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Week 8 NFL Game Picks 2019

Last week: 6-8

Overall: 55-50-1


WAS (1-6) @ MIN (5-2) | THU 8:20 PM ET | FOX/NFL Network/Prime

Tonight is a “revenge game” for multiple players, as Kirk Cousins will face the Redskins for the first time, while Case Keenum and Adrian Peterson are returning to Minnesota to take on the Vikings. Peterson already had a shot at his former team back in the season opener two years ago, but he played just 9% of the offensive snaps for New Orleans, and now he’s locked into a feature role—though at less than 100% with a high-ankle sprain—for Washington. I’ve learned to not count All Day out, but the Redskins cannot avoid to fall behind early if they’re going to play this one under their terms, especially seeing as Minnesota can limit the big running play (one of two teams to not allow a rush of 20+ yards) and get after the quarterback when playing with a lead. Perhaps Adam Thielen (hamstring) being out will allow Washington to stack the box and contain Dalvin Cook, but I doubt it. The best chance for a road upset is Cousins suddenly cooling off and Keenum playing out of his mind against the team he led to the NFC Championship Game in 2017.

Winner: Minnesota Vikings


SEA (5-2) @ ATL (1-6) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX

The Falcons likely need to win every game the rest of the way to even have a shot at the postseason because of how competitive the NFC looks this year (and it’s almost certainly not going to happen against a tough schedule), but their core has plenty of pride, so it would be unwise to look at them like the other teams at the bottom of the standings. The biggest concern for Seattle this week is that their pass rush has been among the worst in football, which could lead to Matt Ryan (ankle) getting comfortable and finding Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley on intermediate/downfield strikes. Also, the Falcons have actually played stout run defense this year (3.7 yards per carry allowed), and Russell Wilson has been much more efficient on fewer pass attempts for an offense that has low-volume Tyler Lockett and rookie D.K. Metcalf as the only big-time receiving threats with Will Dissly (Achilles) done for the season. I don’t feel confident about the pick, but Atlanta has too much talent to be a one-win team through two months. [Update: with Matt Ryan ruled out, my pick has changed to Seattle.]

Winner: Seattle Seahawks


DEN (2-5) @ IND (4-2) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS

The Colts picked up a huge win last week by taking down the Texans to move into first place in the AFC South, and they are in a great position to keep rolling with three very winnable games (v DEN, @ PIT, v MIA) before a trip around the division (v JAX, @ HOU, v TEN) carries them into December. It was Jacoby Brissett’s arm that led the way on offense in Week 7, but the team staying committed to Marlon Mack (21 touches) was key, and the entire squad—on both  sides of the ball as evidenced by the Mack shirt worn by All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard—is a close-knit group that has a physical, run-first mentality. Denver, on the other hand, completely fell apart last Thursday night, and the offensive line needs to be fixed before they even think about contending. It will be interesting to see what happens with Chris Harris Jr. (I would be surprised if he wasn’t traded after the weekend), but on Sunday, he’ll be tasked with taking away T.Y. Hilton, which he’s had success doing in the past (50.7 yards per game and zero touchdowns in six matchups). Still, I doubt the Broncos are able to top a confident Colts team.

Winner: Indianapolis Colts


TB (2-4) @ TEN (3-4) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX

You could argue that Marcus Mariota getting benched was a spark that Tennessee needed, but at the same time, I think it has much less to do with the former starter’s play than it does being a wakeup call for the guys still competing on the field. In other words, the Titans weren’t suddenly elevated by Ryan Tannehill as much as they were jolted by their leader being benched (because intangibles is something that cannot be questioned for Mariota)—forcing everyone else to look in the mirror. Watching last week’s win over the Chargers, you could see the players were moving with more urgency, and it’s a shame they didn’t have the same fight for the guy who is now running scout team to prepare for Jameis Winston in Week 8. Coming out of the bye, Tampa Bay needs to feature Chris Godwin every week instead of forcing things to Mike Evans after the latter strategy failed them in London, and I also believe O.J. Howard can still be a significant contributor if Bruce Arians is able to scheme up more plays for him. Relying on Winston could be a fool’s errand, but I trust the Buccaneers to put pressure on Tannehill to get a crucial victory.

Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers


ARI (3-3-1) @ NO (6-1) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS

Even as someone with a higher opinion of Teddy Bridgewater than most, I admittedly counted the Saints out when Drew Brees (thumb) went down in Week 2, but their backup did more than keep things afloat by going undefeated in five starts. If New Orleans ends up winning it all this season, Teddy should be looked back upon as a very important piece of a championship team, including the main reason they were able to get a first-round bye (if that happens). At the start of the month, this would have looked like a perfect spot for Brees to return—at home against the struggling Cardinals—but Arizona has rattled off three wins in a row, and their underrated defense should continue to improve with Patrick Peterson immediately stepping back in as a full-time player with 100% of the snaps played in his season debut. To win a probable shootout this week, Kyler Murray will probably have to do damage both through the air and on the ground, but for as great as Chase Edmonds played last week, not having David Johnson (who seems unlikely to play with an ankle injury) takes away an impact player that would be needed on the road.

Winner: New Orleans Saints


CIN (0-7) @ LAR (4-3) | SUN 1:00 PM ET (in London) | CBS

Todd Gurley’s yards-per-carry average since the opener (3.9 > 3.1 > 3.2 > 3.4 > 2.3) should have the Rams concerned, but I think it’s a combination of the superstar runner not being at full strength and—perhaps more importantly—the offensive line taking a step back from last year’s Super Bowl team. Fortunately, the Bengals provide the best possible get-right opportunity, as no one has allowed more rushing yards per game (189.0) or yards per attempt (5.2) through seven weeks, and Los Angeles may want to push Gurley a bit to build confidence up front before the bye, as they’ll come out of it to face the Steelers, Bears, and Ravens. Through the air, Jared Goff should be able to attack a secondary that may be without two starters again, and defensive end Carl Lawson (hamstring) potentially missing another game would be a big blow to Cincinnati’s pass rush. Zac Taylor is still looking for victory No. 1 as a head coach, but I doubt it comes against his former team, especially because the Bengals have their own issues on the offensive line. We’ll see if A.J. Green (ankle) can return after the bye to provide a boost if he’s not moved ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline.

Winner: Los Angeles Rams


PHI (3-4) @ BUF (5-1) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX

The Eagles have typically come through with their backs against the wall, but this year’s team feels different—from anonymous sources causing drama off the field to the offense having no rhythm on the field—and the pressure continues to build for Carson Wentz after general manager Howie Roseman chose him over former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles in the offseason. He’s partly to blame, but slow starts have done Wentz no favors (Philadelphia has trailed by double-digit points in all but one game), and they cannot afford to play catch-up on a secondary that doesn’t have any glaring weakness. I sound like a broken record saying the same thing every week, but the offense won’t reach its potential until Jordan Howard is fed, as his only game with 15+ touches was the team’s best win of the season (over the Packers at Lambeau Field). Defensively, the Eagles have really struggled against mobile quarterbacks in the Doug Pederson era, going 3-9 against Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Marcus Mariota over the past three seasons, so Josh Allen could present a significant challenge as a runner, passer, and playmaker. If the Eagles are going to win on Sunday, they’ll need to completely dominate in the trenches; they haven’t shown they can in 2019.

Winner: Buffalo Bills


LAC (2-5) @ CHI (3-3) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX

I have no idea what happened to Matt Nagy since last season, but you could see starting in Week 1 that his offense has become so complex (in a bad way) that it’s difficult to even tell what they’re trying to accomplish, and Brian Baldinger’s advice might actually be their best chance of turning things around this year. The plan should really be simple—consistently feature Allen Robinson in the passing game, give David Montgomery 18+ touches, allow Anthony Miller to play full complement of snaps, and let Mitchell Trubisky do more with his legs—but there’s been nothing to suggest things will change, so Los Angeles may just need to not find a way to lose like they did last week against the Titans. Hating on him is the “cool” thing to do, but Melvin Gordon should come out determined to make up for his lost fumble in Week 7, and the Chicago run defense been exposed with defensive end Akiem Hicks (elbow) on IR. The game is a complete toss up because of how disappointing both teams have been, but I have more trust in Philip Rivers and the Chargers as road underdogs.

