NFL Picks Week #8 (2021 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #8)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Wednesday October 28th, 2021 at 10 AM Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
We have a 5-star pick (rated out of five stars) for just the second time this season! The lone other one this year was the Bengals as 3-point underdogs in Chicago in Week 2. The bet was a push, but seeing how these two teams are playing so far, I would make that bet again without any hesitation.
Now, the fairy tale could not last forever. After posting a 16-5-1 record against the spread (ATS) with my 2021 NFL picks through the first six weeks, we suffered a setback by going 0-for-3 last week. At least the unofficial picks had a 2-1 record.
Still, a 16-8-1 ATS record with the official picks this year is incredibly good, a 67% winning rate.
Let’s roll up our sleeves and rebound in a big way in Week 8. Without further ado, let me unveil my top 3 picks for the week, along with a couple of unofficial picks.
PICK #1 (5 STARS): INDIANAPOLIS COLTS PICK’EM VS TENNESSEE TITANS
The opening line had the Colts as 1-point underdogs, and at the time I wrote this article it tipped to being a pick’em game with some sportsbooks even making Indianapolis a 1-point favorite. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Colts end up being 2-point favorites before kickoff. I love this play, as evidenced by its highest possible grade of five stars, for many reasons.
First, the Titans have not experienced much success in Indy over the years. Indeed, they hold a 3-7 record against the spread over their past 10 meetings over there. They also struggled against that opponent at home, where they also show a 3-7 ATS record recently.
Past data suggests that it is often a good idea to bet a team that lost its first game of the season against a division rival. Back in Week 3, the Colts lost 25-to-16 in Tennessee, so I’m confident it will be payback time this upcoming Sunday.
Please note that Indianapolis has beaten the spread four of the last five times they faced a team with a winning record. In other words, they are up to the task when facing a solid football team.
After getting Pro Bowl left guard Quenton Nelson back from an injury last week, the Colts project to get their starting right tackle Braden Smith back on the field as well. That is great news for an offensive line that did not play up to the high expectations earlier this season, but should get back to being one of the best units in the entire NFL.
That will open up more holes for running back Jonathan Taylor, who has rushed for over 100 yards in three of his past four matchups. It will also give more time for Carson Wentz to throw. He is not a mobile QB, but if you give him time, he will hurt you.
The Titans are coming off a couple of huge wins against Buffalo and Kansas City. Obviously, they will be motivated to play the Colts, but keeping the same level of intensity for a third straight game may not be so easy.
The Colts started the season slowly, but you can tell they are hitting their stride since Week 4. Their defense is back to form and the offensive line is getting key guys back.
In summary, I really like the Colts in this spot. Their defense is light years ahead of Tennessee’s, and the offenses are comparable. You could argue that the Titans’ offense is slightly better, but not that much.
In other words, Indy might have the better roster overall and they are playing at home. And yet, this is a pick’em game, while I believe Indianapolis should be favored by 2.5 points.
Did I mention I love this betting pick? The line is influenced way too much by the fact that Tennessee won two big games in a row. I’m grabbing Indy without a doubt.
PICK #2 (3 STARS): PITTSBURGH STEELERS +4 AT CLEVELAND BROWNS
Almost all sportsbooks have the Browns as 3.5-point favorites, except Bookmaker.eu whose point spread is 4. Since they are known to be a very sharp bookie, that makes me worry a little bit. When they have the best line on a specific team, it is often not a good idea to bet them. But that may be the only thing I don’t like about this pick, so I’ll go with Pittsburgh anyway.
First, we have the revenge factor going our way. Indeed, the Steelers were eliminated by the Browns last year by losing 48-37 at home. Do you think they still remember that game? You bet they do!
No matter if Case Keenum is under center, or a banged up Baker Mayfield won’t change much, in my opinion. Keenum is capable of managing games by making safe passes. However, he avoids throwing down the field, which will make it more difficult for Cleveland to win this game by 5 points or more. The Browns might win this game, but if they do it will be by a very tight margin, in my opinion. That’s all that matters when you are taking the Steelers +4 points.
Also, Pittsburgh is getting seven days of extra rest since they are coming off their bye week, while the Browns get three extra days of rest after playing the Thursday nighter. Again, give the edge to the Steelers here.
Did you know that Pittsburgh holds an 11-4 record ATS as road underdogs recently? That’s pretty impressive.
The Browns are really banged up at the wide receiver position with Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and Donovan Peoples-Jones all questionable to play. Nick Chubb will suit up for the game, but he is not 100% either. They even have three guys on the offensive line who were limited in practice: Conklin, Tretter and Wills. Same story for 3 or 4 key guys on defense. Boy, the Browns are not in good shape. Definitely taking the Steelers in this AFC North matchup.
PICK #3 (2 STARS): BUFFALO BILLS -13.5 VS MIAMI DOLPHINS
The Bills are coming off their bye. They have had ample time to game plan against Miami. Elite teams tend to make better use of their bye week compared to weaker squads.
Buffalo also shows an impressive 7-2 record ATS at home against the Dolphins. They are 9-3 ATS as home favorites recently. And over the past six years coming off their bye week, their record against the spread sits at 4-1-1.
The only thing I don’t like is the revenge factor since Miami got demolished 35-0 earlier this season against the Bills. But other than that, I don’t see many arguments supporting Miami.
How are the Dolphins going to move the ball? Buffalo’s pass defense ranks first in almost any category. In fact, they have not allowed a passer to exceed 220 yards through the air, except Patrick Mahomes in desperation mode. Tua has not been lighting up the scoreboard, so it does not bode well for him.
That being said, can the Dolphins run the ball effectively? Again, things look bleak. Prior to Derrick Henry, the Bills defense had not allowed a single running back to top 50 rushing yards, and they had surrendered just one rushing TD all year.
Let’s end by stating the fact that Miami has beaten the spread just two times in their last 10 games played on turf. Ouch!
I’m taking Buffalo to crush their division rivals. They won’t take the foot off the gas in order to send a message they are the kings of the AFC East division.
For entertainment purposes, here are some leans:
- Detroit Lions +3.5 vs Eagles (The Lions are the only winless team in the NFL, but they have come close on a few occasions, including the shocking loss to the Ravens due to a 66-yard field goal as time expired. I like how they seem to be fighting hard under head coach Dan Campbell, who seems very passionate. They will be hungry for their first win before heading into their bye week. Detroit is 5-1 ATS over their past six meetings with Philly. The Eagles have failed to beat the spread the last four times they were road underdogs.);
- Jacksonville Jaguars +3.5 at Seattle Seahawks (The rest factor gives a big edge to Jacksonville since they are coming off their bye week, while the Seahawks just played last Monday. Jacksonville’s offense has improved of late, including their running game. Their offensive line has been very good at run blocking, while James Robinson has been running extremely well. The Jags are 4-1 as road dogs, while Seattle has beaten the spread just once the last five times they were established as favorites.);
I am super grateful that you are following my weekly NFL picks, I hope you find my articles to be insightful. Thank you so much for being here on a regular basis, I appreciate you!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)