It’s an interesting week in the NFL.
Not only are we into Week 8, nearing a halfway point in the season, but the NFL trade deadline is also now less than a week away. That means anything that happens this week could have one final impact before Tuesday’s deadline.
So, what happens this week? That’s where NESN.com’s Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian come in with their weekly against-the-spread picks.
Before that, though, here’s how they fared last week.
Mike Cole: 5-9 (54-51-1 overall)
Ricky Doyle: 10-4 (59-46-1)
Andre Khatchaturian: 6-8 (52-53-1)
Here are their Week 8 picks.
THURSDAY, OCT. 24
Washington Redskins at (-16) Minnesota Vikings, 8:20 p.m. ET
Mike: Vikings. Bill Callahan wants to establish the run in his stint as Redskins interim head coach, which isn’t a great idea against this Minnesota defense that’s allowing 3.8 yards per carry this season.
Ricky: Vikings. So many points, and also so many reasons to believe the Vikings will cover. Let’s state the obvious, though: Kirk Cousins probably wants to exact some revenge against his former team.
Andre: Vikings. What do the Redskins have to do to cover? Shut down Dalvin Cook and force Kirk Cousins to throw the ball. Unfortunately for Washington, they’ve allowed the sixth-most rushing yards per game and Cook is averaging 5.5 yards per carry and leads the league in rushing yards and rushing TDs.
SUNDAY, OCT. 27
Arizona Cardinals at (-9.5) New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m.
Mike: Saints. The Saints have had a ton of success on first and second downs this season (per Sharp Football Stats), while Arizona has the 28th- and 31st-ranked early-down defense against the run and pass, respectively. New Orleans should get what it wants offensively.
Ricky: Cardinals. Backdoor cover? The Saints are such a well-rounded team, but the Cardinals continue to make significant strides offensively. This feels like a letdown spot for New Orleans as it makes an awkward transition back to starting quarterback Drew Brees amid a five-game winning streak and on the heels of a statement victory over Chicago.
Andre: Saints. Since Week 4, the Saints have the third-best yards per play differential and have allowed only 4.3 yards per play. Arizona has looked great lately, but their three-game winning streak is against dreadful teams (Cincinnati, Atlanta, N.Y. Giants) and all three wins were by one possession.
Cincinnati Bengals at (-13) Los Angeles Rams, 1 p.m.
Mike: Rams. LA hasn’t been able to get the run game going, but that should change against the Bengals, who have allowed the second-most explosive run plays this season. A couple of big runs will blow this thing open for the Rams.
Ricky: Rams. I can’t say enough bad things about the Bengals.
Andre: Rams. The Bengals have allowed the most rushing yards per carry and most rushing attempts this season. Expect a huge get-right game for Todd Gurley, who hasn’t cracked the 100-yard mark yet this season.
Denver Broncos at (-6) Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.
Mike: Colts. Frank Reich gives the Colts a pretty substantial coaching advantage over Vic Fangio, and the Indy offensive line is so good Jacoby Brissett will get to stand back there and have a day through the air.
Ricky: Colts. Indianapolis owns a decisive advantage in the trenches, and possibly at quarterback, where Brissett has been sharp this season and Joe Flacco has been terrible since 2014. The Broncos also are far worse on the road, going 5-16 SU and 6-15 ATS in away games since the beginning of 2016.
Andre: Broncos. The advanced metrics do not like Indy this year. They’re 29th in yards per play differential and can’t stop the run (third-worst rush defense on PFF). Denver’s biggest strength on offense is their running attack. They’ll use that and their stifling defense (third overall defense and best rush defense on PFF) to keep this within the number. All six of Indy’s games have been decided by one possession.
Los Angeles Chargers at (-4) Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.
Mike: Chargers. Everyone talks about Mitch Trubisky’s issues, but the Bears’ biggest problem might bet he absence of Akiem Hicks. He’s essentially missed the last two games, and Chicago has allowed 320 rushing yards. Admittedly, I made this pick before seeing this stat, though. D’oh.
Ricky: Bears. Only the Dolphins (4.3) and Jets (3.8) have averaged fewer yards per play than the Bears (4.4) this season, but Chicago’s pass rush could go off at any moment and Los Angeles’ pass blocking ranks 30th, per Pro Football Focus. A defensive touchdown for the Bears just might do the trick.
Andre: Bears. Melvin Gordon has a grand total of 81 rushing yards in three games this year for an average 2.3 yards per carry. Chicago allows 3.6 yards per carry. Gordon gets stuffed, Philip Rivers throws the ball too many times and makes a few mistakes and the Bears take advantage. The Bears struggle moving the ball, but that hasn’t mattered in their three wins, where they didn’t even crack the 300-total yards mark.
New York Giants at (-7) Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.
Mike: Lions. Start all your Lions in fantasy this week. If you take out their win against Washington, the Giants have allowed at least 27 points in every game this season, which should be a welcomed sight for the Lions after back-to-back divisional matchups against tight defenses (Green Bay, Minnesota).
Ricky: Giants. The Lions rank 28th in opponent rushing yards per game and 28th in opponent yards per rush attempt. They just got toasted by Dalvin Cook. The Giants need to give the ball to Saquon Barkley and get out of the way. The Lions, meanwhile, just lost their starting running back, Kerryon Johnson, to IR.
Andre: Giants. The Giants have the second-worst turnover differential and Daniel Jones has more interceptions than touchdowns this season. Matt Stafford should be able to take advantage of a weak Giants pass defense that allows nearly nine yards per pass attempt. That said, I’m banking on Saquon Barkley feasting on a trash Lions rush defense that has allowed nearly five yards per carry. The Giants lose, but they’ll keep it within the number.
New York Jets at (-6) Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jets. Maybe one of the only good things to come from the Jets’ Monday night performance was Le’Veon Bell running for 70 yards. He should get a chance to break off a few runs this week against a Jaguars defense that will be without Marcell Dareus up front.
Ricky: Jets. Can’t overreact to Sam Darnold “seeing ghosts” against the Patriots, as New England’s defense has been terrifyingly good this season. Yet that’s seemingly what’s happening, with the opening line moving 1.5 points. Accept the extra wiggle room and roll with the road ‘dogs.
Andre: Jets. The Jets have the third-worst yards per play differential, but that’s skewed because a third of their schedule so far has been against the Patriots and Luke Falk made appearances in half of their games. Despite their stiff competition, the Jets rush defense has only allowed 3.3 yards per carry. Jacksonville’s strength is their running game. If the Jets contain the run and force young Gardner Minshew to throw the ball a lot, they could very much so keep it within the number.
Philadelphia Eagles at (-2) Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.
Mike: Eagles. The Eagles aren’t really that bad, are they? The secondary is obviously bad, but I’m not sure Josh Allen will be able to pick them apart where so many others before him have. I also think you have to give the advantage in the trenches to Philly.
Ricky: Eagles. Gut-check time for the Eagles after losing back-to-back games to the Vikings and Cowboys in embarrassing fashion. The Bills’ defense is legit, but four of Buffalo’s five wins have come against teams ranked in the bottom six in yards per play (Titans, 27th; Bengals, 29th; Dolphins, 31st; Jets, 32nd). The Eagles’ offense should, in theory, pose a stiffer test.
Andre: Bills. The Bills allow the third-fewest yards per play and Philly, despite all of the hype coming into the season, is 24th in yards per play differential. The Eagles four-most targeted corners (Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones, Avante Maddox, Ronald Darby) have each allowed passer ratings of over 100.
(-3.5) Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m.
Mike: Falcons. I probably falling way too hard for a narrative, but I think Julio Jones’ postgame speech will help the Falcons turn things around. Other than that, though, I don’t really have much in the way of reasoning for this pick other than I don’t believe the Seahawks are that great.
Ricky: Seahawks. Matt Schaub might start at quarterback for the Falcons. And it’s 2019, so…
Andre: Seahawks. Atlanta has the fourth-worst turnover differential and only Miami has forced fewer takeaways than the Falcons. Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson are two of the four most-pressured quarterbacks in the NFL, according to PFF. But Ryan has four touchdowns, four picks and a 70.7 passer rating, while Wilson has six touchdowns, no picks and 107.4 passer rating when pressured.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at (-2.5) Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Titans. Ryan Tannehill averaged 10.8 yards per attempt last week, something Marcus Mariota did just five times in his 61 career starts before the Titans benched him. And if the Titans can generate pressure, Jameis Winston will kindly give them the football — a lot.
Ricky: Titans. All in on the Titans with Tannehill under center. For whatever reason. Also, this game feels like it should be played in London.
Andre: Bucs. Tampa’s rush defense is for real. They kept Christian McCaffrey to under 40 yards twice and allow just 2.9 yards per carry. If the Titans can’t get the run going and have to rely too much on Ryan Tannehill, they’re in trouble. Tannehill is 2-17 in his career when throwing the ball 40 times or more in a game.
