Ben Roethlisberger will make his return for the Steelers this week, just in time for what may very well be the most important game played in the AFC North this season. The Steelers went a surprising 3-2 without their star quarterback, including the win they earned against the Rams after Big Ben was injured midgame. They really should have gone 4-1, given that they had Baltimore down to a fraction of a percentage point of win expectancy in the fourth quarter, only for since-released kicker Josh Scobee to miss two critical field goals.
While the team did beat the Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins over the last four weeks, none of these victories were resounding. All came by a one-score margin against flawed opponents and this could be the week that Minnesota is exposed as a pretender.
While the Cardinals are far from a powerhouse, they finally have superstar wideout DeAndre Hopkins back in the lineup after he served a six-game suspension. Hopkins showed no rust in his return last week, securing 10 of his 14 targets for 103 yards in a 42-34 victory over New Orleans.
My mentors were James Walker Michaels, Geoffrey N. Smith and William Baldwin. I started out in the statistics department of Forbes in the mid-'80s then transitioned to writing. I mainly wrote about high-priced stocks that I believed were doomed. Example: my story on CUC International pointed out how the company's aggressive accounting was masking a cash-flow problem. CUC's stock subsequently crashed and the CEO was convicted of fraud. My CUC story is the focus of a chapter in the 2004 book: Forbes Greatest Investing Stories (John Wiley & Sons) by Richard Phalon. I even wrote an Earnings Quality newsletter for Forbes for a brief period (I think it peaked at about 150 subscribers). These days I like to take lots and lots of numbers and turn them into proprietary concepts and multi-platform content. Three of my longstanding publishing creations: the valuations of sports teams, ranking actors and movie studios on bang for the buck (ROI) and the Forbes Fab 40 (the most valuable sports brands). My most recent non-sports idea was Names You Need To Know, which broadened my concept of list creation to include direct input from our audience. My latest creation was the \"SportsMoney Index,\" which ranks the most valuable athletes, brands, teams and sports agencies based on a combination of their individual values, and value of the top athletes, brands, teams and agencies they do business with. I also have a passion for economics (my MBA thesis at Long Island University was an empirical study on the cause of inflation in which regression analysis showed a significant correlation between the general level of prices and the money supply). Besides being an Assistant Managing Editor at Forbes I also have a gig as co-host and Managing Editor of the four-time New York Emmy award winning Forbes SportsMoney on the YES Network and Fox Sports 1 with my buddies at YES, co-host Bob Lorenz and producer David Alfreds, both of whom have taught me a tremendous amount. One of my favorite affairs is being a guest every few weeks on Larry Kudlow's radio show on WABC Saturday mornings. Larry has been a great mentor and friend. My brother in arms is Kurt Badenhausen, whom I have worked with for many years and knows more about sports numbers than anyone.
Tune-in as we wrap-up our preview of Sunday's Patriots - Jets game. We discuss Bill Belichick naming Mac Jones as the starter for Week 8. Evan Lazar offers his Thursday Patriots practice update and looks at a few key injuries for New England. Plus, we go around the table to offer our picks for the entire slate of NFL Week 8 games.
Tune-in as we discuss the Boston Herald report on behind-the-scenes coaching drama this past season. What is one trade the Patriots must make? We discuss Bill O'Brien joining the staff as the offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach and how that could improve the offense. Plus, Patriots coaches head to Shrine Bowl & Senior Bowl, Conference Championship picks and more.
Tune-in as we discuss the news that the Patriots will be playing an international game in Germany in 2023. We talk about the Patriots offensive coordinator search and which new names have been reported as part of the search. We discuss New England's positions of need heading into the offseason. Plus, we go around the table for our Divisional Playoffs picks for the entire slate of games.
Surprisingly, this week, the experts are taking the Commanders. The expert picks have been overwhelmingly against Washington throughout the season. This time, 59% of the expert picks are going with the Commanders, according to NFL Pickwatch.
Here are the picks for Week 8, with each model's percent chance of winning in parentheses. Games in bold are where the two models disagree on who has the best chance to win. Point spreads are just for reference, via Vegas Insider as of Thursday morning.
So perhaps the most compelling bout of the weekend is ... the Philadelphia Eagles facing the Lions in Detroit? Philly has lost five of six and could be just what the winless but scrappy Lions need in order to finally break into the win column. Three of our NFL experts foresee an outright Detroit victory, and all but one think they'll at least cover the 3½-point spread.
The Lions have won two straight games coming into this weekend's game against the Colts. If you had offered me a bet at the start of the year that the Lions would not win three straight games at any point during the 2020 NFL season, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.
The Packers scored 43 points on the Vikings back in Week 1, with wide receiver Davante Adams going off for 14 receptions, 156 yards, and two touchdowns. I hope you aren't playing against him in fantasy this weekend.
It's always risky to back Baker Mayfield to have two good games in a row, but it felt like in the second half last weekend, he really might have found his stride for the season. This one could turn into a shootout, so it might be more fun to bet the over.
Through seven weeks of the NFL season, we bet against the Jets every week until they covered the spread. Last week, they finally brought the experiment to an end, losing 18-10 as 10-point underdogs to the Bills, meaning we went 6-1 against the spread simply by betting on the team playing against the Jets for the first half of the season. Not bad!
Unfortunately, this week we have to take the Jets in the ugliest game of the week. I would likely advise against putting actual money on this game; how dumb would it feel to lose money because you bet on the Jets against the Chiefs? That said, this is too many points to give to an NFL team. 20-point blowouts aren't that common in the NFL, even if they do happen more when the best team in the league is playing the worst team in the league.
After starting the season 5-1, it feels like the Bears are getting ready to crash back down to Earth. Last week's loss to the Rams was a start, but after this week and then a game against the Titans after that, the Bears could be 5-4 before long.
After Andy Dalton went down with an injury last weekend, the Dallas Cowboys will turn to rookie quarterback Ben DiNucci to start this Sunday. DiNucci was a seventh-round draft pick this year out of James Madison University and completed two of his three passes after entering last week's game in relief. I wish him the best of luck. 2b1af7f3a8