Oakland Raiders at San Francisco 49ers: 2018 Week 9 NFL Pick

Oakland Raiders (1-6) at San Francisco 49ers (1-7)

Things have gone from bad to worse for the 49ers. Already without quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the season with a torn ACL, now backup CJ Beathard is dealing with a hand and wrist injury on his throwing arm. Beathard is still expected to play, but he barely practiced on a short week and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll be anywhere near 100% or if could get pulled mid-game for backup Nick Mullens, a second year undrafted free agent who has never thrown a pass in a regular season game. The 49ers will also be without key defensive players Reuben Foster and Jaquiski Tartt, who were very much missed as the 49ers blew a two score 4th quarter lead to the Cardinals last week.

The Raiders are not in good shape either, with a mediocre roster and all sorts of reported issues in their locker room, in their first year under new head coach Jon Gruden. They’re a little bit better of a team though and they have by far the better quarterback situation, which is important on a short week. It’s also worth noting that this is basically a home game for the Raiders too, as they play about an hour from the 49ers, so the 49ers shouldn’t get more than a point if anything for homefield advantage, even on a short week. I have this line calculated at about even. We’re not getting many points with the Raiders as 2.5 point underdogs though, so this is a pretty low confidence pick. It’s hard to get excited about backing either side in this one anyway, as this is two terrible teams playing on a short week.

Update: Beathard is active for this game, but Mullen will start as they feel he’s a better option than a less than 100% Beathard. That may be true, but the odds are heavily against Mullen performing well in this one. He’s just the 5th undrafted free agent in the past 30 years under the age of 24 to start at quarterback for a team. The previous 4 (Doug Johnson, Matt Moore, Jeff Tuel and Connor Shaw) had a combined 60.0 QB rating with a 2-5 record in 7 starts. It’ll be even more challenging for Mullen making his debut on a short week with limited first team reps. The Raiders still are not an appealing bet, even if the line movement from +2.5 to -1.5 is largely insignificant, but they are the safer bet for pick ’em purposes.

Oakland Raiders 23 San Francisco 49ers 20

Pick against the spread: Oakland -1.5

Confidence: None

2018 Week 8 NFL Pick Results

Week 8

Total Against the Spread: 10-4

Pick of the Week: 1-0

High Confidence Picks: 0-1

Medium Confidence Picks: 3-1

Money Picks (Medium Confidence and higher): 4-2

Low Confidence Picks: 3-1

No Confidence Picks: 3-1

Upset Picks: 1-0

2018

Total Against the Spread: 73-45-3 (61.57%)

Pick of the Week: 4-3-1

High Confidence Picks: 7-6

Medium Confidence Picks: 24-12

Money Picks (Medium Confidence and higher): 35-21-1 (62.28%)

Low Confidence Picks: 14-11

No Confidence Picks: 24-13-2

Upset Picks: 10-9-1

All-Time (Since 2013)

Total Against the Spread: 764-653-39 (53.81%)

Pick of the Week: 55-37-3 (59.47%)

Money Picks (Medium Confidence and higher): 365-267-15 (57.57%)

Upset Picks: 117-145-1 (44.68%)

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills: 2018 Week 8 NFL Pick

New England Patriots (5-2) at Buffalo Bills (2-5)

The Patriots are favored by 13.5 points on the road in this game in Buffalo, the most a team has been favored by on the road since the Patriots were 14-point favorites in Jacksonville in week 16 of 2012. The rarity of this kind of line of not a reason not to take the Patriots though. In fact, teams are 15-12 ATS as road favorites of 13.5 or more in the past 30 years. That’s not a reason to take the Patriots necessarily, but historically speaking when a team is favored by this many on the road, there’s a good reason for it.

There is certainly a good reason for it in this one, as the Bills are inarguably the worst team in the league with street free agent Derek Anderson under center, while the Patriots have seemingly hit their stride like they always do and should be considered one of the top few teams in the league. I can’t be confident in the Patriots because they are without injured running back Sony Michel and could also be without tight end Rob Gronkowski for the second straight week and because they could sleepwalk through this game a little bit with a tougher game against the Packers on a short week on deck, but even at less than 100% on the road the Patriots could still win this game by two touchdowns.

