TheDC sports columnist Andy Hayes: Week 8 NFL picks

Andy Hayes Contributor
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Again 6-8 last week. Not good. Now 51-53 overall. Let me just say – this is a difficult week for picking. Lots of close match-ups. The biggest spread is only 7.5.

  • Mia @ Cincy (-2.5). Everything about Miami is weird this year. 0-3 at home and 3-0 on the road; beating two quality NFC North opponents on the road; nearly losing to Buff; losing in bizarre fashion to the Pats’ special teams in prime time a few weeks ago; getting totally screwed by the officials last week against the Steelers. What’s next? How about a crazy high-scoring game in Cincy? Miami 41, Cincy 38.
  • Jax @ Dal (-6.5). How can Wade Phillips still have a job? It’s amazing to me. A few years ago, I wrote about his lack of…everything, thinking his termination was imminent then. Can’t believe he’s still there in Big D with that vacant sideline look. He’s just not head coaching material. Maybe a D-Coordinator, but not a head coach. I know his overall W-L record isn’t bad, etc, etc…but historically that has always been more a function of having talent to work with, not his own talent. Fire the guy and Dallas could get good fast (yes, even with Kitna).  Dal 31, Jax 24.
  • Wash @ Det (-2.5). Wonder if Matthew Stafford will be adopting Jay Cutler’s childishly defiant position that there is no danger in throwing the ball in DeAngelo Hall’s direction. Don’t think so – Stafford may already be a better QB than Jay Cutler.  Det 34, Wash 23.
  • Buff @ KC (-7.5). Contrary to what most people think, the 0-6 Bills do have something going for them: redefeated immunity. Redefeated simply means winless, or repeatedly defeated. In this case, observing their redefeated immunity, Buff can say/do whatever they want with minimal consequence because they’ve been pegged losers already. When a team can’t win, eventually, nobody really cares what that team says or does. So, taking advantage of this, coach Chan Gailey abruptly switched from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense the week before the Balt game. Nobody seemed to notice. (And no, making a major scheme change like this during the season is not considered to be a good idea). It also didn’t work out at all as Balt lit them up. Oh well. Then, they implemented a kind of wild, high-octane passing game that actually has worked. Nice. But they’re still losing. This week, they might just show up in vampire costumes because nobody would care – redefeated immunity. KC 33, Buff 23.
  • GB @ NYJ (-6.5). Rex Ryan is a tool. He’s trying to stir up the emotions from last year’s heated debate about who was truly the Defensive Player of the Year. Packers’ CB Charles Woodson won the award, NYJ’s CB Darrelle Revis finished 2nd. Let me put this to rest right now. Darrelle Revis was clearly the best cover corner in the NFL last year – he had an unbelievable year. He was the last guy in the NFL you’d want your best WR to face. Period. But the award is not for the best cover corner – the award is for the best overall defensive player. Woodson did more defensively from a cornerback position last year than any cornerback, perhaps ever. He had a few critical sacks, game-saving 4th down tackles on RBs, 9 interceptions, 3 TDs scored, 4 forced fumbles, hugely important pass break-ups – all in addition to playing very solid cover corner (at times, by the way, covering TEs and RBs – not just WRs). Revis defended one WR game after game and did an amazing job. As the role of “cornerback” is traditionally defined, a good argument could be made that Revis was the better “cornerback”. But Woodson’s defensive contributions last year were so incredibly broad that they transcended standard definitions of the role of a cornerback. Woodson was the better overall defensive player…period. The spread for this game is too much. At some point, a good defensive coordinator (Dom Capers?) will figure out how to stop the incredibly simple stuff Brian Shottenheimer calls for Mark Sanchez. GB 24, NYJ 23.
  • Den @ SF (-1.5). Funny to imagine Mike Singletary taking a brief break from yelling at his players in practice this week…for some tea.  Den 37, SF 31.
  • Car @ StL (-3.5)  Ugh. Read an article the other day trying to make an argument that Sam Bradford can’t win the close game. Hmmm. Bradford has already won 3x the number of games the 2009 Rams team won and he’s done it as a rookie with very limited talent around him. A better argument might be that he SHOULDN’T be winning close games because his team isn’t good enough to even be in close games. This guy is good and will only get better. I’ll take the Rams here on a totally clutch, 40 yard TD scramble by Bradford to win it. StL 24, Car 17.
  • Tenn @ SD (-3.5). Sometimes, when the weather turns in Wisconsin, and massive old trees in my backyard get blown over by land hurricanes, I think about what life might be like in the perfect weather city of San Diego. Just as soon as my mind drifts to sunny California though, I remind myself that following the local football team in San Diego might be among the more frustrating fan experiences in sports. Though the team is guaranteed to be loaded with talent, it is also guaranteed to have a coach that just can’t seem to take his team to the next level. And though this team always mounts a furious comeback in the second halves of all seasons, it always finds a way to crap out in the playoffs…and underachieve. Meanwhile, every year there seems to be some kind of player/front office dissension that involves the stubbornness of GM AJ Smith. Even the perfect weather can’t make being a Charger fan less frustrating.  SD 27, Tenn 23.
  • TB @ Ariz (-3.5). After their victory last Sunday, Raheem Morris’ declared TB the “best team in the NFC”. Seems like a fitting declaration for a young, unseasoned coach after an emotional comeback victory (after finishing 3-13 last year). But wild statements like this are also part of the coach-seasoning-process. TB to get cooked Sunday.  AZ 29, TB 19.
  • MN @ NE (-6.5).   Brett Favre is the NFL’s all-time warrior. Very few would ever question his toughness. In fact, over time, he’s learned to rather relish the role of the injured guy – often playing really well when hurt. But I swear, watching that game Sunday night as closely as I did (about 10 inches from the TV), it seemed to me that Favre’s limp became significantly more pronounced when things started going badly for him and his team. (I know, I know, he has a “broke foot” as he repeatedly said in press conferences this week. Well other medical types have weighed in and indicated that neither of the fractures are likely THAT serious and that other QBs would likely return to action this week with the same injuries…see Peter King). Anyway, watching the game, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the kid who falls down writhing in some phantom pain right after losing the game for his team…tears welling up…(By the way, one of these days, Adrian Peterson is going to explode on Brad Childress. He is already clearly frustrated with his role despite trying to bury that frustration when in front of the media. But soon, that may not happen anymore. AP knows that if he and Percy Harvin got the ball constantly, this team would have a hard time losing – even if Favre is throwing picks.)   NE 37, MN 30.
  • Pitt @ NO (-1.5). Should be an odd game in a odd place on an odd holiday. Pitt 24, NO 24.
  • Hou @ Indy (-5.5). This is a prime time game – so despite rather pedestrian numbers in non-prime-time games, watch for Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis to go nuts. (Freeney, interestingly, only has 3 sacks this year…2 of those plus 2 forced fumbles came on a Sunday Night game against the Giants. Mathis has 5.5 sacks – 3.5 of which came in prime time games).  Indy 41 (and 7 sacks), Houston 27.
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Andy Hayes