For The Win: Week 8 - Footballguys

NFL Picks Against the Las Vegas Lines

****CHANGE NOTICE****

Based on recent feedback, there will be some changes to this weekly column. Don’t worry, the picks will still be here – but hopefully these tweaks will make this column easier to understand and help every reader towards profits every week. So, here are the changes:

  1. Working under a “star”-less sky. Gone are the “stars”, since we all know what this column is about. Stars will be replaced by “units”. Everyone plays differently – and within reason and a budget – so unit values are different. One-star, two-star and three-star picks are now going to be one-, two- and three-unit plays. The more units, the more emphasis, weight and dollars that should be put on that play in a given week. More units = More $$$.
  2. Best Bets are now replaced by “This Week’s Plays”. Each week the best plays have been highlighted, but the number can vary each week. No need to declare one pick better or best, as the number of units on each play provides that information. The more units on a particular play, the higher the level of confidence with that selection.
  3. Picks of the Week – These will remain, but will now go at the end of the summary of each game, since they are the best picks against the spread for each week. These picks are likely to also reappear in “This Week’s Plays”, but may have different wagers / units for each pick.

That’s it. The rest stays the same – all games will be picked in the early portion of the column, but the clear goal of this article is to build that bankroll, adding more and more “units” each week. The article will still be picking all of the NFL games each week, but will also try and help some of you with some confidence and rankings of the selections - which also may assist those of you with Las Vegas trips. Games are rated based on preference for both the point spread and other angles (such as point totals, or Over/Unders) with 1-3 "Units", which basically highlight the best plays for the week. Those games which have zero units or no mention in “This Week’s Plays” are not preferred one way or the other, but will still be covered, discussed and a winner will be predicted to help those trying to get some advice for their weekly office pools or other contests that they may be participating in either this week or this season.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled picks.

What a streak we have going here! Even with hedging in Weeks 5 and 7, For the Win is winning over 72% every week for the past four weeks, and +100 “stars” in less than a month! Where else can you find a hot streak – documented, no less – for the NFL? Right here, and that is all that matters. Week 7 included another hedge posted on Twitter for 5.5 units just in case Atlanta faltered, but that insurance was not necessary. When it is going well, it is REALLY going well. Now, as mentioned last week, stay humble. Every week is a new week, and they all start at 0-0. Look for the right spots and stick to those games. That’s the plan. Let’s get started.

Note that the lines and Over/Unders are taken from VegasInsider.com.

BYE WEEKS: Tennessee, Los Angeles Chargers, Atlanta, Dallas

TEAMS RETURNING FROM A BYE: Green Bay, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Seattle

(Thursday) HOUSTON (-7 to 7.5) vs. MIAMI (Over/Under 44 to 44.5)
A short week for the Dolphins. Brock Osweiler at starting quarterback. No Kenny Stills. No Albert Wilson. DeVante Parker remains on the trading block. Three losses in their last four contests with a fortunate overtime win against Chicago in the middle of the last month after a surprising 3-0 start. This looks like the real Miami team, and heading to Houston with just a few days to rest and prepare sounds like a recipe for disaster. The Texans just went on the road to beat Jacksonville after surviving a scare against the Bills, but Houston is a team on the upswing while the Dolphins are not. That is enough evidence to side with the home team. PICK: Texans

(London, England) PHILADELPHIA (-3) vs. JACKSONVILLE (Over/Under 41.5 to 42)
Last week’s comments on the Jaguars apply once again here. How do the Jaguars score at this point? Carlos Hyde will be asked to do a ton of work, which is a heavy burden on him as the newest member of the team. Blake Bortles is apparently back as the starter, but Cody Kessler is splitting time with the first team in practice. Jacksonville is heading to their home away from home in London, but the Eagles have a larger following especially after winning the Super Bowl. This one could be sloppy, but the better quarterback and offense will be with the defending champions on Sunday. PICK: Eagles

BALTIMORE (-1.5 to 2) at CAROLINA (Over/Under 43 to 43.5)
This is a tough one. The Ravens held the Saints to 24 points last week and were one missed extra point away from tying the game and sending it to overtime. Carolina woke up in the fourth quarter in Philadelphia, rattling off 21 points in the fourth quarter to steal a win, 21-17 over the Eagles. If the Panthers were shut out by Philadelphia for 45+ minutes, what will Baltimore do? The Ravens were able to hold New Orleans to just 24 points, and the Saints are far better than the Panthers on offense. Plus, if this comes down to a kick, all the money on Justin Tucker this week. PICK: Ravens

