NFL Football Predictions: Week 8 Opening Line Report and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 10/21/2014
With all due respect to Peyton Manning throwing his NFL-record 509th career touchdown pass, the most interesting thing to happen in the NFL in Week 7 was the Seattle Seahawks' shocking trade of Percy Harvin to the New York Jets. Seattle gave up three draft picks, including a first-rounder, to get Harvin from the Vikings before the 2013 season even though Harvin had a well-known reputation for being a major locker-room cancer. It was certainly a rare misstep for the Seahawks, one of the best-run franchises in the NFL this decade. Harvin played in just six regular-season games for Seattle and was paid a little more than $18 million. Amazing. I don't blame the Jets for taking a shot as all they had to give up with a sixth-round pick that can become a fourth-rounder for Seattle if Harvin is on the roster next season. Harvin has to behave because he's not going to get a big deal from any other team if the keeps fighting teammates.
Seattle looked flat without Harvin on Sunday in getting stunned at St. Louis. It doesn't look anything close to last year's Super Bowl team, especially on defense. The Seahawks are now 9/1 third-favorites to win the Super Bowl with Dallas at Bovada. They are 4/1 second-favorites to win the AFC behind Green Bay (3/1).
Here are a few games and interesting opening WagerWeb Week 8 lines.
Bills at Jets (-3, 41): Presumably Harvin will make his Jets debut here. Last week's trade happened after New York lost on Thursday night in New England. Harvin will play receiver and return kickoffs, but how many offensive snaps he gets depends on how much of the playbook he can absorb. Harvin is signed through 2018, but there's no guaranteed money in his contract beyond this year. His 2015 salary would be $10.5 million, so I expect him to be a good soldier. Buffalo had what you would call a crushing win in Week 7 over Minnesota. That's because the Bills starting running back C.J. Spiller to a season-ending broken collarbone and No. 2 Fred Jackson to a groin injury for at least month. Say hello to an Anthony Dixon/Bryce Brown platoon there. That's a major step back. The pick: Jets end their losing streak.
Lions vs. Falcons (+3.5, 47) in London: I will be honest here in that I thought the Falcons would be a wild-card team this season. I am stunned how bad they have looked in their four-game skid, dropping each by at least 10 points. Last week Atlanta barely showed up in 29-7 loss in Baltimore. The Falcons' point total has gone down each game since scoring 56 in a Week 3 rout of Tampa Bay. The offensive line has been devastated by injury and lost another in Week 7: center Peter Konz. He is Atlanta's fourth starting offensive lineman to suffer a season-ending injury. That stellar Detroit defense could have a field day teeing off on Matt Ryan. The Lions still aren't sure if they will have Calvin Johnson this week. He has missed the past two. My guess is they sit him one more week as the bye is up next and then his ankle injury should be fully healed. This game has a 9:30 a.m. ET kickoff in London with the Falcons the home team. It will be nationally televised as a lead-in to regular action. The pick: Lions and "under." Those London games are usually sloppy. Might Falcons coach Mike Smith get fired if Atlanta loses badly? Remember, the Raiders canned Dennis Allen after their loss in London.
Bears at Patriots (-6, 50): Speaking of coaches who may have lost their team, I give you Chicago's Marc Trestman. You hear the words "soft" when it comes to the Bears. Trestman seems too nice of a guy. There was plenty of finger pointing in the Bears' locker room Sunday after Chicago's pretty shocking 27-14 home loss to Miami. Did you know the Blackhawks have more wins at Soldier Field this season than the Bears do? Jay Cutler was awful in the loss and pretty much has been in all four thus far. If Chicago drops to 3-5, it can forget about the playoffs. New England nearly got caught in a trap game Week 7 vs. the Jets but is unbeaten at home. Tom Brady is 3-0 all time vs. Chicago. The Bears' best hope is that New England is looking ahead to next week's game with Denver. The pick: Patriots and "over."
Raiders at Browns (-7, 43): I took Jacksonville and the points at home vs. Cleveland last week and thought the Jags had a great chance of winning. They dominated, 24-6. The Browns had just 266 total yards and 69 rushing on 30 carries. The team missed injured Pro Bowl center Alex Mack in a big way, and he's done for the year. The offense was so bad that the Browns pondered putting Johnny Manziel in for a series or two. That's about the only reason to watch this game is to see if Johnny Football does play. If the Raiders don't win this one, I don't like their chances of getting a win until Week 16 against the Bills. Oakland hasn't won a game in the Eastern Time Zone in years, but one benefit here is it's a 4:25 start and not 11 a.m. Pacific. The pick: Browns. Any shot the Raiders had of the upset went away with Cleveland's performance last week. The Browns will be plenty focused now.
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