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Insiders predict: NFL week 8 winners

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Frederick Breedon // Getty Images

Insiders predict: NFL week 8 winners

While there aren’t a ton of meetings between heavy hitters on the Week 8 NFL slate, this Sunday night provides a highly anticipated meeting between the Chiefs and Packers, who are looking to prove that they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. With or without Patrick Mahomes II in the lineup, that game, along with a few others, are the ones to keep an eye on this weekend:

Cardinals @ Saints: The Cardinals have won three in a row, but the Saints are riding a five game streak and have done so without Drew Brees under center. Though Brees is going to give it a shot to try and play this week, a duel between Kyler Murray and Teddy Bridgewater may be just as entertaining.

Panthers @ 49ers: Can Kyle Allen run his win streak to five games in the absence of Cam Newton and upset the unbeaten 49ers? Or will Jimmy Garoppolo and company stay perfect, despite somewhat subpar quarterback play?

Packers @ Chiefs: With Andy Reid calling it a “stretch” for Patrick Mahomes II to return from his knee injury in time for this primetime matchup, the showdown between MVP quarterbacks that the nation had hoped for doesn’t appear to be in the cards. But it’s still a meeting of two Super Bowl hopeful teams, and Aaron Rodgers is coming off of his best game of the season so this figures to be one of the more entertaining games of the week regardless.

Insiders predicts are based on the team that is favored to win, which is based on consensus betting odds and spread on Vegas Insider as of Oct. 23, 2019. Team stats were gathered from NFL.com.

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Patrick Smith // Getty Images

Washington Redskins (1-6) @ Minnesota Vikings (5-2)

- Gametime: Thursday, Oct. 24, 8:20 p.m. EST

It was a back and forth affair between the Vikings and Lions last Sunday, but four touchdown passes from quarterback Kirk Cousins helped Minnesota pull away with a 42-30 win in Detroit and extend their win streak to three games. Cousins and the Viking offense were seemingly unstoppable, racking up 337 passing yards with the four scores and then running back Dalvin Cook added 142 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. This bodes well for an offense that started the season slower than expected when sputtering to a 2-2 record through four games.

For Minnesota, keeping pace with the red hot Packers in the NFC North is vital, and this Thursday night matchup presents a great opportunity to continue to do so, with them playing host to lowly Washington.

The Redskins lone win of the season came against the winless Dolphins, and the fact that it was only by a single point says a lot. Washington fell to 1-6 after losing to the 49ers in a sloppy, rain-soaked game on Sunday. With an 0-4 home record, and just one win on the season, oddsmakers rightfully should not be giving Washington any love as they now travel to face a streaking Vikings team on a short week. That’s more than evident given the three-score spread that this game has opened with. It’s one of the league’s better running attacks against one of the league’s worst rush defenses, and frankly, it would seem like a shock if the Vikings didn’t exploit that matchup and cover the spread.

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Gregory Shamus // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Minnesota Vikings

- Favored to win: Minnesota Vikings
- Spread: -16
- Odds: -1000

- Washington Redskins team stats:
- Offense: 267.6 yards per game (#29 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 182.9 ypg (#31)
--- Rushing offense: 84.7 ypg (#24)
- Defense: 370.4 yards per game (#21 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 236.0 ypg (#12)
--- Rushing defense: 134.4 ypg (#27)

- Minnesota Vikings team stats:
- Offense: 391.0 yards per game (#6 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 231.0 ypg (#17)
--- Rushing offense: 160.0 ypg (#3)
- Defense: 327.9 yards per game (#6 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 237.9 ypg (#15)
--- Rushing defense: 90.0 ypg (#7)

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Otto Greule Jr // Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks (5-2) @ Atlanta Falcons (1-6)

- Gametime: Sunday, Oct. 27, 1:00 p.m. EST

Things went from bad to worse for the Falcons in Week 7, as their 37-10 blowout loss to the Rams at home also saw them lose starting quarterback Matt Ryan to an ankle injury. While the severity of the injury remains unknown for Ryan, a 1-6 start and a date with the Seahawks on the docket this week does not bode well for them trying to avoid a losing season in 2019.

