely to bode well against a Rams defense that’s trending in a positive direction behind Aaron Donald and recently acquired cornerback Jalen Ramsey. — Lindsey Thiry
Bold prediction: Donald will have two sacks. The Bengals’ offensive line has done a better job of protecting quarterback Andy Dalton in recent weeks, but Donald should be able to take advantage of a very favorable matchup. — Ben Baby
What to know for fantasy: Todd Gurley II is RB10 on a per-game basis over the past four weeks, despite zero of his 63 touches gaining more than 13 yards. There have been 10 running backs to record a 14-plus yard touch this season. See Week 8 rankings.
Victor Cruz expects the Rams defense to play well and put a lot of pressure on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.
Betting nugget: Favorites are 22-12-1 ATS all time in international games (16-10 ATS in London games). And favorites of at least seven points are 6-1 ATS in international games. Read more.
Baby’s pick: Rams 31, Bengals 10
Thiry’s pick: Rams 35, Bengals 10
FPI prediction: LAR, 79.2% (by an average of 11.0 points)
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 34.4 | Spread: DET -7 (50)
What to watch for: Ty Johnson should be the focal point of Detroit’s running game after Kerryon Johnson‘s injury, and the rookie can both run through the middle or show speed to get to the outside. After seeing what Chase Edmonds did to the Giants a week ago, Johnson could have a big day in his first major role with Detroit. — Michael Rothstein
Bold prediction: Saquon Barkley runs for 150 yards. The Giants’ star running back should be healthier in his second game back from a high ankle sprain, and he’s going against the league’s 28th-ranked run defense, which allows almost 140 yards per game. But it’s still not going to be enough for the Giants to get the victory. — Jordan Raanan
Stat to know: Giants QB Daniel Jones is 0-3 with 566 passing yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions over his past three starts. It’s a far cry from the 2-0 start to his NFL career, in which he threw for 561 yards, three touchdowns and only two interceptions.
What to know for fantasy: Ty Johnson averaged 7.6 yards per touch during his four seasons (348 carries) at Maryland and now steps into a feature role after Kerryon Johnson was placed on injured reserve. See Week 8 rankings.
Betting nugget: Matt Patricia is 5-0 ATS against teams that entered the game with a losing record. And since 2014, Detroit is 22-11-2 ATS against teams with losing records. Read more.
Raanan’s pick: Lions 26, Giants 16
Rothstein’s pick: Lions 31, Giants 17
FPI prediction: DET, 78.8% (by an average of 10.8 points)
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 31.2 | Spread: JAX -6 (40.5)
What to watch for: The Jaguars are hurting at linebacker, with three players likely to miss the game (Leon Jacobs, Quincy Williams, Najee Goode), so that could mean a big day for Jets running back Le’Veon Bell. The last time he faced the Jaguars came in the playoffs after the 2017 season, and he ran for 67 yards and a TD and caught nine passes for 88 yards and another TD. — Mike DiRocco
Bold prediction: Jets quarterback Sam Darnold won’t be “seeing ghosts,” but he will see a lot of Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell, who will equal his season total in sacks with three on the day. The Jets’ offensive line, an absolute mess, will have major problems with the hulking Campbell, who lines up everywhere on the line. Campbell is “playing as good as I’ve seen him play,” Jets coach Adam Gase said. — Rich Cimini
Stat to know: The Jets have allowed 26 sacks, second worst in the NFL this season, while the Jaguars’ defense has 21 sacks (fourth). Darnold has been pressured on 35% of dropbacks this season (third-highest rate among qualified QBs), and his nine career interceptions under duress are tied for the most in the NFL over the last two seasons.
Betting nugget: Gase is 4-13 ATS in his career as a road underdog of at least five points (1-16 straight up). Read more.
