The Sports Editors’ Week 8 NFL Picks

Martin: San Francisco 49ers (-1.5) at Los Angeles Rams

The 49ers under head coach Kyle Shanahan have now won seven straight games against the Rams in the regular season. Simply put, Shanahan has a leg up on Rams head coach Sean McVay — excluding the NFC Championship, of course. But the Rams have not looked Superbowl-caliber this season, and the 49ers’ defense now presents a tough challenge. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford currently has an 84.6 passer rating (out of 158.3), which would be his lowest season finish since 2013

I imagine that Shanahan will fully unleash newly acquired running back Christian McCaffrey in this game. McCaffrey should have his first full week of practice after his trade from the Carolina Panthers, and he will be in line to receive more than the ten touches he saw last week. Pairing McCaffrey with star “wide back” Deebo Samuel should be illegal. These two together will present nightmare matchups for the Rams’ defense if used properly. Maybe I am too invested in the McCaffrey hype, but I think the 49ers make it eight straight regular season wins against the Rams.

Stuzin: New England Patriots at New York Jets (+1.5)

I may be a bit biased, but I feel pretty good about this one. The Jets have shocked the football world this season, posting a 5-2 record thus far. Despite some struggles from QB Zach Wilson, who hasn’t thrown for more than 252 yards in any of his first four games and has only thrown one passing touchdown in that time, the team has been able to find a groove it hasn’t found in years. The defense has been one of the best in the league throughout the season, and they only continue to get better. My one concern is that the Jets have lost their star rookie running back, Breece Hall (463 rushing yards and four rushing TDs on the season). Nevertheless, I’m optimistic that they will be able to recover. 

On the other side, the Patriots are the worst they’ve been in years. They can’t find any consistency in either of their QBs (Patriots fans thought Mac Jones was the answer, but his two TDs and six interceptions say otherwise, and rookie Bailey Zappe has shown spurts of potential but hasn’t led the team to much success). Overall, the Pats have been struggling while the Jets have found their stride, so look for the Jets to take the edge here.

Notis: New York Giants (+3) at Seattle Seahawks

Maybe I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but what is going on here? The Giants, underdogs, again? Vegas loves to go all in against the Giants, but when will they learn? The fearless wrath of head coach Brian Daboll is not one to go up against. The resurgence of rookie wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson has sparked the offense, giving quarterback Daniel Jones a consistent, electrifying target. Put this energizing offense together with an innovative defense and you get an all-around great team. A 6-1 underdog. 

But by no means am I underestimating the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks have soared past any and all expectations this season. Quarterback Geno Smith has silenced any doubters, playing the best football of his career. Rookie running back Kenneth Walker III has been excellent so far. Both teams are outperforming any and all expectations. They should be proud of all they have accomplished. But it’s impossible to bet against this season’s Giants. They are a steamroller ready to take over Seattle. 

Silverstein: Tennessee Titans (-2.5) at Houston Texans

Let me describe the Tennessee Titans’ game plan for you: Give Derrick Henry the ball thirty times, don’t let Ryan Tannehill do too much and repeat. It may seem boring. It may seem outdated. But at the end of the day, it is the same formula that led to the Titans’ improbable AFC Championship run in 2020 and the same formula that has seen them win their last four games. Mike Vrabel’s recipe for success looks primed to work again this week against a Texans defense that has allowed 5.2 yards per carry, good for fourth-worst in the league. Houston has only won once this year, and that was against a young Trevor Lawrence who turned the ball over twice. Meanwhile, offensively, Houston just does not have the firepower to force the Titans to get away from what they do best. As long as Tannehill makes good decisions and does not forget how to hand the ball off, Tennessee will dominate time of possession, continue its winning streak and gain a stronger grip on the division.