Bets for NFL: Week 8
Welcome back from the bye week from hell. Six teams had off in Week 7, making it one of the hardest slates of the year in terms of fantasy football and betting. Luckily for us, we came out of it in the black, cashing two of our three best bets and profiting +0.9 units in the process.
Last week, we went with two totals in addition to our weekly teaser. The teaser cashed relatively easily as both the Packers and Patriots won by double-digits, although the Patriots made it look a lot easier than the Packers did. Our weekly teasers are now 5-2 on the season. The Raiders/Eagles total was far too low in a game featuring a desperate Eagles team vs. a motivated Raiders bunch, and we cashed that over by a full touchdown.
Our only downfall was the first half under in the 49ers/Colts game. Everything lined up perfectly for us – Jimmy Garappolo got the start, the rain was coming down in buckets, and it was nearly impossible to throw the football. The only issue was the rain was perhaps too intense, as it caused tons of missed tackles and turnovers in good field position. We were ultimately doomed by yet another pass interference in the endzone, but we turned a profit and that’s all that matters. Here’s what’s on tap for Week 8, and make sure to check out my full slate of picks.
Indianapolis Colts -1 (-110)
Colts 3-4 vs. Titans 5-2
This line is only available on BetMGM. Everywhere else, the line sits at -1.5 (-110), and on FanDuel, the Colts are down to -2 (-110). I bet the Colts at +1.5 earlier in the week, so obviously, a lot of sharps are on Indy and that’s caused the line to swing them from slight underdogs to slight favorites. I wouldn’t bet this one any lower than -1; at that point, we’ve lost way too much value from the lookahead and opening lines.
Every week I seem to post a contrarian play, and this week it’s the Colts. There’s a lot of attention and love getting sent the Titans way, and rightfully so. They just beat the two preseason AFC favorites in back-to-back weeks. However, taking a closer look at those games tells a much different story, and I think that’s why the Colts can sneak in the back door and shock the Titans.
Tennessee beat Buffalo in prime time for the whole world to see, but remember how poor their offense was in the first half. It took them six straight scoring possessions to take a three-point lead over Buffalo. Six possessions in a row ending in points is a testament to a great offense, but let’s not forget the offense was only clicking for a portion of the game. And let’s also remember how that game ended. Josh Allen slipped on a fourth down attempt. Had he not slipped, he picks up the first down and the Bills win by four. If that happens, we’re looking at the Titans in a completely different way right now. And last week against Kansas City, sure that was impressive, but Derrick Henry only ran for 3.0 yards per carry against the league’s worst run defense, and Tennessee was blanked in the second half. Again – Tennessee played basically half a game on offense.
They’ll need to play a full game to beat the Colts; here’s why. Firstly, Carson Wentz looks miles better than he did earlier in the year, and the first time these two teams met, he and Quenton Nelson weren’t 100%, and their best run-stuffer Kwity Paye didn’t play. Wentz has only turned the ball over three times all year, one of which was a fumble in a monsoon last week, and he hasn’t thrown a pick since Week 2 against the Rams. Criticize the guy all you want, he’s looked great over the last four weeks, and the Colts are 3-1 in those games. They should be 4-0, had they not blown a 16-point lead to Baltimore. Indianapolis as a team is playing better, and they’re incredibly motivated – they need to keep their season alive.
Carson Wentz is the *only* Quarterback in the #NFL with 11 or more touchdowns & less than 1 interception.
Wentz had 1 bad year & everyone thought he was done.
Since 2017, Wentz has 92 touchdowns and 22 int’s if you exclude that 1 year.
The dude can still BALL.
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) October 25, 2021
A loss here is essentially a two game swing since the Titans are the team the Colts are chasing, and it would effectively end Indy’s season. This is as close to a must-win in Week 8 as you’ll find. Motivation edge – Colts.
And finally, the Colts are built to beat the Titans – plain and simple. They’re 12th in DVOA as a defense, which is getting overlooked. Why? Because they’re first against the run, and that’s obviously Tennessee’s bread-and-butter. They’re going to try and force the Titans to be one-dimensional. On the other side of the ball, Tennessee is 25th in defensive DVOA against the run, and that’s a huge problem going up against the closest thing this league has to offer to Derrick Henry – Jonathan Taylor. Taylor has been red-hot of late, rushing for over 100 yards in three of his last four games and scoring five touchdowns in the process. Tennessee’s secondary is also banged up, so the Colts can actually approach this game with a balanced attack and utilize the threat of Taylor in the play-action.
As I mentioned earlier, -1 is my limit since the line has already moved quite a bit. Shop around.
Dallas Cowboys -1 (-115)
Cowboys 5-1 vs. Vikings 3-3
Note: if Dak Prescott is ruled out, pivot to under 52.5.
