Top VSiN NFL trends I like this week

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You’ll find a similar report for college football this week, but in case you missed it, I figured I would take this time and space to showcase another valuable feature at VSiN.com that seems to be underused each season: Team Trends, which are listed for every matchup on the board. 

The trends are sorted each week by a grading scale and separated by which side or total they favor. I went through all 15 NFL games in Week 8 and handpicked one of the trends I felt was relevant to the upcoming matchup. Along with the specifics of the trend, I’ve also detailed the reasons I find the angle important. 

Baltimore at Tampa Bay (Thursday night)

Play ON TAMPA BAY at HOME Against strong rushing teams averaging more than 4.4 RYPA (16-7-2 ATS L25G)

Analysis: The easy thing to do at this point would be to simply give up on the Buccaneers. After all, they have lost four out of five outright and five straight against the spread. The last two losses were in embarrassing fashion. That said, it is always darkest before dawn, and something’s telling me this is where it turns. First off, this is the first time since the Bucs-Packers game in Week 3 where I think the Bucs aren’t overpriced. Second, they still have Tom Brady, and he has proven over the years that challenging him is a bad idea (in this case, as a home underdog). Third, over the last few seasons, the Bucs have consistently had one of the best rushing defenses. They figure to put this game on Lamar Jackson's ability to throw.

Denver vs. Jacksonville (Sunday in London)

Play AGAINST JACKSONVILLE Against pathetic-scoring teams averaging 15 PPG or less (20-5 ATS L25G)

Analysis: What kind of team builds a 5-20 ATS record against the league's worst offenses, the pathetic ones described in this trend? Probably one that has a somewhat pathetic offensive itself. The Jaguars have shown flashes offensively this season (and in recent seasons), but it’s difficult to tell when those moments will come. They have no advantage against opponents with “pathetic” offenses, a group that, of course, includes the Broncos, who are scoring just 14.3 PPG.

Chicago at Dallas

Play AGAINST CHICAGO on ROAD After a game with a turnover margin of + 3 or better (12-2-1 ATS L15G)

Analysis: As tempting as it may be to believe the Bears are turning a corner, the fact is they were very fortunate Monday night in New England. Fortunate that the weather went their way, and fortunate that New England turned the ball over four times. In their season-opening win against the 49ers, the Bears were also blessed by wretched weather, but that won't be the case this week at AT&T Stadium, where the weather is always pleasant. The Bears, though still 9.5-point underdogs, did get a bit of a break on the line from the MNF win, though I would suggest erroneously. Dallas is finding itself and capable of winning impressively here.

Las Vegas at New Orleans 

Play AGAINST NEW ORLEANS at HOME VS. AFC (13-2 ATS L15G)

Analysis: One of the most overrated home-field advantages in the NFL is that of the Saints (I wrote similarly about Notre Dame in my college football trends analysis this week). For the last several seasons, New Orleans has been a far better team on the road. Against unfamiliar AFC foes, the Saints have gone just 2-13 ATS in their last 15 games. With the Raiders coming on offensively (2-1 SU and 3-0 ATS in their last three), it’s hard to go against the Silver and Black here.

Carolina at Atlanta

Play AGAINST CAROLINA versus decent rushing teams averaging more than 4.3 RYPA (9-1 ATS L10G)

Analysis: With all due respect to the Panthers after their miraculous win last week against Tampa Bay, it's reasonable to conclude that they’re not going anywhere this season. They just traded two of their best offensive weapons and are down to their second-string quarterback. Thus, when they play as 4.5-point road underdogs and are expected to be competitive, it only makes sense to fade them. From a matchup perspective, this is not a good one for Carolina. Atlanta runs the ball over 60% of the time and does it well, averaging 4.8 yards per rush. The Panthers have struggled against such teams.

Pittsburgh at Philadelphia

Play ON PITTSBURGH on ROAD Against good teams with 80% or better winning pct. (12-3 ATS L15G)

Analysis: Say what you will about the Steelers' demise, but this team will not give up under Mike Tomlin. For what seems like forever, Tomlin has been one of the league's best coaches at motivating his team to thrive in the underdog role. This particular trend is evidence of just how dangerous the Steelers are against the league's best (on the road, no less). Philadelphia comes out of its bye week undefeated and playing as a double-digit favorite, but Pittsburgh would like nothing more than to hand its in-state rival a first loss. For what it's worth, my analysis last week about teams coming out of the bye showed a system in which double-digit favorites off the bye are 5-14-1 ATS in their last 20.

Miami at Detroit

Play OVER DETROIT at HOME Underdog of 7 or less points (12-2-1 ATS L15G)

Analysis: It’s hard to believe, but the Lions’ level of play at home has shifted dramatically under Dan Campbell. They are 6-1 ATS at home with the combination of Jared Goff and Campbell. In most of those games, the Lions were underdogs, and for good reason. However, they have been a gritty home dog, and they’re averaging 35.3 PPG in their last six home games. Miami has one of the league’s top big-strike offenses, so it makes some sense that this game could turn into a shootout in Detroit.

