Hot! NFL Picks: Week 8

This is the first of a new series of weekly posts on the NFL, tentatively titled, “Against the Spread.” Every Thursday, Nick and Mike will examine the week’s games, check the betting line, and make their predictions. We will also throw in the result of ESPN’s simulation of the games using Madden NFL ’13 for some added flavor.

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TB (+6.5) at MIN
Nick (TB): I’ll often ponder a 6.5 underdog against Minnesota QB Christian Ponder. Tampa Bay’s run defense is ranked third and will contain Adrian Peterson.
Mike (MIN): Minnesota has surprised us all this year, turning me into a believer. They are one of the most well-rounded teams in football.
Madden Sim (TB): The game is close late in the 4th quarter, but Adrian Peterson’s 36-yard rushing touchdown proves to the game winner in a 23-17 Vikings win over the Bucs. However, the Bucs manage to cover the spread.

NE (-7.5) at STL
Nick (STL): Although they are no longer the greatest show on turf, against the Patriots’ poor secondary, Sam Bradford will look like Kurt Warner. The Pats offense is still a force but Brady is having trouble closing.
Mike (STL): The Jeff Fischer-led Rams are much improved over last season, are at home, and are facing a Patriots team struggling to define its offense.
Madden Sim (NE): Tom Brady dominates, throwing for four TDs in a 38-17 thrashing of the Rams.

WAS (+5.5) at PIT
Nick (PIT): Pittsburgh’s run defense is too disciplined to be fooled by the Redskins’ option offense. A rookie quarterback in Pittsburgh is rarely a good bet.
Mike (PIT): Eventually, someone is going to force RGIII to have a poor rookie showing. Heinz Field is a good stage for that.
Madden Sim (WAS): RGIII has a solid game throwing 256 yards, but it’s his two rushing TDs that are the difference in a 24-23 victory over the Steelers.

ATL (+2.5) at PHI
Nick (ATL): They’re undefeated for a reason, and while Atlanta’s defense isn’t great, they’re opportunistic enough to take advantage of an inevitable Vick turnover or two.
Mike (PHI): Although I’m high on them this season, the Falcons aren’t going to go undefeated. Andy Reid’s Eagles are 13-0 after bye weeks.
Madden Sim (ATL): Matt Ryan’s MVP caliber season grows as he tosses two more TDs. Michael Vick’s turnover struggles continue as he is picked off twice as the Falcons win 24-10.

SEA (+1.5) at DET
Nick (DET): The Lions have been underachieving and the Seahawks have been overachieving. Russell Wilson’s performances on the road leave a lot to be desired.
Mike (SEA): My new belief in the Vikings goes hand-in-hand with my disappointment in the Lions. Stafford’s bad habits aren’t going to improve under heavy pressure and you can expect that from the Seahawks front seven.
Madden Sim (DET): Matthew Stafford throws a TD pass to Calvin Johnson — something he has yet to do in real life this year — in a 27-13 victory over the Seahawks.

MIA (+2.5) at NYJ
Nick (MIA): The bye week gave the Dolphins two weeks to prepare for what I still believe to be a lackluster Jets roster. The Jets have yet to win both games against the Dolphins since Rex has taken over.
Mike (MIA): The Dolphins came into MetLife last season, stole one from the Jets and will again this time around. New York is currently playing above its true ability.
Madden Sim (NYJ): Mark Sanchez has a big game throwing for 298 yards and a TD. The Dolphins have a chance late, but the Jets D holds firm in a 20-16 victory.

JAC (+12.5) at GB
Nick (GB): The only thing worse than Jacksonville with MJD is Jacksonville without MJD.
Mike (GB): Blaine Gabbert is one of the worst QBs in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers is the best, and the Packers are currently rolling.
Madden Sim (GB): Amazingly, this game is tied 17-17 in the 4th quarter, but in the end Aaron Rodgers bests Blaine Gabbert in a 31-17 victory.

CAR (+7.5) at CHI
Nick (CAR): Chicago will dominate the game but the Panthers will cover the spread in garbage time.
Mike (CHI): Cam Newton is a diva in a funk. He won’t breakout of it at Soldier Field.
Madden Sim (CHI): The Bears offense puts up huge numbers in a 38-27 victory. Jay Cutler throws three TDs, Matt Forte rushes for one and Brandon Marshall catches two.

SD (-3.5) at CLE
Nick (SD): An angry Philip Rivers will not be bested by Brandon Weeden. Richardson’s injury concerns me.
Mike (CLE): I don’t think the Browns are as bad as most people believe, and I think the Chargers are worse than most people believe.
Madden Sim (SD): The stat sheets look similar, but the Chargers edge out a 30-20 must-win victory over the lowly Browns.

IND (+3.5) at TEN
Nick (TEN): Tennessee is more efficient with Hasselbeck under center. Also, expect Chris Johnson to shred the Colts running defense.
Mike (IND): Tennessee’s offensive explosion from last week was more the exception than the rule. Andrew Luck will pull this one out late, hopefully by more than a field goal.
Madden Sim (IND): Titan’s win the game 23-20 in OT, but the Colts cover the 3.5 spread.

OAK (+1.5) at KC
Nick (OAK): Compared to Brady Quinn, Carson Palmer will look like Johnny Unitas, and Darren McFadden will do his best Barry Sanders.
Mike (OAK): Arrowhead Stadium is a tough place to play but the Chiefs are one of the bottom three teams in the league. Darren McFadden will finally have the game his fantasy owners have been waiting for.
Madden Sim: (OAK): The Raiders trail 14-3 at halftime, but Carson Palmer throws two TD’s in the second half to lead the Raiders to a 27-21 come from behind win.

NYG (+0.5) at DAL
Nick (NYG): The Giants will not be swept by an inferior Cowboys roster and will make Jerry Jones eat his words. The G-Men thrive in hostile environments and will prove it this Sunday.
Mike (NYG): New York might be the best offensive team in football. Tony Romo will find a way to keep the Cowboys from competing.
Madden SIM (NYG): Eli Manning and Victor Cruz do it again. Eli leads the Giants to a 29-21 victory highlighted by two TD passes to Cruz.

NO (+6.5) at DEN
Nick (DEN): This game will be a shoot out, but Peyton Manning will strike last. Don’t let the spread scare you, whoever wins this game will win by a touchdown.
Mike (DEN): Two great offenses helmed by Hall of Famers. One great defense. I’ll take the team with the defense.
Madden Sim (DEN): Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have big games, but Willis McGahee scores the game winning 33-yard TD to seal a 31-24 Broncos victory.

SF (-7.5) at ARI
Nick (ARI): Arizona might be overachieving, but their defense is for real. The 49er’s don’t blow teams out and this game will be close.
Mike (SF): Don’t blow teams out? Remember their mauling of the Jets (34-0)? If Kolb were starting maybe the Cardinals would cover.. 
Madden Sim (SF): San Francisco dominates the Cardinals 33-16. Alex Smith throws two TDs, ultimately outdueling John Skelton who throws two interceptions.

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