NFL Picks for Week 8
by John Canton(NFL)
Posted on October 28, 2006, 4:25 PM
John: Welcome to week eight of our weekly NFL picks column. I'm very excited for this week because the Rams have a huge game and frankly that's all I've been thinking about the whole week. Otherwise, I'm a little disappointed in my picks the last couple of weeks because I haven't been able to bust out a double digit win total. I'm pleased with my record against the spread, though, so that's okay. This week offers some good games that should be tough to pick while there are of course the usual array of bad teams playing eachother and somebody has to end up winning those. As far as long term predictions go, I feel good about my Super Bowl pick of Giants vs. Pats because both are doing what I thought they'd be doing at this point in the year. Of course it's the midway point in the year and nobody really knows who is the best team yet. There's always contenders, but now it's time we separate them from the pretenders. I love this point in the year. Hell, I love any point in the year. It's the NFL. Nothing like it.
drq: I'm thoroughly amazed that I managed to hit a mark of 8-5 last week, with all of the last-second nail biters and victories by the away teams. Week seven was one of those times that reminds you anything can happen in the NFL, that a team like the Arizona Cardinals can go from nearly defeating the best team in the league to falling flat against the worst in just six days. As the announcers like to say, though, that's why they play the games... and that's why I keep watching them, no matter how meager the broadcast offering seems to be on a Sunday afternoon. It's really tough to pick a stand-out team in the league this year, where the last few had made it fairly obvious. Philadelphia's playing good ball, but now they've lost three out of four. The Colts and Bears are undefeated, but have both shown signs of serious weakness. The Patriots are still hanging tough, but they haven't really been tested on both sides of the ball. The season really is up for grabs at this point, a rarity for this late in the season, and I don't think we'll be much closer to establishing a favorite after this week's session.
Brett: Guys, sorry, but I canít discuss my rationale this week. Itís a long, boring story that you donít want to hear, but Iíll at least be making my suggestions.
John: Here's how the current standings are looking:
Last Week: John Canton: 7-6
Brett Berliner: 6-7
Brett's lead slips a bit, but having a .700 win percentage at this point is pretty freakin' awesome.
Note: The following teams have byes this week: Buffalo, Detroit, Miami, Washington
Arizona at Green Bay 1:00 p.m. drq: Who knows what's going on with the Cardinals right now? One week they play an incredible three quarters against the Bears, before a pair of poorly timed turnovers and one huge punt return spell their doom, the next they're getting blown out by the freaking Oakland Raiders. Green Bay, at the very least, has been a more consistent club. They have no prayer of keeping pace with the big boys, but they've got enough offense to outrun anyone who underestimates them. I think it's do or die time for half of this Arizona team, though, and matching a hungry, quick defense against an aging, turnover-happy Brett Favre sounds like trouble to me. If the Cardinals' defense scores more than its offense, I won't be surprised. Arizona: 28 - Green Bay: 17
Brett:Green Bay 21, Arizona 10
John: I really don't have the time or the energy to write a lot about crap games like this. Does it really matter who wins? No. So I'll say the Packers win because they seem to suck less than the Cardinals suck. Packers 28-20
Atlanta at Cincinnati 1:00 p.m. drq: The Bengals have really backed their way into a tie for first in their division, while the Falcons have fought tooth and nail to hang onto their second-place slot in the tough south. Cincy has been frighteningly inconsistent on offense this year, and Michael Vick's Falcons seem once again poised to break into the upper echelons of the NFC. Judging from the shootout they endured with the Steelers last week, I can't imagine the Atlanta defense slowing down the Bengals if they start to click offensively (which is really just a matter of time). On the other hand, the Falcons have been rocking on offense all season long, while the Bengals aren't exactly a defensive-minded squad. I like Atlanta, but it'll be a game. Atlanta: 24 - Cincinnati: 20
Brett:Cincinnati 30, Atlanta 24
John: Tough game to call here. I haven't really been able to get a read on either team because both have been inconsistent this year, especially defensively. I thought Atlanta had a potentially great defense, but they haven't played like it. Obviously the injury to John Abraham has a lot to do with that, to be fair. I'm not sure about the Bengals. I think the offense is still potentially very good, but they've struggled a bit in recent weeks. This week more than any other Chad Johnson has talked a lot probably because D'Angelo Hall has given it back to him, so he might have a huge game because of that. Or Carson Palmer could be forcing the ball to him because of that. I'm gonna go with the Bengals to win a tight one. Bengals 24-17
