Smart money: NFL Week 8 picks against the spread

Brandon Katz

You ever see the poker movie Rounders? It’s a great flick. In one of my favorite scenes, our starry eyed protagonist played by Matt Damon criticizes his mentor for never having the balls to bet big or chase a long shot. His mentor’s response captures the essence of what us little guys are trying to do when we enter that gambling world.

I’m not playing for the thrill of fucking victory here. I owe rent, alimony, child support. I play for money, my kids eat, I got stones enough not to chase cards, actions [sic] or fuckin’ pipe dreams.

Joey Knisch (John Turturro) in Rounders

I’m a 24-year-old punk who just happens to be an NFL fanatic, but that’s how I approach my betting too. When I’m looking over the spreads for the week, I’m trying to minimize risk and take advantage of the safer situations. Betting isn’t always about what you win; it’s about what you don’t lose.

If you’re looking to make a killing each Sunday in a get-rich-quick play, this isn’t the article for you. But if you want to try and feel out some potentially safer ventures, continue on.

Here are some bets that intrigue me in Week 8.

Note #1: Teasers and Parlays always have lower success rates than straight up picks against the spread.

Note #2: There is no such thing as a sure thing in gambling. Be responsible. 

Oak +1.5 @ TB

The Raiders are 4-0 on the road this year, meaning they’re due for a loss, but it won’t be coming this week. Jameis Winton has been intercepted in five-of-six games this season, including two multi pick outings. I also don’t trust third-stringer Jacquizz Rodgers to keep up his torrid pace for Tampa Bay, despite Oakland’s porous run D and Rodgers’ stellar nickname (Quiz Show).

After a rough start, Oakland’s defense has allowed just 1 passing touchdown and only 470 yards through the air over its last two outings. Raiders corner David Amerson has proved the Redskins wrong for releasing him and free agent addition Sean Smith has settled in nicely after an adjustment period.

TB’s defense ranks 25th in scoring, which Oakland will exploit with their dangerous passing attack. The Bucs are just 0-2 against the spread at home this year and I think the Raiders win this one in a shootout that makes The Matrix’s hotel lobby scene look tame.

Teaser: GB +8.5 @ ATL/DET +8.5 @ Hou

The Falcons have dropped two straight and the Packers will enter this game on 10 days rest. I know Green Bay’s offense has been pretty choppy lately, but Atlanta’s D has allowed either 300 yards or multiple touchdowns to opposing QBs in five of six games this year. Atlanta is also 1-2 against the spread at home in 2016. Garbage time still counts and Aaron Rodgers is still good for a late-game score to cover the spread.

Plus, are you really going to root for Atlanta, where The Walking Dead just played batting practice with our boy Glenn’s head?

As for Detroit vs. Houston:

“Brock Osweiler”

…Need I say more?

In all seriousness, the Houston defense is good enough to win this game on their own, but I don’t see Osweiler scoring a ton of points. Matthew Stafford has been playing at an All-Pro level for much of the season and will find a way to cover the spread against Houston’s banged up secondary.

Parlay: Pats ML @ Buff/Oak +1.5 @ Tampa Bay/KC -2.5 @ Indy

Remember, parlays are a sucker’s bet. Personally, I never put big money on them because of their low success rate. But those odds sure are tantalizing and I like to entertain the idea of one parlay per week.

Pats ML is about as solid of a bet as seeing nudity on Game of Thrones. There is zero shot Bill Belichick loses twice to the Bills in one season. In fact, Belichick is 10-0 ATS against division rivals in revenge games. Truth is, Tom Brady is in full-on F— YOU mode right now which is dangerous to the rest of the league.

LeSean McCoy will be far from 100% even if he does play and Marcell Dareus should be rusty as he makes his season debut. Buffalo is also still without Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods and all of their wins have come against weak competition.

Kansas City will be able to run the ball against Indy’s 25th ranked rushing defense. It’s always dicey to bet against the better QB (Andrew Luck) especially at home. But KC’s roster top-to-bottom is light years ahead of Indy’s. Andrew Luck has been the most sacked (25) and third most hit QB (50) this season and their front seven could use some touchups.

Ten -3 hosting Jax

Rookie DB Jalen Ramsey and Jacksonville’s linebacking core have been this season’s standouts for the team. However, the Jags rank 18th in rush yards allowed per game (109.8) and just lost run stuffer Roy Miller for the season. DeMarco Murray must be salivating like the Tasmanian Devil.

On the other side of the field, Brian Orakpo gets to battle Kelvin Beachum, who is rumored to be far from 100% healthy. You think a barrage of pressure is going to help Blake Bortles, who has a 9-to-11 TD-to-TO ratio this year?

Also, fun fact: despite Marcus Mariota’s inconsistency this season, he’s thrown 24 tuddies against zero picks in the redzone for his career. Chew on that.

SD +6.5 @ Den

San Diego is playing two consecutive road games, which is never easy. But they beat Denver two weeks ago by limiting Trevor Siemian to just 230 passing yards (though the Broncos were without head coach Gary Kubiak for that game). Denver looked anemic of offense last week and C.J. Anderson will miss the next several games due to a bone bruise in his knee (though rookie Devontae Booker has looked good).

But did you know Joey Bosa has the most QB hurries (20) in his first four games than anyone since the NFL made it an official stat? Between he and Melvin Ingram, Denver’s putrid offensive line is going to have trouble.

Denver’s defense has a good shot at winning them this game, but Phillip Rivers in 9-2 against the spread in Denver for his career and 12-4 ATS as an underdog of 6.5 points or more. San Diego can cover this bad boy.

Min -4.5 @ Chi

Minnesota looked down right bad last week against the Eagles as Sam Bradford played like, well, Sam Bradford. The Vikes have offensive line problems that aren’t helping their cause, but Chicago is just an average pass-rushing team, so perhaps they won’t be as exposed this week.

Chicago has a -2 turnover ratio and Jay Cutler’s return doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence there (143 interceptions in 136 career games). The Bears are just 1-2 ATS at home this year, while the Vikings hold a 2-1 record ATS on the road. Minnesota is the better team with one of the league’s best defenses. And there’s no way Mike Zimmer lets his squad drop two in a row.

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