Blowouts are the curse of an NFL season, especially for sports books. The public likes to back favorites, especially when those teams are at the top of the NFL standings. Normally, that preference for betting favorites, both on the money line and in parlays catches up with the public, which is why sports books turn tidy profits each season.
The odd fact of this season is that the NFL is working on setting a record for blowouts. On Profootballtalk.com last Thursday, Michael David Smith wrote:
“The 2021 season has already had 21 games decided by 21 or more points. According to the Associated Press, that’s the second-most through seven weeks since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
This past Sunday was particularly ugly: Six games were decided by 22 points or more. It was only the third time in the last 100 years that the NFL saw six blowouts of 22 points or more in one day.”
This is why we’re seeing such a large number of double-digit spreads this season. The sports books are trying to catch up to this trend of favorites, especially division leaders, beating up so consistently on the league’s bottom feeders. The problem is those teams are still covering those double-digit spreads at a surprising rate.
We have even more of those spreads hitting this week and Nostrathomas is taking a couple of them in his Best Bets.
NOSTRATHOMAS PREDICTS: THE NFL WEEK 8 INCLUDING AFC SOUTH SHOWDOWN
Nostrathomas had a solid week in Week 7. I was a very good 10-3 straight-up and 8-5 against the spread, but only 1-2 with Best Bets.
I didn’t write an article for Thursday night’s game but predicted on Twitter that the Cardinals would win and cover the -6.5 spread. Of course, the Green Bay Packers escaped Arizona with a 24-21 victory.
With that result, Nostrathomas is 69-39 straight-up, 51-55-1 against the spread and 13-10 on Best Bets for the season.
Time to set up the crystal beer mugs, fill them up and peer through the suds to determine this week’s winners.
Game of the Week
Tennessee Titans +2.5 vs Indianapolis Colts (1PM ET; Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN)
The Indianapolis Colts have won three of their last four games and now have a chance to climb back into contention in the AFC South with this week’s game against the division leading Tennessee Titans.
The trouble for Indianapolis is the Titans have won five of their last six games, one of those against the Colts. Tennessee beat them 25-16 at NRG Stadium in Week 3.
The problem I have with Indianapolis at this point in the season is that they still don’t have a standout win that they can point to. Their two-game winning streak consists of wins against the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers.
The Titans have pulled out a 33-30 overtime win on the road over a Russell Wilson led Seattle team in Week 2 and have defeated the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs the last two weeks at home.
The Colts have a strong defensive front but you can throw the ball successfully against them.
Tennessee knows that a win in Indianapolis to complete the season sweep over the Colts will put them in a commanding position in the AFC South. Until Indianapolis proves they’re ready to perform against tough competition, I can’t pick them to win a game that has playoff implications down the line.
Tennessee Titans 27 Indianapolis Colts 24
Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills -14 (1PM ET; Highmark Stadium, Buffalo, NY)
The Buffalo Bills were riding a hot streak before a three-point, Week 6 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football. Now they come out of their bye week facing division rival Miami for the second time this season.
The Bills are number one in Nostrathomas’ statistical power rankings. The have the most efficient offense in the league. Buffalo tops the league in yards per points scored. The Bills average 12.16 yards of offense per each point scored or 85.4 yards per seven points. They are nearly as efficient on defense in preventing opponents from turning yards into points.
The Miami Dolphins came close to a dramatic, fourth quarter victory last week against the Atlanta Falcons but fell in the final minute to Matt Ryan, a master of the game winning drive.
The Dolphins have competed tough against teams at the bottom of the NFL barrel but have struggled mightily when stepping up in competition. No matter the opponent though, Miami has only been able to put together a 1-6 record.
Tagovailoa has close to a 70 percent completion rate but seventeenth in net passing yards per attempt and 32nd in total passing yards. Dinking and dunking the ball down the field may keep Miami competitive against a team like the Jacksonville Jaguars but won’t get the job done against one that has been among the elite in the NFL in 2021.
A couple of trends to keep in mind for this game, Josh Allen is 6-1 in his career against Miami. Also, the Bills are on a six-game winning streak when coming off a bye.t
Take the Buffalo Bills to sweep the season series and cover the big spread.
Buffalo Bills 35 Miami Dolphins 16
Los Angeles Rams -16 vs Houston Texans (1PM ET; NRG Stadium, Houston, TX)
This analysis is not going to take long. The Houston Texans are starting quarterback Davis Mills for even though Tyrod Taylor did practice this past week. Houston is also having some internal conflict among a couple of players after they traded running back Mark Ingram to the New Orleans Saints. Don’t expect the fire sale to be over in Houston before Tuesday’s trade deadline which is another cloud hanging over this team.
