NFL Picks Week 8 Against the Spread: Which Underdogs Will Cover?
Week 8 of the 2011 NFL regular season is just five days away and the sports betting market has been on the move since Sunday night.
Oddsmakers were spot on in achieving split results in the previous round of action, as favorites posted a 6-6-1 against-the-spread record, while the "under" finished with a 7-6 mark.
Let's take a look at this week's games from a betting perspective.
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
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Playing on the road for three consecutive games doesn't turn over very well in the NFL, with three teams already failing to cover in that particular situation this season.
From a betting perspective, the betting odds are inflated due to the Indianapolis Colts dropping a 62-7 contest on Sunday Night Football, but Sunday's host was steamrolled as well.
Tennessee came out of its bye week and suffered a 41-7 defeat to the Houston Texans as three-point home favorites.
The Titans were out-gained by 370 yards and completely embarrassed.
Sharp money has yet to make a move on this game, which places me reluctantly on the inflated favorite.
Pick: Tennessee Titans (-9.5)
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
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Don't get too enthused about playing the Jacksonville Jaguars in this spot due to their 12-7 win over the Baltimore Ravens as 10-point home underdogs on Monday Night Football.
Rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert has completed less than 50 percent of his passes through six games and the offense has managed to score 20 points or less in all seven games.
That's an important number when examining that the Houston Texans are 4-0 ATS when holding opponents below that particular threshold.
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has the stop unit playing at a high level despite the loss of star Mario Williams.
Bettors will also find that the Jaguars are 0-4 ATS as a road underdog of 3.5 to 10 points, while the home team is 4-1 ATS in this series.
Pick: Houston Texans (-9.5)
Arizona Cardinals at Baltimore Ravens
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The Baltimore Ravens are clearly the side in this contest due to Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells being listed as doubtful with a knee injury.
Both losses this year have come against teams that possess a dynamic threat in the backfield, something that this week's opponent doesn't offer.
The league's best defense will have a field day against Arizona's terrible offensive line that will cause quarterback Kevin Kolb to rush things in the pocket.
Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin will also be energized in facing his former team and the franchise is 11-4 ATS as a home favorite of 10.5 or more points.
I also don't anticipate a letdown in facing the Steelers next week, as Baltimore knows its fierce rival could easily fall against the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Pick: Baltimore Ravens (-12.5)
New Orleans Saints at St. Louis Rams
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It's time for New Orleans to take a deep breath before seeking revenge against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 9.
Quarterback Drew Brees piloted the squad to a 62-7 blowout win over the Indianapolis Colts as 13.5-point home favorites last week.
This will be the team's fourth road games in five weeks.
New Orleans is also just 5-11 ATS versus teams with a losing record, while also falling versus the number in five of its last seven tries following a straight-up win of 14 points or more.
Pick: St. Louis Rams (+13.5)
Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
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Both teams will be coming into their bye week, offering very little in terms of a handicapping edge on either side.
The Minnesota Vikings have officially begun the Christian Ponder era at quarterback, dropping a 33-27 contest to the Green Bay Packers as 10-point home underdogs.
Interestingly enough, those two teams will face each other again on Nov. 14.
Due to the quick turnaround, the revenge factor isn't as strong as it would normally be, placing the entire squad's focus on the task at hand.
Running back Adrian Peterson should find daylight all afternoon, facing a defense that ranks 29th in the league in stopping the run, allowing 133.4 yards per game.
Carolina is a perfect 2-0 ATS when favored this season and definitely has things going in the right direction.
Quarterback Cam Newton has been electric and the rushing attack is starting to gain steam.
I believe that Vikings defensive end Jared Allen could be the difference in causing a timely turnover, while the franchise is 11-1 ATS off consecutive losses versus winning teams.
Pick: Minnesota Vikings (+4)
Miami Dolphins at New York Giants
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The New York Giants can ill-afford to look past the Miami Dolphins due to a daunting schedule that could realistically hand them nine consecutive losses to end the season.
Head coach Tom Coughlin also can use a 36-25 loss to the Seattle Seahawks as 10-point home favorites in Week 5 as motivation.
