NFL Week 8 best bets and expert picks for the Sunday slate. Find best bets for NFL Week 8 featuring Vikings vs. Packers, Eagles vs. Commanders, Chiefs vs. Broncos, Raiders vs. Lions, Jets vs. Giants and Browns vs. Seahawks.
NFL Week 8 Best Bets (10/29/23)
Jacob Wayne’s Record: 14-8 (+6.2 units)
Kody Malstrom’s Record: 8-5 (+2.6 units)
Will Schwartz’s Record: 10-11 (-1.7 units)
Jacob Wayne’s Best Bets
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Betting NFL spreads is all about buying low and selling high, and that alone should pique your interest with this matchup. Prior to Week 7, the Packers were -2.5 on the look ahead line, but their loss to the Broncos and the Vikings’ Monday Night Football win over the 49ers has seen this spread flip all the way to Vikings -1.5 on the road.
The Packers have to be prepared for pressure this week as the Vikings lead the NFL in blitz rate. Luckily, Jordan Love ranks 11th in PFF passing grade and 6th in big-time throw rate against the blitz. Love has actually been at his best when blitzed this year, seeing his passer rating jump from 74 to 92.7 per PFF.
If the Vikings can’t get home with their blitzing against the second-ranked offensive line by pass block win rate, it could be a long afternoon for their defense that ranks 24th in passing success rate allowed. I expect Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Jayden Reed to make some big plays against a weak Minnesota secondary.
Meanwhile, the Vikings aren’t well equipped to attack Green Bay’s defensive weakness, which is against the run. The Packers are 25th against the run by EPA but 13th against the pass. Minnesota can’t run the ball this year, though, ranking 24th in rushing DVOA and rotating between two ineffective running backs in Alexander Mattison and Cam Akers.
Kirk Cousins looked great on Monday night, but his long touchdown pass to rookie Jordan Addison probably should have been intercepted. On the road here, I expect the Vikings to miss Justin Jefferson against a Packers secondary featuring two excellent cornerbacks, Jaire Alexander and Rasul Douglas.
Ultimately, I see this as a strong matchup for the Packers, and I love the value with them priced as a home dog following the Week 7 results. I’m happy to fade the Vikings on a short week on the heels of their Monday Night Football win. Let’s just hope they’re not playing Creed music too loudly before kickoff.
Best Bet: Packers +1.5
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Commanders
I’m writing about the Eagles for the third straight time in this column. After pounding the table for them on Sunday Night Football against the Dolphins, this week I’m telling you to fade them against the Commanders. Philadelphia’s win was undoubtedly impressive, but I’m left with some concerns about this team.
Jalen Hurts is dealing with a leg injury, and while it isn’t expected to keep him out of this game, he was clearly hobbled against the Dolphins. I expect a conservative approach from the Eagles on the road against a divisional opponent they’ve already beaten this season as they look to keep Hurts healthy.
I haven’t been a big fan of the play calling of new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, and I still believe this team misses Shane Steichen, who is now the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. That’s perhaps most apparent when they get into the red zone – their 50% touchdown rate inside the 20 ranks 19th in the NFL. That’s a steep departure from ranking third last season.
The Commanders’ glaring weakness is their offensive line as Sam Howell is on pace to shatter the single season sack record – he’s been sacked 40 times through seven games. However, he was still able to throw for 290 yards and lead the Commanders to 31 points on the road against the Eagles earlier this season.
Philly’s defense hasn’t been as dominant as it was last year, and they rank just 17th in pass defense DVOA. Injuries in the secondary have certainly played a major part in that decline, and Howell can take advantage in a creative, pass-heavy offense orchestrated by former Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy.
The Eagles rank 20th in neutral pace of play this season, and that makes it difficult to truly put teams away. I expect the Eagles to win this game, but I love getting a home divisional underdog catching a full touchdown here, especially with the Eagles coming off that statement win on Sunday Night Football.
Best Bet: Commanders +7 (play to +6.5)
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
We’re backing another home divisional underdog of a touchdown here, and it’s not going to feel great. The Broncos certainly haven’t played like a team that we’d want to be backing against the vaunted Kansas City Chiefs, but let’s break down this matchup and why I see value in Denver.
The Chiefs’ offense hasn’t been quite as explosive as in recent years, instead relying on a methodical, measured approach that works in harmony with their suddenly elite defense. That defense took a hit, though, with linebacker Nick Bolton dislocating his wrist. He’ll be out for several weeks with that injury and he’s one of the best linebackers in the NFL.
Without Bolton, a run defense that already ranks 30th in EPA looks even more vulnerable. Enter Javonte Williams, who has forced nine missed tackles over the last two weeks and is finally starting to look like his dynamic self as he’s over a year removed from his torn ACL. His presence provides balance for a Broncos offense that badly needs it.
