NFL Week 8 Best Bets
Last week continued the hot start in the NFL for me on my Best Bets, as another 5-2 record put my season mark to 29-17 ATS (63%). With another two wins on totals, I’m 5-0 so far on that wagering option and I have two more lined up for this week, as well as six sides. In repeating what I said week, I give all the credit to the new VSiN feature, the NFL Analytics Report. It keeps me apprised of almost all the info I use to handicap games. I feel like I am not overlooking key factors anymore. Different bettors can interpret certain trends and systems in varying fashions, but the Analytics Report allows for that discernment, which is much better than overlooking important things.
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Might something special be brewing in Houston in 2023? It sure looks like it could be, as coming off their pre-bye week win against New Orleans, the Texans are sitting at 3-3 and riding a four-game ATS winning streak. Now, 3-3 isn’t anything that a lot of teams would be bragging about, but head coach DeMeco Ryans’ team is coming off four straight seasons of winning four games or fewer and is having success with its new core of young stars. I’m guessing that this team took full advantage of the bye week to get better.
Carolina is a different story with its young nucleus and a new coach for 2023, as the franchise seems to be outwardly questioning its decisions made this past offseason. That cannot be a good sign. Still, 83% of the money at DraftKings this week is backing the Panthers as the home dog. I know it seems unusual to see Houston as a road favorite, but they are the better team at this point, and growing cohesion is a good recipe for continued success. The Texans will be backed here by one of my favorite post-bye week systems, saying to Play on road favorites coming out of their bye week vs. nonconference opponents. (Record: 31-13-1 ATS since 2000). This is a great game for QB CJ Stroud to prove to the Panthers they made a mistake in going with Bryce Young. It seems obvious at this point, but this is still a proving ground.
Play Houston -1 (-1.5 or pick ‘em is fine)
One of the first things I do each week in preparing my Best Bets list for the NFL is to look at the Betting Splits page on VSiN.com. According to the numbers, 80% of the money was on Dallas to beat up the Rams, as I wrote this. Normally, that’s a red flag for me. However, I don’t like betting against Dallas at home as they can be quite explosive offensively. I also don’t like to go against the Rams anywhere when they are an underdog under head coach Sean McVay. They tend to play well in that role.
What does this all add up to for me? Well, I think we’re looking at a potentially higher-scoring game. Dallas comes out of its bye week and is on a run of 15-3 Over the total in that scenario going back to ’05. The Cowboys have put up 34 PPG in their two home games this season after scoring 35.5 PPG in their final seven home contests last season. LA is proving to be one of the better passing teams in the league in 2023 and is capable of hanging in this one at Dallas, but it will have to score to do so.
Let’s go OVER 45.5 in LA Rams-Dallas +/- 1.5 points
A couple of weeks ago, I got into a discussion with Brent Musburger on Countdown to Kickoff about what I look for in road favorites, that being good offenses that can get away from hungry home dogs. I prefer that to good defensive teams, as I always feel like they are on the cusp of a loss or backdoor cover at any time. One of the road favorites for this week that fits the bill of inept offense is Atlanta. Even with the road win to get to 4-3 last week, this Falcons team is ripe with holes. They score just 16.4 PPG and have been held to 16 or fewer points in four of the last five outings.
Here, they face a Tennessee team that has also struggled offensively this season but will turn to a rookie QB to try and ignite the fire. Let’s face it, Ryan Tannehill has been awful for the Titans this season. How could it be much worse with Will Levis? Head coach Mike Vrabel’s team comes out of its bye week and, as a franchise, is trying to extend a seven-game winning streak (6-0-1 ATS) in that scenario. This is a tough, unfamiliar spot for a road-favored team that hasn’t really seasoned yet, and I feel like the line was adjusted way too far for the Tannehill injury news.
Let’s go Tennessee +2.5 with a little added on the ML too
All season long, the Analytics Report has been sharing systems with us why to go against head coach Sean Payton and the Broncos in this first season as a “re-tread” coach. Well, after Denver got its first ATS win of the season this past Sunday, we finally see our first angle indicating that Payton’s leadership may be worth backing this season. It comes in the form of a rematch game with KC: Re-tread coaches have been solid in revenge scenarios over the last decade, going 26-22-3 ATS (54.2%) when having lost an earlier season game against an opponent.
This is a key game for Payton & Co as they head into their bye week, and we have a system to back them: Play on home underdogs heading into their bye week. (Record: 34-17-2 ATS since 2015). The Broncos are also 8-3 SU and 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 pre-bye week games as a franchise. Call me crazy if you will, but I’m not quite at the point of writing this Denver team off yet. I expect them to be competitive here against the Chiefs, who are still scoring just 25.4 PPG, well below their standards.
