It’s become obvious that the Atlanta Falcons have not overcome their colossal collapse from Super Bowl LI.
The stunning details from last year’s championship game are well known. The Falcons led the final by 25 points with less than 18 minutes to play in the game. Then the Patriots made history by rallying for a 34-28 overtime victory. Atlanta has never been the same since. And they have the scars to prove it.
In Week 6 this year, the Falcons led 17-0, only to lose 20-17 at home to the Dolphins. Last weekend in the Super Bowl rematch, the Falcons were almost shut out, scoring late in the game in a 23-7 loss. So, in six recent quarters of football, the Falcons have scored a grand total of seven points.
This Sunday’s game in New York against the Jets has become critical for the 3-3 Falcons, who finished last season at 11-5. Another loss here and the criticism could become deafening.
Arizona, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants and Tennessee are off this week with a bye.
Here are the picks for Week 8 straight up and against the spread. Underlined teams, with their money line odds, are the straight-up picks (odds provided by bovada.lv).
Dolphins Have Won Four Straight Games
Miami (+150) at Baltimore (-170) — Don’t look now, but the Dolphins (4-2) have won four straight. However, they’re now on their third starting quarterback after Jay Cutler cracked a few ribs in the team’s win over the Jets. The timing may be perfect for Miami as it runs into a Ravens team that has a tough time scoring points. If their defense doesn’t force turnovers, the Ravens (3-4) just don’t seem to win.
VGB’s pick — Baltimore (-3), Under (37.5)
Vikings Looking For Fourth Straight Victory
Minnesota (-420) versus Cleveland (+310) in London — The Browns (0-7) can’t score against average defenses. How are they going to put up points against one of the best? There aren’t sure things in the NFL, but this is about as close as you’re going to get to one in the NFL. Backup quarterback Case Keenum has led the Vikings (5-2) into first place in the NFC North. If he can continue to limit miscues, the Vikings should win their fourth straight.
VGB’s pick — Minnesota (-9.5), Under (37.5)
Elite Quarterbacks Square Off In AFC Matchup
Los Angeles Chargers (+280) at New England (-360) — Out of the 13 games this week, six of them have favorites of more than a touchdown. The Patriots (5-2) seem to have filled a few leaks in their defense with three straight victories. The Chargers (3-4) have also won three straight after starting the season 0-4. Two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL meet up in this one. The Patriots are 3-4 ATS, the Chargers 3-3-1 but 2-0-1 on the road.
VGB’s pick — Los Angeles Chargers (+7.5), Over (48)
Saints One Of The Hottest Teams In NFL
Chicago (+310) at New Orleans (-420) — The Saints (4-2) started the season with two losses before winning four in a row. They’ve outscored their opponents by a combined score of 132-68 during the streak and taken over first place in the NFC South. Their run should not stop here. While the Bears (3-4) are finally winning games, they are doing most of their damage on defense. New Orleans is 4-2 ATS, but Chicago is 5-2.
VGB’s pick — New Orleans (-9), Under (47)
Which Panthers Team Shows Up This Week?
Carolina (+110) at Tampa Bay (-130) — The Bucs (2-4) played better last weekend in Buffalo, but they have still lost three straight. Now, they match up at home against one of the best defenses in the league. The Panthers (4-3) are a tough team to figure out. Losing two weeks ago against Philadelphia was understandable. Scoring just three points last week in Chicago was inexcusable as Cam Newton threw two interceptions and was sacked five times.
VGB’s pick — Carolina (+2), Over (44.5)
AFC Rivals Both Struggling This Season
Indianapolis (+400) at Cincinnati (-600) — Next to the Browns, the Colts (2-5) may be the worst team in the NFL.
The Bengals (2-4) knocked off Buffalo in their last home game, and this should be a much easier matchup. Andy Dalton is completing 64 per cent of his passes, but he’s turning the ball over way too often. His effort needs his improve and the Bengals need to be more efficient in the running game. The Colts are 3-4 ATS, the Bengals 3-3.
VGB’s pick — Cincinnati (-10.5), Over (41.5)
Bills Undefeated In Three Home Games
Oakland (+120) at Buffalo (-140) — This AFC battle is a crucial matchup for both teams. The Raiders (3-4) must win to get back to .500 and form some threat against the Chiefs in the AFC West. The Bills (4-2) must win to keep pace with the defending Super Bowl champs in the AFC East. The Bills are undefeated at home this year and 4-1-1 ATS. Their defense will make the difference against a sputtering Oakland team.
