The weekend is finally here, which means it is time to place your NFL bets! Last week, we went 1-2 for the fifth straight week. We got burned by a fourth quarter offensive explosion in New England, and a second-half offensive freeze-up from the Cardinals. That brings us to a paltry 8-12-1 on the season for the NFL portion of our Best Bets series. In terms of units, we only dropped 0.76 for the weekend, which puts us down 1.58 units on the year.
We aren’t too far gone yet. Getting back to positive is still within striking distance. This week’s match-ups look pretty ugly, but it all pays out just the same. All lines come via Draft Kings as of Friday evening. Also, be sure to catch my, and my fellow ATB bettors’, locks and underdogs of the week on Around The Book. Let’s get started and dive into the best NFL bets for Week 8!
Texans at Panthers: Panthers ML (+145)
Let’s kick things off with a (mildly) hot take. This is finally going to be the week in which the Panthers get their first win of the season. It won’t be easy. The Texans are better than expected this year. However, there is reason to believe Carolina can get it done.
As well as Houston is playing this year, this is still very much a rebuilding team. They don’t have a ton of high-level talent, and their rookie quarterback is still developing. There are no easy wins for a team in their position.
The Panthers are in a very similar boat. While they haven’t played quite as well as the Texans, it feels like that win is right around the corner. This pick is rooted more in vibes than data, but sometimes that’s what you need.
Vikings at Packers: Over 42 (-108)
We are switching it up this week and betting on the over. While this NFC North match-up may be ugly, it has significant potential for points. The Vikings have an offense that can put up points and a defense that struggles to stop anyone. On the flip side, Green Bay is average to below-average on both sides of the ball.
Minnesota should have no problem scoring against the Packers. Also, Green Bay should be able to score more than usual against a weak Vikings defense. It doesn’t hurt that we get the added chaos of a divisional matchup.
The most advantageous part of this pick is the line. At 42, it is clear the bookies are trying to adjust to all the low-scoring games we’ve seen this year. This is the time to pounce. Expect both of these teams to be somewhere in the mid 20s. The over may not hit by a lot, but it will get there. That is all that matters.
Chargers at Bears: Over 46.5 (-110)
Let’s keep the over bets going with some Sunday night fireworks. Both of these teams can score, and neither play great defense. Also, it seems as though the Bears offense hasn’t missed a beat with Tyson Bagent at quarterback in place of the injured Justin Fields.
Offensively, the Bears and Chargers combine to average a little over 46 points per game. That doesn’t look great for the over, but it gets a lot better when you look at the defenses. On that side of the ball, these two teams give up over 52 points per game combined.
It is hard to say who will win this game, but we know there will be plenty of scoring. This game will likely be a race to 30 points. Hammer the over.
If anybody thought this NFL season was going to be a normal one, they were clearly mistaken. Severe injuries to star players like Aaron Rodgers, Nick Chubb and Saquon Barkley have already taken place, and we have several fanbases already calling for the termination of their coaching staff. There is a lot of football left, but there is a lot that we can learn from this past week’s games in the NFL. Here’s what we learned from Week 2.
What We Learned in Week 2 #1:
It’s Time To Be Concerned In Chicago
The Bears and quarterback Justin Fields were a lot of analysts pick to take the next step. Fields looked promising throughout the end of last season, and the team added play-makers across the board in DJ Moore, Tremaine Edmunds, and Yannick Ngakoue to help get the roster to the next level. However, after two weeks Fields looks completely lost in the pocket, and is seemingly completely misreading defenses missing wide open targets, and called out the coaches for his “robotic” play to start the season off.
Fields since clarified these comments, noting that “he has to play better”, but the fact that the comments were even made by the franchise quarterback in the first place is alarming. As for the defense, they are playing poorly, and are battling injuries in the secondary. On top of that it has already lost its defensive coordinator to unknown circumstances (more information on that when the situation becomes clearer).
Luckily for the Bears, they have multiple draft picks again in this upcoming draft to add talent if the team can’t turn things around soon. Time will tell if it is going to be this coaching staff and regime that are the ones to make those selections.
What We Learned in Week 2 #2:
Daniel Jones Isn’t Worth The Contract
The Giants squeaked by the Arizona Cardinals this past weekend after a crazy second half comeback down 20-0. However the storyline from that game shouldn’t be the comeback, or even the Giants injuries to Andrew Thomas and Saquon Barkley, but the play of Daniel Jones not warranting the 4 year $160 million dollar contract he signed this past off-season.
Jones through two weeks has 425 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Those stats don’t look horrible until you dig into them, as the majority of them came in the second half of this week’s game against Arizona, who most deem as the worst team in the NFL. He played well in the second half against Arizona, but will we see that play consistently against much better teams? That is still to be determined.
Luckily for the Giants, the contract does have an out after next season if Jones does not elevate his game to take the Giants to the next level. It is going to be hard to buy into the Giants as a serious threat in the NFC East with Dallas, Philadelphia, and now seemingly Washington in that division. But more than that, it is hard to buy into the Giants with Daniel Jones as their quarterback moving forward.
What We Learned in Week 2 #3:
Brandon Staley Should Have Been Fired Last Season
This take should not be a surprise to anybody. Brandon Staley’s coaching malpractice is costing the Chargers football games. Justin Herbert is arguably the most gifted quarterback in the league when it comes to physical football traits, and Kellen Moore is one of the league’s most creative offensive minds in the league. The Chargers are fourth in the league in total offensive yards and sixth in the league in points through two weeks. Herbert is playing at a near MVP level, and the Chargers are getting contributions from everybody on offense.
So why are the Chargers 0-2? Their defense.
The Chargers have allowed the most total yards through two weeks this season at 438 yards per game, and the third most points through two weeks at 31.5 a game. With the amount of money invested in players like Khalil Mack, J.C Jackson, Derwin James, Sebastian Joseph-Day, and Joey Bosa, the defense should be performing better than it is. The blame should be placed on nobody else other than the architect of the defense; head coach Brandon Staley.
Staley was on the hot seat after last season and that seat has only gotten hotter through two weeks this year.
What We Learned in Week 2 #4:
It’s Time To Respect Eric Bienemy As A Viable Head Coaching Candidate
Eric Bienemy has gone through numerous NFL head coaching interviews over the last several seasons after successful years with Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs, but to no avail. This past off-season, Bienemy took a chance, bet on himself, and took the offensive coordinator job of the Washington Commanders. He did so without certainty at the QB position.
Through two weeks, the Commanders are 2-0, and Sam Howell looks like a true NFL starter. Last season the Commanders ranked in the bottom half in points per game, yards per game, and passing yards per game. Under Bienemy this season, the Commanders are seventh in the league in points per game, and look like a much more efficient offense.
If Bienemy is able to keep this performance up throughout the entire season, he can shake off the comments about needing Andy Reid or Patrick Mahomes, and has a really good chance at making a case for this own head coaching gig next off-season.
What We Learned in Week 2 #5:
Houston Is Heading In The Right Direction
This team is not good, but man they are fun to watch. The Texans are letting rookie quarterback CJ Stroud sling the ball all over the place, and the offense has looked quite dynamic in his first two starts, averaging the fifth most passing yards in the league. Stroud looks electric, even without a consistent running game behind him or offensive line in front of him, and Nico Collins and Tank Dell are a very fun duo at wide receiver to watch.
However, the team is 0-2, and that should not be a surprise. The roster is not filled with enough talent, yet, to compete at a high enough level to win games consistently, and that was expected. One thing Houston’s front office, coaching staff, and fans can be happy about is the development of their new franchise QB. It has been a long time since Houston has gotten consistent play at the position, and now they finally have their guy, Stroud, at the helm of this rebuild.
Getting Stroud reps and getting more talent around him should be the next step of this regime to take the leap into consistently winning games.
Gambling has taken the sports world by storm. Sports fans having the ability to have a financial investment in the game has helped certain leagues surge, with the NFL being no exception. With training camp around the corner, teams are laying the foundation for what they hope is a successful 2023 campaign.