Baltimore at New Orleans 1:00 p.m. drq: The Saints are beginning to prove that they're an extremely tough team to beat at home this season, with a crowd that rivals Seattle's mighty twelfth man and a defense that's quickly becoming one of the stingiest in the league. I can't picture the Ravens' offense doing a whole helluva lot in this situation, and all their powerful defense needs to do is make one or two mistakes. The Saints' crazy '06 run continues this week. Is this team really just one game away from their sixth win of the season? New Orleans: 14 - Baltimore: 7
Brett:New Orleans 17, Baltimore 7
John: I'm not a believer in the Ravens at all. I think they benefited from an easy early season schedule that gave them a good record early on. Their running game is below average, the passing game is below average and I don't think the defense is as elite as they think it is. I'm surprised by the Saints record although I'm impressed with their ability to pull out games in the end. That builds character. I think they can do enough to win this one too. Saints 20-13
Houston at Tennessee 1:00 p.m. drq: David Carr and the Texans are beginning to show signs of steady improvement, and the Titans are busying themselves by thrashing around wildly at the bottom of the division. The Vince Young experiment continues to show promising signs, but Tennessee pretty much wrote off the season when they threw him to the wolves earlier this year. That includes a loss (perhaps two) to the worst team of the 2005 season. Houston: 21 - Tennessee: 10
Brett:Houston 20, Tennessee 10
John: Both teams are playing better than I thought. Obviously neither is going to be in the playoffs, but I think the futures for both are brighter than they were a season ago, which is all you can ask for a bad team. As for a winner? No idea, really, but Travis Henry seems to be able to run well these days and I think that'll be enough for the Titans to win at home here. Titans 27-26
Jacksonville at Philadelphia 1:00 p.m. drq: Both teams should be aggravated, coming off losses to perceivedly-lesser teams. The difference is Jacksonville played poorly throughout their game with the Texans, while the Eagles came on strong late and nearly stole one from the Buccaneers. Truthfully, the Eagles' defense played an outstanding game against Tampa, holding the offense to just nine points (three on that crazy-long 62 yard game winner). That stat is twice as impressive when you recognize that the Bucs were routinely starting their drives within Philadelphia territory, after some huge plays by their own defense. I think McNabb torches the Jags for the first half, and by the time they unleash Westbrook in the second, Jacksonville is already cooked. Philadelphia: 35 - Jacksonville: 14
Brett:Philadelphia 28, Jacksonville 24
John: Hey look, two more teams who I can't figure out. I said a few weeks ago that the Eagles were a top two team in the NFC (along with the Bears), but now I'm not so sure. The way McNabb and Westbrook are playing I thought this was a team that was going to roll over lesser opponents (in my opinion) like the Saints and Bucs. Then they lost both games in tragic fashion. I still believe in them while the Jags are reeling because Leftwich is likely out this week due to his ankle problem. I like Philly big. They'll get out of whatever sort of funk they are in. Eagles 30-13
Seattle at Kansas City 1:00 p.m. drq: The injury bug has crippled the poor Seahawks, with unfortunate timing. With the Rams nipping at their heels in the west, (and a crucial face-off between the two looming in just two weeks) a second injury to the team's big-name players couldn't have come at a worse time. The Chiefs should stomp a confused and uncomfortable Seahawks team at Arrowhead this week. Kansas City: 20 - Seattle: 6
Brett:Kansas City 30, Seattle 17
John: This is the second most interesting game for me this week as a Rams fan of course. I'm very happy to know that Seattle's without their two best players. I'm not wishing harm on anybody, don't get me wrong. It's just that my Rams suffered from the injury bug last year and I'm glad that Seattle can learn what it feels like. This is a tough game for them even though Trent Green is still out for the Chiefs. KC is a very difficult place to play especially for an unproven backup QB like Seneca Wallace. Seattle can win if they win the turnover battle. If they don't, though, they're going to have a tough time. Chiefs 20-17
San Francisco at Chicago 1:00 p.m. drq: Smells like another trap against an NFC West opponent to me. Hah, just kidding. If the Niners break into double digits this week, it'll be a moral victory. Chicago: 38 - San Francisco: 3
Brett:Chicago 35, San Francisco 17
John: If it was in San Fran I'd say they would be able to keep it close for a half. Since it's not, this is blowout city. Bears 30-6
