Here are my Week 8 picks with confidence level selections. The picks with a confidence level of 1-5 will be available for all NFL Pickwatch readers.
The picks with a 6+ confidence level, a group of selections that have netted a 115-37 record over the past two seasons (including a 32-9 mark this year), will be available exclusively to Pickwatch Pro subscribers.
Pickwatch Pro is a great service that allows subscribers to download the best expert data in the industry, see team-by-team winners for every expert, and provides access to Upset Watch, which has been the ultimate cheatcode to beat the sportsbooks over the last five years. Combine those elements with the top level of my weekly picks and it makes for a must-subscribe service for anyone serious about betting.
Now let’s get to this week’s picks!
Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals
KC’s pick: Arizona | Confidence level: 5
The Cardinals offense understandably gets most of the attention, as any platoon with Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins will naturally be a focal point, but a main reason for Arizona’s success is they sport one of the most athletic defenses in the league. This platoon has held every opponent sans one to 20 or fewer points, has given up 217 or fewer net passing yards to five foes, and has racked up 14 takeaways this year. Green Bay might be able to challenge this defense if this were a typical matchup, but this is a short week, cross country road trip for a Packers squad that will be without Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, and defensive coordinator Joe Barry due to COVID-19. That is too much to ask Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones to overcome, so the Cardinals are the pick here.
San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears
KC’s pick: San Francisco | Confidence level: 3
The Bears offense is an absolute train wreck, as Chicago hasn’t tallied 200+ passing yards in a single contest despite having the makings of a solid receiving corps. Their run-centric approach isn’t generating anywhere near enough points, as the Bears have scored 14 or fewer points on four occasions, including only 17 points in the past two games combined. The 49ers aren’t exactly playing lights out on offense, either, as Jimmy Garoppolo is playing poorly enough that Kyle Shanahan is having to defend starting him, but they are faring better than the Bears, so San Francisco is the preferred choice.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
KC’s pick: Pittsburgh | Confidence level: 1
This used to be a matchup that Pittsburgh dominated, but it is now truly back to rivalry status, as the Browns have won two straight and three of the past five in this series. Cleveland may have trouble extending that win streak because of injuries, as the Browns may be the most banged up team in the league at the moment. Those ailments are part of why Cleveland allowed 84 points in Weeks 5-6 and why their offense has scored 17 or fewer points in three of the past four games. Pittsburgh’s offensive woes are well detailed, and their defense isn’t anywhere near its usual dominant self, but the Steelers are coming off a bye and thus will be much healthier than the Browns, so Pittsburgh is the choice in this one.
Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions
KC’s pick: Detroit | Confidence level: 2
It’s only seven games into the Nick Sirianni tenure and it’s already starting to look like this could be a failed experiment. The Eagles operate a pass-centric offense despite having the personnel to run a ground-based attack. Their defense aims to play a bend but don’t break style that doesn’t fit the skill set of the players and frequently ends up breaking because of that. Detroit is the league’s only winless club, but Dan Campbell is using every trick in the book to keep his players fired up and motivated. What’s even more impressive is Campbell is also getting his talent-challenged defense to play over its head in many ways. The Lions approach nearly led to upset wins over Baltimore, Minnesota, and the Rams, but that close but no cigar result ends this week, as Detroit’s efforts will pay off with an upset win.
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
KC’s pick: Indianapolis | Confidence level: 3
Derrick Henry is on an incredible pace this year, as he has racked up 1,023 scrimmage yards and 10 scrimmage touchdowns in only seven games. King Henry is also on a potentially record setting workload clip, as he is currently on pace to post 507 touches, something no player in league history has ever done. As awe inspiring as Henry has been this year, his 86 rushing yards last week was the lowest rushing yardage total he has posted since Week 1, so the wear and tear may be catching up to him a bit. The Colts are playing extremely well on offense, with four straight games of 25+ points, and have a defense that has posted 2+ takeaways in five of the past six contests. Combine these factors and home field for Indianapolis and the Colts earn this selection.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks
KC’s pick: Seattle | Confidence level: 2
This has the hallmarks of an ugly, low scoring game, as the Jaguars have yet to post more than 23 points in a contest this season and the Seahawks have tallied 20 or fewer points in three straight games. The Jaguars would be the most likely to break through this low scoring ceiling, as they have posted 850 offensive yards over the past two contests and face a Seattle defense that has allowed 450+ offensive yards on four occasions. The prime problem for Jacksonville is Pete Carroll has this defense playing a lot better of late and a secondary problem is the cross-country road trip to face the 12’s. Those factors move this game into Seattle’s column, but only by a nominal amount.
