Week 8 NFL Picks: The Patriots can't possibly lose again, can they?
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It’s that time of the week and I pumped for this NFL week. Last week I promised a bounce back and damn, did I deliver. We had a steaming hot 5-1 week with our only loss coming from a missed extra point in the Browns game - thanks for nothing, Cody Parkey. I’m feeling the positive vibes again this week and we got nine total plays on deck for you guys.
Before we get to the trend of the week, and also the picks, don't forget that the picks - like Aaron's college football picks - are brought to you by the guys at MyBookie. If you sign up through MyBookie and use the promo code "TORRES" MyBookie will double your initial deposit. So you want to be $50 on Green Bay this week, MyBookie gives you $100 to play with. MyBookie, promo code "TORRES." It's the best deal going in sports gambling. Now let's get to trend of the week.
Trend of the Week: Wind and unders. I hate to waste time on small talk, but this week we may have to talk a little bit about the weather. We are in the middle of fall and the weather is starting to get gross in the NFL.
When it comes to betting profitability, it is important to check the weather since it has a major impact on football games. The main weather factor that has the most influence in betting but is most often overlooked is wind. The following NFL games this week project to have at least 15 mile an hour winds - Steelers at Ravens, Patriots at Bills, Raiders at Browns, Vikings at Packers, Titans at Cincinnati and New Orleans at Chicago.
Wind typically heavily impacts totals because it makes it harder for teams to pass the ball, leading to more incompletions and fewer first downs. This typically leads to more conservative play calling and a higher tendency of running plays. This chews the clock and shortens the game.
It also tremendously impacts the kicking game. There's nothing that kills an over more than a long drive that ends in a missed field goal. Heavy winds make that situation happen more often than not. In high wind games you want to back good running teams and teams that are efficient in the short passing game.
Here is recent data taking from wind data from Bet Labs: * All data dates backs to 2003:
“And the best-predicted fit from the data for games going under the quoted total when the average wind speed is 10 mph is 54.5 percent. The percentage of unders then remains consistently above this figure as winds strengthen even more."
For example, at average speeds of 17 mph, the likelihood of the game total going under the quote rises to 56.6 percent and hits 60 percent at 25 mph.
Now onto the picks.
* All plays are one unit again this week.
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
Spread: Buffalo (-4)
One of the most underrated games of the week. Everyone believes this is the game where the Bills officially take over the Patriots reign in the AFC East, but I believe Bill Belichick is ready to blow up that narrative again. The Patriots have not lost four straight games since 2002. They are not going to start now. Historically, Bill Belichick has been elite during his few appearances as an underdog going 13-6 against the spread, and he is also 24-14 ATS off a loss. I understand the Patriots have been dreadful the last two weeks, coming off a terrible loss at Denver and blowout home loss to the 49ers. But to me, this is a perfect buy low spot for the Patriots.
The Patriots closed as a three point favorite against the 49ers and now close as a four point dog against the Bills- the math simply does not make sense. It's a major overreaction from the last two weeks. We get significant line value on the Patriots in this spot.
Plus, it’s not like the Bills have been lighting the world on fire. They were dominated on both sides of the ball against the Chiefs and Titans. And although there is no shame in losing to those teams, the Bills failed to score a touchdown against the JETS squeaking by with a 18-10 victory.
Josh Allen has been out of rhythm the last couple weeks and now he has to go against Bill Belichick's defense. The Bills still have found no semblance of a ground game ranking 30th in rushing success rate and 29th in yards per game, which is good news for New England, since defending the run has been the Patriots Achilles heel. They allow 56 percent of rushes to grade successfully. The Patriots still have the best corner duo in the NFL with J.C. Jackson and Stephen Gilmore.
Really, what we get here is pissed off Bill Belichick going into a divisional matchup. That alone is a scary sight. And offensively, we will get a motivated Cam Newton who said publicly that he knows his job is in danger if he continues his poor play. I expect the Patriots to stick to their identity and dominate on the ground against a Bills defense that ranks 26th in run DVOA. The temperature will be in the 40's, possibly rainy, and windy. Perfect Patriot football weather. We mentioned at the top, teams need to be able to run the ball in windy games. The Patriots are elite at running ball and the Bills can’t stop the run.
The Patriots win this game outright and it's my favorite pick by far.
The Pick: Patriots +4
Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns
Spread: Cleveland (-2.5)
You’re telling me Chucky and the Las Vegas Raiders are getting points on Halloween weekend? Are you kidding me, Chucky is not going to lose on Halloween with that creepy old grin.
But seriously, we’ve been on the Cleveland Browns train all year, but I am sad to announce we have to jump off - for this week at least. This a perfect buy low spot for the Raiders coming off a 45-20 home loss to the Bucs. It’s honestly impressive the Raiders were able to put up 20 points against the Bucs top defense despite their offensive line not having a single rep of practice last week due to Covid. The 45-20 final was not indicative of how competitive the Raiders were throughout the game as they trailed by just four heading into the fourth quarter. On the other side, the Browns needed three consecutive perfect touchdown drives from Baker Mayfield to escape with a road win at Cincinnati. The Browns defense is simply awful, ranking 29th in scoring defense (31.6 points per game), 21st in third down percentage, and 24th overall in DVOA.
