Every Friday on Brady & Price on Sportsnet 590 The Fan at 8:30 a.m. ET, Greg Brady will discuss his Hateful Eight NFL picks of the week.
1. RAVENS -3.5 over Jaguars in London
Look, Baltimore isn’t terribly good, I don’t believe, but they get another game to avoid having to prove it against Jacksonville. Even though Wembley Stadium is quite familiar to Jacksonville’s core, and they’ve won their past two visits there, I’m not sure they’ve played a team as strong as the Ravens – who look like a very 9-7ish squad to me, but no better.
The Jags pass rush crashed back down to Earth against Tennessee last week, putting Marcus Mariota under very little pressure. I expect if the Ravens run the ball well and give Joe Flacco enough time to progress through his reads their defence will do enough to come back across the Atlantic with a 3-0 record.
2. FALCONS -3 over Lions in Detroit
Pretty simple, really. The Falcons look like a very complete squad with depth all over the field, while Detroit is, for the moment, still in “prove it” mode. It’s hard to hold long-term history and somewhat shorter-term history against the Leos, but since sitting on the fence isn’t an option, Atlanta has the better running game, the better pass coverage, and though it’s closer than you’d think, I think they have slightly better quarterbacking. Also, anytime a road Dome team gets to play in a Dome, it’s far preferable than playing outside.
3. BRONCOS -3 over Bills in Buffalo
I have seen way too many home-underdog Bills wins during their 17-year playoff drought alone to invest heavily (or lightly) on this one, but there’s a few 2-0 teams (like Atlanta and Kansas City) that I’m not betting against having that eventual letdown until they actually have it. What the Broncos D did to Ezekiel Elliott may not manifest itself again against LeSean McCoy and the Bills running game, but Buffalo’s passing game isn’t fooling anyone so far into thinking it’s a legitimate threat to score quickly or often. Give me Denver – it seems too easy, and it’s not, but my skepticism isn’t at a high enough level to take the home team here.
4. PANTHERS -5.5 over Saints in Charlotte
This is a very important game in determining what Cam Newton currently is, and more worryingly for Panthers fans, what he isn’t. He hasn’t looked right in closer-than-necessary wins against San Francisco and Buffalo, and as the Niners showed Thursday night, you should be able to put points up on them. Speaking of points being put up, the Saints have given up 27 or more points in 11 of their past 17 road games. If Carolina can’t get to that total, it should be quite concerning for their playoff hopes, even if they’re 3-0.
5. EAGLES -6 over Giants in Philadelphia
The Giants simply have to demonstrate they can score more points than they have, and this isn’t an easy place to start. Eagles CB Rasul Douglas may be a star-in-waiting, and their pass rush should be nightmarish for Eli Manning – this is a very bad “trenches” matchup for the Giants going both ways. Carson Wentz struggled a lot under pressure from the Chiefs last week, but the Giants won’t get near that level of penetration, so there should be time to find receivers and extend drives. Philly shouldn’t struggle to cover here.
6. TITANS -2.5 over Seahawks in Nashville
I never thought I’d be betting against the Seahawks in a road game in an AFC city anywhere except New England or Pittsburgh, but here we go. Seattle got their running game up and moving in Week 2, but their offensive line really made Chris Carson work for every yard he got. I think the Seahawks will come to life eventually, but it doesn’t feel as much of a sure thing as last season, and this may not be the place where the light bulbs turn on.
7. CHIEFS -3 over Chargers in Los Angeles
This is so similar to a bunch of games above. The number is low, the better team is on the road, but like the Broncos, Panthers or Ravens, someone will let down. Only seven of 32 NFL teams were 3-5 or worse at home last season, so being at home does matter. Is that enough to make me go against how complete Kansas City looks so far? You already have your answer.
8. WASHINGTON +3.5 over Oakland in Maryland
So here’s where I risk it and go with the home underdog. Washington is 1-7 in their last eight prime-time games, which, yes, tells you a bit about how they’ve played overall, but it’s also a very unsustainably bad and deceiving record for a team that won the NFC East two seasons ago, and blew their playoff chances in Week 17 last season. I don’t think Washington has either a great coach or great quarterback, but there’s enough here with veterans like Vernon Davis on the offensive side of the ball, and the amazing Josh Norman, as both a pass defender and run-stopper, that they sneak this one out. Things are real positive for Raider Nation, no question, but they’re not going 16-0.
The Starting Lineup’s 2017 record
Elliott Price: 3-5 last week, 8-8 overall
Hugh Burrill: 4-4 last week, 8-8 overall
Ryan Fabro: 3-5 last week, 8-8 overall
Greg Brady: 3-5 last week, 7-9 overall