Can you feel it? The sense that the tide is turning and these picks that you’ve been following religiously are about to start paying off?
Well so can I, so I suggest you keep following along this week after last week’s 2-1 performance. Down just four units now for the season, we’re setup with the opportunity to be ahead overall this season after this week as I’m putting eight units into play.
There’s money to be made out there, so let’s take a look at how you can get your hands on some of it!
Week 7 Results: 2-1; +2 units
Year-to-Date Results: 9-11-1; -4 units
Cleveland Browns +8 @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Turns out Ben Roethlisberger’s joke about James Connor starting his final game for the Steelers this year didn’t come to fruition as Le’Veon Bell still hasn’t reported to the Steelers and seems unlikely to play Sunday against Cleveland. While Connor has performed well in place of Bell, the Steelers are still lacking in the run game without their all-world RB, ranking just 26th in rushing yards per game.
We’ve seen a little bit of everything from Cleveland’s defense this year. The good: allowing 18 to the Saints, 21 in the first matchup against Pittsburgh, nine to the Ravens. The bad: 38 to the Chargers, 45 to the Raiders, and 26 last week in a loss to the Buccaneers.
Now, this inconsistent defense is in a tough position facing Big Ben in Pittsburgh – where he performs considerably better compared to being on the road. However, this will be the second matchup between these two teams, they played to a 21-21 tie in week one, and they clearly aren’t strangers being AFC North divisional rivals.
Several analysts thought Cleveland would be one of the most improved teams in the league this season after their impressive offseason acquisitions, but taking a deeper look into their 2018 schedule, you’d realize that 7-8 wins would be considered a pretty successful season. Especially when you consider the fact they’ve won just one game over the two previous seasons.
Coming off two consecutive losses, I’m not predicting an outright win for Cleveland, but I see this game coming down to the fourth quarter and believe the Browns should stay within a touchdown. While Cleveland is just 2-4-1 straight up this season, they are 5-2 against the spread while Pittsburgh is just 3-3 against the line.
Going against Roethlisberger at home seems a little backwards, but I’m confident enough to take the underdog in this situation for 2 units.
Detroit Lions -3 vs. Seattle Seahawks
The Lions are my biggest play this week, which matches how big of a believer I am in Detroit this season.
We finally witnessed the Lions get it going on the ground last week as Kerryon Johnson led the way gaining 158 of team’s 248 rushing yards as the team averaged over seven yards per carry against Miami. Detroit now has a chance to set the tone with its ground game again this week against the Seahawks’ 22nd-ranked run defense.
It seemed fairly obvious that Matthew Stafford would find even more success as a passer if the Lions ever surrounded him with a competent run game and it showed last week as Stafford missed on just four passes.
The Seahawks are 3-3 this season but have looked good as of late and should be well rested coming off their BYE week. In recent action, the Seahawks pounded the Raiders overseas, stayed within two points of a great Rams’ team, and had back-to-back wins over the Cardinals and Cowboys. While this is a nice run of games, I believe the Lions are on a different level than the teams previously mentioned that they beat.
Seattle is good enough to hang with Detroit for the majority of this game, but the Lions have too many playmakers to be contained all four quarters. I’m taking Detroit for 4 units as Johnson and the run game get the job done for the second straight week.
Carolina Panthers +2.5 vs. Baltimore Ravens
I’ve said this a few times now over the last few weeks, but this line feels backwards to me. With the home team automatically getting three points, Vegas is telling us that Baltimore is about a field goal better than Carolina. And while I don’t think that statement is outrageous, I do believe the Panthers are a better team in 2018 than the Ravens.
We saw what the Panthers are capable of after last week’s 17-point, fourth-quarter comeback win against the Eagles. While it wasn’t pretty for three quarters, Cam Newton and the Panthers showed the ability to battle back and compete with a very good team in the Eagles who were recently starting to resemble what they looked like in 2017.
The Ravens, on the other hand, are coming off a heartbreaking loss as the always reliable Justin Tucker missed the potential overtime-forcing extra point in a 24-23 loss to the Saints. Despite the loss, the Ravens are no joke this year on defense. Holding the Saints to just 24 points is rather impressive, and they’ve allowed 14 points or less in the four games prior to last week – including a shutout victory over the Titans.
However, I view a team like the Panthers as fairly “matchup proof” meaning that despite the fact they are playing against a really good defense, the skill players they possess on the offensive side of the ball allow them to not have to play the game by the book. Newton is a matchup nightmare at the quarterback position since he can take off and run if he can’t find an open receiver; and Christian McCaffrey is arguably more impactful as a pass catcher than a prototypical running back, so you don’t need to try to force feed him with a bunch of carries that aren’t producing any meaningful yardage.
This matchup has the makings of a low-scoring, fairly-ugly game. So in that situation, I like the home team, who I think is better, getting points. I’m taking the Panthers for 2 units.
For a complete NFL Week 8 preview, but sure to check out the latest episode of the Loaded Box Podcast as the guys discuss their against the spread gambling picks as well as provide their daily fantasy sports bargains and stacks of the week!