Welcome to the Week 8 edition of our NFL Bets of the Week column. Here, I’ll strive to identify a handful of games per week I feel have profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sports and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics for one game. We’ll strive for quality over quantity here as well — the focus will only be on spots that seem to truly be advantageous. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager that we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
Let’s take a quick look at how things went in Week 7. Follow that up with a leap into a trio of interesting scenarios for Week 8.
Recapping Week 7
Week 7 winners: Lions -3/ Lions moneyline (-132)/ Giants +6
Week 7 losers: Bills +7.5
Season record to date:
ATS: 13-5 (.722)
Moneyline: 6-3 (.667)
Week 8 NFL Betting Picks
Baltimore Ravens (4-3) at Carolina Panthers (4-2)
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Ravens -2
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: Ravens -2
888 Sportsbook Odds: Ravens -2
Over/Under Total: 44.0
How They Fared in Week 7: The Ravens were upended by the Saints at home in unlikely fashion. The first missed extra point of Justin Tucker’s career lead to a one-point loss. Baltimore’s two prior losses had come to the division-rival Bengals and Browns. Both defeats notably came on the road.
For their part, the Panthers were busy pulling a road upset on the world champion Eagles last Sunday. Cam Newton led the way with 269 passing yards and a pair of passing touchdowns while also adding 49 rushing yards. Carolina has also run the table at home this season. They’ve notched wins over the Cowboys, Bengals, and Giants at Bank of America Stadium.
Notable Matchups and Metrics: The Ravens have been the stingiest bunch in the NFL in terms of points allowed per game (14.4). However, two of their games have been against the Bills and Titans. Baltimore has also allowed opposing quarterbacks 5.6 yards per rush while Cam Newton has averaged 4.9 on his 52 attempts. Despite the Ravens compiling the NFL’s most sacks (27), the Panthers have been one of the league’s best at preventing them. They’re tied with several other teams for third-fewest allowed (10). Finally, Baltimore has been attack-able with tight ends: they enter Week 8 tied with several teams for fifth-most catches allowed to the position (39). Greg Olsen could thrive in such a scenario, especially with the Ravens’ tendency to funnel action to the position due to their stalwart outside coverage.
Although not as effective overall as the Ravens’ elite unit, the Panthers’ defense has been stout in its own right. Carolina is allowing the 10th-fewest points per game (21.8). They’re also a top-10 unit in rushing yards per game allowed (95.0), forced fumbles (four), and interceptions (seven). Notably, six of their seven picks have come at home. While the Panthers have allowed a healthy 68.1 percent of pass attempts to be completed, that weakness is partly offset by Baltimore’s 27th-ranked 61.2 percent figure. Carolina has also been one of the best teams in the league at preventing damage after those receptions. They’ve given up the third-fewest yards after the catch (613) in the league.
By the Numbers: The Ravens were 2-2 against the spread in non-conference games in 2017 and 0-1 versus the number in those scenarios this season. They hold the same record against the spread as a road team this season and a 1-1 record as a road favorite.
The Panthers are 2-1 (.667) versus the number as a home favorite in 2018. They are 10-7 (58.8 percent) overall versus the number as a home underdog during the Cam Newton era (2011-present). Carolina is also 4-1 (80.0 percent) against the spread in non-division games since the beginning of last season (including 1-0 this season), besting the spread by a comfortable average of 7.5 points.
The Final Word: This will be no easy feat for the normally home-dominant Panthers. The Ravens’ defense is the real deal, and Joe Flacco is playing some of his best football in several seasons. However, Cam Newton remains formidable x-factor while Christian McCaffrey is the type of back the Panthers won’t waste time running into the brick wall that is the Ravens’ front.
Instead, they’ll likely deploy him out in space in a number of creative ways. Greg Olsen also has a sneaky-good matchup in this spot, which should help keep the chains moving. The relatively evenly matched contest could ultimately go either way in terms of a winner, but I see a Panthers cover in a relatively rare instance of serving as a home underdog.
The Pick: Panthers +2
Washington Redskins (4-2) at New York Giants (1-6)
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: Redskins -1
888 Sportsbook Odds: Pick
Over/Under total: 43.0
How They Fared in Week 7: The Redskins logged a home victory over the division-rival Cowboys, 20-17. It was their second consecutive win. Washington impressively limited Ezekiel Elliott to 33 yards rushing and 2.2 yards per carry. Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson continued his remarkable comeback season with 24 rushes for 99 yards. The Washington defense also logged four sacks of Dak Prescott.
The Giants dropped a 23-20 decision to the Falcons on Monday Night Football. The final score was deceptive as New York’s final touchdown came with just five seconds remaining. The G-Men’s key offensive pieces did shine on the stat sheet: Eli Manning compiled 399 yards, Saquon Barkley generated 94 total yards (including nine catches), and the Odell Beckham, Jr./Sterling Shepard duo combined for 13 receptions, 310 yards, and the aforementioned last-second score.
