Steven Senne / AP
Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 | 2 a.m.
Week 8: Bengals at Steelers
- Which side would you take in Bengals at Steelers? (Poll Consensus year to date: 4-2-1)
- Bengals pick'em — 62.6%
- Steelers pick'em — 37.4%
This poll is closed, see Full Results »
Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
The odds of an NFL team joining the 1972 Miami Dolphins and the 2007 New England Patriots with a perfect regular season this year aren’t promising.
Even though a record five teams stand undefeated through seven weeks of play, talk of 16-0 possibilities is premature. No local sports books have posted propositions asking whether the Patriots, Packers, Bengals, Broncos or Panthers will finish flawlessly, but they’re available at offshore shops.
New England has the best chance, but the “yes” pays out 14-to-1 on the wager with “no” coming back at 1-to-40. That line implies just a 3.5 percent chance, adjusting for the house’s hold, that the Patriots match their feat of eight years ago.
The teams with the second- and third-best chances — Green Bay at 25-to-1 and Denver at 80-to-1 — square off in a Week 8 headliner that will whittle the count to four. The next team, the Bengals at 90-to-1, have their second toughest game of the season so far by the point spread against Pittsburgh. Carolina, 100-to-1, is a touchdown favorite over Indianapolis but gets Green Bay next week.
Talking Points isn’t out for a historic performance, just an above-average one. The blog is in good shape after a 9-5 record last week brought the season total to 53-47-5 against the spread picking every game.
Read below for picks and analysis on all the Week 8 games, separated as always into three confidence categories with attached records. Lines are the best currently available on the chosen side.
New York Giants plus-3.5 at New Orleans Saints Not buying the defensive turnaround narrative from the Saints after the unit used a plus-5 turnover margin during wins the last two weeks to mask giving up more than 6 yards per play. That path to victory is unlikely to work against the careful Giants, who have committed only six giveaways on the season.
Oakland Raiders plus-2.5 vs. New York Jets Situational edge goes against the Jets, which must travel to the West Coast for the first time in more than a year after a taxing 30-23 loss at New England. Oakland is among the healthiest teams in the NFL and riding high off a 37-29 win at San Diego.
Atlanta Falcons minus-7 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Matt Ryan dissected Lovie Smith’s defenses for more than 9 yards per attempt and five touchdowns to no interceptions in a pair of victories and covers over Tampa Bay last season. The Buccaneers’ stats — including a 0.8 yard per play differential, which is sixth best in the NFL — paint them as more improved than they are considering their only game against a winning team was a 37-23 blowout loss to the Panthers at home.
Indianapolis Colts plus-7 at Carolina Panthers It’s rare to find a line move this drastic so early in the season, as the Colts went off the board as 1-point favorite in this game over the summer. The Panthers are bound for somewhat of a regression with their 6-0 straight-up record outperforming their Pythagorean expectation by nearly two victories.
Baltimore Ravens minus-3 vs. San Diego Chargers Both of these defenses are bordering on historical incompetence after giving up at least 7 yards per play in back-to-back weeks. But it’s easier to trust Baltimore coach John Harbaugh and middle linebacker C.J. Mosley to fix the problems than San Diego contemporaries Mike McCoy and Manti Te’o.
New England Patriots minus-8 vs. Miami Dolphins Have too often strayed from the tried rule of backing Bill Belichick, who’s improved to 155-115-5 against the spread as the coach of the Patriots this year, whenever indecisive. It’s a coaching mismatch against Dan Campbell, regardless of the wallopings he inflicted on Tennessee and Houston the last two weeks.
San Francisco 49ers plus-9 at St. Louis Rams San Francisco has fared decently versus the run game, sitting in the middle of the NFL at surrendering 4 yards per rushing attempt, so it could halt Todd Gurley’s string of 100-yard games. The emergence of the rookie running back isn’t the only thing that’s spurred the Rams recently as luck has also been involved with the team recovering an absurd nine of 11 fumbles in the last three games.
Tennessee Titans plus-4 at Houston Texans The Titans’ defense has quietly played extremely well against the pass where they rank sixth in the league by Football Outsiders’ DVOA behind a great year from cornerback Jason McCourty. The Texans’ can’t exploit their opponents’ weakness against the run, where the Titans rate 30th by DVOA, after losing Arian Foster to a torn Achilles.
Cincinnati Bengals plus-1 at Pittsburgh Steelers A Pittsburgh defense giving up 7.3 yards per pass attempt is a favorable matchup for Andy Dalton, who leads the NFL in QBR. Ben Roethlisberger’s toughness in rushing back from injuries has hurt the Steelers in the past, most memorably in the Tim Tebow playoff win.
Denver Broncos plus-3 vs. Green Bay Packers Denver’s defense, not Green Bay’s offense, is the most dominant unit coming into a game where Peyton Manning dresses up as a home underdog at Sports Authority Field for only the second time. The Packers have been somewhat sketchy as a road underdog, going 20-21 against the spread since Aaron Rodgers took over as their quarterback in 2008.
Minnesota Vikings pick’em at Chicago Bears Can’t get behind the rush to bet the Bears, as their odds spiraled down after opening as a 2.5-point underdog. The Vikings, which rate 28th in DVOA, are indeed a fluky 4-2 straight-up but better spots to fade them are upcoming against teams with more bite.
Kansas City Chiefs minus-4.5 vs. Detroit Lions The Chiefs, which have only gotten outscored by three points per game despite a 2-5 straight-up, look like a bet-on team for the time being. The Lions, ranked second-to-last in the NFL with a minus-61 point differential, fall squarely in the opposite camp.
Arizona Cardinals minus-4.5 at Cleveland Browns Can’t knock the betting public’s infatuation with Arizona, which has fielded far and away the NFL’s best offense with production nearing 7 yards per play. But the Cardinals’ ever-expanding nest of weekly action makes betting them early imperative, as seen last week when they covered the opening minus-7 and 7.5 in a 26-18 victory over the Ravens while failing to beat the closing minus-10.
Dallas Cowboys plus-6.5 vs. Seattle Seahawks For all the verbal abuse Dallas’ offense has taken, it’s still moving at a clip of 5.8 yards per play or slightly better than Seattle’s 5.6 yards per play. Let’s not forget Dallas has the rare offensive line strong enough to slow Seattle’s feared pass rush.