Week 8 NFL odds, picks: Saints outlast Vikings in rematch of thrilling playoff game
The Saints would like to forget how their playoff matchup with Vikings ended
The Saints would no doubt like to forget how things ended on their last trip to Minnesota, back in January, but a lot has changed in nine months. With a win, Drew Brees and the league's most explosive offense can solidify their place as the NFC's second-best team behind the Rams. The Ravens, meanwhile, fell out of first place in the AFC North last week with a loss to the aforementioned Saints, and now they have to travel to Carolina to face a really good Panthers team. And while Blake Bortles was rightly benched last week for some pretty abysmal football, he'll be back under center as the Jags play in their home away from home, London, England, where Bortles is a completely different player.
We'll take a look at all the Week 8 games in our picks below.
LAST WEEK: 9-5
OVERALL RECORD: 63-42-2
Miami at Houston
Line: Texans -7.5
We wouldn't say this qualifies as a revenge game for Brock Osweiler, who has reinvented himself in Miami after a tumultuous career that saw him on three other NFL rosters, including a forgettable 2016 season in Houston where he signed a four-year, $72 million contract in March, was benched by December and traded out of town by the following March. Yes, the Texans went 8-6 in games Osweiler started, but they might tell you that was in spite of him. To quote Jadeveon Clowney: "I know we didn't win a lot with him." Meanwhile, Houston is atop the AFC South after winning four straight and, added bonus: Deshaun Watson's drive to work will be closer to 12 minutes than 12 hours.
Pick: Texans 21, Dolphins 17
Result: Texans 42, Dolphins 23
Philadelphia at Jacksonville
Line: Eagles -3
Blake Bortles was benched last Sunday and for good reason: He has been terrible. But the benching was short-lived, perhaps for one very simple reason: For as mediocre as Bortles is in the United States, he's a Pro Bowler once he sets foot in Great Britain. In four games since 2014, he's thrown eight touchdowns against just two interceptions, has a passer rating of 92.9 and the Jags are 3-1. In the 65 games he's played stateside, Bortles has 91 touchdowns, 70 interceptions, a passer rating below 80 and has lost 18 fumbles. The Jags have gone 19-43. The Eagles, meanwhile, aren't the team they were a season ago and they have the record to prove it; after blowing a 17-point lead to the Panthers, they now sit at 3-4, looking up at the 4-2 Redskins.
Pick: Jaguars 20, Eagles 18
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Baltimore at Carolina
Line: Ravens -2
The Panthers are 4-2 and they've beat the Ravens in their last two meetings (in 2010 and 2014) but they had to overcome a 17-point deficit to beat a surprisingly mediocre Eagles team last week, and the week before that, they lost to the Redskins, who rank 18th in efficiency, according to Football Outsiders.. Not surprisingly, Carolina's up-and-down play puts them in the bottom third in the league in consistency from one week to the next. The Ravens haven't been much better, but they have one of the league's best defenses and will be looking to rebound after last week's loss to the Saints that dropped them out of first place in the division, which is now (almost inexplicably) occupied by the Steelers. A loss to Carolina would drop them to 4-4 and would make for a disappointing finish to the first half of the season.
Pick: Ravens 14, Carolina 10
Cleveland at Pittsburgh
Line: Steelers -8
These teams appear to be going in different directions. We're guessing Hue Jackson's decision to get more involved in the offense won't change things -- at least for the better -- though we don't expect the Browns to get blown out. They have a knack for playing the Steelers close, and even managed to tie them in their Week 1 meeting (Cleveland should have won in overtime.) Pittsburgh, meanwhile, went from third to first in the AFC North last week -- while on their bye. They have a chance to maintain, and possibly widen, that lead with a win over a pesky Browns team that still doesn't appear quite ready for primetime.
Pick: Steelers 31, Browns 27
Denver at Kansas City
Line: Chiefs -10
When these teams first met in Denver back in Week 4 it was billed as the proverbial trap game for Patrick Mahomes. And while Mahomes struggled in the first half, by the time it was over he had thrown for 304 yards and a touchdown, didn't commit a turnover, and the Chiefs eked out a 27-23 win. A month later and Kansas City is an arguably better team while Denver allowed 593 rushing yards to the Jets and Rams in back-to-back losses. And despite thumping the Cardinals, 45-10, last week it remains unclear if Case Keenum will ever be the franchise quarterback that remains so elusive for John Elway.
Pick: Chiefs 35, Broncos 20
N.Y. Jets at Chicago
Line: Bears -7
Mitchell Trubisky looked like one of the league's worst quarterbacks last Sunday against at replacement-level Patriots defense. He struggled with accuracy all afternoon long and when he plays that poorly it makes it almost impossible for the Bears to overcome falling behind. Luckily, this defense is the NFL's best, according to Football Outsiders, and the running game ranked seventh. And while the Jets' defense is a top-10 unit, their offense is 29th. Put another way: Even if Trubisky continues to struggle, expect Sam Darnold to struggle even more. If Matt Nagy is smart, he'll put the game in Tarik Cohen's hands while expecting the defense to create two or three turnovers.
