Last week’s column wasn’t great to say the least. We went 1-4 and while we blamed bad beats the week before, I couldn’t say the same this time around. We were never really in any of the games, but I vow to do better. It’s time to bounce back. I got two totals and four sides to preview. So let’s get down to it.
Now, to Week 8!
Chicago at Dallas
Spread: Dallas (-10.5)
The Bears had their best showing of the Justin Fields era on Monday Night Football this week. Chicago ran for over 243 yards and Fields did his job throwing for 174 yards, averaging 7.4 yards per attempt. The Bears got a good win on the road as a seven-and-a-half point underdog.
They have a taller task ahead of them against Dallas. Dak Prescott was back, but hardly great last week. Dallas was able to get to 5.6 yards per play against the Lions. Which is right below average. But when you consider the Lions rank 31st in defensive DVOA, that’s not the best showing. Dallas continued to struggle on third down on Sunday and went 3-9. It wasn’t like they were in third and longs all day. They struggled to run the ball and convert on third and three or less four times. The Bears have struggled to get teams off the field on third down on the defensive end, so we will see what that changes.
Let’s really dive into the line here. Styles make fights. The Bears found a formula to move the ball against New England. They spread teams out, they run the football, use Field’s legs, and they pass on play action. That’s how you move the ball against Dallas. Dallas is the best defense against drop back passes. They rank second in pressure rate and first in adjusted sack percentage. But they rank 12th in DVOA against the run and they are vulnerable against a team that can implement a good screen game. The Bears are running a difference offense than they did at the beginning of the year. They are using Fields in the running game, they are playing a lot more than 10 personnel spreading linebackers out to open up the box.
On the other hand, I just don’t think Dallas’s offense is in a position to be a double digit favorite yet. Three out of the four Bears losses have come by one possession. While I don’t see them winning outright, they keep things close here. With a total of just 42.5 I’m going to ride with the 10 point underdog.
The pick: Chicago (+10.5)
Miami at Detroit
Spread: Miami (-3.5)
This is a game where we are going to pin two false narratives against each other. The betting public’s consensus is the Miami defense is good and Detroit's offense is bad.
In this case it’s the exact opposite.
Detroit ranks fourth in yards per play. They play at an above average pace. Jared Goff is throwing the ball. They get better every week. Miami ranks 20th in defensive DVOA and 25th in pass DVOA. Detroit plays a lot better when they are at Ford Field.
On the other side, Detroit can’t really stop anyone. They rank 31st in defensive DVOA. Two of their top defensive players are out with free safety Deshion Elliot sidelined and Charles Harris down as well. Miami’s offense ranks sixth in DVOA and they have guys that can score anywhere on the field.
NFL scoring has been down this year. But this is the game that has the offensive explosion. We have been really good on totals this year, and this one soars over.
The pick: Miami/Detroit over 51.5
Arizona at Minnesota
Spread: Minnesota (-3.5)
Here is my take, the Vikings are frauds at 5-1. Outside of the Bills and Chiefs there aren’t any other great teams, just a lot of good ones. Even at 5-1 I’m not sure the Vikings categorize as one. Despite the 5-1 record, the Vikings have been outgained by over 200 yards. They are allowing over 6.0 yards per play on the defensive end. and have won their past four games by one possession.
The Cardinals are going to be one of their tougher tests the rest of the way. The Vikings rank 31st in pass defense DVOA and Arizona's offense excels against zone defenses which Minnesota runs nearly 80 percent of the time. The Cardinals have been abnormally better on the road going 10-2 straight up in their last 12 road games.
This is a must win spot for Arizona who is one game back of Seattle for first place in a wide open NFC West.
I’ll take Arizona plus the field goal here.
The pick: Arizona +3.5
New England at New York
Spread: New England (-2.5)
When betting, I always like taking a team which coming off an embarrassing loss in primetime the week before. New England got embarrassed by Chicago last week. However, New England’s defensive unit still ranks 9th in defensive DVOA.
The Jets are dealing with injuries on the offensive side of the ball. Breece Hall is out and wide receiver Corey Davis is out. Now they are dealing with injuries on the offensive line.
New England ranks seveth in pressure rate and we know Bill Belichick dominates young quarterbacks. Zach Wilson is rated as one of the lower-rated starters in the league.
The Pats may be the play here, but I will take the under. We are going to see two teams that are going to run the ball and play extremely slow. Three of the last four Jets games have gone under. We get a low scoring game on Sunday.
The Pick: Under 40
San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams
Spread: San Francisco (-1)
The style makes the fights in the NFL. The 49ers simply matchup well against Los Angeles. Over the past four seasons, San Francisco has gone 7-1 vs. LA (8-0 against the spread), with its loss coming in last year’s NFC title game at SoFi, 20-17, as a 3.5-point dog.
And even in the NFC Championship game, San Francisco controlled that game. The 49ers are coming off back to back losses. But they are getting healthier, with Nick Bosa will be back in the lineup. Trent Williams will be back at left tackle. New addition Christian McCaffery has time to get used to the offense.
On the other side, the Rams have struggled to move the ball. They rank 26th in offensive DVOA and haven’t beaten a team that ranks in top 10 in pressure rate. The 49ers defense ranks 3rd in defensive DVOA. They still are dealing with injuries on the offensive line. I’ll take out the 49ers to continue to dominate this matchup.
The pick: San Francisco (-1)
Green Bay at Buffalo
Spread: Buffalo (-11)
Buffalo, which was a 3.5-point favorite in a summer look ahead line, is now giving as many as 12 points to Green Bay in Week 8. This is still going to be a fun primetime matchup to watch. Green Bay’s offense and defense has not lived up to expectations while the Bills are playing on a different planet than anyone else.
Meanwhile, the Bills rank first in scoring defense and second in scoring offense. The Packers rank 26th in total offense and 14th in total defense. Green Bay will be playing strength on strength against Buffalo’s defense. The Packers are 11th against the pass and 31st against the run. The Bills running game is non-existent but Allen’s been the best QB in the league by such a large margin, it doesn’t really matter.
The matchup I will be looking at is Jaire Alexander against Stefon Diggs. Both guys are among the best at their positions. Diggs has been unstoppable all season. If Alexander can limit Diggs, the Packers will have a route to success. Offensively, Green Bay needs to put it together. Rodgers doesn’t trust any of his offensive weapons aside from Aaron Jones. Packer receivers averaged an absurd low 2.9 yards per route against Washington. Getting the ball out quick is the ideal way to move the ball against Buffalo’s defense.
That’s something Rodgers has been good at his entire career. This game can serve as a turning point for the Packer’s season. I’m willing to buy low on Aaron Rodgers here.
The pick: Packers (+11)
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