This is NFL Best Bets, a recurring series in which football experts and handicappers lend us their insights and picks for the most intriguing matchups for each week of the professional football season.
In this Week 8 edition of NFL Best Bets, Thomas Gable, the director of race and sportsbook at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum of VSiN and Mike Golic Jr. of DraftKings share their opinions on five of the best games that will be played over the eighth weekend of the NFL season, including the Patriots traveling to Miami to take on the Dolphins in a game that could have big-time implications.
You’ve got places to go, people to see and possibly some wagers to make, so let’s get to it.
Jaguars (-2.5, O/U 41) at Steelers
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Jags listed as a 1.5-point road favorite. Currently, 63% of bets and 67% of the money is laying the points with Jacksonville. This lopsided support has pushed the Jags up from -1.5 to -2.5. Some shops are even up to -3. Now that we’ve reached the key number of 3, this becomes a buy-low inflated line “value” play for me with the Steelers. Pittsburgh is only receiving 37% of the bets, giving them great contrarian value. Mike Tomlin is 4-1 ATS as a dog this season and 55-28 ATS (66%) in his career. As a home dog, Tomlin is 17-5 ATS (77%). Give me the Steelers with the points.
Gable’s Guess: I think Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett had his best game of the season on Sunday against the Rams. He went 17-of-25 for 230 yards with no turnovers and was able to spread the ball around too. This offense has not looked like a 2023 NFL offense this season and, frankly, maybe they never will. The only thing that matters in this league is winning and, as long as they continue to win, Pittsburgh will remain who they are. Speaking of winning, the Jaguars don’t really want to see October come to an end. They’re 4-0 this month. I think they’ve emerged as true contenders in the AFC and we’ll see how Trevor Lawrence looks against the Steelers’ defense. Jacksonville’s defense has played well for most of the season and one week of seeing Pittsburgh move the ball isn’t enough to convince me they’ve turned the corner. I want to take the under.
Golic’s Gamble: Something has got to give. The Jags are first-quarter studs who fade as the game goes along while the Steelers and Kenny Pickett major in fourth-quarter magic. I think the Jags’ defense will continue to take the ball away while their offense finally stops putting it on the mat. Laying the points.
IH Best Bet: If Jacksonville is to be believed, they should win comfortably. Laying the points.
Patriots (9.5, O/U 47) at Dolphins
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Dolphins listed as a 12.5-point home favorite. The public is leaning toward the Dolphins in a bounce-back spot, with 55% of bets laying the points. However, despite this lopsided action, we’ve seen Miami fall from -12.5 to -9. This signals sharp reverse line movement toward New England. The Patriots have value as a divisional dog, with the built-in familiarity leveling the playing field. Plus, this is the second matchup of the season between these teams and it’s hard to beat a divisional opponent twice. Tyreek Hill may also be banged up for this one. Give me Pats with the points.
Gable’s Guess: I think you’ll see an angry Dolphins team show up here at home on Sunday. They only put up 10 points and 244 yards on Sunday night in Philly. You can say the Dolphins have gotten exposed against two good teams with winning records, but I think the bottom line is this: Miami has an excellent offense, but it’s a concern against any team with a good pass rush. They run a lot of motion on offense, but neither Philly nor Buffalo got sucked in like other teams have. I expect Bill Belichick knows what the deal is with Miami. The Patriots pulled off the biggest upset of the day in Week 7, but they may not have as easy of a time moving the ball on offense like they did against a very depleted Buffalo defense. Miami is getting back some players on defense and I believe they should be able to cover this number at home. I’m going to lay the points.
Golic’s Gamble: I think water will find its level this week. The Dolphins kept it closer against the Eagles than most will remember, going up against a Philly offense that breaks math with the Brotherly Shove. The Pats took advantage of an extremely banged-up Buffalo defense and got the best out of Mac Jones we had seen in quite some time. I think Miami’s offense gets back on track while the Patriots’ offense reminds us that the roster still lacks top-end talent. Laying the points.
IH Best Bet: Taking the cheese and betting last week wasn’t a fluke for either team. Patriots with the points.
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Vikings (-1.5, O/U 42) at Packers
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Packers listed as a short 1.5-point home favorite. We’ve seen the line completely flip to Vikings -1.5. Essentially, we are looking at sharp “dog-to-favorite” line movement with Minnesota. Road favorites are 27-17 (61%) straight up this season. Minnesota has the better offense, averaging 369 yards per game compared to 304 for Green Bay. Shawn Hochuli, the lead ref, has historically favored road teams (58% ATS). I don’t love the fact that the Vikings are on a short week after playing on Monday night. But I’ll trust the line movement. I’ll sweat Vikings on the moneyline -125.
