Remember when these openings used to be about football? Those were the days.
But, unfortunately for those yearning for those days, this will be another intro that starts with the bigger picture of this site. Given that this article is our flagship product, what better place to take you behind the curtain on things big and small?
Today’s peek behind at the inner working of Owl Eats Football is a HUGE announcement: The website is different!
As you probably saw, the home page is now dedicated to all sports and the buttons up top will take you to either the basketball or football worlds. This is a minor but significant change because it marks the start of the establishment of the Owl Eats Sports empire. It is possible the website address changes, but we’ll get to that another time.
Now onto football!
After a lucrative Week 7, this week’s slate of games is a lot uglier. In my opinion many of the spreads are designed to offer little chance at leverage, perhaps because there happen to be a large number of games between teams that are unpredictable.
Specifically, with seven games that have a spread of something between 4 and 7 points, this slate is full of traps. This range of spreads is often the most dangerous because it offers the most permutations of how the final score can interact with that number. Less than a field goal and more than a touchdown mean that the end of the game is fairly straight forward, but when a team is down five with two minutes left, they are most likely no longer interested in field goals which then means the game is likely to end at -5 or +2. Then, in these situations, two-point conversions makes and misses can push the final score in a variety of directions.
So, given that this slate doesn’t inspire confidence, it seems like the perfect time to debut our Best Bet rating system. Against the advice of my fiance, I have decided to rate each game on a scale of 1-5 Hoots (Is this name corny? Yes. Funny? Probably not. Professional suicide? Possibly).
The idea behind this is that if a bet is rated at four or five Hoots, then you can take it to the bank. Three is more of a strong inclination, perhaps with a little less certainty, and one or two means that I think this will happen but would want to be careful about how much I was committing to the position.
And so, in a week where we expanded the site, let’s expand this article! Here are the Week 8 Best Bets, complete with Hoots and our usual Big Money Bets at the end.
SEA -7 @ ATL 4 Hoots
SEA @ ATL under 52.5 3 Hoots
This line has been killing me all week.
It opened at a lot of books at Seattle -3.5, but was quickly taken down as news about Matt Ryan developed. In the intervening few days it has been up and down, posting anywhere between -5.5 and -7.
In my attempt to be a responsible journalist, I am giving you what I believe to be the most common line at this moment, without the full compliment of Matt Ryan news. If the line is not up at your book keep checking and snap it up when it’s back up, because if this line is single-digits I feel pretty good (4 Hoots) about it.
There have been thousands of words written on this site about the woes of Atlanta, but let’s take another couple hundred to highlight even more developments.
The biggest shift of note is the energy and attitude surrounding the Falcons. Mohamed Sanu may not be the best player on the team, but he was a staple of their Super Bowl run and was a significant part of their offense and locker room this year. By trading him for the same deal they refused this offseason, Atlanta is acknowledging that they are not loading up for a playoff run, but are instead loading up for the future.
And speaking of the future, there is a growing consensus (amongst me, myself, and I) that Sunday will be Dan Quinn’s last game as Falcon’s head coach. The team is heading into its bye week and Quinn is an unmitigated disaster this season.
As a defensive coach, Quinn took over defensive play calling this offseason as the Falcons reshuffled their defensive staff. The result is that the defense ranks second to last in the league in points allowed, letting up an embarrassing 30 points per game. Meanwhile, the offense that was so consistent for all those years has watched itself fade, producing 12 points or less in three of its seven games.
So, with the team trading key players and the coach on the precipice of being fired, there is at least a non-zero chance that the Falcons come out flat for this game. Add in the possibility of a Matt Ryan injury and a Matt Schaub appearance and this could be a disaster for Atlanta.
Equally as important as all of this is Seattle’s position. As a team they have been playing above their heads all season, winning four games by four points or less. With that being said, their loss to the Ravens last week put them in a precarious position. At 5-2, Seattle is looking as though it will be in a race to the finish line with the Rams and Vikings. A lot can change, but a win this week would help Seattle keep pace considering Minnesota won on Thursday night and the Rams play the Bengals.
All that is to say that the Seahawks should not be taking it easy this game, and with the spread at a touchdown, it would not be surprising to see them get out to a comfortable lead and keep their foot on the gas a little longer than usual.
So, then, you might be wondering, why the under? Well, as documented earlier in the week, Seattle loves to run the ball when they’re leading. Also, as documented above, Atlanta has had three games this season where they haven’t broken 13 on the scoreboard. Putting those two together, it is easy to envision a game where Seattle wins 28-14 and this game isn’t even close to the 52 total that is listed. With the added juice that Matt Ryan may not start and/or finish this game and the under becomes an extremely valuable bet.
With one team down and out and the other in the thick of the playoff race, this seems like a prime place to exploit a line that is too small and an over/under that is too high.
BUF -2 @ PHI 3 Hoots
Here is the deal, I am very confident the Bills will win this game.
