With Halloween right around the corner, this week seems like a good time to take a look at the most frightening things in the NFL this year, and I have to say, nothing is scarier than the Patriots defense.
If you gather 10 friends and dress up as the Patriots defense for Halloween, you will frighten everyone, and by everyone, I actually just mean Sam Darnold, who will probably slam the door in your face if you trick-or-treat at his house dressed as the Patriots.
The Patriots were so scary on Monday night that they had Darnold seeing ghosts.
Now, I"m not sure if seeing ghosts is a side effect people deal with after having mono or if Darnold is related to the kid from "Sixth Sense," but whatever the case is, he saw ghosts, and just so we're all on the same page, "I'm seeing ghosts" is definitely not something you want to hear your starting quarterback say during the middle of a game.
The goods news for me is that I picked against the Jets last week, and to be honest, due to all this ghost stuff, I'll probably just go ahead and plan to pick against them from now until we get Halloween over with, just to be safe.
Will Brinson, Pete Prisco and R.J. White broke down all the angles and picks you need to know for every game on Friday's Pick Six Podcast. Give it a listen below, and be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform:
To find out who else I'll be picking against, let's get to the Week 8 picks.
Actually, before we get to the picks, here's a quick reminder that you can check out the weekly picks from every CBSSports.com NFL expert by clicking here. If you click over, not only will you get to see a picture of my handsome face, but you may also notice that I'm actually leading the pack this year in straight-up picks. However, I can't really brag, because Will Brinson is destroying me in picks against the spread. I don't even know how he has time to make picks, considering he hosts a podcast five days per week. I'm guessing all the time he saves from not responding to my text messages or emails is the time he uses make his picks.
Anyway, Brinson is the host of the Pick Six Podcast, which is our daily NFL podcast here at CBSSports.com. For the rest of the 2019 season, I'll be joining Brinson three days per week (Monday, Tuesday and Friday). Even though I'm only on three days, there's a new episode every single day from Monday thru Friday and you should try to listen as often as possible. On Tuesday's episode, we had a fun conversation about all the ghosts that Sam Darnold saw and we also ranked the top-five teams in the AFC. We also should have ranked the top-five ghosts of all-time, but unfortunately we didn't. (You can listen to Tuesday's episode below and make sure to click here to check it out and subscribe).
And just so there's no debate, the top-five ghosts ever are the ghosts from Pac-Man, Slimer, Beetlejuice, the Ghost of Christmas Past and Casper.
Alright, that's enough talk about ghosts, I don't want anyone to have nightmares tonight, so let's get to the picks.
NFL Week 8 picks
L.A. Chargers (2-5) at Chicago (3-3)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Bears, -4.5
It's almost fitting that the Bears and Chargers are playing each other this week, because I've been trying to decide which team has been the bigger disappointment this year, and now, I don't even have to decide, because they're going to settle it on the field.
On the Chargers end, I'm not actually sure if they've been more disappointing or more depressing. I mean, obviously they've been disappointing, but they're also the clubhouse leader in the "most depressing team of the year" category and that's because they've lost all five of their games by one score, and usually, that loss comes in the most excruciating way possible.
If you thought Sunday's loss was the weirdest one of the year, just let me remind you that they lost to the Lions 13-10 in Week 2 because they decided to let their PUNTER kick field goals. As you can imagine, that experiment didn't work out at all as he missed two kicks. Then, there was also the game in Week 6 where they lost to the Steelers third-string quarterback, and let's not forget about their Week 5 loss to a Broncos team that was winless going into the game.
If you want to know what it's like to be a Chargers fan, borrow a six-year-old and take them to see "The Exorcist." After the movie, ask them how they feel, and chances are, they're going to say something along the lines of, "I'm probably going to have nightmares for the rest of my life," which basically describes how Chargers fans feel about the 2019 season.
Being a fan of the Chargers is like riding a roller coaster through a chainsaw factory. I have no idea why anyone would put a roller coaster in a chainsaw factory, but I also have no idea how the Chargers managed to botch the end of Sunday's game, and that happened.