Winner: Los Angeles Chargers


NYG (2-5) @ DET (2-3-1) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX

Last week’s loss against the Cardinals really hurt New York’s chances of making a move in the NFC East, but the schedule compared to Dallas and Philadelphia remains much more favorable—starting this week against a Lions team that’s falling apart with Kerryon Johnson (knee) on IR and having just traded starting safety Quandre Diggs (which wasn’t a popular move in the locker room). Ideally, Daniel Jones will have 30 or fewer pass attempts for the first time in his career because the Giants are able to play from ahead, but when he does throw, getting Saquon Barkley (14 receptions for 82 scoreless yards this season) the ball in space needs to be a priority. Furthermore, New York should give Saquon 20-25 carries for what looks like his best matchup of the season, especially because Matt Patricia may have some tricks up his sleeve to confuse the rookie quarterback. If Pat Shurmur’s offense can move the ball, this game has shootout potential because of the problems Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones are expected to cause on the perimeter due to a size advantage over Janoris Jenkins. The loser will have a very difficult time keeping pace in their respective division.

Winner: New York Giants


NYJ (1-5) @ JAX (3-4) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS

It’s good to see the Jets not hold back in sticking up for Sam Darnold and his “seeing ghosts” remark when he was mic’d up for Monday Night Football, and people outside the building (including Brett Favre and Kurt Warner) also came to the second-year quarterback’s defense. That said, the Jacksonville defensive line surely heard the soundbite, too, and you can be sure they’ll do whatever they can to get after Darnold early and make him uncomfortable. Even with Jalen Ramsey gone, though, the Jaguars are better attacked on the ground, so look for Sunday to be a spot where Le’Veon Bell finally gets going after he played well against New England (15 carries for 70 yards). If Gregg Williams continues to get quality play out of his guys on defense, New York may just need to take care of the ball—especially from potential strip sacks with Josh Allen coming off the edge—and not let Leonard Fournette get all his touchdowns out in one game or D.J. Chark to get deep.

Winner: New York Jets


CAR (4-2) @ SF (6-0) | SUN 4:05 PM ET | FOX

With a season’s worth of starts now under his belt, Jimmy Garoppolo is 14-2 to begin his career, including a 12-2 record since being traded to the 49ers. Looking at just this season, Jimmy G hasn’t even played up to his full potential, but San Francisco has won with suffocating defense (10.7 points per game allowed) and the best rushing attack in the NFC (172.7 yards per game)—both of which will travel in January. Carolina has a similar formula built around Christian McCaffrey, and they’ve had more success with Kyle Allen under center because he does a better job hitting the layups than Cam Newton (foot) did. If I were a Panthers fan, I would be a bit worried about Newton’s impending return potentially impacting the offense, but if he can’t go back to being a lethal threat as a runner, the decision should be easy for Ron Rivera and the coaching staff. It will be easier said than done, but Allen needs to play within himself and not press to keep the job. This is probably the most difficult pick of the week for me, so I’ll lean towards the home team to remain undefeated.

