It’s Week 8 in the NFL and we have a full complement of games as (surprisingly) there are zero teams on bye this week. I have a few big takeaways from last week’s action and a spot circled from way back in the preseason. We’ll dive into a packed NFL Sunday slate below.
Here is the aforementioned preseason spot for me as #2 draft pick CJ Stroud and the Texans head to Carolina to take on the #1 overall pick in Bryce Young and the Panthers. Both teams have diverged from preseason expectations as the 3-3 Texans have overperformed projections on both sides of the ball and have remained competitive in a weak AFC South division.
Stroud has been solid for the Texans, limiting turnovers, and performing to a 96.4 QB Rating. Bryce Young and the Panthers, however, have struggled with an 0-6 record heading into this matchup. The Panthers have been inept on offense as their wide receivers struggle to get any separation and the defense continues to be plagued with injuries.
While the Panthers have been a tough watch so far, there might be some positive takeaways from their bye week. Firstly, HC Frank Reich is going to cede play calling duties to his Offensive Coordinator Thomas Brown, who was hired from the Sean McVay coaching tree in Los Angeles.
I’m hopeful that Brown will institute more motion and more creativity in this offense to help their wide receivers get open and allow Bryce Young to make easier, quicker throws within this offense.
I think this ends up being a good matchup for the Panthers but the bottom line is that this line at Texans -3 is too much of a delta from the preseason lookahead of Panthers -3. Yes the Panthers have played like one of the worst teams in football, but I’m not so ready to give the Texans such an upgrade that they deserve to be a full field goal favorite on the road.
We saw the total open up at 41.5 and get bet up to 43.5 which maybe shows that bettors have some belief in the Panthers offense improving and showing some of the life they showed in the opening drives against Miami in Week 6. I like this matchup for the Panthers as they’ve activated RG Austin Corbett off injured reserve to provide an upgrade to an offensive line in dire need of reinforcements.
The Panthers offensive line has been one of the worst pass protection units in football and while a good not great guard won’t save this line, they do face a Texans defense that has struggled to pressure the QB. The Texans rank as the 6th worst pass rush per PFF and are in the bottom 10 of pressure rate in the league. The Texans have been good in coverage, but perhaps this is partly due to the lack of pass heavy offenses they’ve faced in 2023.
Coming off the bye, I’ve had this spot circled for Carolina as the beginning part of their schedule was expected to be difficult. Obviously, I wasn’t expecting an 0-6 start, but again, feel that the current line is too much of an overreaction.
The line opened up at Panthers +3 and was pushed up to +3.5 for a few hours on Monday afternoon. I bet the +3.5 when it was available but still recommend a play at +3.
Some markets are already moving to a juiced +3 and I expect this game to close inside of the 3. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Panthers get their first win of the season here and will go with Panthers +3 for a 1% play.
Has Todd Munchen finally put all the pieces together with this Baltimore offense? The Baltimore Ravens curb stomped a talented Lions team 38-6 on Sunday leaving many in the media to start to circle Lamar Jackson as a potential favorite to win the 2023 NFL MVP.
We’ve seen some clunky games from Baltimore, between the controversial calls resulting in a loss to Indy and the drop fest that occurred in their Week 5 loss to Pittsburgh. That being said, the Ravens made it through a difficult part of their schedule from a travel perspective, playing three straight road games including one overseas. They responded to that with an absolute rout of the Lions both offensively and defensively.
The Ravens offense was exactly what we’ve been waiting to see. The offensive line performed great, as Lamar had ample time in the pocket. The WR core and TE Mark Andrews all contributed in the intermediate passing game.
The running game was solid, efficient, and was aided by some timely runs by Lamar both designed and on scrambles. Despite the cross-country travel, this Cardinals team is in no way, shape, or form, prepared to face the Ravens on either side of the ball. With James Conner on IR, this is a one man show for Josh Dobbs, with a severe lack of talent around him (no, this is not a potential Hollywood Brown revenge spot.)
The Ravens have moved into the top spot in the league in terms of DVOA, anchored by their #2 ranked defense. The Cardinals don’t have much of a running game without Conner and they’ll attempt to throw against the league’s 2nd best coverage unit per PFF. Despite a lower pressure rate, the Ravens have gotten to the quarterback in a timely manner, with the 3rd best sack rate, leading the league with 29 total sacks.
There is potential for this to be a “lookahead” spot for the Ravens given they have three straight winnable games at home after this short trip to the desert. That being said, I think this offense and defense are both clicking right now and shouldn’t miss a beat against a poor Cardinals team that is rapidly losing steam after a competitive start to the season.
Perhaps this line is being held down by news that Kyler Murray was a full participant in practice? From what I’ve seen, Murray played a few snaps with the practice squad and is nowhere near starting QB form. Even if Murray was expected to take his first snaps of the 2023 season, I’d be fearful for him going up against this Ravens secondary.
There’s no reason that DK should still be hanging -8 on this game and I’d expect the entire market to close north of -9. We’ll take advantage of the spot and bet Ravens -8 for 1.5%. I’m also betting the Ravens team total over 26.5 -118 for 1%.