The Professor’s NFL Week 8 Games of the Week and How to Bet Them

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Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line

Week 8 in the NFL kicks off with a bang as the Green Bay Packers travel to play the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday Night Football. The absence of Green Bay receiver Davante Adams (COVID) and Arizona defensive end J.J. Watt (shoulder) takes away a bit of the star power, but the matchup between quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Kyler Murray still makes this NFL matchup must-see television. This column focuses on weekend games, but The Professor will get things started fast by putting one unit on Green Bay at +6.5 and one unit on the over at 50; Adams’s absence is significant, but the Green Bay coaching staff should be able to put together a solid plan around Rodgers, and I like MVP-caliber quarterbacks getting this many points.

This “Games of the Week” column will look for an angle for you to bet so you can make the biggest NFL games even more enjoyable. All spreads and totals are provided by DraftKings.

Dallas at Minnesota (DAL -2.5, Total 55)

Model Projection: Dallas 25.65 – Minnesota 23.73 (DAL -1.92, Total 49.38)

BET: DAL -2.5, 2 UNITS, Under 55, 1 UNIT, Minnesota +8.5 used in a six-point teaser below

This bet counts on Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott starting in this week’s Sunday Night NFL matchup; given how the line was trending before the news about Prescott’s injury came out, I expect it to jump to DAL -3 if Prescott is confirmed as the starter.

Offensive tackle may not be a sexy position, but Vikings fans will be watching rookie left tackle Christian Darrisaw closely in this game. Darrisaw took over as the starter against Carolina and could be a pivotal player for this offense given that former starter Rashod Hill’s struggles were preventing quarterback Kirk Cousins and the skill group from maximizing their potential.

Darrisaw will face difficult matchups against a Dallas defensive line headlined by Randy Gregory, who has paid off the years of faith the Cowboys showed in him by performing at a high level this season. As long as Prescott is healthy, the Cowboys are loaded on both sides of the ball and should be able to get this win, but Kirk Cousins and his deep group of weapons should make this a competitive game. The absence of cornerback Patrick Peterson is a concern for a Minnesota defense that has rebounded this season; Bashaud Breeland and Cam Dantzler are likely to start on the outside, so it could be a day where the Cowboys run the offense through their receivers.

The Professor will put two units on Dallas at -2.5, one unit on the under 55, and will use Minnesota at +8.5 in a six-point teaser below.


New England Patriots at Los Angeles Chargers (LAC -5, Total 49)

Model Projection: Los Angeles 28.08 – New England 19.03 (LAC -9.05, Total 47.11)

BET: LAC -5, 3 UNITS

The Patriots can be viewed through a variety of lenses. There’s the Patriots that successfully executed multiple trick plays against a Jets team quarterbacked by Zach Wilson and Mike White; there’s also the Patriots that felt they needed to run those trick plays to beat a Jets team quarterbacked by Zach Wilson and Mike White. There’s the Patriots that took the Cowboys to overtime; there’s also the Patriots that was outgained by a significant margin against Dallas. There’s the Patriots that nearly beat the Buccaneers; there’s also the Patriots that saw quarterback Tom Brady play his worst game of the NFL season against them.

The Professor is not a Patriots hater all the time; I was inspired to get into football professionally by learning about Bill Belichick in Patriot Reign and former Patriots Director of Football Research Ernie Adams is my football idol. That doesn’t play into gambling opinions, however, and Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is a more talented player than Patriots quarterback Mac Jones and Herbert plays on a markedly more talented offense. The defenses are closer to a wash, but the Chargers have the two best defenders in edge rusher Joey Bosa and safety Derwin James. New England blew the Chargers out last season in a game that featured egregious ineptitude on special teams by the Chargers, but I’ll bet that new head coach Brandon Staley ensures that his special team units play with 11 players against New England this season, rather than the 10 or 12 they seemed to favor in last year’s matchup.

The model projects the Chargers as a 9.05 point favorite in this game. This doesn’t account for key gambling numbers, but I would make this game at LAC -6.5 or -7, so I will happily put three units on Los Angeles at -5.


Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (IND -1.5, Total 51)

Model Projection: Indianapolis 26.76 – Tennessee 26.16 (IND -0.6, Total 52.92)

BET: 6 point teaser, TEN +7.5, MIN +8.5, 2 UNITS, OVER 51, 1 UNIT

Tennessee picked up the first win in this series 25-16 the week after Indianapolis quarterback Carson Wentz injured both his ankles at the end of a loss to the Rams. The injuries severely limited Wentz’s mobility and general lower-body explosiveness in the loss to the Titans, but Wentz has trended steadily upward since that time, which should help make this a more competitive NFL game.

These teams went 1-1 against each other in 2019 and 2020, though the relevance is limited because Tannehill wasn’t the Titans quarterback for one game in 2019 and 2021 is Wentz’s first season in Indianapolis. There are consistencies in other areas, however, including the matchup between head coaches Frank Reich and Mike Vrabel and the presence of Titans running back Derrick Henry, and Colts guard Quenton Nelson, so while it’s not the exact same teams, the competitive balance NFL fans have come to expect in this AFC South matchup should be part of this weekend’s game.

Indianapolis is the more desperate team in this game, as Tennessee would essentially lock up the AFC South with a second head-to-head win.

I’ll avoid the spread and place two units on a six-point teaser with Tennessee at +7.5 and Minnesota at +8.5, and will also put one unit on the over at 51.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (TB -6, Total 50)

Model Projection: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24.93 – New Orleans 21.91 (TB -3.02, Total 46.84)

BET: Under 50, 1 UNIT

Jameis Winston was a member of the Saints for all three matchups against the Buccaneers last season, but as Drew Brees was the starter, this matchup qualifies as Winston’s revenge game against Tampa Bay, the team that once made him the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians had some harsh parting words for Winston after 2019, but while Winston will be raring to show his old coach up, that qualifies as more of a concern for a player as reckless with the ball as Winston. New Orleans will continue to help Winston limit his mistakes with a run-heavy approach; they traded for former running back Mark Ingram on Wednesday, who will reform the backfield tandem with Alvin Kamara, who has been overly taxed because training camp darling Tony Jones Jr. failed to translate his pre-season promise to regular-season production.

Tom Brady and the Bucs offense had an easy day at the office against Chicago, enjoying several short fields created by punt returns and turnovers, but it will be tougher sledding against a New Orleans defense that has been among the better units in the NFL when healthy. Bucs linebacker Lavonte David could return, which would reinforce Tampa Bay’s formidable run defense and could lead to a low-scoring game.

The model likes the Saints with the points, but The Professor doesn’t trust Winston in this matchup and will instead put one unit on the under at 50.


Conclusion

This article previewed four prominent NFL matchups for the coming week and talked about how to bet them. For more content from The Professor, including the rest of his game previews and his fantasy content, check out The Professor on BeerLife Sports!

About the author:

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Steven Clinton, better known as "The Professor", is a former D-1 Quality Control Assistant (Northwestern, Toledo) who holds a B.A. in Economics and M.S. in Predictive Analytics from Northwestern University. He maintains an end-to-end NFL game projection model and is a film junkie who breaks down the tape of every NFL game.

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