Fri. Oct 23rd, 2020

Week 8 NFL game picks, schedule guide, fantasy…

18 min read
Week 8 NFL game picks, schedule guide, fantasy...

The Week 8 NFL slate is stacked with great matchups. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the keys to every game, a bold prediction for each matchup and final score predictions.

Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information provides a stat to know for each game, and the Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a matchup rating (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a game projection. ESPN Fantasy‘s Kyle Soppe and ESPN Chalk‘s Mackenzie Kraemer hand out helpful nuggets as well. It’s all here to help get you ready for a loaded weekend of NFL football.

Let’s get into the full Week 8 schedule, including Aaron Rodgers in prime time against the Chiefs.

Jump to a matchup:

Thursday: MIN 19, WSH 9

1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 52.3 | Spread: TEN -2.5 (45.5)

What to watch for: Keep an eye on how Ryan Tannehill and the Titans’ receivers do against the Bucs’ defense, which is giving up an NFL-worst 304.5 passing yards per game. Tennessee will need to score points against the Bucs, who have scored 24 or more themselves in four consecutive games. — Turron Davenport

Bold prediction: Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston will throw two interceptions, while Tannehill will throw for 300 yards in consecutive weeks for the first time since 2016. Winston is coming off one of the worst outings of his career, throwing five interceptions against the Panthers and turning the ball over six times. The Titans have an opportunistic secondary that gets its hands on a lot of passes — that’s not a great recipe for a bounce-back game. — Jenna Laine

Stat to know: Tampa Bay’s Chris Godwin has posted 125 receiving yards in three straight games, the longest streak in Buccaneers history. The last player in the NFL to do it in four straight games was Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014.

What to know for fantasy: No player has more than 68 rushing yards this season against Tampa Bay, and that includes two games of Christian McCaffrey. See Week 8 rankings.

Betting nugget: Tennessee is 0-4-1 against the spread (ATS) this season when the line is between +3 and -3. The only time it pushed was last week when the Chargers fumbled at the 1-yard line down by three with under a minute left. Read more.

Laine’s pick: Titans 26, Buccaneers 21
Davenport’s pick: Titans 27, Buccaneers 24
FPI prediction: TB, 50.5% (by an average of 0.2 points)

Matchup must-reads: Top draft picks at a crossroads: What went wrong for Winston and Mariota‘No risk it, no biscuit’: What Bruce Arians’ coaching lingo teaches usTitans’ DL Simmons caps ACL recovery with disruptive debut

1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 52.3 | Spread: CHI -4 (41)

What to watch for: Can Mitchell Trubisky move the ball through the air against a vulnerable Chargers pass defense? He is 29th out of 31 eligible quarterbacks in Total QBR (34.3) and is averaging just 5.2 yards per attempt (34th in NFL). However, opposing quarterbacks have a 66.3 QBR (No. 25 in NFL) against the Chargers and are allowing 8.2 passing yards per attempt (No. 28). — Jeff Dickerson

Bold prediction: The Bears’ defense will force a minimum of three turnovers. Chicago led the league last year in takeaways and interceptions but is tied for 13th with just 10 takeaways in 2019. However, Los Angeles’ offense is tied for 22nd with 12 giveaways. — Eric D. Williams

Stat to know: Melvin Gordon is averaging just 2.3 yards per rush this season, second worst in the NFL among those with at least 30 attempts. And the Chargers are averaging only 2.1 yards per rush since Gordon’s return (last in NFL).

What to know for fantasy: Allen Robinson II is on pace for 110 catches and eight touchdowns despite playing in a Bears offense that ranks 29th in passing yards per game. See Week 8 rankings.

Betting nugget: Philip Rivers is 30-14-1 ATS in his career as a road underdog of at least three points, including 6-3-2 ATS since the Chargers franchise moved to Los Angeles. Read more.

Wiliams’ pick: Chargers 24, Bears 20
Dickerson’s pick: Bears 20, Chargers 13
FPI prediction: CHI, 64.2% (by an average of 5.0 points)

Matchup must-reads: Bears reach crossroads with TrubiskyNow you see me, now you don’t: The Austin Ekeler experienceChargers OT Okung to make season debut against Bears

1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 51.2 | Spread: NO -10.5 (47.5)

What to watch for: Drew Brees appears to have a good chance of returning just five weeks after thumb surgery, but the Saints could decide to play it safe and let backup Teddy Bridgewater try to extend his record to a perfect 6-0 with one last clip for his free-agent audition tape. Either way, the Saints should be licking their chops against a defense that ranks in the NFL’s bottom five in both yards and points allowed. — Mike Triplett

Bold prediction: Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson will hold Saints receiver Michael Thomas to fewer than 50 receiving yards while shadowing him the entire game. Peterson didn’t shadow any receivers Sunday in his return from a six-week suspension, but that will change with Thomas on deck. — Josh Weinfuss

Stat to know: Kyler Murray has four total touchdowns and zero interceptions in his past three games — all wins — after being responsible for five total touchdowns but also four interceptions in his first four games. The Cardinals have gotten more success from Murray by finding more balance; he dropped back to pass 53.7% of the time in the past three games as opposed 73.3% in the first four.

