NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Colts, 49ers and Chargers Headline Spreads To Take In Week 8, Plus More Bets
Justin Casterline/Getty Images. Pictured: Colts RB Jonathan Taylor (28), QB Carson Wentz (2)
- Whether you're playing in an NFL pick'em pool or are just looking for which spreads to bet this Sunday, our analyst has you covered.
- Based on Week 8 NFL odds, he reveals which spreads he's locking in for contests, as well as the rest of his picks.
- Find out why he likes the chances of the Colts, 49ers and Chargers covering below.
NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions
I’ll be picking five NFL sides each week of the season for DraftKings‘ Pro Football Millionaire Pick’Em contest. Note that the spreads for this contest lock on Wednesdays, so some will be stale by the time you read this and thus not readily available outside of the contest. But you can check real-time NFL odds here.
I’ll also outline the rest of my betting card for the week below (click here to skip ahead).
NFL ATS Picks For Week 8
Note that news broke of Dak Prescott’s questionable status after I made my initial picks for our video on Wednesday, but with the contest deadline not until Saturday, I was able to swap in 49ers -3.5 for Cowboys -2.5 before locking my picks in.
I still included my reasoning for Cowboys below in case Prescott does play.
- Colts +1.5: 1 p.m. ET
- Panthers +2.5: 1 p.m. ET
- 49ers -3.5: 1 p.m. ET
- Chargers -5.5: 4:25 p.m. ET
- WFT +2.5: 4:25 p.m. ET
Bonus: Cowboys -2.5
1. Colts +1.5 vs. Titans
The Titans held Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to just three points, but I believe that said more about the Chiefs than it said about the Titans, as this a defensive unit that is still 22nd in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA and 21st in Expected Points Added per play.
Carson Wentz has looked great since getting acclimated in Frank Reich’s offense.
After missing preseason with an ankle injury and COVID-19, Wentz appeared to be playing on the same level that got him traded out of Philadelphia. But over the past four weeks, he’s third in EPA + CPOE Composite, with only Josh Allen and Matthew Stafford ranking higher. This also includes a rainy Sunday night game against the 49ers in which he completed 17-of-26 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns, finding a way to help his team win an ugly game.
With the Titans still thin at cornerback, I’m expecting a solid game through the air from Wentz.
Now the Colts are back at home in their dome, and fortunately for Wentz, he doesn’t have to do it by himself — Jonathan Taylor should run all over a Titans defense that is 25th in EPA/play and 29th in Rushing Success Rate. Their already-banged-up defense could be in even more trouble, as safety Amani Hooker and outside linebacker Bud Dupree missed practice this week due to injuries.
Overall, this feels like a great spot for the Colts, who can move within one game of the Titans with a win on Sunday.
2. Panthers +2.5 at Falcons
This feels like a great spot to sell high on the Falcons, who have won three of their last four games against the Giants, Jets and Dolphins — defenses that rank 23rd, 27th and 28th in EPA/play. None generate an elite pass rush, either, which is certainly a weak spot for a Falcons offensive line that’s 24th in ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate (PBWR).
Now this week, the Falcons will be dealing with a Panthers defense that’s fourth in PBWR.
On defense is where there’s real issues for the Falcons, as they’re 30th in scoring defense (29.3), 25th in EPA/play and 31st in Success Rate. They’re also just 31st in Dropback Success Rate and are currently dealing with injuries to cornerbacks A.J. Terrell and Fabian Moreau as well as safety Erik Harris, all of whom left last Sunday’s game against the Dolphins with injuries.
With Isaiah Oliver already out for the season, this already-struggling secondary is in for a world of trouble, so this feels like the perfect get-right spot for Sam Darnold and the Panthers against a Falcons team with no pass rush.
This game fits one of the most profitable trends for this season as short underdogs of three or fewer points are 12-5 (70.5%) this season.
