Week 8 NFL best bets: A play on every game

By VSiN Staff  (VSiN.com) 

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Our experts offer their best bets for every game on the Week 8 NFL slate.

Week 9 of the very unique 2020 NFL season is here. 

With games scheduled for Sunday and one (for now) on Monday, there are plenty of betting opportunities. Our experts Drew Dinsick, Dave Tuley and Matt Youmans combine to give their opinions on every game.

Indianapolis Colts (-3, 50) at Detroit Lions

Tuley: This is one of several games in NFL Week 8 right around the key number of 3, as it’s been wavering between -2.5/-3 all week. Getting 3 is enough to have me on the Lions at home. Even though the Lions probably should have lost to the Falcons this past Sunday, they’re still better than their 3-3 record while the 4-2 Colts are a little overrated. I know a lot of people like the Colts coming off their bye, but I’ll still go with the Lions carrying over the confidence from their last-second win as this game should also come down to the wire.

This is also a good spot to mention that there aren’t too many “advantage” teasers this week that cross both the key numbers of 3 and 7, but if your book has Lions 2.5, it falls in the category of teasing up to + 8.5 in a standard NFL 6-point teaser (if Lions +  3, you get to tease up to + 9, though that’s considered a dead number of NFL wagering). The best option to combine with Lions +  8.5 is the Raiders also teased up to + 8.5 at the Browns, though I’m also doing some teasers with the Packers teased down to pick-’em or -0.5 vs. the Vikings.

Pick: Lions + 3, plus Lions in teasers

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-6.5, 51)

Tuley: Some books did pop up with the Packers -7.5 and I thought there could be value on the Vikings at that number, but it was quickly bet down. I’ve backed similar dogs in this spot, but that’s when I really thought the line should be closer to a field goal. It’s hard to pull the trigger on the Vikings on both teams' overall body of work but especially after the Packers beat them 43-34 (and outgained by 140 yards) in the opener in Minnesota. Even off a bye, how can we trust the Vikes to turn the table at Lambeau Field?

Pick: Pass, except teasing Packers down to pick-’em or -0.5.

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (-4, 41)

Youmans: All profitable trends eventually come to an end, and betting on Bill Belichick after a loss is no longer a reliable handicapping angle. The Patriots were just pummeled 33-6 by the 49ers in the most lopsided home loss of the Belichick era, and New England has lost three consecutive games for the first time since 2002. The Patriots’ two decades of dominance against Buffalo is rendered irrelevant in this week’s matchup. It’s sometimes tempting to buy on bad news, though, and the betting public wants nothing to do with New England now. The same was true in Week 7, when I joined several so-called sharps in an ill-fated pursuit of the Patriots, but I’ll give this one more shot. With two games remaining against the Jets, New England (2-4) could get back into the AFC East race with an upset of the Bills. Belichick is 14-4 ATS as a ‘dog since 2010. With another loss, Belichick will likely become a seller at next week’s trade deadline.

Dramatic storylines aside, there’s not as much of a fear factor in betting against the Bills, who scored on six field goals Sunday in an 18-10 victory over the Jets. Josh Allen has regressed -- and never was a legitimate MVP candidate anyway -- with four touchdown passes and three interceptions in the past three games, while Buffalo’s defense ranks 21st in DVOA, according to Football Outsiders. It’s reasonable to expect a bounce-back effort from Belichick’s defense and from quarterback Cam Newton, who was benched Sunday after throwing three interceptions and knows his starting job is on the line this week.

Pick: Patriots + 4

Dinsick: It’s now or never for New England. The promising start for the Newton Era in New England has come to a screeching halt where two straight home losses as a favorite have derailed the Patriots’ hopes of winning the AFC East for the 12th straight year. Their matchup against the Bills this Sunday is the highest leverage game on the slate, as a win would put them back in the conversation for a playoff spot while a loss would most likely spell the end of the season.  This should incentivize Belichick and McDaniels to empty the playbook in terms of unique scheming and game planning for this familiar opponent as this game sets up as the Patriots’ last stand.