You could make the argument the Raiders defense is pretty bad too, ranking 31st in DVOA, but the Raiders have faced the toughest schedule against opposing offenses. Cleveland is coming off two tough division games. The schedule gets much easier for them after the Raiders so they can coast. This seems more of a must-win for the Raiders.
This will be one of the poor weather games featuring 25 mile hour wind gusts. Both coaches are going to try to run the ball down their opponents throats so the under is in play here as well. Both teams can run the ball, but I trust the Raiders short passing game more. I don’t trust Baker Mayfield throwing with heavy wind and he will be without his best yards after catch receiver in Odell Beckham.
Love the spot with the Raiders and will take them to win.
The pick: Raiders +2.5 and under 50.5
Los Angeles Rams at Miami Dolphins
Tua Tagovailoa welcome to the NFL, meet Aaron Donald. This is one of the more interesting matchups on the slate with the debut of Tua. The Dolphins named their rookie QB the permanent starter during their bye week, despite winning three out of their last four with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. It seems the Dolphins are prioritizing their future with Tua, rather than making a push for the playoffs.
The rookie will get a challenging opening debut against a Rams defense that ranks ninth in total defensive DVOA and sixth in adjusted sack rate. I’m not sure starting your future franchise QB fresh off hip surgery against the NFL’s top defensive line was the brightest idea. The Rams defense ranks second in the NFL in fewest points per game allowed and yards per play. Along with dealing with the pass rush, I’m not really sure what receivers Tua will have to throw to if Devante Parker is shadowed by Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey is a nightmare matchup for the Dolphins lengthy top receiver.
On the defensive side of the ball, Sean McVay is going to run the ball down the Dolphins' throat. The Dolphins have shown to be incapable of in stopping the run, ranking 31st in defensive line yards. The 2020 Rams offense is a physical football team and they run the ball more than anyone in the league and they do it well, ranking fourth in the NFL in rushing success rate at 56 percent.
In the big picture, I understand this is a terrible travel spot for the Rams on a short week. But McVay has routinely been good on the East Coast going 8-2 ATS in his last 10 games on that side of the country.
The Dolphins desperately need Tua to start fast, and that's simply too tall of a task for the rookie. I just don’t see the Dolphins being able to come back if the Rams get out to an early lead.
Look for LA to win this game in the 27-17 range. The Rams will be able to control the ball with their run game and Donald will make Tua feel uncomfortable all game.
I think Tagovailoa works out long term, but the rookie gets his first loss on Sunday.
The pick: Rams -4
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
Spread: Baltimore (-3.5)
Alas we have the "Game of the Week" with a classic battle between AFC North rivals. It feels like fall football officially arrives when these two play a grueling battle for the top of the division. The Steelers opened as a 5.5 point underdog that was quickly bet down the field goal at a moment's notice. These two teams are really quite similar, and the number of 3.5 is perfectly on the mark. I have Pittsburgh power rated slightly above Baltimore, but with the entire public backing Pittsburgh and line value being on point I am going to stay away from the spread on this.
Instead, I am going to do what my friend Aaron Torres famously does best - take the under in the biggest game of the week.
The under is live in this one. The Steelers have the best defense we have seen in a long time ranking first in overall DVOA, first in defensive line yards, first in pressure rate, first in adjusted sack rate, and third in yards per play.
The Ravens defense isn’t too shabby itself ranking first in total scoring 17.3 points per game, second in opponent passer rating, second in pressure rate, second in adjusted sack rate, and third overall in DVOA.
Remember, the last time these two teams met the total was set to 35 - even with Duck Hodges starting at QB. The under has it in five out of their last six matchups. The total of 46.5 is the highest number set during that time span. Some may worry about an explosive Ravens offense that has averaged 30 points per game, but the Ravens have faced the easiest schedule of opposing defenses. Baltimore is going against the best run defense in football and remember, Lamar Jackson has struggled to throw under pressure and has not done well throwing outside the numbers. The Ravens just added defensive lineman Yannick Ngakoue from Minnesota, who is one of the best pass rushers in the league and should limit some of what Pittsburgh tries to do on the ground. The Steelers will likely also be missing wide receiver Dionte Johnson. In addition, I am not sold on this Steelers offense that ranks 23rd in rushing success rate and 24th in passing success rate.
If you are looking to bet a side in this matchup I would lean Steelers, but the safer pick is under in this classic defensive slugfest.
The pick: Under 46.5
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos
Spread: Los Angeles (-3)
Several Chargers players were put on the Covid list late Thursday, so it is still questionable if this game is even played on time. The game was taken off the board, but we will use the (-3) that was left on the board.
