Top 3 NFL Best Bets: Week 8

numberFire's got your back - here are three games we're looking at in our premium product and some trends behind them.

Sometimes football is unpredictable. How many people expected a high-scoring, easily winnable game by Tampa Bay?

Oh wait, we did. According to numberFire's premium service, taking the Tampa Bay +240 moneyline would have been a top four-star selection, while taking the Bucs against the spread would have been a three-star selection. Taking over 42.5 points on the totals line was a three-star selection as well, giving you three different ways to make bank off of numberFire last night.

Unfortunately, my bosses won't let me pull a Robin Hood and give you all our top picks (including six selections over three stars) for this week. But I can give you some of the stats behind our selections like only numberFire can. These are just three games we're looking at hard at this week and the numbers behind them.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Green Bay Packers (-15.5)

With the way the Packers offense has been burning cities and taking no prisoners the past two weeks, even thinking that the Jacksonville defense could come close to stopping them seems laughable. In fact, the mere thought of taking the Jaguars against the spread in this game seems laughable; taking the under of the 45.5 point totals line seems like pure lunacy.

If you're betting on this game, though, it would be smart to take one or the other. Because based on numberFire's top seven past historical comparisons, if the game is close, it will like be a high scoring affair. But if the under takes the cake, it'll be because the Packers are continuously stopping the Jaguars and not the other way around. Pick your poison, bettors.

Date Matchup Score Predicted ATS Winner Totals
1/2/11 ATL/JAC 31-10 ATL GB Under
12/4/11 IND/NE 31-24 NE JAC Over
10/16/11 GB/STL 24-3 GB GB Under
12/28/08 ATL/STL 31-27 ATL JAC Over
12/1/02 IND/HOU 19-3 IND GB Under
12/14/08 IND/DET 31-21 IND JAC Over
12/24/11 PIT/STL 27-0 PIT GB Under

Carolina Panthers (+315) at Chicago Bears

Want to take a risk? Putting some money on Cam Newton may not be a bad place to turn.

With a moneyline at +315 for this Week 8 game against the Bears, Vegas is only giving the Panthers a 24.1% chance of taking down Chicago in the Spaceship by the Lake. But using the same historical data of comparable games, numberFire believes that counting out the Panthers might not be the best bet quite yet.

Of the dozen most similar games, all of which having a 86.42% correlation to this Bears-Panthers matchup or higher, the underdog has won straight-up five of the 12 times. And three of those wins come in the top seven most comparable games, each with an 87% similarity or higher.

While the Panthers might have a chance to win straight up with these numbers, though, bettors might also want to consider that of the seven other games, the favorite not only won, but covered to spread (currently Chicago -7.5) as well. And in similar matchups, the favorite won and covered the spread in 75% of the top 20 most similar matchups.

New Orleans Saints (+6) at Denver Broncos

Any knowledgeable fan looking to make a prediction on a New Orleans Saints game instantly gets placed in an awkward spot: what do you do with a team that has such a great offense but such a terribly poor defense to go along with it? The Saints currently have numberFire's #5 opponent-adjusted offense in the league, but their defense is mired all the way back at #31.

Against the Denver Broncos' type of team, however, that offense could be a savior for Drew Brees and Co. Denver's #1 historical comparison from the past dozen seasons is the 2009 Baltimore Ravens, a defense-led team with a solid running game and a passing game that would do enough to win. Enough to win, that is, unless playing against a top offense.

I took a look at teams that had a significantly better offense than defense during that 2009 season, with the opponent-adjusted offense performing at least 10 ranked positions better than the defense. Those teams were the San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, and New York Giants. Lucky for us, the Ravens played four of those teams in that 2009 season: the Chargers, Colts, Vikings, and Packers. Unlucky for Broncos fans, the Ravens went 1-3 during those games, losing to all but the Chargers (who they only beat by five).

Granted, the current Broncos squad has a stronger offense (#4 vs. Baltimore's #12) but a weaker defense (#5 vs. Baltimore's #3) than that Ravens squad. But the team matchup types work out nicely for the Saints to make a surprise run at this game.