We’re now at the middle point of the NFL season, which sounds ridiculous because it feels like the season just got started. 56 picks in and I’m still four games below .500. In other words, I’m the New Orleans Saints of sports betting. Or at least I think I am because I still see the Saints rebounding in the second half to win the NFC South and make a lot of noise in the playoffs. So like New Orleans, I’m going to take a week-by-week approach on these picks, beginning in Week 8 of the NFL season.
Seahawks at Panthers
Both teams were touted heavily in the early part of the season and yet here we are. I actually thought that early money would be on Carolina here, but it appears that the Seahawks are getting a lot of action. The line opened at -4 before being bet down to -3.5. Now it’s up to -5.5, which is all you need to know about where the money’s coming in. It’s still a tough game to pick but I’m riding on the Panthers to lose this game but make it close enough to score the cover.
Prediction: Seahawks 23, Panthers 20
Bears at Patriots
Yet another game that I saw differently. I thought the line for this game, which opened at -6.5 would be bet up to -7.5 or -8. Turns out, most books now have it at -6 for New England. The public must have a soft spot for the Chicago Bears, who are now coming off of two losses in their last three games. Even with the six points, I don’t trust Jay Cutler to come to New England and beat Tom Brady and the Patriots. The Bears will make it close for the public and the books, but this could be a touchdown game when all is said and done. Oh, and yeah, New England wins.
Prediction: Patriots 28, Bears 21
Lions at Falcons (in London)
If you’re in the US and you have any plans of watching this game, you might have to wake up earlier than usual because it kicks off at 930 am EST. That would make it 6:30 am in the West Coast. As absurd as that sounds, it’s the price to pay for bringing a game to London and having it start in their typical football schedule. Detroit opened as -4 favorites and the number has bounced around between that and -3.5. Whatever the spread is come game time, I don’t think it’s going to matter. I can’t trust the Falcons depleted offensive line against a fearsome Lions D-line. This could get out of hand really quickly.
Prediction: Lions 31, Falcons 17
Chargers at Broncos
If the NFL were smart, this would have been the game they brought to London. Instead, we get to see on Thursday Night, which really isn’t the ideal showcase for two of the best teams in the league coming off three days’ rest. This game even has serious implications so expect both teams to be up for the game, lack of rest notwithstanding. Denver opened as -7 favorites with some books tacking another half-point on the Chargers. If the number stays at -7, I can’t see myself siding with the Chargers, even if they’ve gone 4-0 ATS at Denver in the past two seasons. Id be a little more worried if the number moves up to -8 or -8.5, so as early as now, I’m locking on Peyton Manning and company giving a touchdown to their AFC South rivals.
Prediction: Broncos 34, Chargers 26
Vikings at Buccaneers
This is the game I feels most comfortable about and the fact that the line moved up to -3 for Tampa Bay makes it even better for my Vikings pick. Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t been good since leading the Vikings’ dismantling of the Atlanta Falcons. This is setting up to be a good bounce-back game for the rookie. There’s just nobody in Tampa Bay I trust, especially Mike Glennon. He’s shown signs of promise, but he’s also gotten shellacked worse than any QB this side of Christian Ponder. If Ponder was starting for the Vikes, I’d take Tampa. But it’s Teddy’s show now and I expect him to light up Tampa Bay this Sunday.
Prediction: Vikings 20, Bucs 13
Ravens at Bengals
The NFL has always been a “what have you done for me lately” league, which is certainly applicable in this case. The Ravens have been one of the hottest teams in the league while the Bengals can’t even win a game in the past three weeks, even when presented with a 36-yard field goal attempt with no time left against Carolina. But Cincy’s playing at home where it hasn’t lost in forever. Technically, that ‘tie’ against the Panthers doesn’t count as a loss, right? I think the Bengals get back on track in this one and it’s an added bonus if AJ Green suits up, too. Cincinnati’s a -3 favorite, which is a little tricky with these AFC North division games. But give me the Bengals to win and cover late.
Prediction: Bengals 24, Ravens 17
Steelers at Colts
It’s hard to take the Pittsburgh Steelers seriously when most of their points against the Texans came in a three-minute span. Make no mistake, Antonio Brown’s a beast, but he’s going up against a Colts defense that gave up one fewer point than Bayern Munich did during its 7-1 dismantling of AS Roma in the Champions League qualifier. Notice the cross-sport tie in there? Indy’s the real deal, ladies and gentlemen. The line opened with the Colts at -2.5 but that number has jumped to -3.5 with some scattered -4s out there. It won’t matter. The Colts take it to the Steelers and it won’t be close.
Prediction: Colts 30, Steelers 20
Dolphins at Jaguars
Remember when I said that the line, which opened with Miami as -4.5 favorites against Jacksonville, would go up as the week progresses? Well, the number has moved up, but it’s only at -5 now. If this goes up to a touchdown spread, I’d be really nervous. But at -5, I’m still confident in Miami handling their business against a Jaguars who isn’t as good as their Week 7 performance against the Cleveland Brown suggests.
Prediction: Dolphins 24, Jaguars 14
Week 7: 4-4