NFL Picks and Predictions: Derrik Klassen's Top 5 Bets To Place For Week 8
NFL Picks and Predictions: Derrik Klassen's Top 5 Bets To Place For Week 8
Los Angeles Rams (-14.5) @ Houston Texans at (+100)
Save for an oddly competitive match against the New England Patriots in Week 5; the Houston Texans have gotten hammered ever since starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor went down. The roster was already poor as is, and losing their starting quarterback has only made things exceptionally worse, considering Taylor’s backup is mid-round rookie Davis Mills. In Mills’ defense, this is about as bad a spot as any mid-round rookie quarterback could be thrown into, but the reality is has been a major step down at the position, and the rest of the roster is not good enough to make up for it.
The Texans are 30th in total DVOA as a team, ranking dead-last on offense and a middling 18th on defense. While that defensive ranking is not so bad in a vacuum, they are now facing an elite offense in the Los Angeles Rams, who have been rolling all year (outside of the Arizona game).
Couple all of that with the fact that the team just traded away one of its veteran leaders, running back Mark Ingram. From a production standpoint, that probably means very little. Ingram was not getting much done behind Houston’s disaster of an offensive line. Still, losing a veteran presence midseason hurts, especially for a team desperately in need of stability. The human side of football matters, and it’s a bit concerning that the Texans just punted on one of their best, most experienced leaders. It feels like a complete blowout is brewing.
New England Patriots (+4.5) @ Los Angeles Chargers at (-105)
Good rushing offenses continue to put the Chargers in a chokehold. Through six games, the Chargers have surrendered at least 125 rushing yards to all of their opponents, save for the Raiders. In addition, they have given up performances of 198 yards (Cowboys), 186 yards (Chiefs), 230 yards (Browns), and 187 yards (Ravens) this season. Those four games rank in the top-20 for most yards allowed in a single game this season. Only two other defenses (Bears, Panthers) even have two such performances, and no team has more than that.
To the Chargers’ misfortune, the Patriots can and want to run the ball. While their year-long efficiency is only slightly above average, the Patriots’ run game has really come alive the past couple of weeks. Lead running back Damien Harris has cruised to two consecutive 100-yard performances, doing so against the Cowboys and Jets. Neither of those units is elite-run defenses, but they are far better than whatever the Chargers got going on.
As such, there is a world where the Patriots can run the ball, complete high-percentage passes with the Mac Jones, and score enough points while suffocating the clock in order to keep this game close and maybe even win out. Of course, that does require some faith in a banged-up Patriots secondary, but Bill Belichick trumps Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi in the battle of wits, and that should help make up the gap for the New England defense.
Panthers QB Sam Darnold, Over 0.5 Interceptions at (-145)
The odds for this do not pay out a ton, but it feels like a freebie. Sam Darnold is not good. It’s as simple as that.
Okay, let’s expand a little bit. On the surface, we all know Darnold to be a volatile passer. Darnold has already thrown eight picks this year, seven of which have come over the last four games. He has thrown at least one pick in all four of those games. Granted, some of those games have been against good-to-great pass defenses such as the Vikings and Cowboys, but Darnold is still prone to making these kinds of decisions versus anyone.
Darnold is also playing with his job on the line now more than ever. Just seven games into the year, Darnold was benched towards the end of last week’s game against the Giants in favor of PJ Walker. Sometimes that happens when a game is far beyond salvaging, but the Panthers were only down 12 points with almost all of the fourth quarter left to play when Darnold was taken out of the game. That was a winnable match, and the staff did not trust Darnold to give them the best chance.
While Darnold retains his job for at least this week, this week could be make or break, and it would not be surprising to see him test his luck to prove he can still make explosive plays. However, given Darnold is not a very good player, that makes him prone to some turnovers.
Bills WR Emmanuel Sanders, Two or More Touchdowns at (+800)
This is my longshot for the week. I’m not sure why multi-score performances are my favorite longshot bets, but hey, touchdowns are fun, and maybe that’s all it is.
Emmanuel Sanders has been a consistent force for the Bills offense all year long. In all six games this season, Sanders has earned at least five targets and generated at least 48 yards. The steady stream of opportunities is there, which is impressive considering he holds the sixth-highest average depth of target in the league and has been Buffalo’s premier field-stretcher.
That kind of high-reward play style is probably worth betting on in general, but especially so against a poor Dolphins secondary. The Dolphins not only rank 26th in pass defense DVOA but are tied for the fifth-most passing touchdowns allowed per game in the NFL. As a result, they are about as exploitable as any pass defense in the league right now.
Also, Sanders has oddly scored his four touchdowns this season in two separate two-touchdown performances. Sanders did so against Washington and Kansas City. While the Dolphins may boast a slightly better secondary than those teams, the difference is probably negligible against a passing offense that can be as explosive as Buffalo’s.
Two-leg Parlay (+257)
Rams RB Darrell Henderson, Longest Rush Over 16.5 Yards (-120)
Bengals RB Joe Mixon, Longest Rush Over 16.5 Yards (-105)
To this point in the season, neither of these teams have had the most explosive run games. Sean McVay’s M.O. is no longer pounding the rock and leaning on play-action, while the Joe Burrow-lead Bengals continue to be a pass-first offense that wants to spread and shred. As a result, the Rams and Bengals sit back-to-back at 23rd and 24th, respectively, in explosive run rate this season.
However! Both offenses are up against defenses that have not done particularly well to stop explosive runs, especially the Rams.
Los Angeles faces off against Houston this week. Not only do the Texans rank 27th in explosive run rate allowed, but they have missed the second-most tackles in the NFL this season by volume, only having fewer than the Baltimore Ravens. A runner as talented and effective as Darrell Henderson has been this season should have a good chance to rip off one or two chunk gains against this putrid Texans unit.
For the other half of this parlay, the Bengals take on the Jets. While the Jets are around the middle of the pack as far as missed tackles go, they are the third-worst defense in the league in explosive run rate allowed. Only the Cardinals and Ravens— both feast or famine style of run defenses— have been worse in that respect. The Bengals offensive line also quietly ranks eighth in adjusted line yards in the run game, despite how hit-or-miss they have been as pass protectors. Blend all of that with Joe Mixon’s top-class athleticism, and the pieces for an explosive rushing performance are all there.
NFL Week 8 Top 5 Bets
- Rams -14.5 (+100)
- Patriots +4.5 (-105)
- Sam Darnold Over 0.5 Interceptions (-145)
- Emmanuel Sanders, Two+ Touchdowns (+800)
- 2 Leg Parlay (+257) Darrell Henderson, Longest Rush Over 16.5 Yards (-120) & Joe Mixon, Longest Rush Over 16.5 Yards (-105)
You've seen his breakdowns and football analysis on Twitter and elsewhere. Now, Derrik Klassen brings his unmatched knowledge of the game to OddsChecker to give us his NFL picks each and every week.