NFL Week 8 Picks: Backing eyelid-less Steelers and seven other dogs the last weekend before Halloween

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BEST BETS

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (5-2) at PITTSBURGH STEELERS (4-2)

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LINE: Jacksonville by 2.5

CHEWABLE: Mike Tomlin has such a good way with words he could be a sportswriter. After the Steelers outscored their opponent 14-0 in the fourth quarter for their second comeback win in a row, the coach said he “loves the fight” in his team. “They don’t blink. They cut their eyelids off.” Are you going to bet against an eyelid-less team this close to Halloween? … The Jaguars have won four in a row and have an offence led by Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne Jr. and the receiving tag team of Christian Kirk and Calvin Ridley that should be able to score on anybody. The problematic matchup for them at the Stadium formerly known as Heinz Field is George Pickens against their secondary. He’s really good and it really isn’t. While the Jags have allowed the second-most passing yards in the league, Pickens has three 100-plus yard games and should have even more room to work now that Diontae Johnson is back and producing after being sidelined by injury. Watch for Kenny Pickett to outperform Lawrence and listen for Steelers fans to start chanting “Extend (Matt) Canada” rather than fire the team’s embattled offensive coordinator.

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TAKING: PITTSBURGH +2.5

SCORE (O/U 41): Steelers 24, Jaguars 20

CINCINNATI BENGALS (3-3) at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (5-2)

LINE: San Francisco by 3.5

CHEWABLE: The previously unbeatable Niners have dropped two in a row and, with Brock Purdy entering concussion protocol and Deebo Samuel and Trent Williams possibly out again, they could really use a rest. Instead of a bye they get the Bengals, who did have their break last week and entered it with a convincing victory over the Cardinals and a hard-fought win over Seattle. Joe Burrow’s calf should be 100 percent with the time off, and the Bengals QB has a way of keeping his team close in losses: 10 of Cincinnati’s 16 defeats since Burrow’s second year have been by three points or fewer..The line has dropped a full two points since Purdy entered concussion protocol, but if he doesn’t play and they lose, backup QB Sam Darnold won’t be the reason why. 

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TAKING: CINCINNATI +3.5

SCORE (O/U 45): Bengals 28, Niners 23

BALTIMORE RAVENS (5-2) at ARIZONA CARDINALS (1-6)

LINE: Baltimore by 8.5

CHEWABLE: The Cardinals have lost four in a row and by margins of 19, 14, 19 and 10. The Ravens are coming off a 38-6 victory over a very good Detroit team in which they scored 28 points on four drives before the Lions had registered a first down. Baltimore is also one of five teams that share a league best 5-2 ATS record. This is the second-best Survivor Pool pick of the week. The Cardinals might sneak in a cover through the back door — and even the chances of that are slim — but no way do they beat Baltimore.

TAKING: BALTMORE -8.5

SCORE (O/U 44): Ravens 37, Cardinals 14

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (3-4) AT DETROIT LIONS (5-2)

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LINE: Detroit by 8

CHEWABLE: Last week the Lions were embarrassed by a very good team in Baltimore and now, in front of the entire football world on Monday Night, get the chance to remind people who they really are against the Las Vegas Raiders, who were embarrassed last week by the Bears. It looks like Jimmy Garoppolo (back) will play, which gives Vegas an upgrade at QB over Brian Hoyer, but Kenny (The Snake) Stabler in his prime couldn’t save the Raiders’ bacon from this group of hungry Lions … Along with winning five of its last seven at home, Detroit is 14-3 ATS in its last 17. This is the No. 1 Survivor Pool pick of the week

TAKING: DETROIT -8

SCORE (O/U 45.5): Lions 40, Raiders 10

THE REST

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (3-4) at INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (3-4)

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LINE: Indianapolis by 1

CHEWABLE: Scoring has not been a problem for a Colts team that has lost its starting QB and is only now is seeing its marquee RB with his land legs back. Indy is tied with K.C. for the sixth-highest points per game average in the league. The issue has been turnovers, which Gardner Minshew helped grow to 12 by making four in each of the last two games … The Saints’ No. 4-ranked defence is near the top of the league in takeaways … The Saints have lost four of their last five, including last week’s Thursday nighter to the Jaguars, but the trend gets interrupted here with Alvin Kamara taking advantage of the Colts’ 21st-ranked run D and Kamara-Derek Carr-Chris Olave picking apart Indy’s 19th-ranked pass defence. 

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TAKING: NEW ORLEANS +1

SCORE (O/U 43.5): Saints 27, Colts 24

HOUSTON TEXANS (3-3) at CAROLINA PANTHERS (0-6)

LINE: Houston by 3

CHEWABLE: Before the bye, the Panthers’ plummet continued with 20-plus point losses in Detroit and Miami, and now they return home to face a Texans team that finds itself in a nice little groove. The Texans have won three of their last four, handily defeating both the Jaguars and Steelers, then losing by two to Atlanta, then bouncing back with a seven-point victory over the Saints. Houston is clearly the better team, and with C.J. Stroud having a chance to show everyone he should have been the first pick of the draft in his initial head-to-head with the guy who was, this feels like an eight-inch gimme. 

