Early NFL Parlay and Best Bets: Week 8

Oct 25, 2021 - 9:14 PM

As we approach Week 8, the NFL’s contenders have started to separate themselves from the rest of the field. Five NFC squads sit at 5-1 or better, and three of them factor into the parlay below. I’m also featuring one impressive AFC team and a final not-so-impressive NFC team.

The underlying thesis of this article series is that it’s best to bet early. You should do so because sportsbooks will adjust their lines after sharp bettors place their initial wagers. Once they’ve done so, you’re not just playing against the house — you’re also playing against some of the smartest minds in the game. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s what professional gambler (and Jeopardy! champion) James Holzhauer has to say on the matter:

“When you bet right after the opening number is posted, you essentially gamble that you’re smarter than the handful of sportsbook employees who set the line. When you bet 10 minutes before the game starts, you hope in vain that you know something all the world’s sharp bettors don’t.” You can read the rest of his comments here in The Athletic.

Ultimately, I recommend that you read this article as a guide to two things: first, a smart parlay for the weekend’s action; second, a list of smart straight bets to target individually. Aside from the parlay, I’ll label my favorite picks each week and advise you on the proper unit size for each play.

Parlay YTD: 0-7-0 (-7u)
Straight Bets YTD: 9-7-0 (-0.48u)

Leg #1. Cowboys ML | -150 at DK Sportsbook

Straight Bet Size: 1.5u

The Cowboys have some value right now because Dak Prescott’s status is up in the air. He isn’t expected to practice with the Cowboys on Monday, but the team expects him to return to the field by Wednesday. Once he does, I expect the spread to move north of a field goal, limiting the moneyline value you’ll get later in the week.

I like Dallas here because they are winners. They haven’t lost a game since Week 1, and they proved that they’re clutch enough to produce when it matters against the Patriots. The Minnesota Vikings don’t seriously threaten their winning streak.

The numbers support this, too. Dallas ranked fifth in overall defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) heading into Week 7, while Minnesota ranked 13th. The Vikings have the second-worst special teams unit in terms of DVOA, too. That can (and will) hurt them in the clutch. It did against the Cardinals.

The bigger problem for Minnesota is their defense. Their secondary will allow Dak Prescott to go crazy through the air. With Patrick Peterson on injured reserve, the Vikings will trot out the unathletic Bashaud Breeland as their top option. They’ll pair him with the beatable Cameron Dantzler on two-receiver sets. Worse, the Vikings’ defensive line ranks 30th in adjusted line yards, while the Cowboys’ offensive line ranks first. Dallas should control this game from the outset.

Leg #2. Bills -9.5 | -175 at DK Sportsbook

Straight Bet Size: N/A

The Bills demolished the Dolphins by a 35-point margin in Week 2. While it’s true that Miami had to adjust after Tua Tagovailoa got hurt, the Bills have been outstanding against bad teams this year. They beat the Washington Football Team by 22 in Week 3 and the Texans by 40 in Week 4. They even beat the Chiefs by 18. While they are coming off a brutal loss to the Titans, they’ve had a bye to lick their wounds and get ready for this one.

Buffalo led the NFL in DVOA heading into this week. In contrast, Miami ranked 28th. Buffalo’s defense ranked first, probably because of their pair of shutouts to start the year, while their offense ranked a surprisingly low 12th place. Both metrics are still much better than Miami’s — the Dolphins’ offense ranked third-worst, and their defense ranked seventh-worst.

I trust the Bills to get their fourth double-digit win of the year.

Leg #3. Packers and Cardinals Under 56.5 | -185 at DK Sportsbook

Straight Bet Size: N/A

The news about Davante Adams having COVID-19 broke just before I started writing this parlay, and the market has already gone nuts. It’s not crazy to expect a couple of more positive cases out of Green Bay before Thursday night, either, as defensive coordinator Joe Barry also tested positive.

Without Adams, the Packers will struggle to move the ball. They may also struggle in the red zone. Adams leads the Packers in red-zone targets (10), good for a commanding target share of 27%. That leads me to believe that their offense will stay at or below the key number of 24, which gives the Cardinals plenty of wiggle room.

I also like this play because these teams play at somewhat slow tempos. The Packers are the NFL’s third-slowest team in seconds per play, while the Cardinals are the ninth-slowest. The Cardinals play faster when they’re tied or trailing, but I don’t expect them to find themselves in either of those situations that often on Thursday. I won’t get too cocky about betting against Aaron Rodgers, but I’ve teased this total up high enough to feel comfortable about it.

Leg #4. Lions +7.5 | -210 at DK Sportsbook

Straight Bet Size: N/A

Oh, God. Here we go again. I took the Lions to cover a teased-up spread against the Bears, and they let me down. Badly. They single-handedly busted a decent parlay as a result. But Dan Campbell’s team showed enough fight last weekend that I’m ready to get hurt again.

The Eagles are bad. They were outperforming the Lions in DVOA heading into Week 7, but most of that has to stem from Jalen Hurts’ superb garbage-time play. While he may be a great fantasy quarterback, Hurts has only once led the Eagles to a win by more than a field goal. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Campbell doesn’t coach himself out of covering a 7.5-point spread on Sunday.

Total Odds: +486 at DraftKings Sportsbook

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Isaiah Sirois is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Isaiah, check out his archive and follow him @is_sirois.

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