Frustration for the Falcons has clearly boiled over, and even running back Devonta Freeman let some of it out during Sunday’s loss, as he got into a scuffle with Rams star defensive lineman Aaron Donald, which resulted in a somewhat embarrassing, now-viral moment for him. Freeman was ejected from the game, adding to the list of Falcons stars who didn’t finish the contest.

For the Seahawks, a trip across the country to Atlanta may actually be exactly what they need, as they look to rebound from just their second loss of the season. Seattle was stunned by Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, losing 30-16 at CenturyLink Field. They were gashed by Jackson’s rushing ability, and surrendered 116 yards and a score on the ground to the dual-threat quarterback, while their own versatile signal caller, Russell Wilson, was held in check by the Baltimore defense.

With the health of Ryan up in the air, the Seahawks could be facing Matt Schaub, who is a capable backup. Still, it may not matter. The Falcons defense is a mess and facing a Seahawks team averaging nearly 400 yards of offense per game will only mean that life gets even more difficult for the Atlanta faithful in Week 8.

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Alika Jenner // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Seattle Seahawks

- Favored to win: Seattle Seahawks
- Spread: -3.5
- Odds: -175

- Seattle Seahawks team stats:
- Offense: 391.6 yards per game (#5 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 264.6 ypg (#10)
--- Rushing offense: 127.0 ypg (#12)
- Defense: 357.0 yards per game (#16 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 249.0 ypg (#19)
--- Rushing defense: 108.0 ypg (#17)

- Atlanta Falcons team stats:
- Offense: 367.4 yards per game (#16 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 299.0 ypg (#2)
--- Rushing offense: 68.4 ypg (#29)
- Defense: 387.7 yards per game (#27 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 274.0 ypg (#28)
--- Rushing defense: 113.7 ypg (#20)

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Elsa // Getty Images

Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) @ Buffalo Bills (5-1)

- Gametime: Sunday, Oct. 27, 1:00 p.m. EST

The Bills were flirting with what would have been the upset of the week, but pulled away from the Dolphins in the end thanks to an eye-catching return of an onside kick by safety Micah Hyde that put hopes of a Miami comeback to bed and gave Buffalo a 31-21 win. While they did win by two scores, the Bills' impressive defense allowing Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins to find success was unexpected and leaves room to question whether or not they are vulnerable.

The good news is that the Eagles offense they are set to face this week also has plenty of question marks coming off of a 37-10 smackdown suffered at the hands of the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football.

Carson Wentz and company were held to just 191 passing yards with a touchdown and an interception by the effective Dallas defense. Facing the Bills' defense on the road would appear to be even tougher, though. Philadelphia is 1-3 on the road so far this season, including two straight road losses the past two weeks to the Vikings and Cowboys by a combined score of 75-30.

One area where the Eagles hold an advantage is in defending the run, where they are the second best team in the league. If they can do enough to limit the run and force the Bills to be one dimensional offensively, than their 27th ranked pass defense may just get a boost in what should be a highly competitive affair.

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Bryan M. Bennett // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Buffalo Bills

- Favored to win: Buffalo Bills
- Spread: -1.5
- Odds: -125

- Philadelphia Eagles team stats:
- Offense: 339.9 yards per game (#23 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 228.1 ypg (#20)
--- Rushing offense: 111.7 ypg (#14)
- Defense: 360.0 yards per game (#18 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 270.6 ypg (#27)
--- Rushing defense: 89.4 ypg (#6)

- Buffalo Bills team stats:
- Offense: 361.2 yards per game (#17 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 225.3 ypg (#21)
--- Rushing offense: 135.8 ypg (#7)
- Defense: 292.7 yards per game (#3 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 201.3 ypg (#4)
--- Rushing defense: 91.3 ypg (#10)

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Donald Miralle // Getty Images

Los Angeles Chargers (2-5) @ Chicago Bears (3-3)

- Gametime: Sunday, Oct. 27, 1:00 p.m. EST

The final score of the Bears home loss to the Saints is a bit deceiving: 36-25 was the tally on Sunday at Soldier Field, where Chicago fans were—rightfully—booing their offense for most of the game for their continued futility.

