Every week, we will give three bets against the spread to monitor for that slate of NFL games: one we like (Bet It), one we love (Hammer It) and one we are staying away from (Don’t Touch). Without further ado, here are the best and worst bets for NFL week eight.
Cleveland Browns (+8.5) over Pittsburgh Steelers
It is a testament (or perhaps whatever the opposite of a testament is) to Hue Jackson that Cleveland has hung around in nearly every game this season and are still 2-4-1. Four trips to overtime (1-2-1 in those games) and two games decided by four points or fewer. That represents a pattern. It shows that the Browns are talented enough to stick with most teams, yet lack finishing ability. Their quarterback is promising, but uneven. Their weapons skilled, but youthful. The defense packed with stars present and future, yet are at the mercy of an often lackluster offense. The best way to describe the Browns as a whole is “just good enough to get you beat.”
This line has actually gone up in the last few days; it opened as Steelers by 7.5. So the public is drinking the anti-Browns Kool-Aid that we have all been conditioned to accept. And truth be told, I would pick the Steelers to win outright. But the Browns nip at heels as well as any mediocre team in the league. As such, I expect this one will be decided by a touchdown or less for the Cleveland cover.
Indianapolis Colts (-3) over Oakland Raiders
Yes, I know a week ago I went with the Colts as a stay-away. But last week’s dominating win over Buffalo demonstrated a couple of things. One, the Colts are getting healthy. Two, they can put up a lot of points, especially against bad teams with no pass rush. Well, guess who is a bad team with no pass rush? Hint: it’s the one that traded their best pass rusher and still wonders why they cannot find a way to the quarterback.
At 2-5, the Colts are somehow in the playoff picture, two games back of the division leading Texans. And that team is far from a juggernaut, so realistically, eight or nine wins could take the AFC South. For what it is worth, Houston and Indianapolis both have positive point differentials this year, while Jacksonville and Tennessee do not. Unlike the Raiders, the Colts are motivated to play well and are getting positive action from their young players. The Raiders are in tank city with an uninspired fanbase and a potentially alienated franchise quarterback. Three points seems low for the visiting Colts, so I say bet big on this one.
San Francisco 49ers (+1) at Arizona Cardinals
Both these teams are coming off blowout losses at home. The 49ers had the Packers on the ropes a couple of weeks ago, but their follow up was an anemic performance against the Rams in week seven. The Cardinals fared no better, losing by 35 to the Broncos on Thursday Night Football. With a combined two wins between them, it is safe to say that both squads belong on any shortlist of the worst in football alongside the Giants and Raiders. As such, Vegas basically told the public to figure this line out on our own and opened with a pick-’em before moving to Cardinals by a point. Frankly, if Vegas had no clue originally which direction to go here, I am certainly going to follow suit and stay away from this one.