Despite the woes in the passing game (30th in EPA per dropback), New England’s rushing attack is the NFL’s most successful by far, generating 0.103 expected points per play. And that matches up brilliantly against a bottom 5 rush defense (Bills are allowing 0.049 EPA per rush in 2020). To this point in the season the rush defense has also been the Patriots’ key weakness,  however the Bills have shown no ability to take advantage of this weakness with their rushing attack, managing the 26th ranked EPA at -0.123 points per rush attempt.  This puts the onus on Allen to succeed through the air against the most difficult secondary he has faced this season, as he will likely have limited drive opportunities with the Patriots set up well to control the clock and game state. The Bills are rightful favorites in this contest but will be hard pressed to win by more than a field goal based on my numbers, so the Patriots are a solid play at + 4.

Pick: Patriots + 4

Tuley: The Patriots have lost two straight to drop to 2-4 and looked ugly doing it, to the point that Newton is even doubting his superpowers and people are openly siding with Tom Brady over Belichick as the straw that stirred the New England dynasty. However, the AFC East still goes through the Patriots and the Bills have to show they’re truly ready to take the division crown by knocking out the champ. Besides, the Bills didn’t look like world-beaters in only beating the lowly Jets 18-10, and if you excuse Buffalo for that performance by saying they were looking ahead to this game, then you have to give the same benefit of the doubt to Belichick & Co.

Pick: Patriots + 3.5 or better

Tennessee Titans (-6, 52) at Cincinnati Bengals

Dinsick: My favorite betting angle of the week is in Cincinnati where the mighty Titans look to bounce back from a tough loss to the undefeated Steelers in Week 7. Every matchup in this game favors the Titans by my numbers, but the two that stand out are the pass rush for Tennessee (admittedly mediocre this year with a win rate of only 41%), going up against the 25th-ranked offensive line in terms of pass block win rate (52%). To make matters worse for the Bengals line, they will be without their starting center and left tackle, setting up a nightmare scenario for Joe Burrow who has already been sacked a staggering 28 times this season. 

The Titans have the No. 1-ranked offense by my numbers generating 0.205 EPA per play and the rushing attack will be especially valuable in this contest as Derrick Henry matches up against a defensive line missing both D.J. Reader (injury) and Carlos Dunlap (traded). One-way action expected in this game, which makes laying the points on the road a reasonable ask. Fair price is Tennessee by 7, but given the injury status a blowout is certainly a possible outcome. 

Pick: Titans -5.5

Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns (-2.5, 50.5)

Dinsick: Prior to seeing the forecast in Cleveland for Sunday, which is calling for sustained 20-plus mph winds, this set up as one of the highest potential point-scoring totals of the season by my numbers.  The Raiders offensive line at full strength has provided Derek Carr with enough time this season to lead Las Vegas to the No. 5 passing offense in EPA per dropback while Carr is completing passes at a 74.5% clip, 5.5% over his expected completion rate.  The Raiders defense on the other hand is 31st in and has weakness stopping both the pass and the run, which will likely make the loss of Odell Beckham Jr. less painful for the Browns.

Baker Mayfield has the hot hand among all quarterbacks having completed 22 straight passes in the Browns’ comeback win last week; it is completely reasonable to expect this performance level to continue considering the opponent. The Browns and Seahawks played to a 60-point total in Cleveland last October in 20 mph winds so this wouldn’t be an isolated example of a high-scoring weather game. Solid offensive line play and strong running games will also elevate the red zone offenses in this matchup, so despite the strong winds the over is in reach as a fair total should be closer to 57 by my numbers.  

Pick: Over 54

Tuley: Here’s another short underdog where you have to be really confident to take less than a field goal as you pretty much need them to win outright. The Raiders are an up-and-down team that I can’t quite trust in this spot. The Browns, even without Beckham Jr., are the more consistent team when not playing the Ravens or Steelers -- and the Raiders aren’t at that level. I’d still include Las Vegas in my teaser portfolio, even though the Raiders kept us from cashing even more teasers last week.

