Back on the winning side of things in Week 7 and boy does it feel good? Target Sides & Totals went 10-3-1 last week. Trend Wisely is starting to click on all cylinders as we near the middle part of the season. Now it’s time to keep that trend going with Week 8 NFL betting trends.
Like in my Week 4 article, I’m planning a full recap of the NFL betting landscape next week after we cross the mid-season mark. Unders continue to make a roaring comeback going 7-6-1 last week and the lines continue to correct for it. In Week 8, we have four totals at or under the key number of 44. For those of you who followed along in Weeks 1 and 2, that is especially encouraging for my most profitable teaser trend from 2019. Keep those low totals coming!
Week 8 looks exciting. Pittsburgh heads to Baltimore for a premier matchup between the AFC North’s most bitter rivals. Kyle Shanahan leads San Francisco into Seattle to take a crack at the Seahawks’ porous defense. All told, we have 7 division matchups this week. The bad blood should be boiling across the league on Sunday.
We’re also experiencing our first week of weather concerns for the betting market. The current forecast shows Green Bay, Cleveland, and Chicago all experiencing wind conditions over 20 mph at kickoff. Baltimore, Buffalo, and Philadelphia are all looking at rainy predictions. I usually don’t pay much attention to weather trends. A lot can change between forecasts and kickoffs. However, wind is definitely a factor to keep our eye on. Time to dig into the Week 8 NFL betting trends!
CAUTION! Don’t base your picks solely on NFL historical betting trends. There are multitudes of considerations. Trends are just one variable. That said, one variable might be the tie breaker you need to make a bet.
Please reach out to me on Twitter if there’s anything you want a deeper dive on or particular info you would like to see for upcoming weeks. A lot of these that I will be writing about were once gut opinions or ideas of mine that I decided to dig in and #showmethedata on!
Please note: I have removed games that contradict over multiple trends from the “Targets” list
Week 8 NFL Betting Trends
Historically Reliable Teams
Patriots vs Bills
Let me start by stating the obvious. The 2020 New England Patriots are vastly different than the dominant version of the last two decades. Bill Belichick is without Tom Brady for the first time since 2001. He’s struggling to cover the roster holes that Brady so regularly overcompensated for. That said, there are extremely strong Week 8 NFL betting trends going New England’s way against the Bills.
Since Belichick took over in 2000, the Patriots are 43-19 straight up (SU) and 37-25 against the spread (ATS) in divisional road games. As road underdogs over this same span, New England is 12-5 ATS. That really highlights the stranglehold that they’ve had over the AFC East. In Buffalo, New England is 18-2 SU and 14-5-1 ATS during this same time period. Lastly, the Patriots are 19-9 ATS coming off a loss since 2015.
Since San Francisco demolished them last week, the public believes the Pats are washed up. It feels like everything is lining up for the underdog this weekend in Buffalo.
Dallas and Road Unders
We talked about Dallas and Road Unders last week, so I won’t spend much time on it here. The Cowboys’ 3-point showing against the Washington Almost Football Team left a lot to be desired. In Dallas’s road games since 2015, the Under hits at a 29-14 rate. They’re playing the Eagles in a divisional primetime matchup on Sunday night. Everyone will be scraping for points in this one.
Seahawks vs 49ers
Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks have completely owned the San Francisco Niners over the last 10 seasons going 13-6-1 ATS. When playing in Seattle, the Seahawks cover at an 80% clip (8-2). This is another spot to bet against what the public just saw last weekend when the Niners blew out the Patriots and the Seahawks couldn’t keep pace with the Cardinals.
Raiders & Rams Head East
Betting against the Raiders when they travel East has already been profitable. When Oakland/Las Vegas plays a 1:00pm EST kickoff game, they are 5-23 SU and 13-15 ATS since 2010. They head to Cleveland this week.
On the flip side, Sean McVay has figured out the East coast travel trick. Since he took over for the Rams in 2017, they are an impressive 8-2 record SU & ATS when traveling out to the Eastern time zone.
