NFL Expert Picks: Ravens-Panthers, Jaguars-Eagles, More Week 8 Bets
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Terreell Suggs, Russell Wilson and Jalen Ramsey
- The Action Network experts break down their favorite NFL bets for Week 8, including Ravens-Panthers and Chiefs-Broncos.
- Also find out what side and total our staff likes for the highly anticipated Sunday Night Football matchup between the Saints and Vikings.
- Plus against-the-spread and over/under picks for Eagles-Jaguars, Raiders-Colts and more.
I think Deshaun Watson just threw another touchdown pass.
With another lopsided Thursday Night Football affair in the rearview, we can focus on more intriguing Week 8 storylines, including:
- Which preseason Super Bowl hopeful will drop to 3-5 in a battle between the desperate Eagles (-3.5) and Jaguars in London?
- Can the Steelers (-8) and Browns tie for a second time in the same season?
- Can the Saints exact their 2017 playoff revenge against the Vikings (PK) at the scene of the crime?
- Will the Chiefs (-9.5) ever lose against the spread again? (Hint: The answer is not “no.”) In case you’re wondering, the 2007 Patriots are the only team to start a season with a perfect 8-0 record against the spread since 1980.
Our staff has a few angles on some of the games above, plus valuable betting insight into the rest of this week’s slate.
We have two experts who agree on Ravens-Panthers, but there’s disagreement on Redskins-Giants and Broncos-Chiefs. We will it finish up with two late afternoon sides, then a side and an over/under pick for the highly anticipated Sunday Night Football matchup in Minnesota.
For even more in-depth analysis, be sure to check out our betting guides for every single game.
After a second straight week of .500 results, our staff picks now sit at 61-51-11 (55.2%) for the season. Let’s start another run this weekend with a look at our 16 picks for Week 8. — Stuckey
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ALARM CLOCK ACTION
Collin Wilson: Jaguars +3.5 (vs. Eagles in London)
9:30 a.m. ET on NFL Network
There’s a stark contrast in adjusted net yards per play in this matchup with Jacksonville at +0.7 (third in the NFL) and Philadelphia at only -0.4 (bottom 10).
The Jags have been pedestrian on the offensive line with a No. 19 ranking in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate, but that still grades better than the Eagles’ 24th-place ranking. I also expect a better effort from Blake Bortles, who is under pressure of losing his job to backup Cody Kessler. Bortles has shown poise in pressure situations before.
Jacksonville has played in London each of the past five seasons, giving the Jags the experience needed to maintain focus on the trip — especially against an Eagles franchise that is making its first trip across the pond.
I think the Jags win in London for the fourth straight time as a small underdog.
EARLY AFTERNOON KICKS
Stuckey: Ravens -3 (at Panthers)
1 p.m. ET on CBS
After suffering through betting against my Ravens live in Cleveland (which turned out to be a winner) and watching Justin Tucker miss an extra point for the first time in his career (with a bunch of Saints fans nearby) that cost the Ravens a shot at the win, I can now back Baltimore for the first time since it played the Steelers.
This is an outstanding matchup for the Ravens defense across the board:
- The Panthers have subpar receivers and the Ravens have the corner depth to match up with both their physicality and speed, which is why the Ravens allow a league-best 5.5 yards per pass.
- If the Baltimore defense has one vulnerability, it’s deep passes. Fortunately, the Panthers rank 25th in yards per pass and the Ravens’ pressure (league-leading 27 sacks) likely won’t give Cam much time to throw. Baltimore’s safeties can be fully utilized to stop the running game and short passing attack.
- The Panthers lead the NFL in yards per rush, but they do almost all of their damage up the gut or to the right. The Ravens’ run defense just happens to excel at stopping the run in those two areas, while struggling on the left side.
On the other side of the ball, the Ravens have struggled to run the ball (their 3.4 yards per rush ranks second worst), but that won’t hurt as much against a Carolina defense that excels at stopping the run.
Baltimore’s offensive line does, however, excel in pass blocking (fourth in adjusted sack rate), which means Joe Flacco should have enough time to allow his efficient route runners to get open against the Panthers’ 26th-ranked pass defense in Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
Scott Miller: Ravens -3 (at Panthers)
A quick recap of the Panthers’ past two wins: They needed an improbable last-second 63-yard field goal to beat the terrible Giants at home, then a 21-point fourth-quarter comeback against a hopeless Eagles secondary to take down the Philly on the road.
For my money, the Ravens have one of the two (or three) best defenses in the NFL, and they match up well against the Panthers, who want to run the ball and get Christian McCaffrey involved in the passing game.
