Note: Sunday's game from London on ESPN+ will be featured in a column Saturday night, and MNF between the Packers and Bills will be featured Sunday afternoon.
With Week 8 upon us, we have nearly reached the halfway point of the 2022 NFL season. There are several intriguing games and close spreads, so what does this all mean from a betting perspective? And what are the best plays to help you make smart wagering decisions?
Betting analysts Doug Kezirian, Tyler Fulghum, Joe Fortenbaugh, Anita Marks and Erin Dolan, fantasy expert Eric Karabell, fantasy and sports betting analysts Eric Moody and Andre Snellings, ESPN Stats & Information's Seth Walder and Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz offer their insight into the games with tips and picks.
Note: Lines from Caesars Sportsbook unless otherwise indicated.
Giants-Seahawks (-3, 44.5) is the only matchup between two teams with winning records this week. Despite being 6-1 ATS and SU, the Giants are again an underdog, getting three points from 4-3 Seattle. Who do you like in this matchup?
Fortenbaugh: I'm laying the 3 with Seattle. New York wants respect? Go lay the wood to somebody. Seriously. All this complaining about a lack of respect when you hit the road and barely eked by Jacksonville. Meanwhile, Seattle crushed the Chargers in Los Angeles. That's how you get respect. Take note that the Giants are playing their third road game in four weeks, with the first of those games taking place in London and the last taking place in Seattle. That's a big ask.
Schatz: What I like in this matchup is over 44.5. Seattle is third in offensive DVOA, and Geno Smith doesn't seem to be going away, as he had one of his best games in Week 7. The Giants are now seventh in offensive DVOA and third over the last four weeks. Meanwhile, these defenses rank 19th and 29th in DVOA, respectively.
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Fulghum: OK, New York. You have my attention. I'll take the points with the Giants in this spot. The recent travel the last four weeks for the G-Men is a concern (London, New York, Jacksonville, Seattle), but this team just keeps winning and beating market expectation. The Seahawks are also overachieving, but their offensive ceiling might be capped in this game. Wide receiver DK Metcalf was carted off the field last week. Tyler Lockett is also dealing with a nagging hamstring injury. Meanwhile, the Giants' offensive ceiling is raised in a matchup against one of the worst defenses in the league. Seattle is 29th in the NFL in total yards and rushing yards allowed per game. The Seahawks are allowing 26.6 PPG to opposing offenses, which is the fifth-highest number in the league. Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley's rushing ability should shorten this game and keep at a low-scoring, tight affair -- the type of game environment in which the Giants have thrived this season. Giants +3.
Snellings: I'll take the Giants and the points. Yes, they keep winning close games, but since they're the ones actually getting the points, that MO is fine by me. The Seahawks have played well, but with both of their star wide receivers ailing they are a bit weakened. But, more than that, the Giants' strategy of running the ball (with both Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones) and playing timely defense is proving to be a winning one, and one that consistently keeps them in games with chances to win, late. I'll take that.
Marks: The 6-1 Giants are underdogs again, and I love it. I'll keep taking the points! Big Blue is 3-0 on the road. Brian Daboll is getting the most out of his offense, Wan'Dale Robinson is developing great chemistry with Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley is running for days, and Jones has been Superman on third down. Wink Martindale's defense schemes against Geno Smith will be the key to winning, so give me Wink!
Moody: I'm backing the Giants at +3, even on the road. Jones has exceeded expectations of bettors for a Giants team lacking receiving playmakers and who has relied heavily on Barkley and the running game. New York ranks second in the league with 173.4 rushing yards per game. Jones has also engineered five game-winning drives. With a 6-1 record against the spread, the Giants are undefeated on the road. The Seahawks will most likely be without receiver DK Metcalf. The Seattle passing game can be disrupted by Martindale's heavy emphasis on blitzes. As a favorite, the Seahawks have not fared well. Over its last nine games when favored, Seattle is 3-6 against the spread.
The New England Patriots (-2.5, 40.5) are favored for the 21st consecutive time over the New York Jets, this time as a 2.5-point favorite on the road. Do you like the Patriots to rebound off their bad loss to Chicago or will the Jets continue their winning ways?
