This article was originally published on Friday
With the 2019-20 NFL season underway, oddsmakers are constantly adjusting lines to account for the performance of players and teams in Weeks 1-7.
Injuries to star players such as Patrick Mahomes (knee), Davante Adams (toe), and Alvin Kamara (ankle) will play into the point spreads listed by US sportsbooks like DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook for Week 8 of the NFL season.
At PlayPicks, we feel confident with the information that we have to start making our picks against the spread.
In this weekly column, we will list three of our best bets against the spread with data to support our picks. Then, we will list the following games on the NFL slate in order of our confidence in analyzing the matchup. Keep in mind that lines can often shift due to weather or other unforeseen issues. Of course, injury news plays a huge role throughout the NFL season, and the status of specific players often bears monitoring until a couple of hours before kickoff.
NFL Week 8 Best Bets
Seattle Seahawks (-5) at Atlanta Falcons
Russell Wilson offers plenty of security for backing bettors with his ability to extend plays and deliver incredibly accurate passes while on the move. Seattle’s MVP candidate should have no trouble dissecting a weak Falcons secondary that ranks 31st in DVOA pass defense per Football Outsiders, and has coughed up a 17:2 TD:INT ratio. Only Miami has given up more PPG (31.9) and allowed more TDs per drive (.362) this season than Atlanta.
Since Wilson was drafted in 2012, the Seahawks have the second-best record (29-7) in the NFL following a loss. Atlanta is 4-7 ATS at home since the start of last season and could soon quit on inept HC Dan Quinn, who has taken over defensive play-calling this year with horrible results.
With Matt Ryan (ankle) unable to practice, the Falcons are forced to start 38-year-old Matt Schaub. They also just traded Mohamed Sanu to the Patriots and have a disgruntled RB in Devonta Freeman, who was ejected last week after managing just 19 rushing yards on seven carries. Atlanta’s offense could be a tire fire if Schaub starts, so get your money in now before the spread changes if Ryan is indeed ruled out. Heavy action on Seattle moved the line from its opening at -3.5 points so hopefully you got in early.
Carolina Panthers (+6) at San Francisco 49ers
This will not be a popular play in Week 8 since the 49ers are undefeated and a hot topic in NFL conversations. However, Carolina has won four straight, is coming off a bye week, and road teams have covered the spread at a 62.7% clip this year. The Panthers are 2-0 ATS on the road this year and the Niners, who played in a monsoon in Washington last Sunday, are 1-3 ATS with a rest disadvantage since the start of last season.
Those trends are one thing, but tangible advantages in the matchup are another. The Panthers actually have a better QB right now, with Kyle Allen edging Jimmy Garoppolo in Defense-adjusted Yards over Replacement and well ahead of Jimmy G in DVOA per Football Outsiders. Garoppolo has frankly been a weak link for a Niners offense that may struggle to run against Luke Kuechly and company. The Panthers pass defense is dominating and that’s helped them pile up a league-high 27 sacks (despite already having a bye week).
San Francisco’s defense is fantastic, ranking first in stuffed rank against the run. But that’s not how the Panthers offense approaches things with Christian McCaffrey getting the ball on the edge, or in the passing game. SF did allow the sixth-most receptions (99) to RBs last year and McCaffrey ranks third in targets and yards created amongst running backs.
According to Pro Football Reference, the Niners have a weak -2.83 strength of schedule rating, while the Panthers have a 1.78 rating. It’s possible the Niners are being over-valued after dominating the past three weeks, but recall that SF only beat Pittsburgh 24-20 at home when the Steelers were starting Mason Rudolph. For what it’s worth, Carolina has won six straight regular season meetings with San Francisco.
Indianapolis Colts (-5.5) vs Denver Broncos
Already in dire shape, the Broncos offense can now be considered a guaranteed liability with Emmanuel Sanders shipped off to San Francisco. Joe Flacco ranks 24th in QBR (47) with the fourth-worst DVOA (-20.2%) amongst starting QBs this season per Football Outsiders. The statuesque 34-year-old has taken 12 sacks through three road games and absorbed 8 sacks last week at home against Kansas City. The Chiefs actually have the second-lowest adjusted sack rate as a defensive line, so that production is startling. Indy’s defensive line ranks 19th in that department and the Colts pried dominant pass rusher Justin Houston away from the Chiefs this offseason.
Fresh off a key win over AFC South rival Houston, the Colts are unlikely to experience a let down under disciplined HC Frank Reich. Indy is 5-3-1 ATS as a home favorite under Reich and 8-5-1 ATS after a win in that span. While not highly rated by traditional metrics, the Colts defense ranks eighth in schedule-adjusted DVOA per Football Outsiders. The Colts have tallied 12 sacks at home this year and should force Flacco into some costly mistakes that help them open things up to win going away.
NFL Week 8 Picks Against The Spread
Jacksonville Jaguars (-6) vs New York Jets
The Jets rank 31st in adjusted sack rate and the Jags have the fourth-most sacks (21) this year. Quarterbacks often bounce back from dreadful performances, but it’s safe to wonder if Sam Darnold is going to continue seeing “ghosts” after the Patriots broke his spirit last Monday.
New Orleans Saints (-10) vs Arizona Cardinals
Whether Drew Brees (thumb) plays or not, the Saints defense should be all over Kyler Murray and their offense should have no trouble against Arizona’s 26th-ranked defense.
Cincinnati Bengals (+13) at Los Angeles Rams
This spread opened at +10 and is now in a favorable spot for the Bengals, who have covered in three of four road games this year despite going winless overall. This game is also in London, so the crowd could gravitate towards an underdog.
Cleveland Browns (+13) at New England Patriots
Bet against the Patriots at home at your own risk, but we expect Baker Mayfield to show far more toughness than Sam Darnold against New England’s aggressive defense. Coming off a bye week, the Browns at least put up a fight in Foxboro.
Los Angeles Chargers (+4) at Chicago Bears
The Chargers are allowing the fifth-fewest passing YPG (216.1) and the Bears notably can’t run the ball right now. The Bolts have been better on the road than at home this year and need a win to save their season.
Detroit Lions (-6.5) vs New York Giants
Daniel Jones is regressing badly and the Lions secondary will make it tough for him to find many openings down the field. New York’s talent-deficient defense should get burned on turf by Matt Stafford and his speedy receivers.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-14) vs Miami Dolphins
Hard to bet against the Steelers at home in primetime. Even with a massive spread, Pittsburgh’s excellent pass rush should flip the field and force tanking Miami to bow out early.
Buffalo Bills (-1.5) vs Philadelphia Eagles
While the Eagles gumption and discipline under HC Doug Pederson is admirable, there’s not much to trust about their offense against a stout Bills defense. On the other side of the ball, Philly’s horrendous secondary should get exposed once again.
Green Bay Packers (-3.5) at Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes (knee) should sit this one out and rest up for the second half of the season. If he does, Matt Moore doesn’t have enough talent to threaten an elite Packers secondary.
Houston Texans (-6.5) vs Oakland Raiders
Texans bounce back from a disappointing loss in Indy, with Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins having a field day against Oakland’s porous secondary.
Tampa Bay Bucs (+2.5) at Tennessee Titans
Ryan Tannehill played better at QB in relief of Marcus Mariota, as the Titans barely held off the Chargers last Sunday. That performance doesn’t inspire enough confidence to take a run-heavy team against Tampa’s league-leading rush defense.