Who are some teams and players that you can feel comfortable hitching your wagon (and hard-earned money) to in 2023? Here are some of the best NFL futures bets of the season, brought to you by DraftKings Sportsbook.
NFL Futures Bet #1
Chicago Bears to make the playoffs: +160
Worst record in the league to the playoffs in just a year? The idea is far fetched, to say the least, but is something worth considering. A bet on the Bears is a bet on Justin Fields. The former first round pick quarterback is one of the biggest question marks in football this season.
Fields flashed some unbelievable playmaking potential in 2022, making countless dazzling plays with his legs. He also put that feathery downfield touch on display with several basket-drops for chunk plays. However, turnovers and efficiency as a passer limited what he could do. The supporting cast around him was also worse than any of his fellow 2021 draftees have had to suffer through. The Bears took some steps towards remedying that ahead of the 2023 season.
The 2022 Chicago Bears had an abysmal offensive line. Turnstiles in front of him, coupled with lackluster receiving options, led to Fields using his legs more often than he or the Bears would have preferred. That can all change in 2023. Chicago took steps towards improving the offensive line with the additions of Nate Davis in free agency and Darnell Wright with their first round selection.
Mid-season addition Chase Claypool will now have a complete off-season and training camp with Fields. The Bears also acquired DJ Moore, one of the bright young receivers in the NFL. Fields will have a drastically better supporting cast in 2023, despite this unit still being substantially worse than most of the league.
How this translates into wins will all be dependent on Fields. Defensively, the Bears still have a ways to go. If Fields takes the leap that many are expecting, the Bears have the ability to steal some games in a lackluster NFC. It may only take nine wins to see the Bears in the Wild Card round. Would we put our house on the Bears playoff hopes? Unlikely; but betting on a Justin Fields leap might be one of the better high-reward bets this season.
NFL Futures Bet #2
Los Angeles Rams to have a winning record: +300
The Rams have a disaster of a roster. Los Angeles will open training camp later this month with 36 rookies. They also had one of the worst records in football last season. Matthew Stafford was a shell of himself when he was on the field, and Sean McVay is fighting rumors of a departure to television every off-season. Why on Earth should anyone put their money on LA this season? Talent
Think about it this way. Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald. Sean McVay is still the coach. If those three players stay healthy and perform like they normally do, the Rams could easily limp their way to 9-8. The NFC has never been worse, and Los Angeles gets two games against the Arizona Cardinals.
The team isn’t anything to write home about, but who better to trust with your money than a few Hall of Famers who were hoisting a Lombardi trophy just under 17 months ago?
NFL Futures Bet #3
Odell Beckham Jr 575.5 receiving yards: -110
Once a record breaking youngster, the career of Odell Beckham Jr took a disastrous turn upon his 2019 trade to the Cleveland Browns. Two ACL tears and a Super Bowl later, Beckham is back on an NFL team and ready to go. The 30-year-old has teamed up with former MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson with the Baltimore Ravens.
There is no player better to buy low on than the former Rookie of the Year. This line is absurdly low. There is no bigger “This is free money” bet on the DraftKings Sportsbook right now.
It is incredibly important to acknowledge that Beckham has now torn his ACL twice, is on the wrong side of 30, and has not played since February of 2022. All of that matters. However, looking at this total from a numbers perspective just makes too much sense.
If he plays 17 games, Beckham would only need to average 34 yards per game. That is two catches and a broken tackle. For the injury skeptics, taking his total down to 12 games changes that number to just under 50 yards per game. It is also important to remember that the Ravens have hired notorious vertical-route lover Todd Monken as their new offensive coordinator.
The NFC North has been dominated by Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers for a while now. With big time players moving in-division, the NFC North could be close this year. Here’s a look at what each team did this offseason, and how I believe they will finish in this NFC North preview.