Miami has all the technical advantages in terms of betting trends, but has fallen off in posting an 0-3 ATS mark as an underdog of 3.5 to 9.5 points this year.
Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano is ready to be cast out to sea and will be facing an opponent that is top five in talent when healthy.
All members are likely to be suited up and playing for the host inside MetLife Stadium.
Pick: New York Giants (-9.5)
Washington Redskins vs. Buffalo Bills
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When things get ugly—look to play the Washington Redskins as an underdog.
The Buffalo Bills will be coming off their bye week and will serve as host for this contest inside the Rogers Centre in Toronto.
Over the past two-plus seasons, Washington has tallied a 7-2 ATS mark after two or more consecutive losses.
Buffalo is attracting over 85 percent of the early straight wagers despite being 0-2 ATS when dressing up as a favorite this season.
It won't be pretty—that I can guarantee.
Pick: Washington Redskins (+6)
New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers
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The NFL oddsmakers have moved the needle a full touchdown for this AFC showdown and it automatically places on a home underdog that is 27-3 ATS when playing with revenge in October.
Getting Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger is a rare occurrence as well, covering three out of four opportunities in his career.
Early betting has battered the line up and down from the field-goal mark, displaying that sharp bettors are willing to take a field goal whenever normal juice is available.
I'm a little concerned with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady being 4-1 against the Steelers at Heinz Field, while jumping out to a 23-3 lead in last year's 39-26 victory as 4.5-point road underdogs.
With that being said, getting points with the league's No. 2 defense versus the NFL's worst is too juicy to pass up.
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers (+3)
Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers
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Bettors really need to dive into last week's box score to gain respect for Cleveland's abysmal 6-3 win over the Seattle Seahawks.
First off, the Browns held the ball for over 42 minutes and out-gained the Seahawks by a 298-137 margin, an opponent that was coming off its bye week.
Secondly, that type of ball control will serve its defense well in facing another rested opponent in Week 8.
Finally, Cleveland was in position to kick a field goal that would have resulted in a spread victory, but Seattle committed a personal foul penalty that resulted in a first down.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is doing all the right things in the Bay Area, but first-year NFL coaches are 0-2 ATS off the bye week this year.
He registered a 2-2 ATS mark in that situation during the regular season during his time at Stanford.
Pick: Cleveland Browns (+9.5)
Cincinnati Bengals at Seattle Seahawks
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From a betting trends standpoint. the Seattle Seahawks are the best play on the entire odds board.
The Cincinnati Bengals will be without leading rusher Cedric Benson due to a one-game suspension, trying to snap an 0-7 ATS mark off a bye week when suiting up on the road.
Seattle has been a terrible play coming off a week of rest, which became very apparent in a 6-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns as three-point road underdogs last week.
Few stadiums are louder in the NFL, presenting Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton a tremendous challenge in facing the 12th man.
It's also important to note that the Seahawks are 10-1-1 ATS in front of the home faithful against opponents from the AFC.
An ugly dog—no doubt about it.
Pick: Seattle Seahawks (+3)
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
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In my opinion, the Philadelphia Eagles are the play until the number possibly rises to four.
Dallas is receiving plenty of the early betting action due to being involved in 11 consecutive games decided by four points or less.
Eagles head coach Andy Reid is one of the best off a bye, tallying a 9-2 ATS mark in the situation, which he'll put to get use due to the revamped roster that was placed under him during the offseason.
Gotta lay it at this point.
Pick: Philadelphia Eagles (-3)
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
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The San Diego Chargers are the most difficult team in the NFL to handicap—Period.
Kansas City has virtually turned its season around and will be coming in with plenty of confidence off a 28-0 victory over the Oakland Raiders as four-point road underdogs.
It's important to point out that the Chiefs enjoyed a perfect storm in that contest, with the Raiders in a transitional phase under center.
Despite everything telling me to back the host, I'm going to lay the points on a San Diego team that is 15-2 ATS when facing a division opponent that is off a straight-up underdog win.
Pick: San Diego Chargers (-3)