We’re back with the eighth edition of MTS’ weekly picks against the spread for the 2016 season. If Week 7 wasn’t rock bottom for Perry, then he’s at least approaching Brown-ian levels. Mr. Port went 5-10 ATS, and a very mediocre 2-2 on his “Pledges of the Week.”
Perry’s record on the season plummets to 40-49-2, while his “Pledges” remain hit-or-miss at 12-12.
At this point, this is punishment for such an awful week. So, whether you’re here because you believe Perry is due, or you just can’t stop looking at the train wreck, there shall be entertainment.
This is how he plans on regaining his pride in Week 8.
An asterisk denotes one of Perry’s “Pledges of the Week.” (Don’t call them “locks”; there’s no such thing!)
Week 8 Picks ATS
Thursday, October 27
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans (-3.5)
Heading into the preseason, there weren’t many teams being hyped as much as the Jaguars. Following the first couple preseason games, the Titans found themselves in the same boat. But here we are: both teams are still bad.
However, one of these two teams is at least good at something, and that’s the Titans on the ground. Tennessee averages 4.9 yards per carry (fourth) and is holding opponents to just 3.9 yards per carry (12th). The Jags may possess the tenth total defense in the league, but that’s largely a product of giving up good field positiong: their opponents don’t have to drive very far to score.
Jacksonville is averaging two turnovers per game, and have nothing that even slightly resembles a rushing attack. Tennessee will control the clock and take advantage of what Blake Bortles gives them – the ball in Jags territory.
Pick: Titans (-3.5)
Sunday, October 30
Washington at Cincinnati Bengals (-3)
Despite outplaying the Lions in Week 7, Washington saw their four-game winning streak come to an end. On the bright side, Jay Gruden continued to prioritize the running game, and they put up more than 100 yards on the ground for the third time in the last four weeks.
Cincinnati has recently found some balance on offense, too. But, one 31-point outburst against the Browns doesn’t have anyone believing the Bengals’ troubles in the red zone are solved.
While both teams have seemingly found a rushing attack, neither has proved they can stop anyone on the ground. This game will be decided by which offensive coordinator can swallow his pride and simply pound the ball.
Pick: Bengals (-3)
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers (-3)
You can look at the Cardinals’ defensive performance in Week 7 in one of two ways: one, their pass rush is lethal; or two, Seattle’s offensive line is terrible. Regardless of which you choose, it doesn’t bode well for the Panthers this week, as their offensive line is no better than Seattle’s. Even with Cam Newton’s mobility, the Panthers are allowing 2.5 sacks per game.
Arizona’s offense has finally realized that handing the ball to David Johnson is better than letting Carson Palmer take one five-step drop after another. However, Palmer will enjoy attacking the weak Panther defensive backs, who rank 26th against the pass and are dealing with injuries.
I don’t see much changing for Carolina coming off their bye. Their defensive issues are not systematic; they have a serious lack of talent in their secondary. Arizona’s second-ranked total defense will keep Cam and company in check, while the offense bounces back from a lousy Week 7 showing.
Pick: Cardinals (+3)*
Detroit Lions at Houston Texans (-2.5)
I’m not going to say the Lions’ offense is better without Megatron, but they certainly have adjusted well. They still can’t run the ball (24th), though, and are heavily relying on Matthew Stafford and their tenth-ranked passing attack.
The Texans were hoping to lean on their newly acquired, high-priced quarterback this season. Oops. Brock Osweiler is starting to make many question whether he is even capable of starting in this league, let alone whether he’s worth $72 million. That’s not the only cause of concern in Houston. Since J.J. Watt went down to injury, the Texans defense has allowed at least 320 total yards per game – no team had more than 291 with him in the lineup.
Fortunately for Osweiler, he doesn’t have to play the Broncos defense again this week; instead, he’ll face the 23rd -ranked pass defense. But I have much more faith in the man taking snaps for the other team, even though he’s facing a much tougher unit. (Houston is second against the pass.) Stafford will continue using the short passing game to make up for Detroit’s lack of a run game and will cover on the road.
Pick: Lions (+2.5)
Seattle Seahawks (-3) at New Orleans Saints
Russell Wilson is not 100-percent and his line isn’t giving him much help. After rushing for 1,941 yards over the last three seasons, Wilson has just 33 net yards through six games in 2016. Even if Seattle had the offensive line for it, Wilson is not Dan Marino. The Seahawks signal caller is most dangerous when he’s on the move, using his legs to attack defenses.
Fortunately for Wilson, only two teams have recorded fewer sacks than New Orleans this season, and the Saints rank last in scoring defense and 29th in total defense. Of course, the Seahawk defense will have a crucible on their hands, facing Drew Brees and the league’s top passing attack.
Seattle will be able to establish its rushing attack early, which will lead to a ton of time for Wilson off of play-action passes. Brees won’t be silenced by the Seahawks defense, but he won’t be able to bail his defense out of this one.
Pick: Seahawks (-3)*
Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5) at Indianapolis Colts
After getting stomped by the Steelers, 43-14, and subsequently written off for the rest of the season, the Chiefs have now won two straight and sit at 4-2. Although their offense remains rather conservative and their defense still can’t rush the passer, KC has improved in other areas, namely their play early in games.
Andrew Luck and the Colts offense continue to roll, but it’s tough to win games when your defense is allowing 28.5 points per game (28th). Even with their top three corners all healthy again, it won’t change much.
Alex Smith will continue to put the ball in the hands of his play-makers, and they’ll continue to reward him for it. Luck will put up points, but he’ll spend a lot of time on the sidelines as Kansas City’s ground game wears down the clock. The route they take to get there may not be what Andy Reid wants, but he’ll obtain his desired result.
