The midway point of the season underscores the dawn a new era in the NFL – the trade deadline is both an active time and actually interesting for the first time ever perhaps. The last couple of years we’ve witnessed a handful of big moves such as Jay Ajayi to the Eagles. This time around Amari Cooper has already been dealt, and rumors swirl around the Raiders QB Derek Carr. The often discussed variance of the NFL reared its head Sunday in a way that could be described as tilting in the least. Across the betting and DFS industry, good process was shattered by bizarre sequences of events and unpredictable performances.
A quick look back
The Texans, who have allowed more QB hits than anyone else in the league by a wide margin, managed to square up against Jacksonville’s vaunted defense and star-studded defensive line and came away victorious. Not only were the Texans victorious, they completely stopped the Jags in what set up to be a bounce-back game for a team that has gone from contender to pretender in a matter of weeks.
The Eagles on which we took the money line, had a shutout going into the 4th quarter. Despite the home field advantage and win expectancy entirely in their favor, the Eagles managed to squander a 17 point lead. The Eagle’s didn’t just blow a 17 point shutout in the 4th quarter, they failed to score more than 17 points, so while they blew the spread, they were unable to hit the over as well.
Similar to the Eagles Baltimore entered the second half against the Saints leading and covering. Yet, Drew Brees was too much for a Raven’s defense that hadn’t allowed a second-half touchdown all season scoring two in the process of a comeback. Justin Tucker missed the extra point right before time expired failing to give the Ravens a chance to cover in overtime.
Last week’s best sweat was the Jets +4 at home against the Vikings. The Jets were 8-2 ATS as home dogs and spent the majority of the game covering. Something happened in the second half of these week 7 bets where the football Gods decided to change things up and flip the script. The Vikings ended up running away with this one, and we still didn’t hit the over.
Instead at least hitting our overs in this high-scoring era of football we head into week 8 needing to do better, and we will.
Games to Watch
Philly @ Jags (London)
I’m not typically here for the slop-fest that these London games can be but waking up early to watch football is never something I’ll complain about. This game won’t be one we can take too much away from with the travel, but it offers us a chance to scout both teams and enjoy what should be a good football game. The Eagles are a much better team as a whole, coming off a heart-wrenching loss themselves a week ago they look to get back on track against a reeling Jaguars team. The Jaguars are falling apart before our eyes less than a season removed from becoming everyone’s favorite darkhorse pick. That dominant defense that kept Blake Bortles afloat is so far from being decent they just got worked by the Texans. The Jaguars have historically fared well in London so is this the week they get things back on track. This sets up to be a must win game for two of last years playoff teams that have struggled to win consistently in 2018.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh / Denver at Kansas City
I’ve split these divisional showdowns into one write up because they could both end up being so one-sided that you need to bounce between the games – however, there is a lot on each of these teams to watch.
Each week feels like a Browns watch week – is this the week they figure it out? Against the Steelers probably not but this team has played Pittsburgh close the past couple of seasons and should make this an interesting game. Even if it isn’t close watching JuJu and Baker will be a lot of fun.
If this game is a blowout, you might want to watch Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. The Broncos might be worse than the Browns this year so while nobody expects them to keep this one close, there are few teams more fun to watch than the Chiefs. Kansas City has been playing better defense of late as well, molding them into a more dangerous contender each week.
Ravens at Panthers
This out of conference game might not jump off the page at first, but these are two teams each quietly fighting for a playoff spot behind the Steelers and Saints respectively. Each the Ravens and Panthers have shown why they should be taken seriously, but each has dropped a couple of games they’d rather have back. This should be one of the more evenly matched games on the day and will provide great football for anyone not interested in blowouts. This is also an excellent game to scout for bettors trying to get a feel for how to bet each of these teams.
Packers at Rams
It isn’t often that Aaron Rodgers is nearly a double-digit dog, but against this early Superbowl favorite Rams team, he certainly is. The Packers aren’t considered much of a threat outside of a gimpy Aaron Rodgers so it will be interesting to see how this team handles this football machine that is the Rams. The Rams were built to win this year, while the Packers have been built in a way that might get McCarthy fired if they don’t start producing wins with the best quarterback in football. Regardless of how close the Packers make it this will be a lot of fun to watch as two offenses tear up and down the field Sunday.
Saints at Vikings
Sunday night football has been great so far this season, and the NFL brings us a playoff rematch for our week 8 primetime viewing. The Saints return to the spot of their heartbreaking loss to Stefon Diggs and the Minnesota Vikings. Seemingly everything is on the line again as these two teams battle for position in the NFC standings.
Wagers and Props
When the process has worked over a long period of time rough weeks are not things to panic about. Last week put tilting variance on full display for sharps across both the gambling and DFS industry. Week 8 provides a much larger slate with better spots to take advantage of than the slate we had last week, so let’s cash in.
Washington -1.5 @ NYG
Some books have the Skins +1 and the money line in the – but wherever you’re betting the Redskins should have no issues covering this spread against a struggling Giants team. On paper, New York should be much more competitive, but after struggling to score points against a beat-up Falcons defense, it is difficult to fathom them holding their own against a much stronger defensive unit. Washington’s defensive line should man-handle the far inferior talent the Giants have protecting their trenches. Eli may be past his prime but it doesn’t really matter who plays under center for the Giants because the offensive line is so poor they can’t block anybody. Odell will be lined up against Josh Norman, so we’ll see if either player makes it through the game without being ejected. Alex Smith and the Reskins are coming off back to back strong wins and should keep rolling against a rebuilding team that just traded away two defensive starters.
