- Tom Pennington/Getty
Through the first eight weeks of the season, it’s safe to say the best thing about the NFL this year (and there haven’t been many!) is the talent of the rookies.
Maybe it’s yet another sign that the league is getting worse, but rookies on both sides of the ball are really making an impact all over the league. And that’s really fun!
Ezekiel Elliott is the best rookie rusher since probably LaDainian Tomlinson. Will Fuller is already fun, but going to be really fun if Houston can figure out how to fix Brock Osweiler. Sterling Shepherd is overshadowed by Odell Beckham, but is finding the end zone and playing well under the radar.
The crop of quarterbacks, obviously led by Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz, is much better than anyone expected. (Sorry, Jared Goff.)
On the other side of the ball, Joey Bosa and Jalen Ramsey are both stars. Vernon Hargreaves III has played well for the Bucs. Darron Lee leads the Jets in tackles.
Compare that to last year’s batch of rookies. Marcus Mariota is underwhelming, Jameis Winston is erratic. Who else is there? Melvin Gordon is having a good second year, but Todd Gurley has taken a step back. Amari Cooper and Stefon Diggs are pretty great, I suppose. So is Leonard Williams, for the most part.
I don’t know. Are the rookies really better this year, or is it just that the quality of play this year is so bad that we’re more inclined to focus on the fun rookies? Probably, like most things, it’s some combination of both.
LAST WEEK: 8-7
Jacksonville Jaguars (+3) at Tennessee Titans (Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET)
- Rob Foldy/Getty Images
The usual jokes about these two teams playing on Thursday night aren’t even funny anymore. Can we just sim this game?
Let’s check in on the Jags’ COLOR RUSH uniforms. Blake Bortles, your thoughts?
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) October 26, 2016
The pick: Jaguars +3
Washington Redskins (+3) at Cincinnati Bengals (London, Sunday at 9:30 a.m. ET)
- Billie Weiss/Getty
Another fantastic London game to really help the fine people of England learn to love the NFL. I like the Bengals to win here, not exclusively because Andy Dalton will feel right at home across the pond.
The pick: Bengals -3
Green Bay Packers (+3) at Atlanta Falcons (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)
- Kevin C. Cox/Getty
The Falcons should permanently go back to these Vick-era black jerseys.
The pick: Falcons -3
Detroit Lions (+2.5) at Houston Texans (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
- Dustin Bradford/Getty
This has “trap game” written all over it. But man, Brock Osweiler has been bad, hasn’t he?
The pick: Texans -2.5
Seattle Seahawks (-2.5) at New Orleans Saints (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
- via Twitter
Richard Sherman is a great Halloween dad.
The pick: Seahawks -2.5
New England Patriots (-6.5) at Buffalo Bills (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
- Steven Senne/AP
When’s the last time the Pats have been swept by an AFC East team?
The pick: Pats -6.5
New York Jets (-3) at Cleveland Browns (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
- Michael Reaves/Getty
If the Browns lose this, they have a real shot at 0-16. I guess I’m taking the Jets because they are less bad?
The pick: Jets -3
Oakland Raiders (+1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
- Rob Foldy/Getty
The Raiders are undefeated on the road, and the Bucs are 0-2 at home.
The pick: Raiders +1
Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5) at Indianapolis Colts (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
- Jason Hanna/Getty
Lock of the week!
The pick: Chiefs -2.5
San Diego Chargers (+5.5) at Denver Broncos (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)
- Kevin C. Cox/Getty
Now that the Chargers appear to have figured out how to not blow leads in the 4th quarter, they might be really good!
*Cue Philip Rivers throwing four interceptions.*
Pick: Chargers +5.5
Arizona Cardinals (+3) at Carolina Panthers (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
- Norm Hall/Getty
Why aren’t the Cardinals favored in this game? Even with a terrible kicker I think they win this game outright.
The pick: Cardinals +3
Philadelphia Eagles (+4.5) at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET)
- Rich Schultz/Getty
Finally, a good primetime game!
The pick: Eagles +4.5
Minnesota Vikings (-5.5) at Chicago Bears (Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET)
- Ezra Shaw/Getty
The pick: Vikings -5.5
Now check out this week’s power rankings…
- Joe Sargent/Getty