By The Coach and Dr. Football
If I weren’t going to spend my Sunday afternoon watching Teddy Bridgewater and the Minnesota Vikings play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Who Cares Bowl, I would watch the following players:
1. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys: He has broken Jim Brown’s record of six 100-yard games to start the season. He has seven. He’s on pace to carry the ball a record 427 times this season. With 913 rushing yards already, he’s fifth in the NFL team rankings – just behind No. 3 Seattle’s ground game (920 yards) and just ahead of No. 4 Minnesota (877).
2. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos: He now has 510 career touchdown passes. No one has more. He won a Super Bowl in Indianapolis, but he’s been a better QB in Denver. And he’ll take another step toward 600 TD passes this Thursday night against Denver.
3. J.J. Watt, Houston Texans: This week Watt faces the Tennessee Titans and he might have a field day. The monster defensive end has a team-best five sacks and 29 tackles. He has also returned an interception (80 yards) and a fumble (45 yards) for a touchdown.
4. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: He leads the NFL with 2,331 passing yards (333.0 yards per game). His passer rating is 100.5. He has 19 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. His team is 5-2 and he plays in Pittsburgh this week.
5. Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota and Blake Bortles, Jacksonville: They aren’t near the top of the quarterback rankings, but they are rookie quarterbacks with wins under their belts. They might not set any records this season, but they are going to be good. No, they are going to be great.
It’s hard not to love the people who play football well. It’s a hard game and these guys are really good.
Speaking of good, the boys were rock solid last week. Dr. Football went 12-3 straight up (71-34-1) and 7-8 (47-59) against the spread. The Coach went 11-4 straight up (64-41-1) and 8-7 (49-57) against the spread.
This week, The Doc writes our brilliant rationalizations while The Coach still whines about all the flags. Let’s look closely at Week 8:
San Diego Chargers (5-2) at Denver Broncos (5-1) Line: Broncos by 8.
After a record setting game, one may think that the Broncos may not the same “oomph” in a short week, but they should have enough to win. The Coach says: Peyton Manning was magnificent last week. There is no reason to think he won’t be again on Thursday.
Dr. Football: Take the Broncos to win but not cover.
The Coach: take the Broncos to win and cover.
Early Sunday Afternoon
Detroit Lions (5-2) at Atlanta Falcons (2-5) Line: Lions by 3.5.
This may be listed as a home game for the Falcons, but London is very far from the friendly confines of the Georgia Dome. The Lions are the better team by far, but travel overseas takes a lot out of even a good team. This one may come down to a field goal. The Coach says: It’s amazing. Atlanta is sixth in the NFL in total offence and 30th in total defense. The Lions are first in total defense and that’s all I need.
Dr. Football: Take the Lions to win but not cover.
The Coach: Take the Lions to win and cover.
Minnesota Vikings (2-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5) Line: Buccaneers by 3.
The Vikings are a team in transition, while the Bucs are a team in position to earn a really high draft pick. The Coach says: The Vikings have lost Adrian Peterson, have a rookie quarterback and absolutely no offensive line. The only reason that Tampa won’t blow them out is because Tampa is bad, too.
Dr. Football: Take the Vikings to win.
The Coach: Take the Buccaneers to win and cover.
Chicago Bears (3-4) at New England Patriots (5-2) Line: Patriots by 5.5.
Bad spot for the struggling Bears. The Patriots are hitting their stride. The Coach says: Tom Brady and Co. look like a Super Bowl threat again.
Dr. Football: Take the Patriots to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Patriots to win and cover.
St. Louis Rams (2-4) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-3) Line: Chiefs by 7.
Proof the Rams win was a fluke last week; the Seahawks had nearly 200 more total yards in defeat. They shouldn’t have won. K.C.is starting to roll. The Coach says: I like the way both teams played last week. I just think that man-for-man, K.C. has a better football club.
Dr. Football: Take the Chiefs to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Chiefs to win and cover.
Seattle Seahawks (3-3) at Carolina Panthers (3-3-1) Line: Seahawks by 5.
Carolina has no defense, something the Seahawks will exploit despite this being their second consecutive road game. The Coach says: The Seahawks were ambushed in St. Louis last week. They won’t be ambushed again.
Dr. Football: Take the Seahawks to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Seahawks to win but not cover.
Buffalo Bills (4-3) at New York Jets (1-6) Line: Jets by 3.
The whispers are catching up with Rex Ryan, so expect him to gets his team to stave off his firing at least for one week. The Coach says: The Jets are at home and I can’t figure out the Bills.
Dr. Football: Take the Jets to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Jets to win and cover.
Miami Dolphins (3-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6) Line: Dolphins by 6.
Jacksonville got their one win for the year and now face a legitimate playoff contender that won handily on the road at Chicago last Sunday. Might be more Miami fans in the crowd than Jags fans. The Coach says: Blake Bortles was great against Cleveland. Miami will be a little more prepared.
Dr. Football: Take the Dolphins to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Dolphins to win and cover.
Houston Texans (3-4) at Tennessee Titans (2-4) Line: Texans by 2.5.
After self-destructing at Pittsburgh on Monday night, Houston should come out focused against a Titans team that doesn’t have much to offer, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Coach says: Can J.J. Watt play quarterback?
Dr. Football: Take the Texans to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Texans to win and cover.
Baltimore Ravens (5-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-2-1) Line: Bengals by 1.
After a humiliating defeat, the Bengals should bounce back at home against a Ravens team that isn’t as sharp on the road. The Coach says: Cincinnati’s defense is 31st in the NFL this season. Where’s Mike Zimmer when you need him? Joe Flacco should have a field day.
Dr. Football: Take the Bengals to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Ravens to win.
Late Sunday Afternoon
Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) at Arizona Cardinals (5-1) Line: Cardinals by 2.5.
Philadelphia is coming off their bye week with a lot of time to prepare for what I think is an over achieving Cardinals team. The Coach says: Game of the Week: The Eagles are loaded, the Cards are at home.
Dr. Football: Take the Eagles in an upset.
The Coach: Take Arizona to win and cover.
Indianapolis Colts (5-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) Line: Colts by 3.
The Steelers hung on for a Monday night win while the Colts completely dominated last week against the Bengals. Short weeks are tough for teams that are on a downward spiral. The Coach says: Andrew Lick is a beast and the Colts defense is third in the NFL.
Dr. Football: Take the Colts to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Colts to win and cover.
Oakland Raiders (0-6) at Cleveland Browns (3-3) Line: Browns by 7.
Oakland haven’t been able to get their act together all year while the Browns have at least covered the spread in all their home games so far this season. The Coach says: Either Brian Hoyer bounces back or Johnny Football plays.
Dr. Football: Take the Browns to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Browns to win and cover.
Green Bay Packers (5-2) at New Orleans Saints (2-4) Line: Saints by 1.5.
The Saints haven’t lost at home under Sean Payton since 2010, and it won’t change here despite this game being a mismatch on paper. The Coach says: The Saints tend to win at home, but Aaron Rodgers is just too good.
Dr. Football: Take the Saints to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Packers.
Washington Redskins (2-5) at Dallas Cowboys (6-1) Line: Cowboys by 9.5.
The Cowboys are winning because the O-Line is giving Tony Romo time to throw the ball, while Washington is a mess. The problem with a spread so large is that once a team is ahead by a couple of touchdowns early, they tend to let the other team back in. The Coach says: The Cowboys DeMarco Murray ranks fifth in NFL TEAM rushing yards and 11th in attempts, That’s truly amazing.
Dr. Football: Take the Cowboys to win but not cover.
The Coach: Take the Cowboys to win and cover.