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Shapiro's Week 8 NFL picks: Ravens will take control of AFC North

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October 28th, 2020

Week 7 in the NFL was wild, especially in the early Sunday window, when multiple games were decided in the final seconds. It also included the first loss of the year for the Titans, who fell just short in their second-half comeback against Pittsburgh, as well as another impressive performance from Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.

Nearing the midway point, Tampa Bay looks like the most complete team in the NFL. The addition of Antonio Brown should only make the Bucs better.

My Week 7 started in frustrating fashion, with a last-second loss in Atlanta, and was followed up by a painfully poor selection in New England. For the first time in a while, Bill Belichick appears to lack answers.

Thankfully, I was able to salvage the week Monday night, to end a five-game losing streak with my plays on BetAmerica.

On to Week 8!

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens

Sun, November 1 2020, 5:00 PM

Baltimore Ravens

Spread

-3.5

Moneyline

-205

Total

O 46.5

Pittsburgh Steelers

Spread

+3.5

Moneyline

+165

Total

U 46.5

The Steelers are the lone undefeated team through seven weeks. Ben Roethlisberger's return to the huddle, after he missed most of 2019 with an elbow injury, has rejuvenated the Pittsburgh offense, while the best front seven in the NFL has made life tough on opposing offenses.

Mike Tomlin’s team is a legitimate Super Bowl contender, but it is far from perfect. Not only have the Steelers been beatable over the top on defense and now are without star inside linebacker Devin Bush, but they rank toward the bottom of the league in offensive early down success rate and yards per play.

Pittsburgh has overcome its deficiencies thus far, but the Steelers will face their toughest task of the season at Baltimore in Week 8.

The Ravens have not had the same offense they featured a year ago, when they led the league in points and ended the regular season with the best record in the NFL. Reigning Most Valuable Player Lamar Jackson has not been as accurate or nearly as deadly with his legs. Some of that could be expected regression, after a historically efficient 2019, but the Ravens are better than what we have witnessed over the first six games.

Jackson has been somewhat limited with a knee injury and the former Louisville star has missed a number of opportunities down the field. Off a bye week, the third-year quarterback should be healthier and ready to perform at a much higher level over the second half of the campaign.

Baltimore is 6-2 against the spread in its last eight games against Pittsburgh, in large part because of superior coaching. John Harbaugh and his staff have had plenty of time to prepare for this monster AFC North matchup, while the Steelers just had an emotional win in Nashville last week.

Look for the Ravens defense to get the best of the Pittsburgh offense and for big-play threat Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to get behind the Steelers’ defense a couple times.

The Ravens will win, cover, and take control of the division.

Pick: Ravens (-3.5)


Indianapolis Colts vs. Detroit Lions

Sun, November 1 2020, 5:00 PM

Detroit Lions

Spread

+3

Moneyline

+130

Total

O 50

Indianapolis Colts

Spread

-3

Moneyline

-160

Total

U 50

The Lions are back home, after consecutive wins for the first time since September of 2019. Detroit is at best a middle-of-the-road team, but it is encouraging that the Lions found a way to win a game in the fourth quarter, after they blew late leads regularly in the Matt Patricia era.

Despite the recent success, the Lions continue to lack efficiency on offense. Their weekly decision to establish the run at all costs, instead of taking advantage of the opposition’s weaknesses, is extremely frustrating. Expect more of the same at home in Week 8 against the Colts.

Indianapolis has not played great through six games, but has taken advantage of the easiest schedule in the NFL. They head to the Motor City off their bye week with 4-2 record.

The Colts have won games on defense. They held three of their first four opponents to 11 points or fewer, but they have not been nearly as tough to score on since they lost Darius Leonard to a groin injury. The good news is that the star linebacker could return this week.

With Philip Rivers playing poorly to start his tenure in Indiana, and a limited set of playmakers on the outside, head coach Frank Reich is likely to continue to lean on the running game and hope his defense can bounce back from subpar efforts against the Bengals and Browns, before the week off.

Look for both offenses to stay committed to the run and play this relatively close to the vest. With the clock moving throughout, 50 points seem ambitious.

Pick: Under 50


Las Vegas Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns

Sun, November 1 2020, 5:00 PM

Cleveland Browns

Spread

-2.5

Moneyline

-160

Total

O 53.5

Las Vegas Raiders

Spread

+2.5

Moneyline

+135

Total

U 53.5

Cleveland and Las Vegas have been involved in a lot of high-scoring affairs this season. All six of the Raiders games have gone Over the total and five of the seven Cleveland contests have rewarded Over backers.

However, this trend is unlikely to continue forever. Both squads play at a below-average pace and prefer to run the ball behind strong offensive lines.

With a neutral game script likely, based on the 2.5-point spread, and Cleveland’s big-play capabilities will be limited without Odell Beckham Jr., look for this game to stay under the total.

Pick: Under 53.5


Scott Shapiro’s 2020 NFL record ATS on BetAmerica heading into Week 8: 10-10-1

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