Week 8 NFL Picks – TJ’s Weekly Picks Against the Spread

October 29, 2020

With the darkness and losses of the beginning of the season behind us, we truly turned the corner in Week 7 and will be back rolling Week 8. If you want to check out how Week 7 went, you can find the recap here.

This Weeks Betting Plays

MatchupBetting Play
Indianapolis Colts at Detroit LionsLions +3
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay PackersOver 51.5
Tennessee Titans at Cincinnati BengalsOver 52.5
Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland BrownsOver 51
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore RavensSteelers +4
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With no games currently in danger of being moved or cancelled, let’s get to our five NFL expert picks for Sunday. You will see a trend of bettors being slow to react to some of the atrocious defenses in the league, and bringing big value to some over plays.

Indianapolis Colts at Detroit Lions

Betting Play: Lions +3

1PM EST
Opening Line: Colts -3 and 51.5
Current Line: Colts -3 and 50

The Colts are a 4-2 team, but are not nearly as good as their record suggests. Their current defensive rankings are second in yardage allowed and fourth in scoring defense. Both of those figures will consistently dip for the remainder of the season as they move past the Charmin soft portion of their schedule. They have also been worse on the road, already losing in Cleveland and have a truly horrific loss in Jacksonville. The offense is extremely limited and can essentially only go as far as the running game takes them. Quarterback Philip Rivers is about ready to be put out to pasture and he is truly a liability. Any deficit late in a game will be essentially insurmountable with Rivers current skill set. It is a difficult pill for me to swallow why this team would be favored in any road game against a capable offense.

The Lions have righted their ship, winning two straight after a 1-3 start. The three losses came against good teams, ones with a combined 14-5 record. They also have just one loss by more than a single score, and have been a competitive team in all their games but one. The one they were not competitive was on the road against the best version of the Packer offense, and there is simply a vertical threat with that team that does not exist from the Colts.

The Lions offense is one that is capable, finding balance and will put up a solid number of points on anyone. They are averaging 28 per contest over their last four, and are finally utilizing D’andre Swift and have not even required a massive splash game from ace receiver Kenny Golladay. Golladay has been fantastic, he just hasn’t been called on for the big volume games we have become accustomed to. Jusst using that 28 point scoring average, if they score exactly that figure and pit it against the Colts outputs thus far this season, the 28 points would have a record of 3-2-1.

While the Lions aren’t built to completely shut down any offense, even one as one dimensional and limited as that of the Colts, they won’t get run through and they will score effectively. The wrong team is favored in this game and we should look for the Lions to get a home win. Take the points here.

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Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

Betting Play: Over 51.5

1PM EST
Opening Line: Packers -6.5 and 56
Current Line: Packers -7 and 51

This is a rematch from the Week 1 Packers beat down. The 43-34 final tells a story that the game was closer than it was, but the one thing we can be sure of, is points will continue to come. I am somewhat perplexed that this total would be moved downwards by bettors in such a fashion. I would have leaned over on the opening line, but we now have an exquisite value after the line movement.

The Vikings have allowed at least 23 points in every single game this season, and average allowing 32 points per game to their opponents. News flash: that defense is not getting any better. They will continue to be carved up by opposing passing games and are only somewhat better against opposing run games. Given the nature of their defense, the offense plays faster as well, and they aren’t controlling the clock with a lead as they prefer to do. They have scored 30 points in three of their six and we can expect them to have to try to keep pace once again.

The Packers offense is the side we can count on in this one. They have scored 30 or more points in five of six games, including that 43 point output against this same Vikings team already. Aaron Rodgers dropped 364 and 4 in that game and it is difficult to see what adjustments can be made to slow him at all. The cornerback play is simply beatable at a level that they will have no answer for Rodgers and Davante Adams. The Packers have also allowed at least 30 points in half their games this year, and Dalvin Cook should be able to exploit them throughout.

All in all, the total is a head scratcher as it sits and is an easy bet on the over.

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Tennessee Titans at Cincinnati Bengals

Betting Play: Over 52.5

1PM EST
Opening Line: Titans -3.5 and 56
Current Line: Titans -5.5 and 52.5

Moving one game past a total that makes little sense, we get to one that makes absolutely zero sense, and has been pushed in the wrong direction.

