Every Thursday, we’ll provide analysis and score predictions for every game on that week’s slate. Week 8 is a slate for big favorites because a number of contenders face teams with losing records.
Thursday Night Football
Bills vs. Buccaneers
Spread: Bills -8.5
The Buffalo Bills have struggled over the last three weeks, but they are 51-21 in the regular season since 2019. Josh Allen is a perennial MVP contender, and the Bills’ defense has overcome injury obstacles before. On the short week, they draw a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that is driven by its rock solid defense.
The Buccaneers’ running game has been non-existent for two years. Baker Mayfield has played reasonably well this season, but he’s not capable of carrying an offense every week. After a bad loss to the New England Patriots, the Bills are in a good position to get back on track Thursday night.
Score Prediction: Bills 24, Buccaneers 13
Cowboys vs. Rams
Spread: Cowboys -6.5
The Dallas Cowboys are 4-2 coming off their bye, but their offense still hasn’t peaked this season. Dak Prescott’s offense has a great opportunity to exceed expectations against the Los Angeles Rams’ beatable defense. Matthew Stafford and his group of pass catchers have made Los Angeles a competitive team.
After a brutal 2022 season, the Rams’ offensive line has been more stable this season but faces a major obstacle this week in Micah Parsons’ pass rush. Sean McVay’s game plan to mitigate the Cowboys’ defensive front is the biggest key to this game. If the Rams are going to knock off Dallas, Stafford will have to be the driving force behind that outcome.
Score Prediction: Cowboys 27, Rams 20
Giants vs. Jets
Spread: Giants +2.5
The battle of New York features two unreliable offenses against two highly capable defenses. The New York Jets have the better roster, on both sides of the ball. Their high-end defense has driven their wins against the Bills and Philadelphia Eagles, while taking the Kansas City Chiefs to the brink. The Jets’ defense will have a significant trench advantage even if the New York Giants’ offensive line returns to full strength. Overall, the Jets have more paths to victory in this contest.
For the Giants, Daniel Jones’ biggest issue is pressure management. So even if he returns for this contest, the Jets are the type of defense he struggles against. The Giants’ defense will also have a trench advantage in this matchup. If Big Blue wins this game, chances are Zach Wilson makes a few forced errors.
Score Prediction: Jets 16, Giants 13
Panthers vs. Texans
Spread: Panthers +3
This is a battle between the first and second overall picks in last year’s draft. Bryce Young has struggled for the still-winless Carolina Panthers, but he’s had some positive moments. In fairness, Young has one of the league’s most limited offensive supporting casts. Additionally, Carolina’s toughest schedule stretch is now behind the team. Frank Reich will hand over play calling duties to Thomas Brown to try and jump start the Panthers’ offense.
C.J. Stroud has been historically efficient for a rookie quarterback. It’s still very early, but it looks like the Houston Texans have finally found stability at the quarterback position. This could be a get-well spot for the Texans run game because the Panthers allow the third-most rushing yards to running backs. We can’t yet call Houston’s defense reliable, but it has been instrumental in each of the Texans’ three wins.
Score Prediction: Panthers 21, Texans 20
Commanders vs. Eagles
Spread: Commanders +6.5
When these teams met back in Week 4, the Washington Commanders took the Eagles to overtime in Philadelphia. You may recall that, last year, the Commanders handed the then-undefeated Eagles their first loss of the season. Washington has made it very clear that it can give Philadelphia a game. Sam Howell is taking sacks at a historic pace, and the Eagles’ defense will have a major trench advantage in Washington.
From a pure talent standpoint, Philadelphia is one of the league’s best and most well-rounded rosters. The Eagles can beat you in multiple ways, and they have a talent advantage over most opponents at nearly every position group. The Commanders’ biggest asset in this matchup is their familiarity with Philadelphia. The second is that Washington is the more desperate team.
Score Prediction: Eagles 23, Commanders 17
Dolphins vs. Patriots
Spread: Dolphins -9.5
The Miami Dolphins are coming off a decisive loss in Philadelphia, while the Patriots are coming off an upset win over Buffalo. Miami is in a classic bounce-back spot, while New England is in your prototypical letdown position. The Patriots lost to the Dolphins at home 24-17 back in Week 2, and Miami’s defense and running game played leading roles in that victory.
Meanwhile, New England’s defense has played without a number of key players since that matchup, which matters here because the Dolphins have struggled against high-quality defenses. The Patriots are well-coached and familiar with Miami, but they were a better group back in Week 2.
Score Prediction: Dolphins 28, Patriots 20
Steelers vs. Jaguars
Spread: Steelers +2.5
Trevor Lawrence leads one of the most capable offenses in football, and the Jacksonville Jaguars have shown that during their four-game winning streak. If Jacksonville’s offense has struggled in one area, it’s been at offensive tackle. Cam Robinson’s return has improved that situation, but he and rookie RT Anton Harrison will have their hands full with T.J. Watt. If the season ends today, Watt likely wins his second Defensive Player of the Year award.
Kenny Pickett’s offense will determine if the Pittsburgh Steelers win or lose this game. Pittsburgh has considerable young talent on offense, but it remains far from a consistent unit. Jacksonville’s athletic edge duo can give the Steelers’ still-mediocre offensive line issues.
Score Prediction: Jaguars 24, Steelers 23
Colts vs. Saints
Spread: Colts -1.5
The Indianapolis Colts’ offensive surge last week against the Cleveland Browns’ premium defense is one of the bigger surprises of the NFL season. Indianapolis has been scrappy and competitive with two different quarterbacks this year. The Colts face another tough test this week against a talented but struggling New Orleans Saints team.
Derek Carr took a lot of criticism last week for his conservative passing attack, but New Orleans was down to its third and fourth offensive tackles against the Jaguars last week. Additionally, Carr has been playing through an injury to his throwing shoulder. No one would ever compare Carr to Peyton Manning, but better days are ahead for the Saints’ passing game. That could start this week against the Colts’ very beatable secondary.
Score Prediction: Saints 23, Colts 20
Titans vs. Falcons
Spread: Titans +2.5
The Tennessee Titans just traded safety Kevin Byard to the Eagles. That move not only weakens Tennessee's already beatable secondary, it signals a lost season. The Titans are also expected to deploy a combination of Malik Willis and Will Levis at quarterback against the Atlanta Falcons. Needless to say, things are not going well for Tennessee.
The Falcons are now 4-3 and in control of the NFC South; Atlanta’s defense is giving up the ninth-fewest points per game this season. The Falcons want to run the ball at a high rate, but this week, they face one of the best run defenses in the league. Desmond Ridder has been more productive recently, but turnovers have been an issue. Still, he has a high-upside matchup against Tennessee’s reduced secondary.
The Titans’ clearest path to victory is through creative game planning on offense while Ridder struggles.
Score Prediction: Falcons 17, Titans 16
Packers vs. Vikings
Spread: Packers +1
The Minnesota Vikings are winners of three of their last four after upsetting the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night. Kirk Cousins would be right at the top of the MVP conversation if Minnesota was 5-2. You could argue he’s playing the best football of his career. Jordan Addison had a monster line (seven catches, 123 receiving yards and two touchdowns) against San Francisco, but keep in mind that 60 yards and a touchdown came on a freak play. Without Justin Jefferson, the Vikings’ offense is closer to an average group than an elite one. Meanwhile, Brian Flores’ defense has now played three strong games out of its last four. If that continues, Minnesota could be a playoff team after their 1-4 start.
The Green Bay Packers' talented defense continues to play well, but Jordan Love’s offense remains untrustworthy. That’s not all on Love — everyone on the Packers’ offense needs to get better. Still, right now, the Vikings are a more consistent and reliable football team than Green Bay.
Score Prediction: Vikings 23, Packers 20
Seahawks vs. Browns
Spread: Seahawks -3
Geno Smith’s offense has shown some ceiling this year, but that has not been a consistent group. The Seattle Seahawks’ defense, on the other hand, has had three strong outings out of its last four games. The Seahawks aren't a complete team yet, but they are on the verge if Smith can be more consistent.
