I know you’re probably here for football, but I need to give a few cheap plugs for stuff I’ll be doing this week. We’re less than a week from the Breeders’ Cup, and I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can create some cool content and help others do the same.
We’ll be doing two episodes of “Champagne and J.D.” this week. Ren Carothers will join us Wednesday to preview the Friday slate, while Nick Hines will return for his second appearance to discuss the Saturday program. I’m proud to call both Ren and Nick friends of mine, and I’ve learned a great deal from them. You won’t want to miss this, so head to the “Champagne and J.D.” YouTube channel and hit the “subscribe” button.
I’ll also be part of Gino Buccola’s Murderer’s Row-ish lineup of guests on his podcast, “That’s What G Said.” Darin Zoccali and I will join Gino to talk about the Turf and Filly and Mare Turf, and given some of our past episodes where we’ve dived into fields and wagering strategies, this’ll be even more good stuff for you to sink your teeth into ahead of racing’s year-end championship event.
Anyway, on to the week eight slate of NFL picks, plays, and daily fantasy players to watch! Last week was another good one, as a 3-1 mark moved me to 19-8-1 on the season. As usual, point spreads and totals are courtesy of America’s Line, and daily fantasy costs are courtesy of DraftKings. Let’s get to it!
Titans/Bengals: OVER 51
I’m really looking forward to watching this one, for a lot of reasons. These are two offenses that can put up a lot of points, and I think the public might be sleeping on that fact just a bit. The total opened at 52.5 and has actually drifted down a bit, which surprises me.
The Titans did just record their first loss of the season against Pittsburgh, but they still put up 24 points against a top-tier defense. Meanwhile, the Bengals have gone over the total in three of their last four games and have positively crushed the number each of the last two weeks. They’ll likely be playing from behind, and I think that could set things up for a shootout (more on that in the DFS section).
51 seems too low. With 31-20 being a push, this is probably my best bet of the weekend, and I’m hoping for carnage.
Bills -4.5 over Patriots
Given the way San Francisco took New England behind the woodshed last weekend, I’m stunned the line is this low. Honestly, I think a big reason for that is the New England stigma in the AFC East. Take that fact out of the equation, and this hits me as two or three points too low.
Buffalo did not look good last week, when they had to come from behind to beat the woeful Jets. With that said, New England will be without Julian Edelman and Stephon Gilmore for this game, and I simply don’t think they’ve got the firepower to keep up with Josh Allen and company. This hits me as a 24-14 sort of game, which would be a comfortable cover for Buffalo.
Seahawks -3 over 49ers
This is the contest many are seeing as the game of the week, and for good reason. These two NFC West rivals are loaded with talent, and the last three meetings between these two teams have been decided by a total of 11 points.
My question: Are George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk enough to match Russell Wilson and company? I simply don’t think so. Perhaps Kyle Shanahan has fun stuff cooked up, but this game looks to be a high-scoring one, and Seattle just seems to have far more weapons. It doesn’t surprise me that the spread is narrow, and it’s not like it’d be shocking if San Francisco covered or even won outright, but give me the Seahawks in what seems like a 38-31 kind of game.
Bucs -12.5 over Giants
No two ways around it, gang: The Giants are bad. They’re not historically bad, like their fellow MetLife Stadium residents, but they’re bad, and I just cannot see a way in which this one is even remotely close.
Tom Brady has the Tampa Bay offense humming right now, and the Bucs defense is a top-10 unit that’s second-best in the entire league against the run. Add in the friendlier-than-expected spread, which I’d anticipated being 14 or 15 points, and I’ll gladly back the Bucs in this Monday night tilt.
DAILY FANTASY PLAYERS TO WATCH
WR Tyler Boyd, CIN ($6,600)
QB Joe Burrow, CIN ($6,200)
WR A.J. Green, CIN ($4,500)
Need an economical mini-stack that may not draw much attention? Consider Cincinnati, which will likely be throwing early and often against the Titans. Burrow has thrown for 300 yards or more in five of his last six games, and while Boyd has drawn most of the targets, Green stepped up with a big game last week, one that indicates he could finally be rounding back into form.
If you want to bet on the Bengals even more, running back Giovani Bernard is available for a reasonable price tag as well ($5,800). However, my biggest bet is on the Cincinnati passing attack, one that I’m hoping holds up its end of the bargain in a shootout.
WR Brandon Aiyuk, SF ($5,800)
Aiyuk doesn’t touch the ball much, but when he does, he’s a threat to take it the distance from wherever he is on the field. That’s a recipe for success against a Seattle defense that’s every bit as poor as the team’s offense is sharp. I think he’ll have several opportunities at big plays in a game where San Francisco will need as many of them as they can get, and he only needs to convert on one or two to make this modest price tag a bargain.
TE Darren Waller, LV ($5,600)
I usually don’t like to splurge on the tight end position, and this is a bit more than I’d prefer to spend. However, Waller, one of last year’s revelations, is reasserting himself as one of the league’s top weapons at the tight end spot. He’s been targeted 16 times over his last two games and has scored in each of those contests, which is appealing enough. Add in that the Raiders are playing Cleveland, whose defense is one of the worst in the league against tight ends, and I think there’s a lot that says Waller will have another big game Sunday.
Green Bay Packers DEF ($2,900)
On paper, Minnesota’s offense looks quite good. However, I think their numbers are a bit inflated after high-scoring games against the Falcons, Seahawks, and Texans, three defenses who have been exploited by many teams so far this year.
Green Bay’s defense has, for the most part, been a solid, if unspectacular, unit to this point in the season. They looked strong in holding Houston to 20 points a week ago, and held Atlanta to 16 earlier this month. At this price, I’m buying a lot of shares and using the savings on other positions.