Starting with the Titans, who I expect to win the game, they have issues in coverage. For an elite team, their secondary get scorched and they allow competent passing attacks to rack up points on them. They have allowed at least 30 points four times this season and now get Burrow and the Bengals, who are accustomed to playing catch up and passing the rock with incredibly high volume. Derrick Henry will be able to do as he pleases carrying the ball against the Bengals, and the Titans should see just about all of their drives end in touchdowns. The Bengals are simply completely unequipped to stop a dominant running game.

On the Bengals defense, they have allowed every opponent to score at least 23 points since week 1 and are averaging allowing 28.6 per game in that span. It should certainly be noted that they have faced the high end rushing attack of Cleveland twice, and have allowed 35 and 37 points in those games. We should see a similar output from the Titans in this one. The Bengals remain a losing team, but a competitive one. Their 1-6 record has meant playing catch up in mist games, and high passing volume for Joe Burrow. This is the exact recipe for scoring on the Titans and exactly what we want in an over play.

This game is more likely to be in the 70s than in the 40s and the total is set so low, it is a must attack.

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Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns

Betting Play: Over 51

1PM EST
Opening Line: Browns -3.5 and 55.5
Current Line: Browns -2.5 and 51

Another game and another total moving in the extremely wrong direction. The Browns are not that different than the Seahawks or Cowboys, with the offensive output being the variable. All of these listed defenses are truly horrific, but it might be undersold how bad the Browns are on that side of the ball, given their 5-2 record. They have allowed at least 30 points in five of seven games, allow nearly 32 points per game and the only teams they have held under that threshold were the anemic Football Team and Colts. Even they mustered 20 and 23 points, respectively. The Browns know they have to outscore their opponents as opposed to holding them down, and have been able to do so when playing with a lead. They have scored at least 32 in five of seven games and are now welcoming a Raider team that has allowed at least 24 points in every single game and are allowing opponents to score 33 per contest. The Raiders have shown an ability to score in volume on the road, averaging 32 points in their three road affairs. That figure comes close to the 33.7 points per game the Browns score at home.

These are two teams that are no stranger to playing high scoring games this year, and neither has a relative strength to lean on for either defensive unit. We will get more of the same from these teams and the fact that this is another total that was bet so far downwards is indicative that the public is unwilling to embrace the new normal in the NFL for 2020. I too was slow to react, but have embraced the higher scoring league and horrendous defensive teams that simply don’t have the ability to slow the scoring paces of their opponents.

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Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

Betting Play: Steelers +4

1PM EST
Opening Line: Ravens -6.5 and 49
Current Line: Ravens -4 and 46.5

The 6-0 Steelers travel to Baltimore to try to keep this undefeated streak alive. I think this version of the Steelers matches up very well with the Ravens, and I think the biggest advantage comes on the defensive side of the ball. The Ravens offense generally hums when it is able to run the ball, either with Lamar Jackson or any of the running backs. The problem in this matchup is they run into a buzzsaw in the Steeler front. They, along with the Bucs are the league’s cream of the crop in rushing defense and the Steelers allow just under 69 yards per game. To put that in perspective, just two teams allow fewer than 88 per game and the league median allows 120 yards per game. This creates a real possibility, if not probability that the Steelers can force the Ravens into being a one dimensional passing offense, a situation in which Lamar Jackson has wilted in the early stages of his career. Any established lead the Steelers are able to get out to, may very well be an insurmountable one.

On the other side of the ball, I don’t expect the Steelers to be able to run the ball effectively either, but they are not a team that needs to. They have the best group of wide receivers in the NFL and are essentially matchup proof. Moreover, this isn’t an overall daunting matchup for passing games, as the Ravens are just in the middle of the pack in terms of passing yardage allowed, and I believe the Steelers will be able to sustain plenty of drives on the back of the passing game.

Highly notable is that since the Ravens Week 1 blowout of a flat Browns team, they have played just one team with a winning record, and were handled by the Chiefs 34-20. Their other opponents have a combined 6-20-1 record and it would appear the rest of league is beginning to figure out the Ravens offensive attack, at least at some level.

The four point line in this one is very wide and it intimates that the Ravens would be a one point favorite on a neutral field. I personally think the Steelers should be favored in this game and would deem them more likely to win, even on the road. Even if the Steelers lose a close game, getting four covers may outcomes but I think they are in play on the money line as well. Take the team that matches up better with the other in this rivalry game.

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TJ
TJ Calkins
TJ Calkins was raised in a gambling loving household. He knew how to handicap horse races and follow line movements well before his tenth birthday. While sports betting remained a passion into adulthood, poker and Daily Fantasy Sports also became passions and remain as such today.