Winner: San Francisco 49ers


OAK (3-3) @ HOU (4-3) | SUN 4:25 PM ET | CBS

Despite last week’s blowout loss to Green Bay, the Raiders are staying competitive at 3-3, and the biggest thing they are currently lacking is an offensive playmaker on the outside (someone like, say, Antonio Brown would be nice). Tyrell Williams (foot) returning after a two-week absence would be huge, as he scored in each of his first four games with Oakland and put up an 8/70/1 line in his lone matchup against Houston, so his status is something to keep an eye on over the next couple of days. On defense, the Raiders shipped 2017 first-round pick Gareon Conley to the Texans earlier this week, and he may draw an immediate start against his former team with Johnathan Joseph (hamstring/neck) and Bradley Roby (hamstring) both questionable at cornerback. If so, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Jon Gruden go after Conley early, as they should know his strengths/weaknesses and how to best attack him. Getting Williams back to pair with Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller would provide Derek Carr the firepower needed to keep up with Deshaun Watson, but they will need all hands on deck to outscore DeAndre Hopkins, Keke Coutee, and Kenny Stills. Right now, I’m picking Oakland, but the pick will change if one or both of Williams and right tackle Trent Brown (calf) are out.

Winner: Oakland Raiders


CLE (2-4) @ NE (7-0) | SUN 4:25 PM ET | CBS

As if the Patriots needed another edge, Jarvis Landry provided bulletin board material today—which the media is laughably trying to retract for him—by saying the Browns are “gonna win” this week while also playing down Bill Belichick’s defensive mind and talking up Baker Mayfield (who has a 5:11 touchdown-interception ratio). I thought New England showed mercy against the Jets last week because Belichick respects Adam Gase, but the Cleveland players chirping since the offseason may lead to a big slice of humble pie and a non-contending 2-5 record by Sunday night. If the Browns are somehow going to pull off a road upset, they need to feed the star player who doesn’t talk (Nick Chubb) and hope that Myles Garrett and the pass rushers can get to Tom Brady. Should the game turn into a blowout, Cleveland needs to be wary of forcing things to Odell Beckham Jr. just to keep him happy, as that doesn’t help anyone and could drain Mayfield’s confidence if they don’t connect.

Winner: New England Patriots


GB (6-1) @ KC (5-2) | SUN 8:20 PM ET | NBC

The Chiefs obviously don’t want to pick up their third loss of the season knowing that they’ll almost certainly have to travel to Foxboro in January by falling three games behind the Pats at the season’s halfway point, but it would be foolish to sacrifice Patrick Mahomes’ long-term health if he’s at risk of re-injury. Remember, the reigning NFL MVP—who got in a limited practice on Wednesday and Thursday—was also dealing with a high-ankle sprain before the knee injury, so I don’t think there’s a great chance we see him take on Aaron Rodgers for the first time. If backup Matt Moore is indeed under center, Andy Reid will likely try to take the pressure off him by getting the running game going and using the backs in the screen game, the latter of which has been underutilized anyway. For what it’s worth, Damien Williams was with Moore in Miami from 2014 to 2017, and as noted by USA Today, four of the first five plays after Mahomes left last week’s game were designed to get the ball in Williams’ hands. Being at Arrowhead Stadium and having the home crowd behind them will help the defense build on what they did last week, but Rodgers and the Green Bay offense—with or without Davante Adams (toe)—will be difficult to stop.

Winner: Green Bay Packers


MIA (0-6) @ PIT (2-4) | MON 8:15 PM ET | ESPN

It was good to see the Dolphins put up a fight last week against the Bills, as with Ryan Fitzpatrick leading the way, they were up in the fourth quarter and could have pulled off an upset if not for a couple of turnovers forced by Tre’Davious White. Last season, Fitzpatrick played like a man possessed in the second half of a Monday Night comeback attempt versus Pittsburgh, but the chances of a repeat don’t seem likely because a) he didn’t bring Chris Godwin and Mike Evans with him to Miami, and b) the Steelers have improved defensively this season. On both sides of the ball, I think Pittsburgh’s young stars (James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Devin Bush, etc.) will want to show the franchise is not only well-positioned for the future, but can also keep contending in 2019. The Dolphins are going to do their best to stop that—especially because a win would boost the odds of the pick owed to them by the Steelers falling into the top ten—but Mason Rudolph orchestrating a play-action offense paired with an aggressive, opportunistic defense should be successful in Week 8 and the rest of the season.

Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers 


For access to our recommended against-the-spread picks (59.1% all-time), sign up for Fantasy Consigliere using promo code GHOST all this month.


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