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TAKING: HOUSTON -3

SCORE (O/U 43.5): Texans 27, Panthers 20

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (6-1) at WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (3-4)

LINE: Philadelphia by 6.5

CHEWABLE: With his post-game outburst after last week’s loss to the Giants, maybe Commanders DT Jonathan Allen has lit a fire under his teammates. They sure need something in a showdown with the high-flying Eagles, especially the Jalen Hurts-to-A.J Brown combo that has clicked for five straight games of 127 or more yards … Only three teams have allowed more total yards against than the Commanders, who ranks 28th against the pass … The Eagles shored up their one clear weakness with the acquisition this week of S Kevin Byard, a five-time defensive captain for the Titans … The Commanders have lost four of the last five, including a 34-31 decision just two weeks ago in Philly. But they often play the Eagles tough, and they cover here if Philly lets its foot off the pedal a bit for a game that comes after a huge victory over Miami last Sunday and before a big showdown with the Cowboys next Sunday.

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TAKING: WASHINGTON +6.5

SCORE (O/U 43.5): Eagles 28, Commanders 23

LOS ANGELES RAMS (3-4) at DALLAS COWBOYS (4-2)

LINE: Dallas by 6.5

CHEWABLE: Ever since Week 2, Dak Prescott has alternated between one good game, one bad game and he turned in a gem last time out, in the Cowboys pre-bye 20-17 win over the Chargers … The Rams are the best 3-4 team in the NFL. In their 24-17 home loss to the Steelers last week, they had a 354-300 edge in total offence … The Rams are averaging a sixth-best 365.1 yards per game while the Cowboys are 16th with 329.8 yards … The Rams are 0-4 when playing teams with a top-10 pressure rate, and despite the presence of Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence, the Cowboys rank 18th in that department, which means Matthew Stafford should have plenty of time for hook ups with the dynamic tandem of Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua … Mike McCarthy is 12-3 ATS coming off a bye but nowhere can I find what his record is coming off a bye against a spread that’s too big.

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TAKING: L.A. RAMS +6.5

SCORE (O/U 45.5): Rams 27,  Cowboys 24

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2-5) at MIAMI DOLPHINS (5-2)

LINE: Miami by 9.5

CHEWABLE: Bookmakers clearly aren’t falling for the Patriots’ out-of-character performance in their stunning 29-25 victory over the Bills last week in which Mac Jones behaved like a quality NFL QB. They also are likely basing the large line on the fact the Dolphins, who laid an egg in their big showdown with the Eagles last Sunday night, are 5-0 against teams owning a sub-.500 record, with three of those wins by 15 or more points. But the Dolphins, who wrestled away a 24-17 win Week 2 in Foxborough, have injuries across their O-line and now their most dangerous player, Tyreek Hill has a hip problem. Miami doesn’t win this one by double digits without him … The Patriots have one victory to show for their last six trips to Miami, but maybe they started to turn a corner when they found out losing 72-3 to the Cowboys and Saints wasn’t going to get Bill Belichick fired … Belichick is 11-4 ATS in same-season revenge games.

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TAKING: NEW ENGLAND +9.5

SCORE (O/U 45.5): Dolphins 31, Patriots 27

NEW YORK JETS (3-3) at NEW YORK GIANTS (2-5)

LINE: N.Y. Jets by 2.5

CHEWABLE: A Jets-Giants showdown at MetLife Stadium is a home game for both teams, so there will be no venue advantage in what should be a close one. No word yet on whether QB Daniel Jones (neck) will be ready or whether the Giants want him to after the way Tyrod Taylor played in a five-point loss to the Bills and a seven-point win over the Commanders. The bigger question is whether LT Andrew Thomas makes his return to the Big Blue line. If he does, and Taylor gets the start, the Giants could have a full blown quarterback controversy on their hands … The Jets have a better defence, but the teams are next to each other in the main measuring categories, and they’re not in the upper half of the rankings. However, the Chiefs are the only team to score more than 21 points against the Jets this season … The Giants are averaging just 11.5 points in their last five games … The Jets had two wins going into their bye, but they haven’t won a post-bye game since 2015. They stray from that pattern this week, but it won’t be a walk in Central Park.

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TAKING: N.Y. JETS -2.5

SCORE (O/U 36.5): Jets 20, Giants 17

ATLANTA FALCONS (4-3) at TENNESSEE TITANS (2-4)

LINE: Atlanta by 2.5 

CHEWABLE: Titans QB Will Levis will make his first career start in place of the injured Ryan Tannehill, and the natural assumption is that Will actually Will Not find success against a Falcons defence that ranks third in total yards against, seventh in passing yards against and eighth in rushing yards against. An argument to that is the Titans are coming off a bye they entered with a 24-16 loss to the Ravens, which allows a good coach like Mike Vrabel an extra week of preparation time. We’re assuming he spent a chunk of it trying to figure out ways to help Derrick Henry, who has only one 100-yard game this season. The running game will be especially important for a rookie QB … The Falcons sit first in the NFC South after their 16-13 win over the Bucs last week, but they are a tough pick with a 2-5 ATS record (1-3 as a favourite, 1-2 as a dog).

