NFL WEEK 8: We’re approaching the midpoint of the regular season and things are starting to heat up, as every division but one is tight at the top and no fewer than 23 teams are within a game of the final playoff spot in their respective conferences.

This Week 8 began with Baltimore topping the Bucs on Thursday night, extending Tom Brady’s misery from divorce court to the football field. Sunday’s slate features some compelling matchups and approximately 14 hours of uninterrupted football, as the Jags and Broncos will kick things off in London at 9:30am EST and things won’t wrap up until the lights go out in Buffalo, where the Bills will host the Packers on SNF. In other words, it’s a day full of opportunity… glorious opportunity. Here’s what I’m thinking:

Las Vegas Raiders @ New Orleans Saints (LV -1.5, 49)

Recommendation: New Orleans moneyline (to win) at 2.07

The Saints have only won twice in seven games but they’re not as bad as their record indicates, and the offense in particular has been a pleasant surprise ever since Andy Dalton took over for an injured Jameis Winston, producing 31 points per game over the last four contests. Head coach Dennis Allen apparently likes what he sees on offense as well, because he’s sticking with Dalton as the permanent starter even though Winston is apparently healthy enough to play. Dalton will be facing a Raiders defense that ranks 25th in yards allowed and have been especially bad in the secondary– opposing QBs have posted a 104.7 QB rating against this Vegas defense, which is the worst mark in the league (or best, depending on your perspective). That means this matchup is as friendly as it gets for the New Orleans passing attack, and of course opposing defenses always have to be prepared for the Taysom Hill package, which has been a frequent and highly successful part of the Saints offense since Dalton took over. This feels like a tough spot for the visiting Raiders.

Chicago Bears @ Dallas Cowboys (DAL -10, 42)

Recommendation: Dallas -10 at 1.91

The Bears are coming off their best performance of the season, a dominant 33-14 win over the favored New England Patriots. I was hoping that result would factor in heavily here and make the line a bit friendlier, but apparently the oddsmakers know what I and many others do: last week’s result notwithstanding, this Chicago team is terrible, and the head of the snake– QB Justin Fields– is simply not ready to effectively lead an NFL offense. He’s only productive when he’s running, and you can be sure that the Dallas front seven, led by All-Pro LB Micah Parsons, knows that as well and will be prepared.

The Dallas offense, meanwhile, will be looking to get things rolling in QB Dak Prescott’s second game back from injury, and with RB Zeke Elliott not expected to play this will be a tremendous opportunity for the explosive Tony Pollard, who is averaging 5.6 yards per carry this season and will be facing a sieve-like Chicago front seven that surrenders 149.7 rush yards per game (29th in NFL) and 4.7 ypc (24th in NFL). This game could turn into an old-fashioned blowout, and that is especially true because the Cowboys rank second in the NFL in turnover margin and Chicago has had at least one turnover in 9 straight games, the second-longest streak in the league. Lay the points.

New York Giants @ Seattle Seahawks (SEA -3, 44.5)

Recommendation: Seattle -3 at 1.91; Seattle moneyline (to win) at 1.65

I’m telling you right now: we will fade this Giants team until further notice. Yes, they keep pulling the rabbit out of the hat every week, but I know “fade bait” when I see it, and I’m putting my money where my mouth is. Despite the 6-1 record, New York simply isn’t very good on either side of the ball. The Daniel Jones-led offense is utterly one-dimensional, as Saquon Barkley and the scrambling ability of Jones make for a decent rushing attack, but the passing game has been brutal– a mere 160.9 pass ypg (30th in NFL) and 6.4 yards per attempt (also 30th). The defense is a paper tiger as well– they’ve allowed the 8th-most yards per play but the 6th-fewest points per game (h/t ESPN stats & info), a mixture that is obviously unsustainable. They’ll be tested by a Seattle offense that ranks 5th in the league in points scored (26.1 ppg) and has been especially deadly since Kenneth Walker III took over as the full-time starting running back three weeks ago. Despite what the records say, I believe the Seahawks are simply the better team in this matchup and will win this one rather convincingly.

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