- Detroit and Denver are both strong home dogs this weekend against the Colts and Chargers
- Can the Raiders get back on track against the beat-up Browns?
- Last week’s picks went 0-2, bringing our season total down to +5.81 units
We’re nearing the halfway point of the 2020 season, which is always a good time to evaluate where things stand in the NFL. So far, we know the Jets will never be making an appearance in this column. We’re also not going to fade the Chiefs, Ravens, and Buccaneers too much down the stretch. But what about the messy middle in the NFL? Who can we trust there after last week’s disappointment?
Looking at the odds for Week 8, I see a trio of teams poised for second half runs that are all getting points in very winnable games. Will they live up to my modest expectations? Let’s find out.
NFL Week 8 Upset Picks
|Indianapolis Colts vs Detroit Lions||IND – 3||+143||Lions||1|
|Los Angeles Chargers vs Denver Broncos||LAC -3.5||+164||Broncos||1|
|Las Vegas Raiders vs Cleveland Browns||CLE -2.5||+120||Raiders||1|
Odds taken Oct. 31st from DraftKings and FanDuel
No Lion, Detroit is Alright
After two clunkers to open the year, the Lions have started to look like the team many preseason predictors thought could surprise in the NFC, going 3-1 over their last four. Yet they’re still getting disrespected at home against a Colts team that was real shaky-looking heading into their bye.
Sure, Detroit’s still coached by Matt Patricia, meaning they’re still making bad choices, like Adrian Peterson continually getting more carries than D’Andre Swift. But at least the rookie is getting more snaps, and the offense as a whole is hitting it’s stride with Kenny Golladay back in the fold.
— PFF DET Lions (@PFF_Lions) October 29, 2020
Indianapolis pulled one out over the Bengals after falling behind big, but after two straight weeks of poor outings against Ohio teams, it’s worth questioning how good this defense really is. Meanwhile, I still don’t have confidence in that Indy offense, despite their comeback on Cincy.
Colts rushing offense ranks 28th in the NFL, averaging less than 100 yards per game and have the worst yards per carry at 3.6 yards. Don't be surprised if you see one of the Rivers children grinding out a goal line carry trying to catch us sleeping. pic.twitter.com/VXuRAeWLpf
— and I never slice. (@bushwood_c) October 27, 2020
The last two Lions-Colts meetings were decided in the final seconds. If a similarly close game emerges this weekend, you’ll definitely want to be on Stafford’s side of things, rather than Philip “fourth quarter” Rivers.
Philip Rivers in the last 10 years in the final 6 minutes of one-score games: 50.2%, 9 TDs, 23 INTs, 53.5 https://t.co/GriJaUyByF
— Nat Newell (@NatJNewell) September 13, 2020
Chucking Chargers Enter No Fly Zone
I understand the rush to bet on Justin Herbert: he’s been fantastic this season, scoring from anywhere on the field. But maybe we slow the hype train a little bit, considering his last two outings were against the league-worst Jaguars defense and the Bayou Busted Coverages (aka the, struggling Saints D)?
Justin. Herbert. SHEESH 😳
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 25, 2020
Actually, it’s too late for that. Despite Herbert’s 2-4 Chargers looking pretty evenly matched with the 2-4 Broncos, LA is giving 3.5-points in Denver.
Even with some key injuries, the Broncos defense is still one of the best units in the league, ranking seventh overall in DVOA and fourth in the red zone. The final score against KC looked rough, but that was largely a fault of an offense that ranks second in the league in turnovers, with 14 through six games.
In 2 games since returning from shoulder injury, Drew Lock has 0 TD, 4 INT. He is 33rd-ranked QB out of 33, with 63.3 rating.
Fangio: “He’s got to get through these games. The only way he’s going to improve is to play. There’s no other way to improve.’’ #9sports
— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) October 26, 2020
Drew Lock’s YOLO attitude at quarterback has not panned out so far this year. But if the Broncos can rein in their young QB and start playing some complementary offense down the stretch, this team could still get back in the wild card race in the AFC.
It starts with a win against an overvalued Chargers team at home, and the altitude has not been kind to the Bolts: they’ve lost five of their last six trips to Mile High.
Raiders Roll Browns
The Las Vegas Raiders have emerged from the toughest stretch of their schedule with a 3-3 mark. Now as they look to start stacking wins in the latter half of the season, they’re slight underdogs in Cleveland against a very hit or miss Browns team.
Save for one of the best pass rushers in the league, the Browns defense has little to hang their hat on this year. Cleveland has allowed over 1,600 yards of offense in their last four games, and rank 24th in defensive DVOA. The Raiders offense has been great this year, particularly through the air, ranking sixth in passing DVOA.
Adjusted ANY/A end of Week 7. Raiders best passing offense in the league? Maybe not, but they're good. Top teams in ANY/A differential: KAN, TAM, LAC, CAR and LVR. pic.twitter.com/VFIyzw5owB
— Thomas McDermott (@tpmcd67) October 27, 2020
Defensively, Las Vegas isn’t any better than Cleveland, but they have shown an ability to slow down the run in recent weeks, allowing just 76 yards rushing per game over their last three. Anytime Kevin Stefanski’s offense can’t sustain a rushing attack and they put more on Baker Mayfield’s shoulders, you know you’re going to be in for a wild ride.
Baker Mayfield vs Bengals:
First 5 Passes Rest of Game
0/5 Comp/Att 21/22
0 Pass Yds 297
0-1 TD-INT 5-0 pic.twitter.com/YE9IjrzQUD
— McNeil (@Reflog_18) October 25, 2020
With Cleveland starting their first game of the year sans Odell Beckham, look for this offense to slow down enough that Derek Carr and the Raiders can outscore them.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.