NFL Week 8 Best Bets: Matchup angles to bet, including Texans QB C.J. Stroud against the Panthers secondary

2RXBXPN Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Throughout the years, PFF data scientists have developed and conducted numerous studies to better understand and predict performance.

While many of these seminal works have furthered the conversation and certainly linger in the background, the goal is to identify how the findings manifest in particular weekly matchups and to source the matchups or interactions the betting market has overlooked.

Some bets will track traditional markets, but others will look to more exotic markets to ensure we utilize the best market for the particular thesis or angle. 

Matchup Angle: C.J. Stroud gets the clean pockets he thrives in to beat the Carolina Panthers deep down the field

Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud has been among the game's best from a clean pocket. Through seven weeks, the rookie signal-caller has generated 0.6 expected points added (EPA) per pass play when he's been kept free from pressure, one of the league's best marks.

The issue for Stroud and the Texans is that he’s rarely had clean pockets to operate from. Part of that was a function of the offensive line, which suffered some cluster injuries early in the season but is now far healthier.

However, this shouldn't be a concern against a Carolina Panthers defense that currently ranks in the bottom percentile in quick pressure generated.

The Panthers have allowed an explosive play on 10.2% of the pass plays they have faced, the second-highest rate in the NFL. Of course, more time in the pocket will enable teams to attack further downfield, where C.J. Stroud has excelled.

It is unlikely that Stroud continues to put up those gaudy numbers, but this is at least likely to be directionally accurate. And with the time in the pocket, Stroud should be able to attack deeper down the field in Week 8.

Bets to make: Texans spread, Texans alt spreads & C.J. Stroud passing overs, Texans team total overs

Matchup Angle: The Miami Dolphins passing offense dominates the New England Patriots‘ man-heavy scheme

Following a disappointing Week 7 loss for Miami and a surprising Patriots win over the Buffalo Bills, markets moved across 10 from the lookahead line in favor of the Patriots.

But this matchup provides an enormous advantage for the Dolphins, even after stripping away the team fundamentals. As we've studied at PFF, man coverage (more so than zone) will reflect the talent on the field — it is a coverage scheme where good receivers will beat inferior cornerbacks more often than not, and vice versa.

New England plays man coverage at the third-highest rate in the NFL despite the recent struggles of their cornerbacks. Jonathan Jones owns the highest coverage grade of the group at 59.2, 76th out of 117 qualifiers. It only gets worse from there.

Meanwhile, Miami fields some of the best man-beaters in the NFL. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle have owned opposing cornerbacks in recent years, and QB Tua Tagovailoa leads the NFL in EPA vs. man coverage since 2022.

Bets to make: Dolphins team totals, Tua Tagovailoa passing yards, same-game parlays around the Dolphins offense and passing game.

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