NFL Week 8 Predictions: Data-Driven Picks for 4 p.m. ET Slate
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: Christian McCaffrey.
NFL Odds & Picks
Sean Koerner: In his first two games with Denver, Murray has seen 23 rush attempts (15 in Week 6, 8 in Week 7) in contests that featured trailing game scripts. While the Broncos are 2.5-point underdogs this week, there is a path to a positive game script where they lean on the run even more, which would be ideal for this prop.
Mike Boone was placed on injured reserve, and while the Broncos added Marlon Mack, he’s unlikely to command many touches — if any — at least initially. That means Murray finds himself in a fairly even timeshare with the struggling Melvin Gordon.
Considering Gordon will likely dominate passing-down work, there is a decent chance we see Murray lead the team on the ground. I prefer attacking his attempts because if you take the over on his rushing yards (currently 35.5) and he fails to top eight carries, you need him to have a yards/att of over 4.40 in order to clear.
I would rather not go that route against a pretty good Jags defense. I’m projecting Murray closer to 10 rush attempts and would bet this up to -135.
Billy Ward: The Raiders and Saints are both relatively slow-paced, run-focused teams. While that’s not necessarily by design for either team, being without pass-catching weapons like Darren Waller, Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry forces the issue a bit.
This is reflected in their offensive DVOAs: Vegas ranks first in the run game, while New Orleans ranks third. These teams rank 18th and 25th, respectively, when throwing the ball.
The problem is both defenses are far more exploitable through the air. That’s why I’m interested in the first half – rather than the full game – under. Later in the game, the trailing team will eventually open up its passing attack.
It’s also a solid bet based on pace splits. New Orleans plays more than four seconds slower in the first half, while Las Vegas plays about two seconds slower. Both teams are middle of the pack in time of possession spent trailing, so those splits are more of a deliberate choice than simply based on negative game scripts.
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.
Billy Ward: Through the first four games of the season, Lions games produced totals of: 73, 63, 52 and 93 points. Then, over the last two weeks, totals of 29 and 30.
That seems like a downward trend – and it is – but there’s plenty of extenuating circumstances. In each of the Lions’ lower scoring games they were without top wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and starting running back D’Andre Swift.
Those scoring totals tell us what we already (should) know: Jared Goff is a more than capable quarterback if he has weapons around him, and dreadful without. Fortunately, he should have both Swift and St. Brown back at full strength.
If anything, the non-concussion suffered by St. Brown probably helps him moving forward. He was playing a limited role thanks to his ankle injury prior to the bye week, but he has now effectively had three weeks to get right.
Then there’s the Dolphins’ offense, which averages nine more points per game when Tua Tagovailoa plays the entire contest. Tua returned from injury last week and is a full go.
Finally, both defenses rank in the bottom seven in DVOA against the pass. That was before a variety of injuries to the secondaries of both teams. It won’t get much better for either unit this week.
This one could turn into an absolute track meet. I’d take this up to 52.5 at -110.
He has caught 93% of his targets against zone coverage but only 62.5% against man coverage. The Steelers use man at the eighth highest rate, so this seems like a good spot to fade Smith as this matchup also sets up much better for A.J. Brown.
I’m projecting Smith’s median closer to 48.5 receiving yards and would bet this down to 52.5.
Nick Giffen: Washington goes for two-point conversions at the highest rate in the league (40%), reducing Slye’s opportunity for extra points.
In seven games this year, Slye has attempted nine field goals and made just seven. His 82.4% career field goal rate gets a boost in the dome, but it’s not enough to overcome the lack of attempts.
We’re projecting Slye to go under both his individual extra point and field goal props, so instead of picking one or the other, let’s just take the under on his total points.
We have under 6.5 projected to hit 63.1% of the time. I’d feel comfortable betting this to -145.
Billy Ward: A game with a 42-point total and one-point spread is about as perfect of a situation as exists with this prop. While the reduced odds from BetMGMs updated pricing stings a bit, this one should be around +130 based on my database.
While this is (mostly) baked into the spread, these teams rank 28th and 32nd, respectively, in situation neutral pace, which should limit the number of total drives. That’s obviously a good thing for the “No” side of this prop.
For what it’s worth, this prop hit in these teams’ first meeting this year. In fact, it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that either team even scored twice consecutively.
The other spot I’m targeting for this prop is New Orleans vs. Las Vegas, thanks to the +180 odds at BetMGM. It’s less likely to hit (true odds of slightly above +140) but the increased payouts make it worth it.
Keep an eye open for any other books that offer this prop – mainly DraftKings – to see if a better line is available before game time as well. As of Saturday afternoon, they’d yet to post this prop for any games.
While the Rams have a solid rush defense, McCaffrey’s volume should more than make up for the matchup.
With Deebo Samuel ruled out, the 49ers lose a workhorse who has averaged 7.7 targets and 3.4 rushes per game. McCaffrey arrives at the perfect time to pick up that workload. Kyle Juszczyk is also out, which decreases the chances of someone vulturing McCaffrey near the end zone.
We have McCaffrey favored to score a TD, so getting plus money is nice.