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NFL Week 8 Expert Predictions: Early Slate Best Bets for Panthers vs Falcons, Dolphins vs Lions

NFL Week 8 Expert Predictions: Early Slate Best Bets for Panthers vs Falcons, Dolphins vs Lions article feature image
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Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images. Pictured: Jared Goff.

Sean Koerner is Action Network’s Director of Predictive Analytics. Follow him in the Action App to get all his picks instantly as he makes them.


NFL Odds & Picks

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Panthers vs Falcons
Dolphins vs Lions


Pick
Under 41.5
Best Book
Time
1 p.m. ET

Sean Koerner: Both of these teams rank in the bottom three in average plays per game and bottom five in passing yards per game. I’m expecting a run-heavy, low-scoring game between two inept offenses.

Last week, the Falcons had a laughable game plan where they ran the ball on 68% of their plays despite being down by 10-plus! Needless to say, they should have an extreme run-heavy approach this week as four-point home favorites. However, the Panthers have a great defensive line and rank 13th in DVOA against the run.

If the Bengals were unable to force the Falcons into a pass-heavy script, I’m not sure the Panthers will be able to.

Carolina’s offense has looked better under P.J. Walker, but we have to remember they just traded away their premier deep threat in Robbie Anderson and their best offensive player in Christian McCaffery.

D’Onta Foreman, who I consider to be Dollar Store Derrick Henry, will see the bulk of the work in the backfield with Chuba Hubbard ruled out. I can see the Panthers using him to pound away at a Falcons run defense that ranks 26th in DVOA.

I was shocked to see this total in the 40s as I have it projected closer to 39.


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Pick
Lions +4
Best Book
Time
1 p.m. ET

Sean Koerner: The Lions’ 24-6 loss to the Cowboys last week was fairly misleading. The score was 10-6 with just three minutes left, but thanks to two Jared Goff turnovers, the score got out of hand. Not to mention, earlier in the fourth quarter, Jamaal Williams lost a fumble on 1st and Goal on the one-yard line.

I’m not saying the Lions deserved to win the game, but the result should have been much closer. Detroit should have covered the spread had it not been for a ton of misfortune in the final stanza.

This particular matchup is the biggest discrepancy in Luck Rankings this week, with the Lions (31st) and Dolphins (10th) having a differential of 21 in luck ranks. In matchups with a 16+ rank differential, the “unlucky” team to date has gone 15-6 ATS since we started tracking the metric in Week 3.

Enough making excuses for the Lions though, this matchup should also set up much better for Goff.

The 2016 No. 1 overall pick tends to struggle when facing pressure, as he ranks 28th (of 36 QBs) in ANY/A and 30th in QB Rating when facing pressure. However, when given a clean pocket, he ranks 9th in ANY/A and 12th in QB Rating. Last week, he had to face the Cowboys, who lead the league in pressure rate. Now he gets to face a Dolphins defense that has generated pressure at the fourth lowest rate.

The Lions will also be getting back Amon-Ra St. Brown (who had to leave last week’s game early due to concussion protocol) and D’Andre Swift, which should be a huge boost to the offense.


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