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Six teams on upset alert in NFL Week 8

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

There are some tricky matchups on the NFL Week 8 schedule, and so it shouldn’t be surprising that some top playoff contenders are on upset alert.

Looking at the spreads ahead of Week 8, we’ve identified six favorites that are in danger of suffering a loss at home to underdogs.

Los Angeles Chargers vs. Chicago Bears (-4)

A couple of teams that have not been surging of late are clashing in the Windy City, and this game could honestly go either way and it wouldn’t be a surprise.

The Bears have a clear edge when it comes to their pass rush against the Chargers’ offensive line. However, left tackle Russell Okung will play for the first time all year and is clearly an upgrade protecting Philip Rivers’ blind side. Keenan Allen may not play, which would be brutal for the Chargers. If he is out, then we’d expect Austin Ekeler to have a monster game lining up in the slot, while Hunter Henry will also be heavily targeted.

The main reason we’re picking the Chargers to upset the Bears is that Mitch Trubisky is coming off an awful outing against New Orleans, and Chicago’s offense as a whole seems broken. Melvin Ingram may play this week, which would be a huge boost to Los Angeles’ pass rush. Trubisky could be in for another bad game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Tennessee Titans (-2.5)

Really, this game boils down to two players, Ryan Tannehill and Jameis Winston.

You never know which Winston is going to show up from week to week. The last time he played, the former No. 1 overall pick turned the ball over an astonishing six times against Carolina. But when Winston is on his game, he’s exceptionally dangerous. Tennessee has a potent defense, so this is going to be an interesting dynamic to watch in Week 8.

On the other side, Tennessee saw Tannehill play a spectacular game in a winning cause last weekend. If he can duplicate that success then the Titans have a great shot of winning. Unfortunately, inconsistency has been the hallmark of Tannehill’s career, and we’re not convinced he’ll be sharp this Sunday.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Buffalo Bills (-2)

The Eagles have a couple of serious motivators heading into their Week 8 matchup against Buffalo, which has a lot to do with why the Bills are on upset alert. First, Philly has a lot to prove after getting steamrolled by Dallas in prime time last Sunday night. The Eagles are currently 3-4 on the season and absolutely must win Sunday to scrounge up some positive momentum.

Secondly, former Eagles cornerback Orlando Scandrick kicked the hornet’s nest on his way out of town with a television interview he will likely live to regret.

The big key to Philly winning in Buffalo is whether the offense can minimize mistakes. That’s been a big problem the past couple of games, both of which resulted in losses to top NFC teams. If Carson Wentz can get his offense back on track, then the Eagles should pull to .500 on the season.

New York Giants vs. Detroit Lions (-6.5)

If ever there was a week for young Daniel Jones and Co. to get right after some rough times, it’s this one.

The Lions will be without a couple of top defensive starters Sunday at home against New York, with Darius Slay and Mike Daniels both out with injuries. Damon Harrison is also questionable. Furthermore, safety Quandre Diggs was traded to Seattle, meaning Detroit will be down at least three defensive starters. Additionally, starting running back Kerryon Johnson was placed on injured reserve earlier this week. So Detroit is going to be relying on quite a few backups this week.

Look for Saquon Barkley to have a big game for the Giants, both as a runner and receiver, as New York takes advantage of this reeling NFC North squad.

Carolina Panthers vs. San Francisco 49ers (-5.5)

Undeniably the biggest game of NFL Week 8, the battle between these two NFC contenders should be epic. Both teams feature dominant pass defenses and game-changing running backs, and Christian McCaffrey is arguably the best all-purpose back in the league today.

If the Panthers can successfully chip away using McCaffrey as their centerpiece on offense, then this game is winnable for the road team. Carolina can get after the quarterback in a big way, and the 49ers feature a banged-up offensive line and a quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, who is prone to making mistakes.

The big X-factor here is Kyle Allen, who will start under center for the fifth straight game. He’s undefeated since taking over for Cam Newton, and a big reason for that is Allen hasn’t made many mistakes. He’ll be tested Sunday in Santa Clara, to be sure. But if this young passer can keep a steady head, the Panthers can shock the NFL with a huge upset over the undefeated 49ers.

Oakland Raiders vs. Houston Texans (-7)

Fans tuning into this AFC matchup should be in for offensive fireworks regularly. Neither the Raiders nor the Texans feature a defense that scares anyone, and both teams have offenses capable of lighting up the scoreboard.

Deshaun Watson and Co. should have no problem scoring this weekend against a Raiders defense that just allowed Aaron Rodgers to have a career game. However, Houston’s offensive line is a massive problem, and there’s a chance Oakland can finally get some pressure on the quarterback this week and create some turnovers.

On the other side, provided Derek Carr doesn’t make silly mistakes this Sunday as he did a week ago, the Raiders have the kind of balanced offense that can take control of the game and lead to a win.