NFL Week 8 O/U best bets: Texans, Panthers offenses hard to trust
We went 2-1 on our total plays in Week 7, but we're still below .500 on the year after a bad couple of weeks to start October. Here's to another winning week to close out the month:
I had high hopes for the Dolphins' defense entering this season. Instead, the unit ranks dead last in yards allowed per game (414.9) and has given up the second-most points per contest (29.6) through seven weeks. A key issue has been Miami's wholly ineffective pass rush, which owns the fifth-highest blitz rate (32.2%) but is tied for the NFL's worst hurry rate (4.8%).
The best way to frustrate this dynamic Bills offense is to pressure Josh Allen, but bringing extra defenders without success is a death knell against the MVP favorite, who's averaging 318.5 yards and three passing TDs over his past four games. That doesn't include a Week 2 showdown with these very Dolphins, who surrendered 35 points to Buffalo's offense and were held scoreless in Jacoby Brissett's season debut.
Since 2007, teams that have scored at least 31 points in five consecutive games - as the Bills have done entering this week - have gone 13-8 to the over (61.9%), including 8-2 as a home favorite. If Tua Tagovailoa can continue his improved play since returning from injury for the 'Fins, this game should fly past its modest total.
Pick: Over 48
After a 3-0 start to the season, the Panthers have lost their luster as a weekly side bet following four consecutive losses. That said, they're still cash cows for the under, hitting in five of seven weeks thanks to a stout defense and toothless offense.
Start on the defensive side of the ball, where Carolina still ranks first in yards allowed per drive (23.5), fifth in points allowed per drive (1.6), and seventh in points allowed per game (20.9) through the first seven weeks. The bonus for under bettors has been the Panthers' ineffective offense, which is averaging 19.3 points since losing star back Christian McCaffrey to injury.
The Falcons' offense has feasted on three of the NFL's four worst scoring defenses over its last three contests, but Atlanta managed just 16 points per game against competent foes in the first three weeks. These two teams are 13-3 to the under in their last 16 meetings and are headed for another on Sunday.
Pick: Under 46
We bet the Rams to go under last week as big favorites against the Lions despite the obvious mismatch they enjoyed on offense. Sure enough, Los Angeles attacked the short-to-intermediate range of the field, completing just one pass of 25 yards or more in a methodical (but low-scoring) win.
That's consistently been the story for the Rams, who rank fifth in points per game (29.6) despite scoring 35 points just once in seven tries. The key is their talented and remarkably consistent defense, which has allowed 25 or more points just once this season and held their last three opponents below 20 points.
The Texans will be lucky to approach that number after scoring fewer than 10 points in four of Davis Mills' five starts. Tyrod Taylor's potential return is an interesting subplot, but the injured journeyman isn't enough to deter me from betting on another low-scoring affair for the heavy favorites.
Pick: Under 48