Trailing by 26, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky ended up throwing a pair of late fourth-quarter touchdowns passes to make the final score look better, but prior to that, an Eddy Pineiro field goal and a Cordarrelle Patterson kickoff return touchdown were the only signs of life from the Bears in the game. While it may seem like doom and gloom for the Bears, who have lost two in a row and now sit behind the Packers and Vikings in the NFC North, their opponent making the trip to Soldier Field this week has had an even rougher go as of late.

The Chargers have lost three straight, and have failed to score more than 20 points since their Week 4 win against the lowly Dolphins. Their 23-20 loss to the Titans last week was heartbreaking, considering the goal line sequence that decided the game in Tennessee’s favor.

With all of the Bears issues on offense, their defense remains elite and coming off of a frustrating home loss to the Saints, they will likely be raring to pin their ears back and attack Philip Rivers, who has struggled at times this season posting a 52.7 QBR to this point.

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Naomi Baker // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Chicago Bears

- Favored to win: Chicago Bears
- Spread: -4
- Odds: -210

- Los Angeles Chargers team stats:
- Offense: 367.7 yards per game (#14 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 293.4 ypg (#3)
--- Rushing offense: 74.3 ypg (#27)
- Defense: 333.3 yards per game (#11 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 216.1 ypg (#5)
--- Rushing defense: 117.1 ypg (#21)

- Chicago Bears team stats:
- Offense: 263.7 yards per game (#30 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 193.7 ypg (#29)
--- Rushing offense: 70.0 ypg (#28)
- Defense: 330.8 yards per game (#10 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 236.5 ypg (#13)
--- Rushing defense: 94.3 ypg (#12)

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Gregory Shamus // Getty Images

New York Giants (2-5) @ Detroit Lions (2-3-1)

- Gametime: Sunday, Oct. 27, 1:00 p.m. EST

Saquon Barkley’s return to the Giants lineup was spoiled by the Cardinals, as Arizona’s backup running back was the player who stole the show at MetLife Stadium. New York’s defense was gashed by Chase Edmonds to the tune of 126 yards and three touchdowns, resulting in a 27-21 loss and a 2-5 record heading into Week 8.

Barkley did find the endzone, scoring on a 7-yard run in the fourth quarter that pulled the Giants within a single score, but defeat was still in the cards for Big Blue.

Now, they will hope to get their third win of the year when the visit a confusing Lions team that—at times—has looked like a serious NFC North contender despite the fact that they enter Week 8 in last place and with only two wins on the season.

Detroit’s game against the Packers in Week 6, a 23-22 loss, suggested that they may be every bit as exciting as their division foes and equipped to keep pace. But then last Sunday, despite Matthew Stafford throwing for 364 yards and four touchdowns, the Lions were still beaten by two scores at home by the once-struggling Vikings offense that hung 42 points on them in a 42-30 beating.

The Lions remain a mystery and a classic case of a team that can beat anyone but can also lose to anyone. Given Detroit’s inability to stop the run and Barkley’s continued progression back to being the focal point of the Giants’ offense, New York covering the touchdown they are getting from oddsmakers is not something to rule out at this point.

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Leon Halip // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Detroit Lions

- Favored to win: Detroit Lions
- Spread: -7.5
- Odds: -300

- New York Giants team stats:
- Offense: 328.6 yards per game (#24 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 223.0 ypg (#23)
--- Rushing offense: 105.6 ypg (#17)
- Defense: 388.4 yards per game (#28 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 257.0 ypg (#23)
--- Rushing defense: 131.4 ypg (#26)

- Detroit Lions team stats:
- Offense: 380.3 yards per game (#8 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 277.2 ypg (#6)
--- Rushing offense: 103.2 ypg (#18)
- Defense: 428.7 yards per game (#31 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 289.5 ypg (#30)
--- Rushing defense: 139.2 ypg (#28)

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Frederick Breedon // Getty Images

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) @ Tennessee Titans (3-4)

- Gametime: Sunday, Oct. 27, 1:00 p.m. EST

The difference between the Titans being 3-4 and 2-5 was a matter of inches last week. After stopping Chargers running back Melvin Gordon III just inches shy of the goal line with seconds remaining in the game, a second attempt from Gordon saw him fumble, the Titans recover, and thus hold on for a 23-20 victory that has them entering their Week 8 contest with the Buccaneers off of a victory.