Schatz: My numbers lean Jets in this game, but I'm actually leaning toward the Patriots. These two teams have been very close together this season in our DVOA ratings. However, the Patriots spread the ball around, eliminating one of the Jets' top strengths (Sauce Gardner eliminating the WR1). And Zach Wilson isn't particularly mobile, eliminating one of the Patriots' major defensive weaknesses. The Jets do have a special teams advantage here, but offense and defense are very close, and I think Bill Belichick coaching them up after a loss gives the Patriots a slight edge.
Moody: Belichick knows how to get his team back on track. New England's offense struggled last week and won't look worse than they did against the Bears. Coming off Monday Night Football, New England is 6-1 against the spread in its last seven Sunday games. In this game, I'm backing the Patriots to cover the spread, as I think they'll get back on track. It's no secret that the Jets' defense is formidable, ranking 10th in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric, but I expect New England to rise to the challenge. In seven of their last 10 games against the Jets, the Patriots have covered the spread. The Jets are 2-7 against the spread in their last nine games against the AFC East.
What are the three most important things that our analytics say?
Walder: I'll give you three takes on sides via FPI.
FPI prediction: Commanders by 1.1
If we look at the expected points added per play rates for these two teams we see a remarkably similar picture. The Commanders are two ranks better than the Colts on offense and on defense. So right away, that's a sign that a full field goal is too much, because home-field advantage isn't worth that much even if the two teams are identical.
But I'm not surprised FPI likes the Commanders even more than that, because it's not fond of backup quarterbacks without a track record like Sam Ehlinger. Of course, Washington is starting a backup too, but at least we've seen Taylor Heinicke, and he isn't terrible.
FPI prediction: Cowboys by 12.9
There's an understandable recency factor here causing a difference, I think, because Justin Fields and the Bears have played much better in their last two games. But FPI is going to need to see more to be swayed. Fields still has a 37.3 QBR -- 27th in the NFL -- and is going against an excellent Dallas defense. FPI thinks the Cowboys will win big.
FPI prediction: Raiders by 3.2
FPI really only has two big calls this week -- the first two listed -- but we'll throw this in here, too. The model just loves the Raiders. They may be 2-4, but the Raiders have the fourth-most efficient offense in the league. Fourth! While the defense is what has held the Raiders back, we'll repeat what we often do here -- past offense is more predictive offense than past defense is of future defense.
What is your favorite bet for Sunday?
Fortenbaugh: Raiders -1.5 in New Orleans. I think this team is ready to go on a run. They're 2-4 but feature a +13 point differential. To put that into perspective, the Giants are 6-1 with a +20 point differential. The Raiders are much better than their record indicates, and they have the following games coming up: at New Orleans, at Jacksonville, vs. Indianapolis, at Denver. You can currently bet the Raiders over 8 wins and to make the playoffs at +280, two wagers I made earlier this week. As for this particular game, the Saints are a mess on both sides of the ball, and Andy Dalton is starting at quarterback. Case closed.
Schatz: Let's go with the Commanders +3 at Indianapolis. The Colts have been the worst offense in the league by DVOA and I can't imagine Sam Ehlinger is going to turn that around. Even if the Colts can get Jonathan Taylor going, Washington is fourth in run defense DVOA this season. And is Heinicke really a step down from Carson Wentz? He might be a step up. This line should be a pick 'em, and I'll happily take the three points.
Fulghum: Lions-Dolphins (over 51.5) should be a track meet at Ford Field. I'm going over the total of 51.5. Way over. Lions home games this season have averaged 76.3 combined PPG. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle indoors on a fast track? Yes, please. After being manhandled by the Cowboys defense on the road last week, the Lions offense gets a much more favorable spot to score points at home against a vastly inferior Miami defense.
Karabell: Miami Dolphins -3.5 over Lions. Yeah, the Lions scored myriad points the first few games this season, and they did so at home, but this offense has scored nary a touchdown the past two games. Jared Goff looks terrible again. D'Andre Swift last played in Week 3 and, most importantly, the defense is one of the worst in the sport. The Dolphins will score. It's hard to expect the Lions will.