Pick: Chiefs (-2.5)
New York Jets (-2.5) at Cleveland Browns
I’m not one to celebrate injury, but Geno Smith going down last week is what’s best for the Jets right now. Sure, Ryan Fitzpatrick may not be the future, but he’s the best option right now, and now he knows it.
The Jets’ formula for winning has remained consistent: run the ball. (Generating three turnovers against the Ravens certainly helped, too.)
It’s uncertain whether Cody Kessler will be cleared from the concussion he suffered in Week 7, but it won’t matter who starts under center in this one. Cleveland’s eighth-ranked rushing attack will be in tough against the Jets’ dominant front, and they lack the deep passing game to expose New York’s big-play susceptibility.
Forte runs wild in this one, and a pissed-off Fitzpatrick results in an offensive explosion.
Pick: Jets (-2.5)*
New England Patriots (-6.5) at Buffalo Bills
The Pats smallest margin of victory since Tom Brady returned has been 11 points. As if it wasn’t enough for Tom Brady to be playing with a chip on his shoulder, thanks to the Bills’ 16-0 win in New England in Week 4, Bill Belichick will be coaching this game with a chip on his shoulder.
The Bills just had their four-game winning streak snapped, and it was thanks to a poor performance in the trenches. Coming into Week 7, the Bills were averaging 212 rushing yards per game since Anthony Lynn took over as offensive coordinator, but only mustered 67 against the Dolphins, while allowing 256.
Belichick will take away the Bills’ rushing attack, which may already be without LeSean McCoy, and Tom Brady will exorcise his demons against Rex Ryan.
Pick: Patriots (-6.5)*
Oakland Raiders at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1)
Both of these teams were made to look better than they are in Week 7. But both deserve some credit for taking care of business.
It’s hard to say the Raiders are playing well defensively, as they rank last in total defense, but they are starting to play better. The Bucs have also been better, a result of taking the ball out of Jameis Winston’s hands. Their second-year slinger is not being given the opportunity to turn the ball over, and the team is benefiting from being a run-first team.
Oakland is currently undefeated on the road (4-0), and the Bucs have lost both of their home games to start the season. Don’t fall for Tampa Bay’s 13th-ranked pass defense. It’s just a result of teams choosing to run on them instead. Derek Carr and the Raider offense will move the ball with ease and come out on top of this shootout.
Pick: Raiders (+1)
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (-5.5)
When these two met a couple weeks ago (a 21-13 San Diego win), Trevor Siemian was not healthy and the Broncos’ offensive line was in a major funk; Denver also found ways to give the game back when San Diego did its best to blow another fourth quarter lead.
Although Siemian looks to be back to full health, the offensive line is still committing some major mistakes, whether it be penalties or blown assignments. They did take a step in the right direction against Houston, though (190 yards on the ground).
I’ve said this before, and it still applies: the Chargers are only a handful of plays away from being 7-0. Philip Rivers deserves a lot of credit for their offensive success (second in scoring), as he has continued to put points on the board in spite of being without his top two pass catchers from last season – Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead.
However, the Charger offense has only once been held under 340 total yards in a game, and that was against the Broncos (265). Denver possesses the top-ranked pass defense, and have only allowed one quarterback to throw for more than 200 yards. Rivers will not be able to get in rhythm, and the Broncos will get their revenge, handing the Chargers their first big loss of the season.
Pick: Broncos (-5.5)
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons (-3)
Even with Matt Barkley doing his best to allow the Green Bay offense to erupt, Aaron Rodgers and company still spoiled many promising opportunities last week against Chicago. But Rodgers will now face the weakest defense he’s seen this season in Atlanta (26th in total defense).
The Falcons’ top-ranked offense has shown very few signs of weakness, and the stellar play of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones is to thank for that. Ryan will have to continue his current pace if the Falcons want to get back on the winning track. The Packer defense has held five of six opponents under 70 yards on the ground, and will look to make Atlanta one-dimensional as well. With Tevin Coleman likely to miss the game with a hamstring injury, that task gets a little easier.
The Packers won’t, however, have an answer for Julio Jones, so Rodgers will have to be much more efficient in the red zone. In their last three games, Green Bay has only scored a touchdown on 38.46-percent of red zone opportunities. Fortunately, Atlanta’s D is giving up majors on 75-percent of red zone trips.
Pick: Packers (+3)
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (-4.5)
After dropping two straight, the Eagles defense found its groove again in Week 7, bailing out the offense and winning a turnover-filled game over the Vikings. That said, Carson Wentz has now struggled in back-to-back games, completing 54-percent of his passes for 217 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions, combined.
The Cowboys are hoping the bye week hasn’t cost them any momentum, as they were enjoying a five-game winning streak. Dallas continues to lean on Ezekiel Elliott and the top-ranked rushing attack, while Dak Prescott is proving to be much more than just a game manager.
The Eagles are allowing 4.5 yards per carry (24th) and will not be able to slow Dallas on the ground. But Wentz will bounce back against the 21st-ranked pass defense and keep this game within a field goal.
Pick: Eagles (+4.5)
Monday, October 31
Minnesota Vikings (-5.5) at Chicago Bears
After only turning the ball over once in their first five games, the Vikings came off their bye and gave the ball away four times against the Eagles. Mike Zimmer was not shy about his thoughts on their performance, and you can bet they won’t be having a laid-back week of practice.
Good news for Bears fans: they won’t have to watch Matt Barkley again; the bad news: Jay Cutler is back under center. Chicago ranks last in scoring offense, and Cutler’s return won’t fix that.
The Viking defense will be flying around making plays and will be able to cover this spread on their own.
Pick: Vikings (-5.5)
Photo Credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].