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Week 8 NFL Preview with Game Odds and Insight

Updated: Current NFL Lines from Bovada

After Carolina beat up on Tampa on Thursday, resulting in the Bucaneers worst start since 2007, we have a full list of NFL games on Thursday. Here’s what to look forward to.

Mathew Stafford and Tony Romo both lead the NFC in touchdown passes with 15. Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson lead the conference in touchdown catches with 6. Oh yeah, and both teams are both 4-3 heading into Sunday’s meeting in Michigan. Many of the identical stats going into this game will make for an interesting matchup to watch. Both teams have won games they should’ve, while losing surprising head-scratchers that leave you wondering what the true talent of each squad is. The Lions are picked to win by 3, which may be because of their home field advantage. However, with teams so closely matched in this one, it’s a bit of a toss up. Either way, whichever team comes out of this game on top will have a defining win that they can use as momentum as they hit the second half of their season.

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While the Chiefs may have started the season under the radar, they now have the biggest target in the entire league on their back. As the last undefeated squad in the NFL, every weekend their opponents will be looking to knock them off. Although the Chiefs are a touchdown favorite over the Browns, this game has some interesting variables that should be kept in mind. First of all, it looks like Jason Campbell will get the starting nod over Brandon Weeden. Weeden was drafted last year with Trent Richardson, and while Richardson was traded earlier this year, it looks like Weeden may be on his way out of favor with the Browns as well. So while the Browns go with Campbell, it makes the Chiefs preparing for the Browns a bit more difficult. The other element to consider in this game is the fact that just a few weeks ago, everyone was writing off the Browns season. So what did they do? They went and surprised everyone with a three-game winning streak. Furthermore, Campbell has two wins over the Chiefs already to his name, both when he was starting for the Oakland Raiders. There comes a game in every season where an undefeated team must be uncrowned. And while the Chiefs should use their home field advantage this weekend, there is no reason to count the Browns out of this one just yet. This could be an interesting matchup that takes down the last standing undefeated squad in the NFL.

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Cleveland Browns
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Kansas City Chiefs

The AFC East matchup between the Dolphins and Patriots looks to be a good one as well. While the Patriots have a 5-2 record, they have shown obvious weaknesses in the last three weeks. Despite an amazing last-minute drive by the Patriots two weeks ago against the Saints, the Patriots have lost twice in the last three weeks. Last weekend it was an overtime cringer to divisional foe New York, and three weeks ago the Patriots could hardly get the ball moving an only put up 6 against the Bengals. The Dolphins showed that they have talent when they started the season 3-0. However they have reeled off three loses in a row that has raised a lot of concern for fans on South Beach. A lot of the criticism comes at the offensive line. Ryan Tannehill has been given quite a bit of credit for his overall skills, but he doesn’t seem to have the time that he needs to find open receivers and get going in a flow like he would like. New England is a six-point favorite on Sunday, and if Tom Brady can find receivers to get into the end zone, this is likely to be a fair spread. However, if the game is close, that momentum could swing towards the Dolphins, who would love to upset their divisional foes.

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Miami Dolphins
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New England Patriots

Buffalo may be excited that they are coming off a close win over the Dolphins last weekend. Unfortunately for them, the Saints are coming off their first loss of the season and had a bye week to think about how they want to rebound over the 3-4 Bills. Buffalo has been up and down all season, and will likely start Thad Lewis in his third straight game in place of the injured EJ Manuel. One good note for the Bills is that no matter who they’ve started at QB, they are the only team aside from the Broncos to have at least scored 20 points in every game this season. The best option for the Bills may be to run the ball as much as they can, considering the Saints have one of the weaker run defenses in the league. However, they’ll need to do all that they can to keep up with Drew Brees, as the Saints have the second best passing average in the entire league. The Saints are a 10-point favorite in this game, and for good reason. Although we could plan for a few upsets on Sunday, we don’t see this being one of them.