KANSAS CITY (-10) vs. DENVER (Over/Under 55.5)
The Broncos are looking at this game as if it is their Super Bowl. That’s great motivation and preparation, but once kickoff comes and Kansas City starts rocking at home, the Chiefs are going to tear apart the Denver defense in several different ways. The Broncos became the first NFL team to give up two 200+ rushers in back-to-back games this year, so Kareem Hunt should have a big game. So should Patrick Mahomes II, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill…. Exactly how will Denver slow them down? The Broncos played a close contest with the Chiefs earlier this season, but that game was in Denver and the Kansas City offensive machine was just starting to get revved up. Look for the Chiefs to win going away once again. PICK: Chiefs

PITTSBURGH (-7.5 to 9) vs. CLEVELAND (Over/Under 50.5 to 51)
The Steelers are coming off of their bye week and get to play the Browns at home. Cleveland continues to suffer heartbreak in overtimes this year, and all of those extra snaps are going to add up soon. A rested team at home with a huge historical advantage takes care of Cleveland once again on Sunday. PICK: Steelers

DETROIT (-3) vs. SEATTLE (Over/Under 49 to 49.5)
At first, this game looked like a very close call. Seattle comes off of their bye after a win over Oakland in London, so the Seahawks are rested – but have they been tested yet? Their best efforts have all been in losses (at Denver, at Chicago, vs. Los Angeles Rams). Detroit has won three of their last four games and found their running game, thanks to Kerryon Johnson, who not only racked up 158 yards on just 19 carries against Miami last Sunday but has averaged over five yards per carry for the last five games for the Lions. Seattle is a Bottom 10 team in rushing yards against per game (120) and yards per carry (4.7), which means Detroit will run the ball all day on Seattle. That will pay off over the course of 60 minutes. PICK: Lions

CINCINNATI (-4.5 to 5) vs. TAMPA BAY (Over/Under 54)
Just two weeks ago, the Bengals were 4-1 and one of the top teams in the AFC. Two losses to New England and Kansas City has many wondering if the 4-3 Bengals are good enough or not to get to the playoffs this year, and the players are just itching for a chance to prove that they are. Tampa Bay has to head to “The Jungle” in Cincinnati after barely beating Cleveland at home in overtime – and that was after three consecutive losses. To put it simply, the Buccaneers are not good on defense, giving up 135 points in their last four games (nearly 34 points a contest). This is a “get right” game for Cincinnati, and they will take full advantage before their bye week. PICK: Bengals

CHICAGO (-7) vs. NEW YORK JETS (Over/Under 45.5 to 46)
The Bears were good enough to beat New England at home last week if it were not for two special teams touchdowns by the Patriots. Despite those 14 points, Chicago fell about one yard short last week of tying the game and making a big statement that the Bears are for real. Now Chicago hosts the Jets and are favored by a touchdown. The Jets were just torn apart by Minnesota, a team that took full advantage of a very banged up New York squad. Chicago wraps their tour of the AFC this week and next (at Buffalo) before their bye, followed by eight weeks of NFC action. Chicago wants to erase that loss to New England by beating up on the rest of the AFC East, starting with the Jets. Look for the Bears to do just that and win going away by at least 10 points. PICK: Bears

WASHINGTON (-1) at NEW YORK GIANTS (Over/Under 42)
The NFC East is wide open, and somehow Washington is leading the division at 4-2 after surviving a close call at home over the Cowboys. While it is hard to say if Washington is really a playoff caliber team just yet, what is clear is that the Giants are not a good team and that their one win was more of an anomaly than anything else. Washington should move to 5-2 this week before the schedule starts to get a bit tougher in the second half of the season. PICK: Washington

INDIANAPOLIS (-3) at OAKLAND (Over/Under 49.5 to 50)
Quick – after Patrick Mahomes II, who has the most passing touchdowns this season? As you may have guessed (since this is a Colts discussion) the answer is Andrew Luck, and that is rather impressive given his dearth of receiving options. Speaking of thin receiver pools, the Raiders just traded away Amari Cooper to Dallas. That means the starters in Oakland are Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant. The Colts got back on the winning path last week with a blowout win over Buffalo, 37-5, where not only did Luck threw four touchdowns, but Marlon Mack scored twice with over 100 yards rushing. Indianapolis is favored to win this game for a reason, and there is little to like about Oakland’s chances on Sunday. PICK: Colts