Ryan Tannehill was effective for Tennessee at quarterback, throwing for 312 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Tannehill replaced the recently-benched Marcus Mariota, who figures to be holding a clipboard on Sunday now that Tannehill has brought the team a much-needed win.

For the Buccaneers, a Week 7 bye week was needed, having lost back-to-back NFC South games to the Saints and Panthers before getting the week off. They’re rested, and an extra week of preparation for coach Bruce Arians to game plan for the Titans effective pass defense should make for an interesting chess match between he and Titans coach Mike Vrabel.

The strength of the Bucs offense has been their ability to rack up yards in the air, while the Titans defense ranks as one of the better pass defenses in football, allowing just 232.9 yards per game. This should be a tight one between two teams that have shown glimpses of being competitive at different times this season.

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Wesley Hitt // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Tennessee Titans

- Favored to win: Tennessee Titans
- Spread: -2.5
- Odds: -145

- Tampa Bay Buccaneers team stats:
- Offense: 367.7 yards per game (#15 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 269.5 ypg (#9)
--- Rushing offense: 98.2 ypg (#21)
- Defense: 372.5 yards per game (#22 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 304.5 ypg (#32)
--- Rushing defense: 68.0 ypg (#1)

- Tennessee Titans team stats:
- Offense: 306.6 yards per game (#26 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 204.6 ypg (#27)
--- Rushing offense: 102.0 ypg (#19)
- Defense: 328.0 yards per game (#8 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 232.9 ypg (#10)
--- Rushing defense: 95.1 ypg (#13)

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Andy Lyons // Getty Images

Denver Broncos (2-5) @ Indianapolis Colts (4-2)

- Gametime: Sunday, Oct. 27, 1:00 p.m. EST

It’s not that anyone was doubting the ability of Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett being able to captain the ship in Indianapolis. He was far from an unproven backup coming into this season. But the fact that—following Andrew Luck’s shock retirement—he has been effective enough to put himself into the statistical category of a potential mid-season MVP candidate that nobody really could have anticipated.

Brissett saved his best performance for the most important game of the season to date. He threw a career-high four touchdowns on Sunday to go along with 326 yards, leading the Colts to a 30-23 win over the Texans that now has Indianapolis sitting alone in first place in the highly competitive AFC South.

Brissett and the Colts will get to remain at home and host the Broncos, who sport a highly effective pass defense despite their 2-5 record. Denver has a few added days of rest and preparation entering this contest, having played the Thursday Night Football contest in Week 7, which they lost emphatically 30-6 to the Chiefs despite the early exit of Patrick Mahomes II due to a knee injury.

With Mahomes potentially missing only a short period of time, and the rest of the AFC West—the Broncos included—floundering, Denver may not be able to gain any ground on Kansas City regardless. 

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Justin Casterline // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Indianapolis Colts

- Favored to win: Indianapolis Colts
- Spread: -6
- Odds: -260

- Denver Broncos team stats:
- Offense: 317.4 yards per game (#25 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 207.9 ypg (#26)
--- Rushing offense: 109.6 ypg (#16)
- Defense: 302.6 yards per game (#4 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 195.3 ypg (#3)
--- Rushing defense: 107.3 ypg (#16)

- Indianapolis Colts team stats:
- Offense: 350.5 yards per game (#22 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 221.8 ypg (#24)
--- Rushing offense: 128.7 ypg (#10)
- Defense: 361.2 yards per game (#20 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 250.2 ypg (#20)
--- Rushing defense: 111.0 ypg (#19)

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Andy Lyons // Getty Images

Cincinnati Bengals (0-7) @ Los Angeles Rams (4-3)

- Gametime: Sunday, Oct. 27, 1:00 p.m. EST

The Rams' three-game losing skid came to a halt last week, as they traveled across the country to Atlanta to hand the Falcons a demoralizing 37-10 loss and improve their record to 4-3 this season. Los Angeles literally frustrated the Falcons to the point of no return, as star defensive lineman Aaron Donald caused Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman to be ejected after a scuffle. To make matters worse, the Rams also knocked Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan out of the game with an ankle injury.

