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Opening Lines: NFL Week 8

Patriots-Vikings Off The Board Pending Favre Injury News

Due to Brett Favre’s ankle injury on Sunday night, the point spread on this Sunday’s Vikings-Patriots game is currently off the board on most sports books. If Favre’s ankle injury doesn’t keep him out of practice all week, I’d expect the Pats to open as a 4-point favorite. If Favre can’t go, I think it’s likely to see a spread in the -5.5 range.

If Favre plays, he’s going to be playing hurt. He threw two of his three picks against the Packers after his ankle injury, and he looked uncomfortable throwing the ball. Unless he sees a miraculous recovery, I would expect the Patriots to go after him early and often to keep him from getting comfortable. If Favre can’t go, New England will face an inefficient and erratic Tavaris Jackson. Either scenario presents a good chance for a New England victory.

New England will face a stiff test in shutting down RB Adrian Peterson, but the Patriots have been stout against the run this season. They’re allowing just 3.8 yards per carry, and only two teams have allowed fewer rushing scores than our Pats. Four of the Patriots’ six opponents this year rank in the top half of the league in rushing yards per game, and none of them rank in the bottom 10 in the league, so those numbers are no fluke.

While New England has the highest-scoring offense in the NFL in terms of points per game, I don’t expect them to light up the scoreboard this week. The Vikings have a solid front seven, so the Patriots will not be able to dominate in the trenches. However, the Vikings have struggled to get pressure on the QB, and Brady is lethal when he has time to throw. When the Pats played a similarly built Minnesota defense in 2006, they aired it out with 43 passes and just 15 runs. While I don’t expect a similar ratio this time around, I do think the Patriots will try to pass to set up the run.

The Vikings have plenty of playmakers on both sides of the ball, so I don’t anticipate a blowout. I like the Patriots at -4, but if the spread is -6 or more, I would lean toward taking the Vikings due to the number of close games the Patriots have played this season.

Other Week 8 lines that I like …

OVER (43) on Bills and Chiefs

The Bills offense is greatly improved with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB, but their defense still leaves a lot to be desired. The Chiefs should score at will on the ground. Both teams feature explosive return men on special teams as well. This was my favorite line of the week.

JETS (-6) vs. Packers

Most hardcore Pats fans would probably rather light money on fire than ever bet on the Jets, but New York is coming off of a bye at home against a banged-up Packers team. The Jets’ pass defense is the strength of their defense, and the Packers can’t run the ball. This line was currently off the board as well, but I can’t imagine they will spot Green Bay more than 6 in the end.

STEELERS (PK) at Saints

The Saints have struggled mightily this season. The lack of a consistent running game has made the offense very one-dimensional, and the rest of the NFL seems to be catching up with last year’s high-flying offense. With the exception of last week’s narrow win over the Dolphins, the Steelers have played very good football all year. This isn’t a gimme, but Pittsburgh’s aggressive D and balanced attack on offense will likely be too much for New Orleans to handle.