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TAKING: ATLANTA -2.5

SCORE (O/U 36.5): Falcons 21, Titans 17

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (3-4) at GREEN BAY PACKERS (2-4)

LINE: Minnesota by 1

CHEWABLE: The Vikings are coming off a win over one of the NFL’s top three teams — their third victory in four games — while the Packers are coming off a loss to one of the NFL’s worst three teams — their third straight defeat — and it is essentially a pick ’em? Hmm. What’s the catch? … The Vikings were thought to have one of the league’s lousiest defences but, while they did bend a few times, they didn’t break against a Niners team that could manage only 17 points on Monday …  Packers CB Jaire Alexander (back) has returned to practice but LB De’Vondre Campbell (ankle) has not, so it is not like the entire cavalry is riding to the rescue. Even RB Aaron Jones (hamstring) was back to being a DNP after returning from a hamstring injury last week. And I’d say the Vikings will miss WR Justin Jefferson again, but Jordan Addison (seven catches, 123 yards, two TDs) ensured they didn’t miss him against San Francisco. Anything can happen in division games, and the Packers are at Lambeau and more desperate. But the Vikings are the safer pick.

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TAKING: MINNESOTA -1

SCORE (O/U 43): Vikings 24, Packers 21

CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-2) at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (4-2)

LINE: Seattle by 3

CHEWABLE: The only thing that made sense about the Browns’ win over the Colts last week was the play of Myles Garrett, who stayed true to his superstar form with seven solo tackles and two sacks. Otherwise, Deshaun Watson mysteriously disappeared again, their horrendous offence was responsible for all but one touchdown in a 39-point, out-of-character outburst, and their No. 1-ranked defence allowed the Gardner Minshew-directed Colts to 456 yards and 38 points. Cleveland will once again have to rely on quarterback P.J. Walker and carry on without RB Jerome Ford (ankle), but the Seahawks also sorta come limping into the this one on the heels of a double-digit victory over the Cardinals in which they did not play very well. Other than RB Kenneth Walker III, the offence has generally taken a step back in the last two games, and Seattle’s last three wins have been against teams that have a combined 3-17 record. The Seahawks’ defence has been quite good, however, particularly with a No. 6 ranking at stopping the run.

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TAKING: SEATTLE -3

SCORE (O/U 39.5): Seahawks 23, Browns 17

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (6-1) at DENVER BRONCOS (2-5)

LINE: Kansas City by 7.5

CHEWABLE: Just when the Broncos get rolling, of course they’re again running into the Chiefs, who defeated them 19-8 a couple of weeks ago in the Stadium once known simply as Arrowhead. It was Denver’s 16th straight loss to the Chiefs, in case you’ve lost count. But the Broncos have been playing better since their 50-point loss to the Dolphins in Week 4, and aside from totally ignoring Travis Kelce, they turned in a strong effort when these teams met Oct. 12 — if you can say that after they forget the league’s best tight end was on the field  … Coming off a convincing victory against the Chargers that was their sixth straight win, the Chiefs might be a tad distracted as after this game they fly to Germany to take on the Dolphins. That said, if the line was even a half point under seven rather than over, I’d back Patrick Mahomes and company. To note: Chiefs are 4-1 ATS under the watchful eye of Taylor Swift, and why would she not go to beautiful Denver?

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TAKING: DENVER +7.5

SCORE (O/U 46): Chiefs 24, Broncos 17.

CHICAGO BEARS (2-5) at LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (2-4)

LINE: L.A. Chargers by 8.5

CHEWABLE: We’re not going to sit here and say Tyson Bagent (aka Secret Bagent Man) could be the 2023 Mr. Irrelevant, but while Justin Fields is on the mend the Bears are clearly in decent hands. Bagent was a bad decision away from beating the Vikings while coming on in relief of Fields, and then won his first NFL start — while ending Chicago’s 10-game home losing streak — in a thorough 30-12 pound of the Raiders. The Chargers have the worst pass defence numbers in the league by a far cry, allowing an average of 310 aerial yards against per game while the 31st-ranked Jaguars have surrendered 273.9 receiving yards per outing  … The Chargers are much better offensively than the Raiders, but they have scored only 17 points in each of their last two games — losses to K.C. and Dallas. The Bears have improved defensively with the return from injury of Jaylon Johnson and Eddie Jackson … Justin Herbert is 9-15 ATS as a favourite of three or more points … Even in losing two of their last four, the pair of Bears losses were by one possession.  And if I’m confident of anything it’s that you need two possessions to score more than 8.5 points.

TAKING: CHICAGO +8.5

SCORE (O/U 46.5): Chargers 27, Bears 20

NFL Week 8 picks

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