I went 2-3 in Week 7, with one of the wins coming on the Colts — which was my top play. It was tough to come up with five picks last week, but that’s not the case for Week 8. With only two teams on the bye, I like multiple matchups his week.
My picks will be separated into five categories. Keep in mind that some game theory could factor into my selections because of the large-field NFL “picks” contest I’m in. For example, I might avoid a game in an attempt to be contrarian if I think a large amount of the field will be on a certain side.
Here’s what I’m currently thinking for the Week 8 slate.
Note: My picks could change based on information and any injury news that is not factored into the contest line. I will tweet from @natejacobson1 when I have a change in opinion on a game. I will also discuss and finalize these picks on a Periscope show I host called Weekend Warriors. This week’s show is on Friday at 7 p.m. ET and can be seen on Stadium’s Periscope or Stadium’s Twitter.
Sides I’ll use unless there’s an injury
Giants (+6.5) over Lions: I was hoping the Giants would be getting a full touchdown here, but I still like them at +6.5 in this game at Detroit. The Giants aren’t a very appealing team to bet on right now, but running back Saquon Barkley is back and always a threat when he’s on the field. This pick is mostly a fade of the Lions, who are coming off tough losses against the Packers and Vikings. Detroit is also dealing with injuries at key positions and are now in an unfamiliar favorite role. They have been an underdog in the last five games, and I don’t think they should be a favorite by this many points given their issues. Another reason to fade the Lions is that they traded defensive back and team captain Quandre Diggs this week, which is a message to the team that they are looking to play younger players. The Giants will cover this game, and also have a chance to win outright.
Chiefs (+4) over Packers: The big storyline surrounding this game is Patrick Mahomes’ status. If he miraculously does return from a dislocated kneecap then the line would move towards Kansas City, and I’d like the Chiefs at +4. That being said, I still like the Chiefs if Matt Moore starts at QB for Kansas City in a primetime game at Arrowhead. I personally made this line Chiefs +2 with Moore, so there’s line value there for me. I also don’t buy into the Packers, even though they’ve started 6-1. The betting market has not shown love for the Packers in recent weeks as they were only five-point favorites against the Raiders at home last week. The week before that, the Lions got bet down to +3.5 in a Monday night game at Lambeau. The Chiefs have had extra time to get Moore ready for this start since they last played on Thursday night, and I expect an inspired effort from Kansas City no matter who starts at quarterback.
Sides I’ll likely use
Jets (+6) over Jaguars: Sam Darnold and the Jets couldn’t have looked worse last Monday night against the Patriots, but I’m willing to give them a pass because New England has the best defense in the league. This line was Jaguars -4.5 before that Monday night game, so the betting market reacted to New York’s horrible showing. I also haven’t been a Gardner Minshew believer, and this line is too big for Jacksonville to cover in a game where the total is currently 41.
Picks I’m considering
Buccaneers (+2.5) over Titans: The last time we saw Jameis Winston he threw five interceptions and added a lost fumble against the Panthers in London. In the NFL, I always like backing a player or team coming off an embarrassing performance, and the bye week is an added positive for Tampa Bay. I’m not a huge fan of Ryan Tannehill starting for the Titans — even though they sneaked out a win against the Chargers last week. I would like this game if the Bucs got to +3, so I’ll be looking to see if the number gets to that point in the betting market.
Eagles (+1.5) over Bills: I really wanted to start betting against the Bills, as they’re sitting at 5-1 with a body of work that isn’t very impressive (wins against the Giants, Jets, Bengals, Titans and Dolphins). I thought they’d be a good team to eventually start fading, especially if I wanted to buy into Philadelphia bouncing back against Buffalo in this spot. However, bettors are becoming more intelligent, and the contest line is only Bills -1.5. I’ll be looking to take Eagles +3 if that pops up between now and Sunday, but for now, I’m just going to consider them in the contest.
Cardinals (+10.5) over Saints: Whether it’s Drew Brees or Teddy Bridgewater starting, I’m going to consider Arizona. I would look to fade Brees coming off the thumb injury if he’s in the lineup (I assume he will be based on the number). If Bridgewater starts, the line would drop, and I could get line value in the contest with Arizona catching double digits.
Panthers (+5.5) over 49ers: I’m scared to bet against the 49ers because they still might be undervalued in the betting market, but I want to keep the Panthers in consideration because I think they can cover this number coming off the bye week. The 49ers have several offensive line injuries, which could be a matchup edge for Carolina’s pass rush.
Broncos (+5.5) over Colts: The situation sets up nice for the Broncos. They last played on Thursday night, so they have 10 days to get ready for this game. The Colts won a massive game last week against the Texans, and quarterback Jacoby Brissett had a career day. I can see an Indianapolis letdown this week — however, the only thing holding me back is my lack of trust in Joe Flacco and Denver’s offense.
Games I’ll likely avoid
Chargers at Bears (-4): These are two teams I would want to bet against this week. The Chargers’ injury-plagued offensive line against the Bears’ defense is what’s keeping me from backing Los Angeles. The Bears’ offense has been trending down all season, and I wouldn’t want to back them as a favorite.
Raiders at Texans (-6.5): I’m going to stay away from taking a side against the spread in this game, but I’ll likely use the Texans in a teaser with the Eagles and/or Buccaneers. A normal six-point teaser means Houston would just need to win the game straight up, which I predict will happen. This is the fifth-straight game away from Oakland for the Raiders because they played a “home” game in London.
Browns at Patriots (-13): Coming off a bye week, this might be a good spot for the Browns, who’ll be getting the Patriots on a short week. However, forcing a pick on Cleveland isn’t necessary when there are other viable games to choose from.
Dolphins at Steelers (-14): The Dolphins interest me a little bit here, as they’ve covered two numbers since their bye week and are still fighting hard in games. The Steelers giving two touchdowns is too high considering that either Mason Rudolph or Devlin Hodges will be starting at quarterback.
Games I’ll definitely avoid unless there’s a major injury
Redskins at Vikings (-16): Thursday night game + more than two-touchdown spread = the type of NFL game I stay away from
Seahawks (-6.5) at Falcons: This line assumes that Matt Ryan won’t play for the Falcons, so I might consider the Falcons in a contest if he ends up starting. But even if Ryan plays, I don’t have much interest in taking Atlanta.
Bengals vs. Rams (-13) in London: I usually stay away from London games because of the travel factors. The Rams can easily win this game by two touchdowns, but I wonder if Sean McVay won’t want to embarrass his former assistant coach Zac Taylor, who only got a head coaching job because he worked for McVay.