Pick: Bears 20, Jets 10
Seattle at Detroit
Line: Lions -3
The Seahawks enjoyed their bye last week while the Lions enjoyed an impressive win in Miami against the red-hot Brock Osweiler (that's not a joke!). Detroit has struck gold in rookie Kerryon Johnson, who ranks first in value per play among all running backs. Meanwhile, Seahawks first-rounder Rashaad Penny is the third option in a three-man backfield, which makes you wonder why Seattle thought that position was the team's most pressing need. The good news is that the Seahawks' defense is as stifling as ever even if the offense continues to find its way. We still don't know which Lions team will show up -- the one with wins over Pats, Packers and Dolphins -- who are a combined 12-7-1 -- or the one with losses to the Jets, 49ers and Cowboys -- who are a combined 7-14.
Pick: Seahawks 21, Lions 20
Tampa Bay at Cincinnati
Line: Bengals -4.5
This is what we call in the business a get-right game. The Bengals have lost back-to-back games to the Steelers and Chiefs; the former was a gift in the final seconds, the later was a shellacking on national television. But at 4-3, Cincinnati can't afford another loss heading into their bye, especially with the now-first-place Steelers hosting the Browns on Sunday. The Bucs beat the aforementioned Browns last week but this is still truly one of the NFL's worst teams. The offense has the ability to light up the scoreboard and the defense is capable of getting lit up like few other units. The Bengals will be at home and if the offensive line can protect Andy Dalton (and that shouldn't be an issue against this punchless pass rush), it could be another long afternoon for the Bucs.
Pick: Bengals 38, Buccaneers 31
Washington at N.Y. Giants
Line: Redskins -1
The Redskins are in first place in the division and the Giants are not only in last, but at 1-6, they're one of the NFL's worst teams. And after losing five straight in this matchup from December 2013 to September 2015, the Redskins have won three of the last five. A win on Sunday would take them to 5-2 while a loss would get the Giants one step closer to the first-overall pick and Eli Manning's successor
Pick: Redskins 23, Giants 20
Indianapolis at Oakland
Line: Colts -3
Oakland traded away Amari Cooper during the bye week lending further evidence that this team is in full-on rebuild mode under Jon Gruden. The Colts, meanwhile, are playing better than their 2-5 record indicates; in fact, according to Football Outsiders, this unit ranks 14th among all teams just behind the Steelers and Texans and just ahead of the Packers. Oakland, meanwhile, ranks ahead of only the 49ers, Cardinals and Bills -- and that was before they shipped their No. 1 receiver out of town.
Pick: Colts 30, Raiders 20
Green Bay at L.A. Rams
Line: Rams -9
The Packers opened as nine-point underdogs. And just so there's no confusion, neither Brett Hundley nor DeShone Kizer will be under center -- it'll be Aaron Rodgers. But that's a testament to just how finely tuned this L.A. offense has been over the first half of the season. Also playing a part in the huge point spread: Green Bay's defense ranks 24th and it will be playing on the road. Here's the thing: If this game is at Lambeau Field, the Packers have a chance to win it outright. But it's at the Coliseum, where L.A.'s closest game was a seven-point victory over a really good Vikings team. Their other home wins have been by 12, 20 and 34 points.
Pick: Rams 35, Packers 31
San Francisco at Arizona
Line: Cardinals -1
This isn't a lot to say about this game other than it looked a lot more intriguing over the summer, back when Jimmy Garoppolo was still healthy and the Cardinals had their rookie franchise quarterback and looked to be a much better team than the group that went 8-8 a season ago. As it stands are a combined 2-12 and together have a negative point differential of minus-152. By contrast, the Rams -- who lead both teams by six games in the division -- has a point differential of 107.
Pick: 49ers 9, Cardinals 6
New Orleans at Minnesota
A week ago, the Saints had never beaten the Ravens during the Drew Brees era. After an impressive showing, we can now check that off the to-do list. Now New Orleans heads to Minnesota, where it's won once in its last five meetings. And the last time these two teams met, in the NFC Divisional round last January, the Saints had their heart broken by Case Keenum and Stefan Diggs. A season later and New Orleans is still one of the NFL's best teams. The Vikings, who have played well of late but have a loss to the Bills, are still finding their way back among the league's elite (despite being atop the NFC North).
Pick: Saints 28, Vikings 27
New England at Buffalo
Line: Patriots -14
The good news is that the Bills have one of the league's best defenses. The bad news is, well, everything else, starting with a historically inept offense that currently "features" Derek Anderson at quarterback. Some of New England's most lopsided losses have in fact come at the hands of Buffalo. There was the 31-0 stomping back in 2003 and the 16-0 thumping as recently as 2016. But in between those two games the Bills are 3-23 against the Pats, and they're currently on another three-game losing streak. If Anderson and this offense finds a way to be a Tom Brady-led team, it should go down as one of the biggest upsets in professional sports.
Pick: Patriots 24, Bills 10
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