Home / frontnfl / Week 8 NFL Game Picks 2020
Rod Mar/Seattle Seahawks

Week 8 NFL Game Picks 2020

Last week: 9-5

Overall: 69-35-1


ATL (1-6) @ CAR (3-4) | THU 8:20 PM ET | FOX/NFL Network/Amazon

The Chargers also have a case (though it’s more from an injury perspective), but probably no franchise has endured more unbelievable heartbreak than the Falcons in recent years—with the most recent example being Todd Gurley accidently scoring late last week and allowing Detroit to get the ball and score a game-winning touchdown. To be fair, Gurley knew the situation and tried to stop (it’s something he’s done in the past), but his momentum carried him just across the goal line; perhaps we will see him come out angry to atone for the Week 7 disappointment. The Panthers have been better attacked on the ground than through the air this year, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise if Matt Ryan came out chucking it tonight, and Julio Jones being out there will make a huge difference compared to the last matchup, which Carolina won 23-16. I am currently 0-7 picking Falcons games, but the defense has played better over the past two weeks, and if the team doesn’t come out flat, they have the offensive firepower to get a win on the road with Christian McCaffrey (ankle) out.

Winner: Atlanta Falcons


PIT (6-0) @ BAL (5-1) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS

Pittsburgh held on last week in a highly anticipated battle of undefeated teams, and now they get an even bigger game—again on the road—against the rival Ravens for AFC North supremacy. In 2019, the Steelers played Baltimore as tough as anyone by limiting Lamar Jackson to 161 passing yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions in a near upset victory with Mason Rudolph (and Devlin Hodges following injury) under center, so now they have to really like their chances as Ben Roethlisberger re-enters the divisional clash. And while a strong case can be made for the Ravens having the NFL’s best secondary, Big Ben has the weapons to pick a matchup he wants to attack; he just can’t turn the ball over three times like he did versus Tennessee. Defensively, the pressure Pittsburgh can bring might be able to confuse Jackson, but I think it would be wise for Baltimore to feature second-round pick J.K. Dobbins whether or not Mark Ingram (ankle) is active. Even with the bye giving a boost to John Harbaugh’s squad, I have more confidence in the Steelers on offense for what should be a down-to-the-wire finish.

Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers


LAR (5-2) @ MIA (3-3) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX

“Tua Time” is beginning in Miami sooner than anyone expected, but you can’t fault the Dolphins for making the choice they believe will give them the best chance to compete for a playoff spot, and I would guess the main factor in turning to Tagovailoa is the coaching staff feeling he will do a better job taking care of the ball (at least in terms of not throwing costly interceptions) than Ryan Fitzpatrick did. Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles defense will be a difficult test for the rookie’s first start, but a trial by fire might not necessarily be a bad thing if Tagovailoa can build some early confidence by maneuvering the pocket and stringing together completions, and the Dolphins should try to make things easy on him via play-calling. Another way to help Tua is for the defense to keep Jared Goff from putting up points, but I don’t like the matchup with Cooper Kupp and the tight ends working the middle of the field, and the run defense also needs to be better coming out of the bye. The flashes may be there this week, but full games of brilliance for Tagovailoa will likely come when the schedule lightens up in the second half of the year.

Winner: Los Angeles Rams


NYJ (0-7) @ KC (6-1) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS

Sunday could get ugly for the Jets as Le’Veon Bell faces his former team just a couple of weeks after getting released, as for the rest of the roster, it has to be a bit of a drain to see a seemingly well-liked teammate winning and having fun while you’re still sitting at 0-7. Stranger things have happened, but the talent discrepancy—at Arrowhead Stadium—would make anything less than a two-score game a surprise. New York just needs to show some fight no matter what the final score ends up being so they can have some pride for the final eight games.

Winner: Kansas City Chiefs


MIN (1-5) @ GB (5-1) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX

The overall outlook for Minnesota was improving with one-point losses to Tennessee (31-30) and Seattle (27-26) sandwiching their only win of the year, but they were then dominated by Atlanta prior to the bye, and the season already appears to be lost with Yannick Ngakoue in Baltimore and Danielle Hunter (neck) done for the year. Perhaps a bye week to prepare for Aaron Rodgers will allow Mike Zimmer to get his young defense figured out, but the Vikings are 0-3 against Matt LaFleur, and the Green Bay offense should continue rolling following their easy win over Houston last week. That said, Minnesota has enough skill-position talent with Dalvin Cook (groin) expected back to make it a game if Kirk Cousins can play well, and the cornerbacks behind Jaire Alexander are susceptible to big plays. Selfishly, I hope the Vikings are able to get back on track with a winnable upcoming schedule in November (v DET, @ CHI, v DAL, v CAR) to make the Christmas Day game versus New Orleans mean more, but a trip to Lambeau Field could lead to a forgettable start for the month.