NFC North Preview
4. Chicago Bears
Key losses – RB Damien Williams, WR Jakeem Grant, P Pat O’Donnell, QB Nick Foles, WR Allen Robinson, DE Bilal Nichols, OG Alex Bars, QB Andy Dalton, OG James Daniels, CB Artie Burns, DE Akiem Hicks, OT Jason Peters, DE Khalil Mack
Key additions – HC Matt Eberflus, DT Justin Jones, DE Al-Quadin Muhammad, C Lucas Patrick, WR Byron Pringle, QB Trevor Siemian, OT Riley Reiff, OLB Nicolas Morrow, TE Ryan Griffin, WR N’Keal Harry, CB Kyler Gordon, S Jaquan Brisker, WR Velus Jones Jr.
Re-signed – S DeAndre Houston-Carson (1-year)
Extensions – LS Patrick Scales (1-year, $1.2 million)
After going 6-11 in the regular season, the Bears fired head coach Matt Nagy after four seasons. Matt Eberflus takes over after spending last season in Indianapolis as defensive coordinator. The rookie head coach will try to turn the franchise around with Justin Fields going into his second NFL season.
Fields came in looking like a rookie last season, and it didn’t help that Nagy was calling the plays, as they finished 24th in total offense. They ranked even worse in points, as they were 27th in the NFL. They didn’t do much in the offseason to fill those holes, either.
We’ll have to see if Justin Fields makes the leap in with a new coach, but the offensive line won’t help. They rank in the bottom five of the league in the NFL, and could be dead last. However, David Montgomery is back with Khalil Herbert in the backfield — but I don’t expect much from them.
The last part of the offense is the receiving corps, and it is easily the worst in the NFL. Darnell Mooney is still there and still has potential, but isn’t close to a #1 wideout. Behind him they have Equanimeous St. Brown, Byron Pringle, and Velus Jones Jr. Those three have combined for 37 receptions in a combined six seasons. They can still prove to be weapons on an NFL offense, but I don’t expect it.
With Khalil Mack gone, that leaves Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith as the leaders of this defense. Quinn leads a defensive line that is one of the worst in the league, and will most likely fall lower than their ranking of 23rd against the run last season. Smith will help that cause and newly acquired Nicholas Morrow will fill in nicely next to him. It’s an, at-best, average linebacker group in the NFL.
The final part of this team is the secondary. You’re probably thinking there has to be one good part of this team. Well… there’s not. The secondary is very young with two rookies starting. One of those players is Kyler Gordon, who will be opposite of Jaylon Johnson at cornerback. They can eventually both grow to be a great duo, but are too inexperienced and young right now. Jaquan Brisker is the other rookie starting at safety alongside Eddie Jackson, who is the oldest in the secondary.
I expect another long season for Bears fans with a new regime. I have them going 3-14, and 1-5 against the NFC North. With Nagy now gone, they will be looking to rebuild the right way.
3. Detroit Lions
Key losses – OLB Jalen Reeves-Maybin, DE Trey Flowers, DT Nick Williams
Key additions – WR DJ Chark, CB Mike Hughes, LB Chris Board, ILB Jarrad Davis, OT Kendall Lamm, S Deshon Elliott, RB Justin Jackson, DE Aidan Hutchinson, WR Jameson Williams, DE Josh Paschal, S Kerby Joseph
Re-signed – FB Jason Cabinda (2-years), K Riley Patterson (1-year), LB Alex Anzalone (1-year), S Tracy Walker (3-years), C Evan Brown (1-year), OLB Charles Harris (2-years), WR Kalif Raymond (1-year)
The first season since 2008 without Matthew Stafford went about as you’d expect for the Detroit Lions. They finished 3-13-1, earning the first overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. They ended up drafting twice in the top ten and are looking to start moving in the right direction this year in head coach Dan Campbell’s second season.
They’re tied to Jared Goff for a little bit longer, after ranking 22nd in total offense last season. D’Andre Swift looked solid in his second season, averaging 4.1 yards per carry and will look to improve with a top five offensive line. It’s an offensive line that includes three first round picks that Detroit nailed.