Baltimore ranks as the fourth-best rush defense and third-best unit at defending running backs in the pass game, according to DVOA.
Carolina’s defense — which is 20th in overall DVOA and 26th vs. the pass — shouldn’t scare Flacco & Co.
I like this as a buy-low, sell-high spot. Ravens by a touchdown.
Chris Raybon: Ravens-Panthers Under 44
Since the Ravens opened the season with two straight overs — a 47-3 win where they reached the total by themselves and a 34-23 road loss to the Bengals — they’re on a five-game under streak, including games vs. Pittsburgh and New Orleans.
The Panthers will be one of the slowest-paced teams the Ravens have faced, operating at a pace that ranks 26th in neutral situations and 30th in the first half of games.
While the over is 3-3 in Panthers games this season, all three of those overs have come against teams that rank in the bottom six in defensive DVOA.
Travis Reed: Broncos +9.5 (at Chiefs)
1 p.m. ET on CBS
It’s never fun to bet against your favorite team, but when there’s value, you have to pull the trigger: This line is just too inflated in favor of the Chiefs, who remain undefeated ATS.
The Bet Labs model has the Chiefs as a touchdown favorite. We also have a Pro Bet Labs system fading teams on a hot ATS streak that Kansas City fits.
I’ll gladly take the points in this heated division rivalry.
Matthew Freedman: Chiefs TT Over 32.5 (vs. Broncos)
I’m tired of losing by betting the over on Chiefs games.
Arrowhead Stadium is a tough place for opponents to play. In the Andy Reid era, no stadium has been more unfriendly to over bettors with a 15-28-0 over/under record (-31.2% ROI), per Bet Labs.
However, I’m confident in the Chiefs’ ability to score points at home.
Only once this year have the Chiefs failed to hit their implied total — a proxy for their team total — and that came against the Broncos in Week 4 in Denver’s high altitude. On a per-game basis, the Chiefs have outperformed their total by a league-high average of 10.1 points.
Even if the Chiefs underwhelm for a quarter, they could still put up 33 or more points, especially with turnover-prone quarterback Case Keenum on the other side. Through seven games, Keenum has nine interceptions and four fumbles. If he gives the Chiefs some short fields or a defensive score, K.C. could crush this total.
Evan Abrams: Travis Kelce More Receiving Yards Than Courtland Sutton (+106)
Simply stated, I like Kelce this week against Denver’s defense. My reasoning is multi-layered, but it starts with Reid.
In the Chiefs’ past five games against the Broncos, Reid has called Kelce’s number early and often on offense with five first-half targets per game. In Kelce’s past two home games against the Broncos he has 13 targets, 11 receptions, 212 receiving yards and two touchdowns … in just the first half!
Reid is obviously aware that the Broncos defense struggles with tight ends. Denver ranks 23rd in DVOA against tight ends, but sixth against No. 1 WRs and 22nd vs. No. 2 WRs. Last season, the Broncos were even worse against tight ends — 31st in DVOA, ahead of only the Browns.
The defense has also really struggled deep down the middle this season, ranking 26th in DVOA on deep passes (16-plus yards) and 29th down the middle of the field.
The Broncos will try to get physical with Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins on the outside, so I expect Patrick Mahomes and Reid to look for their safety blanket in Kelce.
Peter Jennings: Redskins +1 (at Giants)
1 p.m. ET on FOX
The Giants have gone into full tank mode with the trades of Eli Apple and Damon Harrison.
Harrison has been one of the best run stoppers in the NFL for years, and I think these two losses will cripple an already-mediocre defense.
The Redskins are finally getting healthy and they’re just the better team. I can’t believe the Giants are still starting Eli Manning.
I would consider looking at Redskins alternative totals, as well.
Danny Donahue: Giants -1 (vs. Redskins)
The 4-2 Redskins opened as a one-point favorite over the 1-6 Giants, which of course means that oddsmakers decided to be nice and give everyone a free winner on Sunday because they are in the business of losing money.
(That was sarcasm, if you couldn’t tell.)
Eighty-two percent of bettors seem to believe that’s true, and are taking the ‘Skins, who are now a one-point dog at a few books.
Personally, that’s enough reason for me to take the Giants, but I’ll share this with you from Bet Labs, anyway: Since 2005, teams listed as a pick ’em or favorite with a win percentage at least 50 percentage points lower than their opponent’s win percentage have gone 73-53-7 (58%) ATS. When the game takes place after Week 4, that record becomes 17-8-2 (68%).
