I think it’s fair to say that after 7 weeks of the 2019 NFL season, the New England Patriots look like the best team far and away. Their defense has been nothing short of ’85 Bears-esque while the offense is cruising with the ageless Tom Brady.
But on the NFC side, multiple Super Bowl contenders seem to have emerged. Here’s a quick breakdown of the contenders and pretenders (and sorry Cardinals’ fans, you don’t make this list)…
- San Francisco 49ers (6-0): The schedule gets a lot trickier in the 2nd half though anything short of an 11-5 record would be surprising. The defense is great but I’m not sure I trust this team to win in the playoffs.
- New Orleans Saints (6-1): They’re winning without Drew Brees by playing efficient offense and rock solid defense. And don’t you think they’re due for some positive postseason fortune after last year’s NFC Championship debacle?
- Green Bay Packers (6-1): If Aaron Rodgers plays like he did against the Raiders, the Packers will be tough to beat. Either way they look to be the clear cut favorites to win the NFC North due to the inconsistency of the other three teams.
- Seattle Seahawks (5-2): Russell Wilson quite possibly is the most under-appreciated superstar in the league. With a strong running game and defensive improvement, this is a team I wouldn’t want to play in the postseason.
- Los Angeles Rams (4-3): Can’t count them out with all of the weapons on their team, both offensively and defensively. But they’ll likely have to win three in-a-row on the road so it won’t be easy.The Pretenders
- Minnesota Vikings (5-2): Do you really trust Kirk Cousins to lead a team to the Super Bowl? Nor do I.
- Carolina Panthers (4-2): Cam Newton and/or Kyle Allen aren’t winning three playoff games in-a-row under any circumstances.
- Chicago Bears (3-3): Do you really trust Mitchell Trubisky to lead a team to the Super Bowl, especially the way he’s played thus far this season? Nor do I.
- Dallas Cowboys (4-3): They’re too inconsistent to win 3 games in a row in the playoffs.
- Philadelphia Eagles (3-4): That defense stinks and Carson Wentz hasn’t looked nearly as sharp as I would’ve hoped.
Almost midseason NFC Prediction: New Orleans over San Francisco
On to the picks where I made slight progress last week but I’m still struggling mightily in this year of unpredictability.
Last Week: 8-6 Straight Up (SU), 8-6 Against the Spread (ATS)
Overall: 58-47-1 SU, 50-56 ATS
(Picks against the spread in parentheses; HOME TEAMS IN CAPS)
MINNESOTA VIKINGS 34, Washington Redskins 14 (ATS: Vikings – 15.5)
I like a lot of underdogs this week to cover the spread…unfortunately the pathetic Redskins aren’t one of them. Feels weird saying this but Kirk Cousins will feast on his former team.
CHICAGO BEARS 20, Los Angeles Chargers 16 (ATS: Chargers +4.5)
Going with the home team and better defense in what might just be an elimination game of sorts. Both of these teams have been disappointments and I’m not sure how LA can rebound from a 2-6 start while at 3-4 with a difficult schedule ahead, the Bears might also be a lock to miss the playoffs. (Bears fans won’t like my logic but I’ll stick with it).
Seattle Seahawks 31, ATLANTA FALCONS 23 (ATS: Seahawks -3.5)
How does Dan Quinn still have a job in Atlanta? I’ll predict that after yet another loss, he is jettisoned from the ATL before the Falcons’ bye week.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS 24, New York Jets 20 (ATS: Jets +5.5)
I actually wanted to pick the Jets to pull the surprising upset off of their horrendous MNF performance…but Gardner Minshew might be playing for his job with Nick Foles healthy again so the Jaguars score late for the win.
NEW ORLEANS 27, Arizona Cardinals 13 (ATS: Cardinals +9.5)
The Cards get a dose of humble pie against a Saints defense who is doing enough to slow teams down while Drew Brees gets healthy. The fact that Teddy Bridgewater is 5-0 as a starter is astonishing to me…he might get paid big time this offseason but some QB needy team after all.
Philadelphia Eagles 23, BUFFALO BILLS 21 (ATS: Eagles +1.5)
Desperate team of the week alert…Philly can’t start 3-5 and still think winning the NFC East is truly viable considering Dallas already has the tiebreaker. Doug Pederson’s team must pull the upset or my projected Super Bowl champ might be in dire straits with half a season to go.
LOS ANGELES RAMS 30, Cincinnati Bengals 10 (in London) (ATS: Rams -12.5)
The Bengals are the worst team in the NFL right now and the fact that Andy Dalton is still starting for them shows just how short-sighted their front office is right now.
DETROIT LIONS 26, New York Giants 20 (ATS: Giants +7.5)
The Lions need this one badly coming off two tough losses to divisional opponents and I’m not thrilled with the regression I’ve seen from NY’s Daniel Jones of late.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27, TENNESSEE TITANS 23 (ATS: Buccaneers +2.5)
Upset pick of the week! I can’t give you good reasons other than Tampa is coming off a bye and I’m not a believer that Ryan Tannehill can win consecutive games as a starter.
HOUSTON TEXANS 30, Oakland Raiders 27 (ATS: Raiders +6.5)
Don’t be surprised if Oakland pulls the upset. I’d be shocked if this was a blowout either way…but the Raiders are certainly one of those teams who are better than I would’ve ever predicted. I’ll take the 6.5 points all day for the road warriors.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers 24, Carolina Panthers 17 (ATS: 49ers -5.5)
Between these QBs, Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Allen…their record as starters this season is 10-0. So something has to give. Go with the better defense, which has proven itself as elite which also happens to be the home team.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 26, Denver Broncos 16 (ATS: Colts -6.5)
How can you not love that the Colts are staying in contention despite the surprise retirement of Andrew Luck? If this team can find a way to win 10 games and the division, Jacoby Brissett will get some MVP votes and deserves them. Denver’s offense looked pathetic last week and won’t fare a whole lot better in Indy.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 30, Cleveland Browns 13 (ATS: Patriots -12.5)
The way the Patriots’ D is playing (which is historically incredible thus far), picking the struggling Browns to score 13 seems like an awful lot.
Green Bay Packers 26, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 23 (ATS: Chiefs +4.5)
I’ve gone back and forth on this one so I’m going to hedge my bet by taking KC against the spread. Will Mahomes play or not? If he does, only a week after suffering a dislocated kneecap, it’s pure negligence by Andy Reid. If not, I simply don’t believe Matt Moore can beat Aaron Rodgers.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS 27, Miami Dolphins 14 (ATS: Dolphins +14.5)
Miami is bad…but with Ryan Fitzpatrick they’ve shown some heart lately. I’ll take the points though it should be close. The game itself…not so much.
Week 8 Betting Locks
(Last Week’s Result, Season Record in Parentheses)
Favorite (WIN, 3-4): Colts -6.5 vs. Broncos
Underdog (LOSS, 3-4): Raiders +6.5 vs. Texans
Bet the Over (LOSS, 2-4-1): Texans / Raiders Over 51.5
Bet the Under (LOSS, 2-5): Bears / Chargers Under 40
Week 8 Fantasy Football Guidance
(15+ PPR fantasy points from a non top-10 player)
Last Week: 0-3
QB: Teddy Bridgewater (Saints)
RB: Austin Ekeler (Chargers)
WR: Stefon Diggs (Vikings)
(12 or less PPR fantasy points from a top-15 player)
Last Week: 3-0
QB: Gardner Minshew (Jaguars)
RB: Phillip Lindsay (Broncos)
WR: Julian Edelman (Patriots)