Oakland Raiders at Cleveland Browns: 2014 Week 8 NFL Pick

Oakland Raiders (0-6) at Cleveland Browns (3-3)

The Browns lost last week in previously 0-6 Jacksonville, doing so in embarrassing fashion, losing by the finale score of 24-6 and getting dominated in the chain game. They moved the chains at a mere 46.43% rate, as opposed to 65.71% for the Jaguars, a differential of -19.29% that was the 2nd worst by a team last week. That brought the Browns down to 19th in rate of moving the chains differential on the season, as they move the chains at a 72.40% rate, as opposed to 73.56% for their opponents, a differential of -1.16%. However, we still might be getting line value with the Browns because of how bad the Raiders are. The Raiders rank dead last in rate of moving the chains differential, moving them at a 67.74% rate, as opposed to 77.84% for their opponents, a differential of -10.09%.

The Raiders are also in a terrible spot as they have to go to Seattle next week. Teams are 40-81 ATS before being double digit underdogs since 2010. That’s because when you have a game coming up like that it generally means one of two things. One, you have a very tough game coming up that serves as a distraction. Two, you really aren’t that good of a football team. I think it’s both in this situation. In spite of all this, the public is actually on the underdog, expecting the Browns to have trouble with a 0-6 team for the 2nd straight week. I love fading the public whenever it makes sense, especially when they’re on an underdog. Despite those three things, I can’t bring myself to be too confident in the Browns.

Cleveland Browns 23 Oakland Raiders 13

Pick against the spread: Cleveland -7

Confidence: Low

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Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers: 2014 Week 8 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (3-3) at Carolina Panthers (3-3-1)

The Seahawks failed to even win last week as significant favorites in St. Louis and now they’re significant favorites again here in Carolina. I like their chances of bouncing back and getting back in the win column here though. For one, this is the Seahawks’ 2nd of two road games, which tends to be an easier time for teams than a team’s first game on the road. Teams are 177-184 in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.20 points per game, as opposed to 252-363 in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.29 points per game. Going off of that, road favorites are 33-22 ATS off of a road loss since 2008 as long as it’s the 2nd of two road favorites, including 15-7 ATS as road favorites off of a loss as road favorites.

The Seahawks also generally do well off of a loss, going 7-3 ATS in the Russell Wilson era. Sure, they were coming off of a loss last week and didn’t get it done, but they could easily have a different result here. The Seahawks are also in a great spot as teams are 68-53 ATS before being double digit favorites since 2002. The Seahawks have an incredibly easy game next week at home for the Seahawks. Sure, they were in a good spot last week before being significant road favorites and didn’t get the job done, but history still suggests they’re due to turn it around here.

However, while I like the Seahawks’ chances of bouncing back and getting the win here, I’m not confident they’ll cover this 5 point spread, even with all of the aforementioned trends in play. This line might just be too high for a Seattle team that has been fairly average this season. They rank just 14th in the NFL, moving the chains at a 75.14% rate, as opposed to 74.59% for their opponents, a differential of 0.55%. Sure, they’re the Seahawks and could easily get it together and end up much higher by the end of the season, but there are no guarantees. Super Bowl winners have disappointed over the past decade and the Seahawks are dealing with significant injuries to guys like Max Unger, Bobby Wagner, and Byron Maxwell.

The Panthers, meanwhile, are moving the chains at a 74.78% rate, as opposed to 77.39% for their opponents, a differential of -2.61% that ranks 22nd in the NFL. That’s not great, but purely looking at rate of moving the chains suggests we’re getting significant line value with the Panthers. I’m certainly not confident because the trends suggest the Seahawks are the right side and the Seahawks could at any bounce back and become what they were last season. This is still a scary football team. The Panthers are my pick though.

Seattle Seahawks 24 Carolina Panthers 20

Pick against the spread: Carolina +5

Confidence: None

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Buffalo Bills at New York Jets: 2014 Week 8 NFL Pick

Buffalo Bills (4-3) at New York Jets (1-6)

This line shifted from even last week to now the Jets being favored by a field goal. The primary reason for that has to be the Percy Harvin trade, as people don’t seem to realize that Harvin wasn’t doing much in Seattle this season and that he probably doesn’t know the entire Jets playbook yet or have chemistry developed with quarterback Geno Smith. It’s disappointing that this line shifted so much as it robbed us of an opportunity to fade a Bills team that isn’t as good as their record.

The Bills are somehow 4-3, though with 3 last second wins by a combined 5 points. In terms of rate of moving the chains differential, they rank just 24th, moving the chains at a 65.22% rate, as opposed to 68.44% for their opponents, a differential of -3.23%. That being said, we’re actually now getting line value with the Bills as this line suggests these two teams are even, while in reality the Bills have played better this season. The Jets rank 26th in rate of moving the chains differential, moving the chains at a 68.42% rate, as opposed to 72.55% for their opponents, a differential of -4.13%. I have no confidence in the Bills though, especially since they’re a public underdog, but they’re my pick here as I’m going with fading line movement and picking the better team over fading the public.