Like the Colts play, this has a lot to do with finding the best line. Currently, PointsBet and Bet365 are offering the Cowboys as one-point favorites; Most books have Dallas at -1.5 (-110), BetMGM and Fox Bet have Dallas at -2 (-110), and DraftKings has America’s Team stuck at -2.5 (-105). This line is all over the place, so shop around for the best one. My limit here is -1.5, and is only a play if Dak Prescott plays (obviously).
So, like the Colts play, this is about finding the right number, but unlike the Colts play, this is a very public bet and not at all contrarian. And at times that’s ok; the public sometimes wins too. I think a lot of people who are on the Vikings are too caught up in numbers and trends and aren’t using the eye test to judge what’s going on on the field.
The Cowboys are really good. I know they’ve played a bunch of backup quarterbacks, but they should have spoiled the Buccaneers’ banner raising night if Tom Brady didn’t lead a game-winning drive with half a minute to go. Other than that game, Dallas is unblemished and obviously has the top offense in the league – we knew they’d be at the top of the charts coming into the year. But their defense has been very good as well, ranking 10th in DVOA.
Dallas is also used to this situation – playing in prime time with the whole world watching and mostly rooting against them. Dak Prescott has been here before, Ezekiel Elliott has been here before, Mike McCarthy is used to it from his days with the Packers. This is familiar territory. Not so much for Minnesota. They normally get one primetime game per year, usually against the Packers, and Kirk Cousins is simply not good in prime time. He’s 5-11 in his career on Sunday and Monday Night Football and is over 20 games under .500 against teams with a winning record in his career. And focusing on the 2021 season alone, who has Minnesota beaten? They’re 3-3 and lost to Cincinnati, Arizona, and Cleveland – three good teams. They’ve beaten Seattle, Carolina, and Detroit – three teams with a combined seven wins on the year.
All of Ezekiel Elliott's 10+ yard gains through Week 7. Zeke looks outstanding this season, showing off his impressive vision and power in addition to some notable burst as well. #Cowboys pic.twitter.com/UZuapLIcsF
— John Owning (@JohnOwning) October 27, 2021
There’s also a big problem on the horizon for the Minnesota defense – they can’t stop the run. They’re 3rd in DVOA against the pass, but 24th against the run. Dallas can throw on pretty much anyone, but they may not have to. They can lean on their two-headed running back monster who ranks second in rush yards per game, keep the ball out of Cousins’ hands, and make sure every offensive drive ends in points.
I know this is a public, “too good to be true” bet, but I like Dallas to roll in this one if Prescott plays. If he doesn’t, as mentioned above, pivot to under 52.5.
Two-Team Teaser of the Week: Panthers +9 / Lions +9.5 (-120)
Last week we went with two favorites; this week we’re going with two underdogs. Not many teams fit the Wong teaser rules in Week 8, so we’re going slightly off the map.
Betting the reeling Panthers can be scary; they just got trounced by the awful Giants and mustered three points, their quarterback got benched, and they haven’t won a game in a month. They don’t have to win, they just need to keep it close against a Falcons team who isn’t as good as their 3-3 record shows. Atlanta has only beaten the Jets in London, the Giants on a walk-off field goal, and the Dolphins on a walk-off field goal – three of the NFL’s worst teams. Those wins were by a combined 12 points, so even when they win, they do it by the skin of their teeth. Carolina is going to be desperate; they need to save their season and Sam Darnold needs to save his job. I think they actually focus on the run this week, I think Darnold plays better against a bad Falcons defense and even if he doesn’t he’ll have a short leash, allowing PJ Walker to run around on this Atlanta defense, and I think the divisional aspect of this game causes the Carolina defense to come out hungry.
As for the Lions, they can’t go 0-17. I mean, they can, but I don’t think they will. This is realistically the last week where I can see them pulling out a win. They’ll battle the Eagles, and the Eagles just look terrible. Jalen Hurts has regressed so much that Gardner Minshew talks are starting, Nick Sirianni is a terrible coach, and Miles Sanders is out. The Lions play incredibly hard every game – they even tried two fake punts and an onside kick last week – and they’re going to play hard for their coach to get his first win knowing there aren’t many chances left. The Eagles aren’t good enough to be laying +9.5 against anyone either.
Mike is an avid sports bettor and fantasy football player, and has been writing since 2013. He previously worked for NBC Sports Philadelphia and Alliance Football Focus, and currently contributes to BettingPros as a featured writer. Mike is a resident of New Jersey, a graduate of Rider University, and currently works as a research analyst. When he isn’t searching for his next wager or watching the New Jersey Devils, Mike enjoys spending time with his wife, his dog and his two cats.