By The Coach and Dr. Football
The Minnesota Vikings head back out on the road this week and that’s never a good thing. Not even when the opposition is the marginally talented, less-than-consistent Chicago Bears.
The Vikes won their first road game in the North Division since 2012 last week, with a 28-19 win over the truly lousy Detroit Lions. The Vikes are 4-2 and have won four of their last five and that’s why they’re favored heading into Chicago.
The Bears meanwhile, started the season with three straight losses, but have won two of their last three and that’s probably why the Vikings – with maybe the best defense in the NFC – are only two-point favorites.
The difference in this one won’t be Adrian Peterson and it won’t be Teddy Bridgewater, although the Bears secondary is pretty weak so Charles Johnson, Stefon Diggs, Mike Wallace and Kyle Rudolph could have a field day. The difference, however, will be the Vikings lockdown defense.
The Vikes D is third in the NFL in points allowed per game and seventh in yards allowed per game. Granted, the Bears’ offense is improved since Jay Cutler returned from injury while Matt Forte has been outstanding and Alshon Jeffery is back in the lineup. Still, this Vikings defense can shut people down. Even good people.
The Bears are better than they were a month ago. The Vikings defense is as good as it gets. This is a must win for both teams. After this one, the Vikings have four tough ball games while it’s pretty obvious that if the Bears lose this one, they fall to 2-5 and are pretty much out of the playoff hunt.
It should be close. Two mediocre offenses against one great defense. The lesser of the two teams is at home. A Vikings win a late field goal does not seem out of the question
Meanwhile, speaking of mediocre, that would pretty much sum up our fearless prognosticators this season. The Doc went 10-4 straight up (61-44) and 7-7 (46-59) against the spread. The Coach went 10-4 straight up (64-41) and 7-7 against the spread (53-52).
This week, the Doc once again captures the brilliance of the boys picks while The Coach whines about the Lions offensive line, the Browns’ coaching staff and the Texans reprehensible owner.
Let’s take a close look at Week 8:
Miami Dolphins (3-3) at New England Patriots (6-0)
Line: Patriots by 7.5
The Dolphins have outscored their opponents 82-36 in Dan Campbell’s first two games as Head Coach. But those opponents weren’t coached by Bill Belichick. The Coach says: Despite a makeshift offensive line and all their other problems, the Patriots might be better than ever because Tom Brady is still pissed off at the NFL.
Dr. Football: Take the Patriots to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Patriots to win and cover.
Sunday Morning (8:30 a.m. CDT from London, England)
Detroit Lions (1-6) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (2-5)
Line: Chiefs by 6
The Lions cleaned house on Monday, turfing three members of the offensive coaching staff, two popcorn boys, and a 93-year-old man who sold programs. Not a bad start, but not enough. The Coach says: Matthew Stafford was sacked seven times last week. There is not likely an offensive line in professional football that’s worse.
Dr. Football: Take the Chiefs to win and cover.
The Coach: take the Chiefs to win and cover.
Early Sunday Afternoon
Minnesota Vikings (4-2) at Chicago Bears (2-4)
Line: Vikings by 2
The Vikings haven’t won in Chicago since 2007. They might be the only ones. A new era begins for the Purple. The Coach says: Mike Zimmer is not stupid. He said Jay Cutler was a good quarterback who “has beaten us in the recent past.” No bulletin board crap coming from the Vikes this week.
Dr. Football: Take the Vikings to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Vikings to win and cover.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) at Atlanta Falcons (6-1)
Line: Falcons by 7
The Bucs squandered a 24-0 lead last week on the road against a terrible Washington team ,while the Falcons eeked out a road victory. Tough times in Tampa Bay. The Coach says: Blowing a big lead against the Washingtons pretty much ended the Bucs season.
Dr. Football: Take the Falcons to win and cover
The Coach: Take the Falcons to win and cover.
New York Giants (4-3) at New Orleans Saints (3-4)
Line: Saints by 3.5
The Saints have won two straight and are starting to win in different ways. Won’t be a happy homecoming for Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. The Coach says: Talk about a team finding its bearings. The Saints are starting to look very good.
Dr. Football: Take the Saints to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Saints to win and cover.
San Francisco 49ers (2-5) at St. Louis Rams (3-3)
Line: Rams by 8
Imagine how good the Rams would be with a talented quarterback? This one won’t be on “NFL Classics” anytime soon, but the 49ers will put up a fight. The Coach says: Bet Minnesota would love to have a do-over on that season opener.
Dr. Football: Take the Rams to win but not cover.
The Coach: Take the Rams to win and cover.
Arizona Cardinals (5-2) at Cleveland Browns (2-5)
Line: Cardinals by 4.5
With all the issues the Browns are having the Cardinals might feel they have Sunday off after a tough Monday Nighter against the Ravens so they will have to stay focused. The Coach says: The worst coach in football resides in Cleveland. The best team ion the NFC might be in Glendale, Ariz.
Dr. Football: Take the Cardinals to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Cardinals to win and cover.
Cincinnati Bengals (6-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)
Line: NO LINE
Big Ben is expected to return for the Steelers, who need him to get the team back on track. Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton has a 79.2 passer efficiency rating and is 2-6 all-time against the Steelers. It will be 2-7 after this won is over. The Coach says: Toss up, in Pittsburgh, a good team against the most inconsistent team in the league. Until somebody beats the Bengals, I’ll ride that tiger.
Dr. Football: Take the Steelers.
The Coach: Take the Bengals
San Diego Chargers (2-5) at Baltimore Ravens (1-6)
Line: Ravens by 3
Both teams have been dismal this year but the Ravens have at least been in every game so far this year. The Chargers defense is horrible which should make life easier for Joe Flacco and company. The Coach says: One of these teams will find a way to screw it up. Hope I pick the right one.
Dr. Football: Take the Ravens to win and cover.
The Coach: take the Ravens to win and cover.
Tennessee Titans (1-5) at Houston Texans (2-5)
Line: NO LINE
Stinkeroo alert. Both teams are awful. The Texans will have Marcus Mariota back for this one. Go with the home team. The Coach says: One good thing for the stinkin’ Texans,: There is no flight to miss.
Dr. Football: Take the Texans to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Titans.
Late Sunday Afternoon
New York Jets (4-1) at Oakland Raiders (2-3)
Line: Jets by 1.5
Both teams have equalled their 2014 win totals six games into the season, but does anyone expect Oakland to win many more. I think they threw everything into last week’s game and will come out flat. The Jets meanwhile took their lumps against the Patriots, but will remained focused. The Coach says: I just kind of like the Raiders at home and I don’t know why.
Dr. Football: Take the Jets to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Raiders.
Seattle Seahawks (3-4) at Dallas Cowboys (2-4)
Line: Seahawks by 6
The Cowboys have lost four consecutive games which isn’t good for morale. The Seahawks may have turned things around last week in San Francisco. I think they’re due for a big game. The Coach says: Dallas will find a way to lose.
Dr. Football: Take the Seahawks to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Seahawks to win and cover.
Green Bay Packers (6-0) at Denver Broncos (6-0)
Line: Packers by 3
The Broncos have won 10 consecutive regular season games at home while the Packers are just 6-5 away from Lambeau Field since 2013. I think Peyton will silence his critics and the Broncos’ defense will silence Mr. Rodgers. The Coach says: I love the Broncos defense and they’ll keep it close. This will be an outstanding football game.
Dr. Football: Take the Broncos in an upset.
The Coach says: Take the Packers to win and cover.
Indianapolis Colts (3-4) at Carolina Panthers (6-0)
Line: Panthers by 6.5
A battle of former number one draft picks that are going in different directions. Cam Newton is getting it done while Andrew Luck just tosses interceptions. The Coach says: Cam Newton is making a pitch to be NFL player of the year. That is, he’ll be player of the year if Tom Brady gets hit by a truck.
Dr. Football: Take the Panthers to win and cover.
The Coach: take the Panthers to win and cover.