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2023 NFL Game Picks: Week 8

Last week: 7-6

Season: 66-40


TB (3-3) @ BUF (4-3)

Thursday, October 26 | 8:15 PM ET | Prime Video


We haven’t yet reached November, but the Bills will be in danger of falling too far behind Kansas City in the conference to earn homefield advantage in the playoffs if they don’t play better than they have since the blowout win over Miami. Unfortunate injuries to star defenders Tre’Davoius White (Achilles) and Matt Milano (leg) have put more pressure back on the offense, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next few days ahead of the October 31 trade deadline—with Derrick Henry and Davante Adams being two names to at least check in on. For the current team, it sounds like Josh Allen has plans to play more freely as opposed to being more structured, and I think him running around is the best chance for Buffalo to win a Super Bowl. In a 33-27 overtime loss to Tom Brady and the Bucs a couple of years ago, it was Allen’s legs that got the Bills back in the game after a 24-3 deficit; look for the superstar quarterback to do what it takes to top Baker Mayfield in a battle of quarterbacks from the 2018 draft class.


Winner: Buffalo Bills


HOU (3-3) @ CAR (0-6)

Sunday, October 29 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


For the 2023 quarterback class, good friends Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud will face off for the first time, and I’ll just say to not write the book on a young quarterback after six games and based on social media opinions. Carolina has to improve the playmakers for Young in 2024, but as pointed out multiple times in previous weeks, there are concerns about how the offensive line has quickly deteriorated under Frank Reich, and we’ll see if the switch to offensive coordinator Thomas Brown as the play-caller will provide a spark. On the other hand, Houston has done a tremendous job helping Stroud transition to the NFL, and the former Ohio State star has displayed big-time accuracy and touch running Bobby Slowik’s offense. The coaching edge for the Texans is enough to make them the pick on the road, which would put the Panthers another step towards giving up the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.


Winner: Houston Texans


LAR (3-4) @ DAL (4-2)

Sunday, October 29 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


Last year’s matchup against the Cowboys didn’t go well for Los Angeles as Dan Quinn’s defense was able to hold Matthew Stafford and company to ten points—and Cooper Rush moved the ball well enough in place of an injured Dak Prescott for Dallas to get a 22-10 victory. The rematch might be a little more high-scoring, but the Cowboys had an extra week to prepare for Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua, and the Rams will be tested with their four losses this season coming against top pass rushes of the 49ers, Bengals, Eagles, and Steelers, especially with Micah Parsons perhaps recharged and ready to take over. Also, I’m expecting Dallas to be better offensively the rest of the way with the passing attack being more aggressive and playing through CeeDee Lamb, and a week off should be good for Tony Pollard, too, as he hasn’t looked as explosive so far in 2023. Overall, the Cowboys can win based on their talent at home.


Winner: Dallas Cowboys


MIN (3-4) @ GB (2-4)

Sunday, October 29 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The Vikings have been rumored as a team that could have a fire sale at the trade deadline, but the win over San Francisco on Monday night might end that possibility—and Minnesota could even be in position for a playoff spot (though very early) before Sunday if Tampa Bay loses to Buffalo. We have seen disappointments for teams after playing the Niners because of how physical the matchups are, but Green Bay has gone through serious growing pains during their three-game losing streak, and Jordan Love will be facing heavy pressure from Brian Flores’ defense. To get the offense back on track, I’d like to see Romeo Doubs become re-involved (three receptions over the past two games), and he should see plenty of favorable one-on-one coverage based on how much the Vikings are expected to blitz. Kirk Cousins is playing some of the best football of his career, though, and he’s won three of the past four meetings between these NFC North rivals.


Winner: Minnesota Vikings


NO (3-4) @ IND (3-4)

Sunday, October 29 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The Saints have not played up to expectations so far this season, but the division remains wide open, and the hope is that a late run last Thursday night in the loss to Jacksonville can be carried over into this week and beyond. In general, starting faster and playing from ahead is key for New Orleans establish the identity they want to have, as the defensive line has disappointed with the fifth-lowest sack total in the league—but could be sparked by an opportunity to tee off with a lead. The Colts will be doing what they can to make sure it doesn’t happen, so Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss will continue to be the offensive focal-point, and I’d hope that Gardner Minshew doesn’t force the ball to Michael Pittman Jr. against an opportunistic secondary after Indy’s top wideout expressed displeasure about a lack of targets in Week 7; if that happens, Marshon Lattimore or Paulson Adebo could change the game with an interception that sets up New Orleans for a second-half push heading into a very winnable November stretch.


Winner: New Orleans Saints


NE (2-5) @ MIA (5-2)

Sunday, October 29 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


The status of Tyreek Hill (hip) needs to be watched closely, as not having to deal with him could allow Bill Belichick to focus on taking away Jaylen Waddle—who has a back issue of his own—while also stacking the box more than the Patriots did in Week 2 when Raheem Mostert rushed 18 times for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Notably, Tua Tagovailoa is 5-0 versus Belichick, but the matchups haven’t exactly been shootouts (195.0 passing yards per game with a 4:3 touchdown-interception ratio), and confidence seems high for New England on both sides of the ball after their upset win over the Bills, including encouraging team chemistry shown by the post-game euphoria between Mac Jones and his teammates (including defensive players). The game being in Miami creates some hesitation, and the Patriots are nearly double-digit underdogs; but last Sunday might have been the start of a turnaround, and the health of Hill is compounded by De’Von Achane (knee) already being out.


