Schwartz’s Trench Report: How to Find Value in Saints-Vikings Over/Under, More Week 8 NFL Bets
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Cameron Jordan, Riley Reiff
- Former NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz offers his best Week 8 NFL bets based on the battles up front.
- He's picking the over/under in New Orleans Saints-Minnesota Vikings, and one side of Seattle Seahawks-Detroit Lions.
Welcome back to the Trench Report! It’s the only place you’ll find gambling advice for Week 8 of the NFL season based on the battle in the trenches between the offensive and defensive lines.
This week I’m eyeing the over/under in New Orleans Saints-Minnesota Vikings and the spread in Seattle Seahawks-Detroit Lions. Let’s start with the 2017 NFC divisional round rematch.
>> All odds as of Thursday afternoon. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.
New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings
- Spread: Saints -1
- Over/Under: 52
- Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
- TV channel: NBC
Both teams are hitting their strides heading into this matchup. The Saints have won five in a row, and since a close road loss to the Rams on a short week, the Vikings have won in Philadelphia then dominated the Cardinals and Jets.
It’s no surprise that 75% of tickets are on the over as of writing (see live data here), but we have reverse line movement as the total is now at 52 after opening at 53. Why is that?
Well, it starts with the battle in the trenches.
The Saints’ defensive line is going to dominate the Vikings’ offensive line.
The Saints are No. 1 against the run, while the Vikings can’t run the ball. The Vikings also don’t pass protect terribly well, so when it’s third-and-long all game on Sunday, it’s going to make matters worse.
Minnesota’s defense hasn’t been quite as dominant this season, either. The one missing piece has been Everson Griffen, who has been away from the team dealing with personal issues. More than a playmaker, Griffen is the leader and heartbeat of that unit. Without him in the lineup, it allows opposing teams to slide their protection toward Danielle Hunter and shut down the pass rush.
Griffen is back with the Vikings, and while head coach Mike Zimmer has said he’s not committing to Griffen playing this weekend, the defensive end has been practicing all week and looks to be in shape. If he does play (which seems likely), the Vikings will see an uptick in their defensive play.
Meanwhile, the Saints are on the road again after a physical battle in Baltimore. They’ll be feeling it. I don’t think their offense clicks quite the same.
Point totals are being inflated thanks to the offensive explosion around the league. And while a lot of these games are going over, there’s still value in finding some unders. This is one.
The Bet: Under 52
Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions
- Spread: Lions -3
- Over/Under: 49
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV channel: FOX
Detroit’s run game was nonexistent for so many seasons, so when the Lions finally have a rushing attack, it barely gets noticed.
The Lions are currently tied for fourth in the NFL in yards per attempt, and rookie running back Kerryon Johnson is averaging 6.4 yards per carry. Coaches have stubbornly tried to stick with other options in the backfield but are slowly realizing it’s Johnson’s role as his rushing attempts keep going up.
And it’s no surprise that with the rushing attack clicking, the pass protection has picked up.
It’s difficult for defenders to focus on rushing the passer when they have to worry about the run. Plus if you run the ball well on early downs, it makes third downs shorter and therefore the ball is out more quickly.
The Lions’ offensive line is up against the once-formidable Seahawks’ defensive line, which is now middle of the road in run defense and doesn’t rush the passer quite the same. I love the Lions’ offensive line here.
There’s no doubt that the Seahawks’ offensive line is one of the poorer units in the league. Seattle’s offense is (basically) Russell Wilson making a ton of plays and hoping for the best. That’s tough to back week after week.
The Lions are excellent against the pass and No. 2 in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Sack Rate. Their rushing defense is lacking, but they just traded for the best run-stuffing nose tackle in the NFL: Damon “Snacks” Harrison. He’s a monster inside and will help the Lions a lot.
Detroit controls the line of scrimmage and wins this going away.
The Bet: Lions -3