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The New York Giants will look to improve on their first win of the season on Monday night as they face the Eagles on Sunday. Things could certainly be starting to look up for the Giants, who are getting Philly at a good time. After Nick Foles started in place of Michael Vick for the last three games, Vick is planning to return this weekend against the Giants. However, you have to think that Vick may not quite be 100-percent. And even if he is, how is he feeling knowing Foles had a bit of success in his place? Either way, Eli Manning will look to expose an Eagles defense that allows 312-yards per game through the air. The other factor to look at on Sunday will be Peyton Hillis as he makes his second appearance for the Giants. Hillis was a legit threat while in Cleveland, so we’ll see if this chance in New York brings back any energy to his career. Another interesting note is that while the Giants are looking to end their current road game losing streak, the Eagles have yet to win in Philly this year and their last home win was against the Giants last season. The Eagles are the favorite in this game by five, but we like the Giants chances after getting the monkey off their back on Monday.

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New York Giants
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Philadelphia Eagles

The NFL will return to London for the second time this season as the 49ers take on the Jaguars. While the 49ers have been a frequent team to visit Wembley Stadium over the last few years, the Jags will do their best to not get embarrassed across the Atlantic. It’s bad enough that they’ll be heading in with a winless record, but the fact that they have to play one of the hottest teams in the league right now doesn’t help either. The 49ers are on a four-game winning streak, including a big one against Tennessee last weekend. The biggest elements to the 49ers, that being Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and Colin Kaepernick have all been able to carry the load in previous weeks, and they’ll hope to keep up that trend this weekend as well. As for Jacksonville, what can we say that hasn’t already been said? After finding out that St. Louis made a call to Brett Favre earlier this week to gauge his interest shows even further how frustrating it must be to be a Jags fan. After all, they know they don’t have a potent offense and they aren’t even trying to make the moves to get better. Could be a long day for the Jags in London, which makes for an even longer plane ride home.

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San Francisco 49ers
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Jacksonville Jaguars

We hate to go out on a limb and give the Jets credit for the possibility of making an interesting game in Cincinnati. After all, it seems as if every time we have thought the Jets will make for an interesting game, they fall right on their face. Then, last weekend when we all but said they’d get beat up on by New England, they came out and surprised everyone with an overtime win. So now what do we expect from the Jets? What might be the best answer is, whatever the Bengals give them. The Bengals are obviously the better team here and in recent weeks have looked to finally get things going. With wins over Detroit and New England in two of the last three weeks, the Bengals are showing they are a team to recon with. Then again, we thought that when they started the season 2-1 and had a huge win against Green Bay, only to come out and fall flat against Cleveland. So as the Jets and Bengals face off on Sunday, we have to unpredictable teams that are likely to play to their competition. Being the home team, Cincinnati is the favorite by six, but if the Jets can stay in it, who knows what Rex Ryan has up his sleeve.

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New York Jets
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Cincinnati Bengals

We’ve been calling it for a few weeks now and we’ll say it again: Watch out for those Steelers. Sure, they started the season quite horrendously, plagued by injuries and a four game losing streak. But in the last two weeks, they have won against the Jets and Ravens, and get to face Oakland on Sunday. By no means are the Raiders, who are 2-4 as well, a team that the Steelers can expect to walk all over. After all, when they thought they’d walk over Minnesota three weeks ago, the Vikings came out and got their first win when the two teams met in London. However, against a young quarterback who is still trying to figure things out, the Steelers have a chance to shake Terrelle Pryor early and often in this game. We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again, if the Steelers win this game on Sunday, we are in for an interesting matchup next weekend as they’ll face off against the Patriots. However, the Raiders have had an extra week to prepare for Big Ben and the Steelers, having their bye week last weekend. The Steelers are only a two point favorite, but on the road that’s a welcoming margin that they’re likely to welcome.