ARIZONA (EVEN to -1) vs. SAN FRANCISCO (Over/Under 43 to 43.5)
The 49ers gave the Packers all they could handle last week in Lambeau, forcing Green Bay to have to score a final field goal to win at home, 33-30 on Monday Night Football. San Francisco seems to be getting better while the Cardinals are at or near the bottom of nearly every offensive team category. So why is Arizona even close to a favorite? The simple answer lies in what has happened since their ugly loss to Denver last Thursday. Gone is Mike McCoy as offensive coordinator, and now Byron Leftwich has elevated from quarterbacks coach to fill that role. Leftwich has recent history with the Cardinals, and teams have a tendency to rally around a coaching change that they either feel was necessary or favorable (or both). Arizona has a shot to get a victory here and head into their bye week win a good taste in their mouth. PICK: Cardinals

LOS ANGELES RAMS (-8.5 to 9) vs. GREEN BAY (Over/Under 56.5 to 57)
Los Angeles is one of the best teams in the league and they are mowing down the competition. Green Bay is not in that caliber as they have struggled recently with San Francisco at home and a loss at Detroit prior to last week’s bye. The Packers have not played a winning team for over a month and have also given up 29 or more points in 4 of their last 5 contests – with the fifth a shutout home win over Buffalo. The Rams could easily top 40 points here while Green Bay struggles to keep up on both sides of the ball. PICK: Rams

MINNESOTA (EVEN to -1) vs. NEW ORLEANS (Over/Under 52.5 to 53)
This game is being billed as a revenge game from last January, as Stefon Diggs scored a miraculous touchdown to beat the Saints in the final moments in the NFC playoffs. Is this really a revenge game, though? Sure, both teams are gunning for the playoffs again, and while New Orleans would love to win this one, of course so would the home town Vikings. Both offenses are scoring plenty of points, but the difference in this contest should come down to defense. The Saints nearly blew their win last week with another defensive breakdown against Baltimore, while the Vikings are the top team in the NFL on third down defense. That will be the difference, even with all of the weapons for Drew Brees. PICK: Vikings

(Monday) NEW ENGLAND (-13.5 to 14) at BUFFALO (Over/Under 49.5)
No need to dig in too deep here. New England is gearing up for yet another playoff run, while Buffalo is a complete mess once again. Most everyone will agree that New England should win this game going away – but the question is by how much when all is said and done? Can Buffalo cover that big point spread? The Patriots have scored 38+ points in the last four games in a row, while it is hard to imagine the Bills breaking 21. Simple math. PICK: Patriots

PICK(S) OF THE WEEK: Houston, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota/New Orleans (Over 52.5)

THIS WEEK'S PLAYS

The intent of this column is to give out not only the Plays for the Week in the NFL but also a rating of each one on a 1-3 Unit scale. The more units, the bigger the emphasis on that side of the game. (More units = More $$$).

Week 8 is going to be a tricky one – unless you happen upon a key stat. Fortunately, here it is:

Less than 20% of NFL games are decided by the point spread. That’s right, most of the time all you need to do is pick winners. In 2018, there have been 107 NFL Contests: 5 games tied/pushed against the point spread, 34 times the underdog team won outright and the favorite won (and covered) 48 times this year. That leaves only 20 games out of 107 where the point spread mattered (underdog failed to win, but won with the point spread added to their total). Striking out the five point spread ties, 20 of 102 is 19.6% of the games this year. Remarkably, this number is reasonably consistent (15-25% of the time point spreads matter). So why mention this stat? Six of the 14 games this week have teams with big favorites (7+ points). That may give many people some hesitation in making selections, but not when you consider that – on average – at least five of these teams will win and cover that touchdown or more spread. With that in mind, here are the big favorites to focus on for Week 8:

  • (Thursday) HOUSTON (-7) vs. MIAMI
  • KANSAS CITY (-10) vs. DENVER
  • PITTSBURGH (-7.5) vs. CLEVELAND
  • CINCINNATI (-4.5) vs. TAMPA BAY
  • CHICAGO (-7) vs. NEW YORK JETS
  • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-8.5) vs. GREEN BAY

