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Let’s take a look at all 12 NFL contests slated for Sunday’s DraftKings Sportsbook Pro Football Week 8 Spreads Pool, including my five personal favorites.
Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) @ Miami Dolphins
The Pick: Dolphins +3.5
The Tua Tagovailoa era gets underway in Miami this week. The Dolphins decided to make the switch from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Tagovailoa during their bye week and he’ll get his first start of the season vs. the Rams.
The Dolphins’ future is bright with Tua and a resurgent defense, but what does that transition mean for them this season? Fitzpatrick has played well as a starter this year, but it’s not like he’s been dominant. He ranks merely 19th among qualified quarterbacks in terms of adjusted yards per attempt (AYA) and 17th at the position in terms of Pro Football Focus grade. Considering how Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert have played to start their careers, it wouldn’t be a huge shock if Tagovailoa can exceed Fitzpatrick’s production right out of the gate.
I also love the direction of this team under Brian Flores, who is one of the best young coaches in football. Great coaches tend to cover following a bye week, and while we don’t have a huge sample size on Flores in that situation, he did cover the spread following the Dolphins’ bye last season.
Ultimately, backing the Dolphins this week is backing the Flores/Tagovailoa combination, and I am happy to do just that.
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills (-3.5)
The Pick: Bills -3.5
I think this is a major statement game for the Bills. They’re coming off a poor performance last week vs. the Jets, but the final score is a bit deceptive. They actually outgained the Jets by 232 yards in that contest but were done in by some sloppy play in the red zone. The Bills ultimately had to settle for six field goals compared to zero touchdowns, so they have massive room for improvement moving forward.
One reason for the Bills’ sloppiness last week could be that they were looking ahead to this matchup vs. the Patriots. New England has been the dominant force in the AFC East for the past two decades and this is the Bills’ chance to change that narrative.
The Patriots enter this game having lost three straight contests for the first time since 2002. This team looked competitive early thanks to the play of Cam Newton, but he has struggled recently and was actually benched last week. It’s possible he’s still recovering from COVID-19 or dealing with some other ailment, although the Pats haven’t listed him on the injury report.
If Newton can’t turn things around, he’s not going to get much help from the rest of the roster. The Patriots have arguably the worst group of skill position players in the league and they’re going to be without Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry this week. Their defense has also dropped from first in defensive DVOA in 2019 to just 25th in 2020.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)
The Pick: Ravens -3.5
The public is on the Steelers – they’ve received 60% of the betting tickets – but I absolutely love the Ravens to cover the spread.
For starters, the advance line on this game was listed at Ravens -5.5, but it dropped to just Ravens -3.5 following the Steelers’ impressive showing last week vs. the Titans. It has since crept back up to Ravens -4.0 on the DraftKings Sportsbook, but we can still grab -3.5 in this Sportsbook Pool.
The Steelers are undoubtedly a good team, but this will easily be their toughest test of the season. They’ve played just two teams with a winning record – the Titans and the Browns – and the Ravens are a clear step up from those squads.
Baltimore hasn’t been the same team offensively this season, but I’m expecting them to turn things around following their bye. John Harbaugh has historically been one of the best coaches in football with extra time to prepare, posting a record of 8-3 against the spread. That includes a 17-point win in that situation last season vs. the Patriots despite being listed as three-point underdogs.
New Orleans Saints (-3.5) @ Chicago Bears
The Pick: Saints -3.5
The Saints are a tough team to fade in this contest. You can grab them as just 3.5-point favorites vs. the Bears despite the fact that the line has increased pretty drastically. It’s currently listed at 4.5 points on the DraftKings Sportsbook and I would expect it to rise even more before game time. That makes the Saints appealing from a pure numbers standpoint.
The Saints do have some major injury concerns at wide receiver – Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Marquez Callaway have all been ruled out – but Drew Brees can still lean on all-world RB Alvin Kamara to carry the load. He’s been a monster in the passing game this season, logging at least eight targets in five of his first six games.
The Saints are also solid on the defensive side of the ball, which should spell trouble for Nick Foles. He has been nothing short of a disaster since taking over at starting QB for Chicago, posting an adjusted yards per attempt of just 5.2. That ranks 30th among 32 qualified QBs.
Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles (-7.5)
The Pick: Eagles -7.5
This is another pick I think we have to make based purely on the numbers. This spread has soared all the way to Eagles -10.5, so we’re getting three points of spread value with the Eagles at the number in this contest.
Ben DiNucci will draw the start for the Cowboys, and he is a complete unknown at this point. He was a seventh-round pick out of James Madison in the 2020 draft and wasn’t even invited to the scouting combine. He did put up some solid numbers in his final collegiate season, but that wasn’t even against top-level college competition.
Now, he’ll be forced to take the reins for the Cowboys behind a dreadful offensive line. They are down a host of starters at the position and a proven QB like Andy Dalton wasn’t able to take advantage of the Cowboys’ offensive weapons behind that unit. Dalton is not the same player that he was in his prime, but it’s not a stretch to say that he’s probably better than DiNucci at this point in his career.
Here’s who I’m targeting for the rest of the Sunday games. Remember, we’re looking to beat the competition and climb up the leaderboard, so I’ll be looking to gain leverage on the field and fade the public in situations where I don’t see a huge edge on the spread.
Tennessee Titans (-6.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals
Pick: Titans -6.5
New York Jets @ Kansas City Chiefs (-19.5)
Pick: Chiefs -19.5
Indianapolis Colts (-2.5) @ Detroit Lions
Pick: Colts -2.5
Las Vegas Raiders @ Cleveland Browns (-2.5)
Pick: Browns -2.5
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers (-6.5)
Pick: Packers -6.5
Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5) @ Denver Broncos
Pick: Chargers -3.5
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks (-3.5)
Pick: 49ers +3.5
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