Survivor: Redemption Island (Shane)
Once upon a time, this was the title for the 22nd season of Survivor. Castaways would ultimately get a second shot, a “redemption”, even if they had been voted off. While there’s no such thing in the normal football survival world, a rebounding weekend makes things a little better.
My pick of Dallas crushed San Francisco, and in doing so they ended the Niners streak of “losing by less than 3 points.” Truth be told, if you took any favorite other than the Panthers you probably did alright, although some games like the Browns-Titans really made it interesting until the end.
Week 9 isn’t as clear cut as Week 8, but it does offer some appeal. Let’s dive right in.
Week 8 Breakdown
Minnesota has a big spread of 9+ against Cleveland, and yet the game is in London. I still believe Cleveland is getting that first win sooner or later, “so it’s a no from me, dawg”. Seattle plays host to Houston, but the Texans come off a bye and Deshaun Watson is playing hot. I think that 5-point spread is incredibly unstable.
The other big spreads of 5+ points are worth considering, and they feature the Saints, Eagles, Bengals, Patriots, and Chiefs.
New Orleans: home versus Chicago. The Bears are coming off of two straight wins, the last being pretty impressive against the Panthers. The defense has been stellar, not allowing an offensive touchdown over the last 2+ games. Yet Mitchell Trubisky threw the ball just seven times this past Sunday. That’s an awful lot to put on a defense week in and week out, and an especially tall task awaits at the Superdome with Drew Brees at the helm. The Saints are hitting their stride, and I’ll be shocked if they don’t win by at least 10. Confidence: 9/10
Philadelphia: home versus San Francisco. Philadelphia looks like the team to beat in the NFC, and as a fan it’s music to my ears. But they did just lose Jordan Hicks and Jason Peters for the season. San Francisco came east two weeks ago and played Washington pretty close, and while the Eagles just beat that same Washington team I’m a little hesitant to fully recommend them here before seeing the lost effects of HIcks and Peters. Confidence: 6/10
Cincinnati: home versus Indianapolis. I know the Colts aren’t all that great and everyone seems to be calling for Chuck Pagano’s head, but 10 points for Cincinnati seems a tad generous here. I realize it’s week 8, but I still don’t have a good feel of this Cincinnati team. Sure, they beaten the Bills and Browns, but they also have losses against the Steelers, Packers, Texans, and Ravens. To me, it just feels like Cincinnati is…mediocre at best. And I’m not sold that kind of mediocrity can whoop up on the Colts by 10 or more. Confidence: 5/10
New England: home versus Los Angeles Chargers. This isn’t the dominating New England team of the past, but they’re still a New England team led by Tom Brady. The defense needs some work, and I do think the Chargers have some momentum after winning their last 3. In the event you haven’t used the Patriots yet, there are better weeks to use them ahead without taking a gamble here. Confidence: 5/10
Kansas City: home versus Denver. Denver is reeling after losses to the Giants and Chargers, and Kansas City is looking to rebound from its own losses to the Steelers and Raiders. I don’t think either of these teams are as bad as the last two weeks indicate, but I’m also not keen on picking a team in this divisional affair. Confidence: 4/10
Week 8 Selection
Right off the bat I’m eliminating Kansas City and New England from consideration here, per my reasonings above. If you feel better about Cincinnati than I do, this might be your week to use them. If not, you’re left with the Eagles and Saints.
If we’re playing devil’s advocate and you have both teams available, both are decent selections here. I do think both teams find a way to win, though I just don’t feel great about the Eagles. On the other hand, I do feel great about the Saints. I think they expose the Bears D for not being quite as good as everyone is saying, and if Drew Brees even puts up a *few* touchdowns it’s hard to see the Bears finding enough offense to stay in this game. Make it two weeks in a row for following a hunch, with hopefully the same result. Pick the Saints.
London Calling (Drew)
I had good luck with picking the London game last week as the Rams stomped the Cardinals, so I’m going to go back to the well here.
If the Minnesota-Cleveland game was being played in Ohio, I would probably stay away. Between the Eagles at home against the Niners, Saints hosting the Bears, and Chiefs off a mini bye week welcoming the Broncos, there would be plenty of other teams to think about.
But on a neutral site, I feel comfortable going against Cleveland. The Vikings are winners of four of their last five games including three straight. They’re holding opponents to an average of 17 points per game, currently fourth best in the league.
The Browns have only scored above 17 points twice, and you’d have to go back to Week 3 against the hapless Colts to find the last time they did it. Hue Jackson blew his opportunity at getting Carson Wentz, and has completely mismanaged Notre Dame rookie DeShone Kizer, twice benching him only to give him back the job again since no other alternative exists.
How the hell was he ever labeled as a ‘quarterback whisperer’?
I personally think second-year signal-caller Cody Kessler would be a better option, but that’s a different conversation for a different post. Mike Zimmer and the Vikings defense will not be a fun time for him.
I normally wouldn’t endorse picking a team quarterbacked by Case Keenum over the likes of Carson Wentz, Drew Brees, and Alex Smith, but against the worst franchise in the NFL, I’m willing to do so, especially considering the Vikings are only home two more times through Week 15.
The first instance is Week 11 against the Rams where you’re likely not using them at that point.
Give me the Vikings as the Browns reach the halfway point on the journey to 0–16.