Target Sides: NE +4, SEA -3, CLE -2.5, LAR -3.5
Target Totals: DAL/PHI u43
How Mid-Season Byes Affect Teams
For the purposes of this article, I am defining a mid-season bye as Weeks 7 through 9. Four teams coming off real byes this week. Before we rush to go bet these well-rested teams, let’s dig into the trends.
Road teams after a mid-season bye are 30-21 SU and 34-17 ATS since 2010. Meanwhile, the mid-season bye week home teams are 36-29 SU and just 25-40 ATS the following week (Overs hit at a 40-25 rate). Don’t fall victim to the mid-season bye bias (bye-as) that you’ll hear tossed around this week. Play it smart with these teams.
Target Sides: IND -3, LAR -3.5, PIT +3.5
Target Totals: LAR/MIA o46, PIT/BAL o46.5
Early Down Success Rate (EDSR) Mismatches
In week 4, I wrote about one of Warren Sharp’s favorite statistics, EDSR. Almost every 3rd and 4th down is reactive due to the distance needed for a first down. Many times the 4th quarter is reactive based on the score differential between teams. EDSR eliminates these conditions and only looks at how teams do (offensively and defensively) on 1st and 2nd downs in the first three quarters of a game. In the biggest mismatches this season, the better team went 10-5 SU and 8-7 ATS.
Week’s biggest mismatches:
Target Sides (The differentials listed compare the EDSR of the target team to the EDSR of their opponent on the other side of the ball)
IND -3 (Run Defense +23, Pass Offense +14, Pass Defense +9, Run Offense -3)
KC -19.5 (Pass Defense +24, Pass Offense +21, Run Offense +7, Run Defense -18)
Pace of Play & Explosive Play Rate
Defined as a rush over 10 yards or a pass over 15 yards, explosive plays are a good stat for us to use to dial in on totals to bet. Theoretically, if a team is really good at hitting explosive plays on offense and they face a team who gives up a lot of them on defense, that is a recipe for a game where possession is constantly changing. With shorter drives (and more of them ending in scoring plays), this increase in offensive opportunities should help lead to higher scoring games.
When it comes to pace, there are two things to consider. Seconds per play tells us how quickly teams are breaking the huddle and snapping the ball in order to increase pace, and overall plays helps us compare expected offensive opportunities. Comparing how teams rank in these two pace categories (in neutral game scripts) with the Vegas Totals can help determine some spots to target. Last week this went 2-1 which brings our two weeks record up to 2-3 since I combined these stats, so we will give it another run this week.
NE/BUF o41 (14th highest total, 3rd in explosive plays, 6th in sec/play, 9th in plays/gm)
CLE/LV u50.5 (3rd highest total, 4th in explosive plays, 10th in sec/play, 6th in plays/gm)
Underdog Movement off the Lookahead Line
If you have been reading this every week, you should be well versed in reviewing lookahead lines by now. If you need a refresher, make sure to go check out Week 2’s article. This is a trend that I started tracking to good success last year and it is already off to a great start in 2020. All told, underdogs in any of these situations have now gone 24-13 ATS even though they have only gone 14-23 SU.
Here’s a reminder of the three different buckets I am tracking for underdog line movement. It’s important to check back in on these right before kickoff on Sunday morning to make sure you get the closest to the closing line as possible. On the other hand, if you see any of this drastic line movement during the week and you can lock in the underdog at an inflated price, then feel free to do so.
Line Movement towards Underdogs
When the line moved more than 1.5 points towards an underdog they are only 7-13 SU but 13-7 ATS.
Target Sides: PIT +3.5 (opened as +5.5)
Favorite Swapped Sides
This trend is now 3-2 SU, 4-1 ATS, and 3-2 Over to the team that closed as the underdog this season. No games currently fall into this category for Week 8.
Line Movement towards Favorites
When the line moved more than 1.5 points towards a favorite, they are a chalky 9-4 SU, but only 5-8 ATS. Unders in these games have also gone 8-5.
Target Sides: CIN +6.5 (Opened as +4.5), DEN +3 (Opened as +1), DAL +10.5 (Opened as +3.5)
That wraps it up for the Week 8 NFL betting trends. Good luck this week, I hope to see some winning ticket screenshots!