Winner: New England Patriots


NYJ (3-3) @ NYG (2-5)

Sunday, October 29 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Daniel Jones (neck) not yet being cleared for contact has become an increasingly strange situation, and it’s fair to wonder if New York might know a bit more than they are letting on about his return timeline. Either way, Tyrod Taylor has shown the value of having a capable backup quarterback, and the 34-year-old’s deep ball has been on full display over the past couple of weeks with accurate shots to Darius Slayton and rookie Jalin Hyatt. The Jets might be a difficult matchup if the pass rush comes alive versus a shaky offensive line, but Robert Saleh’s defense has really struggled to contain opposing tight ends, and Darren Waller is coming off his best game of the year with seven receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown. Although it only resulted in 14 points, last week’s win over Washington gave us a glimpse of what the Giants were expected to be entering the year by playing through Saquon Barkley and Waller. On the other side of the ball, Zach Wilson could face a constant barrage of blitzes, but he’s had three “quality starts” in three October outings, and I like his strong play to continue for what should be a close game.


Winner: New York Jets


JAX (5-2) @ PIT (4-2)

Sunday, October 29 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Jaguars-Steelers is a matchup that could easily be a playoff preview, and it will be the first time that Trevor Lawrence has faced Pittsburgh’s playmaking defense—which fueled a win over the Rams in Week 7 thanks to a game-changing interception by T.J. Watt. Last week, I mentioned Joey Porter Jr. potentially seeing a lot of fellow rookie Puka Nacua, and he was able to shut down the impressive wideout with zero receptions on three targets (though Porter again showed he needs to improve his tackling, which might be what’s keeping him from an every-snap role). The counter for Jacksonville to avoid Porter in coverage will probably be getting Calvin Ridley lined up on Levi Wallace at right cornerback, and Trevor Lawrence might be leaning on that matchup with Christian Kirk facing similar coverage to what Cooper Kupp saw last week (two receptions for 29 yards). So, if the Steelers can slow down a red-hot Travis Etienne Jr. and keep Lawrence from making plays like he did last week, they can grind out another victory as an overlooked AFC contender.


Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers


ATL (4-3) @ TEN (2-4)

Sunday, October 29 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


The Tennessee quarterback situation is up in the air with reports of Will Levis starting being shot down by head coach Mike Vrabel, but it feels like the truth might have leaked and Vrabel is simply trying to keep it under wraps as a competitive advantage. I wish Malik Willis would get a shot to start a full game with a couple of weeks to prepare, and the former Liberty standout would have probably been a better fit in a different offense or under different circumstances. However, Levis was drafted by new general manager Ran Carthon, so the Titans are seeing what they have in the rookie before potentially—and I would say likely—drafting a signal-caller in 2024. The issues for Levis at Kentucky included locking onto reads and absorbing sacks, but several months under NFL coaching might be enough to have made significant improvement, and a win on Sunday would be big for his confidence moving forward. That said, Atlanta having a very aggressive defense concerns me, and they’ll be doing what they can to stop Derrick Henry to make Levis and/or Willis beat them.


Winner: Atlanta Falcons


PHI (6-1) @ WAS (3-4)

Sunday, October 29 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


Washington is 1-4 since a 2-0 start, and the wheels have clearly begun to loosen with Ron Rivera expressing at least some doubt about sticking with Sam Howell, Terry McLaurin questioning some of their offensive adjustments, and Jonathan Allen going on an expletive-filled rant about how tired he is of losing for seven years. McLaurin and Allen are team leaders and perhaps the two best players for the Commanders (both not acquired by the current regime, for what it’s worth), so for them to let their frustration known could be an indication that the train will soon fly completely off the tracks. Frankly, the new ownership group should have had another voice brought in after taking over, and we’ll see if Rivera does what’s best for the future of the franchise if presented trade opportunities ahead of the deadline for a team that might be 3-5 with a rough schedule over the final two-plus months. A convincing loss this weekend with Philadelphia fans expected to take over FedExField could prompt Josh Harris to consider changes he’ll make for 2024.


Winner: Philadelphia Eagles


CLE (4-2) @ SEA (4-2)

Sunday, October 29 | 4:05 PM ET | FOX


Cleveland was unfocused and/or battered entering Week 7 after a draining win over the 49ers, but they were able to punch in a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds on a Kareem Hunt rush, and PJ Walker again provided a steady hand in place of Deshaun Watson (shoulder) to beat Indy in a surprising shootout. Seattle will surely be embracing a brawl if that’s what breaks out on Sunday, and DK Metcalf practicing fully to begin the week—after missing his first career game with a hip injury—is a good sign to have a trio that can take on the talented cornerback group for the Browns. Unfortunately, the status of Kenneth Walker III (calf) is up in the air, but Zach Charbonnet (hamstring) should be back, and Kenny McIntosh (knee) is a dynamic pass-catcher that might be set to make his debut to form an impressive rookie duo. If the Seattle defense can force Walker into mistakes and Geno Smith doesn’t make any of his own, they should get a win and have more talking about Pete Carroll’s squad as a legitimate threat in the NFC West.


