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Columns - Magazine

The Gambling Solution: Week 8

by Jeff Baldwin
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Both Jeremy and Jeff started with a 1,000 unit bankroll as they go head to head all season long.

 

Jeff finished last week at 3-1 as he had winners on the Raiders, Seahawks and over TEN/IND.  His only loss came on the Redskins.  Jeff finished the week at plus 60 units.  Jeremy also came away with a 3-1 record as he nailed the Patriots, Seahawks and over ATL/SD.  He came up short on the Vikings as they suffered their first loss of the season.  Jeremy finished the week at plus 50 units.  Jeff currently has a 360 unit lead on Jeremy in the season-long contest.  Can Jeremy cut into Jeff's lead?  Let's get to the picks for Week 8.

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Baldwin

Record: 16-11-1

Units: 1,200

 

Jeremy Wardwell

Record: 11-16-1

Units: 840

 

Seahawks (-3) at Saints - 35 units
The Seahawks played a crazy game in Arizona last Sunday night as the two teams tied 6-6.  A chip shot field goal was missed by both kickers in overtime.  The Saints fell to the Chiefs in Kansas City 27-21 as their two-game winning streak was snapped.  The Seahawks were very fortunate to be in this game during regulation as they were dominated statistically by the Cardinals.  The Cardinals outgained them yardage-wise 443-257, and had 12 more first downs.  This Seahawks offense is struggling for a few reasons.  First, the offensive line isn't very good and they can't protect QB Russell Wilson.  Second, Wilson is clearly not 100% which is impacting his mobility with all the pressure he is facing.  They are now dealing with a short week coming off a very physical, overtime contest versus their bitter rival.  Also, throw in the fact they have a long trip to New Orleans to deal with.  The Saints return home looking to get back in the win column.  The Saints offense played well against the Chiefs as they outgained them 463-326.  The difference in that game were two crucial turnovers by the Saints.  The Saints will clearly have their work cut out for them facing the vaunted Seahawks defense, but we have seen in the past how explosive this offense is in this building led by QB Drew Brees regardless of the opponent.  I expect Brees to rely on the short to mid-range passing game in order combat the Seahawks’ ability to get pressure on the quarterback.   If the Saints can get anything out of their running game with RB Mark Ingram it will put this team in a great position to pull off the upset.  Defensively for the Saints, they'll obviously need to get pressure on Wilson.  They can't afford for him to have a clean pocket and pick them apart.  In the end, look for QB Drew Brees to work his magic like he has done so many times in that building.  The Saints are a solid 11-3 against the spread as underdogs in their last fourteen.  The Saints get the outright win as the Seahawks will fall for the second time this season. 
Pick: New Orleans Saints +3

Raiders (+1) at Buccaneers - 35 units
The Oakland Raiders will look to stay undefeated on the road and improve their record to 6-2 when they travel to Tampa Bay to take on the 3-3 Buccaneers. Oakland is coming off a 33-16 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in which quarterback Derek Carr threw for an efficient 200 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions and running back Latavius Murray added two rushing touchdowns. Carr hasn't provided the same offensive fireworks recently as he did early in the season. The Bucs’ pass defense looks solid on paper allowing just 238 YPG but they have faced a string of mediocre quarterbacks in Colin Kaepernick, Derek Anderson, Paxton Lynch and Case Keenum over the last four weeks. Against proven quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Carson Palmer in Weeks 1 and 2, they allowed 638 passing yards and five touchdowns. Oakland is averaging 26 PPG and with receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper at his disposal, and I expect Carr to put up similar numbers here. Despite being without top running backs Charles Sims and Doug Martin, Tampa Bay has been on a roll running the ball lately. Jacquizz Rodgers has rushed for more than 100 yards in the last two games and I don't see why he wouldn't have similar success this week against Oakland's soft front seven. The Raiders’ pass defense has struggled most of the year but I don't see Jameis Winston having a great day in this one. He ranks 27th in the league in completion percentage and has the third-most interceptions. I expect he will connect on some deep shots to Mike Evans who remains one of the remaining true offensive threats the Bucs have. Of Tampa's three wins this year only one came against a quality opponent and that was back in Week 1. I don't see them being able to contain the Raiders’ passing attack or having the firepower to keep up. The Raiders defense, while certainly not the steel curtain, has been better of late and should be able to limit Tampa Bay's chances. Oakland is 4-0 ATS on the road this year and I like that trend to continue Sunday. Take Oakland getting 1.
Pick: Oakland Raiders +1

