As far as outright winners went, there weren’t a lot of surprises across the NFL last week. The Patriots and 49ers both remained undefeated, beating their respective opponents by 14 and 38 points, respectively. The Saints also took care of business at home, beating the Cardinals by the score of 31-9. Latavius Murray once again shined while filling in for Alvin Kamara (ankle/knee), posting 102 rushing yards, 55 receiving yards and two total touchdowns. Also in that contest, the Saints were able to get Drew Brees back from injury. He showed no signs of rust by completing 34 of 43 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns.
Another team who defeated an inferior opponent was the Colts, but they earned their win over the Broncos in a much different fashion. It was a low-scoring contest throughout, with the Broncos leading 6-3 at the half. The Colts had to then work their way back from a 10-point deficit at one point in the third quarter. After Adam Vinatieri missed an extra point that would have tied the game at the end of the third, he kicked a 51-yard field goal in the closing 30 seconds of the game to propel the Colts to the victory.
As far as games with surprising outcomes, the Eagles’ domination of the Bills in Buffalo was right up there. Carson Wentz once again had a quiet performance, but they rode a combined 170 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders to a 31-13 victory.
Now with our eyes set on Week 9, it’s once again time to consider placing some wagers on underdogs. After going 3-0 with the picks in this column last week, we’ll try to keep things rolling in a positive direction with the following three intriguing possibilities.
The Giants made this column last week, and while they lost to the Lions, they came through in terms of the spread since they only lost by five points. Their defense once again struggled, but rookie quarterback Daniel Jones kept things close by completing 28 of 41 passes for 322 yards and four touchdowns. Despite only racking up 64 yards on 19 carries, Saquon Barkley shined in the passing game by catching eight of 10 targets for 79 yards and a touchdown.
The Cowboys will be coming into this matchup off of their bye, so they’ve certainly had plenty of time to prepare. When these two teams met earlier this season in Dallas, the Cowboys won in convincing fashion, 35-17. However, that was when Eli Manning was still at quarterback for the Giants. While I don’t think the Giants will win, I do think they will keep this close enough to where I like taking the points.
Lions (+2) at Raiders (O/U 50.5)
In that aforementioned battle the Lions and Giants, Matthew Stafford put the team on his back during their victory. He completed 25 of 32 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns, giving him seven total touchdowns across his past two games. He already has 16 touchdown passes through seven games after posting 21 all of last season. With running back Kerryon Johnson (knee) now on IR, the Lions will continue to rely heavily on Stafford down the stretch.
The Raiders made the most of a tough road matchup versus the Texans, ultimately losing by only three points. They actually had a 21-13 lead after three quarters, but Deshaun Watson threw two touchdown passes in the final quarter en route to the Texans’ win. Derek Carr finished with one of his best performances of the season for the Raiders, recording 285 passing yards and three touchdowns.
With the way these two teams have played this season, this really feels like a matchup that could go either way. The Lions’ reliance on Stafford in this game might not be a bad thing considering the Raiders have allowed the third-most passing yards per game in the league. On the flip side, the Lions have allowed the most passing yards per contest. This could be a shootout that comes down to the closing minutes, so I’ll take Stafford and the Lions to win this one on the road.
Washington (+9) at Bills (O/U 36.5)
Washington lost yet again last week, dropping their season record to 1-7. They couldn’t get hardly anything going on offense, scoring only nine points against the Vikings. Case Keenum was forced out of the game due to a concussion, which left Washington to turn the reigns over to rookie Dwayne Haskins. He once again struggled in a relief role, throwing for 33 yards and an interception.
Meanwhile, the Bills suffered the previously mentioned disappointing loss at home versus the Eagles. They could only muster up 13 points with Josh Allen completing 16 of 34 passes for 169 yards. Their running backs struggled to provide production with Frank Gore and Devin Singletary combining for 53 yards across 12 carries.
This might seem like an epic mismatch with the Bills being 5-2 and Washington having only one win. While I do think the Bills get the victory, taking Washington and the points here might be the way to go. The Bills are not a potent offensive bunch, averaging only 19.1 points per game. Meanwhile, Washington has held each of its last three opponents to 19 points or fewer. As crazy as this might sound, give me the points.
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