LOS ANGELES, October 28, 2015 — Eighteen years ago, John Elway and Brett Favre dueled in a Super Bowl for the ages. While Super Bowl 50 will not be played for three more months, Sunday night brings Super Bowl 49 1/2. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers travel to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos. The scenario is the same. Denver has perhaps the greatest quarterback of all time at the end of his career. Green Bay has the greatest quarterback in the game right now in his prime. Both the Broncos and Packers are 6-0.
With all the focus on the two Super Bowl Champion signal callers, it is important to note that both teams, particularly Denver, have been winning with defense. Tom Brady, Cam Newton and Andy Dalton have all led their teams to 6-0 records, but they have shouldered the load. The Broncos and Packers are complete teams. Whoever wins Sunday night will have a strong claim on being the best team in football. With Elway watching from the owner’s box and Favre somewhere on his tractor in Kiln, Mississippi, this game could match the 1997 classic.
This is why we watch football. With that, here is the NFL 2015 Week 8 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with all times Eastern and point spread provided by FootballLocks.com. Remember to change your clocks at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. You will need the extra hour of sleep to enjoy 12 consecutive hours of football.
Thursday, October 28, 2015, 8:30 p.m.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-8) — The Dolphins have played inspired football for new coach Dan Campbell, but that was against the league’s worst. Traveling on the road to face Tom Brady and Bill Bellichick is where the reality check kicks in. The spread is high, and the Dolphins sometimes play the Patriots tough. Patriots win but fail to cover.
Sunday, November 1
Detroit Lions at Kansas City Chiefs (-5) in London — If America keeps giving Britain the worst of our football games, the British may burn down our Capitol like they did in 1814. Soccer hooligans like to burn down stuff anyway. Both teams are awful, but the Chiefs are awful and injured. Upset special, Lions win outright.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-7) — The Buccaneers blew a 24-0 lead last week against a bad team. Now they play 6-1 Atlanta, who has been barely surviving the last couple weeks. This is the week the Falcons get healthy and get Lovie Smith to contemplate the late John McKay’s idea to execute his team. Falcons cover.
San Diego Chargers at Baltimore Ravens (-3) — San Diego was blown out at home against Oakland, while Baltimore has been suffering gut-wrenching defeats against some of the top teams in the league. Philip Rivers should torch the weak Baltimore defense, but San Diego consistently underachieves. This is Baltimore’s last chance to show they are still fighting. Ravens cover.
Minnesota Vikings (-1) at Chicago Bears — The Bears are improving, and the Vikings still have not shown they are two-dimensional. Everyone knows Adrian Peterson takes the pressure off of Teddy Bridgewater, but when is Bridgewater going to return the favor? Bridgewater is being used as a game manager. Upset special, Bears win outright.
Arizona Cardinals (-5) at Cleveland Browns — On paper the Cardinals look like a Super Bowl team, but they have lost twice and barely survived woeful Baltimore. On the other hand, the Browns are better than their record. They fight hard, and Josh McCown is playing reasonably well. However, Arizona has a great defense. Cardinals win but fail to cover.
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (-3.5) — Two of the worst teams in the league face off in this week’s Stupor Bowl. Marcus Mariota is out and at some point the Texans will have to live up to their promise on defense. Teams that fall behind 41-0 in the first half like Houston did last week do not get the benefit of the doubt, even against other horrible teams. Texans win but fail to cover.
New York Giants at New Orleans Saints (-3) — This is the Forrest Gump Bowl. With these hot and cold teams, you just never know what you are going to get. Eli Manning and Drew Brees could each throw four touchdowns, but heaven only knows whether some of those will be to the other team. Tom Coughlin and Sean Payton are both Bill Parcells disciples, which means these teams will never quit. The Saints finally won a home game against previously unbeaten Atlanta, so trust them one more time at home. Saints cover.
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (pick ‘em) — Yes, the Bengals are 6-0, but the Steelers are not that bad. The Steelers are at home. Every year critics of the Bengals say that when it counts, they lost to Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Winning this game would silence a bunch of naysayers. This Bengals team is the real deal, but until they beat Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, they don’t get the benefit of the doubt. Steelers win.
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams (-8.5) — The Rams are improving and the 49ers are wretched. The Rams have a defense. The 49ers have nothing. However, the spread is high. Colin Kaepernick has played better of late. Rams win but fail to cover.
New York Jets (-2) at Oakland Raiders — Both of these teams went on the road last week with a chance to make a big statement. The Raiders did and the Jets did not. The Jets had the far sterner test and they have a solid defense. However, the Raiders offense has yet to scratch the surface on what it can do. Blitz-happy Todd Bowles will be susceptible to big connections between Derek Carr and Amari Cooper. It’s been 13 years, but the Raiders finally deserve some respect. Upset special, Raiders win outright.
Seattle Seahawks (-6) at Dallas Cowboys — The Cowboys are an injured mess, but the Seahawks have just not been playing as well as they have the previous two seasons. In a battle between the Legion of Boom and Matt Cassel, there is no reason to side with Cassel. However, Seattle’s offense has not been playing well enough to justify a high spread on a road game. Dallas almost beat the Giants last week on the road. Seahawks win but fail to cover.
Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos (-3) — Start this game already. The hype is deserved, and these teams really are that good. Given Denver’s defense, the home field will be decisive. Broncos cover.
Monday, November 2, 8:30 p.m.
Indianapolis Colts at Carolina Panthers (-7) — Last year the Colts were one game away from the Super Bowl. They loaded up in an attempt to get over the hunt. The Panthers won their division with a losing record that was 4 1/2 games worse than the year before. Yet it is Carolina that is unbeaten while the Super Bowl or bust Colts are a total bust. There is infighting between the owner, general manager and coach, and quarterback Andrew Luck is playing injured. Carolina’s defense will knock him around. The Colts fought back last week from down 27-0 to only lose by six, so they gave grit. Panthers win but fail to cover.