Tight end features T.J. Hockenson, who hasn’t lived up to the hype yet, but has still been a quality starter. Amon-Ra St. Brown shined towards the end of last season, and now has some quality counterparts. DJ Chark comes over from Jacksonville and will help open up the field along with rookie Jameson Williams. However, Williams is still recovering from a torn ACL, but should be ready a few weeks into the season.
The defense ranked 29th last year, but is getting a big boost from #1 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson. He joins a defensive line that has potential, but will still be a bottom-ten unit in the league. They won’t be getting a lot of help from linebackers Alex Anzalone and Chris Board, either. Both players have been unable to prove to be quality starters in this league.
The secondary will still rank towards the bottom of the league, but it will be interesting to see if cornerback Amani Oruwariye can build off a good 2021. Jeff Okudah is still coming back from an Achilles injury, so Mike Hughes will be opposite Oruwariye. The safety tandem of Tracy Walker and DeShone Elliott is average, so I wouldn’t expect too much from this defense.
I like the direction Dan Campbell is taking this team, but they need to put some wins up this year. I believe they will, finishing the season 7-10, and 1-5 against the rest of the NFC North.
2. Minnesota Vikings
Key losses – S Xavier Woods, OLB Anthony Barr, OLB Nick Vigil, TE Tyler Conklin, C Mason Cole
Key additions – HC Kevin O’Connell, OLB Za’Darius Smith, DT Harrison Phillips, ILB Jordan Hicks, OG Chris Reed, OG Jesse Davis, TE Johnny Mundt, S Lewis Cine, CB Andrew Booth Jr., OG Ed Ingram, LB Brian Asamoah
The Vikings missed the playoffs for the second straight season, going 8-9 and finishing second in the NFC North. They fired Mike Zimmer and decided to bring in Kevin O’Connell, former Rams offensive coordinator. O’Connell will look to lead the Vikings to the playoffs, and hopefully farther.
Last year’s offense ranked 12th in the NFL, but could take a jump this year. O’Connell is bringing a Super Bowl-quality playbook to help quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins is also getting help from amazing offensive weapons. Dalvin Cook is back to take the load off of Cousins’ plate, looking for his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season.
However, Cook is running behind a below-average offensive line. If Christian Darrisaw can improve off of a good 2021 as a rookie, this line can move to top 15 in the league. The receiving corps is loaded, with Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen starring. Tight end Irv Smith Jr. is looking to make a jump and open up the field for Jefferson and Thielen. It should be a top-10 offense this year with O’Connell at the helm.
The defensive side of the ball struggled last season, finishing 30th in the NFL. They got some help up front with edge rusher Za’Darius Smith and defensive tackle Harrison Phillips. It’s now a top-15 defensive line in the league. Jordan Hicks and Eric Kendricks help create a top ten linebacker corps in the league and will look to fill the lanes.
The secondary is slightly above average after adding two players in this year’s draft. Lewis Cline is one of them who could start along side Harrison Smith to create a nice safety tandem. The cornerbacks feature Patrick Peterson, who is aging, and Cameron Dantzler, who looks to shine this season. It is a much-improved secondary looking to be a top-15 group in the league.
I believe the Vikings did well this offseason and will make it back to the playoffs this season. I have them finishing 10-7 after going 4-2 in the division. Expect a monster season from Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson.
1. Green Bay Packers
Key losses – C Lucas Patrick, P Corey Bojorquez, OT Billy Turner, WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, OLB Za’Darius Smith, CB Chandon Sullivan, ILB Oren Burks, WR Davante Adams
Key additions – P Pat O’Donnell, DE Jarran Reed, WR Sammy Watkins, LB Quay Walker, DL Devonte Wyatt, WR Christian Watson, WR Romeo Doubs, OL Sean Rhyan
Re-signed – CB Rasul Douglas (3-years), Robert Tonyan Jr. (1-year), LB De’Vondre Campbell (5-years)
Extensions – CB Jaire Alexander (4-years, $84 million), QB Aaron Rodgers (3-years, $150 million), LB Preston Smith (4-years, $52 million)
The Packers ran away with the NFC North last year and earned the #1 seed in the NFC all-together. They finished 13-4, before losing in the divisional round to the San Francisco 49ers. They traded away superstar wideout Davante Adams, so we’ll see if quarterback Aaron Rodgers can win his third straight MVP without him.
