Week 8 Football Pick’em Contest Strategy & Advice (2023)

Week 8 of the 2023 NFL season has more big favorites, and all 32 teams in action in a week without any byes.

The Packers will look to bounce back in a rivalry game (Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire)

After a crazy week that featured more underdogs winning than favorites, Week 8 provides more matchups that appear to be less even, on paper. We have six big favorites to start the week, and everyone has returned from bye and is in action.

In these columns, we explore strategies to maximize your edge in NFL and college football pick’em contests. We also provide some of the rationale behind picks potentially recommended by our premium product.

We plan to periodically update to this post through Sunday of Week 8, so check back for updates. Here’s what’s available now:


Tuesday 10/24

NFL Week 8 Early Value Picks

Here are some early Week 8 value picks in game-winner-based NFL pick’em contests we are seeing as of Tuesday.

Things are bound to change as kickoffs near, but it’s worth keeping an eye on them.

Carolina Panthers (vs. Houston Texans)

Spread: +3
Win Odds: 45%
Pick Popularity: 18%

The winless Panthers will play the Houston Texans at home, with both teams coming off their bye. The Panthers have struggled on offense, and their rush defense has been vulnerable, ranking near the bottom of the league in several categories. But the Texans haven’t been good at running the ball, and have struggled a bit more on offense in the last two games. With the public pick data heavily on the Texans’ side, there’s some value on a Panthers’ upset here.

Atlanta Falcons (vs. Tennessee Titans)

Spread: -2.5
Win Odds: 57%
Pick Popularity: 51%

We do not know for sure if Titans QB Ryan Tannehill will be able to play in this one (he was hurt in Week 6 and had the last week off), though chances are good that he is out for the game with an ankle injury.

The Falcons are the favorite here, but the public is evenly split, putting some value on sticking with the favored side.

Green Bay Packers (vs. Minnesota Vikings)

Spread: +1
Win Odds: 47%
Pick Popularity: 36%

This game is the closest matchup according to the betting markets, but the public is in “what have you done for me lately?” mode, picking the Vikings coming off the big Monday Night win against San Francisco. The Vikings have won three of their last four, after an 0-3 start.

Green Bay has been a fairly public popular side, but that favor appears to have worn out after three straight losses. When they zig, we zag.

Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Chicago Bears)

Spread: -8.5
Win Odds: 78%
Pick Popularity: 90%

We normally wouldn’t list an 8.5-point favorite among the best value plays, but this is a week with lots of bigger favorites. The Chargers are relatively unpopular. They have the second-highest market odds but are only the seventh most popular pick this week. While only 10% of the public is picking the outright upset, that’s still three times more often than the other favorites in the same win odds range.

In confidence point pools especially, the Chargers provide a bigger favorite that still provides differentiation, as it’s likely they are not rated as highly by other entries in confidence point pools, based on the popularity data.

New York Giants (vs. New York Jets)

Spread: +3
Win Odds: 42%
Pick Popularity: 27%

Finally, the Giants provide a little upset value playing at home in the stadium they share with the Jets. After a horrific start, the Giants have stabilized things, especially on defense. The Jets are being picked by 73% of the public here, making the Giants a team to consider in weekly contests.

 


Tuesday 10/24

Week 7 Results Summary

The public finally took a beating in Week 7, and we should see high weekly win rates in both spread and game-winner pools as a result.

Game-Winner Pools

In game-winner pools, the public averaged 5.3 wins in Week 7, out of 13 possible games. That’s right, the average result this week was for an entry to win 41% of picks. Betting favorites went 6-7 SU, but some unpopular favorites who were being picked by less than half the public (Baltimore, Denver) won.

Our game winner picks in season-long gained 1.2 wins over the public, averaging 6.5 wins on average from the “Max Profit” selections, so while they only won half the games, that still outperformed the public and blindly picking the betting favorites.

The weekly picks top options finished substantially above the public, hitting 8.7 wins (67% win percentage) and finishing nearly 3.5 wins better than the average entry. Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Denver were big picks for this format, as were small upsets on unpopular picks like Atlanta, Chicago, and Pittsburgh.

Overall 2023 averages: Season-long Max Profit 67.3 wins, Weekly top option 63.8 wins, Public 61.8 wins

Spread Pools

The public had its worst week in a while, averaging 5.5 wins in 13 games. Favorites went 5-8 ATS, and some of the least popular favorites won, while Buffalo and San Francisco were the most popular picks in our data.

Our top model picks were Atlanta, Minnesota, New England, and Arizona, and those went 3-1.

Our season-long picks hit at over three more wins than the public, with 8.3 wins on average. The weekly picks hit with a vengeance in Week 7, averaging 9.4 wins (72% cover rate). We expect to see high reported weekly win rates here.

Overall 2023 averages: Season-long Max Profit 55.0 wins, Weekly top option 52.7 wins, Public 53.8 wins


Tuesday 10/17

Week 7 News and Stats Rundown

We are adding this section to our weekly articles, where we put some random observations, news, and notes from the week that was, that may be important going forward. At the bottom this week, we also have a summary of adjusted turnovers (not only turnovers, but safeties, missed kicks, and turnovers on downs). These things can often be more random but high leverage in a given week, so seeing which teams have benefited or struggled the most in these categories can be informative.

