Week 8 of the NFL season got underway on Thursday night with the Baltimore Ravens pulling off the win as a short road underdog against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers have fallen to 3-5 which is a shining example of just how weird the start of the NFL season has been. Today, we're going through three separate pairs of games with similar point spreads and deciding which side we'd rather bet if we were forced to make a choice.
Eagles or Bills?
The Philadelphia Eagles are the lone undefeated team remaining in the NFL, while the Buffalo Bills are the betting favorites to win the Super Bowl. Most would consider them the two best teams in football. Both teams are coming off a bye-week and both teams are laying a sizable amount of points at home this week. The Eagles are a 10.5-point favorite over the Pittsburgh Steelers while the Bills are laying 10.5-points against the reeling Green Bay Packers. Which elite team would you rather lay the massive number with?
Greg: If I told you before the season that the Eagles were going to average 4.2 points in the second half of games through seven weeks, you’d probably think Jalen Hurts ended up being a bust after all and that there’s no way Philly would be undefeated. As it stands, Hurts is the third-shortest favorite for MVP (+450), the 6-0 Eagles are +175 to make the Super Bowl, and this isn’t even the top of the mountain yet. At some point in the near future, it’ll be all gas and no brake and we’re going to see some huge blowouts. It may start with the Steelers at home, coming off a bye. I admire Kenny Pickett’s aggressiveness as a passer, but this is the wrong defense to test.
You could fill a bus with all the people Aaron Rodgers has thrown under it, so I am very much here for the 2022 humbling of the Packers QB. If Green Bay can’t score enough points to beat the Giants, Jets, or Commanders, how are they going to keep it close against the league’s best defense? The Bills have won their two home games this season by a combined 69 points. Everyone say it with me: nice. I’ll take the Bills.
Pete: The Steelers are not good, but Mike Tomlin has done a good job of ensuring they play hard every week. That's been showcased by them beating the Buccaneers as a 9.5-point underdog two weeks ago and then covering and almost winning as over a touchdown underdog last weekend in Miami. The Eagles have been getting off to great starts and then taking their foot off the gas, which is a recipe for backdoor covers which is especially scary with a large number like this. I can see Philadelphia leading this game 17-0 in the first half, 24-7 late and then the Steelers score a meaningless touchdown in the final few minutes to get within the number.
The Packers feel all kinds of broken right now and I'm not sure how this offense can move the ball consistently. Randall Cobb is on IR, Allen Lazard is most likely out and Christian Watson and Sammy Watkins have been limited in practice. Rodgers has also shown a tendency of packing it in and losing interest when his team falls behind by a wide margin. I'll roll with the Bills as well.
Dolphins or Bengals?
The Miami Dolphins got Tua Tagovailoa back last week and as a result, they returned to the win column. Miami is 4-0 in games that Tua has started and finished this season, while they are 0-3 in games finished by either Teddy Bridgewater or Skylar Thompson. This week, the Dolphins are 3.5-point road favorites against the Detroit Lions. Elsewhere, the Cincinnati Bengals got bad news this week with Ja'Marr Chase expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a hip injury. They were beginning to look like the team that made it to the Super Bowl but now they'll be without their best weapon for a while. However, the Bengals are still a 3.5-point road favorite against the Cleveland Browns. Which road favorite would you rather back?
Greg: I can’t stop thinking about what the Lions would be looking like at this point if they had stayed healthy. Maybe 2-4 instead of 1-5? No amount of grit can fix this defense, what they need is a lot more talent. Mike McDaniel did a good job of carving them up last year when he was offensive coordinator for the Niners, so there’s zero reason why Raheem Mosert, Tyreek Hill, and Jaylen Waddle shouldn’t shred them for at least four or five touchdowns on Sunday. The one thing Miami’s defense has done well this season is stop the run, and that’s bad news for a Lions offense that relies on their running game.
