Fairway's Football Forecast And 2021 NFL Week 8 Underdog Picks And Insights

FairwayJay continues his strong point spread and underdog picks into NFL Week 8 with a 12-4 ATS mark and 9 outright winners.

Week 8 NFL Underdog Betting Predictions

Wow. What a final five minutes and finish in the Packers and Cardinals Thursday Night Football game to kickoff NFL Week 8 action. Green Bay's 24-21 win as a 6.5-point underdog was a big win for most leading online sportsbooks. Teaser and moneyline bettors on the no-longer undefeated Cardinals were in disbelief in the closing seconds after the Packers failed to put the game away themselves minutes earlier on the Arizona one-yard line. 

I bet the Packers for a pint, but did not include the Thursday night game in our Fairway Forecasts, which are now  this season following a 2-1 mark in Week 7. That included Cincinnati (+6.5) burying division rival Baltimore 41-17. We cashed in Monday night on the Seahawks (+5), who just missed the outright win.

Noteworthy in the Seahawks SU loss but ATS win is that in competitively-lined NFL games this season (6 points or less), the straight up (SU) winner is 56-4 and 58-2 ATS. The favorite in those competitively-lined games has either won and covered, or the underdog has won outright. Ironically, one of those games that the underdog did not win outright was our Monday night winner on Seattle (+5) in a 13-10 loss to the Saints.

NFL underdog betting week 8While the point spread is the great equalizer and always a factor in betting and evaluating the match-ups, it points to how little the point spread actually factors into NFL games where the line is 6-points or less. Historically in my database of nearly 20 years, the win rate in these competitively-lined games is 85-90% ATS. There is a slight margin for variance in the results, as some games move from just below or on 6 to 6.5 or more. In fact, the Cardinals point spread was -3.5 early in the week before moving sharply with some Packers injury news and more money. But how 'bout a Caesars Sportsbook customer that bet $500,000 on the Cardinals -3.5, got the better number, and then suffered the bankroll-busting heartache of the last-second goal line interception that would have made the Cardinals a 4-point winner with a converted PAT. 

Understanding that injuries and the impact of key players missing games is a common occurrence each week, be sure to check the NFL injury reports, which I provide for Week 8 courtesy of Pro Football Focus - another useful site with player grades, rankings and stats to assist you in NFL handicapping and your pursuit of profit. 

Despite all the advanced metrics and stats, you don't see fans and bettors suddenly increasing their win percentage significantly or beating the online sportsbooks more often, do you? There are still fundamental stats that dictate winning and losing SU and ATS in the NFL more than any other, and I have a database of stats and history as a proven NFL point spread prognosticator using some of these tools to handicap games. It's what allowed me to have 8 consecutive winning NFL seasons as independently documented a decade ago, and also a 114-83 (57.9%) ATS record on these pages the past four-plus seasons picking only underdogs.

On to the Week 9 underdog picks and we will add a ugly home underdog to the forecast with the winless Detroit Lions.

NFL Week 8 Underdog Picks

Detroit (+3.5) vs Philadelphia - Lions Moneyline +163 at BookMaker 

Philadelphia at Detroit

The Lions are clearly an ugly underdog, but Detroit is not the worst team in the league despite being the only winless team remaining at 0-7. Some competitive losses, including last week at Los Angeles against the Rams, Detroit Lions free pickshows they can win soon if they protect the football and continue to balance the attack and use running back D'Andre Swift in all phases. Quarterback Jared Goff still doesn't get the ball to his wide receivers enough, and RB Swift and TE Hockenson are the top receivers by margin. Those two will be more active and involved this week and especially Swift, as the Eagles defensive scheme allows more underneath routes and they have a linebacker that is very poor in coverage. Raiders QB Derek Carr was 31-of-34 passing last week for 323 yards. Lions QB Goff averages a league-low 6.3 air yards per attempt, so the Eagles defense is better for him to attack.

