Smart football bettors don’t have just one way to handicap the NFL Week 8 odds. They layer in a number of angles and information to leave no edge unaccounted for.
Situational handicapping — also known as spot bets — is an effective way to unearth an impactful angle that advanced metrics and analytics just don’t measure. I run down the NFL Week 8 schedule and pick out the spots to watch.
Here are my best NFL spot bets: letdown, look-ahead, and schedule spots in Week 8.
Letdown Spot: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-4.5, 41.5)
The Panthers seem primed for a letdown after coming off the biggest upset of the 2022 season so far, stunning the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as 13-point home underdogs in Week 7. Carolina’s 21-3 victory was just the 14th time a dog of 13-points or more won outright since 2015 and boasted a 31-point cover margin — tied for second highest for an underdog in that span.
Betting on the Panthers at this point is tough enough considering the coaching change, QB situation, and fire sale of top talent. Now, with a letdown spot rearing its ugly head in Week 8, Carolina is getting 4.5 points at Atlanta after this spread opened Falcons -6.5 on Sunday night.
Through all their problems — before and after the firing of Matt Rhule — the Panthers have held favor with sharp bettors, who once again grabbed Carolina at the peak of this spread and fueled the move to +4.5. Now that the best of the number is gone, the letdown looms even larger for anyone late to the party on the Panthers.
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Look-Ahead Spot: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (+1.5, 40.5)
After another victory over the Indianapolis Colts, the Titans have the inside track to win the AFC South. Tennessee rides a four-game streak into Houston, with quarterback Ryan Tannehill nursing an ankle injury and the Titans set as 1.5-point road chalk.
But beyond the Texans awaits a rematch with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football in Week 9 and a chance to reframe the home-field layout for the AFC playoff picture. That sets up a possible look-ahead spot and maybe a savvy decision from Titans head coach Mike Vrabel as it pertains to the long-term health of Tannehill.
While the veteran QB was seen in a walking boot following the Week 7 win over Indianapolis, the severity of his ankle injury is not as bad as once thought. That said, Tennessee could opt to sit Tannehill and play rookie QB Malik Willis in Week 8 to ensure a healthy QB1 for Kansas City in Week 9 and the second half of the schedule.
Houston has two wins and a tie on the season and given its terrible defense, Tennessee could feel confident with a rookie passer and a lot of RB Derrick Henry in Week 8 — looking ahead to a healthy Tannehill in the future.
Schedule Spot: Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys (-10. 42.5)
The Bears’ early schedule is not kind. And with Chicago coming off an upset win at New England on Monday Night Football, the nastiest schedule spot of Week 8 — and one of the worst of the entire 2022 calendar — just got a little trickier.
The Bears play their second straight road game on a short week in Dallas, which will also serve as their fourth away tilt in the past five weeks and their fifth roadie in the last seven games. Chicago was at the Giants and Vikings in Weeks 4 and 5, came home for a Thursday night loss to Washington in Week 6, stole a victory in Foxboro in Week 7, and now heads to Big D this Sunday.
Mix in a potential letdown spot after beating the Patriots as 9.5-point road underdogs, and Da Bears are once again flirting with double digits as this Week 8 line climbs from +9.5 to +10. This look-ahead line was Cowboys -7.5 in the summer. But with the way this dangerous Dallas defense is playing, Justin Fields must be at his sharpest in a very tough spot in Week 8.