3. 49ers -3.5 at Bears
There were a lot of entries on the 49ers last week in what looked like a buy-low spot against the Colts. After losing their fourth straight game, though, this feels like the better spot to buy low on a team that had a preseason win total of 10.5 games.
After facing Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray and the resurgent Carson Wentz, the 49ers now face off against Justin Fields and a Bears offense that’s 30th in EPA/play and 25th in Success Rate (42.9%), while scoring just 14.4 points per game. The only offenses that have been worse are the Jets and Texans.
Nevertheless, the Bears are highly dependent on their defense but will be missing Khalil Mack and dealing with a banged-up Akiem Hicks, so we’re unlikely to see the same pass rush from this team this week.
Overall, the 49ers are the better team, and this is a great spot to back them.
4. Chargers -5.5 vs. Patriots
I don’t typically buy into revenge spots, but these two teams played last season during Justin Herbert’s rookie season, when the Patriots pitched a 45-0 shutout. We’re unlikely to see a similar result this time around with a new head coach in Brandon Staley and an overall better Chargers team.
It feels like this Patriots team is being overvalued throughout the market with two wins over the Jets and another over the Texans. Interestingly enough, the Patriots have played only two road games this season, yet are +7 in turnovers against the Jets alone and -7 against every other opponent.
As a whole, the Patriots have played the 22nd-ranked schedule of opposing defenses.
The Patriots face a tougher task against a Chargers team that welcomes the return of linebacker Drue Tranquill, defensive tackle Justin Jones and safety Nasir Adderley. Tranquill is the ninth-ranked linebacker, according to PFF, and Jones should play a big role in slowing down the run, which the Chargers have struggled with.
However, the Patriots haven’t been particularly great at running the ball. The overall offense is truly overrated, ranking 15th in DVOA, including 14th in rush DVOA and 18th in pass DVOA. They’ll need to match point-for-point against Herbert and a Chargers offense that’s looking to rebound from a 34-6 loss to the Ravens.
The Chargers should be able to find some success through the air as this is not the same Patriots defense of last season, with Stephon Gilmore gone and banged-up corners Devin McCourty and Shaun Wade.
Nevertheless, a big reason for my optimism in the Chargers has to do with Staley speaking on how the Chargers were too conservative on early downs, which led to this team being over-reliant on finding success on third and fourth down.
after being too conservative on early downs to start the season, Brandon Staley’s offense has worked hard to emerge from the bye with a “prolific” early down offense pic.twitter.com/Lp7aJwykJ7
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) October 25, 2021
With the Chargers coming off a bye, I’m confident Staley can find ways to correct their early-down struggles. And if that’s the case, the gap between these two is much wider than the current market has it priced.
5. WFT +2.5 at Broncos
Similar to the Panthers, this fits a profitable trend with short underdogs of three or fewer points going 12-5 (70.5%) this season.
Last week, Washington had perhaps the most misleading box score you’ll ever see in an NFL game. The Football Team somehow had scoreless drives that ended at the Packers’ 23, 27, 1, 3 and 12. The WFT out-gained the Packers in yards, passing yards, rushing yards, first downs and yards per play, and lost the game by going 0-4 in the red zone with two turnovers.
Nonetheless, I expect the Football Team to have similar success offensively against a Broncos defense that is absolutely decimated by injuries. With the Broncos essentially starting linebackers off the practice squad, Browns third-string running back D’Ernest Johnson rushed for 146 yards last Thursday, so I’m expecting Antonio Gibson to have a big day.
Since their wins over the Giants, Jaguars and Jets, the Broncos have fallen off a cliff defensively.
Dating back to Week 4, the Broncos are 29th in EPA/play, 26th in Success Rate, 24th in Dropback Success Rate and 23rd in Rushing Success Rate. Despite defense being their calling card under head coach Vic Fangio, this defense is every bit as bad as their divisional rival Chiefs over the past four weeks.
Taylor Heinicke’s ability to extend plays could cause real problems for this Broncos team.
