NFL Week 8: Overcoming The Odds – 3 Games to Watch

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Richard Graves

Presenter, Writer and Broadcaster

Danger-Russ: Broncos QB in fitness race to face the Jags. Can the Rams End Niners’ Dominance & Will the Bills Take the Cheese When Green Bay Visit Buffalo?


Denver Broncos (2-5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5) (Total Points Under 39.5)

Both teams arrive in London on 4 game losing streaks and both have caused agony for their supporters this season.  All of the Jaguars games have been lost by a margin of just one score – that leads the NFL this season. Who’s tied for second most losses by one score? The Denver Broncos (4).

The big question hanging over this matchup is the fitness of quarterback, Russell Wilson.  He sat out the Denver’s defeat to the Jets with a hamstring injury but has made the trip to the UK.  Even with him in the line-up, their offense has not been good. Through 7 weeks, this team averages just 14.3 points per game – that’s the worst in the NFL! Compare that to a defense which ranks 2nd overall and is allowing only 16.4 points per game and it’s apparent where the problems lie.  A team which entered the season with such high expectations, after trading for Wilson, just isn’t living up to them.

A 2-1 start to the campaign also gave rise to expectations in Jacksonville but coming up just 1 yard short of a game tying score in defeat to the Giants last weekend summed up their season so far perfectly. Even so, they return to the UK knowing their record in London is much better than in the US. Since 2015 they are 4-2 when playing in London compared to 31-83 in America. In that time, they average 25.3 points per game in London, as opposed to 19.5 points per game in America.  Second year running back Travis Etienne has been explosive as well, rushing for 200 yards and a TD in his first 2 starts. The only RB in Jags’ history to rush for more in that period…. Fred Taylor (205).

Ultimately, it appears the running game maybe where this game is won and lost. As good as the Broncos defense is, the Jets had plenty of success on the ground against the last week – totalling over 150 yards on the ground. While the Jaguars have struggled when defending the read-zone option – both Jalen Hurts and Daniel Jones, particularly have caused them issues. If Russell Wilson plays this could be a key factor.  However, Denver’s inability to put points on the board remains a real concern. This won’t be a shootout. In fact, there may not be many points scored at all.

PICK: Total Points – Under 39.5


San Francisco 49ers (3-4) @ LA Rams (3-3) (San Francisco -1.5)

The LA Rams host their NFC West rivals, fresh off a bye week…. but that isn’t going to help them.  The only time they’ve beaten the 49ers in their last 8 meetings (including the post season) was last year’s NFC Championship game.  That may have been the most important match-up but there’s no escaping that fact head coach, Kyle Shanahan has had the wood over his opposite number, Sean McVay.

It’s only 4 weeks sine they last met – the 49ers were comfortable 24-9 winners. Now they have a new weapon to throw into the mix – running back, Christian McCaffrey. Remember how the Rams used to out scheme everyone, utilising Todd Gurley out of the back field? Well, he could be getting a taste of his own medicine this weekend now that McCaffrey’s had a week to learn the playbook and practice with his new teammates.

That’s not the only issue for the Rams. No doubt they’ll have used the bye week to fix some of their problems on offense. It’s hard to believe though that they will have been able to resolve all the problems on the offensive line! Matthew Stafford has been sacked 22 times in 6 games so far – the 49ers got to him 7 times in their week 4 encounter! Whichever way you dress this up, the 49ers have the better defense and man for man, they’re better on offense.

PICK: San Francisco 49ers -1.5


Green Bay Packers (3-4) @ Buffalo Bills (5-1) (Packers Under 19.5 points)

Never in his NFL career has Aaron Rodgers been a double digit underdog but that’s the case this weekend.  The Green Bay Packers head into Buffalo as 10.5 point underdogs, largely because their offense can’t put points on the board! They average just 18.3 points per game – that’s ranked 23rd in the NFL. Back to back defeats to the New York Jets and Washington Commanders have done nothing to ease nerves in Green Bay and now they face the team, many believe to be the best in the league and their number 1 ranked defense. Which coincidentally in the meanest as well – giving up just 13.5 points per game. If that wasn’t enough, they’ve had 2 weeks to prepare for this game, coming off their bye week.

On offense, the Bills are second in scoring, only behind the Chiefs – the team they beat, heading into their bye. Frankly, what at the start of the season looked like a week 8 game of the week contender, now looks increasingly like a potential mismatch.

The Packers already find themselves 2.5 games adrift of division rival, Minnesota Vikings. Another defeat this weekend could see the Vikings disappearing into the distance in the race for the division title!

It’s going to be an electric atmosphere with a raucous Buffalo crowd on hand on Sunday night. The Packers have only scored 20 points or more on 4 occasions this season. It’s hard to see how they do that again in this match-up.

PICK: Green Bay Packers Under 19.5 Points

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