NFL Week 8 best bets: Three games with intriguing early odds

Chargers tight end Donald Parham and quarterback Justin Herbert celebrate with teammates.
Chargers tight end Donald Parham (89) and quarterback Justin Herbert (10) celebrate with teammates after connecting a touchdown pass against the Las Vegas Raiders on Oct. 4.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Before looking at Week 8 of the NFL, I want to throw a quick reminder out there to make sure to check the weather forecasts as the week goes along. An extreme weather situation like the one that pushed the Colts versus 49ers total down from 44.5 to as low as 41 won’t always be the case, but the chill of fall is arriving and precipitation and wind often come with it.

Lines are up for this week in the aftermath of what transpired in Week 7, leading to some overreactions and some good buy-low spots. Let’s check some of those out for Week 8 with some early lines I like.

Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals (-3.5, 53.5)

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray scrambles under pressure against the Houston Texans on Sunday.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

The Thursday Night Football game is actually a good one this week, as the Packers will look to deal the Cardinals their first loss of the season. Green Bay lost in Week 1 and has not lost since, so these two teams have combined for a 13-1 record and are streaking.

Bettors will probably expect a shootout with Aaron Rodgers and Kyler Murray, but I don’t think that will be the case. The Packers have a very methodical offense with 5.7 yards per play. The Green Bay defense was bordering on the top five in yards per play allowed going into the Washington game, but they lost containment on a few Taylor Heinicke long runs to make the numbers look worse than they were.

Kyler Murray is not 100 percent for the Cardinals. Arizona ’s offense has performed well overall, but also has not faced many stout defenses. These are two top-10 defenses in takeaways, but also two top offenses in taking care of the football.

This looks like an under. Maybe the popularity of the matchup and the perfect conditions at State Farm Stadium will drive this total up a point or two, but I expect long drives that chew up clock. I’ve also got a slight lean to Green Bay plus the points here.

Pick: Under 53.5

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (-1.5, 49.5)

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown in a win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
(Mark Zaleski / Associated Press)

Remember once upon a time when the Titans lost to the New York Jets? Most bettors don’t seem to remember it either. That is what happens when you beat the Bills and Chiefs in successive weeks, especially when you beat a team like Kansas City the way that the Titans did.

This is something of a short week for the Colts with the late return from the West Coast after Sunday Night Football, but this is also a Colts team that was starting to come together and play some better football in the lead-up to that game. The lookahead line here was Colts -2.5, which implies that these two teams are a pick-em on a neutral field. Last week’s results certainly skewed that perception, but maybe they shouldn’t have.

The Chiefs are a mess. Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL in turnovers. The Chiefs defense went into that game allowing more than seven yards per play. It’s entirely possible that Kansas City just doesn’t have it this season. The Titans’ win has been viewed as a marquee win by the betting markets.

Indianapolis started slow with the early injury and the limited preseason reps for Carson Wentz, but they’ve looked much better of late. Even though this is a division game for the Titans, you have to think there is some flat spot potential, especially without the benefit of the turnovers that were to Tennessee ’s advantage last week. The Colts take much better care of the football.

Pick: Indianapolis Colts -1.5

New England Patriots at Chargers (-5.5, 47.5)

Chargers coach Brandon Staley talks to safety Derwin James before a win over the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 10.
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

The Patriots let out a lot of frustration against the hapless Jets in Week 7. The Chargers had their off week, but that may not be the same kind of advantage it usually is since the Patriots were able to work out some kinks and take the training wheels off of quarterback Mac Jones.

The Patriots are now 3-4, but they have two wins over the Jets and one over the Texans. The results have not been nearly as strong against actual NFL teams. We don’t have any data points for Brandon Staley after an off week, but it is hard to walk away anything other than impressed with the way he speaks about the game. He’s going up against the GOAT in Bill Belichick, but Staley will have his team ready for this game.

The Chargers have an awful run defense, which the Ravens exploited beautifully, but the Patriots can’t run the ball. The Chargers are a top-10 defense against the pass by adjusted net yards per pass attempt. They get a lot of pressure from the front four and off the edges, something that Jones hasn’t seen much.

New England is +7 in turnovers against the Jets and -7 against everybody else. This line should at least be -7 if not higher.

Pick: Los Angeles Chargers -5.5

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