Football gets a little crazier by the week. The sharps are playing it close to the vest, but they seem to like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for their Week 8 NFL betting picks.
They say the 20-mile mark is the “real” halfway point in a marathon. In the NFL, that point comes a lot earlier during the regular season – maybe Week 4. Everything after that is a slog, for players and handicappers alike. The early Week 8 NFL betting lines are out, and according to the expanded consensus reports at Sportsbook Review, action has been light on pretty much every matchup. Only two teams are pulling in average bet sizes of over $100: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($128), and the Seattle Seahawks ($109).
Granted, you wouldn’t expect to see too many big bets this early in the week. The wiseguys will occasionally throw some chum in the waters by betting small on one side, trying to bump the NFL lines off or onto a magic number. Then they’ll hammer the other side with big money once they’re happy with the spread. That’s probably not the case with the Seahawks as 5.5-point home favorites versus the Houston Texans, but it might be happening with the Bucs as 2.5-point faves against the visiting Carolina Panthers. Let’s dig deep, peel back the layers, and get to know the real story behind the Week 8 NFL betting odds.
Resistible force meets movable object
Seattle’s game on Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS) is so full of red flags, it looks like a May Day parade. The first consensus reports showed a slight lean toward the Texans (3-3 SU, 4-2 ATS), who are coming off a bye week – a big advantage in football that gets bigger as the season wears on. But the expanded surveys as SBR have the Seahawks (4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS) pulling in 83 percent of the amount wagered at press time, including one $1000+ bet.
Maybe there is some value on the ‘Hawks at –5, the lowest price available as we go to press. They’re projected as a –7 favorite (73 percent to win) at FiveThirtyEight, and something like –6.5 going by the Football Power Index projections at ESPN (70.6 percent to win) and the NFL numbers at Wizard of Odds. The Texans had the week off, but can they take advantage of Seattle’s awful offensive line now that DE J.J. Watt (knee) and LB Whitney Mercilus (chest) are done for the season? Maybe, maybe not. Let’s steer clear of this one for now.
Icing the kicker
Sunday’s matchup (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX) between the Buccaneers and Panthers looks more suitable for our purposes. No bye-week shenanigans here, and Tampa Bay (2-4 SU, 1-4-1 ATS) has as close to a clean bill of health as they could hope for heading into Week 8. Again, there’s a slight lean towards Carolina (4-3 SU, 3-4 ATS) on the early consensus surveys, but the expanded reports show 74 percent of the amount wagered landing on the Bucs, with one of those big $1,000+ bets along for the ride.
The math is somewhat inconclusive on this game. FiveThirtyEight has Tampa Bay at –1.5 (55 percent) using their Elo-based spreads, while the FPI projections at ESPN like the Bucs to win 63 percent of the time, or around –4. If we use the Simple Rating System at Pro Football Reference, it looks like close to a saw-off, with Tampa Bay at –2.0 SRS and Carolina at +1.0 SRS. That suggests the Bucs “should” be very slight underdogs at home.
The Panthers have a few notable injuries that are pushing us towards recommending Tampa Bay for your Week 8 NFL picks. Center Ryan Kalil (neck) and RG Trai Turner (knee) are both iffy for Sunday, LB Luke Kuechly is in concussion protocol, and the team might have to audition some kickers after PK Graham Gano had his knee wrapped up in ice last week. All four could play in Tampa, but we’ll go ahead and throw a small bet at the Bucs, and we’ll do it on the moneyline to scoop up some of that small-favorite value.
Free NFL Pick: Buccaneers –128
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline