Week 8 NFL score predictions: A guide to best games, more
We’re previewing the Week 8 NFL slate with score predictions for each game from our Nation reporters, what to watch for in fantasy, Football Power Index projections from ESPN Stats & Information and much more.
Thursday Night Football result: MIA, HOU
Teams with byes in Week 8: ATL, DAL, TEN, LAC
Jaguars vs. Eagles: 9:30 a.m. ET, London, NFL Network
Point spread: PHI -3 | Matchup quality: 56.0 (of 100)
Mike DiRocco’s pick: The Jaguars have been outscored 90-28 over the past three weeks, so there’s no reason to pick the Jaguars to win Sunday. Three of their top four cornerbacks are out because of injury (including A.J. Bouye), and they will have three undrafted rookies behind Jalen Ramsey. That is less than ideal against Carson Wentz, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz, and it negates any advantage the Jaguars had from their familiarity with the logistics of the trip to London. Eagles 21, Jaguars 13
Tim McManus’ pick: The Eagles had a lighter air about them as the week went on, shaking off the sting of a fourth-quarter collapse against the Panthers. Coach Doug Pederson’s message? Play for four quarters. That will be the mindset as they fight to get on track against a Jaguars team that has been dealing with its own issues. Eagles 23, Jaguars 13
FPI win projection: PHI, 62.6 percent. Blake Bortles will get another start, but he will have to improve on his 18.1 Total QBR over the past three weeks, second worst among 31 qualified quarterbacks in that span. But Bortles is 3-0 with a 8-1 TD-INT ratio and 68 Total QBR in London over the past three seasons, so maybe this will be a good opportunity for the struggling signal-caller.
What to watch for in fantasy: Ramsey is likely to hold Jeffery — who has averaged 19.9 points per game — in check, so expect Wentz to likely find greater success targeting tight end Ertz or slot receiver Agholor. Read more.
In case you missed it: Jags’ D bristles at ‘soft’ criticism … Jenkins says Kaepernick deserves NFL job, points to Jaguars … Jaguars believe familiarity with London trip provides slight edge … Trades that make sense for the Eagles
Ravens at Panthers: 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Point spread: BAL -2 | Matchup quality: 75.0 (of 100)
Jamison Hensley’s pick: Joe Flacco should feel at home in Charlotte. He is 3-1 in games at NFC South cities, throwing 10 touchdown passes and one interception (a 123.4 passer rating). Now he faces a Panthers defense that has allowed 13 completions that traveled at least 20 yards in the air (third most in the NFL). Ravens 28, Panthers 20
David Newton’s pick: Baltimore should struggle in the run game against an underrated Carolina defense that held Philadelphia to 58 yards last week. That puts all the pressure on Flacco, and Carolina’s front seven is starting to get its pass rush down. Panthers 21, Ravens 16
FPI win projection: BAL, 52.0 percent. The Ravens lead the NFL in scoring defense (14.4), total defense (280.6 YPG), opponent Total QBR (46) and sacks (27). In the Total QBR era (since 2006), no defense has ever led the league in all four of those categories for a season.
What to watch for in fantasy: John Brown leaped to 13th at wide receiver with a 103 OFP this season, which aligns well with his 108 actual fantasy points (15th most). Brown has been a bit of a boom or bust, but he’s seeing enough work to have fringe WR2 production the rest of the way. Read more.
In case you missed it: Overlooked Newton is as clutch as Brady, Rodgers and Brees … Will Hurst deliver his breakout game against Panthers? … Don’t overlook Panthers’ defense because No. 1 Ravens are in town … Brown’s connection with Flacco involves late brother
Broncos at Chiefs: 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Point spread: KC -10 | Matchup quality: 60.5 (of 100)
Jeff Legwold’s pick: For three quarters in their first meeting this season, the Broncos pressured Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes extremely well. In the fourth quarter, Mahomes got loose and the Chiefs erased the Broncos’ 10-point lead to get the win. How effective Denver is in getting pressure on Mahomes will determine how this goes. Von Miller and Bradley Chubb have combined for 8.5 sacks, as well as three forced fumbles, in the past three games. The Broncos’ best chance is Miller and Chubb adding to those totals while the Broncos’ offense runs the ball well enough to keep the Chiefs’ offense on the sideline. Chiefs 30, Broncos 23
Adam Teicher’s pick: The Chiefs have beaten the Broncos six consecutive times, scoring at least 27 points in each of those games. So the Broncos are likely to need 30 or more points to win — but they won’t get there. The Chiefs are allowing only 17 points per game at Arrowhead Stadium this season against opponents with more offensive capability than the Broncos. Chiefs 34, Broncos 20
FPI win projection: KC, 78.4 percent. Mahomes leads the NFL in Total QBR this season (84.9) and has an 83.0 Total QBR in his career through eight games. That is the highest through a QB’s first eight games since QBR began being tracked in 2006.
What to watch for in fantasy: Emmanuel Sanders sits third at wide receiver in fantasy points but ranks 16th in OFP. Sanders is a fine WR2 but is a bit over his head right now. Read more.
In case you missed it: Did Chiefs’ defense turn a corner? … Keenum has struggled being ‘The Man’ in Denver so far … Hunt gets his reward for doing early-season dirty work … Broncos need more from first-rounders
Seahawks at Lions: 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Point spread: DET -3 | Matchup quality: 50.8 (of 100)
Brady Henderson’s pick: The Seahawks and Lions have taken the same path to get to 3-3, each winning three of their past four with the help of resurgent rushing attacks, and none of the standard statistical categories suggest that either has an obvious advantage. But Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings suggest the Seahawks are the better team, ranking them 10th and the Lions 28th. Plus, the Seahawks are coming off a bye and are as healthy as they’ve been all season with linebacker K.J. Wright and tight end Ed Dickson set to make their 2018 debuts. Seahawks 26, Lions 23
Michael Rothstein’s pick: The Lions improve their run defense this week by trading for Damon Harrison and fill the biggest need on the roster. And it couldn’t come at a better time, facing Seattle and Chris Carson. The man they call Snacks makes the difference for Detroit as Kerryon Johnson gains another 100 yards. Lions 24, Seahawks 20
FPI win projection: SEA, 57.5 percent. Russell Wilson has a 48.5 Total QBR this season, which would be the worst in a season in his career. He goes on the road this week to face a Lions team that ranks third worst in defensive efficiency, according to FPI.
What to watch for in fantasy: Over the past four games, the Seahawks have been stingy from a DvP perspective, but when you consider the opponents they’ve stifled (Raiders, Cardinals, Cowboys) and the one they didn’t (Jared Goff and the Rams threw for 313 yards), this matchup looks like one where Matthew Stafford should continue to roll. Read more.
In case you missed it: Lions commit to win-now mode with trade for Harrison … Seahawks expect Wright, Dickson back Sunday … Seahawks DE Clark would be OK with franchise tag, agent says
Browns at Steelers: 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Point spread: PIT -8 | Matchup quality: 49.5 (of 100)
Pat McManamon’s pick: Is this the week the Browns’ offense gets on track? Unlikely. The Steelers are coming off a bye, it is the time of year they usually start to get into form and they have Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. The Browns have not won at Heinz Field since 2003, and that streak won’t end Sunday. Steelers 30, Browns 20
Jeremy Fowler’s pick: The Steelers know they outplayed the Browns in the Week 1 tie but let five turnovers flip the game. They want to correct that error at Heinz Field, where they’ve won 14 straight over Cleveland. The Steelers are sluggish coming off a bye, losing three of their past four after the extended break, but they also have a 20-4 record against rookie quarterbacks since 2004. Steelers 27, Browns 23
FPI win projection: PIT, 88.0 percent. The Steelers are the biggest favorite of the week with an 88 percent chance to win, according to FPI. This is the biggest favorite the Steelers have been in a divisional game in our data set (since the start of the 2008 season) and the third biggest overall.
What to watch for in fantasy: The Steelers are allowing a league-high 7.7 catches to tight ends this season. Assuming that the Steelers won’t have issues scoring points, the Browns will have to keep pace with them, which means continued volume for David Njoku. Read more.
In case you missed it: Mayfield after four starts: Signs of hope, room to grow … Smith-Schuster project just getting started for Steelers … What’s behind Roethlisberger’s pace for career bests … Mayfield: Look to players, not coaches, to fix offense
Jets at Bears: 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Point spread: CHI -7.5 | Matchup quality: 42.7 (of 100)
Rich Cimini’s pick: This is a tough spot for Sam Darnold, who will be without at least two key weapons in Quincy Enunwa and Bilal Powell. Darnold, who has a league-high 10 interceptions, will be facing a defense that has 17 takeaways, second in the NFL. The Jets are also a lousy road team, having lost nine of their past 11. Bears 31, Jets 17
Jeff Dickerson’s pick: Khalil Mack’s right ankle remains an issue, but Chicago’s defense still has a clear edge over Darnold. It is tied for first in the NFL with 11 interceptions. Darnold, on the other hand, is coming off a three-pick performance last week against the Vikings. The Bears are far from perfect on offense, but as long as they clean up their mistakes on special teams, Chicago’s superior overall talent propels them to victory. Bears 29, Jets 24
FPI win projection: CHI, 76.2 percent. The best Total QBR in the NFL over the past four weeks belongs to none other than Mitchell Trubisky, who has an 87.1 over that span. But he might have a tough time keeping that up against a Jets defense that ranks third in the NFL in opponent Total QBR (49.7) this season.
What to watch for in fantasy: Three fantastic games in a row have made Tarik Cohen a safe RB2. Read more.
In case you missed it: Darnold’s growth could be stunted by Jets’ mounting injuries … Bears look to climb out of NFC North cellar against Jets … Jets exploring wide-receiver market, but it’s buyer beware
Buccaneers at Bengals: 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Point spread: CIN -4 | Matchup quality: 38.1 (of 100)
Jenna Laine’s pick: Andy Dalton and the Bengals are averaging over 26 points a game and have a multi-dimensional attack. The Bucs are missing two starters in their secondary and Pro Bowl middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, along with possibly Gerald McCoy and Vinny Curry for another week. Plus, the Bucs’ offense turned the ball over four times last week against the Browns. It’s hard to imagine the Bengals putting up a subpar effort after getting destroyed by the Chiefs last week. Bengals 29, Buccaneers 27
Katherine Terrell’s pick: The Bengals clearly have their issues, but they’re not as bad as the team that got blown out by the Chiefs on Sunday night. The Bengals have a long injury list, and the Buccaneers have a good offense, so it will probably be a high-scoring game. However, the Bengals’ offense should be able to rebound at home in what the team has called a “gut-check” week. Bengals 33, Buccaneers 27
FPI win projection: CIN, 65.0 percent. This game could feature lots of offense. According to FPI, both teams rank in the top 10 in offensive efficiency and bottom 10 in defensive efficiency this season, and both teams are in the bottom 10 in opponent Total QBR.
What to watch for in fantasy: If Ronald Jones can earn double-digit touches in this contest against a soft front, he can build on last week’s encouraging outing. Read more.
In case you missed it: Several factors stifling Bucs’ running game … Winston must cut down on turnovers for Bucs to thrive … Bengals out to redefine themselves after ugly loss to Chiefs
Redskins at Giants: 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Point spread: WSH -1 | Matchup quality: 33.0 (of 100)
John Keim’s pick: The Redskins have held Christian McCaffrey and Ezekiel Elliott to a combined 54 yards rushing the past two weeks. They’re well-equipped to handle the Giants’ run game and Saquon Barkley. The key will be stopping Barkley in the Giants’ three-receiver packages, as he averages 5.13 yards per carry from this look. The Redskins take care of the ball and make teams put together long drives. Redskins 21, Giants 17
Jordan Raanan’s pick: The Redskins are in the top seven in scoring defense (20.2 points per game) and total defense. It’s hard to imagine the Giants’ offense, which averages 19.6 points per game, does much more Sunday afternoon against Washington. They are still struggling badly to sustain consistent offense, and that’s not going to change in this one. It also won’t help that their defense just lost two starters. Redskins 20, Giants 16
FPI win projection: NYG, 57.9 percent. The 1-6 Giants are favored to win this game by FPI, something that won’t be said very often the rest of the season. After this game the Giants are favored to win just twice by FPI.
What to watch for in fantasy: Adrian Peterson also has absorbed nine of the team’s 15 rushing attempts in goal-to-go situations, meaning he’s getting enough scoring opportunities to have RB1 potential this week. Read more.
