Bleacher Report's Expert Week 8 NFL Picks
Look or don't look now, but we're on a miniature roll.
After a rough start picking games against the spread to start the season, Bleacher Report national NFL writers Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski, B/R Gridiron editors Ian Kenyon and Wes O'Donnell, and B/R Betting host Connor Rogers have collectively gotten back on track. The panel has been at or above .500 with its majority selections in three of the last four weeks, and now two-thirds of the crew is at or above that mark.
Whether you want to fade that trend or jump on board, here are the gang's ATS picks for every game on the Week 8 schedule.
Green Bay Packers (6-1) at Arizona Cardinals (7-0)
DraftKings Line: Arizona -6
In their last nine prime-time games, the Green Bay Packers are 9-0 straight-up and 8-0-1 against the spread. And yet, for the first time this season, the majority of our panel is picking against Green Bay as a sizable underdog Thursday night against the undefeated Arizona Cardinals.
Something about traveling on extremely short rest while also extremely shorthanded against the league's hottest team, with still less than a touchdown on the line.
"Were we talking about a full-strength Packers team traveling to face the undefeated Cardinals, laying almost a touchdown would be one thing," Davenport said. "But we're not. Not having defensive coordinator Joe Barry against Arizona's high-octane offense is bad enough. But also not having star wideout Davante Adams and No. 2 receiver Allen Lazard is just too much."
The Cards still arguably aren't getting enough love. They're 6-1 ATS this season, and this doesn't represent a significant public fade as public bets are close to 50/50 here. You might not want to spend too much cash fading Aaron Rodgers, but Arizona appears to be worth a safe bet in this spot.
Rogers: Green Bay
Score Prediction: Cardinals 30, Packers 21
Los Angeles Rams (6-1) at Houston Texans (1-6)
DraftKings Line: Los Angeles -14
The Los Angeles Rams have been favored by 14-plus points twice in their last 10 games, and they failed to cover while outscoring inferior opponents by only six total points in those affairs. But a slim majority of the panel feels that won't become a trend with L.A. playing the disaster-case Houston Texans Sunday in the Lone Star State.
"The Texans lost six straight contests after a Week 1 victory," Sobleski said. "Unfortunately, Houston has become less competitive as the current losing streak progressed. David Culley's squad lost by an average of 24 points per game over its last four with only one of those contests being decided by one score. Thus, a two-touchdown spread doesn't mean much when the Rams can run up the score."
Davenport and Gagnon might be more optimistic about Houston after seeing the Rams struggle to put away the lowly Detroit Lions at home, especially now that veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor is expected to return from a hamstring injury for Houston.
So this one is far from a lock, but it's understandably hard to take less than about 20 points for the Texans right about now.
Kenyon: Los Angeles
O'Donnell: Los Angeles
Rogers: Los Angeles
Sobleski: Los Angeles
Score Prediction: Rams 31, Texans 14
Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) at Cleveland Browns (4-3)
DraftKings Line: Cleveland -3.5
If you opt to bet on either the Pittsburgh Steelers or Cleveland Browns before the weekend arrives, you're essentially rolling the dice one way or the other on the health statuses of Baker Mayfield (shoulder), Nick Chubb (calf) and Jarvis Landry (knee). And that's fine, but our panelists aren't doctors so a midweek selection carries limited weight.
Regardless, with what we have to work with right now, backing the banged-up Browns with a field goal and a hook on the line is far too risky for the majority of the gang.
"The Steelers are simply in better shape than the Browns right now," Gagnon said, "and that'll be the case even if Mayfield, Chubb and Landry are out there but less than 100 percent on Sunday. Pittsburgh always finds a way to contend and has salvaged its season. A veteran, well-coached team will be inspired to get revenge after what happened against the Browns in last year's playoffs. This is a field-goal game at the very least."
The Browns have just once convincing victory this season, and that came at home against the Chicago Bears in Week 3. This will be a much larger challenge. That said, if you really want to hit Cleveland here, you might want to play it safe and buy back half a point to cover yourself in the event of a three-point home win.
Score Prediction: Steelers 21, Browns 20
Philadelphia Eagles (2-5) at Detroit Lions (0-7)
DraftKings Line: Philadelphia -3.5
Speaking of unworthy hooks, a Philadelphia Eagles team that hasn't won by more than three points since Week 1 is laying 3.5 on the road Sunday against a Detroit Lions squad that is 0-7 overall by 4-3 ATS.
Our crew isn't remotely interested in the favorite.
"Enough is enough for these Lions already," O'Donnell said. "Arguably the most winnable game of their season has arrived and I'll gladly take these points at home. Dan Campbell's group isn't a good football team, but they play hard and they're due a break.
"The Eagles aren't a good team, either. In fact, they have scored a touchdown in the final five minutes in every one of their losses. This is a bad football team whose final score lines don't reflect how bad they actually are. The 'garbage time' wonders are exactly that: garbage. The Lions should break through for a much-deserved W this Sunday, but even if they get their hearts broken again it won't be by more than three points."
Almost everyone agrees.
Score Prediction: Eagles 24, Lions 23
San Francisco 49ers (2-4) at Chicago Bears (3-4)
DraftKings Line: San Francisco -3.5
And yet we aren't done with scary hooks! How fitting for Halloween. This time, though, a slim majority of the crew is willing to lay 3.5 points with the struggling San Francisco 49ers on the road against the also-struggling Chicago Bears.
"This pick is more about the Bears' ineptitude in recent weeks than it is about the 49ers," Kenyon said. "Justin Fields has a league-low QBR of 16.7 and the Bears offense has failed to score more than 24 points in any game Fields has played in this year. I wouldn't expect that to change against a 49ers front led by Pro Bowler Nick Bosa. 49ers win by at least one score."
You might be surprised to learn that despite a 2-4 record, the constantly unhealthy 49ers remain an above-average team when it comes to DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) at Football Outsiders. Meanwhile, thanks mainly to their 29th-rated offense, the Bears rank well below the league median in that category.
Throw in that top Bears defensive player Khalil Mack has been shut down with a foot injury and laying the points makes sense. Still, consider buying back that half-point to be safe.
Davenport: San Francisco
Kenyon: San Francisco
O'Donnell: San Francisco
Rogers: San Francisco
Score Prediction: 49ers 23, Bears 17
Carolina Panthers (3-4) at Atlanta Falcons (3-3)
DraftKings Line: Atlanta -3
Considering that the Carolina Panthers have slammed into a wall with four straight losses (three of which have come by at least six points), it's surely tempting to back the Atlanta Falcons for the NFC South battle between the two teams Sunday. But few bettors on the planet trust the Falcons either, especially when having to lay points.
Thus, we have an appropriate deadlock in this one.
Davenport on Atlanta: "The Falcons are Lucy to the wagerer's Charlie Brown, continually holding out the football of winnings only to yank it away at the last second. But Atlanta has also shown at least some signs of positive momentum of late, while the Panthers are in full-on implosion mode after dropping four straight. When starting P.J. Walker at quarterback starts to sound like a good idea, you know your team is in trouble."
Rogers on Carolina: "With the Panthers' current quarterback situation, this pick might seem ridiculous. I just can't buy into the Falcons winning big. In their three victories, they beat the Giants by three, the Jets by seven and then the Dolphins by two. I'd feel more confident in this pick if it was confirmed P.J. Walker was starting, where his mobility would be a challenge for Atlanta's front seven."
You might want to wait on this one, or just forget about it entirely.
Score Prediction: Falcons 24, Panthers 21
Miami Dolphins (1-6) at Buffalo Bills (4-2)
DraftKings Line: Buffalo -14
A whopping 90 percent of public bets for Sunday's matchup between the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills have come in on a Buffalo team laying a full 14 points. That's often a red flag, especially because a well-coached, relatively talented Miami team could fight hard to avoid another blowout after losing 35-0 to Buffalo back in Week 2.
Still, a slim majority of the panel is backing Buffalo.
"I really struggled with this one because Miami is unlikely to get smashed yet again," Gagnon said, "especially now that Tua Tagovailoa is finding his game. Still, Buffalo is at home, well-rested following a bye and likely extremely hungry after a tough Week 6 loss to the Tennessee Titans. The Bills are very good at winning handily, and I don't think they'll mess around here. Plus, the Dolphins might simply be out of inspiration after falling to 1-6 with a Week 7 home loss to a mediocre Falcons team."
Buffalo has the top DVOA in the NFL, while Miami ranks fifth-last in that metric. They're 2-5 ATS and it's possible they're toast for 2021. This could easily become the Bills' fifth three-plus-score victory of the season.
Score Prediction: Bills 35, Dolphins 17
Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) at New York Jets (1-5)
DraftKings Line: Cincinnati -10.5
If this line holds up, it'll mark the first time in NFL history that the Cincinnati Bengals have been favored by more than 10 points for a road game. That is understandably scary, as is the fact nearly 95 percent of public bets are backing the Bengals as a 10.5-point fave against the New York Jets.
