NFL Picks Week #8 (2019 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #8)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Wednesday October 23rd, 2019 at 11 a.m. Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
PICK #1: New York Jets +6 at Jacksonville Jaguars (rated 4 stars)
This is a perfect example of overreaction to recent results. The line is clearly inflated because of the humiliation inflicted by the Patriots to the Jets on national television Monday night.
Sam Darnold looked awful by turning the ball over 5 times. Does that suddenly make him the worst QB in the league? Of course, not. As usual, Bill Belichick came up with a smart plan and it worked to perfection. New York’s offensive line had trouble figuring out which players were going to blitz, and Darnold was under pressure all game long.
Let’s look at the numbers. In Darnold’s two other games this season, he has completed 51 of his 73 passes for a 70% completion rate. He threw 3 TD passes versus just one pick. And those games occurred against above-average defenses: the Bills and the Cowboys.
This dreadful loss against what we may be the best team in the NFL does not make the Jets a super bad team all of a sudden. Before the season began, the line in Vegas for their regular season wins was 7.5 (which was about the same for Jacksonville, by the way). Sure, they are 1-5 right now, but Luke Falk was the quarterback for three of those games.
To me, the Jets and the Jags are pretty much of equal strength. In my humble opinion, Jacksonville should be favored by 3-4 points; 4.5 at most! The 6-point spread seems like a bargain to me!
Elements not favoring New York: they lose one day of rest/preparation after playing the Monday Nighter, and the matchup against the Jags is sandwiched between a couple of divisional games (against the Pats and the Dolphins).
Factors favoring New York: they’ll want to avenge a 31-12 loss in Jacksonville last year. They will be playing with a chip on their shoulder after such an embarrassing performance on primetime television. They are coming off a stretch of four games where they were at home on three occasions (not much traveling). And the Jags could be looking ahead to a critical showdown against the Texans next week.
Give me the Jets as 6-point dogs.
PICK #2: Buffalo Bills -1.5 vs Philadelphia Eagles (rated 3 stars)
The fatigue factor plays largely in favor of Sean McDermott’s squad. Indeed, the Bills are at home for a third straight week (including their bye); if you go back six weeks, they were at home on five of them!
Meanwhile, Philly is on the road for the third time in a row after playing at Minnesota and Dallas. As a matter of fact, they were the visiting team on four of their past five weeks.
I am aware that the Eagles really need this game to avoid dropping to a 3-5 record. But keep in mind that the two non-conference road games are probably the two least “sexy” games on the schedule. There’s not much rivalry. It won’t look as exciting for the Eagles, especially after facing division rivals Dallas. The intensity level won’t be the same. It’s a different thing for the Bills, who are still playing in front of their fans and will certainly give that little extra effort.
Philadelphia has a much better offense than the Bills, but their defense (especially their pass defense) is a big source of concern. Buffalo’s defense disappointed last week by allowing 21 points to the Dolphins, the most points they’ve allowed this year. Meanwhile, Philly has allowed more than 21 points in all of their games, except just one!!! That’s just terrible.
I’m betting the Bills to go 6-1, which would make me just one win short of cashing in on that big $10,000 preseason bet on Buffalo to win at least 7 games in 2019.
PICK #3: Chicago Bears -4 vs Los Angeles Chargers (rated 3 stars)
This looks pretty familiar, doesn’t it? I bet those same Bears at home with that same spread last week, but got burned. What a disgusting performance it was against the Saints.
The offense made me throw up in my mouth and they kept getting booed by their fans (deservedly so). The defense was also a big disappointment for the second straight week. After allowing 24 points to the Raiders in London, they gave up 36 to the Saints without Drew Brees at quarterback.
I can’t imagine Chicago not coming out firing on all cylinders in this one. They’re not out of the playoff race yet, but they need to start winning very quick.
Meanwhile, the Chargers must be devastated. They were pretty much knocked out of the playoff race after Melvin Gordon fumbled at the goal line with 15 seconds left in a 23-20 heartbreaking loss in Tennessee. They are now 2-5 and their chances of reaching the playoffs are very slim.
Also, their offensive line is in trouble. They were already allowing a high pressure rate, then they lost their starting center Mike Pouncey a few weeks ago and will now be without Forrest Lamp. That’s bad news when facing the Bears, especially for a QB like Philip Rivers who is not very mobile.
Chicago will be at home for a third consecutive week, which includes their bye. As for L.A., they will be traveling through two time zones to play an early Sunday game.
I’m betting the Chargers to sink even deeper, while the Bears rebound to go back above .500.
LEAN #1: Tennessee Titans -2.5 vs Tampa Bay Bucs
I rarely fade teams after their bye week, but I’m going to do it here.
This is a non-conference road game for Tampa, which is not super motivating. This meeting also marks a sandwich game for the Bucs; they are coming off a couple of key games against the Saints and the Panthers, and they are going to face the Seahawks next.
The Titans are at home for the third time in four weeks.
People often focus much more of each team’s offense but overlook their defense. In this case, it’s a total mismatch. The Bucs have allowed an average of 31 points per game, while the Titans have surrendered just 16 points per game. They have not allowed more than 20 points through their first seven contests, which is exceptional!
When two evenly matched teams face each other, the point spread usually favors the home team by 3 points. In this case, Tennessee is established as 2.5-point favorites, which implies Tampa is a slightly better team. I disagree, as I feel the Titans are a bit stronger, especially with Ryan Tannehill under center. To me, he’s a better QB than Marcus Mariota. Switching QBs was a smart move by head coach Mike Vrabel, in my opinion.
I’m going with the Titans in this one.
LEAN #2: Denver Broncos +6 at Indianapolis Colts
Let’s start with the elements favoring the Colts. They will be at home for a third consecutive week and Denver will be traveling through a couple of time zones to play an early Sunday game.
That being said, what are the factors helping the Broncos? They get three extra days of rest following a Thursday night game against the Chiefs. That gives them more time to game plan appropriately against Indy.
They have also spent quite a bit of time at home recently. Indeed, out of the past four weeks, they were home on three of them.
Moreover, I expect Denver to rebound after a disappointing performance on national television versus K.C. On the other side, you’ve got the Colts coming off a huge divisional meeting against the Texans so it’s possible that they experience a bit of a drop-off in terms of motivation.
Denver’s defense is solid; they have allowed an average of just 19 points per game. As 6-point underdogs, they certainly can keep it close enough to beat the spread. I like the Broncos here.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s write up, we’ll talk again next week!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)