NFL Betting Predictions: Week 8 Opening Line Report and Picks
Does Carson Palmer belong in Canton? Working against the former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick from USC is that he never has played in a Super Bowl. But his regular-season statistics are strong. Palmer has passed for 46,247 yards overall with three teams: the Bengals (who drafted him in 2004), Raiders (where he wasn't very good for two years) and Cardinals (career resurgence). That's more yardage than such Hall of Famers like Dan Fouts, Joe Montana or Johnny Unitas.
Palmer is also 12th on the all-time list in touchdown passes with 294, ahead of Hall of Famers Warren Moon, Unitas, Montana and Fouts. But then again, Vinny Testaverde is right in Palmer's ballpark in terms of numbers and I doubt anyone would call Vinny a Hall of Famer. Just a Hall of Pretty Good. I think that's where we are with Palmer.
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I bring this up because it's quite possible that Palmer has played his final NFL game. He broke his left arm Sunday in London as the Cardinals were steamrolled by the Rams. Palmer will miss anywhere from eight weeks to the rest of the season. Drew Stanton, who finished 5 of 14 for 62 yards and a pick in place of Palmer on Sunday, takes over.
The Cardinals are now toast in terms of the playoffs. They are going to regret not finding a viable long-term solution at the position considering Palmer will be 38 in December and has been very injury-prone. He has played all 16 games just twice since 2011. It was an open secret at this year's draft that the Cardinals were ready to pounce on Clemson star Deshaun Watson at No. 13 overall. The Houston Texans were aware of that and traded up from No. 25 to No. 12 to land Watson - which looks like a stroke of genius right now. The Cards took Temple linebacker Haason Reddick at 13.
That franchise hasn't taken a QB in the draft since 2014 when it selected Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas in the fourth round (he was a bust and is now a tight end in Buffalo). That's simply way too long to wait even if you have a Pro Bowl starter. Look at what teams like Green Bay and Tom Brady have done. I guarantee you that quarterback will be addressed in the 2018 offseason, even if Palmer hopes to play one more season. The draft is considered QB-heavy, and Arizona is a possible landing spot for Washington's Kirk Cousins if he hits the free-agent market as expected. Or the Patriots' Jimmy Garoppolo if he does too.
The Cards are one of six teams off this week, but here are some Week 8 early lines that caught my eye. I won't touch on Thursday's game (Dolphins-Ravens), my in-depth Sunday matchup (likely Bears-Saints) or the Monday night game (Broncos-Chiefs) as I will be previewing them here individually.
Vikings "at" Browns (+7.5, 37.5): It's the last 9:30 a.m. ET kickoff of the season and the final game in London. Twickenham Stadium becomes the first to host games in back-to-back weeks. That's where Palmer was hurt against the Rams. I now think that Browns coach Hue Jackson will not be back for a third year in Cleveland. It feels like he's grasping at straws with his quarterbacks at this point. He benched rookie DeShone Kizer in Week 5, but then Kevin Hogan was terrible starting in Week 6 so Jackson went back to Kizer this past Sunday vs. the Titans. However, Kizer was benched in game again in the 12-9 overtime loss, this time for Cody Kessler. The Browns are 1-22 under Jackson. Hey, maybe playing outside the USA is just what they need? To make matters worse, the best player on the team, Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, a lock Hall of Famer, left with a torn triceps. Thomas had not missed a snap with the Browns since 2007 until Spencer Drango replaced him with 5:21 left in the third quarter. That's freaking ridiculous. Thomas is likely done for the season. I expect it will be Kessler against the Vikings, who now lead the NFC North at 5-2. This has the lowest total on the board. The Pick: Like the under more than the side (Vikings).
Colts at Bengals (-10, 41): This is the only double-digit line on the board, although Philadelphia probably will be favored by that many against San Francisco; that number won't be out until after the Eagles' Monday night game vs. Washington. Indianapolis hit rock bottom on Sunday with a 27-0 home loss to Jacksonville. It was the first time the Colts had been blanked in a regular-season game since Dec. 26, 1993. Jacoby Brissett was sacked a whopping 10 times and took a handful of other hits. Afterward, receiver T.Y. Hilton publicly ripped the team, and Andrew Luck isn't riding to the rescue until at least Thanksgiving if he plays at all this season. There is zero chance that Coach Chuck Pagano is back next year. I'm a tad surprised he wasn't fired Sunday night. Colts owner Jim Irsay has never fired a coach during a season, though.In addition, first-round rookie safety Malik Hooker blew out his knee Sunday and is done for the year. I was surprised how offensively impotent the Bengals were in Sunday's loss in Pittsburgh considering Cincinnati had played much better on that side of the ball since changing coordinator and was coming out of its bye week. The Pick: Bengals (I'll be shopping for 9.5).
Falcons at Jets (+4.5, 47): This line was posted at Falcons -7 before they took the field Sunday night in New England and then dropped - which made all the sense in the world if you watched Atlanta's offense score seven measly points against what had been the NFL's lowest-ranked defense and one that had allowed an NFL-record six straight passers to throw for at least 300 yards. I picked the Patriots to cover there and they did easily in the 23-7 victory, but I never thought one team would be held to single-digit points in the Super Bowl rematch. It's time to state the obvious: Dan Quinn made a mistake hiring under-qualified Steve Sarkisian as his offensive coordinator to replace the departed Kyle Shanahan. The Falcons scored 30 or more points in 13 games last year but are down to 22.8 this season. They didn't score a point from the second quarter of the Miami Dolphins game in Week 6 until late in the fourth quarter against New England. Their scoring output has gone down every week since Week 2. The Super Bowl Loser's Curse is real! The Pick: Falcons.
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