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Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2020 (February 8-17)

The English Winter Break is in play for the first time this season and I think it has not gone as well as the Premier League and the top clu...

Sunday, 30 October 2016

NFL Week 8 Picks 2016 (October 27-31)

The last couple of weeks have been more positive for the NFL Picks but I am now looking to use that momentum to take into the next few weeks and get this season back into a position I want.

We are in the midst of the bye weeks at the moment and the last game in London is also due to be played at Wembley Stadium on Sunday in Week 8. Back to back games in London is another step towards eventually putting a franchise in London, but the first step might be to increase the number of games to four.

That is half a home season for any franchise in London and I think we might get two back to back weeks of games next season. Perhaps the NFL even thinks about having all four games played back to back as there is a feeling that any team based in London would have their home games played in chunks and then head to the United States for a 'road trip' rather than the current format of how home and road games are split for teams in the NFL.

The fans at Wembley Stadium are arguably going to see the best of the three games when Washington take on Cincinnati this weekend, but I don't think it is a stretch to say that the six teams that were sent over to England are not amongst the best in the NFL. With potentially more games to come next season, fans in London might expect to see better teams next time around, while the likes of Germany, Mexico and even China could join the International Series in the coming seasons.

Cincinnati Bengals v Washington Redskins Pick: The final game in London of the International Series 2016 is played this weekend at Wembley Stadium with rumours that next season we will see that number of games go from three to four games. Other nations are also looking to attract some regular season action, including Germany in Europe, while the NFL continues to push for the idea of a London franchise in the future.

It is the turn of the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins to entertain the London crowd who will be in for another early start in Week 8 of the NFL. Both teams have so much to gain and much to lose this week which makes it a very big game as they look to chase down the leaders in their respective Divisions.

Both teams will head into their bye week at the end of this game so both Washington and Cincinnati can be completely focused on the task at hand.

The teams seem to be quite evenly matched so I was interested with whoever was going to be the dog, but I am particularly interested with the Redskins as the underdog. At the start of the week they were getting the full complement of Field Goal points which would have been impossible to ignore, but I still like the Redskins with the start.

They look to be getting two key pieces in action at both ends of the field as Josh Norman and Jordan Reed look set to play a part in this one. The Norman factor is huge as Washington will feel he can match up well with AJ Green and take away a big threat from the Cincinnati Bengals, although Tyler Eifert might be more of a factor in this game.

Taking away Green would make life very difficult for Andy Dalton who has already been under some immense pressure behind this Offensive Line. That is a problem when you think of the pass rush that Washington can generate so Dalton has to be decisive when he is making throws as he will be surrounded by the likes of Ryan Kerrigan in those spots.

One way to ease any pass rush and generate some yards will be to give the ball to Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard who should be able to find some room to hit Washington on the ground. The Redskins have struggled to contain the run and Cincinnati have shown they can get the ball moving on the ground which is going to be huge if Dalton cannot rely on his main Receiving weapon.

Running the ball should be an effective tool for Washington too although Matt Jones has been guilty of too many fumbles which might see his participation in this one being limited. Last week the Jones fumble might have been the decisive moment in a three point loss to the Detroit Lions and it looks like Chris Thompson might be the beneficiary as he could earn the start against a Bengals Defensive Line that have allowed 5.6 yards per carry over their last three games.

The Washington Offensive Line have paved the way for their Running Backs and Washington should be able to establish the run to take some of the pressure off of Kirk Cousins. It should mean Cousins is well protected when he does decide to throw the ball against a Bengals Secondary that have struggled with age and loss of key players becoming a factor. Cousins had a big game last week against Detroit and can pick up from where he left off, especially with Reed perhaps back who has been a favourite target.

Turnovers are likely to be a key part of the game in which I think both teams will have their successes moving the chains. I do think the Bengals have been a little fortunate to have a 3-4 record, while Washington have outgained their last three opponents. It looks like a close game and there isn't much between them, but I think the Redskins can earn the upset at Wembley Stadium and I like them with the points in this one.

There should be enough consistency in the Washington Offense to keep things rolling while Dalton might just force things to AJ Green one too many times. I also think the Redskins pass rush can put the Bengals in third and very long spots at times and I will back Washington with the points.

