As we make the turn to the halfway point of the season, it seems like we’re getting a real sense of who’s who in the NFL this season. The New England Patriots look like they’re back with three straight wins while the Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints all appear like they’re here to stay. Here’s a look at the Week 8 slate of games:
Chicago Bears @ New Orleans Saints
Odds: New Orleans -8
The Bears have been one of the biggest surprises in the NFL over the past couple of weeks with back-to-back wins over the Baltimore Ravens and Carolina Panthers. Rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky has completed just 12 of 23 pass attempts for 220 yards and a touchdown but the Chicago defense has looked outstanding in the two victories. Meanwhile, the Saints are marching with four straight wins, including back-to-back victories over NFC North opponents in the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.
Atlanta Falcons @ New York Jets
Odds: Atlanta -4.5
Speaking of surprises, the Falcons have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL this season. Owner Arthur Blank assured reporters that his team isn’t dealing with a Super Bowl hangover. The reality is that the numbers indicate otherwise. An offense that was the best in the NFL last season has one touchdown over its last six quarters and Atlanta has lost three in a row to AFC East opponents. Had it not been for last-play miracles at Chicago and at Detroit, this would be a 1-5 team.
Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Odds: Tampa Bay -2.5
The Bucs have been another major disappointment in the NFC South with losses in four of their last five games. It won’t get any easier for Tampa Bay this week as they return home to face the division rival Panthers. Carolina is coming off a tough loss at Chicago despite a strong performance from its defense (allowed a total of 153 yards). Cam Newton has struggled with consistency all season and needs to be better if Carolina is to win.
Oakland Raiders @ Buffalo Bills
Odds: Buffalo -3
The Raiders kept their season alive with a last-second 31-30 comeback win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football. Now they need another win to continue trending in the right direction when they visit Buffalo in Week 8. The Bills improved to 4-2 with a 30-27 win over Tampa Bay and can no longer be overlooked. Buffalo has been excellent at home so far this season with a 3-0 record.
Houston Texans @ Seattle Seahawks
Odds: Seattle -5.5
Just when it seemed as though frustrations had peaked on the Seahawks sideline when Doug Baldwin shoved assistant head coach Tom Cable, the Seattle offense came alive and scored 21 unanswered points in the second half of a 24-7 win over the New York Giants. Russell Wilson hit several big plays as he threw for 334 yards and three touchdowns in the win. The Seahawks have won three straight and four of five, but it feels like they’ve barely eked out a lot of those wins.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Detroit Lions
Odds: Pittsburgh -3
Pittsburgh bounced back with a statement win over Cincinnati to improve to 5-2. After back-to-back wins over the Chiefs and Bengals, nobody seems nearly as concerned about the Steelers offense any longer. Pittsburgh will look to extend its win streak against the Lions on Sunday Night Football. The Lions have lost three of four, but are off a bye, which might help them reset.