The Colts blew expectations out of the water against Cleveland’s defense last week, but that’s just one game. We should still treat the Browns’ defense as among the best in the league, particularly against the pass. Cleveland’s offense, however, is an absolute mess because of its quarterback situation. With Deshaun Watson out again with a throwing shoulder issue, P.J. Walker gets the start. That gives Cleveland's offense a scary floor in this matchup.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 17, Browns 9
Broncos vs. Chiefs
Spread: Broncos +8
When these two teams squared off on Thursday Night Football two weeks ago, the Kansas City Chiefs won 19-8. After getting consistently shellacked early in the season, the Denver Broncos’ defense has had two strong outings in a row. Before that, Russell Wilson’s offense was the more significant unit. So far, the Broncos are an unreliable team without a real identity.
The Chiefs, on the other hand, continue to be the gold standard in the NFL. Kansas City is allowing the second-fewest points per game, while Patrick Mahomes is the MVP favorite. The Chiefs may not win this game by distance, but a lot has to go wrong for them to outright lose.
Score Prediction: Chiefs 27, Broncos 20
Cardinals vs. Ravens
Spread: Cardinals +8
The Baltimore Ravens are allowing the fewest points per game in the league, and they are coming off a blowout win over the Detroit Lions, which is among the most impressive victories any team has had this year. More importantly, Lamar Jackson had his first real spike game as a passer this season. OC Todd Monken was brought in to get that kind of game out of Jackson. If this is the new reality for the Ravens’ offense, they are going to be a problem for everyone.
The Ravens now travel to play the Arizona Cardinals, who have lost their last three games by at least 10 points. Josh Dobbs is expected to start this game with a Cardinals team that is outmatched, but that played competitive football in the first four games of the season. A high-effort game from the Cardinals, while the Ravens come out sluggish, is the clearest path to a close game in Arizona.
Score Prediction: Ravens 23, Cardinals 16
49ers vs. Bengals
Spread: 49ers -5.5
This is the most interesting game on the slate: The suddenly struggling 49ers host the still-desperate Cincinnati Bengals. Injuries to key players have reduced the 49ers’ capabilities on offense over the last two weeks. But even if Deebo Samuel misses this matchup, San Francisco still has enough tools to exceed expectations on offense. If LT Trent Williams misses the game, however, that reduces the 49ers’ stability on both the ground and in the air.
Joe Burrow looked like himself in each of the two games that preceded Cincinnati’s Week 7 bye. But the trench matchup is the key to this game: San Francisco’s defensive front will have a trench advantage against the Bengals’ struggling offensive line. If the 49ers’ pass rush wreaks consistent havoc, the Bengals are in trouble. If that group doesn’t, Burrow and his high-end wide receivers have the raw materials to steal a win in San Francisco.
Score Prediction: 49ers 27, Bengals 24
Sunday Night Football
Chargers vs. Bears
Spread: Chargers -8.5
The Los Angeles Chargers continue to underachieve and are now the most talented two-win team in the league. Justin Herbert’s offense hasn’t been the same since it lost Mike Williams in Week 3. On the other side, Chicago Bears quarterback Tyson Bagent played as well as anyone could have expected in his first NFL start. That said, he had 162 passing yards while the Bears ran the ball 38 times against the Las Vegas Raiders. That probably won’t be enough against the Chargers.
The Bears’ defense has played its best football of the year over the last three weeks, but it still doesn’t have a strong pass rush. The chances of Bagent going punch-for-punch with Herbert are extremely slim. This looks and feels like a get-well game for Los Angeles.
Score Prediction: Chargers 27, Bears 16
Monday Night Football
Lions vs. Raiders
Spread: Lions -8
Detroit is coming off a blowout loss to the Ravens, while the Raiders lost by 18 to Bagent’s Bears. The Lions are a tough, complete football team coming off a bad game. They are one of the league’s few teams that can beat you in the air, on the ground or with their defense, but they are in an obvious correction spot, at home, in primetime.
For the Raiders, the train is very close to falling off the tracks if Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t return to action. Even if he does, Las Vegas is in trouble in Detroit on Monday night.
Score Prediction: Lions 27, Raiders 13
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Ryan Reynolds is the associate director of fantasy and betting at The 33rd Team. He has been covering NFL betting markets for five years. Follow him @RyanReynoldsNFL on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.