Tampa Bay at N.Y. Giants 1:00 p.m. drq: I can't decide if the Bucs are imposters or contenders. They could easily be 4-2 right now, in the midst of a three-way tie atop their division, had a long Carolina field goal and a late Reggie Bush punt return not gone the way that they did. On that same hand, they could just as easily be 0-6 right now, following two miraculous last-second victories against the Bengals and the Eagles. Rooke Bruce Gradkowski hasn't exactly been the definition of excellence under center, but he's been a marked improvement over Chris Simms, who opened the season with a wonderful 1TD, 7INT performance and was constantly hurling the ball directly into the line. Their last two wins against powerful division favorites have given the Bucs the label of giant-killer throughout the league, but I see that title as being merely coincidental as the team travels to New York to meet the real G-Men this week. The Giants have been playing great football these last few weeks, and I can't see Tampa beating them without any offensive spark to speak of. New York Giants: 17 - Tampa Bay: 14
Brett:N.Y. Giants 21, Tampa Bay 10
John: The Giants are my Super Bowl pick and they still are after three very impressive wins in a row. I don't know about the Bucs. They're not the pushovers I thought they might be, so I'll give them some credit for that. Still, I'm probably not going to pick against the Giants the rest of the year. The offense gets all the headlines, but that defense is coming on strong. Mike Strahan is playing out of his mind this year. I think this is a blowout. Giants 31-13
St. Louis at San Diego 4:05 p.m. drq: The Rams are clicking in every imagineable way at this point in the season, while the Chargers keep shifting from first gear into fifth, back to first, occasionally into reverse, and then right back into fifth. If they keep that trend up, they're going to demolish their transmission. With "lights out" still on the roster for this week's game, I think the Chargers have enough names on defense to contain the Bulger-Holt connection, while Philp Rivers, Antonio Gates, Ladanian Tomlinson and the boys on offense march down the field routinely on offense. The Rams have played almost everyone close this year, so I can picture them remaining within striking distance to the final gun, but I don't think they've got enough in them to overtake San Diego right now. San Diego: 24 - St. Louis: 20
Brett:St. Louis 30, San Diego 20
John: Last week gave me hope for the Rams in this game because the Chiefs, with an anemic passing game, exposed the Chargers by putting the ball in the air against them and moving it consistently down the field. Then the Chiefs played their usual conservative game because they're unable to keep it up all game and the Chargers nearly came back to win. The Rams won't stop with the offense. The Chargers pass rush isn't what it was without two starting LB's and it should be three, but the NFL wants to wait to punish Steroid Merriman. You think I like knowing that a pissed off roid rage freak is going to playing my team this week? It's a bit scary. With all of this in mind, I see the Rams winning. Not only will they able to pass all day, but I think the bye week afforded them the opportunity to adequately prepare the defense to stop the Charger offense from being as effective as they've been earlier in the year. Plus, the Rams are the masters of the close games and ultimately I think an experienced vet like Marc Bulger is going to do more for his team than Phil Rivers will. Nine point spread? That's a slap in the face. The Rams are better than that. Trust me. Rams 24-23
Indianapolis at Denver 4:15 p.m. drq: This is a scary matchup as a Colts fan. The Broncos have traditionally been a huge running team, which is an area where Indy is in terrible shape defensively this season, they've got what appears to be a smothering defense led by John Lynch and Champ Bailey, and they know how to keep a lead. Denver hasn't really played a top-level team this season, so this is a big proving ground for just how good a team they are, and how legit their defensive success has been. I can see the Colts scoring a couple TDs on them, but I've got the Broncos emerging from this one victorious. Manning eats a couple sacks, throws an interception and two touches, blames his teammates for the loss after the game, and the status quo remains intact. Denver: 21 - Indianapolis: 14
Brett:Indianapolis 24, Denver 20
John: Should be a fun game as everybody expects it to be. If I'm a Bronco fan I have to be happy with the way the defense is playing because they are doing an exceptional job. No doubt about that. However, I think there has to be some worry about Jake Plummer because it sure looks like Mike Shanahan has lost a hell of a lot of confidence in that guy. I think the Colts are going to be able to put some points on the board although it probably won't be more than 20. On the other side of the coin I'm not sure if the Broncos can do that. Yes, Indy can be run on, but at some point Jake Plummer's going to have to make plays to win a game. I don't think he can. Colts 20-17