The good news for Los Angeles is that if any team might be able to out-Charger the Chargers, it's the Bears. The Bears offense has been an absolute disaster all season, and although I don't think Philip Rivers is going to have much success against the Bears defense on Sunday, I do think he's going to have more success than Mitchell Trubisky will have against the Chargers. If you're wondering how bad the Bears have been on offense this year, they're the only team in the NFL that hasn't hit the 300-yard mark a single time (Even the Dolphins have done it).
I'm taking the Chargers, but I think we can all agree that there's at least a 40 percent chance this pick is going to blow up in my face after the Chargers invent a new way to lose in Chicago.
The pick: Chargers 19-16 over Bears
What picks can you make with confidence in Week 8? And which line is Vegas way off on? Visit SportsLine now to see which NFL teams win and cover the spread in every single game, all from the model that is up almost $7,000 on its top-rated NFL picks.
Carolina (4-2) at San Francisco (6-0)
4:05 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: 49ers, -5.5
Like most people who were watching the 49ers-Redskins game on Sunday, I got kind of bored during the game, so I decided to make a list of all the teams that would be undefeated right now if they played the 49ers schedule, and basically, the answer is everyone. Well, maybe not everyone. The Dolphins probably wouldn't be undefeated with the 49ers schedule. Also, the Rams, Steelers and Browns probably wouldn't be undefeated, because the 49ers have played those teams and if they had to play the 49ers schedule, they'd have to play themselves, which I probably wouldn't even be possible.
Anyway, the point here is that the 49ers have had the easiest strength of schedule in the NFC through seven weeks (Their SOS is .282, no other team in the NFC is below .400). Their six wins wins have come over teams that are a combined 11-28, which isn't exactly impressive. Now, before 49ers fans start sending me hate mail -- which my mailman seems to enjoy delivering -- I would like to point out that I've been highly impressed by the 49ers defense, which is definitely one of the best in the NFL. However, the same can't be said for their offense.
The 49ers have literally been given one of the easiest schedules in the NFL and Jimmy Garoppolo has still looked like a completely below average quarterback. Through seven weeks, he's fumbled five times and he's thrown six interceptions. As a matter of fact, he's thrown an interception in five of the 49ers' six games this year, which hasn't come back to bite them just yet, because the team's defense has been so good. If Garoppolo is having trouble against bad teams, just imagine what's going to happen when he actually plays a decent defense.
I hate to pick against someone as handsome as Garoppolo, but I'm going to do it.
Teams keep letting Jimmy Garoppolo win because they don’t wanna hurt the handsome man’s feelings— Sam (@SamJakubowski) October 8, 2019
Based on what I've seen from the Panthers this year, they don't care about hurting the feelings of handsome people.
The pick: Panthers 20-17 over 49ers
Oakland (3-3) at Houston (4-3)
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Texans, -6.5
I've never coached an NFL team before, but if I ever do land a job as a head coach, I'll definitely be doing what Jon Gruden did this week: He took a player he didn't want and he traded him to a team that he's about to play.
That exact situation actually happened on Monday when the Raiders traded away cornerback Gareon Conley to the Texans in exchange for a third-round pick. Think about that: Gruden was completely willing to give up one of his starting corners even though he knew that he'd be playing against him this week. That's something you don't do unless you have a plan in place, and although Gruden definitely comes across as a guy who just makes things up as he goes along, I actually think he had a plan in place here.
If you're wondering why Gruden was willing to trade Conley, just ask the guys at Pro Football Focus, who have given Conley a 55.6 grade on the season. To put that in perspective, the 14th highest-ranked corner in the NFL has a grade of 76.6, so Conley's nowhere near the top.
Basically, the Texans were so desperate to add secondary help that they traded for a guy who has struggled all year. Of course, the reason the Texans were desperate for secondary help is because everyone is injured. Tashaun Gipson, Jonathan Joseph and Phillip Gaines were all injured in Sunday's game against the Colts, and Gaines definitely won't be on the field this week, because he's out for the season. And then there's Bradley Robey -- AKA the highest-graded player mentioned in the tweet above -- well, he likely won't be playing this week either.
