NFL Betting Guide: Week 8
Do you think you know a lot about NFL football? Try regularly picking five games against the spread.
Even with all the information and advanced stats, elite sports bettors are lucky to get about 53% to 54% of -110 (even probability) bets correct. It's essentially flipping a coin.
That being said, people -- myself included -- try. There are plenty of contests, media personalities, and other casual games at work or with friends that pick five games each week against the spread to see how they fare.
Using NFL odds from FanDuel Sportsbook, here are my five picks against the spread and a couple of totals I like this week. Play or fade as you please.
Week 7 Recap
Last Week: 1-4
Year-to-Date Record: 20-15-0 (57.1%)
We were due for a clunker, but that hurt worse than expected.
Where do we begin from there? The 49ers' defense was a total no-show against Kansas City. We lock on Friday, so Denver was dust behind Brett Rypien before that one even started. The Jaguars are indeed in timeout after blowing a sizable lead against the impossible Giants. The one pass I'll give is to Houston, who did lead early before just bowing to the number late.
Our totals split again last week, so we're more than due for a huge bounce-back week. Here's what I've got cooked up.
Pick #1: Patriots (-2.5) at Jets
No doubt, New York has been a better team than New England this year, so favoring them in this spot is a bit odd. However, the Jets' four-game surge has come largely on the back of Breece Hall. Hall posted 82.4 rushing yards over expectation in that time. He's now out for the year, and his skill will be especially missed as Alijah Vera-Tucker has joined him on IR.
The Patriots' defense -- despite an odd performance Monday against Chicago -- has largely been solid. They're second in the NFL with a 36% pressure rate. Even on this four-game stretch, Zach Wilson hasn't lit the world on fire. He's posted -0.01 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back in some soft matchups. This is his toughest yet.
I'm not buying the Jets' improved pass defense when it's come against Mitchell Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, Skylar Thompson, Brett Rypien, and -- fitting well into this class -- current-day Aaron Rodgers.
The Patriots are 3-0 against the spread (ATS) this year after outright losses. They're just a hard team to bury.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Patriots 16-13
Pick #2: Lions (+3.5) vs. Dolphins
Back -- and supposedly kneecaps -- are against the wall in Detroit.
The Lions weren't expected to contend for the playoff, but a 1-5 record isn't what anyone envisioned as Detroit hung close in consecutive games with Philadelphia and Minnesota. Honestly, they've just been bit by the injury bug, but Amon-Ra St. Brown and D'Andre Swift are likely to return this week.
Detroit's offensive line is outstanding, allowing the fifth-lowest pressure rate (22%) in the NFL. They put up at least 35 points in both games with Swift and St. Brown this year. They should score on Miami, who are numberFire's 14th-worst defensive unit.
Here's the problem -- the Lions' defense stinks. It's numberFire's worst unit. This one should have a very similar feel to their shootouts with the Eagles, Commanders, and Seahawks where the last team to touch the ball conceivably wins.
I'm just going with the urgency difference to believe it'll be Detroit. The Dolphins just got back Tua Tagovailoa and seem well-positioned for a wild-card spot. The Lions likely lose their lovable head coach if they lose this one outright. Take the over here, too.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Lions 35-34
Pick #3: Cowboys (-9.5) vs. Bears
We're in a bizarre world we're in where, for a second consecutive week, sharp bettors are on the Dallas Cowboys' spread at home.
The Bears put forth perhaps the most shocking result of the season on Monday, blowing out the Patriots as 8.5-point underdogs. There's still reason to believe they'll struggle mightily here.
The Boys' defensive line has gotten a 36% pressure rate this season (second-best in the NFL), and Chicago allows the third-most pressure in the NFL (30%). That's a huge mismatch, and Dallas' early-season woes defending the run have largely been resolved. They've allowed -0.09 Rushing NEP per carry in the past three weeks (fifth-best in the league).
On offense, Big D arguably gets an upgrade if Ezekiel Elliott is forced to miss Sunday's game as expected. Tony Pollard is fifth in the league in rushing yards over expectation per carry among backs averaging at least eight carries a game. That's a massive boost against numberFire's fifth-worst rushing defense.
When the public isn't on Dallas, that's a massive green flag. A bulk of the tickets (63%) are on Chicago to cover 9.5-points, but the Cowboys are getting 57% of the overall handle. How 'bout them?
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Cowboys 27-13
This line makes absolutely no sense until it does.
The Texans are seen as the worst team in football, but they're getting less than a field goal at home against the 4-2 Titans. There are two key reasons behind this -- and why I'm siding with Houston in a game where 86% of bets are on Tennessee.
First, Ryan Tannehill may not be totally healthy. He missed practice Wednesday with an ankle issue, and we'd be getting a total unknown if Malik Willis ends up drawing the start for the Titans. This number leads me to believe oddsmakers know the injury is a concern.
Second, the Texans' defense is poised to be fine if they can somehow stop Derrick Henry a week after getting smashed by Josh Jacobs. The Texans get the ninth-most pressure in the NFL (32%) rate, and this Tennessee offensive line -- still without Taylor Lewan -- has ceded a league-worst 34% pressure rate.
The Raiders have a better quarterback and enough talent outside that Houston couldn't stack the box last week. I think they can against Henry to contain him and win outright -- Tannehill or not.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Texans 20-17
Here's another line that doesn't make sense for Monday.
Well, the Browns' defense is awful. They're numberFire's third-worst unit. They're also actually the 12th-best offense with Jacoby Brissett at the helm, and Pro Football Focus expects them to have a gigantic edge rushing the ball on this Cincinnati defense.
This number seems odd, but the Brownies have won four in a row -- outright -- over Cincinnati since head coach Kevin Stefanski was hired. Plus, Ja'Marr Chase is now out for the Bengals, which is a seismic loss for the Stripes' offense. It should speak volumes that this line didn't budge when the news was announced, though.
At 2-5, the Browns' potential this season -- with Deshaun Watson's imminent return -- likely rests on this game.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Browns 23-21
Totals of the Week
Pick #1: Cardinals at Vikings (Over 48.5)
I am pretty stunned to see this game under a 50-point total.
Minnesota is coming off a bye week where they decimated Miami the week prior. Kirk Cousins -- amidst some bumps on the road, in primetime, and in London -- has played well at home this year, posting 0.24 Passing NEP per drop back.
On the other side, Kyler Murray saw a bump from -0.01 Passing NEP per drop back in the first six games to 0.04 in his first game back with DeAndre Hopkins. It's a bit surprising they're numberFire's sixth-worst passing offense, but they're also our fifth-best rushing offense behind Murray's legs and the surprising Eno Benjamin.
This is the third-fastest game of the week in terms of average pace, and sharps are pounding this line. The over is getting 63% of overall bets, but 86% of the money is on that side here. We'll follow it.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Vikings 31-27
Pick #2: Packers at Bills (Under 47.5)
There have been 11 double-digit spreads in the NFL this year, and 9 of them saw the "under" hit in the game.
Largely, a massive spread indicates a huge efficiency gap on both sides of the ball, and that's what we'll see here.
The fledgling Packers really couldn't be more averaging, ranking 15th in our nERD metrics both offensively and defensively. They're taking on the juggernaut Bills, who are second in both categories themselves.
Plus, this game rates out as the slowest game on Sunday. That's in large part due to Green Bay, who were last in situation-neutral pace a year ago, and they've followed that up by being third from the bottom in 2022.
We think of Buffalo as this high-octane offense, but five of their six games have fallen under the projected total this year. The Packers have hit the under in four of their six. Everything is pointing towards another primetime under here.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Bills 28-16