N.Y. Jets at Cleveland 4:15 p.m. drq: It's easy to forget that the Jets made the second round of the playoffs two years ago, especially after the season they had in 2005, but the '06 model seems much closer to the playoff team than the loser that couldn't get off the ground last year. Cleveland continues to be a team that's good enough to avoid a blowout, but bad enough to avoid a victory, while the Jets have shown that they know how to win this year. I've got New York comfortably. New York Jets: 20 - Cleveland: 10
Brett:Cleveland 25, N.Y. Jets 20
John: I think lots of people, even Jets fans themselves, are surprised by how well they are playing. I thought Cleveland would be better. Guess I was wrong. Jets 24-10
Pittsburgh at Oakland 4:15 p.m. drq: There is no reason in the world why the Steelers should lose this game. Probably the mismatch of the season, right here. Pittsburgh: 35 - Oakland: 7
Brett:Pittsburgh 35, Oakland 17
John: I can't believe the Raiders actually won a game. Will it happen again? Hell no. They're still the worst team in the league although the Cardinals definitely made me notice how bad they were since they lost to these guys. I'm not sure what the Steelers are this year, but I do know they can beat this bunch of losers. Steelers 27-10
Dallas at Carolina 8:15 p.m. drq: The Romo era begins this week at Carolina. I really didn't see anything I liked out of the kid Monday night, aside from the obvious mobility advantage he had over the incumbent Bledsoe... but hey, didn't Drew actually RUSH for the same number of TDs that Tony THREW last week? Hm, interesting. Terrell Owens should be happy with the change, since the new blood seemed to look his way a few more times than the old, but this week's game should be just another showing of the Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson show. Carolina: 24 - Dallas: 14
Brett:Carolina 30, Dallas 20
John: Nobody is enjoying the fall of the Dallas Cowboys more than me. This is not a complete football team. I've said this for many weeks now and finally it looks like everybody is realizing that. You can't win with a bad offensive line in the NFL. The Panthers aren't the Super Bowl team that many thought they were at the start of the year, either. I don't think their run game is good enough. Defensively they probably should be better. I think they miss MLB Dan Morgan a lot there. Still, I like the Panthers here because Steve Smith's the best player on either team and nobody on a bad Dallas pass defense is going to be able to slow him down. Panthers 30-13
New England at Minnesota 8:30 p.m. (Monday) drq: The Vikings are showing all the signs of a big underdog victory here. Despite beating the Seahawks on their home turf last week, the Vikings are still flying under most of the league's radar, while the Patriots have been casually picking up win after win on their way to what appears to be another AFC East divisional championship. I don't think New England is as good a team as their record would seem to indicate this year, as aside from the Bengals, they haven't really beaten anyone impressive and they're benefitting greatly from two games against Buffalo and a game with Miami. The Vikings, on the other hand, have met some seriously tough teams head-on this season, and appear to be the real deal. Brad Johnson is playing solid ball, and Chester Taylor has been running all over the place for the offense, and the defense has done enough to keep them in almost every game so far. The Pats are overdue for an upset, and I think this is the week. Minnesota: 27 - New England: 24
Brett:New England 35, Minnesota 21
John: Major props to the Vikings for playing better than I expected. They have a good run difference thanks to the two fat guys named Williams that are manning the defensive tackle positions for them. Brad Johnson is a sound QB that doesnít turn the ball over and Chester Taylor is proving to be one of the best free agent acquisitions in the entire NFL. Meanwhile, the Pats (my Super Bowl pick) are quietly sitting at 5-1, playing well as a team and Tom Brady is developing a good rapport with a receiving group that is largely new to him. The reason I like the Pats is because of that two headed running game they got. It's good. That's going to be enough for them to win here. Should be a nice game too. Pats 24-20
JC vs. The Spread I'll use the line that TheGreek.com provides and I'll pick four games that I think you should bet on for the week. Why TheGreek.com? Because that's where I place my bets. I'm Greek. That's where I belong.
Last week: 3-1 - Back on the winning track. I'm pleased.
St. Louis (+9.5) over San Diego The Rams will hang with them. This won't be some sort of blowout.
Carolina (-5) over Dallas Dallas isn't for real. Carolina probably is.
Pittsburgh (-9) over Oakland It's the Raiders. Duh.
NY Giants (-9) over Tampa Bay I like the Giants big here.
Until next week, for Drqshadow and Brett Berliner this is John Canton saying enjoy the games. You know we will.