While Todd Gurley II didn’t get his season on track like he may have hoped (18 carries, 41 yards), the game was an opportunity for Jared Goff to get back to putting up respectable passing totals, including 268 yards and a pair of touchdowns with no interceptions.

Sometimes, the schedule is your best friend in the NFL and that would appear to be the case for the once-ailing Rams, who now get to host a Bengals team that is now in contention with the Miami Dolphins as the worst team in football.

Cincinnati remained winless after another difficult outing for Andy Dalton. On his 43 attempts against the Jaguars last Sunday, Dalton connected on only 22 of them and threw three interceptions to counter his lone touchdown strike to wideout Alex Erickson. The Bengals problems simply can’t just be chalked up to the fact that they are without star receiver A.J. Green, but rather that a total rebuild is likely in order for the franchise.

Given their current standing, they should have plenty of draft capital to be able to bring in quality players, and them remaining winless at the halfway mark of the season feels like a near certainty come Sunday.

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Carmen Mandato // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Los Angeles Rams

- Favored to win: Los Angeles Rams
- Spread: -13
- Odds: -750

- Cincinnati Bengals team stats:
- Offense: 305.3 yards per game (#27 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 252.1 ypg (#12)
--- Rushing offense: 53.1 ypg (#32)
- Defense: 430.9 yards per game (#32 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 241.9 ypg (#16)
--- Rushing defense: 189.0 ypg (#32)

- Los Angeles Rams team stats:
- Offense: 372.3 yards per game (#12 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 275.1 ypg (#7)
--- Rushing offense: 97.1 ypg (#23)
- Defense: 329.3 yards per game (#9 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 233.4 ypg (#11)
--- Rushing defense: 95.9 ypg (#14)

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Chris Graythen // Getty Images

Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1) @ New Orleans Saints (6-1)

- Gametime: Sunday, Oct. 27, 1:00 p.m. EST

The status of a Super Bowl MVP quarterback usually can make a difference as to whether or not a team is a big favorite or vulnerable to an upset, but the way that the Saints have been playing in the absence of Drew Brees has the boys in Las Vegas convinced that this should be a convincing Saints victory regardless of who lines up under center.

Brees indicated that he is going to practice this week, and if cleared, will start for New Orleans on Sunday. If he doesn’t, Teddy Bridgewater will get the chance to try and extend the Saints winning streak to six games. He threw a pair of touchdowns in a 36-25 win over the Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Putting up 36 points against the Bears with an injury-riddled offense is perhaps the best testament to the coaching job that Sean Payton has done this season, and at 6-1 and getting healthier, they have to be considered one of the favorites in the NFC.

The Cardinals are far from favorites, but after tying their first game and losing their next three, they have strung together three straight wins to bring their record under rookie quarterback Kyler Murray to a respectable 3-3-1. Arizona had their own backup shine on Sunday, as running back Chase Edmonds ripped off 126 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-21 win over the Giants.

Arizona has brought meaning to their season that looked bleak at first but barring one of the surprises of the season, it would be too much to expect Murray and company to travel to New Orleans and out duel either a Brees or Bridgewater-led offense.

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Nuccio DiNuzzo // Getty Images

Insiders predict: New Orleans Saints

- Favored to win: New Orleans Saints
- Spread: -9.5
- Odds: -500

- Arizona Cardinals team stats:
- Offense: 358.0 yards per game (#18 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 230.6 ypg (#19)
--- Rushing offense: 127.4 ypg (#11)
- Defense: 392.4 yards per game (#29 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 263.3 ypg (#25)
--- Rushing defense: 129.1 ypg (#25)

- New Orleans Saints team stats:
- Offense: 356.0 yards per game (#19 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 245.0 ypg (#13)
--- Rushing offense: 111.0 ypg (#15)
- Defense: 327.9 yards per game (#6 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 237.3 ypg (#14)
--- Rushing defense: 90.6 ypg (#9)

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Scott Halleran // Getty Images

New York Jets (1-5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4)

- Gametime: Sunday, Oct. 27, 1 p.m. EST

There was optimism swirling in New York when Sam Darnold returned to the starting lineup to throw two touchdowns and upset the Cowboys…but that evaporated quickly after the Patriots put on a master class of defense and blew out the Jets 33-0 at MetLife Stadium on Monday Night Football. Bill Belichick and the Pats gave Darnold fits, intercepting him four times and holding him to just 86 yards passing and an astounding 3.6 quarterback rating. The Jets also lost two fumbles.