Snellings: Arizona Cardinals +3.5 over Vikings. The Cardinals, to me, have felt like they were a step out of sink all season ... until last week. When DeAndre Hopkins returned, all of a sudden I started seeing hints of the team that led the NFC West most of last season. Now Hopkins has a game under his belt, newcomer Robbie Anderson should be acclimated, and it's possible that James Conner and/or Darrel Williams could be back to supplement the run game around Eno Benjamin. I think the Cardinals are ready to start playing much better ball, starting this weekend.
Marks: Eagles -6.5 in first half vs. Steelers. The Eagles are coming off a bye week, and are rested and ready to pick up where they left off. They added another piece to their defense by trading for Robert Quinn, which only makes their pass rush even better. The Eagles have not trailed at the half yet this season and have been up by an average of 13 points at halftime. AJ Brown will be facing press coverage and should have a monster day. The Steelers will be working on a short work week after losing a hard-fought battle with the Dolphins on Monday night.
Moody: Eagles-Steelers under 43. The Eagles are the best team in the NFC and arguably the second-best in the league, and they're playing at home after having a bye. Philadelphia ranks fifth in total yards per game (394.5) and fourth in points scored per game (26.8). A comfortable lead will be built for the Eagles. While the Steelers have an array of pass-catchers that includes Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens, Pat Freiermuth and Najee Harris, the Eagles secondary is capable of containing them. In addition, all three of Kenny Pickett's starts have gone under the total. Five of the Steelers' past seven games and four of their five most recent games against the NFC East have gone under. Over the last three games, the Steelers have averaged 11 points per game.
What is your favorite player prop?
Fortenbaugh: Barkley over 3.5 receptions (-145). He has caught at least three passes in six of seven games this season, but the handicap here is Seattle's defense. The Seahawks have so far surrendered 53 targets (fifth-most), 46 receptions (third-most) and 409 receiving yards (second-most) to opposing running backs this season. That's not an anomaly, as Seattle permitted more targets, receptions and receiving yards to opposing running backs than any team in the league last season. With the crowd noise and pressure in Seattle, I see Danny Dimes checking down quite a bit on Sunday.
Fulghum: Tyreek Hill over 87.5 receiving yards (-127). I love this game to go over the total. It's a tremendous matchup for a player in Hill who is matchup-proof. Hill is averaging 11.4 targets and 110.4 yards per game this season. In this game environment, it's very reasonable to expect Hill to match or exceed those numbers.
Karabell: Derrick Henry over 98.5 rushing yards (-137). Henry has rushed for more than 100 yards in three consecutive games, averaging 27 rushes per game, and the Texans boast the worst rushing defense in the sport, permitting 164.7 rushing yards per game. Henry didn't get to face the Texans last season, but the last time he did was the final week of the 2020 season, and all he did was rumble for 250 yards. He's going for a buck fifty here.
Snellings: EK beat me to Henry over 98.5 rushing yards, so I'll work around and take Henry over 116.5 total rushing/receiving yards (-115). I, too, think he could pop for 150 on the ground alone, but he has also shown he can contribute through the air as well. Henry has averaged 140.1 total yards in his last four games, with 132 yards as the minimum during that stretch.
Marks: Jalen Hurts over 226.5 passing yards (-115). The Eagles offense, well-rested off a bye week, should manhandle a Steelers secondary that plays a lot of press coverage (which is not going to work vs. A.J. Brown). Pittsburgh has allowed the third-most passing yards to opposing QBs and the most receiving yards to WRs this season.
Moody: A.J. Brown over 66.5 receiving yards. Brown has a great matchup against the Steelers secondary. Pittsburgh's defense is allowing 275.4 passing yards per game this season and allows the most receiving yards per game (209.6) to wide receivers. Brown is averaging 8.8 targets and 83.8 receiving yards per game. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle had monster games against the Steelers last week. There's a good chance Brown will have one too.