NFL Week 8 Opening Odds Analysis
Let’s take a look at a few games that are sure to draw bettors attention for Week 8. We will just be discussing the matchups; if you are looking for more concrete predictions and projections, be sure to check back throughout the week for our game picks.
All odds are courtesy of our friends at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers
Odds: Panthers -2.5, O/U 51.5
The 3-4 Carolina Panthers will host the 1-6 Atlanta Falcons. After opening the season with a surprising 3-2 record, the Panthers have crashed back to earth with a two-game losing streak. Christian McCaffrey may make his return this week, which is good news for a Panthers team that just saw Mike Davis get held to 36 yards from scrimmage on 12 touches. CMC could be the spark they need to help the offense take the next step. However, they could be without tackle Russell Okung, who suffered a calf injury in Week 7. The Panthers defense, expected to be their weak point this season, has been better than expected. Carolina has the 13th-best scoring defense.
The Atlanta Falcons just cannot hold onto a lead. They blew yet another lead in Week 7, and while the defense gets most of the blame, there is something to be said about the play calling and the offense, as they are unable to be creative enough to score points when they see teams charging. Matt Ryan has started to be picked apart and may be hurting the team more than he is helping them. The defense has allowed a reprehensible 29.6 points per game, good for the league’s seventh-worst mark. A quarterback and a defense that cannot play with a lead is a deadly combination that has led a team with so much promise on both sides of the ball (albeit with obvious holes) to a 1-5 record.
This is a rather small spread that accounts for both teams having losing records. Divisional matchups are often tighter than expected, and the Falcons, despite their 1-5 record, have actually scored more points per game than the Panthers.
The spread is going to see movement at FanDuel, but which direction it goes will depend on the sharps. The 51.5 total seems fair for two teams that combine to score 49.4 points per game and allow a combined 53.6 points per game. However, the fact the final score of the Week 5 battle between these two teams landing at 23-16 is likely to factor into which way bettors lean this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
Odds: Ravens -4.5, O/U 49
The 6-0 Pittsburgh Steelers are set to take on the 5-1 Baltimore Ravens in a battle of heavyweights. The Steelers (+950) are still far behind the Ravens (+550) in Super Bowl odds at FanDuel, but they are creeping closer.
Pittsburgh has been excellent this season, even as they have navigated the incessant injuries to star receiver Diontae Johnson. The 6-0 start is the first of Ben Roethlisberger’s career, and a win this weekend will put them in the driver’s seat to win the division. They will have to make do without star middle linebacker Devin Bush, who was lost for the year with a torn ACL suffered in Week 6.
The Ravens are the home favorites and will look to step on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ throats at their first opportunity, but will have to contend with one of the better defenses in the league. The aforementioned loss of Devin Bush will be huge, especially if Robert Spillane’s shoulder injury proves to be serious. Baltimore needs to learn to play from behind and take some pointers from the Steelers Week 7 opponent in the Tennessee Titans, who never abandoned the run despite being down multiple scores. If Baltimore cannot come out of the gate hot, they may be forced into another learning experience.
It would be shocking if we do not see a massive correction in the opening line for this contest. Ravens bettors will swear up and down that there is too much value to ignore, while Steelers bettors will do the same for a contest they feel should be -3 at most. Which way the line shifts is anyone’s guess, but if the early juice is any indication, Ravens bettors will want to jump on this line immediately.
The 49-point over/under seems fair, especially for two teams that combine for 60.3 points per game. However, this being a divisional battle between two of the league’s top defenses could cause the under to draw the sharps’ attention. The Steelers (seventh) and Ravens (first) both sport top-10 defenses and allow a combined 37 points per game.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
Odds: Eagles -7.5, O/U 43.5
It would not be surprising to see the NFL flex this game out of prime time, but given the rather large and vociferous fan bases of these two teams, both in and out of state, we may be stuck with the 2-5 Dallas Cowboys taking on the 2-4-1 Philadelphia Eagles. Dallas could be in trouble in Week 8 as backup quarterback Andy Dalton may not be available after taking a late hit to the head from Washington linebacker Jon Bostic. Dalton is in the league’s concussion protocol. While one would expect the Cowboys to pursue someone like Jameis Winston, or a street agent — with Jerry Jones, we could very well see Ben DiNucci under center until Andy Dalton is cleared. The Cowboys are going nowhere fast and are thanking their lucky stars that the NFL still forces one team from each division into the playoffs.
The Philadelphia Eagles have been ravaged by injuries this season but have been able to keep their heads above the water thanks to decrepit play from the rest of the NFC (L)East. They are the favorites to emerge from their division and currently sport +5000 odds to win the SuperBowl, with the Cowboys at +15000. The Eagles injury list reads like a who’s who of their top players with guard Brandin Brooks and 2019 first-round pick Andre Dillard both lost for the season. Tight end’s Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are both out until Week 10. Wide receivers Jalen Reagor and DeSean Jackson have both suffered multiple injuries this season and have, or will be spending time on injured reserve. Starting running back, Miles Sanders may not be available for Week 8 after missing Week 7 with an ankle injury.
Despite all of the injuries just listed, the Eagles opened as massive -7.5 favorites for this contest. This line was likely set with the thought that Ben DiNucci would be under center for the Cowboys in Week 8 and could see drastic movement if the Cowboys make a quarterback move or if Andy Dalton is cleared.
Still, it is clear that Andy Dalton is no longer a starter-level talent, so the line may not move too much. It is still a shocking line to see the Eagles as -7.5 favorites over anyone after how they have looked outside of the Ravens game. The 43.5 over/under is about what one would expect from two struggling offenses. The defenses are equally as bad, if not worse, but someone capable needs to be on the other side of the ball in order to exploit the weaknesses. Both of these numbers will change this week, with the spread likely to be the more volatile of the two.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants
Odds: Buccaneers -10.5, O/U 48
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been one of the best teams in football through seven weeks of play. The defense, despite a young cornerback room, has ridden their ferocious front seven to being a top-eight scoring defense and a top-five unit overall. It would be hard to argue against them as a top-three defense.
After opening the season with a loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Buccaneers have righted their ship and rattled off five wins over the last six weeks. They have an enviable collection of talent and have snapped up the top street agents in Leonard Fournette and Antonio Brown. The Buccaneers look better on offense each and every week, which suggests that Tom Brady is finally feeling comfortable in his new home. The addition of Antonio Brown will only help with that. It would be a surprise to see Tampa Bay miss the playoffs this year, but the NFC West’s strength means that they may have to win the division to do so.
The New York Giants have been an abject disaster without the services of superstar running back Saquon Barkley. They sit at 1-6 on the season and are going nowhere fast. Daniel Jones has proven to be the massive reach many thought he was when the Giants selected him in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and if things don’t get better in a hurry, New York could be looking for a new quarterback and a new general manager this offseason. Unless Jones suddenly turns into a quarterback capable of winning games for the Giants this year, their 2020 season can be counted as being as good as over. Justin Fields, anyone?
The -10.5 spread on the Buccaneers is larger than one would expect but is still likely to attract the bulk of the public’s action for Week 8. New York has been one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league, with just 17.4 points per game (second lowest). The Buccaneers, on the other hand, have scored 31.7 points per game (third highest).
The Giants are likely to be eaten alive by the Buccaneers defense in Week 8, but once we cross thresholds such as -7 and -10, sharps see their interest piqued, so expect some movement on the spread. If the early juice is any indication, this line may be pushed down to -10. Giants bettors should bear this in mind. The over/under is likely to hold relatively firm, with movement down to as low as 46 more likely than any increase whatsoever.