Packers at Falcons (-3) - 35 units
The Falcons dropped their second consecutive loss as they squandered a double-digit lead and eventually lost in overtime to the Chargers.  The Packers offense responded in a big way as QB Aaron Rodgers led them to a 26-10 victory over the Bears.  The Packers defense will have their work cut out for them as they face the explosive Falcons offense led by QB Matt Ryan.  I expect the Falcons to attack the most vulnerable part of the Packers defense which is the secondary.  WR Julio Jones will be targeted early and often in this matchup.  I expect big plays in the passing game for this Falcons offense.  The Packers’ rush defense continues to rank at the top of the league as they give up only 71.8 yards/game.  The Falcons may be without RB Tevin Coleman after he injured his hamstring last week against the Chargers.  If Coleman doesn't suit up, RB Devonta Freeman will be the lead back.  Freeman will not only look to do damage on the ground, but through the air as well.  His receiving ability creates mismatches that the Falcons will look to exploit.  The Packers offense looked better last week versus the Bears, but I'm not totally sold this group has now fixed all their offensive issues.  WR Jordy Nelson is clearly struggling to get separation as he continues to work his way back from the injury he suffered last season.  WR Randall Cobb is coming off an eleven catch, 95 yard performance with a touchdown last week.  However, Cobb has been nursing a hamstring injury which has slowed him down preparing for the Falcons.  If Cobb does play, he clearly won't be 100%.  Rodgers will be forced to lean heavily on WR Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery.  The Falcons need to get defensive pressure on Rodgers and force him to hurry his throws in order to disrupt their passing offense.  In what will be a high scoring game, look for the Falcons offense to come up with a big play late as they'll win this game by a touchdown.
Pick: Atlanta Falcons -3
Chargers (+5) at Broncos - 35 units

The San Diego Chargers will look to make it three wins in a row Sunday when they travel to Denver to take on the Broncos. Quarterback Philip Rivers has had a great season despite losing several key weapons early in the year. He may be down another weapon this week as tight and Hunter Henry has been placed in the league's concussion protocol and is questionable for Sunday's game. If Henry doesn't play, Rivers will have to rely even more on tight end Antonio Gates as well as deep threat Tyrell Williams. Look for running back Melvin Gordon to be a focal point of the offensive game plan. Gordon now leads the league in touchdowns scored after his performance in last week's 33-30 overtime win over the Falcons in which he gained 121 total yards while scoring three touchdowns. Denver is coming off a 27-13 victory over the Houston Texans last week in a game where quarterback Trevor Siemian was called on to do very little as the running game and the defense did most of the heavy lifting. Running back C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker combined for 210 rushing yards and two touchdowns in that game. San Diego has held opposing teams to just 78 yards per game on the ground over the last three weeks which includes their 21-13 victory over the Broncos two weeks ago. In that game Booker and Anderson combined for 83 yards and no touchdowns. The task is more difficult this week as Denver will be without running back C.J. Anderson who was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. Denver has won eight of the last 10 meetings straight up between these two teams which is a trend I see continuing in this one. I do expect a close game between these two divisional opponents. San Diego is 8-2-3 against the spread in their last 13 games in Denver. I like Philip Rivers and the Chargers to cover on the road. Take San Diego getting 5.  
Pick: San Diego Chargers +5

Chargers at Broncos (-5) - 30 units
The Chargers travel to Denver after a thrilling comeback victory in overtime at Atlanta 33-30.  The Chargers will be looking to get to the .500 mark as they take on the Broncos for the second time after defeating them at home in Week 6.  The Broncos bounced back nicely on Monday night as they snapped their two-game losing streak by defeating the Texans 27-9.  In a rematch from Week 6 in which the Chargers jumped out early and never trailed, the Broncos will be looking to get some revenge.  The Chargers have been competing well all season as even in games they have lost, the point differential has been minimal.  They are now riding a two-game winning streak with both victories coming against very good teams in the Broncos and Falcons.  After hitting some bad luck earlier in the season, it seems things are changing.  This team is playing with a lot of confidence.  QB Philip Rivers will need to manage this game smartly as he can't afford to turn the ball over versus the Broncos defense.  The Chargers will need to establish a running game which is where the Broncos defense is most vulnerable.  RB Melvin Gordon has been playing great football as he looks like a completely different player than his rookie season a year ago.  Gordon finished with 94 yards rushing last time these two teams faced.  The Chargers are going to need similar or better production out of their back if they hope to spring the upset.  TE Hunter Henry had six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown in Week 6.  Hunter played a huge part in the Chargers’ win.  Henry is currently recovering from a concussion which he sustained during the Falcons game.  Early reports are the he will be cleared and ready to play this weekend which would be a huge plus for this offense.  Defensively, the Chargers will need to get pressure on QB Trevor Siemian so this offense can't get into any type of rhythm.  Rookie Joey Bosa has proven in only two games how well he can get to opposing quarterbacks.  I expect Bosa to be a factor in this game.  The Broncos will be without RB C.J. Anderson (knee) who was placed on injured reserve.  Rookie RB Devonta Booker will take over as the primary back.  Look for the Chargers to keep this game close with an outright win a possibility.  The Chargers are an impressive 6-0 against the spread as road underdogs of 3.5 to 7 points over their last six.
Pick: San Diego Chargers +5

