Week 8 NFL Betting Picks: Game and Team Totals
After another 3-1 Week 7, I'm 21-15 in this space (58%) for the season. If you're not in our discord, you really need to fix that asap. I posted a play on the Thursday night under, and we're heading into the weekend 1-0.
Handicapping NFL sides and totals is not a perfect science, though it does get easier to navigate as the season moves along. The more we can contextualize the data we have and adjust it for the situation and opponent, the better. I have more conviction in using in-season data to make decisions now, and that pool gets deeper with each passing week.
The market was slow to adjust to the scoring spike in the first three weeks, but the season of 'overs or nothing' is behind us. Week 8 appears to be the first week where weather will play a factor in multiple spots, but I'm not going to pretend to be Al Roker before Sunday, and neither should you.
Let's dig into this week's picks.
Tennessee Titans @ Cincinnati Bengals - Over 51 (PointsBet)
I saw this posted at 55 on Sunday night and thought, that's too low. It dropped to 54.5 pretty quickly, and I jumped on it. Here we are now, it's plummeted four points, and it's 51 at nearly every book I see.
I don't see how these clubs slow each other down.
The Bengals' defense is abysmal. They're allowing the highest rate of explosive plays in the league, and they just traded away Carlos Dunlap, their best defensive player, this week. The Titans' offense plays fast and efficiently. They're third in situation-neutral pace, and even though they lean run-heavy, they push the pace with the second-highest no-huddle rate in the league. The Bengals like to press receivers at the line, but LeShaun Sims and Darius Phillips are giving up about four inches and 25 pounds on A.J. Brown. It's not going to end well.
On the other side, the Bengals are dealing with a ton of offensive line injuries, and I'm sure that combined with the chance of wind has driven this line down. Joe Burrow isn't suddenly playing behind a terrible offensive line. They've been a bottom-three unit all season long. Despite that, Burrow leads the league in dropbacks, averaging 303 yards and 7.7 yards-per-attempt over the past five weeks. The Titans have the lowest adjusted-sack rate in the league and might be without Jadaveon Clowney this week. They're not built to take advantage of the Bengals' biggest weakness.
These two clubs are both top-eight in situation neutral pace. Titans games are averaging the eighth-most combined plays, Bengals the fourth most. They'll be a ton of play volume here and well over 50 points.
Los Angeles Chargers - Over 23.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
The Chargers are playing significantly faster than they have over the past few years. I'm not sure if this is Justin Herbert-driven or if perhaps they were playing slow because of Philip Rivers' preferences, but it's time to adjust our priors on the Chargers.
The Broncos are a slightly above-average defense, but not something that should be feared. If the Chargers can muster up a running game good enough to sustain drives, the Chargers will cruise and blow over this number. Even if they aren't successful on the ground, I believe Herbert-to-Allen and Herbert-to-Henry will be fruitful enough to get the Chargers to 24-27 points.
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks - Over 53.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Seattle Seahawks' games combine for the highest average of total plays in the league. Their efficient pass-centric offense forces teams to throw more often to keep up, and it creates a game environment that's conducive to scoring. Two Seahawks' games have gone under the total, each by one point. In their other games, they cleared the total by 13.5, 20, 11, and 15.5. These clubs have gone over the total in four straight matchups and, the late line movement has brought this under the key number 54. I'm confident that this will make it five straight.
Chicago Bears - Under 19.5 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
The Bears offense is uninspiring. That's the nicest thing I can say about them. They're 26th in offensive DVOA, which is right in line with their yards per drive (27th) and points per drive rank (25th). Even with the surprising news that Allen Robinson will be active after not practicing all week, the Bears will struggle to sustain drives against the Saints' top tier rushing defense. According to Football Outsiders, David Montgomery ranks 29th out of 31 qualifying backs in rushing success rate on the season. With 25 mph winds in the forecast, Nick Foles will be hard-pressed to lead the Bears to 17 points.