The marquee individual matchup of Week 8, even though the players will never be on the field together, is when Drew Brees and Peyton Manning face off in Denver on Sunday night. Clearly both are Canton-bound five years after they hang up their cleats, and this is the first time they have played since the Saints beat Manning’s Colts in the Super Bowl in Miami three seasons ago.
There should be fireworks for this game – the total of 55.5 is easily the highest on the board. These two have the highest career passing yards per game average in NFL history, with Brees at 267.7 yards per game and Manning at 264.7. Manning has the most 300-yard games all-time with 67, while Brees is third with 62; he would tie Dan Marino for second with one Sunday. Brees also seems likely to hit a few round numbers in this game. If he throws a TD pass, and I’m sure he will, it will be his 50th straight game doing so (already owns record) and 300th career scoring pass. Brees would hit 300 TDs in his 161st game, which would tie Tom Brady for third-fastest. Manning and Marino are tied for No. 1 at 157.
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Both Manning and Brees are scorching-hot right now. Brees has thrown for at least 325 yards and three TDs in every game but one and has had at least 370 in the past three (four TDs the past two games). He leads the NFL by far in averaging 350 yards per game, and his rating has improved each week. Manning has thrown for at least 300 in his past four and has 11 touchdowns and one pick in that stretch. He is second to Aaron Rodgers in rating.
Bovada has two Manning vs. Brees props: total passing yards in Week 8 -- Manning +20.5 (-130; Brees -20.5 at even -- and more touchdown passes, with both at even. The Denver pass defense is pretty good, ranking No. 10 in allowing 215 yards per game. It has allowed 11 TD passes. The Broncos have faced some elite QBs: Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers. None threw for 300 yards and only Schaub had more than two TD passes.
The Saints, meanwhile, are No. 30 in the NFL in allowing 305 passing yards per game and have allowed 12 TD passes. Josh Freeman just torched New Orleans last week. But it’s also worth noting that the Saints are equally awful vs. the run, ranking No. 31 in allowing 161.0 yards per game. Denver wants to run the ball, while the Saints rarely even bother. Thus, that should lower Manning’s numbers a bit. Take Brees on both.
You can also bet on a Week 8 special on Brees vs. Rodgers for most TD passes this season. Rodgers (+150) has 19 and Brees (-200) 18. But it should be noted that Brees has had his bye and Rodgers hasn’t. Plus, Rodgers has a handful of potential winter-weather games in the final month or two while the Saints play in their cushy dome or at Atlanta or at Dallas (one winter game could be Dec. 9 at the Giants). Take Brees here.
Finally, Bovada offers a prop on which player will lead the NFL in rushing this year. Adrian Peterson is currently No. 1 with 775 yards, but he just played Thursday. He is the 4/1 third-favorite. Peterson’s comeback from that terrible knee injury late last season has been a great story, but teams are going to start stacking the box because QB Christian Ponder has started to really struggle. The Vikes haven’t had their bye yet, however.
Houston’s Arian Foster is the favorite at 11/4, and he’s second to Peterson with 659 yards. The Texans are on a bye this week. One concern with Foster, other than he has a capable of No. 2 in Ben Tate, who should vulture a few carries a week, is that he is averaging only 3.9 yards per carry. By comparison, Peterson is at 5.1 ypc. I would probably take a flier on Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch at 15/2. He has an inconsistent young QB like Peterson does, but Lynch is about all the Seahawks have on offense. Lynch currently is No. 4 with 652 yards rushing and still has a bye week upcoming.
Week 8 Sportsbook.ag Leaders
I finally hit on one of these “mosts” props last week as Tennessee’s Chris Johnson won the week rushing-wise with 195 yards against Buffalo – that paid out at +1000. It’s important to remember that these “mosts” don’t generally include the Thursday game (or Monday) because both Peterson and Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin had big games on Thursday this week.
Johnson is the +400 favorite this week as the Titans host the Colts. Indy ranks No. 26 in allowing 141.7 rushing yards per game. I really want to take Oakland’s Darren McFadden at +800 vs. Kansas City, but McFadden has exceeded 70 yards in a game once all season. So I am going with Philly’s LeSean McCoy at +600 vs. Atlanta’s No.28 rush defense. McCoy hasn’t done much the past two games but had an ankle issue; the bye week should have him ready to blow up. McCoy had 95 in a game vs. Atlanta last year and scored twice.
On the passing yards, I don’t see how you can’t take Brees at +400. Eli Manning at +800 was tempting at Dallas as he usually has big games vs. the Cowboys (but didn’t in Week 1). For most receiving yards, I am taking a Giant: Hakeem Nicks at +800. Nicks has been hampered by injury this season but at practice this week said: “I’m a lot healthier now,” Manning said of his receiver: “I just saw a different burst.” Nicks was quiet in Week 1 vs. Dallas but had a monster 163-yard game at Dallas in Week 11 last year. For highest-scoring team in Week 8, it’s Green Bay at +450 vs. Jacksonville.
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