NFL Office Pool Picks Week 8
For no particular reason, last week was a strong week for us on the NFL office pools front - the best of the season so far. And now things are getting interesting. Really interesting. The trade market has already been more heated than we are used to with top-level players like Amari Cooper and Eli Apple moving on, and the rumors of more big deals are flying around. The NFL has never been a huge trade league, but times seem to be changing - and that makes the league even more fun to follow and handicap. With the obvious qualifier that big trades could really change things, here is how I see this week playing out straight up:
Miami at Houston: It doesn't make a lot of sense, but the Texans have somehow won four in a row. Don't mistake them for a good team, but then their opponent could definitely not be accused of being one, either. On a short week it's a no brainer to take the home team when that team is playing much better football. Take the Texans.
Philadelphia vs. Jacksonville: Last year both of these teams played in a conference final - with Philadelphia obviously going further. This year the winner of this game will only get to .500, and neither is looking great for the playoffs. Jacksonville's QB drama just makes them too hard to trust - especially since they have had the distraction of this trip to England to add to their problems. Take the Eagles.
New York Jets at Chicago: The Jets have been all over the place - as you expect with a rookie QB. The Bears are on a bit of a losing streak, but their defense is sound and the offense has been surprising. They will be able to do enough to make Darnold uncomfortable, and that will make the difference in Soldier Field. Take the Bears.
Tampa Bay at Cincinnati: When Cincinnati was 4-1, people wanted to believe that things were somehow different - that they were a good team. Those people forgot that Marvin Lewis is in charge, and will always be in charge, so the Bengals will always underachieve to an embarrassing extent. It's a law. I don't like them at all, but Tampa has issues, and is hard to trust on the road. Take the Bengals. Begrudgingly.
Seattle at Detroit: Seattle is quietly playing strong defense despite it feeling like a lost season. But Detroit has won two in a row, is playing with confidence, and is at home where they are tangibly more comfortable. Take the Lions.
Denver at Kansas City: Denver's defense is maybe a touch better than the league average but is far from the dominant force it has been in recent years. Kansas City has scored 25 more points than the second-best Rams, and their video game attack is showing no signs of slowing down. This would be a no brainer no matter where it was played, but at Arrowhead we don't even have to sort of think about it. Take the Chiefs.
Washington at New York Giants: The Giants started waving the white flag when they traded Apple, and it feels like they are a long way from done. Despite having two profound talents up front, this is a completely lost season. Ugly. Washington has won two in a row and is leading a hideous division. They can add to that lead in a gift of a road game here. Take the Redskins.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh: Cleveland is playing well, and doing a lot of things nicely, but they still have a long way to go, and their coach is shockingly inept when it comes to game calling. Pittsburgh has the narrowest of leads in the division, and they need a win to maintain it. They have found a new gear lately and are going to be too tough for the Browns at home. Take the Steelers.
Baltimore at Carolina: All of the success that Baltimore has had is due to that defense. It has allowed 16 fewer points than second-best Seattle - and has played one more game. It's an impressive unit, and it will succeed against a Carolina team that can't get out of their own way. Take the Ravens.
Indianapolis at Oakland: Derek Carr had to issue a statement this week explaining how he was happy in Oakland and hadn't lost faith at all. Only people who are extremely unhappy feel the need to assure you they are happy. And there is no reason for him to be happy - after trading away the best pass rusher in the league, the team has disposed of his favorite wide receiver target. They are playing for the future. Or at least not playing for the present. Indy won last week, and while they have issues they look good in comparison. Take the Colts.
Green Bay at L.A. Rams: Roulette players will tell you that no matter how many times red has come up in a row, it is a sucker bet to bet against the streak. You ride it until there is nothing left to ride. And the same goes for the Rams. They are probably going to lose at some point, but betting on it happening at any given point is a losing proposition. Take the Rams.
San Francisco at Arizona: Arizona completely and utterly quit in their last game. There is no denying it. They hung their rookie QB out to dry, and it was pathetic. And now the Patrick Peterson discontentment drama is bubbling to the surface. Just what they need. San Francisco has plenty of issues, but they are playing dramatically better right now - and that is despite the fact that they have lost five in a row. Take the Niners.
New Orleans at Minnesota: After an ugly start Minnesota has figured things out and won three straight. It has been a much-improved team. But the Saints have won five in a row, and Drew Brees is breaking records and breaking opponents' hearts. This is a fascinating game - and the addition of Apple by New Orleans only adds to the intrigue. I like Minnesota only because they are at home, but this game is really too close to feel good about either way.
New England at Buffalo: One of these teams is really dangerous and dialed in. The other one plays in Buffalo. This one could and should get ugly. Take the Patriots.
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