NFL Picks Week 8 Thursday: Panthers at Buccaneers & Fantasy Five
It's getting to the point in the NFL season where we start to see some really bad matchups in primetime and this is one of them. There's nothing the NFL can do about it in terms of their Thursday and Monday night games (last week's NYG/Min game was a stinker) because the schedule is set, but they are able to alter Sunday night games later in the season. There are some other Thursday games the rest of the year that are pretty bad (Was/Min & Hou/Jax come to mind), but most of the games have at least one team with a winning record.
Last week I went 8-7 straight up, I'm 65-42 (.607) on the season straight up.
Carolina (3-3) at Tampa Bay (0-6) 8:30 PM
I really don't want to watch the winless Bucs. They're awful to watch. I think Greg Schiano is the worst head coach in the NFL and he's likely going to be fired by the end of the year if not before that.
Whenever I look at a matchup I tend to focus on stats. In this one there's a stat that jumps out at me. Points per game. It's very telling for both teams. The Bucs are 2nd worst in scoring at 14.6 PPG and the Panthers are 2nd in points against at 13.8 PPG. One team can't score and the other rarely allows their opponents to score a lot.
The question then becomes can the Panthers score on the Bucs? I think they can do enough. Their offense has played well in winning their last two games. Star QB Cam Newton has been impressive in wins the last two weeks. As long as they don't turn the ball over they should be fine against the offensively inept Bucs.
Here's another stat about this unappealing game comes from NFL Network's Rich Eisen in a tweet: The Panthers streak of 70 games without being above .500 almost twice as long as next team on the list, the Jaguars with 39.
Congrats to the Panthers on likely ending that tough run of losing for the past four years. I fully expect them to win this game, head to 4-3 and compete for a playoff spot this season. They definitely have the defense to do it. Panthers 24-13
Fantasy Football Five Thoughts
1. Last week in this spot I said I expected a 150 yard, 2 TD game from Adrian Peterson. It was a 28 yard rushing, 28 yard receiving day with no touchdowns to speak of. That's fantasy football. You get your hopes up and sometimes these guys live up to it while other times it's a total letdown. I think it's time to lower expectations for Peterson. He's not going to get over 2,000 yards again (or really come close to it) and his preseason prediction of 2,500 yards was obviously quite the reach. Due to the inept QB play of the Vikings (I think Josh Freeman had the worst game of any QB last week), things may not get better any time soon. It is Peterson, though, so you have to play him and hope he can bust out of this slump he's in. Last year he really turned it on in the second half of the season. Let's hope it happens again.
2. If you're in a season long fantasy league this is arguably the toughest week of the season since six teams are on a bye and there are a lot of injuries to deal with. Next week will be just as difficult since there are six teams off with the Broncos being one of them. That's part of the game. I don't know if this year has more injuries than other years, but it does feel like it. The QB position hasn't hit too hard because guys like Cutler are Bradford are not what we'd call QB1 guys. However, the RB position has been full of disappointment whether by poor play, injury or both (I can feel the Richardson, Rice, Spiller, Martin owners nodding their head at that).
3. I know that Tom Brady's been a disappointment so far. I don't really blame it on him being in his mid-30s and maybe losing some zip on his fastball. I think it was the talent around him. I know they lost last week, but you could see how comfortable he was with his favorite target TE Rob Gronkowski out there with him. If you own, stick with him. While he may not have 3 or 4 TD pass games as often as he has in the past, I think he has something left and his chemistry with the other WRs will get better as the season moves along.
4. It's good to see Robert Griffin III looking healthy again. He didn't run that much in the first four weeks (72 rushing yards), but after the week five bye he's rushed for 161 yards in the last two games. I think it's safe to say that he's fully recovered from his ACL surgery. Hopefully he can continue to improve as the season goes on and I think he'll be a top 5 QB the rest of this season. Obviously it's been a disappointing season for Washington with their 2-4 record, but their offense should continue their 25 PPG pace the rest of the year and perhaps improve on it with a healthy RG3 in the lineup. Of course the big problem for them is giving up 31 PPG, but in fantasy purpose that doesn't mean anything at all.
5. I do between 15-20 snake drafts on Draftstreet every week (I've had success so I may do even more) usually with 8 people in them and sometimes with 5 people in them. One of the things I try to do is jump on a great defense before others have because I think it gives you an advantage if you can find a team that will get you 10 or more defensive points. This week there are great defensive teams in KC (vs. Cle), Sea (@ STL), SF (@ Jac), Car (@ TB) playing bad offenses so you should look for one of them. Others have good matchups too. If you're in a weekly game whether it's a draft or a salary cap type game, don't be one of those people that waits on a great defense or relies on an under the radar team. It's week eight. We know who the good defenses and bad offense are. Get them if you can. They can pay off in a huge way.
I'll be back tomorrow with my picks for the rest of this week's games.