The Los Angeles Rams have their sights set on a piece of first place in the NFC West after Arizona lost to the Green Bay Packers 24-21 on Thursday Night Football. Look for them to strike early and often.
Take the Rams to cover what used to be an unthinkable spread for an NFL game.
Los Angeles Rams 34 Houston Texans 10
New England Patriots vs Los Angeles Chargers -4.5 (4:05PM ET; SoFi Stadium, Los Angeles, CA)
The Los Angeles Chargers faced an imposing schedule before their Week 7 bye and emerged with a 4-2 record which currently has them holding down a playoff spot in a crowded AFC Field.
They’ll be facing a New England Patriots team that is tough on defense but still struggles to put up points against quality competition (54 points last week against the Jets doesn’t count).
New England running back Damien Harris should have a strong game against one of the weakest rushing defenses in the league but the Chargers defense will be coming after Mack Jones when he drops back to throw.
I’m taking the rested Chargers team to get back on track this week against a New England squad that is still struggling to find consistency in their passing game.
Los Angeles Chargers 26 New England Patriots 20
Best of the Rest
Carolina Panthers vs Atlanta Falcons -3 (1PM ET; Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA)
The Atlanta Falcons should win this game. Without Christian McCaffrey, the Carolina Panthers are falling apart around quarterback Sam Darnold.
However, Atlanta went into the fourth quarter last week against the Miami Dolphins with a commanding 27-14 lead and it took a Matt Ryan game winning drive to get the Falcons a 30-28 win.
Atlanta should be able to do enough on offense against a still decent Panthers defense to be the difference in this game.
Atlanta Falcons 24 Carolina Panthers 17
Cincinnati Bengals -10.5 vs New York Jets (1PM ET; MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ)
All of you who had the Cincinnati Bengals on their 2021 season bingo card as the top seed in the AFC heading into Week 8, raise your hand. None of you. Just as I thought because after Joe Burrow threw three interceptions on three pass attempts in Cincinnati’s Week 2, 20-17 loss to the Bears, no one thought they could win their way to this point.
The Bengals have won four out of their last five with their most dominant win being last Sunday’s 41-17 crushing of the Baltimore Ravens.
As for the Jets, they’ll be starting Mike White at quarterback this week. That’s all you need to know.
Cincinnati Bengals 30 New York Jets 10
Philadelphia Eagles -3.5 vs Detroit Lions (1PM ET; Ford Field, Detroit, MI)
The love around the league for the Philadelphia Eagles continues for another week, this time at the expense of the Detroit Lions. For once it may be justified though.
Detroit pulled every rabbit out of a hat that they could find in an effort to get Jared Goff a victory in Los Angeles last week over the Rams and still lost 28-19. We’ll see how much they have left against an Eagles team that can outman them on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Philadelphia Eagles 26 Detroit Lions 21
Pittsburgh Steelers +4 vs Cleveland Browns -4 (1PM ET; FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH)
The unofficial Ben Roethlisberger retirement tour rolls into Cleveland this week. The Steelers are coming off their bye and are about as healthy as they can be while Cleveland tries to piece together enough healthy bodies to keep competing.
Baker Mayfield is going to start this week despite having to wear a harness on his non-throwing shoulder. Running back Nick Chubb will be trying to return this week from a calf injury that kept him out against Denver in Week 7.
Pittsburgh has struggled on offense this season with Roethlisberger seeming incapable of getting the ball downfield anymore and rookie running back Najee Harris has struggled to make an impact.
Still, the Steelers are strong on defense and it remains to be seen how far into the game Mayfield and Chubb can play.
Nostrathomas is taking a rested Steelers squad to win and cover against a battered Cleveland team.
Pittsburgh Steelers 20 Cleveland Browns 17
San Francisco 49ers -4 vs Chicago Bears (1PM ET; Soldier Field, Chicago, IL)
The Chicago Bears were looking strong until the last two weeks when both the Packers and Buccaneers wiped the field with them.
San Francisco hasn’t been much better though. The 49ers are on a four game losing streak after getting pasted by Indianapolis 30-18 last week.
The 49ers have plenty of problems this season but they have a solid defense and are playing a Chicago team that is at or near the bottom of the league in every offensive category.
Even at their best this season, the Bears struggle to score and if you can’t score you can’t win.