In case you missed it: Redskins have formula that can work in tight NFC East … Giants are busy compiling plenty of picks in 2019 draft
Colts at Raiders: 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS
Point spread: IND -3 | Matchup quality: 32.3 (of 100)
Mike Wells’ pick: The last time the Colts were in Oakland — Christmas Eve 2016 — the Raiders were looked at as one of the top teams in the AFC before Derek Carr broke a leg. Things haven’t been the same since for the Raiders. They’re only 7-17 and have traded away linebacker Khalil Mack and receiver Amari Cooper, two key pieces to the franchise. The Colts are coming off their best performance of the season, and quarterback Andrew Luck is second in the league in touchdowns with 20. Colts 34, Raiders 16
Paul Gutierrez’s pick: The shock of the Raiders’ trade of Cooper to the Cowboys has yet to subside in Oakland. And with only eight of general manager Reggie McKenzie’s 50 pre-Jon Gruden draft picks on the 53-man roster, players are looking over their shoulders. That’s not a good recipe against a Colts team that looks reborn with a healthy Luck at quarterback. Yes, the natives in the Black Hole are restless and confused and, after Sunday, angry. Colts 27, Raiders 13
FPI win projection: OAK, 50.9 percent. The Raiders are slight favorites at home, but are one of just two teams (49ers) in the bottom 10 in both offensive (10th worst) and defensive efficiency (fourth worst) this season, according to FPI. After losing Marshawn Lynch to injury and trading Cooper, they may become the only team in the bottom five of both.
What to watch for in fantasy: Jordy Nelson already had delivered three top-25 fantasy weeks with Cooper in the picture and figures to see close to an 18-20 percent target share. Consider him a fringe WR3 against the Colts in Week 8 and beyond. Read more.
In case you missed it: Where will the Raiders play in 2019, and why isn’t anyone freaking out? … Reich is proving he’s right man for Colts … Cooper trade for first-rounder too good to pass up … Luck is healthy again and determined to stay that way
Packers at Rams: 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
Point spread: LAR -9.5 | Matchup quality: 69.0 (of 100)
Rob Demovsky’s pick: Mike McCarthy is 9-3 coming off the bye week, including 9-2 with Aaron Rodgers as his starter. Even if Rodgers doesn’t shed the brace he’s worn since his Week 1 knee injury, he’ll be rested with a week off. This is the kind of shootout game that Rodgers might relish given the way he’s directed game-winning drives this season. He’s never been a bigger underdog in his career as a starter, which would make this one of his bigger wins. Packers 41, Rams 38
Lindsey Thiry’s pick: The Rams are coming off their best defensive performance yet behind four takeaways and seven sacks against the 49ers, and just in time to face a rested Rodgers and the Packers. Containing the two-time MVP will be key, and Marcus Peters pointed to the defensive backs’ ability to cover their man for more than three seconds. Rams 32, Packers 28
FPI win projection: LAR, 79.8 percent. The Rams are the overwhelming favorite in this game according to FPI, a very rare occurrence for anyone against the Packers. FPI gives the Rams an 80 percent chance to win — only once in our data set (since the start of the 2008 season) has a team been a bigger favorite over the Packers. That was the Steelers in Week 12 of last season when the Packers had Brett Hundley at QB.
What to watch for in fantasy: Widely available after weeks of battling injury and a recent bye, wide receiver Geronimo Allison is a key streaming target for this matchup with a Rams secondary that hasn’t lived up to its reputation to date. Read more.
In case you missed it: Put Goff in the MVP race … Packers happy for Shields’ return … Woods might be the Most Valuable Rams receiver … Packers paying price now for Ted Thompson’s last three drafts
49ers at Cardinals: 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
Point spread: ARI -1 | Matchup quality: 3.5 (of 100)
Nick Wagoner’s pick: The 49ers lost to this same Arizona team at home just three weeks ago in a game they dominated statistically but handed to the Cardinals with five turnovers. Turnover differential has remained the biggest problem plaguing the Niners since Jimmy Garoppolo was lost for the season. The Cardinals are coming off a bye with a new offensive coordinator, but the Niners likely won’t turn it over five times again and should be able to coax Josh Rosen into a takeaway or two that will end their seven-game losing streak to Arizona. 49ers 24, Cardinals 20
Josh Weinfuss’ pick: Change is coming to the Cardinals’ offense and it might catch a team off guard. Byron Leftwich takes over as offensive coordinator in the wake of Mike McCoy’s firing, which means more of David Johnson in the game plan. If there’s one game where the Cardinals can spring an offensive explosion on somebody, it’s this one because the Niners won’t be able to key in on Leftwich’s tendencies. Cardinals 28, Niners 17
FPI win projection: SF, 55.2 percent. This game between two 1-6 teams has a big impact on the race for the No. 1 overall pick, according to FPI. The Cardinals are the overwhelming favorite for the top pick (55 percent chance) and would see their chances climb to 71 percent with a loss. A Cardinals win would make things interesting, dropping them to 35 percent and upping the 49ers to 25 percent.
What to watch for in fantasy: Whoever gets the start for the Niners at running back — Matt Breida or Raheem Mostert — should find success against a Cardinals team that has allowed a RB to run for at least 90 yards and rush for a TD four times in just seven games. Read more.
In case you missed it: Cardinals’ Jones knows he won’t win DPOY … Until 49ers get turnover turnaround, losses will continue … Why Rosen will listen to new OC Leftwich
Saints at Vikings: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC
Point spread: NO -1 | Matchup quality: 72.9 (of 100)
Mike Triplett’s pick: It’s hard to pick against the Saints, because even if they start slow, they finish so strong. According to ESPN Stats & Info, their 88 points in the fourth quarter/overtime this year are the most through the first six games of a season since 2002. They just came back from a 17-7 deficit at Baltimore in the fourth quarter last Sunday. Still, the Saints’ five-game win streak has to end sometime. Vikings 27, Saints 24
Courtney Cronin’s pick: If the Vikings want to notch their third consecutive win over the Saints, they’ll have to beat the king of the fourth-quarter comeback, Drew Brees. With Xavier Rhodes’ status for Sunday’s game in question, the Vikings may have to rely on rookie cornerback Holton Hill to start in his place. But in the end, Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen and defensive dominance on third down wins out. Vikings 31, Saints 28
FPI win projection: MIN, 56.0 percent. Can the Vikings’ defense slow down the Saints’ offense? Minnesota has the best defensive efficiency at home this season at 88.2 (on a 0-to-100 scale). Interestingly, the Saints’ offensive efficiency is slightly higher on the road (80.7) than at home (74.9) this season.
What to watch for in fantasy: Thielen has been targeted on a massive 30 percent of his routes, which trails only Julio Jones (33 percent) for highest in the league. Read more.
In case you missed it: Sean Payton’s new toy: A ‘Thor-terback’ … Griffen practices, takes ‘full responsibility’ for actions … Saints going for it with Apple trade … Vikings’ decision to keep Murray is paying off
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Patriots at Bills: 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN
Point spread: NE -13.5 | Matchup quality: 34.2 (of 100)
Mike Reiss’ pick: The Patriots haven’t played a game this season without committing a turnover, and that is the Bills’ best hope at pulling the upset, similar to what they did in Minnesota earlier this season. In the end, the Patriots’ offensive firepower should be enough against an underwhelming Bills attack in a game that could be closer than many anticipate. Patriots 30, Bills 20
Mike Rodak’s pick: The Bills’ offense has scored more than 20 points in only one game this season, while the Patriots’ offense has scored fewer than 20 points only once. It is going to take either an outlier performance from either of those units, or scoring from Buffalo’s defense or special teams for the Bills to pull off an upset. Other than a high snap to Andrew Luck last Sunday that went for a safety, neither the Bills’ defense nor special teams have scored this season. Patriots 34, Bills 17
FPI win projection: NE, 83.4 percent. The Bills have a 23.8 Total QBR as a team this season, by far the lowest in the league. Since QBR was first tracked in 2006, only five teams have posted a lower Total QBR in a season, and none since 2012.
What to watch for in fantasy: Tre’Davious White aligns on the perimeter 97 percent of the time, which is where Josh Gordon has been on 92 percent of his routes this season. Gordon should be downgraded to WR3 territory. Read more.
In case you missed it: Belichick, Pats always bear watching at NFL’s trade deadline … In Thurman Thomas’ days, Bills-Patriots was very different … How the Pats have dominated the AFC East
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