After going 29-17 (63.0%) through the first seven weeks, let’s keep things rolling. Below are my NFL picks for Week 8 — centered around two spread wagers.
As always, these are bets I have wagered my own money on. There won’t ever be a bet I post about that I also haven’t made.
Join our NFL Discord betting channel to receive an immediate notification when we bet anything, which you can sign up for under the #roles server. Click on any of the odds to place a wager on these NFL picks.
Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
Bettors may consider this line a bit shore from a bird’s eye view — given Minnesota’s 5-1 record. Nevertheless, it’s been pretty fortunate, with its last four victories all coming by one score. Kirk Cousins & Co. have also been outgained in Yards Per Play (YPP) in each of their previous three matchups.
That’s a sign of potential regression. Enter Arizona, which saw its EPA per play undergo a dramatic boost in Week 7 with DeAndre Hopkins returning. Although it faced a depleted Saints secondary, the Vikings’ bunch is just as vulnerable.
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Assessing Vikings’ Vulnerable Defense
Under first-year defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, Minnesota runs a shell zone. This scheme hasn’t worked out to this point, especially in nickel coverage. Overall, the Vikings are surrendering the league’s eighth-highest Dropback Success Rate (SR). For context, a play is successful if teams produce:
- 50 percent of the yards needed to move the chains on first down
- 70 percent of yards to gain on second down
- 100 percent of yards to gain on third or fourth down
Not only do the Cardinals run 11 personnel (three wide receivers, one tight end, and one running back) at an above-average rate, but Murray is more efficient against zone looks as well. Hopkins’ presence opens up space for the rest of Arizona’s receiving corps, too.
Now, despite Murray’s ability to escape the pocket, the Cardinals’ Offensive EPA is slightly below league average while facing the blitz. That’s somewhat a byproduct of their banged-up offensive line — currently headlined by left tackle D.J. Humphries and center Rodney Hudson.
However, the Vikings utilize five or more pass rushers at the eighth-lowest rate (17.6%) across the NFL. This group has also struggled to generate pressure in general. Hence, Kliff Kingsbury’s attack is clearly set up to excel.
Noting these factors, along with Minnesota’s overvalued offense by the market, I bet Arizona over a key number for the first of my NFL picks. Play this down to +3.5.
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Washington Commanders at Indianapolis Colts
After the Colts opened as a four-point favorite, an adjustment occurred once reports surfaced that Sam Ehlinger would replace Matt Ryan under center. I hopped on Indianapolis -2 during that timeframe, which you’ll find in our aforementioned Discord channel.
Despite backing the Commanders in six of their first seven games (and losing my sanity in the process), here’s why I’m selling Washington’s success of late.
Having Faith In An Unknown Commodity
We’ve only seen Ehlinger, who was drafted in 2021, attempt a pass in the preseason. Hence, there’s literally no sample size for the 24-year-old signal caller.
That may make you inclined to back Ron Rivera’s team — with the line back up to a field goal at most shops. Mind you, Ehlinger’s protection is suspect, and Washington’s stout defensive front has notched the league’s fifth-highest pressure rate (26.4%).
But Ehlinger showcases mobility that Ryan couldn’t provide at this point, lending to potential positive variance outside of the pocket. The Colts’ talent grade at receiver, led by Michael Pittman, is also higher than what Washington’s secondary has seen during their two-game win streak.
As long as Ehlinger’s arm isn’t noodle-like come Sunday afternoon, he should be able to take advantage of a group that’s allowed nearly seven yards per pass attempt (YPA). It’s due for a relapse, too, as it recently squared off against the Packers and Bears’ below-average passing attacks. The former is producing a staggeringly low output because of Aaron Rodgers’ thumb injury and a dwindling receiver group.
Playing off the ground game won’t be an easy task against a sound run defense, but Washington was exposed against the Titans’ Derrick Henry in Week 5. If Jonathan Taylor can find any sort of room to operate, Ehlinger will naturally reap the benefits.
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Taking Advantage Of Taylor Heinicke
In each of the Commanders’ latest victories, they exploited a pair of susceptible run defenses via a positive game script. This time around, they’re up against a Colts’ unit that’s performing at a top-10 level over the last two campaigns.
If Washington relies on its passing game for whichever reason, trusting Heinicke to engineer a comeback is an arduous ask. His Completion Percentage Over Expected (CPOE), which adjusts for associated factors that make a pass more or less likely to be completed, has consistently settled in below league average.
Heinicke is even more prone to mistakes against zone coverage, and Gus Bradley runs a Cover-3 scheme. He won’t have explosive rookie receiver Jahan Dotson (hamstring) at his disposal, either.
In what’s essentially a must-win spot, expect Indianapolis to capitalize. If you weren’t able to grab the Colts at -2.5 or better for your NFL picks, wait to see if the betting market adjusts. You can aim to live bet this game as well.