Pick: Pass, except teasing Raiders up to + 8.5

New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs (-19.5, 49)

Tuley: The advance line for this game was Chiefs -21.5 or -22 and we thought we were going to have to go into how NFL underdogs of 20-plus points are 10-3 (77%) against the spread. However, sharp bettors already know that it’s an automatic play to take 20 on any given Sunday and have bet this down (and it also helped that the Jets covered vs. the Bills this past Sunday), but NFL dogs of 17 or more points are still 22-14-1 (61%) ATS since 1991. I know critics will say the Chiefs are great and the Jets are terrible, but, believe me, everyone was saying similar things in all those other matchups as that what it takes for an NFL spread to be this high, yet parity still exists and the dogs keep covering these huge numbers. This is a ton of points for any team to cover, even the Chiefs, who don’t always win by big margins (and needed an INT return and a kickoff return on Sunday to rout the Broncos). Some 20s were starting to pop up Thursday afternoon, so (as always) shop for the best number on the side you like.

Pick: Jets + 19.5 or better

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5, 46) at Miami Dolphins

Tuley: If Ryan Fitzpatrick was still starting for Miami, I would be all over the home underdog here. I’m not saying Tua Tagovailoa is gonna be a bust, but after watching Nick Foles being flustered and rushed into bad throws by the relentless Rams pass rush, I’m not too confident in Tagovalioa being thrown into the fire like this. His mobility will certainly help, but the Rams’ offense is also clicking and I’m not getting enough points to take the dog.

Pick: Pass

Los Angeles Chargers (-3, 44.5) at Denver Broncos

Youmans: Everyone is enamored with Chargers rookie QB Justin Herbert, and the opposite is the case with Broncos second-year QB Drew Lock. Herbert has 10 touchdown passes with one interception in the past three games. The bottom line is the Chargers are 2-4 and did not win a game by more than three points until Sunday, when they rallied from a 29-22 deficit late in the third quarter to beat Jacksonville 39-29. The Broncos have the better defense (No. 7 in DVOA) and running attack, and that should be enough to win or cover if Lock can avoid costly mistakes. Denver is a little undervalued after a blowout loss to Kansas City. The line seems to be moving to -3.5, so look for the hook.

Pick: Broncos + 3

Tuley: Holy cow, yet another short spread this week. The Broncos let us down in Week 7 against the Chiefs, we were disappointed by Drew Lock’s pick-six and giving up the kickoff return, so we never really got to see if the defense could keep them in the game. This is probably a better spot for the Broncos as home underdogs, though the Chargers’ offense with Herbert is looking pretty potent itself.

Pick: Broncos +  3 or better

New Orleans Saints (-4.5, 43.5) at Chicago Bears

Youmans: A home underdog with the better defense is always attractive. Chicago ranks No. 6 in DVOA, and its defensive front will pressure Saints quarterback Drew Brees while limiting Alvin Kamara’s explosive runs. Brees is not as effective outdoors on grass, and he could again be without top receivers Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. New Orleans ranks surprisingly high in defensive DVOA at No. 10 but is allowing 29.0 PPG. The bad news for the Bears is mostly on offense. Allen Robinson, who leads the team with 44 receptions for 544 yards, is in concussion protocol and doubtful to play. Chicago has the sixth-worst scoring offense (19.7) in the league after Monday’s ugly loss to the Rams. If Bears coach Matt Nagy is an offensive genius, call me a master chef. There’s not much to like about Nagy’s play-calling or this Chicago offense, but I made the line Saints -3 so will take the inflated number and bank on a strong showing by Khalil Mack and the Bears’ defense.

Pick: Bears + 4.5

Tuley: This line was as low as Saints -2 before the Bears went out and laid an egg on Monday Night Football. There’s some value in the Bears getting more than a field goal at home, and though it’s hard to trust them after they let me down vs. the Rams, the offense should have more success than it did against the Rams’ pass rush and keep it close. I didn’t include as one of my picks on the VSiN Best Bets page in Point Spread Weekly when the line was at 4, but I wrote in my “Tuley’s Takes” column that I was hoping the public would steam this line up to 4.5, so that’s my buy sign.