New York Jets 17 Buffalo Bills 16

Pick against spread: Buffalo +3

Confidence: None

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Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers: 2014 Week 8 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (5-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)

The Colts are arguably the best team in the NFL right now, or at least they’ve played like it through 7 games. With the exception of a 3 point home loss as 3 point home favorites to the Eagles, the Colts have covered every game this season. Both of their losses came against teams that currently have one loss and they came by a combined 10 points. Last week, they completely dominated Cincinnati 27-0, beating a solid team in embarrassing fashion, forcing 8 straight three and outs to start the season.

Andrew Luck is playing like the type of quarterback he was expected to become, completing 65.9% of his passes for an average 7.72 YPA, 19 touchdowns, 7 interceptions. He’s also rushed for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground on 30 carries. The defense has held up as well. Through 6 games, they are moving the chains at a 78.44% rate, as opposed to 67.65% for their opponents, a differential of 10.79% that is best in the NFL by over 3 percentage points (7.40% is the next best).

The Steelers, meanwhile, move the chains at a 74.11% rate, as opposed to 73.24% for their opponents, a differential of 0.87% that ranks 13th in the NFL. That suggests we’re getting significant line value with the Colts as mere field goal favorites here, even on the road. The Colts should be the right side, but I don’t like the idea of betting on such a heavy public favorite (more than 90% of the action is on Indianapolis) without a powerful trend supporting them, as the odds makers always come out on top.

Indianapolis Colts 27 Pittsburgh Steelers 20

Pick against spread: Indianapolis -3

Confidence: Low

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Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans: 2014 Week 8 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (3-3) at Tennessee Titans (2-5)

The Texans are road favorites here, but they could easily be home underdogs next week when they host the Eagles. Road favorites are 76-118 ATS since 1989 before being home underdogs, including 18-27 ATS as divisional road favorites before being non-divisional home underdogs, as that upcoming game tends to be a major distraction. Even if that game has an even line (as the early line currently is) or the Texans are favored by 1-2 points, the logic still stands.

We’re also getting some line value with the Titans because the Texans aren’t as good as their 3-3 record suggests, as they move the chains at a 69.95% rate, as opposed to 73.39% for their opponents, a differential of -3.44% that ranks 25th in the NFL. The Titans aren’t good, moving the chains at a 69.35% rate, as opposed to 75.51% for their opponents, a differential of 6.16% that ranks 29th in the NFL, but the Texans shouldn’t be favored by a field goal on the road against anyone other than Oakland.

I’m not that confident in Tennessee because they’re starting unproven 6th round rookie Zach Mettenberger at quarterback. It’s possible he’s an upgrade over Charlie Whitehurst, who has started the last few games for them, but he’s a complete wild card and the track record of late round rookies starting at quarterback isn’t great. It’s very possible Mettenberger is head coach Ken Whisenhunt’s next Ryan Lindley. The Titans should be the right side though.

Houston Texans 17 Tennessee Titans 16

Pick against spread: Tennessee +3

Confidence: Low

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St. Louis Rams at Kansas City Chiefs: 2014 Week 8 NFL Pick

St. Louis Rams (2-4) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-3)

The Chiefs have proven to be the real deal this year. A year after relying on weak competition, an unsustainable turnover margin, and no injuries to go 11-5, the Chiefs have now knocked off New England and San Diego and come within a touchdown of both Denver and San Francisco on the road, 4 teams that could easily be playoff teams when everything is said and done, despite suffering several significant injuries and having a -2 turnover margin on the season. They also blew out the Dolphins in Miami by a score of 34-15 and their victory over the Patriots was by a whopping 27 points.

Despite their 3-3 record, the Chiefs rank 5th in rate of moving the chains differential, moving the chains at a 77.42% rate, as opposed to 71.59% for their opponents, a differential of 5.83%. On top of that, their point differential is +21. All of this is despite the fact that they’ve played a fairly tough schedule thus far this season. The Rams, on the other hand, do not represent a tough opponent. They are moving the chains at a 74.87% rate, as opposed to 76.70% for their opponents, a differential of 1.84% that ranks 21st in the NFL. This line is too small at just a touchdown.