New England Patriots 27 Buffalo Bills 13

Pick against the spread: New England -13.5

Confidence: None

Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions: 2018 Week 8 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (3-3) at Detroit Lions (3-3)

The Seahawks got off to an 0-2 start, but have won 3 of their last 4, with their one loss coming by just 2 points against the undefeated Rams. They’re also healthier coming out of the bye with outside linebacker KJ Wright, defensive end Dion Jordan, and possibly defensive end Rasheem Green set to return from extended absences. That being said, they are still statistically one of the worst teams in the league, ranking 26th in first down rate differential at -3.44%. Their 3-3 record is largely the result of a +7 turnover margin, but turnover margins tend to be inconsistent week-to-week, so the Seahawks won’t be able to rely on that every week, especially with their team leader in takeaways Earl Thomas out for the season.

The reinforcements the Seahawks get back from injury this week will help, but the Lions added stud run stuffing defensive tackle Damon Harrison in a trade this week and could get defensive end Ezekiel Ansah back from injury as well, after getting right guard TJ Lang back last week, so they’re a team on the rise a little as well. I have the Lions as a slightly better than the Seahawks, while this line suggests they’re about even, with the hometown Lions favored by a field goal. I’m going to take the Lions, but there isn’t enough here to bet on them.

Detroit Lions 24 Seattle Seahawks 20

Pick against the spread: Detroit -3

Confidence: Low

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs: 2018 Week 8 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (3-4) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-1)

The Broncos are just 3-4 and don’t get a lot of attention because they don’t do any one thing really well, but they’ve quietly been better than their record. They rank above average in both first down rate (14th at 37.25%) and first down rate allowed (7th at 32.89%). They’ve won the first down rate battle in 5 of 7 games, including 3 of their losses. One of those losses was at home to the Chiefs in a game they won the first down rate battle by 4.26%, led by double digits in the 4th quarter, and had a chance to win late on a missed open touchdown. They also won the first down rate battle in losses to the Jets (2.82%) and the Rams (5.56%). On the season, they have 16 more first downs than their opponents.

The Chiefs, despite their record, have 15 fewer first downs than their opponents. Their offense has obviously been incredible, but their defense has allowed opponents to pick up first downs at a high rate (43.15%, 30th in the NFL). They’re coming off their best defensive performance of the year and could end up being a capable unit if they get both Justin Houston and Eric Berry back for the stretch run, which would make them a very scary team, but this week the Broncos could easily keep it close with the Chiefs for the second time this season. Even if the Chiefs get up big early, the Broncos have been a good garbage time team this year and could easily get the backdoor cover against an underwhelming defense. I would need at least 10 points to bet any money on Denver, but they should be the right side this week.

Kansas City Chiefs 31 Denver Broncos 24

Pick against the spread: Denver +9.5

Confidence: Low

Baltimore Ravens at Carolina Panthers: 2018 Week 8 NFL Pick

Baltimore Ravens (4-3) at Carolina Panthers (4-2)

The Ravens are a solid team and could easily win the AFC North, but they’re a little bit overrated. Last week, they were 3-point home favorites against the Saints, suggesting they were equal to a New Orleans team that is one of the best in the league, in a game the Ravens ultimately ended up losing. This week, they are 2.5-point road favorites in Carolina. That’s not that many points, but I have these two teams about even, so the Panthers should be favored by at least a field goal. That’s a good amount of line value.

If the Ravens were at full strength, I might give them a point or two over the Panthers, but they are missing top cornerback Marlon Humphrey, and a pair of starting offensive linemen, Alex Lewis and James Hurst. All three of those players were missed against the Saints and will be missed again this week. The Panthers, meanwhile, are at close to full strength and should be able to win this game outright. I’d need a full field goal to bet the spread in this one, but the money line at +130 is a great play.

Carolina Panthers 23 Baltimore Ravens 20 Upset Pick +130

Pick against the spread: Carolina +2.5

Confidence: Low