The offense ranked tenth last year, and is now without its top target from a year ago. Rookie wide receivers Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson will have to step up to carry the load. Tight end Robert Tonyan is looking to shine again after a breakout season with 11 touchdowns, and could help Rodgers make the passing game top ten.
Rodgers will be protected by a top-tier offensive line. There is a minor worry at tackl,e with Elgton Jenkins still working back from an ACL tear. The running back room is phenomenal with AJ Dillon being the bruiser, and Aaron Jones being a quality dual-threat back. This offense will be scary as long as they have #12 under center.
The defense was phenomenal last season, as they ranked ninth in total defense. They lost Za’Darius Smith to the Vikings, but still bring in a great front seven. The defensive line ranks in my top five, while the linebacker unit is in the top ten. De’Vondre Campbell leads the linebackers, alongside rookie Quay Walker. The defensive line includes superstar Kenny Clark, who gets help from pass rusher Rashan Gary.
The secondary could be the biggest strength of this team. With superstar Jaire Alexander, they have lockdown ability along with a top-flight safety tandem in Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos. This defense should be elite this season, as they don’t have a major weakness.
The Packers have the back-to-back MVP, so I don’t expect them to lose this division. I have them finishing 12-5, and 6-0 against the NFC North. Expect a superstar to emerge on that offense.
NFL Training Camp has officially started back, and with that all kinds of rumors and stories have already started. One of the more recent rumors is that the Bears are already looking to move on from the second year offensive tackle who they drafted from Oklahoma State in 2021. As of now, there are no rumors of teams who have been in contact with the Bears. However, there is one team that should absolutely be in on the former second round pick, Teven Jenkins: the Atlanta Falcons.
Falcons Offensive Line Woes
The Falcons offensive line was ranked 27th by PFF after the 2021 season and could benefit from potential reinforcements along the offensive line. One of the weakest aspects of the offensive line for the Falcons is right tackle, where fourth-year veteran and former first round pick Kaleb McGary has yet to establish himself as anything more than a stop-gap solution with the Falcons declining McGary’s fifth-year option.
To add fuel to the fire, McGary’s PFF grade was a 62.8 in 2021 while giving up 9 sacks over 986 snaps played. McGary graded out with a 50.6 PFF grade in the pass blocking category which was below average. However, he scored a 72.2 PFF grade in the run blocking category, which adds a little worth.
Teven Jenkins Could Help the Falcons…Eventually
On the other side, Teven Jenkins was a fan favorite of many in the NFL draft community for the 2021 draft, but has struggled to live up to the hype that he had. His rookie season was hampered heavily by a back injury that included a surgery which caused him to miss most of his rookie season. Even when the rookie could get on the field, the Bears chose to play him at left tackle as opposed to his normal right tackle position.
Jenkins did not fair much better than McGary in terms of PFF grades with Jenkins scoring a 47.5 during his limited 160 snaps played, with 2 sacks allowed. Which is much worse than McGary, but one thing that impacts Jenkins market is that he would be under team control for a longer period of time, with more potential to improve and build on those traits that teams loved when he was a prospect.
Will a Trade Happen?
Between the Falcons already showing this off-season that they aren’t afraid to pickup a reclamation project — or two — with the additions of Bryan Edwards and Rashaan Evans from Las Vegas and Tennessee; and the Bears-to-Falcons pipeline running strong this offseason with multiple additions from Chicago coming to Atlanta, it almost feels like a move that will happen. Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith are attempting to reload the Falcons roster while maintaining the ability to stay competitive. Teven Jenkins could be a good step in that direction for the Falcons.
What do you think Falcons fans? Should the dirty birds attempt to trade for the Bears potential draft bust? Let us know @falcons_atb on Twitter!