Washington Football Team at Denver Broncos
KC’s pick: Denver | Confidence level: 1
Washington and Denver both have some talented skill position players on offense who are being held back by subpar quarterback play of late. The Broncos defense started the year off on a strong note, but over the past four contests Denver has allowed 376+ offensive yards in every game and has generated only a single takeaway. Washington’s defense has been among the worst in the league all season long, but the Football Team has displayed solid takeaway ability of late, with six in the past three contests. That advantage is offset by Washington giving the ball away two times in three straight games, so Denver ends up with this coin toss pick due to home field advantage.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
KC’s pick: Tampa Bay | Confidence level: 4
Tom Brady and Mike Evans got a ton of attention this past week due to all of the drama surrounding the 600th touchdown pass game ball, but the real story of the Buccaneers season should be the defensive turnaround. Tampa Bay has been beset with injuries in its secondary and suffered through some early season subpar performance because of it, but they have now held four straight opponents to 311 or fewer offensive yards and have racked up ten takeaways in the past four games. The Saints have found ways to grind out victories with a strong rush attack and stout defense, but they have personnel disadvantages of both sides of the ball in this one, so the Buccaneers are the pick.
Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings
KC’s pick: Dallas | Confidence level: 2
Edit: If Dak Prescott does not play, my pick is the Vikings -2 with a Confidence level of 2.
Mike Zimmer has finally been able to breathe a sigh of relief. He said that the Vikings 2020 defense was the worst he had coached in his long NFL career, and early on it looked like the 2021 version would be just as bad. That hasn’t been the case over the past four weeks, as Minnesota held three of those foes to 17 or fewer points and generated five takeaways in the last two weeks. Those traits and the talents of Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen should help Minnesota stay close in this matchup, but Dallas has the best offense in the NFL and the best ballhawking defense in the league. Barring an injury setback to Dak Prescott, the Cowboys have enough of an advantage to earn a close win in this one.
New England Patriots at Los Angeles Chargers
KC’s pick: Los Angeles | Confidence level: 3
Bill Belichick is the NFL’s master problem solver. His offense really doesn’t have that much talent on it and yet the Patriots have scored 25+ points in three straight games and has posted 120+ rushing yards in each of those contests. That trait could come in very handy against a Chargers rush defense that has given up 187+ rushing yards in four of the past five games. That may work to slow this game and keep New England close in this matchup, but Los Angeles has plenty of offensive firepower that could keep the Patriots from leaning as heavily on the run as they would like to, so the Chargers get this one by a small margin.
New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs
KC’s pick: Kansas City | Confidence level: 4
As has been noted in previous editions of this article series, the Chiefs hate getting into shootout games (contests where each team scores 24+ points) because they don’t fare well in them. That might not seem like a concern in a matchup with the Giants, as New York has only been in one shootout game this year (a 30-29 loss at Washington in Week 2) but the Giants may get Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney back for this matchup. The problem for New York is those two may be battling injury rust and Big Blue is not likely to have Saquon Barkley in the backfield either. A New York roster at full strength might be able to turn this into a 50-50 shootout proposition, but this banged up version of the Giants is much less likely to do that, so Kansas City is the pick.
KC’s 6+ confidence level picks, a group of selections that have gone 115-37 over the past two seasons (including a 32-9 mark this year), are available exclusively to Pickwatch Pro subscribers.