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Pittsburgh Steelers
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Oakland Raiders

Another interesting matchup to add to the plate of intriguing games this weekend is the Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals. Last weekend, the Falcons ended their longest losing streak in the last six seasons. But as they hope to avoid going 0-3 on the road this season, they’ll need to face an Arizona squad that has been just as sporadic. It’s still unknown as to the status of Roddy White or Steven Jackson for this weekend, and we already know that Julio Jones will be out for the remainder of the season. But with Tony Gonzalez on his side, Matt Ryan has a reliable force in the red zone that has helped attribute to his 13 passing touchdowns on the year. As for Carson Palmer, he has a 69.5 passer rating, which ranks only higher than Brandon Weeden, Eli Manning, Christian Ponder and Josh Freeman. This certainly isn’t the company that Palmer would like to find himself in, especially considering he has Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd as prime targets. Arizona is the favorite in this one, likely due to being the home team with a slightly better record. However, we like Atlanta in this one. We still have such a hard time understanding how things unraveled so quickly for them this year, but after shaking the streak last weekend, we think Ryan will outplay the Cardinals in this one and get another ‘W’ for the Falcons.

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The only thing that may be more scary than an undefeated team, is a team that is coming off its first loss of the season. As the Broncos welcome former head coach Mike Shanahan to Denver, Peyton Manning will look to make his return as sour as his own homecoming was last weekend in Indy. The loss was the first in 17 regular season contests for the Broncos, but you can bet that this one hurt enough to remind Peyton of what losing feels like and how bad he doesn’t enjoy doing it. Manning was held out of practice on Wednesday this week, but was back at it on Thursday and looks ready for Sunday. As for the Redskins, they had a hug win against Chicago last weekend and have won two of their last three overall. After missing the entire preseason and taking some time to acclimate at the beginning of this season, RGIII has started to get things rolling and has amassed 1746 yards and 8 touchdowns. Last weekend he also ran for 84-yards, reminding people of the dual threat that he posses. The Redskins have been hot in recent weeks and there is likely to be some emotion behind the return of Shanahan to the team that he led to two Super Bowls in the 90’s. However, betting against Manning in any situation, especially after a loss, is rarely a wise decision. The Broncos are twelve point favorites, and though it may not be that lopsided, we still expect a Broncos win in front of a wild Sports Authority Field on Sunday.

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Washington Redskins
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Denver Broncos

A week after getting shown up on Monday night and giving up the first win of the year to the Giants, the Vikings will again be in action against the Packers. Like the 49ers, the Packers have been on a streak and are probably quite happy to see the Vikings come to town. Things looked bad enough for the Vikings last week, with newly acquired Josh Freeman getting the start for the Vikings. However after just one game, apparently Freeman was injured and former starter Christian Ponder will get the go-ahead again. This musical chairs of quarterbacks can’t be good for the mentality of either player, and we’ll see how Ponder does as he gets the go this Monday. As for the Packers, they’ve won three straight, all in relatively impressive fashion. Aaron Rodgers and company will look to continue that, especially considering the fact that they have one less loss than the other teams that they are tied with in the NFC North with four wins. The Pack are a nine point favorite on Sunday night, but it could get more out of hand than that.

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Green Bay Packers
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Minnesota Vikings

Monday night’s showdown will be between the Rams and the visiting Seahawks. The Rams have had an interesting week. After losing Sam Bradford last weekend, they apparently reached out to Brett Favre of all people to see if he would be interested in making a return to the NFL. Rumor has it that Favre was interested, but not enough to put on the pads again. Instead, Kellen Clemens is likely to get the start for the Rams. As for the Seahawks, they are happy to have this type of matchup on a Monday night. Without Bradford, it’s not likely that the Rams will cause any concern for the Seahawks, and therefore they’ll get the chance to impress in front of the entire nation. The Seahawks are a ten point favorite, and this could be a fair line for the result of this match.

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Seattle Seahawks
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St. Louis Rams