VGB’s pick — Buffalo (-3), Under (45.5)
Wentz Becoming Franchise Quarterback
San Francisco (+525) at Philadelphia (-850) — This game matches the best team in the league against one of the worst, but the 49ers (0-7) have scared teams on a few occasions this year. This won’t be one of those times. The Eagles (6-1) are at the top of their game and Carson Wentz is developing into a franchise quarterback. There’s been two huge surprises in the NFC East this year — the Giants are awful and the Eagles are very good.
VGB’s pick — Philadelphia (-13), Over (47)
Falcons Continue To Fall As Favorites
Atlanta (-210) at New York Jets (+175) — Before you go all-in on the Falcons (3-3) in this one, you need to know they are only 2-4 against the spread and losers of their last three games. They need to right the ship in a hurry. Bettors get sour on favorites that burn money, and the Falcons are getting good at it. Even so, they’re only a game out of first in the NFC South. The Jets (3-4) certainly aren’t a powerhouse, but they’re 4-2-1 ATS.
VGB’s pick — Atlanta (-4.5), Over (46)
Rookie Quarterback Meets the 12th Man
Houston (+210) at Seattle (-250) — The Seahawks (4-2) had a slow start to the season. But now they’ve won three straight, including two on the road. The Texans (3-3) have had a week off to prepare for a fierce Seattle defense and the 12th Man. Deshawn Watson has given his team more than they could have hoped for in his rookie season. He’s thrown for 15 touchdowns against five interceptions, but he’s also ran for 200 yards and two TDs.
VGB’s pick — Houston (+5.5), Over (46)
Longtime Rivals Have The Same Record
Dallas (-135) at Washington (+115) — Finally, Ezekiel Elliott had a big game. The Dallas running back, who has faced a six-game suspension throughout the season, carried the ball 26 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns last week. This is the kind of production that will lift the Cowboys (3-3) into the playoffs. The Redskins (3-3) come into this game with their longtime NFC East rivals on a short week. Dallas is 3-3 ATS, Washington is 2-4.
VGB’s pick — Dallas (-2), Over (50.5)
Lions Must Slow Former Michigan State Star
Pittsburgh (-150) at Detroit (+130) — If the Lions (3-3) can’t stop former Michigan State star Le’Veon Bell, they are in for a long day. Bell seems to get better every game, and so do the Steelers (4-2), who have won three of their last four. The Pittsburgh defense has made a lot of noise as well, allowing just over 258 yards a game. The Lions have had two weeks to prepare for their fourth home game of the season. They are 1-2 at Ford Field.
VGB’s pick — Pittsburgh (-3), Over (45)
Two Struggling AFC West Rivals
Denver (-265) at Kansas City (-330) — Two teams that desperately need a victory meet here in prime time. The Chiefs (5-2) were the last team in the league to cling to undefeated status before losing two straight. The Broncos (3-3) have lost three of their last four, including their first shutout loss in 25 years. They’ve scored just 26 points in their last three games. Kansas City is 5-2 ATS, Denver is 2-3-1.
VGB’s pick — Kansas City (-7.5), Under (43)
VGB’s Week 7 record: 11-3 straight up, 8-6 against the spread
Vegas Betting Top 10 NFL Teams
(Current odds to win Super Bowl LII listed after team record, with last week’s ranking in brackets. Odds provided by .)
1 (1) Philadelphia Eagles (6-1) +700 — Only team with one loss in the NFL.
2 (2) Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) +750 — Young defense one of the best in the league.
3 (7) New England Patriots (5-2) +325 — Big win in Super Bowl rematch.
4 (4) Seattle Seahawks (4-2) +1000 — Another huge effort on defense.
5 (3) Kansas City Chiefs (5-2) +1000 — Lose second straight after 5-0 start.
6 (6) Buffalo Bills (4-2) +5000 — Must beat Oakland to prove it belongs in Top 10.
7 (8) Los Angeles Rams (5-2) +1800 — A 5-2 record for the first time since 2003.
8 (9) Minnesota Vikings (5-2) +1600 — No. 3 run defense in the league.
9 (NR) New Orleans Saints (4-2) +2200 — First four-game win streak since 2013.
10 (NR) Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3) +5000 — Defensive unit threatening sack record.