NFL Best Bets: Week 8

I took a couple bad losses (Bears +6 and Cowboys PK) in Week 7, but I made up for it with the Steelers (+1) and Jets (+13), giving me an even 2-2 record. I should probably be better, but since the best bettors in the world only hit on about 55% of their picks, a .500 week isn’t the worst thing in the world. Overall on the season I’m 14-9-1, which is good for a 60.9% winning percentage. I’ll take that and usually be pretty happy with it.

Week 8 has the best slate of games of the NFL season thus far, pitting division matchups like Steelers vs. Ravens and Cowboys vs. Eagles. There are also a couple other gems sprinkled in, including the Chiefs being basically 20-point favorites against the 0-7 Jets. Anyway, let’s just stop talking and get into it.

Last week ATS: 2-2

Overall ATS: 14-9-1

1. New York Jets (+19.5) at Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs do not like to punish bad football teams. They like to punish good football teams, which is what they’ve done against the only two opponents they’ve played with records above .500. Kansas City was a 3.5-point road underdog against the Ravens (in a game they won 34-20), and were merely a 5.5-point road favorite against the Bills (in a game they won 26-17).

Despite winning the game and covering the spread in both contests — by 17.5 points and 3.5 points, respectively — the narrative afterwards was about how little the final score was indicative of just how thoroughly the Chiefs won. Winning by two touchdowns against the Ravens almost downplayed the complete domination KC displayed, and their 9-point win against the Bills was deceptive in the sense that the Chiefs ran the ball down their throats the entire game. They didn’t even need Patrick Mahomes and the passing game to make plays.

Against average to poor competition, the Chiefs’ motivation is anybody’s guess. They struggled against both the Chargers (in a 23-20 win) and Raiders (40-32 loss), didn’t net a third down conversion against the Broncos, were bailed out a few times against the Patriots, and weren’t as impressive as they should have been against the Texans. What does any of this mean? I’m not sure. The Chiefs are 6-1 and starting the run away with the AFC West.

In this matchup against the Jets I just don’t see what reason Kansas City has of putting up a huge margin. There’s the Le’Veon Bell payback game factor, something that can’t be completely discounted, but that will probably show up a few times in the red zone. I don’t think the offense or defense aside from Bell are going to be playing like they need to send a message.

In the meantime, the Jets can go all week telling their guys that they are three-touchdown underdogs. Even though they are 0-7, these guys are getting paid, too. They have pride. It’s difficult in the NFL for a bunch of grown men — regardless of how bad their team is — to accept that kind of disrespect without putting up an effort capable of covering a spread that large.

Score prediction: Chiefs 31, Jets 17

2. Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Because of their loss on Monday Night Football against the Chiefs, the Ravens are being slept on. I’m probably in the minority in thinking Baltimore is still the second-best team in the AFC, but I’m betting on them to use this matchup against the Steelers to remind the football world that they are still the best team in the AFC North.

This line opened at Ravens -5.5 and was quickly bet down to -3.5, which is interesting because they were -3.5 earlier in the year when they hosted the Chiefs. Essentially Vegas is saying one of two things: either (1) Pittsburgh is now equivalent to Kansas City or (2) Baltimore has been downgraded so much that they are only 2 points better than the Steelers on a neutral field.

Neither scenario makes a lot of sense, since Baltimore wins and covers just about every week they play football. Aside from the Chiefs game the only loss they have taken against the spread came in Week 6 against the Eagles, in a game Baltimore led the entire way before Philly scored a couple garbage touchdowns late in the 4th quarter. If it wasn’t for getting outclassed by the Chiefs in a primetime game, people would be talking about the Ravens as the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

Instead the Steelers are coming into town with an undefeated record, and just got done beating an undefeated Titans team on the road. It’s Pittsburgh who has all the public momentum, which was made obvious when the opening 5.5-point spread got bet down to -3.5 over the course of a day. I have definitely been higher than most on the Steelers in 2020, but now that they are 6-0 it’s the perfect time to sell some stock.

This ought to be a helluva game, I just expect the Ravens need it more. If Baltimore loses they will fall to 5-2 on the year, which will be 2 games behind Pittsburgh with another matchup coming in the steel city later in the year. I hate to make games sound like they are must-win, but the Ravens are going to have a hard time making up a two-game hole and having to beat the Steelers on the road later in the year.

So not only does Baltimore need it more, but they have more to prove. I like both of those aspects as well as the fact that they are coming off a Bye Week, giving them more time to prepare for a Steelers unit that, as current, would be the number one seed in the AFC.

Score prediction: Ravens 31, Steelers 23

3. Denver Broncos (+3) vs. Los Angeles Chargers

I don’t have a lot to say about this game other than the fact that a rookie quarterback, Justin Herbert, is favored by a field goal in his first trip the Denver.

I’m no hater of Herbert, I just have a hard time shaking the feeling that the Broncos aren’t that bad of a football team. Their four losses this year — Titans (5-1), Steelers (6-0), Bucs (5-2) and Chiefs (6-1) — are against as impressive a quartet as you can find in the NFL. You don’t expect Denver to win any of those games. The fact that they went 1-3 against the spread in those contests shouldn’t discount the idea that they weren’t supposed to win any of them.

The Chargers have the better quarterback, but I don’t anticipate Justin Herbert just slinging the ball all over the yard. The Broncos defense isn’t all that bad. I anticipate a pretty low scoring affair, with the potential of Herbert putting up his first stinker of a performance in his first trip to mile high.

Score prediction: Broncos 20, Chargers 17

4. Cleveland Browns (-2.5) vs. Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders aren’t a very good football team. Their defense sucks. That 40-32 win against the Chiefs might trick some people into thinking they are better than they actually are, but I’m not buying it.

In a way both of these teams are reciprocals of one another: they are overrated by the public, decent enough, but not serious contenders to win anything that matters. The Browns are not as good as their record shows and will be one of the softest 6-win teams in the NFL if they happen to win this game, but the bet is against Las Vegas as much as it’s for Cleveland.

I like points. This game is going to feature a lot of them. I just think with the Browns at home, and with Kareem Hunt probably rushing for 120 yards, it’s going to be enough to put the Raiders where they belong. That is, a 7-win team. That’s all I got.

Score prediction: Browns 34, Raiders 28