LOS ANGELES. There’s an old expression that says “you dance with the girl that brung you.” That means we are stuck with our life partner. Wife swap is a fantasy for most men, not a reality. Trading places and trading faces is not.
But in sports, as Jerry Seinfeld noted, we are really rooting for laundry. Here, it’s a different story. Trades are a part of life. Trading places and faces has become routine. Particularly in the NFL.
Trading places shows up for Raider Nation. Big time.
Sadly for the Raider Nation, Jon Gruden seems to be taking this to the extreme. He traded away Khalil Mack to Chicago and has now traded Amari Cooper to Dallas. True, the Raiders will have three number one draft picks next year and at least two number one picks in 2020. However, 2018 seems to be a fire sale. Gruden is blowing up the house that Reggie McKenzie built. Gruden has insisted that everyone is on the trading block. But he says that Derek Carr is staying. No trading places for him.
Should Carr believe Gruden?
Gruden is not going anywhere. He is in the first year of a 10 year, $100 million guaranteed contract. Owner Mark Davis is not firing him any time soon. As for McKenzie, who knows if he has input any more? For those wondering if Gruden can win with Carr, the answer is simple. Jack Del Rio did.
It is one thing to blow up a 4-12 team. The Raiders are one year removed from going 12-4. If Gruden wins a Super Bowl, all is forgiven. If he fails to turn the Raiders around, he will have done more than simply lose football games. He will have torn apart a team with some solid players.
The 2018 trading deadline is Tuesday, October 30. Time will tell if Gruden dances with the guy who brung the Raiders back to the playoffs, or if he pursues somebody new.
With that brief essay on trading places and faces out of the way, here is our NFL 2018 Week 8 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by OddsShark and all times Eastern.
Thursday, October 25, 2018, 8:20 p.m.
Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans (-7.5) — A pair of average teams play a game. The Texans can still win the awful AFC South. The overrated Dolphins have faded after their 3-0 start and are now led by Brock Osweiler. J.J. Watt will greet him often and DeShaun Watson will make enough plays. Texans win but fail to cover.
Sunday, October 28, 9:30 a.m. from London
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars — These teams began the season with Super Bowl aspirations, with the Eagles winning it all last year and the Jaguars coming up one game short. Now they are both 3-4 and desperate. Blake Bortles has regressed, and Carson Wentz is not back to his pre-injury form. Trust Wentz over Bortles. Eagles cover.
Sunday, October 28, 1:00 p.m.
Baltimore Ravens (-2) at Carolina Panthers — Both teams have a good coach, defense and competent quarterbacks. Even odds but trending in Baltimore’s direction. Straight up.
New York Jets at Chicago Bears (-7) — These teams are up and down, trading places and spaces all the time in the standings. Mitchell Trubisky showed flashes in the beginning of the season. Sam Darnold has shown promise. The home field will not matter. The Jets play better on the road. Trading places upset special: Jets win outright.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals (-4.5) — Despite getting blasted by 35 points last week, the Bengals are still far more talented than the Buccaneers. At home with a better team means a fairly easy win. The Buccaneers’ defense cannot stop anyone. Bengals cover.
Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions (-3) — These average teams are different. Pete Carroll is rebuilding an old team on the decline while Matt Patricia is a rookie coach. Matthew Stafford has not played great. Russell Wilson will do just enough. Upset special, Seahawks win outright.
More 1:00 p.m. Sunday contests
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs (-10) — The Broncos beat lowly Arizona by 35 points, but they lose to almost everyone else. The Chiefs beat almost everybody by wide margins. The Chiefs are virtually unstoppable on offense. At home, Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt should blast the Broncos. Chiefs cover.
Washington Redskins at New York Giants (-1) — The Redskins have quietly gotten to 4-2 while the Giants are a 1-6 mess. Alex Smith is boring but does not make mistakes. Eli Manning does. Go with the West Coast Offense dink and dunk game manager to not lose the game. Upset special, Redskins win outright.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-8) — We keep hearing that the Browns will be better, and they will. We keep hearing that the Big Ben will eventually regress, and he will. Those two events have not happened yet. At home, go with the Steelers and their offensive playmakers. Cleveland’s defense will keep it close. Steelers win but fail to cover.
Sunday, October 28, 4:00 p.m.
Indianapolis Colts (-3) at Oakland Raiders — The awful 2-5 Colts face the awful 1-5 Raiders. Which team will be trading places in the awfulness sweepstakes? Right now, the Raiders are holding a fire sale and Marshawn Lynch is injured. Yet Derek Carr still has more weapons than Jon Gruden. Reports have Carr losing the locker room. Give the Raiders one chance to rally around their leader rather than accept the narrative that they have quit. Upset special, Raiders win outright.
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (Pick) — NFL rules require this game not be canceled. Both teams are 1-6. CJ Beathard looked good a couple weeks ago at Green Bay. Josh Rosen is a rookie still learning. 49ers win.
Green Bay Packers at Los Angeles Rams (-9) — Aaron Rodgers may be the best quarterback in the game, but he has less talent than he has in past years around him. Jared Goff has Todd Gurley on offense and Aaron Donald on defense. Green Bay barely survived lowly San Francisco. Los Angeles blasted them. The Rams will keep rolling against Green Bay’s unimpressive defense. But the spread is too high for a team playing Aaron Rodgers. Rams win but fail to cover.
Sunday, October 28, 8:20 p.m.
New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings (-1) — The rematch of one of the greatest finishes in NFL playoff history is finally here. The Minneapolis Miracle has the Saints burning for revenge. Their offense is clicking on all cylinders. Drew Brees is as great as ever in leading the Saints to a 5-1 record. The Vikings are 4-2-1, but Mike Zimmer’s defense has not been as lights out as in past years. Kirk Cousins has not proven that he is the answer. Upset special, Saints win outright.
Monday, October 29, 8:20 p.m.
New England Patriots (-13.5) at Buffalo Bills — The Patriots are 2-5, the Bills are 5-2, and some games are just inevitable. Do not expect an upset for the ages. The Patriots will steamroll over the overmatched Bills like they always do. Buffalo might get a garbage touchdown to beat the spread. Patriots win but fail to cover.
— Headline image: Map showing all NFL team cities and respective regions.
(Graphic via Wikipedia entry on NFL, all CC licences 1.0 thru 3.0)