Ian Hartitz: Redskins-Giants Under 43.5
The Redskins (No. 31) and Giants (No. 25) have the week’s slowest overall matchup in combined situation-neutral pace. Both offenses rank among the league’s bottom-eight scoring units. Each has topped 28 points on just one occasion this season.
With both offenses dealing with injuries at receiver and along the offensive line, I’ll take the under in what looks like another low-scoring NFC East slugfest.
Ken Barkley: Seahawks +3 (at Lions)
1 p.m. ET on FOX
You know the deal by now: In general, I’m looking for teams that are being rated incorrectly in relation to each other, and I am looking for an inevitable correction.
Detroit put up 32 on Miami last week, won the game, and is now being rated evenly (minus home field) versus a Seattle team that has turned out to be better than expected.
Each of Seattle’s three losses have come by a touchdown or less and all are pretty explainable in terms of caliber of opponent.
Now off a bye, I’m not sure the Seahawks should be getting any points at all — and you’re getting the full field goal. That’s good value. I’m rolling with Seattle.
John Ewing: Bengals -3.5 (vs. Bucs)
1 p.m. ET on FOX
The last time we saw the Bengals they were getting blown out 45-10 by the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football.
Nothing went right for Cincinnati, as Andy Dalton threw for only 148 yards and Joe Mixon rushed for only 50 yards.
It is important to not overreact to one game; NFL teams are never as good or bad as they looked the previous week.
Since 2003, teams that lost their previous game by 20 or more points to a good opponent (won 60% or more of games) have bounced back, going 213-169-9 (56%) ATS in their next game.
The Bengals offense should have more success against a Bucs defense that ranks 32nd in defensive DVOA and is allowing an NFL-worst 32.7 points per game.
SUNDAY’S LATE AFTERNOON ACTION
Sean Koerner: Raiders +3 (vs. Colts)
4:05 p.m. ET on CBS
This line is a mixture of overreactions to the Colts blowing out the Bills in Week 7 and the Raiders losing Marshawn Lynch (injured reserve) and Amari Cooper (trade).
I had this opening right around Raiders +1.5 or +2 (which it did), but a flood of money has pushed it to the key number of +3. Despite all of the issues the Raiders face at the moment, we have to remember that the Colts are a very below-average team.
Taking Indianapolis as a field goal-favorite on the road is going to be a losing play more times than not.
Matt LaMarca: Cardinals +1 (vs. 49ers)
4:25 p.m. ET on FOX
I’m really struggling to understand this spread.
The Cardinals beat the 49ers by double digits in San Francisco a few weeks ago, and now they’re underdogs against them at home?
This line suggests that San Fran is roughly four points better than the Cardinals on a neutral field, which I have a really hard time getting behind.
The Cardinals were just embarrassed on national TV by the Broncos, but Thursday games notoriously favor the better team: Favorites are now 5-1 ATS on Thursday Night Football, so I’m not holding that loss against Arizona.
On the other hand, the public wants nothing to do with the Cardinals.
Arizona has received only 29% of the tickets as of writing, and teams coming off a blowout loss with minimal public support have gone 89-62-5 ATS since 2003.
The Cards also fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy after their embarrassing showing last week, so they should be motivated on Sunday.
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Geoff Schwartz: Saints-Vikings Under 52.5
8:20 p.m. ET on NBC
If you read my weekly trench report, you know I like this under.
The Saints defensive line should dominate a vulnerable Vikings offensive line on running and passing downs.
Minnesota’s defense hasn’t been quite as dominant this season, either, but it has shown signs of life recently and could get a key addition back this week.
Chad Millman: Vikings PK (vs. Saints)
I say this as someone who has a Saints 18-1 Super Bowl ticket in my pocket: I think we’ve reached peak Saints.
Every season features teams that go through value cycles:
- The ‘Skins are on everyone’s radar right now, which means they are coming to the end of any value in their number.
- The Cards went through a cycle for several weeks when they were strong underdog plays, right up until they were pounded by the Broncos.
- The Colts and Bengals have had similar runs.
The Saints, to me, are in that spot now — where fans are flying in to irrationally bet them. Winners of five straight, they are the class of the NFC along with the Rams. But after a dramatic win against the Ravens, it’s time to sell!
Meanwhile, the Vikings continue to be a disappointment in the eyes of fans: The tie to the Packers, the loss to the Bills, struggling to put mediocre teams away, the defense not being as dominant as it was last season.
But … this team has a high-powered offense playing at home against a defense that gives up more than 27 points per game.
I like my chances with a home team that just needs to win.
Editor’s note: The opinions on these games are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.