As we hit the midway point of the 2013 NFL season we begin to see a slight disparity develop throughout the league.
But plenty of teams sport 4-3 or 3-4 records. That said, what has transpired over recent weeks has given us a better display of the real contenders hovering around .500. We also saw the “paper champions” (Denver Broncos) fall and their AFC West rival Kansas City Chiefs hold pro football’s final undefeated record.
So, how will Week 8 unfold and lead us into Week 9? Let’s check it out.
(Note: All spreads a courtesy of FootballLocks.com. And be sure to check back as the lines may change prior to each game’s kickoff. Best bets noted with “*”.)
San Francisco 49ers (-16.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
San Francisco has been rolling of late and Jacksonville remains winless. The 49ers are the better team in every phase of the game.
Pick: San Francisco straight up and against the spread
Dallas Cowboys at Detroit Lions (-3)
Two explosive offenses facing off means the better defense provides the edge. It’s a wash between Matthew Stafford and Tony Romo, so the coverage and pass rush will be the difference. Here, Detroit gives up fewer big plays and has forced more turnovers on the year. As we have seen against playmaking defenses, Romo has the tendency to turn the rock over.
Pick: Detroit straight up and against the spread
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5)
New York got a win over the Vikings at home, a team that offers nothing outside of Adrian Peterson. Philadelphia fields an athletic offense and will move the ball on the Giants. In addition, the Eagles aren’t awful defensively by comparison and Eli Manning remains pick-happy.
Pick: Philadelphia straight up and against the spread
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5)
Despite the Browns defense, Kansas City is more than capable of matching Cleveland when shutting down opposing offenses. The Chiefs also present a balanced offense to win the possession and field of position battles.
*Pick: Kansas City straight up and against the spread
Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints (-11)
Buffalo ranks 30th in passing offense, with New Orleans is second. The Saints are also much better defensively, whether it’s slowing down the pass or run. Not to mention Drew Brees and co. rarely drop a game at home.
*Pick: New Orleans straight up and against the spread
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-6.5)
New England is vulnerable defensively, however the same can be said of Miami. So, this AFC East contest will come down to Tom Brady versus Ryan Tannehill. Although Brady is obviously the more touted signal-caller, New England’s offense remains in a funk with all of Brady’s new targets still working out the kinks. Tannehill on the flip side, has much more reliable targets. As a result, the Pats will edge the Dolphins thanks to Brady’s magic but Bill Belichick’s defense will fail to help cover the line.
Pick: New England straight up, Miami and the points
New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5)
Cincinnati is clearly the better team, but we’ve seen the Jets play above their ability more than once so far this season. One difference, though, will be the Bengals defense versus Geno Smith. Smith hasn’t seen a defense quite like Cincinnati, as it stuffs the run and will get pressure consistently.
Pick: Cincinnati straight up and against the spread
Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5) at Oakland Raiders
Don’t sleep on the Raiders defense. Oakland ranks 16th against the pass, 10th against the run and has given up just nine passing scores. Pittsburgh’s offense doesn’t have much outside of Ben Roethlisberger and the Raiders can also move the ball fairly well on offense.
Pick: Oakland straight up and the points
Washington Redskins at Denver Broncos (-12)
Expect the Redskins and Broncos to be in another high-scoring affair. Neither team knows how to cover consistently, not to mention each gives up big plays. Factor in the offenses and this becomes Peyton Manning versus Robert Griffin III. The Broncos will take it, but Washington will stay within two touchdowns.
Pick: Denver straight up, Washington and the points
Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals (-2.5)
Arizona fields a sneaky defense, whereas Atlanta has proven playmakers but continuout es to underachieve. Offensively, Matt Ryan trumps Carson Palmer, but Larry Fitzgerald trumps the Falcons’ depleted receiving corps. As a result, homefield advantage wins since the Cardinals are solid out West while the Falcons remain inconsistent.
Pick: Arizona straight up and against the spread
Green Bay Packers (-9) at Minnesota Vikings
As long as the Packers slow down Adrian Peterson they’ll be fine. Minnesota doesn’t have a passing game, and its defense is also lacking. Mix in Green Bay’s underrated defense with its efficient offense and the cheese gets a solid road win.
Pick: Green Bay straight up and against the spread
Seattle Seahawks (-11) at St. Louis Rams
St. Louis did have a respectable aerial assault when Sam Bradford was under center. Now, however, that is not the case and having young receivers doesn’t bode well against a veteran defense. Despite being at home, the Rams will be outmatched across the board against the Seahawks.
Pick: Seattle straight up and against the spread
Straight Up: 11-4
Straight Up: 65-42
Follow John on Twitter @Rozum27