Week eight was an interesting one in terms of predictions as I fared very well picking outright, but struggled against the spread. With us being in uncharted territory with three 7-0 teams and the Bengals sealing their 8th win last night, this figures to be a boring time for some playoff races. This especially applies within the AFC where the Patriots, Broncos and aforementioned Bengals are running away with their divisions. On top of that, there are only two other teams (Jets and Raiders) who are currently over .500 while teams such as the Steelers, Bills, Dolphins and Chiefs at this time fit the criteria for the “in the hunt” graphic.
Does this suddenly mean the most compelling division in the AFC is the South? You’re darn right it is. The Titans fired Ken Whisenhunt who led the Titans to a 1-6 start and they’re still only two games out in the division. So basically this comes down to who wants to go 6-10 or 7-9, pick 12 spots higher in the draft and then play for the chance to get curbstomped by the Patriots in the divisional round. The scariest thought is this could be the window for a team like the Jaguars. Andrew Luck is only going to be healthier next year and will have more offensive line help. And with 14 total wins in the past five years while not hosting a home playoff game since Bill Clinton was in office, Jags fans will gladly take this. Just don’t say you weren’t warned if you see a Derek Carr/Blake Bortles showdown in early January.
Last week: 11-3, Season: 83-36
Last week against the spread: 6-8, Season: 67-52
Game of the weak: Falcons vs 49ers: Every game this week has at least one team who could be playing for playoff implications. The troubling trend of the Falcons playing to the level of their competition of late is what made me put this game here. Despite that, the real story here is the 49ers benching Colin Kaepernick for Blaine Gabbert. Kaepernick had really struggled once defenses starting adjusting to his strengths, but I can’t help but feel bad for Gabbert here.
He was rushed into play in Jacksonville as early indication was that he’d be sitting through his rookie year. Low and behold from early 2011 onto 2013, Gabbert took enough hits that even Willie Nelson would of found it excessive. Yes the pocket presence was really lacking, but it doesn’t help he was working with very little in terms of talent and those situations could negatively impact a young passers confidence. Now Gabbert finally got to sit more than a year, gets his chance and he enters what very well could be a worse situation. If it hasn’t already, the 49ers idea of “Scoff for Goff” is officially underway. Falcons 24 49ers (+6.5) 13
Game of the week: Packers vs Panthers: The good news for the Packers is their next game is against the league’s slump buster for over half a century running in the Lions. The bad news is they have to face another ferocious defense before getting to that point. We’ve never seen a team shutdown Aaron Rodgers and company like the Broncos did last week, but the Panthers have the elements to limit them once again. It will be interesting to see how Cam Newton does respond if Rodgers does manage to get things going. The defense and ground game is what have really given the Panthers an edge and the personnel just doesn’t seem to be there in event of a shootout. Packers 17 Panthers (+2.5) 20
Redskins 20 Patriots (-14.5) 35
Titans 17 Saints (-7.5) 28
Dolphins 20 Bills (-3.5) 24
Rams 16 Vikings (-2.5) 17
Jaguars 16 Jets (-7.5) 23
Raiders 23 Steelers (-4.5) 28
Giants 27 Buccaneers (+2.5) 23
Broncos 23 Colts (+4.5) 17
Eagles 20 Cowboys (+2.5) 14
Bears 24 Chargers (-3.5) 28