San Francisco 49ers 23 Chicago Bears 14
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Seattle Seahawks -3 (4:05PM ET; Lumen Stadium, Seattle, WA)
After their bye week, the Jacksonville Jaguars take their one game win streak to Seattle to play the Seahawks.
Seattle needs to find a way to survive this game and get to their bye week while hoping that Russell Wilson will be ready to return for Week 10.
Jacksonville has been stronger on offense since they’ve started running their offense through running back James Robinson. He’s rushed for five touchdowns in the Jaguars last four games.
This is a tough game to pick with Geno Smith still under center for Seattle. With D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, he has plenty of talent at receiver if he can get the ball to them.
The Seahawks are still strong enough on defense to pull through in this game. If they don’t, there won’t be enough season left for Wilson to save.
Seattle Seahawks 20 Jacksonville Jaguars 13
Washington Football Team vs Denver Broncos -3.5 (4:25PM ET; Empower Field at Mile High Stadium, Denver, CO)
Just when things were looking hopeless for the Denver Broncos, they get to host the Washington Football Team, whose defense has allowed more points than any other team in the league.
The Broncos defense has also been a disappointment in 2021 but they are still sixth in the league in points per play and points per drive allowed.
The Football Team had three second half red zone opportunities last week against Green Bay and blew all of them. They turned the ball over on downs twice and Taylor Heinicke threw an end zone interception. That is what bad football teams do.
It’s not going to get any better for Washington this week. Take the home team to win and cover.
Denver Broncos 23 Washington Football Team 16
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -4.5 vs New Orleans Saints (4:25PM ET; Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, LA)
This game is tough to pick because it’s anybody’s guess about which Saints team shows up to play. Last week, New Orleans came out of their bye week to win one of the ugliest prime time games of the season, 13-10 in Seattle against the Seahawks.
The Saints continue to be an anomaly on offense. They have one of the best starting drive averages in the league, on their own 32.1, yet only score on 31.3 percent of their drives. New Orleans has been in the red zone 18 times this season, 23rd in the league. The only positive to that is they’ve turned 14 of those red zone attempts into touchdowns.
As for New Orleans’ division rivals, the Buccaneers just keep rolling along. Tom Brady threw the 600th touchdown pass of his career last week while crushing the Chicago Bears 38-3.
The Saints will put up a battle on defense but Tampa Bay plays a tough brad of defense too. Unless Sean Payton changes his offensive philosophy for this game and let’s Jameis Winston extend the field with his arm more, New Orleans won’t have the offense to keep up.
Take the road favorite to win and cover.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24 New Orleans Saints 17
Dallas Cowboys vs Minnesota Vikings No Pick! (Sunday Night Football, U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN)
The current spread for this game is Minnesota -3 based on the speculation that Dak Prescott will be out after suffering a calf strain two weeks ago against the Patriots. Backup quarterback Cooper Rush too most of the first team snaps for the Cowboys last week.
If news breaks that Prescott has recovered enough to play this spread is going to snap back to Dallas favored by -2.5.
If Dak Prescott plays, the Dallas Cowboys win and cover. If he doesn’t, Minnesota improves their record to 4-3 with a game against the Baltimore Ravens coming up in Week 9.
Check back. I might update this article with a pick if news on Prescott breaks before the kickoff Sunday night.
New York Giants vs Kansas City Chiefs -10 (Monday Night Football, Arrowhead Stadium, KC, MO)
Out of the seven teams the Kansas City Chiefs have played this season, five have records that are currently over .500 and currently position to play in the postseason. Both teams with a losing record that they’ve faced reside in the NFC East. Kansas City beat the Eagles 42-30 in Week 4 and downed Washington 31-13 in Week 6.
I’d give the Giants more of a chance to not just cover but win this game outright if quarterback Daniel Jones had his full complement of weapons on offense but along with Saquon Barkley and Kenny Galladay out, wide receiver Kadarius Toney did not practice last week and receiver Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram were limited.
The Chiefs should be able to take advantage of New York’s injury situation to finally find some traction on defense.
Kansas City lost their previous two prime time games this season, both on Sunday night. They were edged by the Baltimore Ravens 36-35 in Week 2 and beaten by the Bills 38-20 in Week 5. Prior to those games, the Chiefs were riding a seven game, prime time winning streak.
The Giants will be the third team from the NFC East to fall to Kansas City this season by more than 10 points.
Kansas City Chiefs 29 New York Giants 17