NFL Betting Predictions: Week 8 Opening Line Report and Picks
As of this writing, it's not clear if former Heisman Trophy winner, No. 1 overall pick and NFL MVP Cam Newton will play for Carolina coming out of its bye week on Sunday at San Francisco, but I sure hope Newton is healthy enough from his foot injury suffered in Week 2 to play. That's because I want to see what Panthers coach Ron Rivera and GM Marty Hurney decide. Newton reportedly is on track to resume practicing this week.
Newton didn't look good the first two weeks and the Cats were 0-2. The season looked lost, but undrafted Kyle Allen has led the team to four straight victories. Has Allen put up huge numbers? Other than his four TDs in his first start against Arizona, not really. And Allen isn't mobile at all. But he also doesn't throw interceptions. He has an impressive passer rating of 106.6 and is the first NFL quarterback ever to win his first five starts (including the 2018 season finale) without throwing a single pick (Allen does fumble sometimes).
The 2020 season is Newton's last on a five-year, $104 million contract that includes just $2 million in dead cap money. Thus, if the Panthers cut him after this season, they'll free up $19 million in cap space for next year. There's some talk the Panthers could try and trade Newton after this season, and I'm sure there would be suitors, but any team that acquired Newton would inherit his $21.1 million cap number for 2020. The Cats could use that saved money to sign MVP candidate and running back Christian McCaffrey to a new contract this offseason.
I believe the Panthers will stick with Allen for now because you just don't mess with winning streaks in any sport. Let Newton get 100 percent and maybe things work out for themselves - i.e. Allen starts struggling or gets hurt himself.
"We're not going to put pressure on him, we're going to hold tight, we're going to hold the fort down," Rivera said last week of Newton. "Until he's 100 percent, until he's ready to roll we're not going to address it."
Allen will have his work cut out this week at a stellar San Francisco defense. The unbeaten Niners are -5.5. Here are some other Week 8 early lines that caught my eye. We won't touch on Thursday's game (Redskins at Vikings) or Monday's (Dolphins at Steelers) because we will be previewing them individually here at Doc's. The Cowboys and Ravens are on the bye. Picks are ATS.
Chargers at Bears (-5.5, 40.5): Before the season, if you told me these teams would have met in the Super Bowl, I wouldn't have called you crazy. Instead, they are arguably the two most disappointing teams in the NFL. The Chargers are 2-5 and lost their third in a row Sunday, 23-20 at a mediocre Titans team. L.A. appeared to score the winning touchdown late in the game twice but both were overturned on replay. Then, Melvin Gordon fumbled at the Tennessee goal line with 15 seconds left. The Chargers have now turned the ball over five times in goal-to-go situations this season. That's already tied for the most goal-to-go turnovers by a team in the past 15 seasons. Not sure if Coach Anthony Lynn will survive this. Could see the Bolts trading Gordon by next Tuesday's trade deadline. Chicago came out of its bye week and somehow got worse offensively in a 36-25 home loss to New Orleans in a game that wasn't that close. Mitchell Trubisky simply isn't the answer under center, and maybe Coach Matt Nagy isn't the answer on the sideline, either. He had the Bears attempt all of seven rushes. Granted, the offensive line play hasn't been very good, but you can't ask your QB coming off a shoulder injury to throw it 54 times and be in harm's way so often. Pick: Bears.
Browns at Patriots (-10.5, 46): Finally, the Patriots are playing someone good! OK, the Browns are just 2-4 and probably overrated, but they might have the most talented roster in the AFC. Cleveland just has to get Baker Mayfield going. He has now thrown a pick in seven straight games and has multiple picks in three of the six this year. His 11 picks lead the NFL (most by a Browns QB through six games in 35 years) and his passer rating has topped 85 only once. The bye week might have come at the perfect time because the former Heisman winner injured his hip in the Week 6 32-28 home loss to Seattle. Cleveland scored TDs on its first three possessions and then not again until nine minutes were left. I have a simple solution for the Browns' offensive problems: Trade for Redskins Pro Bowl holdout offensive tackle Trent Williams. Rumors are hot and heavy that could happen by the trade deadline. While the Browns are off their bye, New England is on a short week after visiting the Jets on Monday, so this line could obviously change were Tom Brady to get hurt or something. It's about time, though, that the schedule actually went against the Patriots instead of for them. Pick: Browns.
Packers at Chiefs (+3, 48): What's great about the NFL is that any game can be interesting for the right reasons, while it's hard to watch, say, a regular-season NBA, MLB or NHL game unless you have a bet down or favorite team playing in it. This was to be must-see TV as a possible Super Bowl preview and the first-ever meeting between quarterbacks and former NFL MVPs Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. In theory, it might have been their only professional meeting (not counting the stupid Pro Bowl) if not in a Super Bowl over the next few years because Rodgers will be 36 years old in December and might not be playing when the Chiefs and Packers play again in the regular season in 2023. However, Mahomes dislocated his kneecap in last Thursday's win in Denver and will miss a couple of games. I read somewhere the he's worth about 9 points against the spread, most in the NFL. Veteran journeyman Matt Moore will start for now. Green Bay won its third in a row Sunday, 42-24 over Oakland. Rodgers was magnificent with 429 yards and five scores. He also rushed for a TD. Pick: Packers.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Get all of this Weeks NFL picks
Get all of this Weeks Guaranteed Expert NFL Picks