Meanwhile, the Broncos’ defense is getting healthier. Edge Baron Browning returned last week and had four pressures against the Packers. That’s huge for a defense ranked 31st in pressure rate. He could have a lot of success against a Chiefs’ offensive line whose tackles remain a weak point – Jawaan Taylor and Donovan Smith both rank outside the top 80 qualified tackles in PFF’s pass blocking grade.
Safety P.J. Locke also returned to the lineup a couple of weeks ago and had his first career interception against the Packers. His presence will be huge moving forward as Kareem Jackson serves a suspension, and it sounds like the defense is rallying around their teammate who they feel was wronged by the NFL.
The Broncos haven’t beaten the Chiefs since 2015. As a fan of this franchise, I had hope before the season that would change this year. I’m not projecting an outright win, but I do believe there is value in taking Denver to lean on their run game and an improving defense to stay within the number this week.
Best Bet: Broncos +7.5 (play to +7)
Kody Malstrom’s Best Bets
Las Vegas Raiders at Detroit Lions
It was a harsh reality check for the Detroit faithful as their last game out against the Baltimore Ravens went about as poorly as it could have. The Ravens opted into receiving the opening kick and did not look back as they skated past the Lions to the tune of 38-6.
The Ravens’ offensive line stood their ground and negated the Lions pass rush, exposing their weak secondary as they had to hold their own in coverage. This led to Lamar picking apart the coverage to a near perfect game, moving the ball with ease down the field and capitalizing on scoring opportunities.
While that performance was certainly eye opening, the Lions defensive front can rest assured that the Raiders offensive line does not pose as near a challenge as the Ravens did. The Raiders rank 30th in Adjusted Line Yards, meaning they routinely get pushed back from the snap.
It was made apparent that generating pressure is more vital than ever as the Lions have to mask their injury riddled secondary. By getting pressure to the backfield, opposing quarterbacks will be forced to get the ball out of their hands quicker than anticipated and most likely have to throw into tight passing windows.
This spells disaster for a Raiders offense that already struggles to generate any sort of production, ranking 31st in Off DVOA and 23rd in Off EPA. Worse yet for the Raiders, their ground game will be unable to bail them out as they rank 31st in Rush Success Rate and dead last in both Rush EPA and Rush DVOA.
Hardly to any fault of Josh Jacobs as his offensive line has done him no favors by being unable to create running lanes.
It should be business as usual for the Lions as Jared Goff finds himself in the comfort of the dome and will be under ample protection. Like their offensive line struggles, the Raiders defensive line play is just as bad as they rank 30th in Adjusted Line Yards and 30th in Pressure Rate.
Factor in well below average defensive marks for the pass and rush department and the Lions should have no issue with getting their playmakers in the open field as Goff picks apart the Raiders from a clean pocket. While this line may serve as a valuable Wong Teaser piece, I am comfortable with playing it straight up all the way to -10 in what is the perfect get right spot.
Best Bets: Lions -8
Week 8 Wong Teaser
The Ravens put the rest of the NFL on notice that they are one of the best teams in the league when at full health. They dismantled the Lions at home on both sides of the ball, dominating the battle of the trenches and letting Lamar Jackson pick them apart with his arm.
Their reward? A date with the lowly Arizona Cardinals who have been mightily regressing back toward the expected mean. This is in large part of their defense, ranking near dead last in various metrics involving both the pass and ground attack.
They rank dead last in Pressure Rate, 31st in Adjusted Line Yards and Def Pass DVOA, 29th in Def Rush DVOA, and 28th in Def EPA. They fail to push back on opposing offensive lines and get burned through the air even with extra bodies in coverage as they blitz at one of the lowest rates.
This screams potential Lamar Jackson MVP game as he looks to be in great form as he gets more integrated into their new offensive scheme. The Ravens offense looks to be more creative, using Lamar’s running ability to shift the second level while he stops on a dime and throws over the top of them. A linebacker’s worst nightmare to defense.
The reason I am hesitant about playing them straight at the current spread of -9 is that the Ravens tend to play down to their competition at times. To bypass a two score spread, I will couple them with another team who tends to struggle covering as a two score favorite.
That team would be the Kansas City Chiefs as they hit the road to take on the Denver Broncos. After a rough start to the season per Mahomes standards where he has looked to be dealing with an ankle injury, he looks to be rounding into form as comes off a 424-yard and four touchdown performance in a win against the Chargers.
While the Chargers are one of the worst defenses in the league, the Broncos still somehow serve as an even worse unit. While improved over the past few weeks, they still drastically lack any sense of coverage and will be prone to getting picked apart.
The issue is that the Broncos may actually have an edge in the trenches as my counterpart Jacob Wayne pointed out in his Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos best bet and that may revert Mahomes back to his turnover worthy ways. Just flipping the field position once can create a massive swing in the spread, especially when the CHiefs defense takes a massive blow with the injury to linebacker Nick Bolton.
