Week 8 Rankings & Game Flowbotics
I can’t deny it, these no-fluff intros have really been working for me. My picks against the spread and Week 8 rankings can be found below. As always, the picks and ranks are influenced by the matchup data presented on the Game Flowbotics spreadsheet. Here’s a link to this week’s edition:
I got back on track against the spread last week, going 3-0-1 and bringing me to 49-28-2 (63.6%) overall on the year in the BettingPros accuracy contest. In my pick ’em league where I have to choose a side on every game, I’m at 60-46 (56.6%). Over-Unders continue to vex me, though. I went 1-2 on those last week, but I still believe the process on the ARI-NYG over was sound. For the season, I’m at 9-10 picking totals. I could shy away and stop picking them, but practice makes perfect. Here are the lines I like on the upcoming slate:
SEA at ATL (+3.5), 53.5-Point Over/Under
There’s a link at the top of the Game Flowbotics spreadsheet to the ESPN webpage where I pull the betting lines, and as you can see, there currently aren’t any lines for this Seattle-Atlanta game because the Falcons’ quarterback situation is up in the air. I assume Matt Schaub will start, so when I was presented with the opportunity to pick SEA (-3.5) and under on 53.5 total points in the BettingPros accuracy contest, I jumped all over it. So yeah, I’m cheating a bit here, but they gave me what I believe is a bad line, so I bet it.
The Picks: SEA (-3.5), Under 53.5
DEN at IND (-5.5), 44-Point Over/Under
The top-level stats from Football Outsiders paint this as a fairly even matchup. The Colts rank 19th in total DVOA, and the Broncos are only four spots behind at 23rd. Laying 5.5 points seems a little risky, especially considering Denver’s fifth-ranked defense by DVOA, but they’re on the road road and by facing an equally competent offense (Indy ranks ninth in offensive DVOA). On the other side of the ball, the Broncos rank 28th in passing offense DVOA, and they just traded away Emmanuel Sanders. DaeSean Hamilton gets a big boost in fantasy value, but I can’t envision Joe Flacco keeping pace with the Colts’ balanced offensive attack (13th in passing offense, 12th in rushing offense).
The Pick: IND (-5.5)
ARI at NO (-10.5), 47.5-Point Over/Under
The Saints continue to win games, but they aren’t blowing teams out. Their average point differential in wins is only 5.8 points. Facing Arizona’s 28th-ranked defense could certainly yield a different sort of result, but I don’t buy it. An 11-point win seems like a tough ask with Teddy “Mr. Manager” Bridgewater in charge of the banana stand. Meanwhile, the Cardinals defense is much improved going forward with the reintroduction of cornerback Patrick Peterson. And on the offensive side of things, Kliff Kingsbury’s air raid attack is built for playing catch-up. The back door is open, and I expect Arizona to step through it en route to a cover.
The Pick: ARI (+10.5)
CIN at LAR (-13), 48.5-Point Over/Under
Full disclosure, I picked LA (-12.5) at BettingPros, but I still feel good about it at the new number of -13. Cincinnati’s 30th-ranked offense is staring down Los Angeles’ fourth-ranked defense. Aaron Donald and company are going to feast. On the other side of the ball, Cinci’s 31st-ranked defense is up against an LA offense ranked 13th in weighted offensive DVOA. No matter how you slice it, this is a nightmare matchup for the Bengals with “no-show” written all over it as they look ahead to their Week 9 bye.
The Pick: LAR (-13)
NYJ at JAC (-6), 41-Point Over/Under
This is a matchup of strength against strength (New York’s defense against Jacksonville’s offense), as well as weakness against weakness (New York’s offense vs. Jacksonville’s defense). One reason I like the Jets is how well their sixth-ranked run defense and third-ranked Adjusted Line Yards mark line up against the Jaguars’ rushing attack. With that presumably tough sledding on deck for Leonard Fournette, I hope to see Gardner Minshew air it out a little more than normal. And because Sam Darnold won’t be facing the Patriots this time around, I expect him to fire right back at Minshew (in spite of the Jets’ last-ranked passing offense). Fade the recency bias associated with New York’s ghastly loss on Monday Night Football, take the points, and prepare for an unexpected shootout.
The Picks: NYJ +6, Over 41
MIA at PIT (-14.5), 43-Point Over/Under
The Steelers (17th in total DVOA) aren’t markedly better than the Bills (21st in total DVOA), and Buffalo only beat Miami by 10 points in Week 7. Yes, the Steelers are coming off bye to face one of the most egregious tank jobs we’ve seen in modern football, but do we really trust Pittsburgh to win by more than two touchdowns with Mason Rudolph under center? I’m not sure that dog will hunt, so fetch me the points.
The Picks: MIA +14.5
On to the weekly rankings…