As we approach the half-way point in the NFL season, Mike Carlson returns to provide his best bets including another potential upset in New England...
"OK the Lions are bye-week rested and ready, but they are the same sort of team as Cincinnati, who the Steelers whipped last week, and though they are at home and could keep it close I see it as being a field goal at least"
It's funny, when I re-read my predictions, both here and straight-up picks for nfluk.com, how hard I try to talk myself out of risky or silly selections like the Dolphins last night. At least I could save myself with the over, though I didn't suspect it would all come from one team, and 14 of the 40 would be on pick sixes.
Usually by Week 8 the NFL teams are sorting themselves out. This is also the time of year when the Seattle defense usually begins to impress itself on the league, and the Patriots get into their playoff downhill roll. But New England's snowball may be slowed down considerably by the loss of their best defensive player, Dant'a Hightower. Their D had tightened up in the past three weeks, with Hightower literally in the middle of that improvement, not just with his play but his ability to organise the players around him.
The Steelers hit top gear last week against the Bengals, in what is usually a tougher contest for them, while the Cowboys seemed to be back to running the ball with the still-not-suspended Ezekiel Elliott, though that was against the Niners. Minnesota, who play the hapless Browns at Twickenham on Sunday, also seem to be in form, though with Case Keenum at his best their upside may still be limited. Injuries may hurt the Pack and kill the Cards, while the Saints have a chance to tighten their claim on the NFC South if the Falcons can't bounce back against the Jets, and the Eagles have already established a solid lead in the NFC East, where either Dallas or Washington will be handed a blow by the other Sunday.
Week Eight Recommended Bets
OK the Lions are bye-week rested and ready, but they are the same sort of team as Cincinnati, who the Steelers whipped last week, and though they are at home and could keep it close I see it as being a field goal at least, so 2.5 seems a good bet to me. Seattle -5.5 @ 10/11 at Houston is giving less than a TD to the Texans, who might be able to score against them, but might also find their rookie QB DeShaun Watson, given a hard time.
There are a lot of games this week where legit favourites have big margins to cover, but the odds make the Bengals pretty attractive here. 11 points is a lot in game where the over/under is 42, so I'd be tempted to go Over 42 @ 20/21.
The Chargers ought to keep it close, especially with Hightower out and better than 3/1 is tempting. If you aren't convinced of that possibility, LA +7.5 @ 20/23 could be the path to take. They are good enough defensively to slow New England down, especially because their top edge rushers, Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, are great and the Pats' tackles haven't been dominant this year, and also because Philip Rivers can always be counted on to keep things close.
Dallas -1.5 @ 10/11 at Washington tempts me as well, though the Cowboys are only 4/5 on the moneyline, which surprises me. It ought to see some scoring, so 1.5 points isn't that big. I see this one being close as well, and going Over 49 @ 5/6 might be better.