Terry working on this, please hold. – T LOS ANGELES — Is Pete Rozelle’s dream in trouble as we begin NFL 2019 Week 8? Whenever a problem occurs, the NFL is quick to overreact. When there is too much scoring, rules are tilted toward the defense. But when there is not enough scoring, the rules are rejiggered to favor the offense. And when one pass interference call or non-call costs a team a trip to the Super Bowl, every pass interference call or non-call becomes reviewable.
This is all done so that the late NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s dream can remain a reality. Critics call that concept “parity.” But Pro-Football Hall of Fame honoree Pete Rozelle dismissed the term. He did not want parity. He obsessed over competitive balance.
Parity = Mediocrity
Parity is mediocrity, a situation where it seems every team finishes 8-8. Competitive balance is what brings the much-desired “Any Given Sunday” effect. That means that bad teams can shock good teams and produce upsets that give hope to fans of all 32 teams. 50 years after the miracle of Super Bowl III, competitive balance has thrived.
Yet the the NFL 2019 season is either a statistical anomaly or a problem on the horizon. Mismatches have become so severe that the point spreads are starting to resemble those in college football. In recent weeks, teams have been favored by over 20 points. A stunning 10 of this week’s 15 games show one team favored by at least one touchdown. Four of the 15 games have one team favored by over two touchdowns. What happened to Pete Rozelle’s dream?
No ready solution seems to exist for the current problem. The perpetually dominant New England Patriots are a terrific organization. The Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins are terrible organizations. If this is the year that features a 16-0 team and one or more 0-16 teams, so be it. The only thing the NFL must do is make sure not to take any steps that would make what could be a temporary problem into a permanent one.
The NFL and its players’ union must reach a new agreement by 2021. Clearly, it is vital that the salary cap and television revenue sharing arrangements remain in place. Whatever it takes, the salary cap must remain. Otherwise, Pete Rozelle’s dream will die.
Meanwhile, we can always hope for shocking upsets for the ages. Provided those upsets happen to someone else’s team. The upsets that do occur on any given Sunday are why we still love football. So with that, here is the…
NFL 2019 Week 8 Preview and Bettor’s Guide
As always, point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com and all game times Eastern.
Thursday, September 24, 2019, 8:20 p.m.
Washington Redskins at Minnesota Vikings (-16) —
Pete Rozelle’s dream could still be alive in this initial contest of NFL 2019 Week 8. In recent weeks, Kirk Cousins has finally started playing like the quarterback with the guaranteed contract. While Cousins will be motivated to torch his old team, Adrian Peterson will be equally motivated. Minnesota has a stout defense, but Peterson has a ton of heart. The spread is sky high, but a garbage touchdown is realistic. Vikings win but fail to cover.
Sunday, September 27, 1:00 p.m.
New York Giants at Detroit Lions (-7) —
Neither of these teams are any good or capable of stopping anyone. Daniel Jones is a raw talent who turns the ball over too much. Even at home, the spread is too high for what could be a shootout. Lions win but fail to cover.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Tennessee Titans (-2.5) —
Yet another game where Pete Rozelle’s dream may come to die during a sometimes grim NFL 2019 Week 8. As in the Giants vs. the Lions, this week of awful games also features the sieve-defense of Tampa Bay against Tennessee’ inept offense. At least Tennessee’s defense is good enough to stop Jameis Winston, who throws too many interceptions. Titans cover.
Los Angeles Chargers at Chicago Bears (-4) —
More NFL 2019 Week 8 wreckage. The Chargers find new and creative ways to lose. Last week they fumbled the ball away inches from the goal line. This week they face a tough Chicago defense that will ask Mitchell Trubisky to manage the game. Philip Rivers had his shot last year. The Chargers often start slow, but this year they will finish that way too. Bears cover.
Seattle Seahawks (-6.5) at Atlanta Falcons —
Despite a humbling home loss last week, the Seahawks are still a good team. The Falcons are a dumpster fire. Even worse, they appear to have folded. Lights out for Pete Rozelle’s dream. Until they prove otherwise, the Falcons are as bad as their record says they are. Seahawks cover.
New York Jets at Jacksonville Jaguars (-6) —
Sam Darnold initially appeared to give the Jets a spark, but then threw four interceptions in a 33-0 home loss last week. The Jaguars have a defense. Jaguars cover.
Philadelphia Eagles at Buffalo Bills (-1.5) —
Buffalo has a very good defense. The Eagles have severely underachieved and looked awful in getting shellacked last week at Dallas. Carson Wentz has not forgotten how to throw a football. Upset special, Eagles win outright. Spirit of Pete Rozelle, take heart.
Cincinnati Bengals at Los Angeles Rams (-13) in London —
Jalen Ramsey provided the spark the Rams needed to get back to their winning ways. Playing the winless and witless Bengals can only help. Even with the high spread, the Rams should have this game put away by halftime. Rams cover.
Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints (-10.5) —
Teddy Bridgewater is 5-0 as a starter as the Saints defense has rallied around him. The Cardinals have their rookie head coach and quarterback. Go with the experience. The Saints are Super Bowl or bust and are playing like it. Saints cover.
Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts (-6) —
After a couple of wins, Denver cratered back to earth in a humiliating 24 point loss at home. The Colts got a big home win over rival Houston last week. Jacoby Brissett is playing well. Expect the Colts to keep rolling at home. Colts cover.
Sunday, September 27, 4:00 p.m.
Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans (-6.5) —
These teams both have talent players on offense but are inconsistent from week to week. This NFL 2019 Week 8 game may provide a little clarity for both teams. This decade began with the Raiders going into Houston in consecutive years and winning. However, Houston has the much better defense. Texans win but fail to cover.
Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers (-5.5) —
The 49ers are unbeaten, while the Panthers are unbeaten since Kyle Allen took over. The Panthers had two weeks to prepare for this game, but the 49ers have been winning with a good running game and defense. This week will tell if Allen is elite or just good. 49ers win but fail to cover.
Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots (-13) —
The Patriots are a wrecking machine. The Browns are a wreck. Pete Rozelle’s dream is rolling in its grave. Last week the Patriots won 33-0 in a game they led 24-0 barely after one quarter. At home, this could get ugly early. The Patriots will not break the 73-0 all time blowout record, but only because Bill Belichick may pull his starters when the game is out of reach. Patriots cover.
Sunday, September 27, 8:00 p.m.
Green Bay Packers (-4.5) at Kansas City Chiefs —
Patrick Mahomes is out for three weeks, totally changing the complexion of this game. Aaron Rodgers has a defense, and last week his offense finally caught up and did their part. Arrowhead is a tough place to play, especially in a nationally televised night game. In a close game, trust Rodgers. Packers win but fail to cover.
Monday, October 28, 8:00 p.m.
Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers (-14.5) —
In 1972, the Dolphins won the AFC Title Game at Pittsburgh on the road to perfection. This year a loss in this NFL 2019 Week 8 game could propel Miami to a winless season. The Steelers are awful. But the Dolphins are vying to be one of the worst teams ever. As horrendous as the Dolphins are, the Steelers are not good enough to justify the high spread. Also, Ryan Fitzpatrick can play quarterback. Give the beard a chance for a garbage touchdown. Steelers win but fail to cover.
Sleep well, Pete Rozelle.
— Headline image:Old entrance to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. GNU license 1.2.