Arizona at Minnesota

Play UNDER ARIZONA on ROAD with Starting QB MURRAY (18-8-1 L27G)

Analysis: A few angles collide here, which indicates this game might turn into a defensive struggle. First off, the Cardinals have been an Under-leaning team on the road with Kyler Murray as their quarterback. Second, the Vikings have struggled coming out of their bye recently, going just 3-9 SU and 3-9 ATS in their last 12 (while scoring just 14 PPG in their last three home games out of the bye). Third, Minnesota has a much-improved defense, allowing just 19.7 PPG, and Arizona is struggling to find itself offensively.

New England at N.Y. Jets

Play ON N.Y. JETS at HOME Against big play passing teams averaging more than 7.5 PYPA (8-1-1 ATS L10G)

Analysis: The easy thing to do would be to continue to doubt the Jets. The hard thing would be to put some money behind them, especially when they basically have to win the game to cover. However, the Jets have been getting after opposing quarterbacks, and this trend illustrates the success they have had at home when facing the league's top passing attacks. I'll be honest, I didn't expect to find much in terms of trends favoring the Jets at home, but this one is a gold nugget. 

Tennessee at Houston

HOUSTON is on an extended 16-6 ATS run vs. Tennessee

Analysis: Several definitive head-to-head series angles continue to play out in the AFC South this season, including Indianapolis struggling again at Houston in Week 1. The other team that struggles at Houston (2-10 ATS in last 12 visits), and with the Texans in general, is the Titans. Last season, despite Houston winning only four games and Tennessee winning the division, the Texans lost by only three points against the Titans at NRG Stadium. The Titans have allowed 30.3 PPG in the last four meetings in this series.

N.Y. Giants at Seattle

Play ON N.Y. GIANTS on ROAD Against pathetic defensive teams allowing more than 26.5 PPG (23-7 ATS L30G)

Analysis: The Giants and Seahawks are both surprise teams but have gotten here in completely different fashions. The Giants have played it close to the vest, mostly relying on their running game and defense, and have made the key plays late. The Seahawks have won shootouts, a major surprise considering their choice of Geno Smith as starting quarterback was heavily ridiculed. This specific matchup trend gives a huge edge to the Giants. The Seahawks are allowing 26.6 PPG, and the Giants have thrived on the road against such teams.

Washington at Indianapolis

Play ON INDIANAPOLIS Against poor rushing defenses yielding more than 4.5 RYPA (12-3 ATS L15G)

Analysis: Indianapolis has been a wild disappointment, sitting at 3-3 and scoring just 16.1 PPG. The Colts were so good running the ball last season with Jonathan Taylor leading the way, but it seems they put too much on Matt Ryan this season and the offense has floundered. As you can see by this trend, they have typically done very well when the running game is set up to succeed. Perhaps now that Ryan has been benched and the more versatile Sam Ehlinger is taking over, the Colts can get back to that successful recipe.

San Francisco at L.A. Rams

Play AGAINST L.A. RAMS vs. Starting QB GAROPPOLO (7-1 ATS L8G)

Analysis: The debate will probably rage on as long as he’s in San Francisco: Are the 49ers better or worse with Jimmy Garoppolo as their quarterback? Can they be better with someone else? Well, if you consider how well San Francisco has fared against its fiercest rival, you pretty much have to be in Jimmy G’s corner. He is 7-1 ATS against the Rams, part of a 12-3 ATS run for the 49ers in the series. Garoppolo has had a full week of practice with his new weapon, Christian McCaffery, and is facing a Rams team struggling to find its 2021 self. Maybe there’s a reason San Francisco is favored in this one.

Green Bay at Buffalo (Sunday night)

GREEN BAY is on a 12-0 SU and 12-0 ATS streak in prime-time games

Analysis: In what is becoming an annoying trend for Packers fans, the team often fails to show up for the less-inspiring 1 p.m. Eastern (or earlier) start time. All of the losses in their current three-game skid began at 1 p.m. ET or earlier. However, when playing on TNF, SNF or MNF, Green Bay has been amazing, winning its last 12 games (SU and ATS) dating to December 2019. Yes, that means all of the games in the streak involved Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur. The Pack have scored 33.6 PPG while allowing just 19 PPG in those 12 prime-time games. Obviously, the streak will get a severe test on Sunday night in Buffalo.

Cincinnati at Cleveland (Monday night)

Play AGAINST CLEVELAND at HOME versus teams with a winning record (20-3-2 ATS L25G)

Analysis: I don’t buy into public sentiment often, and in all likelihood, the public will be backing the Bengals on Monday night. However, it is a divisional game (and a rivalry game), so you have to figure the red-hot Bengals won’t take the Browns lightly. The Bengals have won four of their last five outright and five straight ATS. Even better, Joe Burrow has looked like an MVP candidate during the stretch and will be anxious to show out on MNF. Cleveland is on a miserable slide of 3-20-2 ATS at home versus teams with a winning record. The Browns are also on a four-game skid this season.

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