Let’s go with Denver +7 (+/- 0.5 points, although I don’t expect a move off 7)
It’s amazing to see what can happen in just two weeks in the NFL. On October 15th, San Francisco was riding high, 5-0, and being proclaimed the top team in football. The 49ers were also a near double-digit road favorite that day at Cleveland. Well, just 12 days and two losses later, they are facing some serious questions to their legitimacy, much of which is due to key offensive injuries. The latest one affects QB Brock Purdy, who was in concussion protocol this week.
Whether or not Purdy plays is irrelevant to me at this point, as the momentum with which the Bengals and 49ers are coming in with is much more important. San Francisco heads into its bye week after this one and has gone just 1-4 ATS in that scenario in the last five years under head coach Kyle Shanahan. They host a Cincinnati team that has been a 64.4% road-covering team since 2015. The Bengals are also on a strong 13-3 ATS run in the underdog role with Joe Burrow at QB. Cincy has had two weeks since its somewhat ugly win over Seattle to get things right. As a back-to-back AFC title game participant, I assume they used that time wisely.
Let’s go with Cincy +3.5 +/- 0.5 points
One of my favorite things to do in NFL handicapping is to locate the team that is the “hottest thing since sliced bread” and fade that team. Why? Well, primarily because the NFL is often a week-to-week game, and things can change so quickly. The other reason is because the betting public always drapes themselves all over these teams, and we know that group doesn’t win consistently. As of this writing, 85% of the handle and 76% of bets were on the Ravens to take care of business against the Cardinals.
Arizona remains competitive, however, and by all rights, should have covered that game last week versus Seattle. Baltimore comes off the massive rout of previously highly touted Detroit. However, that result leads to a nice system for this week: NFL teams that have gained an explosive 8.75 yards per play or more in any given game have responded the next week by going just 22-20-1 SU and 15-26-2 ATS (36.6%) in their last 43 tries. Don’t be surprised to see a much different Ravens offense this week despite what the matchup looks like on the surface. This is a long travel scenario and a difficult NFL line-covering environment.
Let’s go Arizona +9.5 (with +/- 1 point OK)
If you’ve been following my picks for the NFL this season, you know that I’m a big proponent of fading the money on the DK Betting Splits. I will go against the grain this time with Detroit, despite over 80% of the handle and bets on the Lions as of Friday. The betting public took one on the chin last week with the 49ers, and I was on the right side of that one. This one feels much different to me, as I don’t think the Lions will squander this one at home, another rare high-profile opportunity for head coach Dan Campbell’s team to impress a national following.
Quite frankly, this team has been a different one at home over the last season-and-a-half. They are an offensive machine at Ford Field. In 2023, they’ve scored 31 PPG at home. In their last 15 games as hosts, the Lions are 10-5 SU and 12-3 ATS. Now that doesn’t seem overwhelming on the surface, but you need to remember that this team’s defense is better now than it’s been at any time in that span. The offense has been lethal during this stretch, scoring 32.5 PPG and reaching 27 points or more in 13 of the 15 home contests.
Now I think that if Detroit hits the 27-point mark this week, which is a conservative estimate, they will be in good shape. Las Vegas only scores 16 PPG. That should easily be enough to get it done. Detroit is also heading into their bye week afterward, and this system says to play of favorites of seven points or more heading into their bye week 80-9 SU and 58-29-2 ATS since 2001).
Let’s back Detroit -8 (+/- 1 point)
In the pick just above, I showed several reasons why I think Detroit is due for an offensive outburst on Monday night. For as much as primetime Unders seem to be all the rage lately, there are plenty of reasons to think this MNF game could sail Over.
First, we have a system about teams heading into their bye week (Detroit): Play Over the total in Monday Night Games featuring a team heading into their bye week. (Record: 30-16-1 since 2009). Next, we have some: 1) Detroit is on 10-2 Over the total surge in pre-bye week home games 2) the Lions are on a 6-1 Over the total surge in pre-bye week games vs. AFC foes, allowing 31 PPG. A couple of weeks ago, I noted that the Cowboys were an analytical dream come true in their MNF win at the Chargers. This doesn’t go that far, but it's close.
Let’s go OVER 46 (+/- 1.5) in Detroit-Las Vegas
For more system matches and key trends, check out the Week 8 NFL Analytics Report.