Week 8 Picks: Will Vegas Get Roughed Up for Yet Another Week?
[inline:bulg]If there’s one theme that rings true as we hit the halfway point of the NFL season, it’s the overwhelming amount of bad teams we have on our hands this season. I’m not talking 5-11 bad. I’m talking 2-14 if they’re lucky bad. Vegas is getting abused through the first seven weeks because they can’t set the lines high enough to compensate for the worst teams in the league. The Buccaneers, Rams, and Browns are a combined 6-15 against the spread this season and the public isn’t scared away by the high spreads. Last week alone the Colts and Patriots easily covered double-digit spreads against two of those teams.
Vegas is falling back on its old ways when setting the lines, stubbornly thinking that two touchdowns are enough. While the Scott Van Pelts of the world complain that their plays would’ve won under the old theories, Bill Simmons and I have adjusted our picks accordingly. If the spreads this week are any indication, Vegas is at least making an effort to adjust to the times. The two-touchdown spreads don’t look nearly as appetizing as last week, but does that mean they still won’t come in? Only time will tell.
Survivor Pick of the Week:
DALLAS over Seattle
There are plenty of games to choose from this week, but none of them involve dominant teams. Other than the Colts (who I used last week), all the other options present red flags. This might be the week that we lose people in survivor pools. Since the Buccaneers and Chiefs are on the bye and the Lions play the Rams, there are fewer doormats to be run over. Your first reaction might be the Chargers, but I’ve been screwed by them in survivor pools before, so call me a vengeful prick. I’ll take the Cowboys because their passing game has looked in sync in the last two games and they face a Seahawks squad that was cut up by the Cardinals’ passing game before the bye. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, the bye week didn’t improve their secondary or heal their offensive line, which includes multiple reserves. I wouldn’t argue with you if you chose the Chargers or Cardinals this week, but I’ll take my chances with America’s team.
Previously used: Green Bay, Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis
Locks of the Week:
BALTIMORE (-3.5) over Denver
Before the season started, Josh McDaniels was looked at by Broncos fans as if he’d peed on Jesus. Now, after a 6-0 start, he’s regarded as a boy genius. All good things must come to an end and this is the week for that to happen. Both teams are coming off the bye week, so there’s no edge for either side there. The Ravens, however, used the bye to fix a suddenly leaky run defense. With that sorted out, expect the Ravens to turn the pressure up on Kyle Orton as they hold Moreno and Buckhalter in check. Offensively they’ll continue to show production through the air and the ground. As long as they don’t give up two special teams TDs to Eddie Royal, they should take this game by a touchdown or more.
N.Y. GIANTS (PK) over PHILADELPHIA
Those who only saw the score of the Eagles’ Monday Night Football game against the Redskins would think that they had an offensive explosion. What the Eagles actually showed was the inability to move the football, achieving only 11 first downs. The depleted Eagles offensive line is just what the Giants defense needs to get its mojo back. The short week doesn’t help the Eagles either and the Giants are the more motivated team after losing two straight. They still remember Donovan taunting them by picking up the phone on their sideline last year.
INDIANAPOLIS (-12) over San Francisco
The thinking behind this game is simple. I’ve previously locked up the Colts in four of the five games they’ve played since the column began (the other week they were on the bye). Until they show me that they can’t easily cover double-digit spreads, I’ll keep locking them up.
Trap Game of the Week:
DETROIT (-4) over St. Louis
If you’re actually betting money on this game, you have a gambling problem and need to get your ass to Gamblers Anonymous. Do you really want to have your money riding on one of the worst teams in the league (a reality regardless of who you’re picking)? It’s hard to tell if you’d be more embarrassed telling your friends you lost money on this game or if this happened to you. There’s very little room for error here. The Lions aren’t even completely healthy with Stafford and Megatron not fully cleared yet. Still, I’m taking the Lions here because the Rams haven’t given me any reason to think they’re capable of winning a football game.
The Rest of the Picks:
Houston (-3.5) over BUFFALO
It looks as if the Texans have found their stride. Their offense has never been in question, but their defense has turned the corner. The Bills feasted off Delhomme’s mistakes last week, but they weren’t able to produce anything offensively themselves. Matt Schaub is much better than Delhomme these days, which will leave the Bills looking for ways to score on their own.
CHICAGO (-13) over Cleveland
This game matches two of the worst head coaches in football. Fortunately for the Bears, they have much more skill than the Browns. The Bears will get their offense going again this week and Matt Forte might even show up after the Bears made a small adjustment to their offensive line personnel, improving their run blocking. Mangini has already worn out his welcome in Cleveland, but maybe there’s a job opportunity for someone of his IQ at an investment bank.
DALLAS (-9.5) over Seattle
It’s not a good sign when the Seahawks are starting a left tackle that was cut by the Chiefs before Week 1. As mentioned above in the “Survivor Pick of the Week,” Demarcus Ware will get to celebrate his new contract by hammering away at Matt Hasselbeck’s ribs and the Cowboys’ rejuvenated offense will take advantage of a questionable Seahawks secondary.
Miami (+3) over N.Y. JETS
Numerous Jets players were talking shit after their loss to the Dolphins on Monday Night Football a few weeks ago. They claimed the “Wildcat” was a gimmick offense that didn’t belong in the NFL. Boys, if you can’t stop this so called “gimmick offense”, you don’t have the right to talk shit. Shut up already! Without Jenkins, I don’t expect them to stop it this week either.
Jacksonville (+3) over TENNESSEE
Vince Young is back in the starting lineup for the Titans, but unfortunately he can’t play all four defensive back positions. The whole team can dress up in Colts jerseys, like their head coach did at a charity event, to feel like winners after losing another game.
SAN DIEGO (-16.5) over Oakland
The Chargers have covered six of their last eight games against the Raiders. While I’ve got no faith in Norv Turner reminding his team about the close game between these clubs in Week 1, I’ve got confidence in Phil Rivers firing up his squad. He usually smells the blood in the water. Meanwhile, Tom “the Cable Guy” somehow avoided any legal problems regarding his altercation with assistant coach Randy Hanson. What confuses me is how Hanson broke his jaw if nothing was determined to have occurred. Raiders fans can only hope that someone throws them a lifeline and gets Al Davis on a plane to India.
Minnesota (+3) over GREEN BAY
The Packers offensive line was unable to contain Jared Allen in the first matchup. I don’t think this game will be any different. And oh yeah, that guy Favre is going back to Lambeau. That’s kind of a big deal, too. He’ll deliver one more “Eff You” to Packers GM Ted Thompson.
CAROLINA (+10.5) vs. ARIZONA
Will Jake Delhomme finish the game? That’s the best proposition of the week, but I couldn’t find the odds at the time this article was turned in. I’m one week away from losing faith in John Fox’s ability to force offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson to call 80% running plays. Strap him to an electric chair and give him a jolt every time he calls a pass play that isn’t a screen. Just do it already!
Atlanta (+10) vs. NEW ORLEANS
This line screams of fear in Vegas. The Saints may be undefeated, but there’s no way the line for this intra-divisional game deserves to be 10 points. The Falcons aren’t that inept. They just lot their footing last week. Vegas is covering their ass after watching the Saints pull off a lucky cover last week. The Falcons will keep this close. It helps that Reggie Bush came out and predicted the Saints would go undefeated. Bush only had six offensive touches last week, so he doesn’t even have enough juice these days to influence the results. I guess punter Thomas Morstead wasn’t available.
Season Record: 53-33-1 (61.6%)
Last week: 8-4-1
Survivor: 5-1 “