NFL Tipsheet: Mini previews and recommended bets for Week 8 fixtures

Rookie Eric Kendricks can destroy the Bears
Rookie Eric Kendricks can destroy the Chicago Bears

Luca Bercelli has discovered a couple of bankers in week eight of the NFL season. Read on to find out where.

"...the Vikes should be a touchdown favourite at least. Their defensive line was absolutely rampant last week."

Recommended Bet
Back the Minnesota Vikings to win @ 2.01/1

Detroit Lions @ Kansas City Chiefs Sunday 14:30

These two wooden spoon merchants have shown recent signs of life (primitive signs admittedly), but both both are basically making up the numbers this season and can't be trusted to bust a well fed gut from now until week 17. At least Detroit fans have Megatron and Stafford back in sync, but I was expecting a lot more from rookie running back Ameer Abdullah. His 3.6 average yards per carry isn't great and he's only hit the 50-yards total mark once this season. He's in danger of becoming (Ab)dullah and duller as the season progresses. Yes, it's a learning process, but he needs a break-out performance sooner rather than later. Even though the Chiefs' run defense is decent, I'm taking AA and the Lions to put on a show at Arrowhead. Kansas got some lucky breaks against a third-string quarterback last week, and that is not a performance or result to get carried away with. I'm swerving the Chiefs and looking to transfer Adbullah into moolah.

Recommended Bet
Back the Detroit Lions +6.0pts @ 1.910/11

Arizona Cardinals @ Cleveland Browns Sunday 18:00

The Cards are back on track after a minor blip in week six when they took the day off. Back at the office versus the Ravens they looked dangerous, and against a Cleveland team that has struggled to find any consistency, I love their chances in this one. There must be an elixir of youth doing the rounds in the desert because not only has Larry Fitzgerald rediscovered his best form in his 12th season, but Chris Johnson looks like a new player, leading the ground attack after appearing destined for the scrap heap after one lacklustre year with the Jets in 2014. 35-year-old Carson Palmer must feel right at home leading this veteran-laden offence and it shows as they are second in points scored in the league. This should be a breeze for the Cards. (Stop press: if John Footy gets the start for the Browns, I'll tread carefully...he's a potential catalyst.)

Recommended Bet
Back the Arizona Cardinals to win @ 1.51/2

Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday 18:00

Big Ben Roethlisberger gets the chance to show Pittsburgh fans what they have been missing for the last four games if he's fit to take on red-hot divisional rivals the Bengals this weekend. He's a great player; a talismanic leader who will improve the Steelers immeasurably. However, the keys to the outcome of this game may lie elsewhere. Can the Bengals step up to the next level after their stellar start to the season, and in particular can they stop running back Le'Veon Bell from causing havoc? I think the answers will be definitely and maybe, and that should be enough to see them remain in their oasis of calm success. Carrot Top and co are possibly the healthiest squad in the NFL and if you factor that in, along with Pittsburgh's log jammed medical room, odds of 2.111/10 for the straight win look mighty tempting.

Recommended Bet
Back the Cincinnati Bengals to win @ 2.111/10

Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears Sunday 18:00

I know that this is a divisional match-up and that Chicago will be all out to avoid slipping down any further in the NFC North, but the fact that this match isn't far away from being a pick is absolutely nuts IMO. Where are the positives for the Bears? Heck, last time out they lost to the then 0-5 Lions. I'm not having it; the Vikes should be a touchdown favourite at least. Their defensive line was absolutely rampant last week with devastating rookie linebacker Eric Kendricks popping up everywhere - on one occasion almost getting to Matthew Stafford before he'd even received the ball. Adrian Peterson is back to his best, steady Teddy Bridgewater is doing all that is asked of him, and a new name has come to the party, Stefon (archaeological) Diggs. The rookie did a fair impression of a cheetah majestically snagging a scared rabbit as he gathered in a 36-yard touchdown pass last week, giving him back-to-back 100-yard games. He looks legit, and adding his talents to an already solid Minnesota outfit - this is a mismatch.

Recommended Bet
Back the Minnesota Vikings to win @ 2.01/1

New York Giants @ New Orleans Saints Sunday 18:00

More than any other team the Saints really do seem to have turned a corner and regained some of their southern swagger. Three wins out of their last four tells its own story, but it's the defence in particular that has really stepped up of late, and they will need to be on their toes against OBJ and the one good Manning. I like the Giants, but they seem to be flaky this season and rank badly in both offence and defence. The Saints have a better running back in former Heisman winner Mark Ingram and more momentum, so with the home crowd to help they should fall over the finishing line in first place. I'm also sniffing around the total line since both teams racked up 27 points a piece in week seven and a 47 point total is well within reach. OBJ is likely to put on a show playing back in his home state so with muchos puntos coming into play I'll probably dip into both markets, but for you my loyal followers, the selection is New Orleans on the outright.

