Week 8 of the NFL season doesn’t feature a true marquee matchup, and it’s a slate of games that admittedly leaves a lot to be desired. Still, while this weekend’s schedule may not seem all that compelling, there are still plenty of intriguing lines that bettors should take a close look at.
Last week, the dogs were barking, as we saw seven underdogs cover the number, with six of them—the Cowboys, the Redskins, the Jets, the Bills, the Bengals and the Colts—winning outright.
This week, however, it looks like many of the favorites hold a distinct edge.
So which teams are worth backing? Here’s a look at the picks and predictions for every Week 8 game.
The Top Favorite Pick: Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5)
It seems like the Jets have spent this whole week defending their somewhat controversial win over the Patriots last week, instead of focusing their full attention on a very tough upcoming road game against a very strong and balanced Cincinnati team.
Yes, picking up a big win over division rival New England was huge, even if it did involve a rather suspect penalty which aided in the victory. However, you have to wonder just how much of a hangover effect New York will experience after such a big home win.
Now, the Jets have to go on the road and try to slow down a Cincinnati team that’s got plenty of momentum, following three straight wins.
Geno Smith has shown some flashes of tremendous potential so far during his rookie season, but he’s also made some head-scratching decisions which have really hurt his team. The Bengals secondary, which is allowing just 6.5 yards per pass, is a group that could force Geno into making some of those killer mistakes.
The Top Underdog Pick: Dallas Cowboys (+3)
On paper, the battle between the Lions and the Cowboys would seem to favor Detroit, as this will be the second straight home game for Detroit and the second straight road game for Dallas. However, this is a Cowboys team that looks like it’s playing with something to prove at this point in the season. They’re searching for a statement win that will show the rest of the league that they are indeed a true contender, and this is the type of game where they can get it.
ESPN has tried to manufacture drama this week and make this game about who the best wide receiver is: Calvin Johnson or Dez Bryant. But the reality is, this is a matchup that will ultimately come down to which quarterback steps up and produces the most big plays in the passing game, Tony Romo or Matt Stafford.
After seeing the way both have played and handled themselves so far this season, I’d rather trust Romo, who has looked outstanding this year.
Romo has dealt with plenty of criticism in the past, but it seems like he’s finally starting to turn the corner and become the true leader and upper-echelon passer he’s always had the potential to be. There’s no better way to prove that he’s taken the next step in his evolution than to go on the road and outduel a prolific passer like Stafford.
The Top Total Pick: Atlanta Falcons-Arizona Cardinals UNDER 45
Five of the six games Atlanta has played in this year have gone over the total. However, the Falcons matchup with the Cardinals seems to be a game that’s shaping up to be a low-scoring defensive battle.
Arizona’s defense, led by star difference-maker CB Patrick Peterson, is one of the most underrated units in the league. Peterson and the Cardinals defense should cause plenty of trouble for QB Matt Ryan and a banged-up Falcons offense.
On the flipside, Atlanta’s defense should be able to force turnover machine Carson Palmer into making some key mistakes. Plus, the Falcons should be able to keep the Cardinals’ nearly nonexistent rushing attack in check.
Predictions For Every Week 8 Game
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Spread: Carolina (-6.5)
Picks: Panthers (-6.5), OVER
Prediction: Carolina 27, Tampa Bay 17
San Francisco 49ers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Spread: San Francisco (-17)
Picks: 49ers (-17), UNDER
Prediction: San Francisco 31, Jacksonville 6
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs
Spread: Kansas City (-7.5)
Picks: Chiefs (-7.5), UNDER
Prediction: Kansas City 24, Cleveland 10
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
Spread: New England (-6.5)
Picks: Dolphins (+6.5), OVER
Prediction: New England 27, Miami 23
Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints
Spread: New Orleans (-12)
Picks: Saints (-12), UNDER
Prediction: New Orleans 31, Buffalo 13
Dallas Cowboys at Detroit Lions
Spread: Detroit (-3)
Picks: Cowboys (+3), OVER
Prediction: Dallas 35, Detroit 31
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Spread: Philadelphia (-5.5)
Picks: Giants (+5.5), OVER
Prediction: Philadelphia 31, New York 27
Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders
Spread: Pittsburgh (-3)
Picks: Raiders (+3), OVER
Prediction: Oakland 26, Pittsburgh 21
New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals
Spread: Cincinnati (-6.5)
Picks: Bengals (-6.5), OVER
Prediction: Cincinnati 31, New York 20
Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals
Spread: Arizona (-2.5)
Picks: Falcons (+2.5), UNDER
Prediction: Atlanta 23, Arizona 17
Washington Redskins at Denver Broncos
Spread: Denver (-13)
Picks: Redskins (+13), UNDER
Prediction: Denver 31, Washington 21
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Spread: Green Bay (-9)
Picks: Packers (-9), UNDER
Prediction: Green Bay 28, Minnesota 16
Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams
Spread: Seattle (-10.5)
Picks: Seahawks (-10.5), OVER
Prediction: Seattle 37, St. Louis 20
Note: All lines courtesy of Covers.com