* ONE UNIT PLAYS *

  • 6-POINT TEASER: KANSAS CITY (-4) vs. DENVER (Over 49.5)
  • MINNESOTA vs. NEW ORLEANS (Over 52.5)
  • 5-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (4.1-1 ODDS):
    • PITTSBURGH (-1.5) vs. CLEVELAND
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-1.5) vs. GREEN BAY
    • MINNESOTA vs. NEW ORLEANS (Over 46.5)
    • (Thursday) HOUSTON (-1) vs. MIAMI
    • KANSAS CITY (-4) vs. DENVER
  • 6-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (6.1-1 ODDS):
    • PITTSBURGH (-1.5) vs. CLEVELAND
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-1.5) vs. GREEN BAY
    • MINNESOTA vs. NEW ORLEANS (Over 46.5)
    • (Thursday) HOUSTON (-1) vs. MIAMI
    • KANSAS CITY (-4) vs. DENVER
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS vs. GREEN BAY (Over 50.5)
  • 7-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (8.9-1 ODDS):
    • PITTSBURGH (-1.5) vs. CLEVELAND
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-1.5) vs. GREEN BAY
    • MINNESOTA vs. NEW ORLEANS (Over 46.5)
    • (Thursday) HOUSTON (-1) vs. MIAMI
    • KANSAS CITY (-4) vs. DENVER
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS vs. GREEN BAY (Over 50.5)
    • KANSAS CITY vs. DENVER (Over 49.5)
  • 8-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (12.75-1 ODDS):
    • PITTSBURGH (-1.5) vs. CLEVELAND
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-1.5) vs. GREEN BAY
    • MINNESOTA vs. NEW ORLEANS (Over 46.5)
    • (Thursday) HOUSTON (-1) vs. MIAMI
    • KANSAS CITY (-4) vs. DENVER
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS vs. GREEN BAY (Over 50.5)
    • KANSAS CITY vs. DENVER (Over 49.5)
    • CHICAGO (-1) vs. NEW YORK JETS
  • 9-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (18.25-1 ODDS):
    • PITTSBURGH (-1.5) vs. CLEVELAND
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-1.5) vs. GREEN BAY
    • MINNESOTA vs. NEW ORLEANS (Over 46.5)
    • (Thursday) HOUSTON (-1) vs. MIAMI
    • KANSAS CITY (-4) vs. DENVER
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS vs. GREEN BAY (Over 50.5)
    • KANSAS CITY vs. DENVER (Over 49.5)
    • CHICAGO (-1) vs. NEW YORK JETS
    • CINCINNATI (+1.5) vs. TAMPA BAY

** TWO UNIT PLAYS **

  • 6-POINT TEASER: LOS ANGELES RAMS (-1.5) vs. GREEN BAY (Over 50.5)
  • 2-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER:
    • PITTSBURGH (-1.5) vs. CLEVELAND
    • MINNESOTA vs. NEW ORLEANS (Over 46.5)
  • 4-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (2.65-1 ODDS):
    • PITTSBURGH (-1.5) vs. CLEVELAND
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-1.5) vs. GREEN BAY
    • MINNESOTA vs. NEW ORLEANS (Over 46.5)
    • (Thursday) HOUSTON (-1) vs. MIAMI

*** THREE UNIT PLAYS ***

  • 2-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER:
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-1.5) vs. GREEN BAY
    • MINNESOTA vs. NEW ORLEANS (Over 46.5)
  • 3-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (9-5 ODDS):
    • PITTSBURGH (-1.5) vs. CLEVELAND
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-1.5) vs. GREEN BAY
    • MINNESOTA vs. NEW ORLEANS (Over 46.5)

RESULTS

Last Week

  • OVERALL: 8-5-1 (61.5%)
  • PICK(S) OF WEEK: 4-2 (66.7%)
  • WEEKLY TOP PLAYS: 32-11.5-1 (73.6%)

Season

  • OVERALL: 46-55-6 (45.5%)
  • PICK(S) OF WEEK: 21-21-2 (50%)
  • WEEKLY TOP PLAYS: 175.2-74-1 (70.3%)

Good luck this weekend!

Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com

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