Kansas City -10 vs. Denver
Recent history between these two teams in Kansas City has the Chiefs winning by double digits at home, a trend that began after Peyton Manning retired. This trend of double-digit home wins is likely to continue for the Chiefs as long as they have Patrick Mahomes under center. After playing the Chiefs close at home, the Broncos have gone on to look like a below average team outside of their matchup against the second-worst team in the league (Arizona). Since that Denver matchup, Kansas City has not only climbed the ranks defensively but completely jumped them. The Chiefs were a bottom-10 team in nearly all defensive metrics, now they rank in the middle of the pack. Average might not sound great but it is a vast improvement from where they began, and with an offense averaging over 30 points a game, an average defense is all you need. The Broncos come into this game with notable injuries in the secondary that may allow for an even easier day for Patrick Mahomes facing what has been outside of the Cardinals game an average pass defense. The Bronco’s rank 12th in SOS adjusted pass defense DVOA however they have faced opponents which have largely inflated those numbers. Look for Kansas City to stifle Denver in this one.
Packers @ Rams O57
You won’t catch me taking nine points against Aaron Rodgers, but I understand why the spread is what it is. That being said we know the Rams offense (averaging 33.6 PPG) can hit the over when facing good teams as they’ve shown against the Chargers, Vikings, and Seahawks, they just haven’t played many good teams. This week they get an effective Packers offense (6th ranked S.O.S. adjusted offensive DVOA) coming into town averaging 26 points per game int heir last three. With defense questionable on both sides of the ball I see the total hitting over 60, so I love the 56.7/57 line that is out at the moment. Good weather in California sets up for a fun game between two great offenses.
Vikings PK/+1 + O53
The Saints return to Minneapolis for a playoff revenge game and what might end up being a vital tiebreaker down the line. The Saints come into this game having just played a tough game against a Ravens team that held them under 25 points, a second straight tough road game favors the Vikings here. The Vikings get Everson Griffen back and are home dogs after a solid win over the Jets on the road. The Saints 22nd ranked strength of schedule adjusted pass defense DVOA is something Kirk Cousin’s and his plethora of weapons will enjoy taking advantage of. Brees and the Saints will keep the Saints in this game helping the total easily break the 53 mark it sits at now. The Vikings have hit a lot of unders at home this season playing against bad teams, but in their few matchups against contenders, the point total has gone above expectation. Get ready for a primetime showcase to remember as this sets up to be a classic high-scoring rematch with plenty on the line.
49ers +1 @ AZ
49ners are the better team with a better coach. I just don’t like Bethard against Patrick Peterson.
Carolina +2 vs. Ravens
Baltimore lost a tough game against the Saints and might be looking ahead to week 9 against the rival Steelers at home. Road favorites haven’t been kind this season either.
QB: Jamis Winston @ CIN | $6,000 DK
Two capable offenses averaging over 25 points per game square off against passing defenses in the bottom-12 for S.O.S. Adjusted DVOA – in other words, points will be had in this game, and they will be had most easily through the air. I can’t fault you for taking Dalton on Fanduel where these two are the same price and feel free to cross stack, a high-scoring game means points to be had. Winston picked up where Fitzmagic left off demonstrating that the new scheme behind this offense really is something special with all the weapons in it. The Bengals defense has come apart over the last few weeks and now faces a talent-rich Tampa Bay. Winston will carve up this secondary and that 6k DK pricetag is too good to be true.
RB: Rashaad Penny @ DET | $3,900 DK
The Lions rank 27th in strength of schedule adjusted run defense DVOA, and the Seahawks sans the Legion of Boom might actually be decent. This run focused offense is a split backfield, but Penny should see enough opportunity to pay off his sub-4k price tag. Penny had over 60 yards from scrimmage the last time out and should build on the production against a terrible Matt Patricia defense.
Chris Carson $4,300 DK if Penny doesn’t play
WR: Chris Godwin @ CIN | $4,500 DK
My favorite player to stack with Winston is the accending Chris Godwin for under 5k on DraftKings. Godwin has a favorable matchup against William Jackson and if he moves around Denard on the other side isn’t much better. Godwin hasn’t dropped a catch this year and has the 10th-best contested catch rate amongst wide receivers. Plays like Godwin and Penny aren’t pretty, but they allow you to play Todd Gurley.
TE: George Kittle @ AZ | $5,000 DK
Kittle offers a high floor at a price low enough to build around. Kittle is 5th in targets and receptions amongst tight ends, and third in yards. Kittle also has the highest endzone target rate (40%) amongst tight ends. Bethard is better than the average backup, but like most backups and young backups, he loves his tight ends. I’d feel confident in Kittle finishing as either the highest or second highest scoring tight end on the slate (Kelce).
DST: Chiefs vs DEN | $2,600 DK
The Chiefs are quietly becoming a good defense and should get you plenty of points Sunday forcing Case Keenum turnovers at Arrow Head. The price allows you to build a roster and Chiefs have been getting better defensively each week – most people just haven’t looked beyond on the Tom Brady shootout and the first couple of weeks.