Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, October 31, 2015 at 12:46 PM
OUR JIM SEZ NFL WEEK 8 PREVIEWS
A PRIME-TIME BATTLE OF UNBEATENS HEADLINES THE ACTION AS PACKERS-BRONCOS SQUARE OFF SUNDAY NIGHT PLUS WE'RE CHECKING OUT BENGALS-STEELERS & JETS-RAIDERS TOO!
It's a funny thing about this here-and-now 2015 NFL season: While there are still five undefeated teams 'round the league - that's New England, Carolina, Cincinnati, Denver and Green Bay - there's also a whopping total of 18 teams with losing records and hope you've taken note of the fact that on a weekend in which we're getting 6-0 Green Bay at 6-0 Denver, there are also four matchups pitting teams with sub-.500 records.
And just to fill you in ... all four NFL teams that have their byes this week (that's Buffalo, Jacksonville, Philadelphia and Washington) all sport losing records as they "go to break".
Okay, so we'll steer clear of the Detroit Lions (1-6) versus the Kansas City Chiefs (2-5) as "London's calling" plus we won't have a single word to say about the San Diego Chargers (2-5) at the hapless Baltimore Ravens (1-6), the Tennessee Titans (1-5) at the rotten Houston Texans (2-5) and the Seattle Seahawks (3-4) at the dysfunctional Dallas Cowboys (2-4) ... okay?
My handicappers and bloggers have everything all scoped out and you can get all the NCAA Football, NFL Week 8, World Series and NBA daily winners when you check with us here at the blazing-hot Jim Hurley's Network and then keep rollin' in the green all weekend long! On Saturday/Sunday there are full slates of key gridiron games and so make sure you check in with us on both game days either here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - go ahead and start November off with a big bang!
NFL WEEK 8
GREEN BAY (6-0) at DENVER (6-0) - 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Gotta go back to the 2007 campaign to find the last time a pair of NFL teams were undefeated at this late stage of a season (see New England 8-0; Indianapolis 7-0) and, yes, QB Peyton Manning was a part of that 24-20 non-cover win by the Patriots over the Colts but this present-day Manning may be at the end of the line.
Manning has just two touchdown passes and seven interceptions in his last three games - close wins over Minnesota, Oakland and Cleveland (the latter in OT) - and right now the quarterback rankings have this future Hall of Famer close to the bottom and note the Broncos' ground game ain't much better as they are ranked 31st or next-to-last in the league while averaging a paltry 85 yards a game.
So, just how is Denver - a 2.5-point home underdog at press time - gonna win here against a Green Bay squad that's four of its six games by twin-figure margins?
The Broncos' absolutely fantastic defense already has scored a touchdown in four different games this year and take note Denver's registered 26 sacks and 18 takeaways.
In this prime-time tilt in the Mile High City, the Denver pass rush must keep Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers "hemmed in" the pocket so that he can't beat 'em with big plays with his legs. Rodgers has really been playing this year with one hand tied behind his back - top WR Jordy Nelson suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason and RBs James Starks and Eddie Lacy have taken turns in and out of the starting lineup and now word is Starks has an injury that may keep 'em sidelined here while the allegedly overweight/out-of-shape Lacy also has ankle woes and so beating this Denver defense with so few weapons will be a challenge ... even for the great Rodgers (1,491 yards passing with 15 TDs and 2 INTs).
Gut feel is that aforementioned Denver pass rush will force Rodgers to chuck-and-duck plenty - can his backup RBs and TEs made enough noise to get Mike McCarthy's squad over the top here?
Conversely, Manning figures to be handing off the ball plenty against the league's 22nd-best rush defense (allowing 118.5 yards a game) and so we'll go out on a limb here and say if RB Ronnie Hillman can explode for a 100-yard game, the Broncos will snag the mild upset.
If not, then Denver's only true shot is getting a pick-six (or two) and then hoping Manning does not self-implode ... again.
Spread Notes - Green Bay has charged out of the 2015 starting gate with a 5-1 ATS (against the spread) record in which the Packers have been the betting favorites for all six games. Overall, Green Bay's 14-5-1 spreadwise as chalk sides since the start of last season (that's a dazzling .737 winning percentage). On the flip side, Denver is 3-1-2 against the odds so far this season but note the Broncos are just 5-10-1 ATS in non-divisional games dating back to that Super Bowl loss against Seattle two years ago.
CINCINNATI (6-0) at PITTSBURGH (4-3) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
If nothing else, the all-knowing Las Vegas linesmakers believe Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger will made his grand return here - note that Cincinnati opened as a 3-point betting favorite and at last check it was the Pittsburghers favored by 1.5 points.
Roethlisberger suffered a sprained left knee and bruised leg back in Week 3 play at St. Louis and the Steelers have managed to split their four games without "Big Ben" including last week's ugly 23-13 loss in Kansas City.
How much Landry Jones and Michael Vick can one team take?
So, the Steelers hope Roethlisberger plays and isn't too rusty after throwing for 912 yards and 4 TDs in two-plus games this year but mind you he's going up against a Cincinnati defense that has held opponents to 21 points or less in four games.
Throw into the mix the fact the Bengals are off their bye - remember what we told you in yesterday's Jim Sez that NFL teams off their bye are 8-2 ATS so far this year - and that QB Andy Dalton (14 TDs and 2 INTs) might be playing better than any NFL slinger save for Mr. Tom Brady and even a healthy Roethlisberger may not be enough for Mike Tomlin's bunch.
Spread Notes - Cincinnati is a delicious 5-0-1 against the odds so far this year and did you know the Bengals are a rotten 2-8 ATS in their last 10 head-to-head showdowns with Pittsburgh? The Steelers enter this AFC North hoedown at 4-1-2 spreadwise this season and overall they're 12-5-1 ATS as hosts while dating back to early 2012.
NEW YORK JETS (4-2) at OAKLAND (3-3) - 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS
Believe it or not, there are only three NFL Week 8 matchups that feature .500-or-better sides against one another and here's the last of 'em.
The $64,000 question with the J-E-T-S is whether or not Todd Bowles' club has emotionally recovered from last Sunday's 30-23 loss at New England (remember NYJ had the lead early in the fourth quarter) where WR Brandon Marshall dropped a key goal-line strike in the final quarter of play and he also failed to line up in time on the game's final play.
Meanwhile, Oakland was forced to recover an onside kick late in last weekend's 37-29 win at San Diego - a monster winner for the Jim Hurley Network! - as the silver-and-black did their best to fritter away a 31-point lead and the matchup everyone's talking about here is Raiders rookie WR Amari Cooper (5 catches for 133 yards and one TD last week) against CB Darrelle Revis but - hint, hint - if the Raiders cannot crack the Jets' top-ranked rush defense here than even a stat-stuffing game by "Coop" may not be enough.
Spread Notes - The Jets have covered four of their first six games this year and take note road teams are just 2-5 ATS in this series since 2005. Oakland's 3-2-1 vig-wise this year and overall the Raiders are 7-4-1 spreadwise in their last dozen games when in the dog role.