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills Pick: The public have shown little appetite to jump off the New England Patriots bandwagon which has been rolling, and covering at the window, since Tom Brady returned from his suspension. The Patriots are in their familiar position of leading the AFC East and have a two game lead over the Buffalo Bills who are the sole team to have beaten them this season.

The Bills have a lot of injuries to contend with this time around and are coming off a loss to the Miami Dolphins, but there won't be much sympathy shown by the Patriots. The Buffalo win in New England came against third string Quarter Back Jacoby Brissett who had a thumb issue, and the Patriots won't have forgotten being shut out at home a few weeks ago.

Buffalo have to have some concerns that their Defensive Line is having a few issues defending the run, but they might have Marcell Dareus back this week. That will help the Bills who have just been trampled by Jay Ajayi and the Miami Dolphins and are giving up 5 yards per carry over their last three games and now they are facing LeGarrette Blount who is off a week where he punished the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Blount should be able to have a solid day because the presence of Brady at Quarter Back means the Bills might be more worried about defending the pass than stopping the run. The New England Running Back is someone who looks to wear down Defenses before making big gains in the second half and that might be the outcome of this one as Buffalo's Defense spends more time on the field than they would like.

The Bills can generate some pass rush pressure to try and slow down Brady and what he is able to do but Rob Gronkowski looks like he is back to 100% and the Patriots will be able to make the plays we all know they can.

Bigger problems for Buffalo have come on the Offensive side of the ball where they have a number of injuries to key playmakers including LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins. The injuries on the Wide Receiver unit is going to make life difficult for Tyrod Taylor to make plays through the air, especially as the Buffalo Offensive Line have been much happier running the ball than protecting their Quarter Back.

Instead the line of scrimmage might determine how much success the Bills are able to have in this game with their ability to run the ball going up against the New England Defensive Line who have allowed fewer than 100 yards per game on the ground and just haven't given up too many big plays.

With McCoy banged up at best, Buffalo might have a difficult time running the ball outside of Taylor using the option and even that might not be enough against Bill Belichick who will surely dare the Bills to beat New England through the air.

Revenge is on the mind for New England having lost at home to the Bills and the Patriots know a win here would virtually put the Division back in their hands. Over the last five seasons, New England have lost the first of their two Divisional games against an opponent only twice. Both times the Patriots have crushed that team in the second game and I am backing the Patriots to improve their 10-2 record against the spread in Buffalo by winning by a Touchdown at least in Week 8.

Detroit Lions @ Houston Texans Pick: The Detroit Lions and the Houston Texans both have the same 4-3 record in the NFL this season, but their respective Divisions means one is leading their Division and one is only in third spot. The Texans are in an atrocious AFC South that someone has to win, but the Lions are unfortunate in having both the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings to contend with.

I don't think either team is particularly worthy of being one with a winning record after seven weeks of the season and both have some serious issues they will look to resolve in the coming weeks. The edge in terms of the schedule might be with Houston who are at home in Week 8 before heading into the bye week, while the Detroit Lions have the NFC North leading Minnesota Vikings next up on deck.

The Lions are not good enough to be looking ahead to any game and can't ignore the challenge that is in front of them this week. Matthew Stafford has been playing very well at Quarter Back despite losing Calvin Johnson to retirement but this is a big test for him against a Houston Secondary that have played well and can get some pass rush pressure up front.

One of the issues for Stafford, despite the gaudy numbers, is getting on the same page as his Receivers and that has led to some miscommunication and Interceptions. The pressure is likely to be on Stafford to keep things going because Detroit have struggled to run the ball all season and it should also allow Houston to pin back their ears and try and get after Stafford and force the quick throws into a tough Secondary.

Brock Osweiler is under pressure for a different reason with people openly questioning whether Houston have wasted their money on what doesn't look to be a franchise Quarter Back. He struggled on his return to Denver last week, but Osweiler might be happier being back at home with his best games all coming in front of his own fans.

The Quarter Back should have a big chance to bounce back against a Detroit Secondary who have allowed almost 275 yards per game through the air on the season. There are still times that Osweiler can look like more than a serviceable player at his position, but he has to avoid the big turnovers which have blighted him while also trying to get on the same page as DeAndre Hopkins.

It would be a big game chance for Lamar Miller if he is able to go for Houston as this looks an opportunity to run the ball against the Lions Defensive Line which has been hit by injuries. They have struggled to contain the run, but Miller is banged up and that might mean Houston hoping Alfred Blue can come in and be productive his place. Blue isn't a bad back up though and the Texans have been at their best when running the ball which will take some of the pressure from Osweiler.

I do like the Houston chances to bounce back as they have been better at home. Despite the Lions winning three games in a row and having momentum, it has to be said they have actually been outgained in all of those games and have perhaps been benefiting from some mistakes from their opponents.

Houston have earned more yards than their opponents in each of their home games and they have won all of those games and I like their chances on both sides of the ball to do that in this one. The Texans are actually a strong home favourite to back under Bill O'Brien and I think they can beat Detroit and go into the bye week with some positives behind them.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Indianapolis Colts Pick: The AFC West looks a strong Division this season with three of the four teams at 4-2 or better and the San Diego Chargers certainly better than their 3-4 record indicates. The pick of the teams might actually be the Kansas City Chiefs despite the headlines the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders might be receiving and they are actually heading to the Indianapolis Colts as favourites.

The Colts might not be the fancy dark horse to win the Super Bowl this season, but they are in contention in the terrible AFC South where no one team looks to be the stand out. They would have been leading the Division if not blowing a big lead at the Houston Texans a couple of weeks ago, while Andrew Luck has consistently shown why he was held in such high regard by dragging this team up by the shoelaces at times.

Luck has the potential to have a really big game for the Indianapolis Colts as he is facing a Secondary who have regressed thanks to the limited pressure they have been able to get up front. Justin Houston has been a big miss and it might mean Luck has more time than he has been used to behind an awful Offensive Line and that will give him times to make his plays down the field.

The Chiefs have allowed almost 290 passing yards per game through their last three games and and Luck remains one of the best Quarter Backs in the NFL who should be able to find a number of Receivers in this one with the time I expect him to have. It won't be all about Luck either as the Chiefs Defensive Line have struggled so expect a healthy dose of Frank Gore to keep Indianapolis in third and manageable spots.

Running the ball is not going to be an issue for Kansas City either with Spencer Ware and Jamaal Charles likely to have some big gains on the ground. The Chiefs have been focused on the long drives grinding things out on the ground and face an Indianapolis Defensive Line that has given up 5.4 yards per carry over the last three games with some issues up front and in the Linebacker unit.

It should mean Alex Smith can play his usual Alex Smith game and that is to make plenty of short yardage passes and keep the chains moving behind a strong running game. He is asked to looked after the ball and not make the mistakes that will cost Kansas State and Smith has shown an appetite for doing that over the last few seasons in the League.

Smith isn't exactly going to be throwing into a stellar Secondary and running the ball as effectively as Kansas City can will just open up play action and easy completions for the Quarter Back.

Both teams look like they can move the chains, but I am stunned to see the Chiefs as the road favourite here. They have been solid as the road favourite against the spread but Indianapolis are 8-0 against the spread when set as the home underdog since Andrew Luck has been drafted.

The number just feels wrong and getting a full three points with the Colts looks too many for Kansas City to cover here so I will back the underdog in this one.

San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos Pick: It is not often that you will get through seven weeks of the NFL season and see a team that has a losing record but has actually scored more points than they have allowed. That is where the San Diego Chargers find themselves, but two wins in a row means they are back to 3-4 and being able to sweep the Denver Broncos will mean the Chargers are very much back in contention in the AFC West.

The Broncos just snapped a two game losing run by beating down their former Quarter Back Brock Osweiler who was miffed enough with the organisation for going with Peyton Manning in last year's Play Offs that he moved onto Houston in Free Agency. You can imagine how much that bothered the Denver players and in Week 8 they are playing with revenge on their minds against the Chargers who inflicted their second loss of the season in Week 6.

I won't be the first to say it makes no sense to me for two Divisional rivals to play each other twice in three weeks but that is where Denver and San Diego will find themselves.

It is the Broncos who are favoured like they were on the road at San Diego two weeks ago, but I think Philipp Rivers and the Chargers are in the kind of form where they will feel they can earn the sweep. San Diego have struggled to run the ball with some consistency, but Melvin Gordon's best game of the season came against this Denver Defensive Line and I imagine the Chargers will look for Gordon to keep the Offense in third and manageable spots.

I am also a big fan of Rivers and the way he seems to make any Receivers he plays with better than they perhaps are. If Gordon is establishing the run, it does mean Rivers might escape some of the pressure that Denver are capable of getting up front with Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. The Denver Secondary have played well with that pressure in the face of the Quarter Back, but Rivers is one cool customer and can make plays while avoiding the big mistakes to give the Broncos extra possessions.

The Chargers also produced their best Defensive effort in the win over Denver which was a highly emotional one as San Diego effectively saved their season two weeks ago. The Defensive Line has been bolstered by Joey Bosa's arrival to the NFL, but they have still have had some difficulty containing the run and Denver should see Devontae Booker have another big game after some very good touches against Houston.

Booker is the main Running Back with CJ Anderson out for a few weeks and he had a stellar career with the Utah Utes in College to suggest he can make the step up. Denver have been able to open the running lanes so Booker should be able to have some nice numbers, and the Broncos will likely have to rely on the run to be in a position to move the chains.

While the San Diego Secondary have struggled at times, Denver may be without Demaryius Thomas and Trevor Siemian has been asked to manage games rather than win them himself. The young Quarter Back has had his best game in terms of completions against San Diego, but he helped Denver to just 13 points as he was put under pressure from the Chargers pass rush and that can help slow down some drives in this one too.

It looks like being a close game and that is why I love San Diego with the points, especially getting more than a Field Goal worth of points. The Chargers are 11-2 against the spread as the road underdog in Division games having already covered in losing efforts at Kansas City and Oakland already and I trust Rivers to help make some big plays to help them cover here.

There isn't a lot between these teams and the layers have recognised that, but not to the enough as far as I am concerned and I am going to take the Chargers with the points.

Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons Pick: The Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons both have winning records for the season but there is still some questions for both teams to answer as they head into Week 8 of the NFL season. This is the time of the season where no one can win the Super Bowl, but teams are looking to build the chemistry and the momentum that can spark a strong Play Off run, while a game like this one could have huge Play Off implications down the stretch.

This is the first time since September 18th, Week 2, that the Green Bay Packers are playing on the road and they are also considered the underdog in the game.

That has to bother Aaron Rodgers, but the Quarter Back looks like one that may have regressed from his prime having made some errant throws or missing Receivers that he wouldn't have done in the past. Rodgers has still not got on the same page as Jordy Nelson who has struggled since returning from his knee injury, while injuries on both sides of the ball have hurt the Packers.

The Packers have had ten days to prepare for this game having beaten the hapless Chicago Bears on Thursday Night Football in Week 7. Eddie Lacy is not going to be around so the Packers could have an even tougher time trying to run the ball against the Atlanta Defensive Line who have actually impressed by holding teams to under 100 yards per game on the ground and at 3.8 yards per game on the season.

It means it will be down to Rodgers to make the plays through the air he did connect on against the Chicago Bears to get the chains moving. This does look a good match up for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay passing Offense especially as Atlanta have struggled for an effective pass rush and the Packers have improved to 285 yards per game through the air in their last three games. Some of that was down to having to throw to catch up but they have been better passing the ball although Rodgers needs to keep away from the expensive Interceptions he has thrown.

Passing the ball hasn't been a problem for the Atlanta Falcons with Julio Jones and Matt Ryan connecting with one another for big gains. With the injuries in the Green Bay Secondary, Ryan should be able to make some big plays although he will need to avoid the pressure that has come from the Green Bay Packers pass rush as well as behind this Offensive Line which has struggled.

Ryan will be the key for the Atlanta Falcons moving the chains with Tevin Coleman out and Devonta Freeman banged up. Freeman is a threat catching the ball out of the backfield too, but the hip issue is a concern and Atlanta are trying to establish the run against a team that have remained stout up front through the injuries to the Secondary. However, third and long won't always hinder Matt Ryan who can throw the ball up to the humongous Jones to out-jump any Defender who tries to oppose him.

This has the makings of a shoot out, but Atlanta Falcons are also having to look ahead to the short week and facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a big Divisional game that has all sorts of repercussions for them. No one is going to overlook Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, but it is something that potentially comes in for a team that has lost two in a row and know they can win a weak NFC South by winning Divisional games.

Green Bay have not been a great road underdog to back, which is a surprise when you think who they have at Quarter Back, but the extra preparation time could be key for them. The Packers have covered the last three times coming off a Thursday Night Football game with that extra prep time and I think Rodgers can out-duel Ryan. However, I will take the full three points available and look for the Packers to keep this one close.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys Pick: There was supposed to be a Quarter Back change in Dallas following their bye week but Dak Prescott's performance means a controversy has developed instead. Tony Romo is very much on the road to recovery, but the 5-1 Dallas Cowboys are no longer considered his team and the veteran Quarter Back may have to bide his time as Prescott continues carrying the keys to the Offense.

On Sunday Night Football the NFC East Division lead is on the line when the Cowboys host the Philadelphia Eagles in what looks a competitive Division. With Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot playing to the level they are, it looks like a rookie show as Philadelphia continue playing Carson Wentz at Quarter Back too.

It is no surprise that Dallas are leaving things as they are and not making an unnecessary change at Quarter Back having won five games in a row and their sole loss this season came by a single point. Prescott has played smart, which is a huge compliment to a rookie Quarter Back, and that has meant not turning the ball over and simply taking what is given to him.

Prescott has been well protected behind his Offensive Line, but I have to still give a lot of credit for the Quarter Back for continuing to make plays even with Dez Bryant out of the line up. The likes of Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley have stepped up for Prescott and he should have some success throwing the ball even against this solid Philadelphia Secondary which is ably backed up by immense pass rush pressure generated up front.

Prescott can thank Beasley and Williams, but he might want to thank Ezekiel Elliot and this Offensive Line even more. They have solid numbers running the ball over the course of the season, but Dallas have improved those numbers to 188 yards per game at 5.6 yards per carry in the three games prior to the bye week with Elliot looking like everything they expected at Running Back. This looks a good match up for Dallas against a Philadelphia Defensive Line who have allowed 4.5 yards per carry on the season and should keep Prescott in manageable down and distance.

While Prescott looks strong at Quarter Back, Carson Wentz has just had a few weaker games for the Eagles after a stunning start to his career. A part of the problem has been Jordan Matthews being banged up, while Wentz hasn't been able to escape the pressure behind an Offensive Line who have lost a huge piece in Lane Johnson to suspension. Dallas have been surprisingly effective getting to the Quarter Back so Wentz could find time limited to throw into this Secondary who have also looked better than last season.

Even an opportunity to run the ball and make things a little easier for their rookie Quarter Back is going to be difficult for Philadelphia with the Cowboys improving in that regards in recent games. Ryan Mathews should have some success, but Dallas are likely to test Carson Wentz and see if his recent regression towards the mean for a rookie Quarter Back continues.

The Cowboys are able to take that pressure off of Dak Prescott by running the ball as we all know they can and the Eagles don't look to have the Defensive Line to stop Dallas being able to do that. Dallas have lost their last 3 home games against Philadelphia, and the public seem to be having a hard time separating them. However the spread has moved in favour of Dallas which suggests the sharp money is on them and I think the Cowboys not only win, but win well and cover this spread.

MY PICKS: Washington Redskins + 3 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
New England Patriots - 6 Points @ 1.95 Bet365 (2 Units)
Houston Texans - 1.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Indianapolis Colts + 3 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (2 Units)
San Diego Chargers + 4 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers + 3 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Dallas Cowboys - 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Week 7: 5-3, + 3.36 Units (16 Units Staked, + 21% Yield)
Week 6: 3-3, - 0.46 Units (12 Units Staked, - 3.83% Yield)
Week 52-3-1, - 2.36 Units (12 Units Staked, - 19.67% Yield)
Week 45-5, + 0.26 Units (19 Units Staked, + 1.37% Yield)
Week 32-3-1, - 2.27 Units (10 Units Staked, - 22.70% Yield)
Week 25-5, - 0.70 Units (20 Units Staked, - 3.50% Yield)
Week 14-3-1, + 0.29 Units (15 Units Staked, + 1.93% Yield)

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