Recommended Bet
Back the New Orleans Saints to win @ 1.75/7

San Diego Chargers @ Baltimore Ravens Sunday 18:00

These two teams have disappointed me as much as my hair-brained decision to renew my Charlton Athletic season ticket (well, almost as much). Both have promised riches and delivered peanuts. Defensively in particular they are both porous, the Bolts against the run and the Ravens against the pass. An equation so simple it can be worked out on my abacus shows me that, barring an earthquake, San Diego's number one-ranked passing attack is set for a field day on Sunday. In a points-fest the better passing defence should win, so this was an easy call. Wow, the Bolts are receiving three points. Please sir, can I have some more!

Recommended Bet
Back the San Diego Chargers +3.0pts @ 1.910/11

San Francisco 49ers v St Louis Rams Sunday 18:00

I've been raving about Todd (I'm not) Gurley for a while now and it's good to see the rookie delivering in a big way. Most running backs wait for holes to develop or tiptoe around slower defensive players; not this guy, he bulldozes through defenders that are in the perfect position, half the time dragging them with him. A real league superstar and if he stays healthy, TG will not only be scoring many TD's but he will be forcing the Rams into the play-offs and making life difficult for whoever has to face them. The good-for-nothing Niners are up for Gurley and co this week, and their 20th-ranked run defence will slide down the rankings after our boy has diced and sliced them. The market is spot on here with the Rams as a 1.251/4 fav, but the handicap is definitely worth a pop with San Fran seemingly in disarray.

Recommended Bet
Back the St Louis Rams -7.5pts @ 1.910/11

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons Sunday 18:00

This is not as straightforward as it might look at first glance. The Bucs (2-4) have been making steady progress without getting the Ws whereas the Falcons (6-1) have a healthy win column but only by scraping through several games against mediocre opposition. They seem to be regressing, a fact acknowledged by wide receiver Julio Jones who described the team as being 'in a funk.' This week could see them get even funkier as a big reason for their success so far, league-leading running back Devonta Freeman won't have it all his own way against an improving Bucs D. Add to that the growing confidence of rookie quarterback Jameis Winston and this fixture could provide the upset of the week. I'm way too feeble to stick my neck out and go for the outright but I'll lap up the handy 7.5 point head start.

Recommended Bet
Back the Tampa Bay Buccaneers +7.5pts @ 1.910/11

Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans Sunday 18:00

Tickets for this low-grade affair should be on sale in dollar stores between the plastic Halloween pumpkins and the bottles of wine that aren't really wine. With three wins between them this is the wooden spoon bowl part two, and one that I won't be getting my betting boots on for. Odds and a potential handicap line are hard to come by at the time of writing and that's not surprising with Titan's QB Marcus Mariota a major doubt and the Texans pretty much scouring the sidewalk for a potential extra QB after Ryan Mallet (who doesn't seem to be the sharpest tool in the trailer park), missed the team flight to Miami last week and was swiftly booted out. The Texans are praying that nothing happens to Brian Hoyer because their running game has already taken a hit with an injury to Arian Foster (who misses the rest of the season). I'm really scratching my head over this one, but if Mariota plays I'll take him, and if points are on offer, all the better.

Recommended Bet
Back the Tennessee Titans @ best price available

New York Jets @ Oakland Raiders Sunday 21:05

It was a case of so near, yet so far for the Jets last week against the Superbowl champs. They put themselves in a position to win, but just got pipped by a better team and a masterful quarterback. The silver lining was that at least they covered the spread for us. They're in good shape and on paper, a much better outfit than the Raiders who are nevertheless, on the up at last. Keeping the Broncos within six points and hammering the Chargers in back-to-back weeks means that Oakland are a force - but the jets are also improving and have all of their playmakers fit and ready to go. A potential banana skin for gang green but one that I think they'll avoid. This promises to be a low scoring affair so a saver on the unders is a sensible play, with a meatier investment on Mr Beard and Mr Bowles.

Recommended Bet
Back the New York Jets to win @ 1.84/5

Seattle Seahawks @ Dallas Cowboys Sunday 21:25

In a league where the phrase 'outstanding human being' gets used about as often as 'has anyone seen my copy of the Theory of Everything?', Greg Hardy's antics during the 27-20 defeat by the Giants set him apart. There's no question that cantankerous Greg barged his way straight into the league's Most Obnoxious Top Three (and that includes O.J. Simpson and Albert Haynesworth) when he decided to slap a coordinator, barge into a special-team meeting and have a running row with his own side's best player last week. This delightful character is basically an out-and-out bully who has been let loose in a playground full of kids with their hands tied behind their backs. He will eventually be suspended by the league or the Cowboys for yet more outrageous behaviour, but until that happens he'll probably play lights-out whilst destroying team cohesion. His influence against the Hawks is impossible to anticipate so I'd steer well clear of this from a betting point of view. Just sit back and hope that he gets ejected for an altercation with another prize doofus, Marshawn Lynch.

Recommended Bet
Back the Seattle Seahawks -5.5pts @ 2.01/1

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