The Chiefs are also in the much better spot. While the Rams have another tough game in San Francisco next week, the Chiefs get to remain at home and take on the 1-win Jets. Non-divisional road underdogs are 51-78 ATS since 2002 before being divisional road underdogs. On top of that, teams are 52-81 ATS since 2010 before being divisional underdogs of a touchdown or more, which the Rams almost definitely will be in San Francisco next week (the early line is 7.5). That could easily serve as a huge distraction.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, have no distraction next week and they will almost definitely be touchdown favorites over the lowly Jets. Teams are 31-54 ATS since 2008 before being touchdown underdogs when their opponent will next be touchdown favorites, as teams in that situation are at such a disadvantage schedule wise. Going off of that, teams are 77-62 ATS as touchdown favorites before being touchdown favorites since 2008, while touchdown underdogs are 70-91 ATS before being touchdown underdogs over that same time period. Making matters even worse for the Rams, they’re coming off an emotional win over divisional Seattle. Teams are 37-53 ATS since 1989 off of a win by 3 or fewer as divisional underdogs of 6 or more. Teams also don’t have a strong track record of covering after beating the defending Super Bowl champion. The Chiefs should win easily here and are my survivor pick.

Kansas City Chiefs 27 St. Louis Rams 13 Survivor Pick

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -7

Confidence: Medium

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Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars: 2014 Week 8 NFL Pick

Miami Dolphins (3-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6)

I’m completely split on this one. On one hand, the Jaguars are in a bad spot, having to go to Cincinnati next week where they will almost certainly be double digit underdogs (the early line is 11). Teams are 40-81 ATS before being double digit underdogs since 2010. That’s because when you have a game coming up like that it generally means one of two things. One, you have a very tough game coming up that serves as a distraction. Two, you really aren’t that good of a football team. I think it’s both in this situation.

The Jaguars rank just 30th in rate of moving the chains differential, moving the chains at a 65.70% rate, as opposed to 73.13% for their opponents, a differential of -7.43%. They have covered just 8 of their last 24 games, dating back to week 17 of 2012. Over those 24 games, they lost 15 of them by double digits and could easily make it 16 this week against a solid Miami team. The Dolphins are moving the chains at a 73.63% rate, as opposed to 71.27% for their opponents, a differential of 2.36% that ranks 9th in the NFL. That suggests this line should be around a touchdown, which gives us a little bit of line value with Miami -6.

On the other hand, the Jaguars have been playing much better football of late. Blake Bortles has proven to be an upgrade over Chad Henne at quarterback (which isn’t hard) and head coach Gus Bradley, the ex-Seahawks defensive coordinator, has this defense playing a lot better recently. They haven’t lost by double digits in any of their last 3 games (which is an accomplishment for this franchise) and they dominated a decent Browns team last week.

Over the past 4 games, since benching Henne, they are moving the chains at a 69.60% rate, as opposed to 65.74% for their opponents, a differential of 3.86%. That’s much better than their first 3 games, when they moved the chains at a 59.76% rate, as opposed to 79.83% for their opponents, a differential of -20.08%. On top of that, the Dolphins have a much tougher game next week against the Chargers back in Miami, where they could easily be home underdogs. Non-divisional road favorites are 22-40 since 1989 before being non-divisional home underdogs, as that upcoming game tends to be a major distraction. Even if that game has an even line (as the early line currently is) or the Dolphins are favored by 1-2 points, the logic still stands. I’m taking the Dolphins, but I’m not confident at all.

Miami Dolphins 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 17

Pick against spread: Miami -6

Confidence: None

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Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals: 2014 Week 8 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) at Arizona Cardinals (5-1)

I’m not happy that these two teams are playing each other because I think they’re two of the most overrated teams in football. Neither is as good as their record and yet one will advance to 6-1, though I guess that’ll make for easier betting situations in the future. The Eagles are 5-1 on the strength of a +6 margin in return touchdowns and a 3-1 record in games decided by a touchdown or less. It’s hard to rely on those things long-term. In terms of pure rate of moving the chains, they are 17th in differential, moving the chains at a 70.50% rate, as opposed to 70.53% for their opponents. Their defense has surprisingly held together well and their offense will get better when they get Jason Kelce and Evan Mathis back from injury, as those are two of the best offensive linemen in football, but for right now they’re nowhere near as good as their record.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals have been overly reliant on a +7 turnover margin and a 63.64% rate of recovering fumbles. They are moving the chains at a 72.13% rate, as opposed to 72.13% for their opponents, a differential of +0.00% that ranks 16th in the NFL. Unlike the Eagles, they probably aren’t going to get much better. While Calais Campbell should return from injury soon (maybe in a limited role this week) and Tyrann Mathieu will only get healthier, they are still missing Karlos Dansby, John Abraham, Daryl Washington, and Darnell Dockett from last year’s 10-6 team for a variety of reasons. However, for right now, these two teams are basically even, as this line suggests, though probably not even in the way many people seem to think.