Lost in the offensive misery was the fact that the Jets defense did about as well as they could given the circumstances they were facing, always being put on a short field and having their backs pinned against the wall. Tom Brady had just one touchdown and was intercepted once, and the New England offense tallied 323 total yards.

Perhaps Darnold can bounce back against the Jaguars, who have been the opposite of the Patriots in terms of their ability to create turnovers. Jacksonville has just six takeaways on the season, compared to the six that New England created against the Jets on Monday night, so if Darnold can protect the ball, he can keep the Jets competitive.

For the Jaguars, look for a balanced approach after Gardner Minshew II had 303 all-purpose yards to go along with Leonard Fournette’s 131 rushing yards in a 27-17 win over the Bengals. If Jacksonville is to climb into the AFC South fight, currently being led by the Colts, two straight home games is a good recipe and this Sunday’s contest against a Jets team fresh off of an embarrassment is very winnable.

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Andy Lyons // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Jacksonville Jaguars

- Favored to win: Jacksonville Jaguars
- Spread: -6
- Odds: -250

- New York Jets team stats:
- Offense: 209.0 yards per game (#32 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 142.2 ypg (#32)
--- Rushing offense: 66.8 ypg (#30)
- Defense: 352.2 yards per game (#14 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 260.0 ypg (#24)
--- Rushing defense: 92.2 ypg (#11)

- Jacksonville Jaguars team stats:
- Offense: 378.4 yards per game (#9 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 238.3 ypg (#14)
--- Rushing offense: 140.1 ypg (#5)
- Defense: 361.0 yards per game (#19 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 243.9 ypg (#17)
--- Rushing defense: 117.1 ypg (#21)

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Ezra Shaw // Getty Images

Carolina Panthers (4-2) @ San Francisco 49ers (6-0)

- Gametime: Sunday, Oct. 27, 4:05 p.m. EST

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is used to trying to keep pace with Tom Brady from his time as the backup in New England, but nearing the halfway mark of the season, Garoppolo is still trying to match Brady as the only unbeaten quarterbacks in football in 2019.

Garoppolo has struggled to turn the ball over this season, but on Sunday it didn’t matter. San Francisco kept its perfect record intact by winning a 9-0, slip-n’-slide of a game in a rain-drenched FedExField. While Garoppolo failed to find the endzone, the weather conditions would have likely hindered even the best signal callers in the game. Instead, it was the 49ers defense holding Washington to 154 total yards and three Robbie Gould chip-shot field goals that ran San Francisco’s record to 6-0.

It will be a tougher test this Sunday, as they host the Panthers. Carolina is coming off of a bye week, and while quarterback Cam Newton has resumed working out, backup Kyle Allen will be the starter again this week. All he has done since taking over in Week 3 is leading the Panthers to four straight wins in four starts. He’s also tossed seven touchdowns in that span and is yet to throw an interception while boasting a 106.6 quarterback rating.

Allen’s play this season suggests that he is capable of being the first QB to hand the 49ers a loss this season. What it will likely come down to is whether or not the unbeaten Garoppolo can do a better job protecting the ball. He has six interceptions to his seven touchdowns so far this season.

If Garoppolo finds himself in a duel with Allen, this game could have upset written all over it.

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Scott Taetsch // Getty Images

Insiders predict: San Francisco 49ers

- Favored to win: San Francisco 49ers
- Spread: -5.5
- Odds: -250

- Carolina Panthers team stats:
- Offense: 353.0 yards per game (#20 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 223.5 ypg (#22)
--- Rushing offense: 129.5 ypg (#9)
- Defense: 344.0 yards per game (#12 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 225.0 ypg (#7)
--- Rushing defense: 119.0 ypg (#23)

- San Francisco 49ers team stats:
- Offense: 387.2 yards per game (#7 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 214.5 ypg (#25)
--- Rushing offense: 172.7 ypg (#2)
- Defense: 223.5 yards per game (#2 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 133.5 ypg (#1)
--- Rushing defense: 90.0 ypg (#7)