Key Injuries in Week 7

  • Chiefs LB Nick Bolton suffered a dislocated wrist and will be out.
  • Browns QB Deshaun Watson did play on Sunday, but left the game again with injury and his status is again uncertain.

Going Inside the Stats

The public tends to overreact to wins, losses, and scores. But football is a game where a couple of bounces and key plays can swing scoring quite a bit in the moment, but may not be as predictive.

Here are some notes from Week 7:

  • We’ve been publishing our “Adjusted Turnover Margin” (below). In Week 7, the team with the worst adjusted turnover margin entering the matchup went 8-4 ATS (one game was even) and the largest differences including the Patriots (vs. Buffalo) and the Vikings (vs. San Francisco). Over the last two weeks, the team with the worst “Adjusted Turnover Margin” entering the game is 19-8 ATS.
  • Baltimore had a season-high 503 yards in a destruction of Detroit. The Ravens now rank 5th overall in passing net yards efficiency on offense, and 1st in that stat on defense. This team looks like a contender if they don’t shoot themselves in the foot with mistakes.
  • Seattle won the matchup with Arizona despite having three turnovers to zero for Arizona. The Cardinals, though, did fail to convert all three fourth down attempts and also missed a field goal.
  • The Browns were fortunate to win a wild 39-38 shootout with the Colts, where they were out-gained by 140 yards. Cleveland recovered 4 of the 5 fumbles in the game, and gave up a season-high 456 yards (after not allowing any team to get to 300 yards in the first five games).

Adjusted Turnover Standings, Week 7

Here are the adjusted turnover ranks. Teams at the top have benefited the most, on net, from opponent miscues and fails compared to their own. Teams at the bottom have had a lot of missed opportunities or a lack of mistakes by the opponent. (Safeties are included in turnovers.)

TeamTeam TOTeam TODTeam MFGOpp TOOpp TODOpp MFGNET
PIT530135313
SF312115111
DAL550125310
HOU3418347
NYJ82114137
JAC97216817
TB73013216
KC122011715
SEA6447845
NO73411513
CIN55210413
BUF113314502
LAC5419302
GB6415330
PHI1142970-1
DEN1131653-1
BAL1132870-1
DET781833-2
LAR626543-2
MIA1072782-2
TEN620420-2
WAS1023840-3
CHI1170843-3
IND13821054-4
NYG964645-4
ARI792940-5
CLE1422814-5
MIN1241632-6
ATL1351650-8
LV1513631-9
CAR882520-11
NE1374643-11

 


FYI

Important Notes About Picks We Highlight

Keep in mind three things about picks we highlight in this article:

  1. Optimal pick’em contest strategy balances risk and potential reward.
    Maximizing your odds to win a pick’em pool generally requires exploiting the best opportunities to differentiate your picks from your opponents’ picks. Ideally, you want to fade the public while taking on minimal additional pick risk to do so. For example, taking a betting market favorite being picked by less than 50% of your opponents is usually a great opportunity.
  2. Not all of the picks we highlight are suitable for all pools.
    Don’t be surprised if our Football Pick’em Picks product doesn’t recommend several of the picks we mention in this post for your pool specifically—especially the upset picks. The best pick strategy for you depends on a number of factors such as your pool’s size, rules, and prize structure (a concept that’s covered in part by our article on season vs. weekly prize strategy).
  3. Picks we highlight may no longer look compelling by game day.
    We analyze and write about picks using data (e.g. win odds and pick popularity) current at the time we publish this article, but that data can change before kickoff. For example, a key player being ruled out or a shift in public sentiment about a team can erase the differentiation value that a pick initially offered.

We’ll provide periodic updates in this post if major data changes occur for picks we’ve mentioned, so make sure to check back. However, there’s a much better way to stay on top of changing data trends throughout a week, which all sharp players need to do.

Our Football Pick’em Picks product automatically imports the latest win odds and pick popularity data multiple times per day. You can see the latest information in the Data Grid.

After you generate customized picks for your pool, you can also update those pick recommendations whenever you want via the My Pool Picks screen. The updated picks will incorporate the most recent data we have.


FYI

About Our Pick’em Pool Advice

What makes pick recommendations from our Football Pick’em Picks product different from other sites is that it isn’t generic.

In any given week, the best picks for your football pool depend on a number of variables. Your pool’s size, rules, and prize structure all influence strategy, as do factors like your current place in the standings and how many weeks are left.

So many different scenarios exist that it’s impossible to give pick advice that makes sense for every one. An underrated 6-point underdog could be a great pick in a big weekly prize pool and a terrible pick for a small season-long pool where you’re currently in the money.

Technology to the rescue

As far as we know, we’re the only site that has built algorithms to evaluate all these strategy factors and provide you with customized pick recommendations every week.

The result? Every year, an average of 73% of our subscribers win a prize (season-long or weekly) in a football pick’em contest.

If you want to see all the Week 1 picks we recommend for your football pick’em contest, use our Football Pick’em Picks product.

Why we write this column

At the same time, we know our subscribers like to understand the rationale behind picks our product may recommend, especially when those picks go against the grain. So over the years, we’ve started to write more about the “whys” behind our approach.

This column can also help educate our readers with pick’em pool strategy. We highlight tactics proven to result in more pick’em pool wins over the long term and point out common pitfalls to avoid.

We hope you enjoy reading, and we encourage you to check out more of our football pick’em strategy articles.

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