The Green Bay Packers will take a trip to the desert to face off against the Arizona Cardinals in the Week 8 edition of Thursday Night Football at 8:20 p.m ET on the NFL Network.
Two of the NFC’s elite teams will clash in a matchup that will likely have significant playoff implications if both maintain their current trajectories.
While you can make a case for other clubs, the Cardinals are the best team in the NFL. They made player personnel moves in the offseason to put themselves in place to make a run, capping it off with the Zach Ertz acquisition last week. The Cardinals are on the right track.
The Packers aren’t far behind, however. Despite a terrible loss in the season opener against the Saints, the Packers have bounced back in a big way and are in control of the underachieving NFC North.
If the Cardinals and Packers are tied at the end of the season, this game could decide which team is awarded the first-round bye.
We’ve had quite a few entertaining games on Thursday Night Football in 2021. Week 8 could add another one to the list.
For in-depth analysis and extended betting tips for TNF Week 8, read on for the latest installment in the TNF football predictions series.
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Thursday Night Football Prediction Week 8
The NFL Week 8 edition of Thursday Night Football features two of the best teams in football. The Cardinals have the edge statistically, but the Packers bring the edge with intangibles.
The Packers have been here before and they are one of the top teams in football with an experienced head coach and quarterback. Meanwhile, it has been a long time since the Cardinals have played at this high a level. They certainly haven’t with HC Kliff Kingsbury and QB Kyler Murray.
Arizona will field a team that is top five in both points scored and against entering Week 8. They are also top 10 in total yards on both sides of the ball.
The Packers are good, but they are not at Arizona’s level of excellence at the moment. The Packers enter Week 8 as a middle-of-the-pack club in scoring offense and defense. But while Green Bay’s offense isn’t putting up the yardage we’d expect, their defense is playing above expectations in that statistical category.
The biggest difference between these two teams right now, and the factor that has made this line shift heavily in favor of the Cardinals over the past few days, is health.
Not only has stud Packers WR Davante Adams been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, putting his Week 8 playing status in severe jeopardy, but Allen Lazard, who has been hot of late, catching a touchdown in two straight games, was placed on the list as well.
Green Bay’s wide receiver corps, which was already light to begin with, has taken a big hit.
To make matters worse, Packers DC Joe Barry tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week and is unlikely to be available to call defensive plays on Thursday night.
If both Adams and Lazard cannot clear COVID protocols in time to be activated for Thursday night’s matchup, Randall Cobb, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Amari Rodgers will see an uptick in snaps and usage. Cobb could very well operate as the Packers’ top wide receiver.
Adams and Lazard will need two negative COVID tests 24 hours apart ahead of Thursday to be cleared for the game.
On the Cardinals’ end, they are getting a significant piece back. Pass rusher Chandler Jones has been activated from the COVID list and will likely play on Thursday night.
That’s a big boost to a defense that already leads the league in points allowed per game (16.3) and is top five in total yards allowed per game (316.7).
Arizona is no slouch on the offensive side of the ball either, as Kyler Murray is a leading MVP candidate through seven weeks. Not only is Murray one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the NFL, but in 2021, he is really beginning to emerge as a terrific thrower.
Murray has completed over 65.6% of his passes in every game this season, with five games north of 71%. Murray is like a point guard out there, distributing the football to his slew of pass-catching assets. It is no longer DeAndre Hopkins or bust.
With all of the potential absences on the Green Bay side, the Packers will have to rely heavily on the legs of RB Aaron Jones, rather than the arm of Rodgers. If Jones can have an efficient and productive game running the ball, he will keep Murray and the high-octane Cardinals’ offense on the sideline.
That, coupled with the fact that we’ve seen Rodgers have success with a lack of talent at receiver over the years, makes me think Green Bay might still keep this close, but in the end I think Arizona continues its perfect start to the season.
TNF Week 8 Pick: Arizona Cardinals 30, Green Bay Packers 23
Thursday Night Football Betting Trends for 2021
- The Over is 2-5, with the Under hitting in five straight.
- The underdog is 3-4 against the spread.
- The favorite is 7-0 on the moneyline.
- The home team is 4-3.
*Anthony Cervino is 18-6 on his NFL Best Bets for 2021 for The Game Day.
Thursday Night Football Best Bets Week 8
*NFL gameday odds and lines are current as of Tuesday, October 26 at 9:00 p.m. ET.
TNF Best Bet: Cardinals -6.5 (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
Home teams are 4-3 straight up this season on TNF and the favorites are 4-3 ATS. I like the Cardinals to win outright and cover. It is difficult to ever count Aaron Rodgers out, but without much of a supporting cast it’s going to be hard to keep up with the Arizona offense.
Expect the Cardinals to keep the foot on the gas pedal on offense and the pressure coming at all angles defensively with the hopes of creating an opportunity to go up by two scores.
Although this could still be a sneaky shootout, I don’t see the Cardinals losing. I liked the Cards to win by a touchdown prior to the Adams and Lazard reports. I will stick to my guns.
TNF Best Bet: Over 51 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 2 Units
The Under has hit in the past five TNF games. That run will end in Week 8 in a game that features two of the very best scoring offenses and quarterbacks in the NFL.
I expect the Cardinals to deliver on their end with the points. And while the Packers could have some issues early, it will only be a matter of time until Rodgers exploits the Achilles heel of Arizona’s defense, which is clearly their secondary.
In the wake of the Adams and Lazard reports, the total moved down 1.5 points from 52.5 to 51. Despite the fact that Rodgers is likely going to be down his top pass-catching weapons, you can never count out No. 12 when it comes to scoring the football.
Rodgers has made ball boys into starters in his career. I like the Over to still hit. What’s more, there is always a shot that Adams and Lazard are cleared before the game. Take the Over at 51. If Adams and/or Lazard end up playing, this line will climb back up.
TNF Best Bet: Cardinals Moneyline (-280) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
The favorite has hit on the moneyline in every TNF game this season. I don’t anticipate that changing this week. If this was a playoff game, I might err on the side of the experience (Aaron Rodgers and the Packers). But in regular-season play, an upstart team like the Cardinals has a shot to showcase on national television that they are a team on the rise and will deliver.
The Moneyline jumped from (-190) to (-280) after the Adams and Lazard news. For some reason, Vegas is counting out Rodgers. The Cardinals should win the game, but the Packers aren’t as big of dogs as the Moneyline suggests.