Gable’s Guess: It was a big win for the Vikings over San Francisco on Monday and a big game for Kirk Cousins, who was 35–of-45 for 378 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. They were able to move the ball consistently on San Francisco with a balanced rushing attack and some explosive plays in the passing game. As for the Packers, I’m not sure what you can say about an offense that was shut out in the first half by the worst defense, statistically speaking, in the league in Denver. I think the blame lies squarely on Matt Lafleur and Jordan Love. Love ranks 22nd in passing yards, 28th in quarterback rating and is tied for second in the league in interceptions with seven. His pick in the late stages of the game against Denver was very costly. I think the bloom is off the rose with them in Green Bay. We’ll see if Minnesota’s momentum can carry over from Monday night. I think the Vikings will be able to move the ball on Green Bay’s defense, so I’m going to lay the point(s) with Minnesota.
Golic’s Gamble: This line stinks of something awful. The Vikings are coming off of a HUGE win over the 49ers while the Packers are asking existential questions about the future of Jordan Love after losing to the Broncos. Divisional games can get weird, but the last five unders have hit for Minnesota. Under.
IH Best Bet: Something seems off with Green Bay. Same with Minnesota, but laying the points
Browns (+3.5, O/U 38) at Seahawks
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Seahawks listed as a 1.5-point home favorite. The public is relatively split, yet we’ve seen Seattle move from -1.5 to -3.5 or -4. This is largely due to the fact that Deshaun Watson will miss this game and PJ Walker will get the start in his place. Sharps have also hit the under, dropping the total from 41 to 38. The under is receiving 42% of the bets but 70% of the money, a sharp contrarian bet split. Unders that fall at least a half point are 43-23 (65%) this season. Non-conference unders are 21-11 (66%). I’ll bank on a lower-scoring game. I’ll go under 38.
Gable’s Guess: I’m perplexed by this Browns team, and we can set aside Deshaun Watson for a second. This is an elite defense in the NFL and yet somehow they allowed Gardner Minshew and the Colts to put up 38 points on Sunday. I certainly did not see that coming. Without Watson, they have to rely on PJ Walker to guide the ship, which isn’t promising at all. It’s a shame because I think Cleveland would be a true contender in the AFC with this defense. No one seems to be able to slow down Myles Garrett. He’s a human wrecking ball. Seattle is in the thick of things in their division thanks to the two straight losses by the Niners. Seattle’s defense was terrible through the first three weeks of the season, but they have significantly turned things around. Over the last three weeks, the Seahawks are only allowing 10 points and 237 yards per game, and they’ve recorded 18 sacks. That includes a game against Joe Burrow. I think it was an aberration with the Browns last week, and Seattle’s defense is playing well, so I’m going to take the under.
Golic’s Gamble: Cleveland’s defense is hell in a cell. No Deshaun Watson has become the norm, and when he’s on the field it’s not a massive upgrade. Seattle’s receiving corps is extremely talented, but I worry more about their offensive line holding up against Myles Garrett. Cleveland with the points.
IH Best Bet: Don’t have a good feel for the line but the total seems right. Under.
Bengals (+4, O/U 43.5) at 49ers
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the 49ers listed as a 6-point home favorite. With Sam Darnold set to play for the injured Brock Purdy, we’ve seen San Francisco fall from -6 to -3.5. The Bengals are 3-1 in their last four games. Cincinnati is also rested coming off a bye while the 49ers are on a short week and are dealing with several key injuries. Joe Burrow is 16-8 ATS (67%) in his career as a dog. I’ll grab the hook and take Bengals with the points.
Gable’s Guess: I don’t believe it’s time to panic for the Niners just yet. It seems like when the Niners are in front, everything is flowing smoothly on offense. Playing from behind seems to bother them a little, but the only way to get better is to experience that and learn from mistakes. The Bengals are coming off their bye at 3-3 on the season, but they’re actually in last place in their division. They have this tough game and then the Bills next week. The Bengals will try to move the ball on offense with the same success rate that Minnesota did. I think that they can. The question is whether the Niners can bounce back after not cracking the 20-point mark in their last two games. With the Niners trying to get to their bye week on short rest, I’m going to take the points.
Golic’s Gamble: San Fran’s defense was held to zero sacks last week vs. the Vikings. Brock Purdy is likely out with a concussion, leaving Sam Darnold at the helm. What’s the most chaotic thing that could happen? A Darnold legacy game, that’s what. I think the 49ers test just how healthy that calf is for Joe Burrow while Darnold thrives inside Shanahan’s offense. Laying the points.
IH Best Bet: Cincy should have something for Darnold. They’re rested and in last place. Bengals with the points.
Last Week: 1-4; This Season: 16-18-1
Editor’s note: Betting lines fluctuate based on injuries, the weather and other factors. Double-check the odds before betting.