Factor in the Chiefs history of struggling to cover as a sizable favorite and this is enough for me to use them as a Wong teaser piece for added security.
Best Bets: Ravens -3 / Chiefs -1 Wong Teaser
Will Schwartz’s Best Bets
New York Jets at New York Giants
In one of the season’s most anticipated matchups, the two tenants of MetLife Stadium will square off, but it doesn’t look like either will be rolling with their expected starting quarterback. As we all know, the Jets have been without Aaron Rodgers since about the fifth snap of the season, while Daniel Jones is expected to still be out.
While it’s not hard to imagine that the Jets offense would have a higher ceiling with Rodgers, the Giants offense is pretty similar whether Jones or backup Tyrod Taylor is at the helm. That’s possibly because whoever’s running the show, it’s one of the worst offenses in the NFL, if not the very worst.
It actually is dead last as per DVOA, while EPA places them at a slightly-friendlier 30th. They’re accumulating fewer than 300 yards per game, and their scoring average of 12.1 is the NFL’s worst. With recent outputs of 14 points at home against the Commanders, nine against the banged-up Bills, 16 against the much-maligned Dolphins unit and a disgusting three at home against Seattle, this offense has given us little reason to believe in it. The latter two results were after the return of star running back Saquon Barkley, so his health is no reason not to fade this offense.
To make matters worse, they’re going up against an absolutely filthy Jets defense. Gang Green is 30th in the league in blitz rate, but third at achieving pressure, so they can drop back into some very thorough coverage while still making things uncomfortable for Taylor in the backfield. The defensive line, anchored by Quinnen Williams and breakout edge Bryce Huff, is one of the league’s best, and will have a field day against a banged-up Giants offensive line.
Despite a relative lack of support from the offense in terms of possessing the football, they’ve put together some great results, such as allowing just 14 to the Eagles, 16 to the Bills, and nearly beating the Chiefs. Those were all home games, and while this is technically “on the road,” there will be plenty of green in the MetLife stands.
The Jets offense hasn’t been a juggernaut either, as Zach Wilson has struggled at times, but he’s showing some positive flashes. With playmakers like Garrett Wilson and now a healthy Breece Hall at his disposal, he can do enough to get the Jets the few points they do need to win against a Giants defense that blitzes at the league’s third-highest rate, but is 21st in applying pressure.
It goes almost without saying, but 2.5 is an excellent number, as the Jets cover if they win this gritty matchup by just a field goal. Still, we’re going to split this wager. We can be supremely confident that the Giants will not be scoring, but we want insurance just in case Wilson completely fails to deliver, so we’ll bet the under on the Giants team total of 16.5.
Best Bets: Jets -2.5, Giants TT u16.5
Cleveland Browns at Seattle Seahawks
Some plays are based on a matchup, while some are purely situational; this one is a healthy measure of both. The Cleveland Browns offense ranks 29th in DVOA and 31st in EPA, due in large part to a passing offense that ranks dead last by both metrics. Last week, they won a shootout against the Indianapolis Colts by hanging 39 points on a defense that grades out as slightly above average by the same metrics.
The Browns’ defense contributed a touchdown, but 32 offensive points against a pretty solid defense is still an enormous outlier, as nothing has changed that would imply that positive strides should be playing out on the field. Deshaun Watson threw five passes, including a pick, and P.J. Walker was pretty bad; he completed 46.9% of his passes, including an interception.That is rarely a winning performance, surely not one that often allows your team to score in the 30s.
With the passing game rating squarely as the league’s worst, the Browns will want to lean on the run, which has been closer to average. Well, they’re going to be out of luck; the Seahawks defense ranks first in the league in rush defense success rate and adjusted line yards, and fourth in run defense DVOA. It’s hard to imagine any sort of path for the Browns to move the football, which negates the red zone advantage they should have over Seattle.
The Browns also got a bit lucky with field position, as they recovered three fumbles, meaning that they only had to accumulate 316 yards of offense to score their points, compared to the 456 for Indy in the same game. The Browns defense is excellent, but you absolutely cannot rely on fumbles on a regular basis. So, this is a great opportunity to sell extremely high on an offense that is coming off of a performance it absolutely cannot replicate.
Conversely, the Seahawks defense is on fire, but it doesn’t seem to be picking up much buzz, as the great performances have largely come against terrible offenses, and not all have resulted in wins. They completely stifled the Giants on the road to the tune of three points, and beat the Cardinals 20-10, with a loss to the Bengals sandwiched in between those two results. It was a rather unlucky loss, and they still went on the road and held Cincy’s offense to 17 points.
This number is already down from 17.5, so shop around for the best value, but this should be a high-value play at almost any number. If you think that Seattle’s defense only shows up against bad offenses, you may well be right- but this is another one, perhaps the worst they’ve seen yet.
Best Bet: Browns TT u16.5