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NFL Week 8 Free Picks

Bills vs. Saints, 1:00PM ET
Even with Jimmy Graham likely to miss the game with a foot injury, the Saints offense should score plenty against a Buffalo defense that allows 25.4 points per game. Conversely, the Bills haven’t had issues reaching pay dirt themselves, as they’re the only team in the NFL that has scored at least 20 points per contest. The over is 5-1 in Buffalo’s last six games overall and 6-0 in New Orleans’ last six games following a bye week.
FREE PICK: Over 48

49ers vs. Jaguars, 1:00PM ET
The Jaguars have been a disaster this season and the Niners are rounding into the same form that made them NFC title champs a season ago. That said, San Francisco hasn’t been home in two weeks after its players traveled to Tennessee last Sunday and then hopped a flight directly after that to head to London for today’s game. With all of that traveling, plus an inflated spread due to Jacksonville’s overall ineffectiveness, the Jags should cover today over seas. The Niners are 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games versus a team with a losing record and are due to have a letdown.
FREE PICK: Jaguars +17

Redskins vs. Broncos, 4:25PM ET
The over has cashed every week in Denver games and there’s no reason to believe the combined score won’t sail over again with Washington in town today. Over the past three weeks RGIII has looked more like the dynamic player he was a year ago as he’s beginning to have more success as a runner. He’s still highly inaccurate but the Redskins racked up 45 points last Sunday on the Bears and should have success today versus a Broncos defense that has struggled. The over is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these two teams and while the total is set high for this contest, both teams should reach the 30s.
FREE PICK: Over 57.5

Falcons vs. Cardinals, 4:25PM ET
Atlanta is highly banged up but will get running back Steven Jackson back this week after he missed over a month with a hamstring injury. The Falcons proved a week ago versus Tampa Bay that they can still move the ball effectively thanks to Matt Ryan’s ability to find weaknesses in the defense and get the ball out of his hand quickly. On the flip side, Bruce Arians is having a difficult time with his offense. The line has had massive issues protecting quarterback Carson Palmer, who is turning the ball over on a game-by-game basis. Atlanta’s pass rush has been non-exsistent this year but it should drum up enough pressure to keep Arizona’s offense at bay for another week. The Cardinals are just 2-10-1 against the spread in their last 13 games in October while the Falcons are 5-1 ATS in their last six games in Week 8.
FREE PICK: Falcons +1

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Justin Blackmon Arrested For Aggravated DUI

I’m actually pretty surprised by this.

Jacksonville Jaguars first-round draft pick receiver Justin Blackmon was arrested on an aggravated DUI charge Sunday after authorities in Oklahoma said he had three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system.

The former Oklahoma State star smelled of alcohol when an officer pulled him over shortly after 3 a.m., Stillwater police spokesman Capt. Randy Dickerson said.

Blackmon agreed to take a breathalyzer test and blew a .24 — three times the legal limit of .08, Dickerson said.

Blackmon struck me as someone who had it together heading into the draft, so this boneheaded mistake seems out of character. The Jaguars can’t be happy about it. Let’s hope it’s an isolated incident.

Jaguars already committed to Blaine Gabbert in 2012

Creating competition is apparently overrated in Mike Mularkey’s book.

When speaking to NFL.com’s Albert Breer on Monday, the new Jaguars head coach said that his quarterback position is not open for competition.

“No, it’s not (a competition),” Mulakery said. “Blaine’s our starting quarterback…I’m a big body-language reader, and on the practice field, the cafeteria, in meetings, he has a confidence about him. We feel good about him.”

It’s understandable that Mularkey wants to instill confidence in Gabbert right from the start. If it walks, talks, and acts like a duck, it’s probably a duck. Thus, if Gabbert is entrusted to be the starter from Day 1, then the hope is that he’ll embrace the leadership role and enter training camp brimming with confidence.

That said, considering how poorly Gabbert played last season as a rookie, it’s interesting that Mularkey has committed to him so quickly. Chad Henne isn’t a great starting option, but one would have thought Mularkey would have at least left the position open to competition. Most coaches want to create competition at every position so that players don’t become complacent – not award starting jobs in May.

Then again, Mularkey was one of the coaches in Atlanta who did a great job easing Matt Ryan into the NFL. His offense is quarterback-friendly because it relies on power running and a passing game that works the short-to-intermediate zones. Thus, Gabbert, who doesn’t have to worry about the lockout ruining his preparation time this offseason, shouldn’t have an issue grasping his role in Mularkey’s offense.

It’ll be interesting to see how the former Missouri star fares in Mularkey’s offense and to watch him try to bounce back from a brutal rookie campaign.

Will the Jaguars stay in Jacksonville?

Jacksonville Jaguars Blaine Gabbert gets hit by The New York Jets Bart Scott in the fourth quarter in week 2 of the NFL season at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on September 18, 2011. The Jets defeated the Jaguars 32-3. UPI /John Angelillo

Mike Florio isn’t convinced. He makes a good point about Wayne Weaver’s credibility, as Weaver insisted repeatedly that the Jaguars were not for sale. There’s no provision requiring Shahid Khan to keep the team in Jacksonville as part of the sale, and while the lease extends to 2029, there may be ways to get around it. Given the amount of money at stake and the specter of Los Angeles looming out there as a possible destination, anything is possible at this point.

As a Browns fan, I’m sympathetic to any situation where a community might lose a team. But Jacksonville just doesn’t support the team. Let’s see if the community can rally around the new owner and convince him to keep the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

Jaguars to start rookie Blaine Gabbert on Sunday

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert (11) throws a pass while playing against the New England Patriots in the first quarter of a preseason game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts on August 11, 2011. UPI/Matthew Healey

Jack Del Rio has already seen enough of Luke McCown.

Following a nasty performance in New York over the weekend, Del Rio has decided to bench McCown and will start rookie signal caller Blaine Gabbert against the Panthers this Sunday. Gabbert, the 10th overall pick in April’s draft, will oppose fellow rookie quarterback Cam Newton, who has already thrown over 800 yards in his first two NFL games.

It was easy to see this move coming when the Jags dumped David Garrard shortly before the season. Del Rio and the front office had seemingly wanted to get rid of Garrard for years but they never had a suitable backup to make the move. When Gabbert was drafted back in April, he was viewed as a raw prospect but that was okay because he could learn behind Garrard for a year…or so everyone thought. But a year was apparently too much for Del Rio and Co., as Garrard was released rather abruptly on September 6.

McCown played fairly well in the team’s season opener against Tennessee, but understandably struggled miserably against Rex Ryan’s stout defense last week while throwing four nasty interceptions. Gabbert will face a Carolina defense that has struggled against the run in its first two games, so expect the Jaguars to largely keep the ball on the ground this Sunday and let the rookie be a “game manager” in his professional debut as a starter.

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