Scully’s Week 8 NFL picks: Bills exceeding expectations

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October 25th, 2019

The Bills have placed themselves in favorable position, at 5-1, to earn a wildcard berth and they have a winnable home game this week against the Eagles, who along with the Bears have been a major disappointment this season. We will also play against a sagging Broncos in a difficult road setting. Our last two weeks have been profitable, with a 7-3 ATS record.

Philadelphia Eagles at Buffalo Bills (-2.5), Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

Buffalo owns a huge edge defensively and Philadelphia has been caught in a downward spiral. The Eagles pass defense is in shambles and an ineffective offense coughed up four turnovers and three sacks last week. This concludes a tough stretch for the Eaglesthe third straight road game against a playoff contenderand quarterback Carson Wentz has been under plenty of pressure because of their inability to stretch the field.

Bills should be motivated after a less-than-stellar performance off their Week 6 bye. Buffalo still managed to win by double digits, but the league’s fourth-ranked pass defense allowed 272 passing yards to Miami. The Bills rank third in scoring defense (15.2 points per game) and the matchup doesn’t bode well for Philadelphia’s offense, which has been forced to simplify its scheme. Eagles also lack the defensive ferocity of recent years and Buffalo has protected the ball of late, with only one turnover over the last two games. Josh Allen will make enough plays for the home team.

Pick: Buffalo -2.5

Los Angeles Chargers at Chicago Bears (-4), Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

Since they moved to Los Angeles, the Chargers have played better on the road and they turned in an improved performance at Tennessee last week. More importantly they are starting to get healthy. Chicago’s quarterback situation has become toxic, with Mitch Trubisky and Chase Daniel awful in the Bears' last two losses, and it's difficult to believe bettors must lay more than a field goal with this offense. The Bears defense is starting to wear down, likely because of the offensive incompetence, and Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers should have a good afternoon, with the Chargers ranked third in passing yards per game (293.4).
Chicago traded away Jordan Howard (3,370 rushing yards from 2016-2018) in the offseason, and that has killed its ground game. The Bears rank 28th with only 70 rushing yards per contest. Look for more of the same against the Chargers, who have held every road opponent to fewer than 100 yards rushing. The Bears declining offense can’t stay on the field, which leads to an average 71 defensive plays per game (fourth most in NFL) and the opposition scoring points in the fourth quarter on a tired defensive unit. Los Angeles is averaging more than 10 points in the fourth quarter over the last four weeks, and the Chargers should give Chicago all it can handle as they try to salvage their playoff hopes.

Pick: Los Angeles +4

Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts (-6), Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Denver dealt Emmanuel Sanders last week and trade rumors are circulating about other players before Tuesday’s deadline. That's a distraction that won't bode well against to Indianapolis, which enters Week 8 off a strong home showing against the Houston Texans. Jacoby Brisset enjoyed a career-best afternoon with 321 yards through the air, four touchdowns and no interceptions, and the Colts defense played at its highest level this season, with three forced turnovers and a constant harassment of Deshawn Watson in the backfield.

Denver’s offensive line appears to be deteriorating, rookie tight end Noah Fant can’t catch the ball and the Broncos were held scoreless by Kansas City’s defense over the final 54 minutes last week, while Joe Flacco was sacked nine times. The Colts are more than capable of holding a punchless offense in check and should score plenty of points in a convincing home win.

Pick: Indianapolis -6

Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans (-7), Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

Oakland is capable of covering a bulky number against a Houston team that likes to play teams close (six of the Texans' seven games have been decided by a touchdown or less). The Raiders won at Indianapolis three weeks ago, but last week’s game got away from them.

Houston stopped the run last week, when it held Indianapolis to 62 rushing yards, but Jacoby Brisset threw for 321 yards and four touchdowns. Deshawn Watson could not match his counterpart, with a pair of interceptions and three sacks while under constant pressure, and the Texans will be more than happy to grind out a close win this week.

The Raiders are playing at a high level offensively. Derek Carr completed 47 of his 60 passes (78%) and Josh Jacobs rushed for 247 yards against excellent Chicago and Green Bay defenses the last two weeks, and Maxx Crosby has emerged as a quality pass rusher for the Oakland defense.

Pick: Oakland +7

Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers (-14), Monday, 8:20 p.m. ET, ESPN

Miami may be winless, but the Dolphins longer resemble the hapless squad of the first month. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has led them to five touchdowns over the last five quarters and we will gladly grab the points with a resurgent offense. Miami is turning things around behind first-year coach Brian Flores, who has installed a culture of hard work and preparation.

The Dolphins dominated the second half against Washington two weeks ago, before they lost on failed two-point conversion, and displayed balance against an outstanding Buffalo defense last week (272 passing yards and 109 rushing yards).

Pittsburgh also enters with momentum, with two wins it its last three games to improve to 2-4, but the Steelers will take as many long, time-consuming drives as possible, with a focus on solid defense and avoiding turnovers. We certainly would not lay this many points with a backup quarterback. Miami has weapons on the outside in DaVante Parker and Preston Williams, and Mark Walton has emerged as an effective running back for a Dolphins offense that had nine plays of 14 yards or more last week.

Pick: Miami +14

James Scully's 2019 NFL record ATS on BetAmerica heading into Week 8: 19-16 (3-2 last week)