What to know for fantasy: Saints tight end Jared Cook has scored in his past two games, and Josh Hill scored last week as a fill-in option. The Cardinals have allowed 161 tight end fantasy points this season, 52 more than any other defense. See Week 8 rankings.

Betting nugget: Arizona is 5-1 ATS as an underdog this season (3-2-1 straight up), including three straight outright wins. Read more.



Victor Cruz doesn’t care who plays quarterback for the Saints, as long as Sean Payton is the coach New Orleans will be in good shape.

Weinfuss’ pick: Saints 31, Cardinals 24
Triplett’s pick: Saints 34, Cardinals 19
FPI prediction: NO, 83.1% (by an average of 13.0 points)

Matchup must-reads: Murray’s freedom to check plays ‘rare for a rookie quarterback’Payton making early Coach of the Year case in Brees’ absence‘Pass-rush assassin’ Jones, CB Patrick Peterson fuel each other

1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 50.3 | Spread: IND -6 (43)

What to watch for: Look for the Colts get back to their running game, because the Broncos have the third-stingiest pass defense in the NFL, giving up only 195.3 yards per game through the air. The Colts were limited to just 62 yards on the ground against Houston in Week 7 after rushing for at least 167 yards in three of their first five games. — Mike Wells

Bold prediction: Wide receiver Courtland Sutton will have the second 100-yard receiving game of his career. In six games this season, the Colts have surrendered five such games, including two in last week’s win over the Texans. Sutton is now the unquestioned No. 1 after the trade of Emmanuel Sanders. — Jeff Legwold

Stat to know: The Colts are the third team since the 1970 merger with a winning record through six games and with all games having been decided by seven points or fewer (1995 Colts, 1983 Colts). No team in that time has started 5-2 or better with all seven games decided by seven points or fewer.

What to know for fantasy: Sutton is one of three players with at least 75 receiving yards in each of his past three games, and the Broncos traded away Sanders earlier this week. See Week 8 rankings.

Betting nugget: Thirteen of the past 15 Denver games went under the total, including each of the past three. Overall, Denver games are 17-5-1 to the under in the past two seasons, the best under percentage in the NFL. Read more.

Legwold’s pick: Colts 27, Broncos 16
Wells’ pick: Colts 27, Broncos 10
FPI prediction: IND, 63.5% (by an average of 4.7 points)

Matchup must-reads: Joe Cool or Joe Blow? Flacco doesn’t care what you thinkProlific game validates Colts’ confidence in BrissettFor moody Broncos, winning streaks and titles are just a fable

1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 45.8 | Spread: SEA -6.5 (52.5)

What to watch for: Atlanta coach Dan Quinn knows Russell Wilson well from his days as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator, but that doesn’t mean he will find a way to pressure him. The Falcons haven’t recorded a sack since Week 3 against the Colts and have a league-low five sacks. Wilson could have a field day. — Vaughn McClure

Bold prediction: Wilson will throw four touchdown passes. His 29-7 record following an in-season loss is the best by a quarterback since the 1970 merger. Now he faces a defense that ranks next-to-last in pressuring opposing QBs. — Brady Henderson

Stat to know: The Falcons have allowed 223 points this season, their second most allowed through seven games in franchise history (they allowed 250 through the first seven games of the franchise’s inaugural season in 1966).

What to know for fantasy: Seattle receiver Tyler Lockett is on pace for a career-high 91 catches this season, but he has yet to score a touchdown on an even-numbered week. See Week 8 rankings.

Betting nugget: Atlanta has failed to cover in five straight games and is now 6-17 ATS over the last two seasons, the worst record in the NFL. It is 2-7 ATS as an underdog in that span (1-4 this season). Read more.

Henderson’s pick: Seahawks 31, Falcons 25
McClure’s pick: Seahawks 35, Falcons 17
FPI prediction: SEA, 53.5% (by an average of 1.3 points)

Matchup must-reads: Seahawks hope Reed can spark their lagging pass rushWR Sanu swap shows Falcons could be busy before trade deadlineCB Diggs: I was ‘blindsided’ by trade from Lions to Seahawks

1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 43.4 | Spread: BUF -2.5 (43.5)

What to watch for: Philadelphia allows the sixth-most passing yards per game in the NFL, but Buffalo’s passing game ranks 21st. It’s yet to be seen which team is more capable of exploiting the other’s weakness, but the Eagles can’t afford to get into a multiple-score deficit against an elite Bills defense. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

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