Key injuries, especially to quarterbacks, are one of the main stories to come our of this past weekend as Arizona’s Carson Palmer and Miami’s Jay Cutler both left their respective games with injuries that are expected to keep them sidelined for some time.
Palmer’s injury, sustained in their London loss to the LA Rams, was a broken left arm and he will be sidelined for at least 8 weeks and perhaps the balance of the season if the Cardinals are out of Playoff contention when he would be cleared to return. Cutler left Miami’s game against the Jets with what was described as a chest injury which later turned to speculation cracked ribs were involved.
On the field the most noteworthy attention grabber was not one, not two but three shutouts. Headed into Monday night’s game between Washington and Philadelphia the Jaguars had shut out Indianapolis 27-0, the Rams had shut out Arizona 33-0 and the LA Chargers had shut out Denver 21-0.
Four other teams were held to single digits as Carolina managed only a FG in its loss at Chicago, both the New York Giants and Atlanta were held to just 7 points in respective losses to Seattle and New England and Cleveland remained winless at 0-9 after scoring just 9 points in a home loss to Tennessee.
Interestingly, through Sunday, there have been 52 OVERs and 52 UNDERs this season in addition to 1 PUSH. Average total points per game has been 43.6 with an average score of 27.5 to 16.1.
This past week, through Sunday, Home Favorites were a perfect 5-0 SU and 3-0-1 ATS with Pittsburgh, Minnesota and New England all winning and covering and both Buffalo and Miami winning by the FG by which each was favored. 8 teams were favored on the road and those teams went 5-3 SU but just 4-4 ATS (Denver closed a 1 point favorite at the LA Chargers).
For the season Home Favorites are just 26-35-3 ATS while Home Underdogs are 21-16 ATS. The lone Home Pick ‘em won its game. These results do not include the 3 games played in London in which the favored teams are 2-1 both SU and ATS.
It is worth noting that with another game in London this week the final scores of the 3 prior London games this season were 44-7, 20-0 and 33-0.
Six teams have Byes this week. Arizona, Green Bay, Jacksonville, the L A Rams, the N Y Giants and Tennessee will be on the sidelines.
Here are previews of the 13 games that comprise the Week 8 schedule.
Miami +3.5 at Baltimore (37.5): In matchups such as this, between a pair of flawed but evenly matched teams, it is easiest to make a case for an underdog getting more than a FG. The Ravens are 1-2 at home, having defeated lonely Cleveland before losing to both Pittsburgh and Chicago. Miami has road wins at the Chargers and two weeks ago at Atlanta. Despite the short week the preference is still to look at the underdog. MIAMI
Minnesota -7.5 vs. Cleveland (37.5) at London, England: Both teams are allowing under 5.0 yards per play and with such a low Total the value of getting more than a TD is greater than when Totals are in the low to mid 40’s. After 3 London blowouts earlier this season perhaps we will finally get a competitive contest. The matchup certainly suggests such a game. CLEVELAND
Chicago +7.5 at New Orleans (48): The New Orleans defense has shown solid improvement since the start of the season, holding their four foes to between 4.0 and 5.2 yards per play after allowing their first two opponents to average more than 7.4 ypp. The New Orleans offense remains one of the most potent in the NFL and has better balance with a running game (122 ypg) to complement the passing of QB Drew Brees. NEW ORLEANS
Atlanta -4.5 at NY Jets (46.5): Atlanta leads the NFL with a plus 1.1 yards per play differential and have been much better at avoiding turnovers than the Jets. They have the better running game and now face the weakest of the four AFC East teams and in desperate need of a win to get back on track. ATLANTA
Carolina +2.5 at Tampa Bay (44): Carolina seems to go as QB Cam Newton goes and after showing signs of being the old, productive Newton in wins over the Patriots and Lions he reverted to his early season poor performances in a 9-3 home win over Buffalo and an ugly 21 point home loss the next week to New Orleans. Current form suggests this is not the 2015 Newton. TAMPA BAY
San Francisco NL at Philadelphia: The Eagles are clearly the much better team and rate in some circles as favorites to win not just the NFC East but to represent the Conference in the Super Bowl. Last week’s effort showed the true lack of talent and depth on the 49ers but new coach Kyle Shanahan still has them well prepared and playing hard. It’s tough to lay double digits in the NFL, which is what the line likely will be. SAN FRANCISCO
Oakland +2.5 at Buffalo (45.5): This game should be a cleanly played game from the standpoint of both offenses excelling at avoiding turnovers. Buffalo rates the edge with the better defense and the better rushing game. They also catch the Raiders off two straight Divisional games making this a very negative scheduling spot. BUFFALO
Indy +10 at Cincinnati (41): Bengals QB Andy Dalton continues to be plagued by turnovers but whether the Colts can apply the pressure and frustrate Dalton is questionable. Both teams rank in the bottom 5 in both total offense and average points scored (combining for 33.3 per game) which presents some value in looking for a low scoring game with the Total above the key number of 38. UNDER.
LA Chargers +7 at New England (49): The Chargers’ current form makes taking the TD very attractive but we are seeing signs of the Patriots hitting their stride in mid season, especially with AFC East rivals Buffalo and Miami also having just 2 losses. The Pats have the NFL’s top offense and in this matchup have both the better rushing offense and the better rushing defense. And their pass defense is improving. NEW ENGLAND
Houston +5.5 at Seattle (43): Seattle rates the defensive edge, holding 5 of 6 opponents to 18 points or less, This is also a poor scheduling spot for the Texans who, though off the Bye, are playing their first road game since September 24 following 3 straight at home. And Seattle has one of the NFL’s most deafening crowds that contribute to a strong home field advantage. SEATTLE
Dallas NL at Washington: The status of RB Ezekiel Elliott remains clouded as his appeal works its way through the courts. Both Dallas QB Dak Prescott and Washington signal caller Kirk Cousins are having very fine seasons and with both offenses also displaying strong running games and facing average defenses this could become a shootout. OVER
Pittsburgh -3 at Detroit (45): The Lions are 3-3 and have lost 2 straight and 3 of 4 since opening the season with a pair of double digit wins over Arizona and at the Giants. Pittsburgh enjoys most of the statistical edges in this matchup including a league leading 4.4 yards per play on defense. The situation favors the Steelers who have a Bye next week while Detroit hosts Division rival Green Bay. Sunday night home teams are 5-2 both SU and ATS this season. DETROIT
Denver +7.5 at KC (44): Were Kansas City not off back to back losses and especially the one they suffered in Oakland this would be a good spot to take the large Divisional dog. But Kansas City figures to be aggressive on offense and force the Broncos to play from behind, a situation in which Denver has not performed well. They are 0-2 on the road this season, losing 26-16 at Buffalo prior to last week’s shutout loss at the Chargers. KANSAS CITY
Last week: 5-7-2