Winner: Green Bay Packers


IND (4-2) @ DET (3-3) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS

It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison because Jonathan Taylor is the clear starter and seeing consistent work (16.0 carries per game since Week 2), but I still think he needs more touches, and the situation reminds me of Nick Chubb’s rookie year when the Browns didn’t unleash him until around this point in the season. Indianapolis feels their championship window is right now with an elite offensive line and 38-year-old Philip Rivers at quarterback, so they need to start feeding Taylor to prepare for January—including this week against a Detroit defense in the bottom quarter of the league in rushing yards per game allowed (131.8). Getting the rookie going would also open things up for T.Y. Hilton (242 yards and zero touchdowns this year), and it’s notable that the Lions’ cornerback trio has the size that the veteran speedster has been able to get behind throughout his career. Defensively, the Colts will be relying on Xavier Rhodes to keep up his strong play against Kenny Golladay (who he’s contained in the past), and they should be able to limit Matthew Stafford if Rivers doesn’t make mistakes to set up short fields.

Winner: Indianapolis Colts


LV (3-3) @ CLE (5-2) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | FOX

No one seems to be taking Las Vegas seriously in the AFC, but they’ve come out a nightmare early-season schedule with a 3-3 record, and the final two months are filled with favorable matchups. In particular, the passing game has really opened up this year, as the additions of big-play threats Henry Ruggs III (26.5 yards per receptions) and Nelson Agholor (19.5 yards per receptions) have increased Derek Carr’s aggressiveness, and hitting on the downfield shots will only soften up coverage for Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow underneath. Cleveland has former No. 4 overall pick Denzel Ward healthy and playing well at cornerback, but I’m sure Jon Gruden will be ready to attack everyone else, and getting Trent Brown (COVID-19) back would be huge to keep Myles Garrett away from Carr. On defense, Las Vegas needs to keep up the intensity against the run that they showed versus Tampa Bay, and the loss of Odell Beckham Jr. (knee) will make stacking the box less dangerous for them. The Browns are favored by a field goal, but the star power slants clearly towards the Raiders with OBJ out.

Winner: Las Vegas Raiders


TEN (5-1) @ CIN (1-5-1) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS

Heading into Cincinnati following a comeback attempt last week against Pittsburgh feels like it could be a trap game for some teams, but the Titans’ overall identity should help them avoid it. Aside from being able to pound the ball with Derrick Henry (which should always be the main part of their formula), Tennessee also has one of the best wideouts in the game (A.J. Brown), and the top complementary options (Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis) are also capable of chunk plays with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. The bigger concern for the Titans this week is on defense, as the size of A.J. Green (six-foot-four), Tyler Boyd (six-foot-two), and Tee Higgins (six-foot-four) could present problems for a secondary that’s on the smaller side and just struggled to contain JuJu Smith-Schuster (9/85) and Diontae Johnson (9/80/2) in their Week 7 loss. If it becomes a shootout, Joe Burrow and Cincinnati would have a definite shot to pull off an upset, so the health of Jadeveon Clowney (knee) should be monitored; Clowney and Jeffery Simmons—as a tandem—have the ability to wreck the game against a banged up offensive line.

Winner: Tennessee Titans


NE (2-4) @ BUF (5-2) | SUN 1:00 PM ET | CBS

This year’s Patriots-Bills matchups were games to circle on the calendar before the season, but neither team has played well in recent weeks, and rather than Week 16 being a game that potentially decides the AFC East, it seems like Sunday could be the last chance for New England to make a move barring a second-half collapse for Buffalo. Still, I fully expect Bill Belichick to figure things out this year (there is a zero-percent chance they “tank”), and the defense at least has the players to turn it around; a slugfest is their best chance of beating not only the Bills, but probably everyone else on the schedule, too. For Buffalo, increased usage of Josh Allen as a runner (11 carries for a season-high 61 yards last week) is something I believe needs to continue for the offense to operate at maximum efficiency, and the possible season debut of starting guard Jon Feliciano (pectoral) would likely give a spark to the entire group. All three matchups between Allen and New England have been close, but this will be the first time the Bills have an edge at quarterback.

