NFL Picks Week #8 (2020 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #8)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Thursday October 29th, 2020 at 7 a.m. Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
The 5-star pick was a winner last week, lifting our record on such plays to a perfect 2-0 record this season!
Backing the Jets was a bold call, especially considering they were 0-6 against the spread (ATS) this year, but we took them at the right moment.
Notice how New York was a 13-point underdog when I took them last Thursday, while the line dropped all the way to 9.5 prior to kickoff. That was a huge indication it was a good value bet.
I’ve got four official picks for you this week, as well as five “leans”. Let’s get going!
PICK #1 (4 STARS): ATLANTA FALCONS +2 AT CAROLINA PANTHERS
The Panthers were supposed to be one of the worst NFL teams this season, but surprised many by winning three of their first five games. They have now lost a couple of games in a row, and I would not be surprised if they go on a downward spiral.
It is still uncertain if Christian McCaffrey will return to the lineup, but even if he does it looks like his ankle is still not 100%.
Left tackle Russell Okung is a long shot to be available, which would be a big blow to this offensive line. I also believe losing Kawann Short for the rest of the year will have a big negative impact on Carolina’s defensive line. He was a key part of this defense.
Matt Ryan struggles a lot when pressured since he moves like a statue, but thrives when given time to scan the field. Carolina ranks dead last in sacks with only six. I expect Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage and Hayden Hurst to shine on Thursday Night Football.
I also like to pick teams who have lost to the same opponent earlier in the season. That’s the case of the Falcons who lost 23-16 against Carolina three weeks ago. It’s time for some payback!
Atlanta suffered another mind-boggling loss last week and I really expect them to lash out on their division rivals this Thursday. I wouldn’t be surprised if they won the game by 10 points or more.
PICK #2 (3 STARS): NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS +4 AT BUFFALO BILLS
After a hot start to the 2020 season, the Bills have cooled off in a big way. They were hammered 42-16 in Tennessee before getting stomped by the Chiefs despite a fairly close 26-17 score. Last week’s win over the Jets wasn’t convincing either.
What I like the most about this prediction is how well the Patriots match up against Buffalo. Let me explain.
First, let’s think about the case where New England has the ball. Their passing attack has been very inconsistent and they lack playmakers catching the ball. In order to have success, they must run the ball effectively, which happens to be Buffalo’s Achilles’ heel on defense (they rank 23rd in terms of yards-per-rush average).
Now, how about when the Bills are on offense? Buffalo has the sixth-most passing yards per game this year versus 29th in rushing yards per game. Guess what is New England’s strength on defense? That’s right, their pass defense with Stephon Gilmore and the two McCourtys leading the way.
Some might also argue that the Pats are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 meetings in Buffalo, but I’m not sure this stat is relevant with Tom Brady gone.
Without hesitation, I’m going with New England to keep this game close.
PICK #3 (3 STARS): NEW ORLEANS SAINTS -4 AT CHICAGO BEARS
In today’s NFL, it is hard to win if you cannot throw the ball effectively, unless you are exceptionally good at running the ball like the Baltimore Ravens. Clearly, the Bears have a bad passing attack with Nick Foles posting 6 TD passes and 6 interceptions in five games. And their running game is just as bad: the team ranks last in rushing yards per game.
Somehow, Chicago rode their defense to go 5-2 thus far in 2020. However, everyone knows they are not that good. Even their defense started to show some signs of weaknesses last week against the Rams, who picked up 24 first downs and 371 total yards.
Relying on a stifling defense was a good recipe 20-30 years ago. It does not work as well in the modern NFL. Even then, the Bears defense is good, but it’s not a dominant force either. I do believe Sean Payton’s team will be able to move the ball offensively.
Here are some interesting trends:
- Are you worried about how the Saints will perform on grass this weekend? They are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games on grass.
- New Orleans is 5-1 ATS in their last six matchups as road favorites, and 36-17 ATS in their past 53 road games overall.
Also notice that the Bears are playing on a shorter week due to playing the Monday nighter, a game in which they traveled all the way to Los Angeles.
PICK #4 (1 STAR): NEW YORK JETS +19.5 AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
No need to discuss the mismatch on paper. We all know how much better the Chiefs are compared to the lowly Jets.
I’m going with the Jets for a couple of reasons:
- Since the AFL-NFL merger, 13 teams have been favored by 20 points or more. Those teams have gone 13-0 straight up, but just 3-10 ATS. Technically, New York is not a 20-point underdog, but the line opened at 21.5.
- I’ll mention the same stat as last week for those of you who didn’t see my Jets pick against the Bills. Since 1985, six teams have started the season with six straight losses both SU and ATS (which is the case of the Jets in 2020). How did these teams fare in the remainder of their season? They went 34-24 ATS, a 58.6% win rate.
Personally, I’m holding off before placing a bet on New York. I am waiting to obtain the injury status of wide receivers Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman. If both are out, I need a point spread of at least 21 to bet the Jets. Hopefully, at least one of them suits up this Sunday, otherwise Sam Darnold may not have any reliable targets. Granted, I thought rookie Denzel Mims showed promise in his NFL debut against Buffalo last week.
The Jets also have four offensive linemen who are listed as questionable.
In other words, depending on who plays and how the point spread changes, I’ll make a decision once I have more information.
For entertainment purposes, here are some leans:
- Bengals +6 vs Titans (Cincy’s five losses were by 3, 3, 4, 5 and 24-point margins, so they kept all games close except against the Ravens);
- 49ers +3 at Seahawks (tight divisional matchup and Seattle’s defense is horrendous);
- Steelers +4 at Ravens (don’t like the fact that Baltimore is coming off its bye week though);
- Dolphins +4 vs Rams (too much uncertainty due to Tua’s first start to bet, but the “rest” factor favors Miami in a big way. They are coming off their bye week and have been at home three straight weeks, while the Rams played last Monday night and are now traveling across the country);
- Over 48.5 points Jets vs Chiefs.
I hope you enjoyed this post, go get your bookie man!!!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)