Detroit's defense is deficient allowing 6.3 yards per play to 5.3 for the Eagles defense. But the Lions have one of the stronger rush defenses, and won't have to worry about handling RB Miles Sanders this week, as he's sidelined with a low-end ankle sprain and going on injured reserve. I was at the Raiders 33-22 win over the Eagles Lions betting predictionEagles last Sunday in Las Vegas, and Philly looked lost after taking an early 7-0 lead. Quarterback Jalen Hurts led the Eagles in rushing with 61 yards, and I don't see that as positive. Neither is Philadelphia's penalty problems, as they lead the league with an average of 8.3 penalties per game. Now playing back-to-back road games against a desperate and more determined Lions team in their own den, I believe the Motor City Kitties can find a way this week to clip the Eagles wings and pick up their first win of the season. We'll also bet and take the 3.5 points as insurance and also add the Lions to our teaser bets. 

Here is some added insight and games and bonus plays to consider when online betting.

I teased the Colts when they were a slight home underdog to the Titans, but now the line has flipped and Indianapolis is a 2.5-point favorite. Periodically on these pages, but rarely and not yet this season, I'll include a home favorite of 2-points or less that is essentially priced like an underdog on their home field. I'll pass here and note the Titans and RB Henry lead the league in rushing attempts and are No. 3 averaging 155 rushing yards per game.    

Vikings Cowboys free pickI also bet and teased the Vikings in the Sunday Night Football game off a bye as home underdog, but now Minnesota is a 3-point favorite over Dallas. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (calf) is questionable to play, but he'll be less than 100% and not very mobile if he does play. The Vikings are No. 1 in defensive pressure rate and No. 3 in sack rate. Minnesota's offense is balanced and efficient with talented skill position players, like the Cowboys. I still see the Vikings underrated and a potential playoff contender, having also blown a few games they should have won. But the Vikings will have to handle the stronger, balanced offensive attack and improved defense of Dallas this week. I like over the total in this contest, but clearly need to see the status of Prescott before betting now, and look to in-play live betting as a good option. Both Dallas and Cleveland were initially favored at Minnesota, and you should now see how ridiculous it was that the Seahawks were a road favorite at Minnesota back in Week 3, when we made the Vikings our strongest play of the season in a 30-17 smackdown of Seattle. 

The Saints may appear tempting as a home underdog, and New Orleans is 8-4 ATS as home 'Dog under head coach Sean Payton. But now they face the top dog in the division in the Buccaneers and Tom Brady. The Saints are off an unimpressive Monday night win at Seattle, 13-10. That game offered little interest in live betting. New Orleans gained 304 yards at 4.5 yards per play against a sub-par Seahawks defense that is still poorly coordinated. Quarterback Jameis Winston is still hardly trustworthy, and now against his former team that has top defensive personnel, I'll pass. Also, the Saints defense has faced these quarterbacks in their last five games - Geno Smith, Taylor Heinicke, Daniel Jones, rookie Mac Jones and Sam Darnold, who passed for 305 yards and 2 TD's against New Orleans in a Panthers pounding of the Saints, 26-7.

Buffalo Bills betting tipsLike the Bengals inflated line, the Bills are now laying 14-points vs the Dolphins (1-6). Consider that Miami was just a 3.5 point underdog in Week 2 this season versus Buffalo, and you should see the over-correction in the line. But the bookmaker knows who you prefer and will bet on, and it's the angry Bills off a bye and week of rest from their stirring Monday Night Football loss at Tennessee in Week 6. 

I've mentioned in recent weekly articles that the rookie quarterbacks have mostly been money burners when betting on them and their teams this season. Some rookies, like Justin Fields of the Bears, can be completely over-matched, like last week when he threw three interceptions and took four sacks against the Buccaneers still fearsome defense. Jets QB Zach Wilson has really struggled as well, and while we took a shot last week and lost, we won't take even inflated points this week with the Jets as a unproven backup quarterback replaces injured Wilson this week. But to show you the perception versus reality of recent results and bias, I add this from Dr. Bob Sports. Teams that lost by more than 21 points and failed to cover the spread by 25 points or more the previous week (the Jets lost by 41 points as a 7-point dog last week) are 100-58-5 ATS as an underdog against a team with a winning point spread record. Few fans or bettors are interested in supporting the Jets, who will rely more heavily on their running game for backup QB Mike White. I took a 8-iron swing on Under 21.5 first half.  

FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. He chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Read more great insights from FairwayJay and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay   

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