Eagles (+4.5) at Cowboys - 30 units
Well rested after their bye, the 5-1 Dallas Cowboys host the 4-2 Philadelphia Eagles. This matchup features two rookie quarterbacks who have had impressive starts to their NFL careers. Dak Prescott will look to continue his hot play. Prescott has thrown seven touchdowns and just one interception on the year and will force Dallas' front office to make a difficult decision once Tony Romo returns from injury. Prescott will be getting a primary weapon back in this one as Dez Bryant is expected to return after missing the last three weeks with a knee injury. Even with Bryant back in the fold, I expect the Cowboys offense to revolve around rookie Ezekiel Elliott. The leading rookie of the year candidate, Elliott has rushed for more than 700 yards and scored five touchdowns, flourishing behind Dallas' talented offensive line. Philadelphia is allowing just over 100 yards per game on the ground but they have yet to face a back as talented as Elliot. I expect Dallas to dominate the line of scrimmage and Elliot to have another big day. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is coming off easily the worst game of his young career. In a 21-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, Wentz threw for less than 140 yards, two interceptions and lost a fumble. He now has three touchdowns and three interceptions in his last three games. Dallas is not nearly as talented as Minnesota defensively but they do rank in the top 10 against the run and average points allowed. Their secondary will also be getting a boost as cornerback Orlando Scandrick is expected to return from a hamstring injury this week. Both teams are performing well against the spread this season with Dallas at 5-1 and Philadelphia at 4-2. Coming off their bye and playing at home before a juiced-up crowd on national television, I like the Cowboys to cover behind a big game from Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. Take Dallas giving 4.5.
Pick: Dallas Cowboys -4.5

Raiders at Buccaneers (Total: 50 points) - 20 units
The Buccaneers made it two straight wins as they defeated the 49ers in San Francisco 34-17.  The Raiders made the long trip to the southeast as they rebounded nicely after getting beat by the Chiefs at home as they defeated the Jaguars 33-16.  The Raiders make back to back appearances in Florida as they'll take on the Buccaneers on Sunday.  The total in this game has been set at 50 which is definitely a high total, but I think it is for good reason.  Both defenses struggle slowing opposing offenses down as the Raiders give up close to 26 points/games, whereas the Buccaneers allow around 27 points/game.  I think this game has all the making of a shootout.  QB Jameis Winston will lead this offense as he'll look to his favorite target in WR Mike Evans to make big plays in the passing game.  The running game with both RB Jacquizz Rodgers and RB Peyton Barber should find room to pick up big yardage as they face a Raiders defense that gives up 128 yards/game.  The Raiders offense is also one that has big play threats including WR Amari Cooper and WR Michael Crabtree.  Led by QB Derek Carr, this offense has the ability to score points quickly.  In what will be a close game throughout, look for both teams to make big plays on offense as I can see this game's total finishing in the mid- to upper-fifties.
Pick: Over 50
Jets at Browns (Total: 43.5 points) - 20 units
Ryan Fitzpatrick and the New York Jets travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Fitzpatrick was forced back into the starting role after Geno Smith tore his ACL in last week's game. He finished the game by going 9-14 for 130 yards and a touchdown. I expect Fitzpatrick and the Jets to be able to move the ball effectively through the air against Cleveland. The Browns are dealing with a couple key injuries in their defensive backfield. Cornerbacks Joe Haden and Jamar Taylor are both battling groin injuries and have been limited in practice this week. They are expected to play but how effective they are remains to be seen. Any limitations would make this an easier day for Brandon Marshall and the Jets’ receivers. The Browns will likely start Josh McCown under center. McCown represents an upgrade over Cody Kessler who will miss this game with a concussion. I expect the Browns to focus on moving the ball through the air. Isaiah Crowell has had a solid year running the ball but the Jets are tough against the run, having allowed the second-fewest yards per game to opposing backs. Look for McCown to connect often with tight end Gary Barnidge and receiver Terrelle Pryor who has been dealing with a hamstring injury but is also expected to play. The total for this game has been posted at 43.5 which seems a little low to me. Both teams struggle defensively. The Jets are giving up nearly 30 points per game while the Browns are giving up 26. Playing against such limited defenses, both teams have enough offensive talent to move the ball and score. Five of the Browns’ seven games have gone over the posted total while three of the Jets’ six games have as well. I'm expecting a back-and-forth game with very little defense that is played with both teams finishing in the mid-to-upper twenties. Take over 43 and a half.
Pick: Over 43.5

Editor's note: Both Jeremy and Jeff started with 1,000 units as they go head to head all season long.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffBaldwin4 and Jeremy @jdwardwell5.

Jeff Baldwin
Jeff Baldwin has written Rotoworld's 'Gambling Solution' on Season Pass since 2011. He can be found on Twitter @JeffBaldwin4.