That being said, the Eagles should be the right side as they’re in the better situation, with a non-conference trip to Houston on deck, while the Cardinals have to play fellow 1-loss Dallas next week in Dallas. Teams are 71-103 ATS since 2008 as non-divisional home favorites before being non-divisional road underdogs. The Eagles aren’t necessarily going to be road favorites in Houston next week (the early line is even), but if they are, that brings a very powerful trend into the mix. Going off of that, teams are 94-56 ATS since 2010 as underdogs before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs, including 36-12 ATS since 2002 as road underdogs before being road favorites when their opponents will next be road underdogs.

Even if the Eagles end up being even or 1 point underdogs in Houston, the logic is still there. They’re going to be able to be way more focused for this one than the Cardinals. There are two reasons this isn’t a bigger play. The first reason is because we don’t know for sure if the Eagles will be road favorites next week. The second reason is that the Cardinals have been very solid at home recently, going 26-14 ATS at home since 2007 as underdogs of favorites of 3 or more. The Eagles should still be the right side though.

Philadelphia Eagles 16 Arizona Cardinals 13 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia +1.5

Confidence: Low

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Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys: 2014 Week 8 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (2-5) at Dallas Cowboys (6-1)

Last week I picked against the Cowboys when they planned the Giants here at home in Dallas. That didn’t work out as the Cowboys won 31-21 as 6.5 point favorites, but it could have easily been a different result (against the spread). The Giants led 14-7 earlier and the game would have been a lot closer if not for two Larry Donnell fumbles after the catch, two very fluky things. Even after last week, the Cowboys still have a lot of issues historically when favored, especially heavily favored, at home.

The Cowboys are 13-23 ATS as home favorites since 2009, including 6-12 ATS as home favorites of 6.5 or more. This isn’t just a Dallas thing. NFC East teams are just 20-34 ATS as divisional home favorites since 2008. This is probably too big of a line for the Cowboys to cover. They have a way of disappointing when they’re supposed to win big and what better situation for them to do it in than on Monday Night Football. The Cowboys are 1-8 ATS on Monday Night Football since 2006.

We also might be getting a significant amount of line value with the Redskins. The Cowboys have played well this season, moving the chains at a 78.21% rate, as opposed to 72.11% for their opponents, a differential of 6.10% that ranks 4th in the NFL. The Redskins, meanwhile, move the chains at a 72.57% rate, as opposed to 71.15% for their opponents, a differential of 1.42% that ranks 12th in the NFL. That suggests this line should be around 7.5 instead of 10. Sure, much of the reason why the Redskins rank 12th is because of how well they played against the Jaguars. If you take that game out of the mix, they move the chains at a 69.78% rate, as opposed to 73.94% for their opponents, a differential of -4.16% that would rank 26th in the NFL. However, I still like their chances of keeping this within double digits.

Dallas Cowboys 24 Washington Redskins 20

Pick against the spread: Washington +10

Confidence: Medium

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Chicago Bears at New England Patriots: 2014 Week 8 NFL Pick

Chicago Bears (3-4) at New England Patriots (5-2)

The Bears were embarrassed last week at home by the Dolphins, but that’s because the Dolphins were in a fantastic spot, with an incredibly easy game against the Jaguars up next, while the Bears were caught looking forward to this one. I like the Bears’ chances of bouncing back this week as they’ll be completely focused against a big opponent with a bye up next, while the Patriots are the ones in the bad spot this week. The Patriots have the Broncos up next and could easily be caught looking forward to that one, their biggest regular season game.

The Patriots are currently projected to be 3 point underdogs at home for Denver next week. Teams are 51-81 ATS since 2012 before being 3+ point home underdogs since 2012 and teams are 54-81 ATS as home favorites of 3 or more before being home underdogs of 3 or more since 1989. While they got blown out by a team in a good spot last week, I think they can easily keep it close against a team in a bad spot this week. The public doesn’t think so, as they’re all over the Patriots, but that’s because they’re too focused on what happened last week. I love fading the public whenever it makes sense as the public always loses money in the long run and it makes sense here.

We’re also getting line value with the Bears, as the Patriots are an overrated team that has been too reliant on winning the turnover battle, going +9 in turnovers and recovering 66.67% of fumbles. In terms of pure rate of moving the chains, the Patriots rank 18th in differential, moving the chains at a 71.76% rate, as opposed to 72.20% for their opponents, a differential of -0.44. Sure, their offense has been a lot better recently as Rob Gronkowski has returned to form, but their defense has simultaneously taken huge hits losing Jerod Mayo and Chandler Jones to return. Meanwhile, the Bears move the chains at a 76.92% rate, as opposed to 73.30% for their opponents, a differential of 3.62% that ranks 8th in the NFL, despite what happened last week in a tough situation. They’ll give the Patriots a game.

New England Patriots 24 Chicago Bears 23

Pick against spread: Chicago +6

Confidence: Medium

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