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Jason Miller // Getty Images

Cleveland Browns (2-4) @ New England Patriots (7-0)

- Gametime: Sunday, Oct. 27, 4:25 p.m. EST

The Patriots' defense was so dominant against Sam Darnold and the Jets on Monday night, they had the young quarterback admitting that he was “seeing ghosts” on the field, en route to a four-interception, six-turnover game. Darnold isn’t the only quarterback that the Patriots have tortured, though. Their takeaway numbers are jaw-dropping at this point in the season. Through their seven wins, they have logged 18 interceptions and 22 total takeaways while boasting a +14 turnover ratio, the best in the NFL and double that of the Steelers who trail them in second place with a +7 margin.

All of this does not bode well for the Cleveland Browns, who visit Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon and are riding a two-game losing streak and have watched second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield struggle to stop turning the ball over so far this season. In six starts, Mayfield has thrown an NFL-high 11 interceptions. If that trend doesn’t stop this week, things can get ugly quickly for Cleveland.

With the Patriots receiving core dealing with a handful of nagging injuries, they added depth to Tom Brady’s arsenal, acquiring Falcons receiver Mohamed Sanu in exchange for a second round draft pick. Sanu will present a perimeter threat to compliment the slot-oriented game of Julian Edelman.

While the did have the bye week to prepare and the Patriots had a short week having played Monday night, there’s little reason to believe that this historically good New England defense won’t have its way with Mayfield on Sunday.

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Emilee Chinn // Getty Images

Insiders predict: New England Patriots

- Favored to win: New England Patriots
- Spread: -13
- Odds: -725

- Cleveland Browns team stats:
- Offense: 351.2 yards per game (#21 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 231.3 ypg (#16)
--- Rushing offense: 119.8 ypg (#13)
- Defense: 373.3 yards per game (#23 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 219.3 ypg (#6)
--- Rushing defense: 154.0 ypg (#30)

- New England Patriots team stats:
- Offense: 377.3 yards per game (#10 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 279.7 ypg (#5)
--- Rushing offense: 97.6 ypg (#22)
- Defense: 223.1 yards per game (#1 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 148.4 ypg (#2)
--- Rushing defense: 74.7 ypg (#2)

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Thomas B. Shea // Getty Images

Oakland Raiders (3-3) @ Houston Texans (4-3)

- Gametime: Sunday, Oct. 27, 4:25 p.m. EST

After both the Texans and Raiders saw two-game winning streaks come to an end Sunday, they’ll battle to remain in the playoff conversation this week in Oakland. To say these teams have been up and down this season would be an understatement: Most recently Houston followed a victory over the Chiefs with a loss to the Colts, while the Raiders took down the Bears only to get annihilated by the Packers the following week. One thing we can be certain of is the talent that quarterback Deshaun Watson possesses. Watson wasn’t on his game in Week 7, though, tossing two costly interceptions and taking three sacks. The good news for Watson is the Raiders are ranked second last in passing defense.

Oakland gave up a whopping 429 yards and five passing touchdowns to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers last week. The schedule hasn’t been kind to the Raiders through the first half of the season—this is the fifth-straight week on the road for Oakland as the “home game” in the middle was played against Chicago in London.

Both squads need to get things back on track, but Houston had much loftier expectations coming into the season as a 2018 playoff team. Dropping to .500 would be a big blow in a tightly contested AFC South.

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Bobby Ellis // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Houston Texans

- Favored to win: Houston Texans
- Spread: -6.5
- Odds: -285

- Oakland Raiders team stats:
- Offense: 370.8 yards per game (#13 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 233.0 ypg (#15)
--- Rushing offense: 137.8 ypg (#6)
- Defense: 376.5 yards per game (#24 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 289.8 ypg (#31)
--- Rushing defense: 86.7 ypg (#5)

- Houston Texans team stats:
- Offense: 396.0 yards per game (#4 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 261.9 ypg (#11)
--- Rushing offense: 134.1 ypg (#8)
- Defense: 359.9 yards per game (#17 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 275.6 ypg (#29)
--- Rushing defense: 84.3 ypg (#3)

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Quinn Harris // Getty Images

Green Bay Packers (6-1) @ Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)

- Gametime: Sunday, Oct. 27, 8:20 p.m. EST

What would have been one of the best matchups of the NFL season has been dampened after Patrick Mahomes II dislocated his kneecap in the Kansas City Chiefs’ 30-6 victory over the Denver Broncos. The reigning MVP was off to another incredible campaign before his injury, and football fans are now robbed of a battle between two of the best QBs the game has ever seen.