Things aren’t much better offensively for the Broncos, who have watched Teddy Bridgewater struggle at quarterback. This offense is scoring just 16 points per game over the last four. And although it will welcome the return of wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, who hasn’t played since suffering an ankle injury in Week 1, I’m not sure it will be enough.
My model makes this game a pick’em, so I see value on the Football Team.
Bonus: Cowboys -2.5 at Vikings
Reminder that I swapped 49ers -3.5 in for Cowboys -2.5 after filming the video version of this column but before submitting my picks to the contest, so the following only applies should Prescott play on Sunday night.
Although my inclination going forward is to fade the Cowboys, who are 6-0 against the spread (ATS) given that this is an efficient market and we should eventually see some correction, this is not the spot to do so.
To put it bluntly, these are two teams in completely different classes.
Led by Dak Prescott, the Cowboys are first in scoring offense (34.2 points per game), second in Success Rate (53.1%) and fifth in EPA/play. No defense has been able to slow them down this season, and I don’t see that changing against a Vikings defense that’s 28th in rush DVOA given the two-back combination of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.
The Vikings are giving up 4.8 yards per carry, fourth-worst in the NFL, so look for big days from Elliott and Pollard. That should open things up for Prescott through the air, should be play. This is a defense that struggled to slow down the Lions and Panthers to close out games, so I’m struggling to see how that changes here.
Although the Vikings have the weapons in Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen to give the Cowboys defense problems, that hasn’t always translated to dominant performances given the conservative nature of Mike Zimmer. A hidden edge in this matchup belongs to the Cowboys, as Mike McCarthy is willing to go for it on fourth downs while Zimmer is likely to punt the ball back to the Cowboys and allow his defense to win the game. The last thing you want to do is punt the ball back to this Cowboys offense.
The Rest of the Betting Card
Steelers-Browns 1H Under 21 (-115)
The Steelers are not an offense that would put fear in any defense as they’re scoring just 19.5 points per game, ranking 26th in EPA/play and 31st in Success Rate, with just 38.5% percent of plays grading out as successful.
Ben Roethlisberger is on his last legs as a quarterback in this league, ranking 26th in EPA/play and 31st in Success Rate with a completion percentage of 65.7%, 26th in the league.
This is a struggling offensive line that ranks 30th in ESPN’s Pass Rush Block Rate and 27th in run block win rate. Despite drafting Najee Harris out of Alabama last offseason, he’s done little to improve this run game behind a struggling offensive line. The Steelers are 29th in Rushing Success Rate (31.8%) and are averaging just 3.7 yards per carry — 28th among NFL teams.
In a divisional matchup against the Browns, the Steelers will rely on their defense that ranks ninth in DVOA. Facing a banged-up Browns offense, the Steelers will certainly be competitive. Ranking 20th in pace per play and the Browns ranking 30th, this feels like a low-scoring game.
I like to isolate the first halves of these games, as the second half can often take on a life of its own as teams chase points, so let’s play the first-half under 21. If Baker Mayfield is ruled in, we could see this number go up, but I still like it at any number higher than 21.
WFT-Broncos Over 44
I broke down why I like the Football Team to cover above, but when looking at this total, it’s clear this is way too low for what we’ve seen from these teams as they might be two of the most overrated defenses in football.
As I’ve stated previously, this Broncos defense has really fallen off a cliff. And with the injuries at linebacker, Heinicke and the Football Team should have no problems scoring here. If you get any regression from Washington’s red-zone offense after what we saw last week, they should put up a decent offensive performance.
Washington’s defense has been a complete letdown this season, ranking dead-last in opponent third down conversion percentage (56.86%) and opponent points per game (30.0).
While I do favor the Football Team’s offense in this matchup, the Broncos will have opportunities to score as well, especially with the return of wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.
2-Team, 6-point Teaser: Panthers +9/WFT +9
Watch the following video for my explanation: