Each week during the 2021 NFL season, TheLines will examine how the coming week’s NFL lines have changed relative to preseason or prior expectations. Often, early lines can give an objective look at teams’ relative talent levels, absent week-to-week recency bias when the weekend results take hold. Let’s take a look at NFL Week 8 spreads and see which numbers have changed and, potentially, why.
Bengals Take One Of Biggest NFL Spread Jumps Of 2021
At the top of the list this week sits an unlikely 2021 contender. Perhaps the most unlikely, of any of the teams occupying playoff spots.
|Game||Look-Ahead Line||Oct. 27, 11:30 a.m. ET|
|Cincinnati Bengals at NY Jets||Bengals -4||Bengals -10.5 (-105)|
Bengals At Jets
Few expected the Bengals to contend as the markets had them fighting with the Steelers to avoid last place in the division. Yet, they sit officially atop the AFC after thrashing the Ravens, 41-17. The domination was legitimate too, as they outgained the perennial contenders 8.3 to 5.5 yards per play.
The advanced stats had already respected the defense. Now, the offense has begun to show its strength, creeping up to 18th in DVOA and a very solid 10th in EPA/play. WR Ja’Marr Chase’s talent plus his chemistry with Joe Burrow has really elevated this group from “has potential” to “actually dangerous.”
The market had been skeptical of a team that previously feasted on mostly cupcakes, but it appears to have finally taken notice of Cincy.
And the Bengals almost couldn’t find an easier spot than hitting the road to face a reeling Jets team. Not only do the Jets stink under the best of circumstances, but ultra-anonymous former fifth-round pick Mike White and retread vet Joe Flacco will now battle for the reins at QB.
Rookie Zach Wilson has been admittedly awful but at least has talent.
Place a chip on your bingo card if you had “Bengals become double-digit road favorites.” Here we are and the move does not look crazy given the Jets just got blasted by 41 by the offensively-challenged Patriots.
Other Big NFL Week 8 Spread Moves
Several other NFL Week 8 spreads saw some notable movement, one under some pretty unique circumstances.
|Game||Look-Ahead Line||Oct. 27, 11:30 a.m. ET|
|Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals||Cardinals -3.5||Cardinals -6.5|
|NY Giants at Kansas City Chiefs||Chiefs -12.5||Chiefs -10|
|Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons||Falcons -1.5||Falcons -3 (-108)|
Packers At Cardinals
Originally this looked like one of the most fun and competitive games of Week 8.
Unfortunately, a bout of COVID-19 appears to have hit the Packers locker room. Superstar WR Davante Adams and possession-centric sidekick Allen Lazard both look certain to sit against Arizona after landing on the reserve list.
One piece of good news came on Tuesday as deep specialist Marquez Valdes-Scantling should return. Still, Aaron Rodgers will be working with a threadbare receiving room. It’s an open question whether a receiver could possibly be worth multiple points to the line by himself, but once multiple top players in a position group start hitting the bench, things can get ugly.
Look no further than the Browns losing outright to the Jets last year when the receiving room came down with COVID or was put in contact tracing. Cleveland would eventually win a playoff game and likely would have beaten the Jets by multiple scores if they didn’t trot out a group of practice squad wideouts.
Considering how strong the Cardinals have looked, the Packers were likely to have their hands full in an ideal circumstance. Their defense, running game and backup receiving options will now have to step up if they hope to beat the Cards and stay in the hunt for the top seed in the NFC.
Giants At Chiefs
Another team beset by injury, the Giants could potentially get some good news this week. They’ve been working with a hospital ward of playmakers. Multiple receivers have been hobbled or out, along with RB Saquon Barkley and TE Evan Engram.
Darius Slayton returned last week. Sterling Shepard seems likely to do so this week after he was a game-time decision. Barkley, Kadarius Toney and Kenny Golladay all found their ways onto the field Wednesday, steps in the right direction.
The team made it work against Carolina because the defense held the Panthers to three points. That seems unlikely to happen against the Chiefs, who, despite the flop against Tennessee, still rank among the top offensive teams this season.
Whether this move stems from increased confidence in the Giants, positive injury news or the market finally turning on the Chiefs is unknowable. But, the Giants have dropped to the semi-key number of +10 even with the more talented Chiefs desperately needing a win at home on Monday Night Football.
Panthers At Falcons
The Panthers have put together a truly brutal stretch of offense. Only an 18-point second half partially against Minnesota’s prevent defense saved them from three of the most awful games of the year. Even that still wound up with the team posting 4.5 YPP.
They’re dead last in EPA/play over that time. That’s not an especially easy feat in a league that includes Davis Mills and the New York Jets.
One piece of sustainable goodness: they finally started focusing the offense around the fact they have an alien playing TE in Kyle Pitts. He has drawn 27 targets over that time after just 17 in the first three games. The team would do well to keep feeding him the ball.
With Panthers stock plummeting and Atlanta stock inching upward, it’s little surprise this line has shifted in favor of the Falcons. With Carolina now getting a key number, the time has come to grab them if you believe they can bounce back here.
NFL Week 8 Spreads, Movement Tracker
|Game||Look-Ahead Line||Oct. 26, 5:30 p.m. ET||Oct. 31, 10:30 a.m. ET|
|Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals||Cardinals -3.5||Cardinals -6.5||N/A|
|Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills||Bills -11.5||Bills -13.5 (-114)||Bills -14.5 (-105)|
|Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons||Falcons -1.5||Falcons -3 (-104)||Falcons -3|
|Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns||OTB||Browns -3.5||Browns -4|
|Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions||Eagles -4||Eagles -3.5||Eagles -3.5 (-104)|
|Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts||Colts -2.5||Titans -1.5||Colts -3 (-105)|
|LA Rams at Houston Texans||Rams -14||Rams -14.5 (-106)||Rams -16.5|
|Cincinnati Bengals at NY Jets||Bengals -4||Bengals -10.5 (-105)||Bengals -10.5 (-115)|
|San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears||49ers -3.5||49ers -3.5 (-104)||49ers -4|
|Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks||Seahawks -3.5||Seahawks -3.5||Seahawks -3.5 (-115)|
|New England Patriots at LA Chargers||Chargers -6||Chargers -5.5 (-114)||Chargers -4|
|Washington Football Team at Denver Broncos||OTB||Broncos -3 (-115)||Broncos -3.5|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints||Buccaneers -4||Buccaneers -5 (-115)||Buccaneers -4|
|Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings||Cowboys -2.5||Cowboys -2.5 (-118)||Vikings -2.5 (-115)|
|NY Giants at Kansas City Chiefs||Chiefs -12.5||Chiefs -10||Chiefs -10|