Notable Matchups and Metrics: The Redskins’ style of pass defense dovetails well with the Giants’ overall tendency to keep throws in the short-to-intermediate passing windows a large part of the time. Washington keeps plays in front of them, allowing a modest 7.0 YPA and a 66.8 completion percentage that’s ninth-highest in the NFL. For his part, Manning is actually completing a career-high 69.0 percent of his throws. Washington has been fairly stout versus the run (4.0 yards per carry allowed), but they’ve given up an average of six receptions per game to running backs. Barkley’s elite ability as a receiver bodes well for the maligned Giants offense’s chances of success.
The Giants’ pass defense has been about middle-of-the-pack overall, but the Redskins are hardly the team to exploit them. Alex Smith has thrown a modest seven touchdowns through six games and has an injury-ravaged receiving corps. Jamison Crowder is doubtful to play in Sunday’s contest due to an ankle injury. Meanwhile, their one primary deep threat, Paul Richardson, will likely be questionable at best with shoulder and knee injuries.
Beckham’s career success against the Redskins is one other metric worth noting: the star receiver is averaging 8.0 receptions (on 12.0 targets), 105.8 yards and 1.0 TD over his last five games against Washington.
By the Numbers: The Redskins are 2-5 (28.6 percent) against the spread in division games since the beginning of last season. They’re also 2-5 versus the number after a win over that span. And Washington is 0-2 against the number as a road favorite during that stretch, failing to cover the spread by an average of 19.0 points.
The Giants are 8-2 against the Redskins in the Meadowlands over the last 10 seasons. Only one of those two losses was by more than two points (2011). New York is also 46-40-3 (53.5 percent) against the spread in division games during the Eli Manning era (2004-present). That includes a 4-2 mark (.667) against the number in NFC East matchups since the 2016 season.
The Final Word: Yes, the Giants have plenty of warts. However, they’re not 1-15 or 2-14-level bad. New York has an extensive track record of success versus the Redskins at home, and their skill players have enjoyed past success in this matchup. New York should put a definitive end to their four-game losing streak with a home victory over a banged-up Redskins squad.
The Pick: Giants +1, Giants moneyline (-108)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-3)
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Bengals -4
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: Bengals -4
888 Sportsbook Odds: Bengals -4
Over/Under Total: 54.5
How They Fared in Week 7: Chandler Catanzaro went from hero to goat for the Buccaneers in a 26-23 win against the visiting Browns. The veteran kicker nailed a 59-yard field goal in overtime after missing a 40-yarder in regulation that would have prevented the extra period. Jameis Winston enjoyed another prolific afternoon with 365 passing yards. He also ran for his first score of the season.
Then, the Bengals were embarrassed on the national Sunday night stage by the Kansas City Chiefs, 45-10. Andy Dalton mustered only 148 yards and threw an interception. And Joe Mixon was limited to 13 rushes, which he parlayed into 50 yards. A.J. Green was the lone bright spot. He brought in seven of 14 targets for 117 yards. Things got so bad that backup quarterback Jeff Driskel finished the game under center for Cincy.
Notable Matchups and Metrics: The Buccaneers showed some improvement on defense last week but now must deal with the loss of star linebacker Kwon Alexander to a season-ending ACL tear. That will inevitably weaken a rush defense that had been the strength of the unit thus far. It should also brighten the outlook for Mixon, as well as that of Giovani Bernard if he’s able to return from a multi-game absence due to a knee injury. Meanwhile, Tampa is allowing an NFL-high 328.0 passing yards per game and 75.4 completion percentage. That bodes well for a Bengals’ offense racking up the fifth-most passing touchdowns (15) thus far.
The Bengals’ defense has surrendered 15 scores through the air in their own right. Therefore, the Bucs should have their fair share of success moving the ball. However, Tampa seemingly doesn’t have the firepower to fully take advantage of a Cincinnati unit that’s also been exploitable on the ground. The Bengals check in giving up 5.0 yards per rush and 128.7 rushing yards per game. But, Tampa is sporting the third-lowest average yards per rush (3.6) and fourth-lowest rushing yards per contest (85.5).
By the Numbers: The Buccaneers are 6-8 (42.9 percent) in non-conference games during the Jameis Winston era (2015-present). They’re 10-17 (37.0 percent) overall as an away team over that span, including 9-15 (37.5 percent) as an away underdog.
The Bengals are 18-10-2 (64.3 percent) in non-conference games during the Andy Dalton era (2011-present). They’re 37-22-1 (62.7 percent) at home during that span as well, including 29-15-1 (65.9 percent) as a home favorite (incl. 2-1 in 2018).
The Final Word: Both teams undoubtedly feel some desperation as the season nears its halfway point. However, Cincinnati is at home where they’ve already handled the Ravens and Dolphins this season. With a two-game losing streak in tow, I see Dalton gaining redemption for last week’s embarrassment and taking advantage of Tampa’s vulnerable secondary. Meanwhile, Mixon also projects to play a major role in this game. He should be able to capitalize on a Bucs run defense that will be significantly weakened by the loss of Alexander. I’m not predicting a cover due to Cincinnati’s own defensive issues and long list of banged-up players, but I see them pulling out the win.
Lean: Bucs +4