Aaron Rodgers is coming off of one of his best performances in an illustrious NFL career. The two-time NFL MVP finished Sunday’s 42-24 victory over the Oakland Raiders with six touchdowns (five passing, one rushing) and the first perfect passer rating (158.3) in Packers history. Green Bay’s dismantling of the Raiders has some asking if the Pack is the NFC’s best team, even ahead of the undefeated San Francisco 49ers. Kansas City hit a bit of a skid before Mahomes’ injury, losing consecutive AFC South matchups to the Colts and Texans, respectively.

Without Mahome’s, whose MRI came back as good as the team could have imagined, the Packers are road favorites in K.C. as it would be very unlikely to see him take the field Sunday night. If it weren’t Matt Moore under center, it can be safely assumed that the Chiefs would have been the slight favorites. While there’s likely to be less fireworks now, this is still the premier matchup of the week.

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Dylan Buell // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Green Bay Packers

- Favored to win: Green Bay Packers
- Spread: -4.5
- Odds: -200

- Green Bay Packers team stats:
- Offense: 373.4 yards per game (#11 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 274.1 ypg (#8)
--- Rushing offense: 99.3 ypg (#20)
- Defense: 381.0 yards per game (#26 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 252.1 ypg (#21)
--- Rushing defense: 128.9 ypg (#24)

- Kansas City Chiefs team stats:
- Offense: 400.4 yards per game (#3 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 318.1 ypg (#1)
--- Rushing offense: 82.3 ypg (#25)
- Defense: 377.4 yards per game (#25 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 228.6 ypg (#9)
--- Rushing defense: 148.9 ypg (#29)

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Justin K. Aller // Getty Images

Miami Dolphins (0-6) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4)

- Gametime: Monday, Oct. 28, 8:15 p.m. EST

The struggling Steelers without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the season are big favorites at home this weekend, but simply because they’re playing the worst team in football. The Miami Dolphins lost 31-21 to the Buffalo Bills in Week 7 and still managed to cover the spread by a touchdown, which should show you the amount of faith Vegas has in the Phins.

The optics indicate that Miami management is deliberately tanking, but the players are fighting. It’s been a carousel at the quarterback position this year, and Ryan Fitzpatrick got the start last Sunday after head coach Brian Flores changed his mind about sticking with Josh Rosen behind center for the rest of the season. Fitzpatrick helped the Dolphins carry a 14-9 lead into halftime, and got Miami to within a field goal in the closing minutes of the game after rushing for an 11-yard score. But then, of course, Buffalo returned the onside kick for a touchdown and removed all hope for Miami securing its first victory of the season. The Dolphins’ 17 points were the most the Bills’ third-ranked defense has given up all season. 

Pittsburgh is off its bye week after arguably the best performance it has put together this season. While they dominated Cincinnati earlier this season, the Bengals are nowhere close to a threat. The Chargers, however, have had some bad fortune this season but still hold playoff aspirations. The Steelers’ 24-17 victory over L.A. is a small bright spot on what is essentially a lost season for the squad.

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Katharine Lotze // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Pittsburgh Steelers

- Favored to win: Pittsburgh Steelers
- Spread: -14.5
- Odds: -900

- Miami Dolphins team stats:
- Offense: 258.7 yards per game (#31 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 192.0 ypg (#30)
--- Rushing offense: 66.7 ypg (#31)
- Defense: 417.3 yards per game (#30 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 256.5 ypg (#22)
--- Rushing defense: 160.8 ypg (#31)

- Pittsburgh Steelers team stats:
- Offense: 276.5 yards per game (#28 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 200.0 ypg (#28)
--- Rushing offense: 76.5 ypg (#26)
- Defense: 354.3 yards per game (#15 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 244.2 ypg (#18)
--- Rushing defense: 110.2 ypg (#18)

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