Every Monday during the NFL season, I’ll be comparing game spreads to my own power ratings and giving my perspective on whether I think the betting lines are accurate or not. Paying attention to the NFL market is one of the single most important aspects of successful wagering. With all the variance and volatility of pro football, placing a bet on the most advantageous side of a number is often the only difference between a winning or losing ticket.
All lines are consensus numbers across the U.S. Sportsbooks as of Monday morning. Some may not be out yet. Early lines that stick out as great early bets are highlighted in red.
Baltimore Ravens at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1), Total: 43.5
You could argue despite being the road team, the Ravens should be favored by more than a single point. I have this game as Ravens -1.5. We need to give some respect to a desperate Tampa Bay Buccaneers team at home. But Tom Brady’s squad is experiencing some real challenges.
From the outside looking in, it looks like Tampa’s troubles are a leadership problem. I never thought Bruce Arians was an exceptional coach. But Brady’s half-committed approach this season probably isn’t helping Todd Bowles acclimate into his new leadership role. He needs a focused Brady to command and damn-near coach the offense with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.
I doubt Bowles is bringing anything special to the offensive side of their game plan. The Bucs are just too talented to keep performing at the level we’re seeing, and there’s a chance we’ll see it all come together this weekend. I’m just not eager to bet more of my hard-earned money on it.
The Ravens escaped a close game against the Cleveland Browns at home, but I didn’t leave impressed by anything they did. The Browns out-gained them by nearly 100 yards. I have no strong thoughts on this game. The line and total make sense, and these two teams are hard to trust.
Denver Broncos at Jacksonville Jaguars (-4), Total: 40
Fellow co-heads of betting Ryan Reynolds and I both liked the Jaguars in Week 7, underestimating our New York Giants once again. But that marks three straight losses for the Jaguars. I have this line as Jaguars -2.5, so I show some value on the Denver Broncos.
Russell Wilson sat on the sidelines and watched his Broncos suffer through another loss at home against the New York Jets. Backup quarterback Brett Rypien wasn’t too sharp, throwing 24 completions on 46 attempts and one interception. Wilson nearly suited up in Week 7, so he should be back for this contest. Whether that makes a difference or not in your power ratings is up to you, but I think he still demands some value. His experience and big-play ability are still advantageous even if he hasn’t seemed like much of a difference-maker in six starts.
The Jaguars played well against the New York Giants, totaling 452 yards and earning 27 first downs. However, the Jaguars’ defense couldn’t limit Daniel Jones and a versatile New York offense. Denver has a significantly better defense, but I’d give an obvious edge to Jacksonville’s offense. This is a tough game to pick a side for, especially since it’s in London. Since we handicapped this as a closer game, the value is on Denver early.
New England Patriots at New York Jets (+1.5), Total: 41
I have this as Jets -1, but I could have gone either way. This line sits where it is because the Patriots are finding their form thanks to their defense stepping up. Combine that with how stingy the Jets’ defense is playing, and we should consider a wager on the under. I’m unsure if I’ll have a play on the side here.
These two teams are built similarly– inexperienced quarterbacks, formidable run games and defense-oriented coaches. We’ll investigate this game and look for edges more as the week progresses. For now, I show a little value on the Jets at home.
Miami Dolphins at Detroit Lions (+3), Total: 50
I have this as Lions +2.5. Motown’s team was completely overwhelmed by the Dallas Cowboys’ defense in Week 7. Although they could move the ball occasionally, the Lions committed five turnovers, Jared Goff was sacked five times and their offense put up only six points. Coming off a bye week, that’s a really, really disappointing performance from coach Dan Campbell and his team. The 2022 Hard Knocks squad is now 1-5 and right back in a position that many of us thought we wouldn’t see this year. Through seven weeks, they’re one of the worst teams in football.
The Dolphins finally got right against the Steelers, winning a close game at home in a defensive battle. Tua Tagovailoa returned and played okay. Ultimately Miami’s mistake-free football was the difference. Nothing was exceptional about their victory, though. The Dolphins’ defense still has flaws, and this is a nice spot for the Lions to play better football at home. Regardless, how can I trust Detroit? And in the same tone, can we trust the Dolphins to go on the road and cover this line? Meh. I’ll probably pass on this contest.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles (-10.5), Total: 44
The Steelers are struggling on offense and fresh off a road loss on Sunday Night Football. They now head for the battle of Pennsylvania in Week 8. The Philadelphia Eagles are coming off a bye, but I might be one of the only bettors in the world who doesn’t value Philly as high as others. Obviously, the Eagles are a damn good team this year, and they’re 6-0 for a reason. But, I’m just not sure their offense is sustainable.