Pick: Bears + 4.5

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (-3, 54)

Dinsick: The market can’t settle on a fair price for the 49ers, as we saw a 6.5-point adjustment against them between the Dolphins and Rams games and then a 3.5-point adjustment back towards them between the Patriots and Seahawks game. This volatility is a function of the massive amount of injuries sustained by San Francisco, which now has cluster injuries at cornerback, defensive line, wide receiver and running back to go with a limited quarterback as Jimmy Garappolo recovers from a high ankle sprain.

The ideal matchup for the 49ers allows them to dictate the game with their-run first approach but they will be hard pressed to exercise that as the Seahawks have a Top-10 rushing defense by DVOA to counter San Francisco’s No. 2 DVOA rushing attack.  This likely puts the game for the Niners on the arm of Garappolo who has shown flashes this season but is operating a passing offense that relies heavily on short targets and yards after the catch. This will not be enough firepower to keep pace with the league’s No. 2 offense in total DVOA being led by the presumptive MVP Russell Wilson. The 49ers pass defense will be truly tested as Wilson and his triumvirate of wideouts can attack at every level of the field and will have ample time to operate given the paucity of healthy pass-rushers for San Francisco. Fair price in this is Seattle by 6 based on my numbers, so I will be backing the home favorite. 

Pick: Seahawks -3

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (-9.5, 43)

Youmans: This could be one of the most entertaining games of the week simply because the Cowboys’ season has unraveled into a comedy of errors. How low can they go? Nothing is going right for Dallas, which is 0-7 ATS and set to start seventh-round pick Ben DiNucci from James Madison at quarterback. The Cowboys have failed to cover five in a row on the road, including the 25-3 loss at Washington in Week 7. In relief of Andy Dalton, DiNucci attempted three passes and was sacked three times. This should be a get-right game for Carson Wentz and the Eagles. Wentz passed for 359 yards and two touchdowns in a 22-21 victory over the Giants last week. Beating the Giants by one is not a buy sign on Philadelphia, which is 2-7 ATS in its past nine at home, but it’s tough to find one good reason to back Dallas at this point. Putting the Eagles on a teaser is probably a better option, but lay the points as long as the line stays under 10.

Pick: Eagles -7.5, like up to -9.5

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Betting Splits: Percentage of handle & tickets from DraftKings for every game on the board, updated every 10 minutes. GO HERE.

NFL Power Ratings3 sets of numbers from Steve MakinenGO HERE.

CFB Power Ratings3 sets of numbers from Steve MakinenGO HERE.

View more CFB tools for Pro subscribers

View more NFL tools for Pro subscribers

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Follow The Money: Consider schedules before betting on a team. What happened before and what is coming up can impact if a team is worth backing. Like SEA hosting CAR (off their bye) with SF in Week 15.  View more tips.

The Greg Peterson Experience: Have a value in mind for a dropoff to a backup quarterback from the starter, as many QBs are injured at this time of the season. View more tips.

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Dave Tuley: Saints +3.5. ​​​View more picks.

Greg Peterson: Troy +16 vs San Diego St. ​​​View more picks

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Betting Splits: Percentage of handle & tickets from DraftKings for every game on the board, updated every 10 minutes. GO HERE.

NFL Power Ratings3 sets of numbers from Steve MakinenGO HERE.

CFB Power Ratings3 sets of numbers from Steve MakinenGO HERE.

View more CFB tools for Pro subscribers

View more NFL tools for Pro subscribers

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VSiN PrimeTime: Be aware of injuries on the offensive line, skill positions get the most publicity, but if an elite tackle is out it could have a huge impact on the game. View more tips.

A Numbers Game: If you’re just getting into soccer betting, make sure you know exactly what you’re betting. i.e. Double chance, to win, to advance, etc. View more tips.
 
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Chuck Edel: Kansas State +2.5 vs TCU. View more picks.

Kenny White: Fresno State +3 vs Boise St. View more picks.
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