But the Jets have already suffered three 19-plus-point losses this season, they're without their starting quarterback and Cincinnati already has three 14-plus-point victories under its belt.
With that in mind, a slim majority of the group is laying the points.
"Two factors are playing in the Bengals' favor," Sobleski said. "First, Cincinnati proved it's pretty darn good with last week's victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Second, this year's second overall draft pick, Zach Wilson, is injured and won't play in the contest."
Still, Gagnon and Kenyon aren't convinced.
"The Jets might be better off without Wilson, who was playing awful anyway," Gagnon said. "And while the Bengals look awesome, they're still an inexperienced team that is due to slip up at least a little bit."
Gagnon: New York
Kenyon: New York
Score Prediction: Bengals 28, Jets 13
Tennessee Titans (5-2) at Indianapolis Colts (3-4)
DraftKings Line: Indianapolis -1
In yet another not-a-deadlock-but-far-from-unanimous situation, the gang is siding with the hotter and healthier Tennessee Titans in what is essentially a pick'em Sunday against the AFC South rival Indianapolis Colts.
"This has all the markings of a trap game for the Titans," O'Donnell admitted. "This is a team that just demolished the Kansas City Chiefs on the heels of a thrilling victory over the Bills the week before. And to complicate matters further, Tennessee has already beaten the Colts this season, and these two squads have split the season series each of the last two years.
"But the current Colts' two-game winning streak really isn't something to be that excited about, and I'm not about to bet against 'King' (Derrick) Henry with less than a point in Tennessee's back pocket."
Gagnon and Kenyon once again represent the minority, and they'll point out that the Colts actually have a stronger DVOA this season than Tennessee. Their quarterback (Carson Wentz) has also been much better than Tennessee's (Ryan Tannehill) and they need this one a hell of a lot more than the Titans.
That said, Henry has had Indy's number. He's had pretty much every team's number. Bet against him at your peril.
Score Prediction: Titans 26, Colts 24
New England Patriots (3-4) at Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)
DraftKings Line: Los Angeles -6
If you knew nothing about this NFL season and we told you that in their most recent games, the New England Patriots won 54-13 and the Los Angeles Chargers lost 34-6, you wouldn't dare lay six points with the Bolts in this matchup.
But that looked like an anomaly in Baltimore for the Chargers, who have had two weeks to get it back together. And the Patriots beat up on a bad Jets team but are 0-3 this season against teams that currently possess winning records.
And so the majority of our pickers are backing L.A.
"This is admittedly a lot of points to lay against a Bill Belichick-coached team," Davenport said. "But do we really know if the 2021 Patriots are any good? New England's three wins this year are against an awful Jets team (twice) and a Texans team that may be even worse. Meanwhile the Chargers are rested coming off the bye and motivated to wash away the stink of the drubbing that was laid on them in Baltimore two weeks ago. That adds up to the Bolts winning by at least a touchdown."
The Pats have lost by six-plus points just once this season, but they could be due for another lopsided loss and they weren't immune to those in 2020. They're also now without key defender Jonathan Jones, which might not have hurt them against the Jets but could result in a different story against Justin Herbert and Co.
Davenport: Los Angeles
Gagnon: Los Angeles
Kenyon: Los Angeles
O'Donnell: Los Angeles
Rogers: New England
Sobleski: Los Angeles
Score Prediction: Chargers 30, Patriots 20
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) at Seattle Seahawks (2-5)
DraftKings Line: Seattle -3
Sunday's matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks might be this week's ultimate "do not touch game." It's fitting that our panel was split with the Seahawks laying laying what feels like an obligatory field goal at home.
Kenyon on Seattle: "Geno Smith hasn't been able to get over the hump in his three games thus far, losing each of the last two games by a field goal. That changes this week as the Seahawks get a home game against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars who travel across three time zones to Seattle. The Seahawks are oddly 0-3 at home this season but should be able to get their first home win against a Jaguars team that has only managed one win over the Dolphins."
Gagnon on why this isn't worth your money: "The Jags haven't won a game on American soil since last September. I get why you shouldn't bet on them to lose by a field goal or less in a tough road environment. But the Seahawks are a mess without Russell Wilson, and I get why giving up a field goal or more with them makes little sense under those circumstances. Seattle's the pick, but only because the Seahawks are more likely to win the game and one- or two-point victories are pretty uncommon."