Assuming the game is played, I really love the Chargers in this spot. They are much better than their record indicates. Simply, Justin Herbert has been fantastic. Herbert was named the October Offensive Rookie of the Month after posting historic numbers in just three starts. He recorded a 122.2 passer rating — the best in NFL history during October by a rookie with at least 50 passing attempts in the month. Herbert tossed at least three touchdowns in each game of October, totaling 10 touchdowns to one interception. The Chargers have four very winnable games coming up so a win against the Broncos can give them a shot to get back in the playoff race.
Also, the Broncos have just been decimated by injuries - they have a league leading 11 guys on the IR heading into Sunday's game.
While the Chargers have suffered injuries as well, they are starting to get back to full strength with star offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga and defensive end Melvin Ingram being full participants in practice for the first time in months. Drew Lock has not looked great since coming back from injury and now he will have to face a top tier pass rush and secondary.
Just a quick note as you will have to monitor this game right up until kick-off. But when the number gets posted again I would be comfortable with playing the Chargers down to -4.
The pick: Chargers first half ML and Chargers -3
New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears
Spread: New Orleans (-4.5)
This is a situation where we are betting the total based on the weather. There is going to be 20-25 mile an hour wind in Chicago on Sunday afternoon. This is a perfect situation where we are fading two bad passing teams in windy weather.
First off, Nick Foles can’t move the ball in normal circumstances. Foles has graded as the 31st ranked quarterback since being named the Bears starter after Week 3. This season Foles is completing 63 percent of his passes, has a 1:1 TD to interception ratio, 50.0 QBR, and is averaging just 5.9 yards per attempt. Now you are going to have Nick Foles, who loves to throw deep, chucking complete ducks in 20 mile hour wind. The Bears offense ranked 26th in defensive DVOA. The Saints defense has been bad, but I’m not sure if this Bears offense can challenge anyone. They don’t have a running game, and the Saints are getting healthy bodies back on defense.
Speaking of which, this is kind of a pride game of New Orleans secondary, a group which has been a liability to the team's defense. We get a bounce back from Marshon Lattimore who typically plays better against bigger receivers like Allen Robinson.
On the other side the Bears rank sixth in defensive DVOA. With the conditions, expect a conservative offensive game plan from the Saints offense. They do not want Drew Brees' noodle arm to be throwing many passes during Sunday’s conditions.
Expect Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray to carry the offense this week. I know betting unders suck, but this is a good situation for it.
This is a low total but I’m confident these two teams will stay under it.
The pick: Under 43.5
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
Spread: Seattle (-3)
This is not going where you think it's going to go. I have consistently labeled this Seahawks team as fraudulent. We have proven that by profiting while betting against them the last few weeks. Well after their Sunday night loss against Arizona, everyone is starting to catch the same stench.
So what are we going to do? The exact opposite, by hopping on the Seahawks bandwagon for this week.
This is how betting in the NFL works folks, we look for value and the Seahawks are significantly undervalued here. This is a classic buy low-market scenario where we are taking Seattle at its lowest point, and selling 49ers at his high point after two big wins. Last week, Seattle closed as a 3.5 point favorite on the road to a Cardinals team that beat a fully healthy 49ers team in San Francisco. Seattle lost Sunday in overtime where they had a double digit lead at one point, and Russell Wilson had a uncharacteristic performance throwing three interceptions. I think the Seahawks have a great chance to be successful once again against this banged up 49ers defense.
Meanwhile, the 49ers offense will also be missing a few key pieces with wide receiver Deebo Samuel and running back Jeffrey Wilson out for the game. We’ve mentioned plenty of times that Seattle's defense has been horrible. It’s ironic, Seattle is good at the two main things the 49ers want to do - get the ball to George Kittle and run the ball. Seattle has been exceptional defending both categories ranking eighth in the NFL in opposing tight end receiving yards, and seventh in yards per rush. I’m sure Kyle Shanahan will find a way to put up points, but this will be the best matchup for Seattle’s defense has all year.
On the other side, Wilson has historically dominated the 49ers going 10-4 ATS in his career, the best ATS record for any QB against any single team in league history. The Seattle offense has been unstoppable this year ranking in the top three in every important analytical category. With tough games on the road against Buffalo and the Rams up next, this is a game Pete Carroll knows he can’t lose. Look for Seattle to rely on Russ once again, and I trust the best QB in the league to come through for us.
The pick: Seattle (-3)
Bonus 10th pick: Two team 6 point Teaser -- Raiders +8.5 and Packers -0.5 pays -110.
The two team teaser is my favorite way to bet in the NFL and we really have not used in in the article enough. So we will feature a two team teaser with the Raiders and the Packers. We are going to tease the Raiders +2.5 up to +8.5 and the Packers down from -6.5 to -0.5. We explained the Raiders pick at the top and I like the Packers to win at home against the Vikings.
In this teaser we are passing through the key numbers of 2 and 7 on both sides which makes this a positive EV bet.
Remember, if you're going to wager on these games or any others, make sure to use MyBookie. Put in the promo code "TORRES" at checkout, and you automatically receive a 100 percent sign-up bonus.