The Steelers’ defense played better against the Dolphins, and I could see them being scrappy in this showdown. Kenny Pickett is making too many mistakes, but he’s young and green. I still see plenty of upside in the kid. I have the Eagles as 8-point favorites, so call me crazy, but I have shown value on the road team in this spot. Yikes! Even though that’s true, I didn’t red-ink this game because I think it’s entirely plausible the Eagles smash the Steelers at home. For now, it’s just a lean toward the Steelers for me.
Las Vegas Raiders at New Orleans Saints (+2), Total: 47.5
I have this as Saints +1.5. The Raiders were impressive Sunday, putting up 400 yards and 38 points at home against a Houston Texans defense that doesn’t get punked very often. Vegas’ defense still has plenty of room to improve. The Saints almost came back against the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night. But their defense was a liability for 60 minutes.
They’ll need to correct that against Vegas. Since this could be the return of Jameis Winston and the Saints are at home, I give them a little more credit than the oddsmakers. Overall, I don’t show strong enough value in either direction. Although, we’ll likely see plenty of points in this battle.
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-6.5), Total: 41
The Falcons finally tripped up and didn’t cover against the spread (ATS) in Week 7. The Bengals, who look to be rounding into form, dominated the Falcons Sunday. Atlanta’s offense was stifled for the first time all year, and I think that could happen again in Week 8. My power ratings have the Falcons as 4-point favorites in this spot, which shows significant value on Carolina.
The Panthers are fresh off a massive upset of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Carolina’s defense was the biggest part of that victory. Brady and the Bucs’ offense just couldn’t move the ball against Carolina. The Panthers’ defense has a few top-10 marks (opponent yards per rush, opponent yards per pass, opponent red zone performance), which speaks to their bend-don’t-break mentality.
I just don’t think the Falcons are ready to be this much of a favorite. My strong lean is on Carolina.
Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings (-4), Total: 48.5
Initially, this game came out as Vikings -6, and I was ready to scream fake news from the rooftops. I have this as Vikings -3, so I still show value on the Cardinals. The Vikings will be coming off a bye, but the Cardinals are coming off 10 days of rest after playing and winning on Thursday night, and that was by far their best offensive performance of the year.
They allowed the Saints to gain nearly 500 yards, that’s obviously not good, but much of that was in response to Arizona’s 28 first-half points. The Saints were catching up all game. Kyler Murray was efficient, and the Cardinals finally had a good performance from one of their running backs. Eno Benjamin, a third-year pro, looked explosive in 12 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown.
The Vikings were grossly outgained in their Week 6 road win, and their defense has many holes. In that regard, the total isn’t high enough. I have this total at 53 points. I also think the Cardinals could win this game. I show value on a feisty road team looking to retain some momentum.
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (+3.5), Total: 41
The always-gritty Titans continue to find ways to win games. They earned their fourth straight victory Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. Even though they were slightly outgained, Derrick Henry ran for 128 yards, and the Titans simply played a cleaner game.
The Raiders bested the Texans in a tough road spot, but I like them to respond in this showdown. If you look back on the last few seasons, Houston almost always plays the Titans closely. And it makes sense, doesn’t it? Tennessee doesn’t “wow opposing defenses with explosive plays; they win because of disciplined football and great coaching. Lovie Smith and the Texans can compete with teams like that, and I have the Texans as merely three-point dogs at home.
Showing little value on Houston and getting over a field goal, I may pull the trigger and wager on the Texans before the day ends. We also may get a chance to “middle,” meaning we can take both sides if the line moves down to Titans -2.5.
New York Giants at Seattle Seahawks (-3), Total: 46.5
How can I keep betting against my Giants? I’ll probably avoid betting on this game, but I think the line is correct. The Seahawks are shocking the world seemingly every week, playing exceptionally well on offense and improving steadily on defense. On the road, they beat the Los Angeles Chargers in a 37-23 butt-whooping on Sunday.
And it’s not fake news; they outgained the Chargers 404-329 in total yards, earned three more first downs, controlled time of possession and were more effective on third down.
Meanwhile, the Giants just keep winning, too. New York’s schtick is to come alive in the second half and fourth quarter, and that’s exactly what they did on the road again Sunday. Out-scoring Jacksonville 10-0 in the final 15 minutes of play, the Giants came up with big play after big play on their final two drives.
Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley totaled more than 200 yards rushing for the second time this season. The Giants have only turned it over one time in the last three weeks. New coach Brian Daboll’s team continues to play clean, efficient football, and it’ll be a battle between two premier coaches in this Week 8 contest. This is probably a better one to sit back and watch– everything about the lines looks right.
Washington Commanders at Indianapolis Colts (-4), Total: 41
Do the Colts deserve to be four-point favorites here? Maybe. I show them as -3.5 favorites, which is due to their inconsistent nature. At home, they’re more likely to respond and play better football (they’re 2-1 ATS and straight up at Lucas Oil Stadium). But they didn’t look great against Tennessee. Opting only to run the ball 17 times Sunday, too much was put on Matt Ryan (again). It led to a clumsy offensive performance and three ill-timed turnovers, one of which was converted into a Titans’ touchdown.
In any case, the Colts’ defense is playing well, and this is a tough spot for Taylor Heinicke and a Commanders’ offense that looked pretty good Sunday against the Packers. I don’t know if we can count on Washington’s offense to perform consistently well, but they certainly got a boost from Heinicke.
He’s just more decisive than Carson Wentz. The Commanders leaned on a dynamic run game, which included 38 rushes for 166 yards, to be exact. But the Colts only allow 4.1 yards per rush, good for fourth in the NFL. I slightly lean toward the Colts here, even at my -3.5 line, because of the spot. For now, there’s nothing I would wager on.
San Fransico 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (+2), Total: 41
The 49ers were well-positioned to win at home against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. That didn’t happen. Instead, an angry Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense dominated, putting up 44 points on San Francisco’s vaunted defense. That’s a genuine concern since Nick Bosa, and many of the Niners’ defensive stars returned in Week 7.
The Rams are coming off a bye week, and they have revenge on their mind. For that reason, I have this game as a pick-em (meaning neither team is the favorite). Jimmy Garaoppolo can get the job done as the 49ers’ starting quarterback, but lately, he’s been a liability. The statistics look fine, but Garoppolo has looked shaky and off-target in crucial situations.
Rams coach Sean McVay hasn’t been perfect after a bye week, and the Rams haven’t had much offense to speak of. But, this is a beautiful setup for the Rams against their arch-enemy. They’re at home with extra rest, and shockingly, they need to catch the Seattle Seahawks, the #1 team in the NFC West. I show value on Los Angeles in what feels like an opportunity for them to turn around their season.
Green Bay Packers at Buffalo Bills (-10.5), Total: 47
Sunday Night Football game in Week 8 is highlighted by two teams most of us thought would look elite at this juncture. Only one has lived up to expectations. The Packers dropped their third game in a row Sunday against the Washington Commanders. This time it was underwhelming performances from both Packers’ units. The Commanders gained 130 more total yards than Green Bay, controlled time of possession and Heinicke made the right plays when he needed to (not Aaron Rodgers).
Green Bay’s road to redemption won’t get any easier in Week 8. So far, the Bills have looked like a juggernaut at home, demolishing teams by a margin of 79-10 in two games at Orchard Park.
The Bills have two weeks to prepare for Rodgers and a struggling Packers offense. Still, Rodgers has never been a double-digit underdog in his career. Do the Packers deserve to be double-digit underdogs? Yes. They look disjointed in numerous areas, and besides a stellar showing against the Bucs on the road in Week 3, they haven’t played a complete game. On a neutral field with equal time to prepare, I have the Bills as 7-point favorites. This line is right, and I would not be shocked if Buffalo blew out the fledgling Packers.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (+3), Total: 47
Next week’s Monday night game is a good divisional battle, and I have the line exactly where it sits. Taking a road favorite is always tricky, but the Bengals are rounding into form, and I think it’s time to take notice. Meanwhile, I think we can all count on Jacoby Brissett making a few egregious mistakes in every game, whether it’s an interception, a bad sack or an ill-timed throw late in the contest. He’s played well as the Browns’ backup quarterback, but his limitations show in high-pressure moments.
Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ offense are showing none of these signs right now. In the last two weeks, Burrow has completed 62-of-79 (78%) passes for 781 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions. In case you haven’t noticed, the Browns’ pass defense has been horrendous.
They allow 7.1 yards per pass, a mark that’s 24th in the NFL, and they’re averaging an interception on less than 1% of their opposing quarterback’s throws (0.97%, 29th in the league). I need to respect the spot, which is better for Cleveland since they’re getting desperate at 2-5, and they’re at home. But at the end of the day, I have a strong lean on the Bengals. I don’t see how Cleveland can keep up.
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