It’s already Week 8, and with the Playoff Picture coming into focus, Nick Ballistreri makes his 5 Best Bets of the week.
NFL Season Record ATS: 24-15
New York Jets at Jacksonville Jaguars Preview
Things were looking up for the New York Jets…until they ran into the Patriots. Coming off a shocking victory against the Dallas Cowboys, the Jets were looking to build on their momentum, only to get embarrassed on MNF, 33-0. It was a performance that was ugly from the start, and promising young QB Sam Darnold arguably had his worst performance of his career, going 11/32 with only 86 yards, and 4 Interceptions. Bill Belichick’s defenses will do that to you.
The Jaguars are coming off an unimpressive 27-17 win against the winless Bengals. The Jaguars struggled to put them away, as their offense has proven to be incapable of scoring big points. The Jaguars are 6 point home favorites in this one, and I expect to see a very ugly game.
Neither of these teams impress me whatsoever. Both defenses can keep their teams in the game, but their offenses can’t put up points. Expect a slugfest, albeit an ugly one, but a close game in which the Jets cover 6 points.
Los Angeles Chargers at Chicago Bears Preview
There once was a time where the Bears defense could carry their struggling offense. Those days, it appears, are over. The Bears offense, lead by Mitchell Trubisky, is playing so bad that even the vaunted Bears defense can’t keep them in games. They are coming off an embarrassing loss to the New Orleans Saints, losing 36-25 at home. Don’t let the 25 points fool you, the Bears were down 36-10, with their only touchdown coming on special teams, before some garbage time points.
The Chargers weren’t much better last week. They lost 23-20, in which they had 4 chances to score at the goal-line to win the game, only to fumble their chances away. They now sit at 2-4, with their season slowly slipping away from them.
For a team with as much talent as the Chargers, that is simply unacceptable. In this matchup, the Bears are 4 point home favorites. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and what I keep doing is trusting the Chargers to bounce back. Call me insane, but I’m taking the Chargers and the points in a bounce-back performance.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Tennessee Titans Preview
One of these seasons, the Buccaneers are going to break through. Unfortunately for them, it’s not this season, but the team is wildly entertaining as their offense can score with the best of them. The Bucs sit at 2-4 on the season, but their offense is averaging an astounding 28.8 PPG.
The Titans are as usual, inconsistent. They are 3-4 and coming off a thrilling 23-20 victory over the Chargers in Ryan Tannehill’s first start with the team. It’s not that the Titans are a bad team, it’s just that they can’t seem to string victories together. The defense can only bail the team out so much, as the offense can’t get the passing game going.
The Titans are 2.5 point home favorites in this one. In my eyes, both teams are relatively even. What is going to decide this game is big plays, and the Buccaneers have a much better chance at hitting on a couple with Mike Evans or Chris Godwin deep down the field. Give me the Bucs with the points, as the day of the underdog continues.
Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans Preview
The Oakland Raiders were down 14-10 to the Green Bay Packers, and were knocking on the door for some more. Things changed in an instant when Derek Carr reached for the pylon, only to have the ball get knocked out of the endzone for a touchback. This changed the momentum, and the Raiders never recovered in a 42-24 loss. Aaron Rodgers absolutely torched their defense to the tune of 6 total touchdowns.
The Texans are coming off a disappointing loss to the Indianapolis Colts in which they allowed Jacoby Brissett to throw for 4 touchdowns on the day. Are you noticing a trend here? The Texans are still tied for 1st in the AFC South, but must fix things up defensively if they look to compete deep into January.
The Texans are 6.5 point home favorites in this one, and my gut feeling is to stay away from that. Instead, I am eyeing the total, which is set at 51. That’s a high number for any game, but neither of these defenses has shown that they could stop anyone. This should be a close, high scoring game, and for that reason I’m riding with the OVER 51 in this one. Let’s see some fireworks.
Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs Preview
What could’ve been. We were on a crash-course to the potential game of the year until Pat Mahomes went down with a knee injury. Thankfully for the NFL as a whole, he is only expected to miss 3-6 weeks, avoiding a season ending injury. However, that’s bad news for the present, as the Chiefs are left with long-time journeyman Matt Moore behind center.
For the Packers last week was business as usual, defeating the Raiders 42-24 to improve to 6-1 on the season. The Packers have already matched last year’s win total, riding a stellar defense and a solid offense. Aaron Rodgers woke up from a season long slumber last week, throwing for 5 touchdowns and rushing for another. It was vintage Rodgers, and that could spell trouble for the Chiefs.
The Packers are 3.5 point favorites on the road in this game. For some reason, I can’t get behind that, but I can’t confidently pick the Chiefs either. The crowd in Arrowhead will be raucous, knowing that they have to help their undermanned team. I am eyeing the total here, which is generously set at 48.5 points. The Packers defense has been stellar this season, and the Chiefs defense is coming off their best performance of the season, allowing only 6 points to the Broncos and harassing Joe Flacco all game. I expect a low-scoring dog fight between two teams who will need their defenses to come up huge if they hope to play late in January. Take the UNDER 48.5, and hope for some defensive havoc.