Score Prediction: Seahawks 23, Jaguars 20
Washington Football Team (2-5) at Denver Broncos (3-4)
DraftKings Line: Denver -3
Yeah, this is a weird week when it comes to throwaway games. Nobody wants to back the Washington Football Team or Denver Broncos right now, which is why the Broncos are generically laying three points at home.
The result on this end is another fitting hung jury.
Sobleski on the Broncos: "Neither Denver nor Washington is playing well. The two teams have lost at least their previous three games. So, any real distinction between these two squads is negligible. Though the Broncos may have two slight advantages. Denver had a few extra days to prepare after playing last Thursday and they're at home. When two bad teams meet one another, those little things might be enough to put one over the other."
Rogers on the WFT: "This game screams ugly and when that's the case, roll with whoever is getting points. Denver's offense simply has no juice right now. While Washington's defense has been a bit of a disappointment, this is a get-right matchup for them to force turnovers and easily stay within a field goal."
That said, this is another game that oddsmakers probably wish wasn't even on the schedule.
Score Prediction: Broncos 23, Washington 20
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-1) at New Orleans Saints (4-2)
DraftKings Line: Tampa Bay -5.5
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won three consecutive games by six-plus points, with two of those wins coming in blowout fashion. Meanwhile, the New Orleans have lacked consistency throughout the campaign so far.
That has the vast majority of the gang laying 5.5 points with Tampa in New Orleans Sunday.
"While the Saints boast one of the league's top rushing defenses, it's the passing offense of the Bucs that should write the story for this game," Kenyon said. "Tom Brady is playing at an MVP level coming off of a four-touchdown performance in a blowout win over Chicago. The Saints are one of the NFL's bigger Jekyll and Hyde squads who have blown out Green Bay and beat the Patriots on the road, but have also lost games to the Panthers and Giants. I'm surprised this line isn't closer to 7.5."
The Saints also just lost guard Andrus Peat to a pectoral injury, while the Bucs look as though they'll get future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski back from a rib injury. Tampa Bay looks like the safe bet.
Davenport: New Orleans
Gagnon: Tampa Bay
Kenyon: Tampa Bay
O'Donnell: Tampa Bay
Rogers: Tampa Bay
Sobleski: Tampa Bay
Score Prediction: Buccaneers 31, Saints 20
Dallas Cowboys (5-1) at Minnesota Vikings (3-3)
DraftKings Line: Dallas -2.5
The Minnesota Vikings might be the healthier, better-rested team at home Sunday night, but the visiting Dallas Cowboys have won five games in a row—the last four of which have come by at least six points.
With that in mind, even with Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott dealing with a calf injury, five of our six pickers are happy to lay less than a field goal with Dallas on the road.
"If Prescott was completely healthy, this line would be bigger and I wouldn't think twice about taking Dallas on the road," O'Donnell said. "However, despite the potential of a limited Dak and the Vikings having the best version of Kirk Cousins the Vikes have seen in a long time, I still have little-to-no confidence in taking them against good football teams. A good football team is what Dallas has proven to be by ripping off five wins after their opening night loss to Tampa Bay. I'll take the better football team in this one, even if I need a field goal's worth to get the W."
Keep in mind that while Prescott isn't 100 percent, the Cowboys could have key offensive players La'el Collins and Michael Gallup back from injury.
The Vikings barely beat the Lions and Panthers before their bye, and you essentially have to buy that they'll win this one straight-up to pick 'em here. That's pushing it.
Score Prediction: Cowboys 30, Vikings 24
New York Giants (2-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-4)
DraftKings Line: Kansas City -9.5
If you want to give the benefit of the doubt to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs following a 3-4 start to the season, you're getting some value with Kansas City now laying fewer than 10 points against a weak opponent at home Monday night.
The majority of the panel believes K.C. will make a statement under those circumstances and cover the spread.
"You don't often see a team under .500 favored by 10 or so points," Rogers said, "but the Chiefs offense is going to get off the runway soon. The Giants gutted out a scrappy, efficient win against Carolina, but it's hard to see their offense doing enough in this prime-time game. Kansas City will use this as a launching point to get their season right and they'll attempt to run up the score, especially at home."
That said, the Chiefs are now just 4-14 ATS in their last 18 games, and the Giants made a statement of their own with a 25-3 victory over the Panthers in Week 7. It's no surprise we're far from unanimity here.
Davenport: Kansas City
Gagnon: Kansas City
Kenyon: Kansas City
O'Donnell: New York
Rogers: Kansas City
Sobleski: New York
Score Prediction: Chiefs 31, Giants 20
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