October 23, 2013 Travis Reason

NFL News

NFL Week 8 Betting Previews and Picks

The playoff picture is becoming very clear in the NFC and although some divisional races are becoming more defined in the AFC, the conference’s overall order is a little more muddled at the moment. What will change in Week 8? This is a week not for supreme showcases but for the kinds of games that teams need to win in order to move up the playoff ladder. Taking care of business: that’s basically the theme of the upcoming week in the professional football realm.

Atlanta Falcons @ Arizona Cardinals

Game Line: Cardinals -2.5, 45 O/U

Those who bet on the NFL know that the Falcons are headed nowhere this season but neither are the Cardinals. It’s true that Atlanta has suffered a number of injuries – most notably at the wide receiver spot with Julio Jones – but the Falcons still have Matt Ryan in a quarterback confrontation that also involves Arizona signal caller Carson Palmer. The Ryan-Palmer dynamic should certainly work in favor of Atlanta, even though Arizona has a legitimately solid defense, anchored by defensive end and pass-rushing stud Calais Campbell. As long as Atlanta doesn’t commit more than one turnover, they should be in fairly good shape. The Cardinals’ offense just doesn’t inspire much of any confidence. Atlanta is not a playoff team but this isn’t a team that will fall to a 5-11 or 4-12 record either. The Falcons are too good not to win a road game like this one at some point during the season. At the very least, they should cover on the NFL betting odds.

Free Pick: Take the Falcons +2.5 and the under. Falcons 23-17.

Cleveland Browns @ Kansas City Chiefs

Game Line: Chiefs -7, 39.5 O/U

The Chiefs aren’t blowing teams out but give them this: they’re not losing at all. Kansas City is now the lone unbeaten team left in the NFL at 7-0 after handling the Houston Texans. The Chiefs are winning with an old-school formula in a new-age league. A lot of teams like to run spread passing offenses and load up the scoreboard, but the Chiefs are winning with a conservative game plan and a reliance on their defense. Kansas City might not win by 21 or 24 points, but with the struggles Cleveland is facing on offense under beleaguered quarterback Brandon Weeden, the Chiefs still face very good odds against the Browns this weekend on their home field at Arrowhead Stadium.

Free Pick: Take the Chiefs -7 and the under. Chiefs 26-13.

Dallas Cowboys @ Detroit Lions

Game Line: Lions -3, 51 O/U

Those NFL online betting handicappers who have doubted the Dallas Cowboys in recent years might still have reason to question the Cowboys’ credentials on a larger level. Dallas certainly doesn’t seem to be the equal of the New Orleans Saints, the Seattle Seahawks, the San Francisco 49ers or the Green Bay Packers. Yet, Dallas does seem to be the clear favorite in a weak NFC East after a strong road win in Philadelphia against the Eagles. The Cowboys’ defense has responded the right way to a 51-48 loss to the Denver Broncos. They have shored up their weak points and seem ready to force a few turnovers from an erratic Detroit offense that cannot manage to stack good drives together. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford is air-mailing a lot of his passes. He is not showing the consistency that the Lions need from him, as the struggling franchise trie s to reach the next level. Detroit’s 4-3 record seems to be more of a product of the schedule than anything else. Those looking for NFL betting tips should factor that the Lions have beaten the Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins, and Cleveland Browns in addition to the Chicago Bears (their one quality win this season). If you had to identify one team as playing better football at the moment, it would be Dallas. The Cowboys come across as the more prudent choice this week – if only because Detroit is so undependable right now.

Free Pick: Take the Cowboys +3 and the over. Cowboys, 31-27.

New York Jets @ Cincinnati Bengals

Game Line: Bengals -6.5, 41 O/U

It’s time to give credit where credit is due: the New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan has done some great work with his team. He’s reminded observers that he did make consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances not too long ago. The Jets’ defense is standing tall, denying touchdowns to opponents and keeping margins workable for rookie quarterback Geno Smith. The Jets rarely – if ever – fall behind by large point totals, enabling Smith to play through mistakes and face workable down-and-distance situations on each drive. If the Jets were always playing when down by 14 points, Smith would have to throw on almost every down and he’d be in trouble. However, the Jets are so sound on defense that Smith knows he doesn’t have to do too much. It’s all working for New York, and so this game against 5-2 Cincinnati doesn’t seem that impossible. The Jets could very easily win this – especially since their defense could force a few turnovers from Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. All in all, the Bengals have more weapons and will probably find a way to win but the Jets know how to keep games close and cover on the NFL lines. The 6.5-point spread feels too large here.

Free Pick: Take the Jets +6.5 and the over. Bengals, 30-27.

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Home Dog with the Best Chance to Win is… The Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders. This is true not because the Raiders, a 3-point underdog to the Pittsburgh Steelers, are so good. It’s because Pittsburgh’s offense is so shaky. The Steelers have scored 19 points in consecutive games and are just not finding a higher level of production. The Raiders can certainly keep this game close with their defense and steal it in the fourth quarter.

Add in the fact that the Raiders are coming off a bye week and the Steelers are coming off an emotional win against the Super Bowl champs and this has the makings for an upset on the NFL odds.

Home Dog of the Week: Raiders +3

Most Important Injury of the Week is…

…take your pick. Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley, Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey or New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham. There’s plenty of injuries that will weigh on the betting lines this week. However, we’ll go with St. Louis Rams starting quarterback Sam Bradford. He got knocked out for the season with a torn ACL this past Sunday and now the Rams are in a very bad spot entering this week’s Monday Night Football game against the Seattle Seahawks. Good luck to you, Kellen Clemens. It’s hard to see what answers the Rams will have for Seattle’s defense.

7-Point Teaser of the Week: Broncos -6 & Jaguars +20.5

Bettors shouldn’t overreact after the Broncos first loss of the season. For our first pick, we’ll knock down their NFL point spread to get it under a touchdown. Washington gave up 41 points to the Josh McCown-led Bears at home last week. Peyton Manning and company could score 50.

In our second game, we’ll tease another big favorite. The San Francisco 49ers are laying 16.5 points against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second contest that will be played at Wembley Stadium in the United Kingdom this season. The Jags are a mess and have been outscored 222-76 in their games so far.