I think Gruden's master plan for this week was to make the Texans secondary worse by giving them Conley so that Derek Carr could go out and throw for 400 yards in this game, and the crazy thing is that I think this plan might actually work... as long as Carr can go the entire game without fumbling the ball out of the end zone.
The pick: Raiders 27-24 over Texans
Green Bay (6-1) at Kansas City (5-2)
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Point spread: Packers, -3
If you're like me and can't concentrate on two things at once, that means this Sunday is going to be the one night of the fall sports season where you have to pick between watching NFL football or the World Series. Assuming the World Series doesn't end in a sweep, the first pitch for Game 5 will be 7:07 p.m. ET on Sunday, which is about an hour before Packers-Chiefs will be kicking off.
If Patrick Mahomes was playing this week, this would be an easy option for most sports fans because of course you're going to watch MAHOMES VERSUS AARON RODGERS. I mean, just think about it from a practical standpoint: Mahomes against Rodgers is a game that might only happen once in our lifetime. The World Series happens every year. Easy pick.
Well, it was going to be an easy pick until Mahomes got hurt. Thanks to his knee injury Mahomes isn't playing on Sunday, at least I don't think he is, and I say that because Andy Reid has decided to add some drama to this week's game.
Andy Reid says "it'd be a stretch" for Patrick Mahomes to be able to play against the Packers, but won't rule him out yet.— Joshua Brisco (@jbbrisco) October 21, 2019
Mahomes isn't rule out yet!?!? The man's knee cap practically slid off his body on Thursday! How is there even an inkling of a chance that Mahomes might play? My only theory is that Reid has hired his very own personal Dr. Frankenstein and is having this guy use cadaver body parts to fix the parts of Mahomes' body that are injured.
Although I'm 99.9 percent sure Mahomes isn't going to play, this game still scares me, and I blame the oddsmakers in Vegas for that. The Packers are only a three-point favorite in this game, which makes no sense to me because Green Bay's defense is going up against a quarterback who was coaching HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL three months ago.
Also, Aaron Rodgers is going up against a Chiefs defense that has given up the third most yards in the AFC this year, and the only two teams ranked behind them are the Dolphins and Bengals, so I'm not even sure I should count them. If I'm only counting competitive teams, than the Chiefs defense has given up more yards than any other team in the AFC. I think what I'm trying to say here is that I don't think Rodgers will have another six-touchdown game, but he might come close.
The pick: Packers 34-24 over Chiefs
Lock of the Week
Washington (1-6) at Minnesota (5-2)
Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET (Fox, NFL Network, Amazon Prime)
Point spread: Vikings, -16.5
When I was in college, I'm pretty sure I once saw a Maury Povich episode where a guy got dumped by his girlfriend, only to get the last laugh a few years later after she got married, gained 119 pounds, got divorced and then asked to get back with him. And yes, before you ask, I watched a lot of trash TV in college. Of course, the only reason I'm bringing this episode up is because it's also kind of the plot of Kirk Cousins' NFL career.
The Redskins dumped him after the 2017 season thinking they could do better, and if you've watched the Redskins play this year, you have probably noticed that they're definitely not doing any better. As a matter of fact, if Maury Povich were to do a show where Redskins owner Dan Snyder asks Kirk Cousins to come back to Washington, I would pay money to watch that.
Due to Cousins' history with Washington, this feels like the biggest revenge game of the year, however, I'm not going to call it a revenge game, because Cousins strikes me as a guy who doesn't believe in revenge. Instead, we're just going to call this the "Blowout Bowl", because that's what it's going to turn into (I also thought about calling this game the "Cousins Bowl," but that sounds like some sort of weird family reunion where only cousins are invited, so I scrapped that idea pretty quickly).
