The pressure is off earlier than usual as the 1972 Miami Dolphins “celebrate” the final fall from the unbeaten ranks for the 2016 season.
Last week, following their Bye, Minnesota was the final team to suffer a loss this season. Ironically, the Vikings fell at Philadelphia, a team that itself had started 3-0 before suffering its first loss at Detroit following a Bye.
With Minnesota’s loss and Sunday night’s tie between Arizona and Seattle there are four teams that have lost just once this season.
New England is the AFC team with one loss and the 5-1 Patriots get the chance to avenge that loss this week in Buffalo.
The three NFC one loss teams are Dallas (5-1), Minnesota (5-1) and Seattle (4-1-1). The Vikings and Seahawks have already played following Bye and the Cowboys had their Bye this past week.
Cleveland remains the NFL’s only winless team at 0-7 but three other teams – all in the NFC – have won just once. Both Chicago and San Francisco are 1-6.
Carolina is 1-5 and returns from its Bye to host Arizona this week. After going 15-1 in 2015 and losing to Denver in Super Bowl 50 the Panthers are extremely unlikely to make the Playoffs. They remain mathematically alive with 9 games remaining but would have to win probably all 9 (or at the least 8 of 9).
It is not impossible as Kansas City showed last season by winning its final 10 regular season games following a 1-5 start. Prior to winning those 10 games the Chiefs had suffered 3 losses by 7 points or less. 3 of Carolina’s 5 losses have been by 1, 3 and 3 points.
Exactly one half of the League – 16 teams – will reach the midpoint of the season this weekend by playing their eighth game.
The NFC East can lay claim to being the best Division in football with all four teams having winning records. Dallas returns from its Bye at 5-1 with the other three teams – the Giants, Philadelphia and Washington – each at either 4-2 or 4-3.
The AFC West has also displayed strength thus far. Entering Monday night’s game with Houston, Denver was tied with both Kansas City and Oakland at 4-2. Last place San Diego is 3-4 with the losses by 1, 3, 4 and 6 points with that 6 point loss an overtime loss to open the season.
Six teams have Byes this week – Baltimore, Los Angeles, Miami, the New York Giants, Pittsburgh and San Francisco.
Heading into Monday night Favorites were just 4-8-1 ATS last week. For the season Favorites are 44-52-5 or 45.8 percent ATS.
For the first time this season there will have been a week with more UNDERs than OVERs with 8 of last week’s games through Sunday staying UNDER the Total and just 6 going OVER. For the season there have been 57 OVERs and 49 UNDERs
Here’s a look at the 13 games that comprise the Week 8 schedule.
Jacksonville +3.5 at Tennessee (45.5): The short week has favored the home team with Thursday night home teams 5-2 both SU and ATS this season with Home Favorites going a perfect 3-0 both SU and ATS. TENNESSEE.
Washington +3 vs Cincinnati (46.5) at London, England: It can be argued that this game should be more accurately priced at pick ‘em at the neutral site which makes getting any points an attractive option. The best option might be to fade both defenses which rank near the bottom of the NFL on a yards per play basis. OVER.
Green Bay +2.5 at Atlanta (52.5): Aaron Rodgers still does not look like he has the past few seasons. Atlanta lost a wild game against San Diego last week after a tough loss at Seattle a week earlier. The Falcons have the better balanced offense and have excelled at avoiding turnovers. Green Bay continues to play like a team in a slow and steady decline. ATLANTA.
Detroit +3 at Houston: The Texans are allowing more than a yard less per play than Detroit. Houston has a solid ground game that takes some pressure off QB Brock Osweiler. Detroit has the QB edge with Matthew Stafford but that lack of a running game and the scheduling dynamics work against the Lions. HOUSTON.
Seattle -3 at New Orleans (47.5): Much will be noted during the week that Seattle’s defense was on the field for nearly 47 minutes in the tie at Arizona. If this was a Thursday game that might be a significant factor. We might see Seattle use more of a ball control offense to keep its defense on the sidelines and will be facing a defense allowing over 400 yards per game. SEATTLE.
New England -6.5 at Buffalo: Had Tom Brady been available in their first meeting the Pats likely would have won. They should avenge that loss here and figure to be playing with above average levels of emotion and intensity and degree of preparation. Oh, and the Patriots will have their Bye coming next week. NEW ENGLAND.
NY Jets NL at Cleveland: Both offenses have weak passing attacks yet will be facing defenses vulnerable to the pass. With a pair of offenses that have been mistake prone and averaging less than 19 points per game it is hard to make a case for offensive continuity with much scoring. UNDER.
Oakland +1 at Tampa Bay (49): Both teams’ offenses are strengths and defenses are weak. Both teams have young, improving quarterbacks who are complimented by above average ground games. OVER.
Kansas City -2.5 at Indianapolis (49.5): The Colts have the better offense and the Chiefs have the better defense but the KC defense is not as statistically good as it was last season. Indy has the edge at QB but the Chiefs are much better at running the football. The Colts are 3-1 SU and 4-0 against the spread as Home Underdogs since 2013 and are in that role for the first time this season. INDIANAPOLIS
San Diego +6 at Denver: Denver should come favored by just under a touchdown. In that first meeting Denver held the Chargers to a season low in offense by nearly 100 total yards and 0.8 yards per play. Against Division rivals over the past half decade the Chargers are averaging a FG less than against non Division competition. UNDER.
Arizona +2.5 at Carolina (48): This is a huge revenge game for Arizona after the Cardinals were blown out on this field in the NFC Championship game by the Panthers 49-15. Expect improvement from the Panthers defense, an area that was addressed during the week off. The Cardinals have an elite defense but their offense does not match up well against the Panthers. UNDER.
Philadelphia +4.5 at Dallas (43.5): Dallas’ 5-1 start is a surprise to many considering the offense is being led by a pair of rookies. There is much history between these long-time rivals which suggests a close game between teams playing well. The Eagles have also gotten excellent special teams play which could be a factor here. PHILADELPHIA
Minnesota -5.5 at Chicago: Minnesota has the NFL’s top ranked defense in many key statistical categories including forcing a league best 2.7 turnovers per game. Matt Barkley replaced Hoyer last week and was overmatched, worth noting if Cutler cannot start. The play for this game depends on the status of Cutler. UNDER if Cutler starts or MINNESOTA if Barkley goes.
Last week: 9-5
(MNF not included)