NFL Week 8 Picks against the Spread
Why the Chiefs, Saints, and Bengals are this week’s best bets despite being big favorites
Many of the league’s teams will be halfway through the regular season after this week, and we got here fast. If it feels like you don’t really know which teams are good or bad yet, it’s because we don’t. An incredible 21 of the league’s 32 teams are within one game above or below .500, and each week the underdogs continue to show up.
Six teams are on bye this week, and boy do they need it. The Titans, Cardinals, and Giants have been decimated by injuries, and the Packers need some time to get Brett Hundley some time under center. Somehow the Jaguars and Rams are the only two teams off this week that are actually good. It’s been that kind of season. But with so many bad quarterbacks off this week — seriously, is Jared Goff the best quarterback on bye?? — it might be a fun week of games. Let’s get to the picks…
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The Stay Aways
Miami +3 at Baltimore (Thursday)
It’s a shame this great World Series is off Thursday night, because this game sure isn’t worth watching. Miami is 4–2 somehow but those four wins are by a total of 14 points, and Baltimore has lost four of five. The Ravens have scored just three meaningful offensive touchdowns in that stretch (the other two coming on meaningless final drives). Normally a backup QB getting his first start on a short week on the road would be a sure thing for the home team, but Matt Moore should’ve been starting for Miami all along.
Buffalo -2.5 vs Oakland
Does anyone have a read on either of these teams? The Raiders won on the third or fourth “final” play in a wild Thursday night game against the Chiefs to save their season, and they need Derek Carr to keep rolling. The last five Bills games have been one-score affairs, but the defense alone hasn’t been enough to carry this team every game. Give the home team the edge in a toss-up.
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Minnesota -9.5 vs Cleveland (London)
Who knows if the NFL will ever go to London full time, but you’ll excuse British fans if they’re not too excited. In three London games this season, the loser has scored seven points combined, and this might not be any prettier. The Browns can’t even find a quarterback that can make it through an entire game. Minnesota’s won three games by double digits, and it would’ve been four if not for the final play last week. They should add another here.
San Francisco +13 at Philadelphia
Philadelphia sits atop the NFL and looks great behind leading MVP candidate Carson Wentz, but when has anything ever gone right for Philly as a favorite? The Eagles have won only one game by 14 points. The 49ers are winless but have kept their games close outside of last week’s blowout loss. San Francisco is a 6-to-1 underdog outright if you really believe in anti-Philadelphia karma.
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Atlanta -4.5 at New York Jets
What’s going on with the Falcons? Atlanta was 3–0 heading into a four-game trip through the AFC East, but now they’re on the verge of getting swept. This once formidable offense is fumbling, not even averaging two touchdowns a game the last three weeks. Meanwhile three of the last four Jets games were three-point games. All signs point to the Jets covering. But all signs forget that the Jets were supposed to be the worst team in the NFL and the Falcons were a Super Bowl favorite. Let’s give them both another chance.
Seattle -5.5 vs Houston
Houston was rolling with 157 points in four games into the bye, but they’ve yet to win two in a row and their only wins are against Cincinnati, Tennessee, and Cleveland. PFF thinks Deshaun Watson is overrated, with among the most negatively-graded and turnover-worthy throws in the league despite his gaudy statistics. Seattle has the second best pass defense in the league and is beginning its annual mid-season round into form. Houston fans have another team on their mind this week anyway.
Pittsburgh -3 at Detroit
Pittsburgh’s defense has allowed only nine touchdowns in seven games. They’re really good and only vulnerable to the run, where Detroit isn’t prepared to hurt them. Ben Roethlisberger struggles on the road and will be playing in front of an amped-up Sunday night crowd, but even another backdoor Detroit run may not be enough to cover this one.
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Whoa, These Games Are Actually Pretty Good
Carolina +1.5 at Tampa Bay
The Bucs swept the Panthers last year after Carolina swept the season series three straight years before that. Cam Newton was bad and then he was back and now he’s not again, and this Panthers offense can’t seem to find any rhythm. They may find better luck against a Tampa Bay secondary that has allowed the most receptions and yards per game to opposing wide receivers. Both teams badly need a win to right their sinking ships.
Dallas -2 at Washington
After many ups and down, both teams are 3–3, 2.5 games behind the Eagles. Dallas swept last season and has won four of five, six of eight, and twelve of seventeen matchups, dominating this rivalry for awhile, but expect this one to be close. Of those past 17 matchups, 13 have been one-score games, so this might just come down to which team has the ball last. In a close game, which quarterback do you trust more with the game on the line? I’ll take Dak.
Los Angeles Chargers +7 at New England
Both of these teams are moving in the right direction after a rough first month. The Chargers started 0–4 but have won their last three and can get to .500 with a road win here. New England’s defense has come together to allow just 12.7ppg the last three weeks after giving up over 32ppg their first four. Tom Brady is an insane 122–23 at home in his career, but both of these teams are playing well and this should be close. Take the points.
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Week 8 Best Bets
Kansas City -7 vs Denver (Monday)
We’re not jumping off the Chiefs bandwagon that easily. The NFL’s last unbeaten team fell hard with two losses in five days, but it happens. The Chiefs were never going undefeated. They lost to one opponent that has their number and to a rival fighting to save their season on the final play. Kansas City may have taken a step back, but Denver is reeling. The Broncos have scored a whopping 26 points in October. Teams are daring Trevor Siemian to beat them, and he can’t do it. Kansas City has already beaten Denver three times in 12 months. They should add a fourth in front of a raucous Monday night Arrowhead crowd.
Cincinnati -10 vs Indianapolis
The Bengals have yet to score 100 on the season but they should get there with ease against a terrible Colts team that’s given up 222 points already. The Colts seem on the verge of meltdown with internal rumblings galore and a coaching staff that’s on the brink of a job hunt. Indianapolis has been blown out four times already. It doesn’t mean you have to watch.
New Orleans -7.5 vs Chicago
The Saints lost their first two in a road Monday Night Football game and against a rested angry Patriots team coming off a loss. Since then, New Orleans has been locked in with four straight wins. They’ve scored more than 29 points per game and are even better at home. Chicago probably has to score at least 20 to cover and there’s no reason to believe they can do that with Mitchell Trubisky. Trubisky’s thrown 348 yards in three starts and the Bears have scored just four TDs in those games, two of them on trick plays.