Betting News & Analysis

NFL Week 8: Best spread bets for Sunday's games, including Cowboys -10 vs Bears

Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) rolls out in the end zone in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

• Bet Cowboys -10 vs Bears: Dak Prescott is 9-4-1 ATS as a home favorite of seven or more points. 

• Chicago had easily its best performance of the season in Week 7, but time to sell high ahead of Bears' visit to PFF's top pass-rushing defense (8th-graded ‘D' overall).

• Bet Raiders -1.5 at Saints: Since 2014, the Saints are 2-15 ATS hosting non-conference opponents.

There's arguably no sport more difficult, nor exciting, to bet on than NFL football. Information is both scarce in utility, and abundant in opinion. Markets are so finely tuned and so heavily wagered that there are few opportunities to gain an edge over the oddsmakers.

Enter a model capable of making ATS picks with long term success.

A majority of the most profitable NFL bettors use some kind of projection tool to help guide their wagers. Such a tool will be provided to the reader today, and for the rest of the NFL regular season. It is important to note that these projections are not a gospel, but merely a compass toward identifying an edge in a razor-thin market that is betting NFL spreads.

The purpose of this article is to identify model picks which coincide with current trends, and mismatches on the field. The hope is that in deliberately doing so, long-term profitability will follow.

Week 8 Best Bets

Las Vegas Raiders (-1.5) @ New Orleans Saints

Model Line — Raiders (-2.5)

Renewed Faith in the Raiders: Initial skepticism surrounding the Raiders might have been preemptive. The team’s 2-4 record is likely an aberration, and their offense has renewed faith in those bullish on Vegas. Over the past month, the Raiders have averaged 33 points per game, and RB Josh Jacobs has surprisingly emerged as the PFF's top-graded back. Further, commonly cited metrics such as EPA / Play and DVOA place the Raiders in similar esteem to many of the NFL’s perceived best.

Positional Instability: Injuries have forced the Saints’ hand in perpetually shuffling their personnel from game to game. Lack of cohesion is not fertile to success, and the Saints' early-week injury reports indicate the team might once again be missing many of its key contributors. 

Niche New Orleans Trend: Since 2014, the Saints are 2-15 ATS when hosting AFC opponents. If the spread in these games were assumed to be the most likely outcome, the odds of such a record for New Orleans in this scenario is extremely slim. It is quite possible that oddsmakers have recognized the Saints' HFA to be greater than it truly is, and that a similar misjudgement is baked into this line. Check out Robby Greer's work for a useful visualization of the Saints HFA, as well as others in the NFL.

Bottom Line: The Raiders' early bye week might have been a blessing for a team whose 2-4 record is likely a flukey outcome resulting from a few consequential plays. The Saints have been forced to shuffle their starting lineup to the point of detriment, and the team is likely overvalued at home. 

Dallas Cowboys (-10) vs Chicago Bears

Model Line — Cowboys (-10)


Sell High on Chicago: There is a chance that Chicago’s shocking win on Monday Night coincided with its season’s peak, and the result is likely no indication of forthcoming success. The Bears caught New England off guard by so heavily leaning on Justin Fields’ rushing ability, and the Patriots’ confounding decision to organically welcome QB controversy afforded them no advantage. 

Interpreting Betting Action: In what is surely an indication of the public’s newfound infatuation with the Bears, nearly 70% of bets placed on this game have been on Chicago, whereas the majority of cash has been wagered on Dallas. Such deviation is a likely indicator that professional bettors are invested in the Cowboys this Sunday. 

Dallas’ Defense: The Cowboys defense is held in the highest regard, and the Bears offense is less than threatening. Perhaps the only catalyst for Chicago is Fields’ aforementioned rushing ability, yet the Cowboys haven proven their efficacy in defending mobile quarterbacks. Further, the Cowboys have graded out as the No. 1 defense per DVOA, and own the NFL’s best pass rushing unit per PFF. This is a tough matchup for an inexperienced Bears team devoid of playmakers on offense.

Bottom Line: Week 7 was no doubt the Bears' best performance to date, yet a season’s worth of bottom-tier offense cannot be forgotten. It would be foolish to expect a replication of last week’s performance, and there should be no hesitation in backing Dallas as a home favorite. Trend to note regarding the Cowboys: Dak Prescott is 9-4-1 ATS as a home favorite of seven or more points. 

Buffalo Bills (-11) vs Green Bay Packers

Model Line — Bills (-12.5)

The Best Team in Football: The Bills are the Super Bowl favorites with reason they quite literally do not have a weakness. The Bills are power rated as PFF’s No. 1 defense and No. 2 offense, and they've outscored their opponents by more points than they have afforded. It is never a bad idea to bet on the best team in football. 

Home Field Advantage: The Bills enjoy beating the brakes off of bad teams, and they especially love doing so at home. Buffalo QB Josh Allen has a career record of 7-2-1 ATS as a home favorite of 7+ points, only losing once outright. Further, the Bills have played two home games this season, and outscored their opponents 79-10. 

Mismatch in Every Way: What are the Packers good at? Green Bay fails to generate explosive plays on offense, and its defense has been thoroughly disappointing. It is supposed that the Packers have an edge in their rushing attack, but that is no advantage once the Bills have built an extended lead. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers has never been an underdog to such a degree, a fact transparently indicative of the Packers' chances to win Sunday Night.

Bottom Line: The Bills are the better team in every facet. They are playing at home, have a rest advantage, and have consistently thrived as a favorite of such magnitude. It is difficult to define an edge the Packers have in this game, and it is time to concede that the Packers are not a good football team. 

Tommy's spread picks went 1-2, bringing his overall season record to 12-17 (-6.6 units).

How PFF contributor Tommy Jurgens' Projections Work:

A myriad of both objective, and subjective ratings are employed in a logistic regression model to determine the likelihood that each team will win the game outright. By this determined win-probability, a spread is assigned to each game and compared to the consensus line.

This model has successfully identified the outright victor at a near 67% rate, and has chosen the ATS winner at an efficiency greater than 53% since 2006.

One can find all of the projected picks for Week 8 here


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