Carolina Panthers at (-5.5) San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Panthers. This should be a low-scoring affair (the total’s at 42), so I’ll take the points, especially if it’s about a touchdown. The 49ers offense hasn’t looked quite the same over the last two weeks (even before last week’s slop fest in D.C.), as San Fran is missing two starting tackles and Pro Bowl fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
Ricky: 49ers. Kyle Allen has been solid in Cam Newton’s absence, but this week figures to be a wakeup call for the second-year quarterback, who has benefited from matchups with the Cardinals, Texans, Jaguars and Buccaneers — all of whom struggle, to varying extents, against the pass. The 49ers allowed 98 passing yards in their last two games combined. They’re No. 1 in sack percentage and No. 2 in Pro Football Focus’ coverage grades. They also might have a formula for limiting Christian McCaffrey, as San Francisco has allowed an NFL-low 19 receptions and 139 receiving yards to opposing running backs this season.
Andre: Panthers. Carolina has the third-most takeaways in the NFL and Jimmy Garoppolo is turnover-prone, as evidenced by his six interceptions. The Panthers lead the league in sacks and are second in QB hits. Garoppolo has been protected well this season, but when he has faced pressure, he only has 71.0 passer rating.
Cleveland Browns at (-13) New England Patriots, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Patriots. Two things the Patriots do really well? Rush the passer (second in sacks) and force turnovers (league-leading 22 turnovers). Baker Mayfield has the NFL’s worst passer rating under pressure and leads the league in interceptions. Oh boy.
Ricky: Patriots. Not gonna get cute here. The Browns hurt themselves way too much, and the Patriots’ defense is a turnover factory. Maybe this finally will convince everyone that Cleveland still is a bad football team.
Andre: Patriots. The Browns are the least-disciplined team in the NFL. They have the league’s worst net penalty yards differential. The Patriots, since 2016, are now 17-0 SU and 12-5 ATS against quarterbacks with fewer than 20 games of experience. Good luck, Cleveland.
Oakland Raiders at (-6.5) Houston Texans, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Texans. Oakland just traded its top cornerback, Gareon Cowley, to Houston. Kind of a weird move. Anyway, we just saw Aaron Rodgers and Co. light up the Raiders’ secondary last week, and similar success should be on deck for Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller this week.
Ricky: Raiders. Deshaun Watson should feast on Oakland’s defense, but Derek Carr might enjoy similar success against Houston’s secondary.
Andre: Texans. Ever since Deshaun Watson significantly cut down his release time in Week 5, he’s only been sacked three times, but he’s also thrown four picks during that span. Fortunately for him, he returns home against a team that’s 30th in takeaways and 27th in sacks.
(-4.5) Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Packers. Andy Reid will coach up Matt Moore, and after last week’s showing vs. Darren Waller (seven catches, 126 yards), the Packers’ defense should be spending day and night devising a Travis Kelce game plan. But the KC defense is still bad, right? Especially against the run? Tough matchup with the two-headed monster of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams coming to town.
Ricky: Packers. Patrick Mahomes’ insane talent made up for a lot of Kansas City’s shortcomings in other areas. Now, the Chiefs don’t have the reigning MVP and they have what seems to be an imperfect replacement in Matt Moore, who lacks the mobility that Andy Reid’s quarterbacks typically possess. Expect the Packers to follow the blueprint presented by the Colts and Texans, which involves building a lead and wearing down the Chiefs’ defense by running the ball down their throats.
Andre: Packers. Kansas City has flaws on defense and they will be magnified because of the loss of Patrick Mahomes. They’re 28th in time of possession and are the only team aside from the Bengals with more than 1,000 rushing yard allowed. The Chiefs are also the fifth-most penalized team in terms of yardage, while Green Bay has the most beneficiary yards from penalties this season.
MONDAY, OCT. 28
Miami Dolphins at (-14.5) Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Steelers. This game sucks. Don’t watch it.
Ricky: Dolphins. Sometimes, you just take the points and hope the favorites shoot themselves in the foot. Which is what I’m doing here.
Andre: Steelers. Since Week 4, Pittsburgh has allowed just 4.1 yards per play (second-best in the league). Despite having a bye week already, they’re fifth in sacks and have the second-most takeaways. The Dolphins looked better with Ryan Fitzpatrick, but he’s still very turnover prone and the team has generated the league’s fewest takeaways.
Thumbnail photo via Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports Images