NFL WEEK 8: Thursday night saw the Buffalo Bills deliver the Tampa Bay Bucs their third straight loss, with Bills QB Josh Allen accounting for 365 total yards and 3 touchdowns in a signature performance. It was a much-needed win for a Buffalo team that was favored to win the AFC East but is now looking up at Miami, and as for the Bucs, the shine has definitely worn off after a surprising 3-1 start.

The rest of this Week 8 slate features storylines and subplots galore, as all 32 teams will be in action and Tuesday’s looming trade deadline means that coaches will be making strategic decisions about which players to showcase, especially coaches of struggling teams who may be trying to offload talent for draft compensation (hello, Mike Vrabel). Seven of Sunday’s games feature points spreads of a field goal or less, so we can expect some barnburners, although there really aren’t any marquee matchups like last week’s Philadelphia/Miami showdown. It’s a great week to build the bankroll, though! Let’s do it:

New Orleans Saints @ Indianapolis Colts (NO -1.5, 43)

Recommendation: Indianapolis moneyline (to win) at 2.15

The Colts have dropped back-to-back games since quarterback Anthony Richardson was sidelined with a shoulder injury, but they were pretty feisty last week in a wild 39-38 loss to the Browns, with QB Garner Minshew throwing for 305 yards and the team rushing for 168 yards and 3 TDs against a Cleveland defense that entered the game ranked as the best in the NFL by almost every conceivable metric. They now host a New Orleans team that has been less than the sum of its parts this season thanks in large part to the struggles of the Derek Carr-led offense. Carr let his frustrations boil over in last week’s loss to Jacksonville, openly berating star WR Chris Olave and others for perceived mistakes. But Carr himself has been jittery in the pocket and turnover-prone this season, and the Colts have enough talent in the defensive front seven to make him uncomfortable and keep the Saints offense stuck in neutral. The wrong team is favored here.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers (JAX -2, 40.5)

Recommendation: Jacksonville -2 at 1.94

Though some may be tempted by Pittsburgh as a home ‘dog here, especially since the Steelers are coming off back-to-back upset victories over playoff contenders Baltimore and Los Angeles, I view this as an opportunity to back a clearly superior team at a very reasonable price. Let’s call a spade a spade: the Steelers offense is bad. It’s ugly. There are plenty of stats to back it up (31st in total ypg, 27th in points scored), but you don’t really need stats when a team so resoundingly fails the eye test. Jacksonville is weak in the secondary, but who cares? Kenny Pickett is quarterbacking the other team. To win this game the Steelers must dominate on defense, forcing multiple turnovers and possibly even scoring a time or two themselves. And while that’s not out of the question with all the playmakers they have on that side of the ball, it’s worth noting that they currently rank 28th against the run, surrendering 142.3 rush yards per game, and Jaguars tailback Travis Etienne is 4th in the NFL in rushing and has already racked up 7 TDs on the ground. Don’t overthink this one– back the better team.

Houston Texans @ Carolina Panthers (HOU -3.5, 43.5)

Recommendation: Carolina +3.5 at 1.91

The sad sack Panthers are the only team yet to win a game this season, and also the only team yet to cover. But this Sunday, coming off a bye and hosting the overachieving Texans, I feel a breakthrough coming. This is a showdown of the number 1 and 2 picks in last year’s draft, and though C.J. Stroud has undeniably had a better start to his career, Bryce Young has quietly been improving, throwing for 464 combined yards and 4 TDs in his last two starts, and he’ll be facing a vulnerable Houston secondary that ranks 26th in the NFL against the pass. Stroud is coming off the worst outing of his brief career and the Texans o-line has been awfully shaky, so I’m sure the game plan for the Carolina defense will be to dial up some pressure and force some quick decisions and errant throws. The Texans would surely like to do the same to Young, but they’re last in the NFL in sacks, so Young should have some time to get the ball downfield in this one. I’m calling for an upset here but love the sound of those 3.5 points.

Cincinnati Bengals @ San Francisco 49ers (SF -4.5, 44)

Recommendation: Cincinnati +4.5 at 1.91

After looking like a surefire Super Bowl contender over the first month of the season the Niners have faltered lately, dropping back-to-back games to inferior teams. Quarterback Brock Purdy is in concussion protocol and is officially listed as questionable for this one, but with the things Kyle Shanahan has been saying, and how coy he’s been about Purdy’s status, I do not expect him to play. Even if he does, it won’t be easy against a Bengals secondary that is allowing just 213 pass yards per game and has intercepted as many passes (8) as they have allowed touchdowns (8). On the other side of the ball the Bengals are finally starting to cook after a slow start while San Francisco is moving in the other direction on defense, having allowed 5.8 yards per play during the current 2-game skid. Cincinnati had a bye last week, so Joe Burrow got to sit on the couch and watch Kirk Cousins torch this Niners D to the tune of 378 yards and 2 TDs despite being without the services of All-Pro WR Justin Jefferson. Look for Burrow to put up similar numbers and for the Bengals to give San Fran some trouble.

DAQMAN Mon: Windsor NAP
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