Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18) plays in an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Week 8 of the 2021 NFL season continues Sunday, October 31st
Our best bets last week were 0-3 (2021 season: 5-16, -12.9 units)
Read below for analysis on the Week 8 NFL slate and our favorite ATS picks
The NFL season rolls on Sunday, with a 13-game Halloween slate. Our ATS picks have been the scariest thing about the season so far, but this week feels like a prime opportunity to chip away at the massive hole we’ve dug ourselves.
Our betting card starts in Cleveland, where the Steelers and Browns are set to renew their AFC North rivalry.
Week 8 ATS Picks
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cleveland Browns
Los Angeles Rams vs Houston Texans
Tennessee Titans vs Indianapolis Colts
Odds as of Oct. 28th at FanDuel and DraftKings. See bottom for rest of Week 8 Picks.
The last time Pittsburgh and Cleveland met, the Browns rolled to a convincing playoff victory, but there’s reason to believe fortunes will be reversed in Week 8.
Steelers Cover vs Browns
The Steelers are 3.5-point underdogs, which is simply too high of a line for this matchup. Browns QB Baker Mayfield appears to be trending in the right direction towards playing after missing last week’s action, but whether it’s him or Case Keenum that starts, Cleveland’s game plan will be to establish the run.
The @Browns 13 rushing touchdowns are tied for the most by any NFL team in the first seven weeks of a season since 2005.
— Dan Murphy (@DMurph_BrownsPR) October 26, 2021
The Browns rush the ball at the league’s second highest rate, but the Steelers have been tremendous against the run this season. Pittsburgh ranks ninth in run defense DVOA, and is allowing just over 4 yards per carry. They’ve yielded only two rushing touchdowns, while forcing six fumbles.
Attacking the Steelers through the air is no picnic either, as they rank 13th in pass defense DVOA. Pittsburgh is third in pressure rate, and fourth in pass rush productivity (per Pro Football Focus), racking up 15 sacks in only six games.
#Steelers defense this season:
💪 78.8 run-defense grade (3rd)
💪 79.3 pass-rush grade (4th)
Only team in the top-five for both 😤 pic.twitter.com/c4FUeJCctu
— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) October 28, 2021
Offensively, the Steelers are a below average unit, but they can certainly do enough to keep this game close. Rookie Najee Harris is a weapon in both the run and pass game, while Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool are both big plays waiting to happen.
Also working in Pittsburgh’s favor is Mike Tomlin’s track record as an underdog. Tomlin coached teams are 27-10-1 ATS as an underdog versus winnings opponents, including 18-7 ATS on the road.
Super Bowl 56 Odds Tracker
Rams Run Over Texans
Next up, we have the LA Rams as 14.5-point favorites over the Texans. Let’s not overthink this one. Houston has lost back-to-back games by a combined total of 62-8. They’ve scored nine or fewer points in four of their last five outings, and now face a Rams defense that ranks fourth in DVOA.
#Texans outscored 102-8 in last 3 road games:
Bills 40, Texans 0
Colts 31, Texans 3
(4Q 10:22) Cardinals 31, Texans 5
— Brooks Kubena (@BKubena) October 24, 2021
Sure, there’s a chance Tyrod Taylor returns from his hamstring injury, but Davis Mills is still taking first team practice reps. Regardless of who starts, it’s hard to imagine them putting up enough offense to keep this game even remotely close.
That’s because LA’s offense is going to absolutely smash. The Rams are DVOA’s top rated passing team, while Matthew Stafford is going to feast against the NFL’s fourth lowest graded coverage unit. Stafford has thrown for at least 321 yards in four of seven games, while racking up multiple touchdown passes in every contest but one.
Highest Passer Rating in the 2nd half:
♨️ Matthew Stafford – 131.3
♨️ Dak Prescott – 128.3 pic.twitter.com/nFXoqRXDli
— PFF (@PFF) October 27, 2021
LA is averaging 29.6 points per game, while only the New York Jets score less frequently than the Texans.
Colts Take Down Titans
Our final target is the Colts giving 1.5-points to the Titans. This game actually opened Tennessee -1, but sharp money has pushed the line 2.5 points away from the Titans.
Tennessee is fresh off two statement victories, squeaking by the Bills in primetime, and trouncing the Chiefs. Despite the impressive wins, there’s plenty of reasons to be bearish on the Titans.
Rising to the occasion ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/9AsA5nMW0a
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) October 27, 2021
This is the same team that lost to the Jets quarterbacked by Zach Wilson, who is among the lowest graded QB’s by PFF. Tennessee’s secondary is still a mess, with both starting corners out, and despite allowing only 3 points last week, they still grade out as a bottom-11 defense by DVOA.
Indy meanwhile, ranks first in run defense DVOA, and while they will repeatedly be tested by Derrick Henry, they did hold him scoreless in their first meeting this season.
The Colts offense is showing signs of life, and is finally starting to get healthy. Stud guard Quenton Nelson is back, and right tackle Braden Smith looks like he’ll play Sunday as well. That boosts Jonathan Taylor’s outlook, who has already been smashing behind a depleted offensive line.
Jonathan Taylor has been dominant on the ground, rushing for over 100 yards and adding a touchdown. 🙌#NextGenStats powered by @awscloud pic.twitter.com/JIXIQGN7XP
— Sunday Night Football on NBC (@SNFonNBC) October 25, 2021
Taylor has six touchdowns in his last four games, clearing 100 yards on the ground three times. Carson Wentz meanwhile, appears to be over his ankle injuries, and has racked up an impressive 11-to-1 TD-to-INT rate this season, helping Indy cover in four straight.
Week 8 Quick Picks
Panthers (+3) vs Falcons: Atlanta ranks bottom-five in pass and rush defense DVOA. Nice bounce back spot for Carolina here.
Lions (+3.5) vs Eagles: Detroit hung with the Rams last week with an ultra aggressive game plan. It’d make sense to try and replicate that formula versus Philly.
Bears (+4) vs 49ers: San Fran has lost four straight. Chicago is struggling as well, but this number is too high for a West Coast team travelling East for a 1 pm ET start.
Dolphins (+14) vs Bills: Too many points for a divisional matchup. Buffalo gets the W, but leaves the backdoor open for Miami.
Jets (+10.5) vs Bengals: The lookahead line for this game was Cincy -3.5. Zach Wilson was already one of the lowest graded starting QB’s in football, so it’s hard to imagine his replacement is going to be 7 points worse.
Chargers (-4.5) vs Pats: Line opened at LAC -6, but is already down to -4 at some online sportsbooks. That’s too much of an overreaction considering the Chargers are a top-11 offense per DVOA, and Mac Jones’ three wins have come against the Jets twice, and the lowly Texans.
Seahawks (-3.5) vs Jaguars: Geno Smith is 2-0 ATS as a starter this season, while Jacksonville checks in as the league’s worst defense per DVOA.
Broncos (-3) vs Washington: Bounce back game for Denver versus a Washington team that’s allowing the fourth most yards in the NFL.
Saints (+4.5) vs Buccaneers: It’s hard to bet against Tom Brady, but the Saints did have his number in two of their three meetings last season.
Cowboys (-1.5) vs Vikings: Kirk Cousins is 6-13 straight up versus winning teams in his Minnesota career. Expect another defeat versus an ultra talented Dallas squad that ranks top-10 in both offensive and defensive DVOA.