Winner: Seattle Seahawks


BAL (5-2) @ ARI (1-6)

Sunday, October 29 | 4:25 PM ET | CBS


There have been a couple of bumps in the road, but last week’s blowout win over Detroit was a breakthrough for Lamar Jackson in the new offensive system, and Baltimore might be viewed differently right now if not for a rare case of the drops for Jackson’s entire supporting cast in the Week 5 loss to Pittsburgh. Still, the Ravens are atop the division and appear to be a legitimate contender with Jackson leading the offense and Roquan Smith powering the defense, so Arizona could have a difficult time keeping up if Kyler Murray (knee) doesn’t make his debut. Looking ahead to whenever Murray does play (which could end up being Sunday), the Cardinals are in decent shape to pick up a few wins down the stretch, and it’s certainly in the franchise’s interest to have the former No. 1 overall pick play well to either solidify himself as their quarterback of the future or boost his trade value.


Winner: Baltimore Ravens


KC (6-1) @ DEN (2-5)

Sunday, October 29 | 4:25 PM ET | CBS


The snow might be gone by kickoff, but Denver will have freezing temperatures this weekend, and cold weather could help neutralize Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City passing attack just a couple of weeks after being held to 19 points in a primetime win over the Broncos. Oddly enough considering he’s 12-0 against them, Mahomes has been just “OK” versus Denver with a career 19:9 touchdown-interception ratio, and star safety Justin Simmons has four of those takeaways himself. The question is if defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will make enough changes to prevent Travis Kelce—who had nine receptions on nine targets for 124 yards in the first meeting—from taking over, as struggling to defend tight ends has sort of been a common theme for Joseph’s units over the years. On offense, the Broncos playing through Javonte Williams can set up play-action opportunities with Kansas City being weakened by the loss of linebacker Nick Bolton (wrist), and Sunday is the final showcase opportunity for Jerry Jeudy as a possible trade target.


Winner: Kansas City Chiefs


CIN (3-3) @ SF (5-2)

Sunday, October 29 | 4:25 PM ET | CBS


Brock Purdy (concussion) is highly unlikely to suit up for the 49ers this week, so Sam Darnold is set to draw his first start with the team, and under a head coach in Kyle Shanahan that openly wondered why the former No. 3 overall pick can’t become a star quarterback after signing him in the offseason (going as far as comparing him to Steve Young). I’m sure Shanahan remains highly confident in Purdy with no chance of him being unseated by Darnold, but it’s a great opportunity for the former Jet and Panther in the best situation of his career, and San Francisco still being favored by 3.5 points—even with Cincinnati coming off the bye—is interesting. The Bengals will undoubtedly be using the underdog status as motivation, and a healthy Joe Burrow could come out firing with a huge performance. But I get the feeling that Darnold will play well, and the Niners might be more disciplined on defense than they were on Monday night, which needs to be the case with Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins coming to town.


Winner: San Francisco 49ers


CHI (2-5) @ LAC (2-4)

Sunday, October 29 | 8:20 PM ET | NBC


The Chargers have lost to top teams in the Dolphins, Chiefs, and Cowboys—but not being quite good enough is the same old story for them, and they are close to full-blown desperation mode with Sunday night arguably being a must-win considering the opponent. That is not meant to be a slight on a Chicago team that has played much better in recent weeks and had a very solid performance by undrafted rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent in his first career start, but a primetime showdown like the one we’ll get this weekend needs to be a win for Justin Herbert. Defensively, Los Angeles should put Asante Samuel Jr. on DJ Moore and load up to stop the run, and I’m optimistic that Kenneth Murray and his teammates will tackle veteran runner D’Onta Foreman a lot better than Las Vegas did in Week 7. Facing the possibility of a 2-5 start should have the Chargers ready to play and not overlooking Bagent and the Bears.


Winner: Los Angeles Chargers


LV (3-4) @ DET (5-2)

Monday, October 30 | 8:15 PM ET | ESPN/ABC


Jimmy Garoppolo (back) is expected to play on Monday night, and this could be another dangerous spot for Detroit—coming off a shocking blowout loss—with Davante Adams primed to breakout sooner or later. The Lions will at least have Jerry Jacobs back after at cornerback after Will Harris struggled in his place last week, but improving the depth at the position probably needs to be considered before next week’s trade deadline. To take pressure off the backend, the pass rush must reemerge to prove Detroit is for real (they allowed 38 points to Baltimore and 37 points to Seattle in their two losses), and first-round linebacker Jack Campbell having things slow down for him at some point would provide a boost alongside Alex Anzalone on the second level. I could see Josh McDaniels knowing how to attack the Lions to make it a high-scoring affair the night before Halloween, but Jared Goff has been awesome at home, and Jahmyr Gibbs could have a monster performance if the Raiders again struggle to bring down ball-carriers.


Winner: Detroit Lions