When you're playing a team as bad as the Redskins, there's always a chance that it could turn into a trap game, but that won't happen here, because everyone on the Vikings' roster understands Cousins' history with the team and how badly he probably wants to win this game. The only thing that does scare me here is that Cousins is the NFC's Andy Dalton, as in, he never plays well in primetime. Cousins is 6-14 in his career in primetime games, but I'm going to ignore that, because this might be the most winnable primetime game that he's ever played in.
Cousins has been on fire over the past three weeks and I have a feeling he's going to torch Washington on Thursday. Not the city, just the team.
The pick: Vikings 30-10 over Redskins
Lock of the week record: 6-1 straight up, 3-4 against the spread
NFL Week 8 picks: All the rest
Seahawks 23-16 over Falcons
Bills 20-17 over Eagles
Titans 23-20 over Buccaneers
Patriots 27-17 over Browns
Colts 24-13 over Broncos
Rams 31-17 over Bengals
Lions 30-16 over Giants
Jaguars 27-20 over Jets
Saints 30-20 over Cardinals
Steelers 20-16 over Dolphins
Picks note: If you have an endless hunger for picks, there's now VIDEO that you can watch. Every week, the crew from the Pick Six podcast will be getting together to talk about a few of the upcoming games. This week, we chatted about why the Dolphins might cover against the Steelers and Ryan Wilson gave his conspiracy theory on why the Bengals might cover that 12.5-point spread they're facing against the Rams in London.
I haven't decided if I'll be including this video every week, but you're getting it right now, and it's free, so there's no downside.
Best pick: Last week, I Deshaun Watson instead of tackle him? Of course I did.in a loss to the Colts, and guess what happened? The Texans went out and scored 23 points and lost to the Colts. Now, did I know that the refs were going to change the rules of football in the middle of the game so that the Colts only had to tag
If I've learned one thing about the refs this year, it's that no one actually seems to know what's going on, which is why I think this Deshaun Watson touchdown pass was waved off, even though it probably shouldn't have been waved off.
If you've ever seen Watson play football, then you know that he regularly makes plays like that, but apparently, the ref had never seen him play football, because he decided to blow the play dead, so instead of a touchdown, the Texans got hit with a nine-yard sack. I know what you're thinking, and I agree, the NFL should use robot officials going forward for all Texans games.
Worst pick: Every week I seem to make at least one pick that I regret immediately, and last week, that was picking the Giants to beat the Cardinals. I'll be honest, I become way to infatuated with things before I even have time to think about them. I'm the guy who sees a kitten on the side of the road and then decides to bring it home even though everyone in the family is allergic to cats. In this case, I saw Danny Dimes play one good game, and I immediately assumed he would be a Hall of Famer. Well, now that I've seen a few more games, I've decided I don't think he's not going to be a Hall of Famer. Also, I've decided that I will no longer be using the Danny Dimes nickname until he actually starts throwing some dimes. Until then, I'm going to start calling him Danny Liberian Dollar, because Liberian Dollars are worth way less than a dime.
Finally, if you guys have ever wondered if I actually know what I'm doing with these picks, here's what the best and worst individual team picks look like heading into Week 8 (All records listed are straight-up).
Teams I'm 7-0 picking this year: Patriots, Dolphins (6-0).
Teams I'm 6-1 picking this year: Falcons, Redskins, Vikings, Packers, Bills (5-1), Jets (5-1), Lions (4-1-1).
Team I'm 1-5 picking this year: Buccaneers.
Every other team is somewhere in-between.
Alright, I'm going to let Sean McVay have the final word this week. Thanks for reading guys!
Straight up in Week 7: 11-3
SU overall: 67-38-1 (Tied for ninth overall among all media members on Pickwatch)
Against the spread in Week 7: 6-8
ATS overall: 49-56-1 (Not tied for ninth overall)
You can find John Breech on Facebook or Twitter and if he's not doing one of those things, he's probably watching old episodes of The Maury Povich Show, specifically the ones where Maury reveals the shocking results of a paternity test.