Winner: Buffalo Bills


LAC (2-4) @ DEN (2-4) | SUN 4:05 PM ET | CBS

The Denver defense played well last week in a snow game versus Kansas City, but a couple of return touchdowns made it 24-9 by halftime, and outgaining the Chiefs in total yards (411 to 286) obviously didn’t matter in an eventual 43-16 loss. However, the Broncos should know they played better than the score indicated, and having confidence is important heading into a matchup where the loser could fall off in the AFC wild card race. In the meeting last year in which Drew Lock started for Denver, the Chargers looked like they were sending the game to overtime with a game-tying field goal with 19 seconds remaining, but Courtland Sutton drew a controversial 37-yard pass interference penalty on Casey Hayward to set up the Brandon McManus game-winner in just one play—a sequence LA undoubtedly remembers. There is a chance Vic Fangio is able to install a game plan that finally slows down Justin Herbert in the midst of a scorching start to his career, but the Chargers getting everyone involved makes them difficult to defend. Revenge for Melvin Gordon against his former team might need to wait until they meet again in December.

Winner: Los Angeles Chargers


SF (4-3) @ SEA (5-1) | SUN 4:25 PM ET | FOX

I admittedly thought San Francisco was done at 2-3 following their blowout loss to Miami, but they responded with convincing wins over the Rams and Patriots in back-to-back weeks, and they could realistically be tied atop the NFC West (at least in terms of wins) by Sunday night. Unfortunately, injuries continued to strike the offense with Deebo Samuel (hamstring) and Jeff Wilson (ankle) now out, but George Kittle, rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk, and whoever plays at running back is enough to compete if Jimmy Garoppolo is on point—especially based on how much the Seattle defense has struggled in 2020. The injuries have a bigger impact on the other side of the ball with the 49ers needing to stop Russell Wilson, but I doubt the uncharacteristic turnovers are going to carry over from the Seahawks’ loss against Arizona, and the MVP candidate will be a little more difficult to defend than Kyle Shanahan is. Also, despite whatever witchcraft the Shanahan offense provides, I don’t think the gap at running back will lean heavily in either direction because fourth-round pick DeeJay Dallas brings a well-rounded skillset to the table if Seattle happens to be down all three of Chris Carson (foot), Carlos Hyde (hamstring), and Travis Homer (knee). It’s tough to go against Wilson and Carroll at home.

Winner: Seattle Seahawks


NO (4-2) @ CHI (5-2) | SUN 4:25 PM ET | FOX

The big concern I brought up about the Bears last week was Matt Nagy essentially being stubborn about his system and not showing enough creativity, and although it was downplayed after the game, Nick Foles seems to have similar concerns based on comments he apparently made to the Monday Night Football broadcast team about not always being on the same page as his head coach. For me, the central mystery about Chicago’s offense—and something that dates back to last year—is Anthony Miller not being a full-time player; I expect it has something to do with blocking, but Miller and rookie tight end Cole Kmet both seeing increased roles would make the offense more versatile and explosive in my opinion. New Orleans, on the other hand, is sometimes too creative with Sean Payton shuffling personnel in and out of the lineup, but Alvin Kamara is the constant, and he should have an entertaining matchup against a Chicago defense that continued to play hard on Monday night to try to keep the team in the game. Assuming Allen Robinson (concussion) is able to play, the Bears might be able to put together a complete game if Foles can catch a hot streak against a struggling secondary. (The pick will change to the Saints if Robinson is ruled out.)

Winner: Chicago Bears


DAL (2-5) @ PHI (2-4-1) | SUN 8:20 PM ET | NBC

Maybe the departures of Dontari Poe, Daryl Worley, and Everson Griffen (via trade) will end up being a wakeup call for the Cowboys, but their issues run deeper than three players right now, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they don’t win another game this season when you consider a) how poorly the defense has played, and b) the health of the offensive line. First place in the NFC East is on the line, though, so for a rivalry game where anything can happen, undrafted rookie quarterback Ben DiNucci—who was talked up by Michael Gallup this week—could end up surprising the Eagles as a relative unknown under center. The defensive line for Philadelphia should control the game from start to finish, but if not, it wouldn’t be the first time they failed to dominate in a dream spot, and the weapons are there for DiNucci to move the ball if he’s given time. Plus, Ezekiel Elliott has typically been a problem for the Eagles (5-1 record with 149.8 total yards per game in six matchups), and it would be classic Philly heartbreak to watch fan-favorite draft target CeeDee Lamb go off in a shocking Dallas victory. All that said, Carson Wentz has done what it takes to win/compete in recent weeks, and the Birds should be able to take care of business under the lights at Lincoln Financial Field.

Winner: Philadelphia Eagles


TB (5-2) @ NYG (1-6) | MON 8:15 PM ET | ESPN

Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *