Scott Shapiro's Week 8 NFL 4-Pack
The 2018 NFL season got off to an entertaining start on Thursday night as the Texans made it five straight wins with a 42-23 trouncing against the Dolphins. After treading water last Sunday and endorsing the wrong side to start the week I am hopeful to get back to my winning ways with my Week 8 NFL 4-Pack. Enjoy and good luck.
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) vs Jacksonville Jaguars
When I looked at the schedule before the season started this overseas game looked like a battle between powerhouses, but it has not worked out that way through 7 weeks.
The Super Bowl Champion played well through most of their Week 7 game at home against the Panthers, but they did not execute on either side of the ball in the fourth quarter and ended up losing 21-17.
The Birds certainly are not as good as they were last year, but they have still shown signs of the team that won it all under head coach Doug Pederson. Star quarterback Carson Wentz has played well since returning from injury and his top pass catchers, Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery, have been virtually impossible to stop as of late. Jeffery has a tough matchup this week against Jalen Ramsey, but the Jaguars are banged up in the rest of their secondary. This should bode well for the passing game in Week 8 NFL action.
While Philadelphia has been able to move the ball through the air, they lack consistency with the running game. Some of this can be attributed to injuries in the backfield, but they also have not been nearly as good on the offensive line. Couple that with a defense that has not been as strong at rushing the passer and a secondary that has been badly exposed at times and you have a team that enters Sunday with a record of 3-4.
The Jaguars got off to a strong start to the season that included a 31-20 win at home in Week 2 against the AFC champion Patriots, but they have been terrible the last three weeks. A big reason for that is the poor play of quarterback Blake Bortles who has turned the ball over at will in ugly losses to the Chiefs, Cowboys, and Texans.
The foundation of this team last year was the running game, but that has also failed to impress in 2018 with second year running back Leonard Fournette sidelined with a hamstring injury. Additionally, a defense that created a plethora of turnovers last year has been unable to generate them this season forcing Bortles and crew to drive the length of the field instead of frequently starting with much better field position.
Jacksonville seems to have big issues not only on the field, but in the locker room. I do not see the trip to London helping things despite previous success in the United Kingdom.
I love the Eagles to bounce back off the loss at home last Sunday. My play of the week.
Week 8 NFL Pick- Philadelphia (2 units)
Baltimore Ravens (-1.5) at Carolina Panthers
The Saints-Ravens tussle last Sunday was one of the best played games of the year. Baltimore got the short end of the stick when Justin Tucker, one of the best place-kickers in NFL history, missed his first extra point and they lost a tough one 24-23.
Despite the home defeat and a 4-3 record, the Ravens showed me enough to still consider them a major player in the AFC. They have the league’s best defense overall. Quarterback Joe Flacco appears healthy and is playing at a level high enough to move the ball and score with consistency over the second half of 2018.
Baltimore hits the road to take on a Panthers team that has been in three tight games in a row against NFC East opposition. Cam Newton has brought his team back in the fourth quarter in each of the last two games and has this team at 4-2, but I am not a believer despite the late game heroics.
Cam’s inconsistency throwing the rock against this defense is concerning. Plus, the Panthers defense is decent, but isn't nearly as dominant as units we have seen in the past from this franchise.
The Panthers have struggled against lesser opposition of late, including a near loss to the pitiful Giants at home in Week 4. They may keep this one close, but I think the Ravens are a much better team.
Week 8 NFL Pick- Baltimore (2 units)
Detroit Lions (-3) vs Seattle Seahawks
After two losses to start 2018, the Lions have rattled off 3 of their last 4 games and find themselves right “in the mix” in the wide-open NFC North. A team that has relied way too much on quarterback Matthew Stafford in the past has discovered a running game as of late and it has made a world of difference. ran for a season high 248 yards on the road in a 32-21 win in Miami.
On the other side of the ball, the Lions have been just okay, but they bolstered their rush defense this week with the acquisition of Damon “Snacks” Harrison from the Giants. Harrison is without a doubt one of the league’s best defensive tackles at stopping the run and should pay immediate dividends. He is worth much more than the fifth round pick they surrendered to acquire him.
Seattle was a team I was down on entering the 2018 season, but admittedly they have been a bit better than I anticipated. That being said, their defense is still a far cry from the “Legion of Boom" and their offense is just an average group at best. They come off the bye week 3-3 record, but two of those wins came against arguably the two worst teams in the NFL in the Cardinals and the Raiders.
The Lions have too much firepower on offense and enough on defense to earn their third straight win for new head coach Matt Patricia.
Week 8 NFL Pick- Detroit (1 unit)
New Orleans Saints (+1) at Minnesota Vikings
I was extremely impressed with the gritty come from behind win the Saints pulled off last weekend in Baltimore against a top-notch Ravens squad. Their ability to convert in pressure spots against that defense on the road illustrated that this New Orleans team can win in less than ideal conditions.
They head to Minnesota off a big road win and normally I would be slightly concerned with a letdown, but not in this case. The Saints should have revenge on their mind since the last time they entered U.S. Bank Stadium they lost on a 61-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs as time expired in the 2017 NFC Divisional Round playoffs. I will be extremely surprised if Sean Payton’s squad does not bring it on primetime in the Twin Cities.
The Vikings have played well since losing at home as double-digit favorites to the Buffalo Bills. They have overcome a number of key injuries on both sides of the ball to sit atop the NFC North with a record of 4-2. They still are the likeliest to win their division behind quarterback Kirk Cousins, but as of now it looks they could be without several key players, including shut down cornerback Xavier Rhodes. If they are not at full strength, they are likely to struggle against a quality opponent like the Saints.
Saints get revenge on the road and stamp themselves as a serious Super Bowl contender.
Week 8 NFL Pick- Saints (1 unit)
Scott Shapiro’s 2018 NFL Record 20-13-3 (+4 units)