Week 8 is in the books and Week 9 is here, so For The Win ‘s Charles Curtis and Steven Ruiz return to make their NFL picks. All odds courtesy USA TODAY Sports.
Week 8 recap
Charles: 6-8-0 (Season: 55-60-4)
Steven: 11-3-0 (Season: 67-48-4)
Steven: Not 20 games over .500 on the season? Can’t relate. That’s two consecutive weeks with at least 10 wins. Let’s avoid a letdown and make it a third.
Charles: This should be a .500 day for me, but let me peel back the curtain for a sec: Before publishing last week’s column, it hit me that I was betting Aaron Rodgers wouldn’t cover the biggest spread of his career against the Rams. It was too late to change it and I felt like an idiot.
Whatever, that’s all an excuse. I hope you’re making money by following Steven and being entertained by my stupidity (although, hey I’m close to .500!).
Raiders at 49ers (-1)
I really believe the Raiders are the better team here, but riding the home team on Thursday nights has served me well this season. Oakland did not have nearly enough time to prepare for a Kyle Shanahan offense on a short week.
The Raiders are a dumpster fire and the Niners can keep up with mediocre teams like the Cardinals (they lost by a field goal last week). Give me the home team.
Lions at Vikings (-4.5)
It may take a little time for the Lions offense to adjust to life without Golden Tate. And, to be quite honest, I probably would’ve rolled with the Vikings even if that trade never went down. Especially at home.
The Lions have become more run-heavy offense, which plays right into the Vikings’ strength on defense. That and a big Latavius Murray day seals the deal for a big Minny victory.
Chiefs at Browns (+5.5)
Going with the home dog in this one. I know the Browns are dysfunctional but hear me out: The Chiefs don’t have tape on this new Cleveland play-caller, and Gregg Williams defense could bait Patrick Mahomes into a few mistakes. The Browns do lead the league in interceptions.
You said it, Steven: There’s a little too much dysfunction to bet on Cleveland this week. Chiefs by a touchdown.
Steelers at Ravens (-3)
The Steelers defense has played so much better of late. The same cannot be said about the Ravens, who have struggled against two good quarterbacks in as many weeks. Things won’t get any easier with Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown coming to town.
We know games are close between these two rivals, but when you see the Ravens’ vaunted defense give up 36 points to the Panthers, you know there’s trouble brewing.
Buccaneers at Panthers (-2.5)
The Panthers are rolling on both sides of the ball, and we don’t believe in Fitzmagic around these parts. Cam Newton should have a field day against a bad Bucs D. Carolina covers easily.
Why is this spread so small!? Just because Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing? C’mon. The Panthers steamrolled the Ravens and Eagles in consecutive weeks. What makes anyone think they won’t do the same to a woeful Bucs defense?
Falcons at Redskins (-1.5)
I know I said the same thing last week, but this is where we find out if the Redskins are for real. They beat a good-but-injured Falcons team, and I’m ready to peg them as the NFC East favorites. I think that happens. Atlanta can’t stop the ball, and Washington has been unbeatable when it gets its running game going.
I hate how much I’m agreeing with Steven here, but the Skins’ defense is for real. Adding Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will just help even more. If Adrian Peterson has another throwback kind of day at home, it’s all over for the Dirty Birds.
Jets at Dolphins (-0.5)
The Dolphins offense is completely banged up, and the Jets have looked good against non-playoff contenders. It’s hard to back rookie quarterbacks on the road, but not so much when the opposing quarterback is Brock Osweiler.
I’m throwing support behind Sam Darnold here. Yes, he struggled against the Bears and, sure, he doesn’t have much run support to help. But maybe Quincy Enunwa returns to boost him and Elijah McGuire is the answer at running back.
Bears at Bills (+3.5)
Is Nathan Peterman starting? Probably? OK, that’s all I need to back the Bears.
I get it. I really do. The Bills’ defense is good enough to keep Tom Brady relatively in check. But then you realize Nathan Peterman is back under center in an offense that scored a combined 11 points in the past two contests … and that was with Derek Anderson starting. Yikes.
Texans at Broncos (-1)
The Texans are the hotter team and just picked up Demaryius Thomas from Denver. I don’t know if there’s an aspect of the game where the Broncos have an advantage. Frankly, this line should be about three points higher.
I don’t get this one either. The Texans have won five straight, Deshaun Watson looks fine, they’re coming off a long break off last Thursday’s game and the defense will do its job against Case Keenum.
Chargers at Seahawks (-0.5)
The Seahawks have played good football over the last month, but they’ve really stacked their wins against bad competition. The Chargers will pose a much bigger threat. Philip Rivers should have a big day and lead Los Angeles to a big road win.
Russell Wilson is back to doing Russell Wilson things, and the home crowd will be as noisy as ever. This secondary might not be the Legion of Boom, but they’re the No. 4 passing defense in the NFL.
Rams at Saints (-0.5)
This is really a coin flip game for me. These are the two best teams in the conference, and the Rams are probably the best team in all of sports. But they are going up against a hot Saints team that is even better at home.
In McVay I trust. The deck is stacked against the Rams here – they’re coming off a close one against Aaron Rodgers at home, the Saints just beat a rival NFC team in Minnesota by 10 … but New Orleans struggles against opposing passers. And with Sean McVay’s scheme that will avoid the Saints’ punishing run defense, that’s trouble.
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