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Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS
NFL Week 8 Betting Angles
Last week's piece had another solid showing as divisional home teams went 4-3 straight up to push that run to 16-7 SU since the start of Week 2.
Even in those three outright losses, the Bengals and Jets managed to get against the spread wins, for those bettors interested in taking the points instead with those home underdogs, as 'dogs in general in those division games in Week 7 finished with a 5-2 ATS record with Washington closing as the favorite.
There are a bunch more divisional matchups in Week 8, and some of them could be considered “Game of the Week” type candidates with the likes of Pittsburgh-Baltimore, and San Francisco-Seattle likely to get plenty of attention.
Those runs in division games that I outlined last week are definitely something to keep in the back of your mind as the Week 8 board gets broken down, but this week's piece shifts slightly away from that for one, and rehashes an even older run I mentioned a few weeks ago that continues to pay off.
Since the start of Week 5, NFL underdogs in non-division Conference games are 11-4 ATS overall, including 8-2 ATS the last two weeks.
This run may have hit its peak in Week 6 with 'dogs going 6-0 ATS when the following underdogs connected:
Denver (at New England)
Chicago (at Carolina)
Atlanta (at Minnesota)
Cincinnati (at Indianapolis)
Tampa Bay (vs. Green Bay)
Arizona (at Dallas)
Things were brought back down to earth in Week 7 with a 2-2 ATS mark for the underdogs in that scenario (Pittsburgh, Detroit, Jacksonville and Chicago), but considering the games that are on the docket in Week 8 that fit into this situation, there are some interesting handicapping questions for every bettor to work through.
Who Do You Follow?
The Week 8 non-division Conference underdogs that would be in this 'play on' spot are Cincinnati +5.5 (vs. Tennessee), Las Vegas +2.5 (at Cleveland), the New York Jets +19.5 (at Kansas City), Chicago +2.5 (vs. New Orleans), and the New York Giants (+10.5) vs Tampa Bay.
Now, it's understandable for most to want to have nothing to do with either of the New York squads right off the bat and I don't think anyone can blame you for not wanting to back the Jets or the Giants right now.
But those are still a lot of points to pass up in both of those games, as I do think the most likely result in the big picture is seeing at least one of those New York teams cover the number.
Who that ends up being is part of the fun of breaking down games each week, but with early support already showing on the Jets – that line opened up at +21 – and against the Giants – that line opened up at +9.5 – it appears as the early bettors in the marketplace prefer the much bigger cushion with the Jets against a KC team that's got a great chance to potentially be disinterested in being expected to win by 20+.
The other three teams are much more interesting though, with the Bears and Bengals coming in as home 'dogs.
After Chicago's rough offensive showing on MNF, I would expect that number to move against Chicago as the week goes on because that offense shouldn't be able to keep up with New Orleans, at least on paper. With the Saints having covered the last five head-to-head meetings with Chicago – including a 36-25 win in Chicago last year – any Bears support is probably best to sit on until later in the week and the line reveals it's nature of movement.
Cincinnati and its defense is going to have to find an answer for stopping this Titans offense that just continues to put up points each week – they've averaged 34.4 points per game in their last five. But the Bengals have grown used to having a defense that has trouble stopping basically everyone – Cincinnati has allowed at least 23 points in all of their games since Week 2 – but they are still 5-1 ATS in that span.
The Bengals have made a conscious effort to make this year about developing the offense in Year 1 for rookie quarterback Joe Burrow and they'll figure out the defense later.
Even without this situational trend suggesting a play on the Bengals, it's teams like the Bengals that put the majority of their effort in on offense that can be a great bet when catching points.
NFL teams before a TNF (or scheduled TNF appearance) are now 2-10 SU on the year and 3-8-1 ATS
This is a run that's just continued on since I brought it up at the start of Week 5.
And after getting burned yet again by the Atlanta Falcons this past weekend (I've personally been on Atlanta vs Dallas, Chicago and now Detroit), and then seeing that the Falcons are up on TNF this week, I thought it best to put out this friendly reminder (for myself and others) to really think long and hard about backing these teams in this spot.
The Carolina Panthers are the Falcons opponent this week, and while Carolina did account for one of those three ATS wins when they covered vs New Orleans, they still found a way to lose outright.
2020 Thursday Night Football Schedule
I put in the “scheduled TNF appearance” because of what happened with the Chiefs/Bills game that was originally scheduled for a TNF appearance before virus issues pushed that game back to Monday.
Even still, the week before the Chiefs and Bills met, the Raiders upset the Chiefs as huge underdogs, and Buffalo got their doors blown off by the Titans. Those two results are included in that 2-10 SU run.
Who do you Fade?
And bringing up the reminder for this scenario this week is important because with Week 9's TNF game slated for Green Bay at San Francisco, we've got two high profile Week 8 games (Minnesota at Green Bay, SF at Seattle) where it's applicable.
Minnesota has not had this year go as planned, but they are coming off a bye week (extra prep time) and are a team that the majority of the marketplace has already written off. With Green Bay being one of the most popular selections across the board in Week 7 and cashing easily vs Houston, support for the Packers will likely be through the roof again this week.
But any team off a bye should always be considered at least a little dangerous from an ATS perspective, especially when it's a divisional opponent they know rather well.
It's also one of the ultimate “buy low, sell high” scenarios as buying low on the Vikings with the market perception being so negative on them, and selling high on a Packers team that just got the masses paid after a small setback in Tampa Bay. It really is tough to ignore getting that TD with a post-bye week Vikings squad.
Fading the 49ers as a small road 'dog should make many happy that they get to back QB Russell Wilson in that case, but as I talked about in this piece before the Arizona game, Seattle's still a bad team on 3rd down (AKA “the money down”) on both sides of the ball (5-for-13 on offense vs Arizona).
The 519 total yards Seattle's defense gave up put them in the NFL record books for the most yards allowed through six games in the history of the league (2,875), and if that's not the profile of a bad football team, I'm not sure what is.
The situation may favor a play on Seattle in this spot, but the blind spot in the market right now with many believing Seattle is actually a good football TEAM is something that's probably better to look to exploit rather than back.
Meaning as funny as this may sound, it's actually the 1-5 SU Minnesota Vikings that appear to be the much better bet than the 5-1 Seattle Seahawks.
Many won't agree with that and that's fine, I've got no problem letting the “One Man Army” that the Seahawks are with Russell Wilson continue to be overvalued.
I'm sure the band Our Lady Peace and their 90's hit “One Man Army" from my formative years would be proud of what they see in the Seahawks this year.
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