Cimini’s pick: Jaguars 27, Jets 10
DiRocco’s pick: Jaguars 21, Jets 17
FPI prediction: JAX, 75.6% (by an average of 9.4 points)
Matchup must-reads: Gase has a chance to be ‘ghost’ buster — or else? … What’s Doug Marrone’s 2-point chart like? Don’t ask the players … With DL Williams as chip, Jets need 2020 vision as trade deadline looms … Jaguars believe turnover binge a sign that defense can be 2017 good
4:05 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 69.3 | Spread: SF -5.5 (42)
What to watch for: Over the past 15 years, only three quarterbacks have won five or more consecutive starts to begin their career. Two of them — Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Allen — will meet here, and both are facing stiff tests in two of the league’s four best pass defenses in net yards per attempt allowed. — Nick Wagoner
Bold prediction: Christian McCaffrey will score two touchdowns. The San Francisco defense is allowing an average of 163.6 total yards over the past three games. But the Panthers running back is averaging 153.8 yards from scrimmage per game this season. Strength vs. strength, and in this one, McCaffrey will reach his average game TD total. — David Newton
Stat to know: McCaffrey has accounted for nearly 43.6% of his team’s scrimmage yards this season, which is the highest mark by any player in the NFL. He has also accounted for the highest percentage of his team’s touches (56%) and scrimmage touchdowns (53%).
Betting nugget: Allen is 5-0 ATS and straight up as a starter, including 3-0 as an underdog. Only eight quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era have covered each of their first six career starts, with Patrick Mahomes and Brian Hoyer being the only two to do it in the last 10 seasons. Read more.
Victor Cruz is tired of doubting Kyle Allen and picks the Panthers to upset the 49ers, while Rob Ninkovich doesn’t think Allen has seen a defense like San Francisco’s.
Newton’s pick: 49ers 23, Panthers 20
Wagoner’s pick: 49ers 27, Panthers 17
FPI prediction: SF, 70.4% (by an average of 7.3 points)
Matchup must-reads: What the 49ers know about Garoppolo after 16 career starts … Win over unbeaten 49ers would elevate Panthers’ status in NFC … New 49ers WR Sanders says he ‘needed a change of scenery’ … Panthers S Reid motivated to play 49ers, his former team
4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 62.5 | Spread: NE -13 (45.5)
What to watch for: It’ll be an interception party. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield leads the NFL with 11 interceptions, the most by a Browns player through six games of a season since Paul McDonald in 1984 (12). Meanwhile, the Patriots’ defense has totaled 18 interceptions. In the past 30 years, only the 1996 Packers had more picks through the first seven games of a season (20). — Mike Reiss
Bold prediction: Nobody has scored more than 14 points against the Patriots, but Cleveland will become the first behind an inspired effort. Of course, it still won’t be enough to win with Tom Brady on the other side. — Jake Trotter
Stat to know: Odell Beckham Jr. recorded 101 receiving yards in his last game after having just 103 yards in his previous three combined. The Patriots have allowed just one 100-yard receiver this season (Golden Tate).
What to know for fantasy: Pats running back James White leads the league with 11 red zone targets this season, and the Browns are allowing 2.2 red zone touchdowns per game this season (tied for fourth most). See Week 8 rankings.
Betting nugget: New England is 28-0 at home (18-10 ATS) against quarterbacks under the age of 25 since 2001 (the start of the Brady era). Read more.
Trotter’s pick: Patriots 28, Browns 20
Reiss’ pick: Patriots 30, Browns 13
FPI prediction: NE, 84.9% (by an average of 14.0 points)
Matchup must-reads: Rare company: Belichick closing in on 300th NFL win … Browns banking adversity will again make Mayfield better than ever … Pats WR Gordon lands on IR … WR Sanu trade gives Patriots the flexibility they covet
4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 53.9 | Spread: HOU -7 (51.5)
What to watch for: Will either team have success running the ball? Both teams have done so well this season, but the Texans are ranked fourth in the NFL in run defense (allowing an average of 84.3 rushing yards per game), and the Raiders are ranked fifth (allowing 86.7 rushing yards per game). — Sarah Barshop
Bold prediction: Oakland’s Clelin Ferrell will sack former Clemson teammate Deshaun Watson. Ferrell, the No. 4 overall draft pick, has only one sack, but he knows Watson’s mannerisms and tendencies and can potentially project where Watson will go when flushed out of the pocket. — Paul Gutierrez
Stat to know: Darren Waller is second among tight ends with 44 catches this season, the most by a Raider through the team’s first six games of a season in franchise history. He needs just three more Sunday for the most through seven games (Tim Brown, 46, 1999).