Just when the Bengals were opening up their offense and airing it out, Ja’Marr Chase gets sidelined for multiple weeks. Awful. I liked the Browns in this game before that news broke, so now I’m really on them. Kevin Stefanski is undefeated versus Cincinnati in his tenure as Cleveland’s coach and it’s been five years since the Bengals won a game in the Dawg Pound. Zac Taylor’s team is giving up the fifth-most rushing yards over the last three games (163.3 per game), while the Browns lead the league in rushing EPA per play. We’re getting the full Chubb on Monday night. I’m frolicking with the Dolphins this week.
Pete: Joe Burrow is yet to beat the Cleveland Browns in his career, and if he does it this week, he'll have to do it without one of the best weapons in the league. I'm interested in seeing how the Bengals respond to this injury. For their sake, I hope the adjustment isn't to go back to running Joe Mixon into a wall on first down every time like they were doing the first few weeks. I think this is a good spot for the Browns at home in primetime against a team that they've done well against. I'm not laying the points with Cincinnati here, despite their 5-0 run against the spread in their last five games.
Detroit's defense looked a little better last week against the Cowboys, but of course, Jared Goff was brutal, turning the ball over and scoring almost no points. That's usually how it works with the bad teams. When one side of the ball is competent, the other side isn't. I can see Mike McDaniel carving this defense up, or I can see the Dolphins shutting down the Lions' rushing attack. In other words, I think there's multiple ways that Miami gets the cover here. I hate to agree again, but it's Miami for me as well.
Colts or Seahawks?
The Indianapolis Colts have decided to move on from Matt Ryan, and in Sam Ehlinger's first start, the Colts are a 3-point home favorite against the Washington Commanders. Running quarterbacks have been extremely successful in recent seasons, and the Colts are hoping to catch some of that magic with Ehlinger. Elsewhere, two of the most surprising teams in the NFL have been the Seattle Seahawks and New York Giants. The 6-1 Giants are a three-point underdog at Seattle this weekend. Which home favorite would you rather lay the field goal with?
Greg: I nearly billed Yahoo for hazard pay for making me watch last week’s Colts-Titans game, but I have to admit I’m eagerly anticipating Sam Ehlinger versus Taylor Heinicke this week. Heinicke plays with the unfettered confidence of Tom Cruise’s character in Magnolia, fully believing he was placed on this floating space rock to seduce and destroy defenses. He’s too much of a wild card for me to bet on or against him.
Back in Week 5, I invited you to hop on the Geno Smith bandwagon and you responded, “I will probably be one of the last people to jump on that bandwagon with you.” Imagine my surprise this week when I saw you advocating for Geno as Comeback Player of the Year. Welcome aboard, my friend. The Seahawks offense is absolutely cooking and they’re honestly one of the most fun teams to watch this year, especially with Kenneth Walker III in the backfield. The New York Football Giants have some cool wrinkles on offense, but their defense ranks 29th in DVOA. No fluke fumbles or lucky bounces for them this week, Seattle exposes the worst 6-1 team in NFL history for the frauds that they are. Seahawks country, let’s ride.
Pete: It's true, I looked at the odds for CPOTY and thought there was some value on Geno Smith at +450. This story is nothing short of remarkable as someone who was forced to watch a lot of New York Jets football about a decade ago. Of course, if I get on the Geno bandwagon now, there's a chance that train comes crashing off the tracks. These two teams meeting in Seattle are far and away the two teams I was most wrong about entering the season, but at least with Seattle, I can see it being somewhat sustainable. The Giants are finding themselves on the right side of a lot of one-possession games. That luck has to run out sometime. This is also a terrible travel spot for New York, who has gone from London to New York to Florida to the Pacific Northwest in the last month.
As Greg mentioned, there's something about Taylor Heinicke that intrigues you. Additionally, as a fan of the Big 12, Sam Ehlinger starting an NFL game intrigues me. He doesn't have the typical NFL skill set, but he was a very good college quarterback at Texas. Both quarterbacks are extremely volatile bets right now, which probably means the right move is to stay away and watch how things go. For that reason, I'm going with Seattle and making this a perfect 3-for-3 article in terms of agreement. We know how this goes.