Sunday’s Week 8 late games consist of four matchups, one being an NFC South contest featuring Tom Brady. Brady and the Bucs travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints for the first time sans Drew Brees.
Patriots (3-4, 3-4 ATS) at Chargers (4-2, 4-2 ATS)
BetMGM Line: Chargers by 4 (49)
The skinny: For the second consecutive season New England makes a midseason trip to LA’s SoFi Stadium to face the Chargers.
Facts: The Patriots beat the QB Justin Herbert and LA 45-0 in Week 13 last season as a 1-point dog on NFL odds boards, the biggest rout of the NFL season. Yet New England generated less than 300 yards of offense but benefited from a stupendous 28-yard edge in average starting field position (46/18). Two weeks ago in Baltimore, Herbert and the Chargers suffered their second-worst loss, 34-6. LA is giving up 5.4 yards a rush, the worst norm since the 2006 Colts had a 5.3 average en route to winning the Super Bowl. Matthew Judon has been a “wrecking ball” for the Patriots’ defense, as one analyst said, getting 6.5 sacks.
Analysis: The Chargers should respond well off their bye week after that blowout in Baltimore brought their egos back to Earth as they tumbled out of first place in the AFC West. And it’s not like the Patriots have an invincible defense that thwarted Tom Brady earlier this month and then flummoxed the Jets. Just two weeks ago they gave up 567 yards to Dallas in a 35-29 overtime loss, the second-most yards in a game this season. And this week Jones had better have his head on a swivel dealing with Joey Bosa coming off the edge and Derwin James coming from everywhere.
Pick: Chargers 30, Patriots 20
Jaguars (1-5, 2-4 ATS) at Seahawks (2-5, 3-4 ATS)
DraftKings Line: Seahawks by 3.5 (44.5)
The skinny: With no Russell Wilson sighting in the huddle for Seattle this week, QB Geno Smith will make his third start for the Seahawks against a Jacksonville team off a bye.
Facts: Teams off byes the past two seasons and going against a team that played the week before have gone 14-18 ATS, including 1-3 last week. But a key point here is that the Seahawks have a short week off their 13-10 home loss to New Orleans on MNF. The Seahawks’ defense, which yielded an abominable 480 yards a game in Weeks 2-5, has held its past two foes to less than 350 and vaulted to next to last on the league chart. The Jaguars went the first five weeks without having a short field, then got three in London in their win over Miami. Smith, with extra happy feet, was sacked five times last week on only 27 drop-backs, his second straight five-sack outing. Wilson never went down that many times this season.
Analysis: Seattle showed little offensively last week outside of DK Metcalf’s 84-yard TD reception, getting 135 yards on its other 54 snaps. It won’t take much for Jax rookie QB Trevor Lawrence to drum up enough offense, along with RB James Robinson, to subdue a Seahawks team that’s minus its top running back, Chris Carson (neck), and might be without his backup, Alex Collins (groin). And as for that improved defensive performance of late, those games were against two teams, Pittsburgh and New Orleans, that rank in the bottom six on the offensive chart. The Jags are 15th.
Pick: Jaguars 24, Seahawks 16
Washington Football Team (2-5, 1-5 ATS) at Broncos (3-4, 3-4 ATS)
FanDuel Line: Broncos by 3.5 (44.5)
The skinny: The Broncos hope to benefit from an extended weekend break when it returns home to face Washington, one of the league’s most underachieving squads.
Facts: Denver, on a four-game losing streak, will be without its two inside linebackers and two outside linebackers and thus went shopping for new faces, including ex-Ram Kenny Young, LA’s second-leading tackler. Broncos star receiver Jerry Jeudy returns this week after his gruesome high ankle sprain suffered in Week 1. Flashback: When the teams last met in Week 16 of 2017, the “Redskins” won 27-11, QB Kirk Cousins’ last victory with Washington. And the last loss for QB Brock Osweiler. WFT QB Taylor Heinicke rushed for a career-high 95 yards last week in Green Bay, tied for the second-most by a quarterback this season.
Analysis: Washington is heralded for having a solid run defense and with a pass rush that doesn’t necessarily reach the QB in time for a sack, but it’s enough to make him rush throws and make bad decisions. This week that would be Teddy Bridgewater, who’s thrown five INTs the past three weeks after having a clean slate Weeks 1-4.
Pick: Football Team 26, Broncos 17
Bucs (6-1, 3-4 ATS) at Saints (4-2, 3-3 ATS)
Line: Bucs by 4.5 (50.5)
The skinny: Ex-Bucs QB Jameis Winston gets his first start against his former team when Tampa Bay visits the Superdome.
Facts: There have been three drives of 10 minutes or longer in the league this year, and New Orleans had two of them. Although Bucs WR Antonio Brown is out (ankle), TE Rob Gronkowski returns after a month’s absence. The Saints, who reacquired RB Mark Ingram from Houston this week, are working on short rest after edging host Seattle 13-10 on Monday. But the good news for N.O. is that teams this season are 9-2 ATS/8-3 SU off MNF games. Although New Orleans swept the regular-season series from Tampa Bay last year, the Bucs showed up at the Dome in the divisional round and won 30-20 en route to winning the world title. In the Bucs’ 38-3 win over Chicago last week, the league’s sack leaders were shut out.
Analysis: Brady wasn’t fibbing after all when he said the right thumb he injured a few weeks ago wasn’t that big of a deal. In the team’s past two games he’s totaled six TD throws in one-sided wins over the Eagles and Bears. Winston, meanwhile, has had great chemistry checking down to RB Alvin Kamara but has not had much success elsewhere. Kamara caught 10 of 11 targeted throws for 128 yards last week. The other receivers had 94 yards on 11 catches off 24 targets. And now star OG Andrus Peat is out (torn pec).
Pick: Bucs 34, Saints 14
Last week: 5-7-1 ATS, 9-4 SU
Season total: 58-46-3 (.558) ATS; 72-35 (.673)
Also read: Bookmakers make NFL Week 8 picks