Get NFL Week 8 best bets and predictions for the Sunday slate.
NFL Week 8 Best Bets & Predictions
Week 7 of the NFL season offered plenty of ups and downs, and there are some great spots for value in Week 8. Be sure to check out the main player props page for my picks in that department. In this article, I’ll cover my top plays on spreads and over/unders. As always, check out my Twitter profile @wayne_sports_ to see the latest bets I’ve placed for the NFL and college football. Let’s get to work.
NFL YTD: 60-48.5 (55.3%)
Las Vegas Raiders at New Orleans Saints
There are some bettors who will be completely avoiding the Raiders on Sunday, and I can’t fault them for that approach – they’re expected to be one of the most popular public sides on the board. However, sometimes you have to eschew the “fade the public” mantra and analyze the matchup at face value. With this game, I believe the Raiders are the clear side to take.
We bet on the Raiders last week, primarily because I believe they were significantly undervalued in the market. Las Vegas had some bad early-season luck, and that shines through in their expected win margin – they sit at 3.6 expected wins on Football Outsiders, the 13th-most, compared to the Saints’ 2.7 expected wins, which ranks 26th.
This week, the Raiders travel to face the Saints in New Orleans, where their home-field advantage has eroded recently. The Saints are 3-8 ATS at home since the beginning of last season. Only the Jaguars have a worse clip over that span. Part of the issue for the Saints this year has been their rapid decline on defense as they rank below-average in passing and rushing DVOA.
It won’t help the Saints that they will be without cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Bradley Roby for another week, particularly against Davante Adams. The Saints already rank 24th in DVOA against WR1s, and that won’t be helped by the absence of Lattimore from the lineup. Adams didn’t practice this week due to an illness, but he should be good to go on Sunday.
Josh McDaniels’ risky play call pays off in a HUGE way.
If your going to want to beat the Chiefs, those plays have to work.
— Brandon Carr (@bcarr_13) October 11, 2022
The Saints’ pass rush has been invisible this season as they rank just 28th in pressure rate, and that’s a problem against Derek Carr who has consistently been one of the quarterbacks who struggles the most with pressure. His completion percentage is almost 20% higher when kept clean vs when under pressure this year. The Saints also rank below average in yards per carry allowed, and Josh Jacobs has been on fire lately.
Offensively, the Saints simply don’t have the players to keep up with Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry remaining out. Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill are all-purpose weapons, and Chris Olave is shining in his rookie season, but the Saints rank just 25th in passing offense DVOA. I like the over in this game, but I love the Raiders to get a much-needed win as they fight their way back into playoff contention.
Best Bet: Raiders -1 (play to -2.5)
Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys
I rarely recommend laying the points with big favorites, but there are situations that call for it, and this game fits the bill. The Bears earned an impressive win over the Patriots on Monday night, and as a Justin Fields truther, I was ecstatic. However, the Bears are traveling to Dallas for a second straight road game on short rest. In the last 20 years, teams with that rest disadvantage have covered the spread at just a 42% rate.
Last week, the Patriots got just 17 pressures on Fields, and it was one of the few games this season where Fields hasn’t been in trouble every time he’s dropped back to pass. He won’t be as fortunate this week as the Cowboys have pressured opposing passers at a 32.3% rate, by far the most in the NFL. The Bears have allowed pressure at a 34.2% rate, the highest in the league, and he’s taken 27 sacks, the most in the NFL.
Every team in the NFL wishes they had a Micah Parsons. Your team always has a chance to do something special when your best player gives CHAMPIONSHIP EFFORT. pic.twitter.com/tXxtlPWw8g
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) October 24, 2022
The Cowboys’ offense recently got Dak Prescott back from injury, and while his Week 7 raw numbers weren’t fantastic, his 0.16 EPA per dropback was the fifth-highest of any quarterback on the week. Prescott has consistently had success against bad teams as he’s 8-1 straight up and 7-2 ATS when listed as a favorite of seven or more points. He’s also 22-8-2 ATS (73.3%) against opponents below .500 straight up and 14-23 ATS (37.8%) against opponents above .500, per Action Labs.
For the cherry on top, the Bears are a public team this week. At the time I’m writing this, 63% of the bets are on the Bears at DraftKings while 62% of the money is on the Cowboys. The public just watched Chicago wreck the Patriots in New England, and they’re rushing to play them here. However, that split makes the Cowboys a favorable side for us to take, and I’m happy to lay this under 10 points.
Best Bet: Cowboys -9 (play to -9.5)
Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
Kyler Murray has heard the jokes. He knows everyone will be discussing the release of Modern Warfare 2 this week and how Murray cares more about playing video games than playing football. And he’s going to respond. The Vikings’ defense has been horrible by some metrics, as they rank 24th in DVOA and 27th in early down success rate. They play zone coverage with no blitz at a 73% rate per TruMedia, which is much higher than the league average of 55.6%. Murray’s completion rate against that type of defense is 72.5%, and it’s 55.3% against all other defenses.
It also helps the Cardinals’ offense tremendously that DeAndre Hopkins is back. Check out Kyler Murray’s career splits with and without Hopkins:
With Hopkins: 68.8% completion rate, 257.7 passing yards, 5.1% touchdown rate, 98.6 passer rating
Without Hopkins: 64.6% completion rate, 238.1 passing yards, 3.2% touchdown rate, 86.3 passer rating
In Hopkins’ first game back, he caught ten passes on 14 targets and picked up 103 yards. The Vikings rank 31st in DVOA against WR1s and allow the highest percentage of explosive pass plays, so Hopkins could be in for a massive game.
Deandre Hopkins Moss’d the entire Bills’ secondary
— PFF (@PFF) November 16, 2020
Much has been made about the struggles of the Cardinals’ defense as they rank 21st in overall DVOA and 31st in early down success rate. However, they’ve faced the fifth-most difficult schedule of opposing offenses. In Week 1 against the Chiefs, they were caught by Patrick Mahomes with multiple defensive starters out. Since Week 2, the Cardinals rank eighth in overall defensive EPA.
The Vikings are a paper tiger. They’ve won four straight games by one score against Jared Goff, Andy Dalton, Justin Fields, and the combination of Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson. This is also the ideal spot to back Kliff Kingsbury. The Cardinals are 8-0 straight up in their last eight road games as an underdog under Kingsbury, and Kliff is 15-3-2 ATS (83%) overall as a road dog. I’m taking the Cardinals at +3.5 and sprinkling on their Moneyline, as well.
Best Bet: Cardinals +3.5 (play to +3) and sprinkle on ML
Washington Commanders at Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are an absolute mess. After starting the season as a potential dark horse Super Bowl team to some, Indianapolis is sitting at 3-3-1 with just a 21% chance of making the playoffs per FiveThirtyEight. It doesn’t take advanced spywork to see that Frank Reich’s seat is on fire, and Jim Irsay seems to have taken control of the team with their decision to make Sam Ehlinger the starter this week.
There’s plenty of excitement surrounding Ehlinger after he completed 82.8% of his passes and threw four touchdowns and no picks in the preseason. However, I went back to his college stats, and there’s one concerning factor – his ability to manage pressure. His career average time to throw at Texas was over three seconds and he had a 19+% pressure to sack rate in each of his last three seasons.
In his first career NFL start, the Colts are asking Ehlinger to play against a Washington defense that generates pressure at the fifth-best rate while blitzing at a below-average rate. Meanwhile, the Colts’ offensive line is allowing pressure at the third-highest rate. To make matters worse, Ehlinger won’t be able to lean on the run game. The Colts have the second-worst offensive line in adjusted line yards, and the Commanders rank fourth in run defense DVOA.
Montez Sweat (@_sweat9) with the stab/chop. Stabs the inside pec, then chops the wrist to clear the outside hand as he takes away the stab. Eventually, he gets the sack! #passrush #httc pic.twitter.com/wkjBR8bYFn
— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) October 14, 2022
Despite the win last week, it was a brutal showing for Taylor Heinecke as he finished with a PFF passing grade of 33 and had five turnover-worthy plays, four of which came under pressure. That was my most significant handicap in taking the Packers last week. However, the Colts can’t pressure at nearly the same level – they rank ninth in pressure rate, but standout second-year defensive end Kwity Paye is out this week.
I’m not calling Heinecke an MVP-level passer by any means, but he can lead a functional offense with the high-level skill talent in Washington. I can’t say the same about Ehlinger as we’ve never seen him take a snap in real NFL action. The energy in Indianapolis is bad, and it’s easy to question the mentality of the team with the bizarre situation between Irsay and Reich. I’m fading them until further notice.
Best Bet: Commanders +4 (play to +3) and sprinkle on ML