Betting nugget: Oakland is one of two teams to be an underdog in every game this season (Miami). It won three games outright and failed to cover in any of its three losses. Read more.
Gutierrez’s pick: Raiders 23, Texans 21
Barshop’s pick: Texans 20, Raiders 17
FPI prediction: HOU, 81.3% (by an average of 12.1 points)
Matchup must-reads: Gruden: Trio of tight ends ‘life blood’ of Raiders offense … Reality check: Texans still need to fix ‘self-inflicted’ mistakes … Texans bolster secondary, add CB Conley in trade with Raiders … Conley trade part of Raiders’ youth movement, Gruden’s reshuffle
8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
Matchup rating: 76.9 | Spread: GB -3.5 (47.5)
What to watch for: Kansas City coach Andy Reid has a history of getting good play from backup quarterbacks temporarily elevated into the starting lineup. But that ability gets tested in this game, with Matt Moore replacing the injured Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs figure to need a significant number of points to beat Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who are 10th in scoring at more than 26 points per game. — Adam Teicher
Bold prediction: Rodgers won’t score at will again as he did last week. That’s bold only because of how well he’s starting to play in new coach Matt LaFleur’s system. The last time the Packers played a regular-season game at noisy Arrowhead Stadium, they saw their near-perfect 2011 season (15-1) suffer its only blemish. — Rob Demovsky
Stat to know: The Chiefs’ LeSean McCoy is averaging 5.4 yards per rush, third among all running backs with a minimum of 60 carries (trails Matt Breida and Dalvin Cook). McCoy ranks 23rd all time in rushing and is just 40 yards shy of passing Warrick Dunn for 22nd.
What to know for fantasy: Rodgers had as many total touchdowns as incompletions last week against Oakland (six), but no quarterback has thrown multiple touchdown passes in Arrowhead this season. See Week 8 rankings.
Betting nugget: Reid is 15-8 ATS in his career in the regular season with at least 10 days between games. Read more.
Victor Cruz picks the Packers to knock off the Chiefs in Kansas City, while Rob Ninkovich selects KC even with Matt Moore potentially at the helm.
Demovsky’s pick: Packers 23, Chiefs 20
Teicher’s pick: Packers 27, Chiefs 23
FPI prediction: KC, 50.5% (by an average of 0.2 points)
What to watch for: With Mason Rudolph back from concussion protocol, the Steelers should take significant steps toward finding a balanced offense against the woeful Dolphins. The Dolphins’ pass defense ranks toward the bottom of the league, allowing 256.5 passing yards per game, while the rush defense is even worse at second-to-last with 160.8 yards per game. Look for another monster game from James Conner and perhaps a rebound performance for receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. — Brooke Pryor
Bold prediction: The Steelers’ Minkah Fitzpatrick gets an interception against his former team. The Dolphins traded Fitzpatrick to Pittsburgh in September, and he has a strong knowledge of how Miami’s offense operates under quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is known to be a gunslinger. — Cameron Wolfe
Stat to know: The Dolphins have been outscored by 93 points in the second half of games this season. That’s the third-worst second-half scoring margin in NFL history through seven games, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau (1950 Baltimore Colts, minus-106, and 1925 Milwaukee Badgers, minus-102).
What to know for fantasy: Conner has a rushing touchdown or has caught at least four passes in every game this season. That’s not a bad trend to take into a game against a Dolphins team that is allowing 31.2 running back points per game (second most). See Week 8 rankings.
Betting nugget: Over the past 25 seasons, teams with 0-3 or worse records are 12-4 ATS in Monday games (8-8 outright). Read more.
Wolfe’s pick: Steelers 27, Dolphins 17
Pryor’s pick: Steelers 30, Dolphins 10
FPI prediction: PIT, 90.1% (by an average of 17.5 points)
Matchup must-reads: QB Rudolph says he has no memory of hit that left him dazed … Dolphins’ aggressive playcalling of late shows thirst for a win … Steelers LB Chickillo placed on commissioner’s exempt list
Published at Sat, 26 Oct 2019 19:44:23 +0000