But this site isn’t about me telling you what I think, it is about presenting well-researched, factual takes that are actionable by the OEF community. And with that in mind I need to let you know that a lot of smart people like the Eagles in this game. So to be fair, let me explain my strong feeling while also acknowledging that there are other sources of information that see it differently.
It is no secret that I love this Bills team. They are one of the teams that got us off to such a great start this season as they were constantly disrespected and undervalued. Given that experience, it is really hard to feel like that is not what’s happening here.
On the defensive side of the ball, Buffalo is allowing their opponents the third lowest points per game. In a league with two historically good defenses (New England and San Francisco) this is as good as first.
But points can be misleading, so let’s look at two other metrics that can be more instructive: they allow the third lowest number of first downs per game and the third lowest average yards per play in the league. In both of these numbers, we see that Buffalo limits its opponents to short plays and subsequently gets off the field quickly.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Bills offense has a much higher upside than most people think. John Brown is currently one of two receivers with at least 50 yards in every game, Cole Beasley has provided a consistent underneath outlet for Josh Allen, Dawson Knox has flashed athletic potential, and their run game has a 1-2 punch of the ageless Frank Gore and the explosive Devin Singletary.
At the center of all of it is Josh Allen, who may be maturing right before our eyes. Quietly, he is putting together a significant season. In every game outside of his matchup with New England Allen has completed at least 60% of his passes, thrown for at least 200 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for at least 20 yards.
The eye test bears this out. Even though he still makes some terrible decisions, Allen is a player who repeatedly jumps off the screen and frequently makes plays that keep the chains moving.
He is particularly important heading into a game with an Eagles’ secondary that is in shambles. Philadelphia has allowed at least 20 points in the first half in five of its seven games this season, and almost all of that is on the secondary. With the seventh best run defense in the league, Philadelphia is stopping running games but then yielding massive chunks in the passing game.
So to recap, the Bills have a great defense and a dynamic offense led by a quarterback who has made plays all year long. On the other side, the Eagles have a porous defense and have been struggling to get anything going on offense without a field-stretching presence (as Desean Jackson is out with an abdominal injury).
It does concern me that so many people are on the Eagles and that this line is 2 instead of 1.5. With that being said, this is Best Bets and I think this is a Best Bet.
Clear eyes, full heart, Josh Allen, can’t lose.
TB +2.5 @ TEN 2 Hoots
You can tell this is a rough week when my third bet is already down to 2 Hoots (the system is paying off already!).
For reference, last week would have had at least three 4 or 5 hoot games (the Rams, Jags, and Niners), so to be down to 2 already shows the lack of confidence I have in this week.
With that being said, I can’t shake this game.
By many, many metrics, Tennessee has a great defense and an opportunity to throw all over the Bucs. There is a possibility that the Titans come out and score early and often before turning around and putting pressure on Jameis Winston to turn the ball over and dig his team into a hole. With the debut of first-round defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons last week, a new dimension was added and the Titans can easily pressure opposing QBs without bringing extra help.
But I don’t see that as the script here. Instead, I am focusing on the styles of both teams and what they have done in similar situations this year.
See, in generating such a top-flight defense, Tennessee has played the following quarterbacks: Gardner Minshew, Jacoby Brissett, Joe Flacco, Phillip Rivers, Matt Ryan, and Josh Allen. Now, taking Allen out because he is unimpeachable, the rest of that group is either unimpressive or quarterback offenses that are unimpressive.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has the league’s best run defense despite facing Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, and Christian McCaffrey twice.
So, in this game, we could see the first real challenge Tennessee’s defense has played while Tampa Bay has shut down running games much more formidable than the Titan’s.
Perhaps the biggest area of interest for me, then, is the Bucs receivers against this Titan’s secondary. Tennessee plays a safe defense that protects the boundaries and allows more of the underneath, middle of the field to be exploited. With weapons like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, Tampa will be able to test them over the top while simultaneously exploiting the soft underbelly.
To recap, then, Tennessee’s offense should be limited to passing only, their defense could be exploited by Tampa Bay, and the quality of each team’s schedule may be obscuring the true quality of both teams.
I don’t blame you if you run the other way from this game, but I can’t ignore this gnawing feeling that this would be a missed opportunity if I let these teams inconsistencies scare me away.
Remember the gambler’s truth: losing a bet isn’t scary, not placing a winning bet is.
GB -4.5 @ KC 1 Hoot
This is a late addition to the Best Bets of the week, and is a little bit impulsive. What never get acknowledged, though, is that impulses are often right.
In this case, the news that Matt Moore will start this game, coupled with what Green Bay did to Detroit last week makes this too juicy to pass up.
Keep in mind here that Kansas City does not have a good defense. That may be obscured in your memory after Denver made them look like the ‘86 Bears, but the season-long numbers tell a more complete story.
On the season, Kansas City allows nearly 150 rushing yards per game. In their Week 5 loss to the Colts, the Chiefs never managed to stop Marlon Mack and as a result lost the time of possession battle and ultimately the game. Green Bay currently has a rushing game that features two back capable of exploiting that weakness.
In their Week 6 loss to Houston, the Chiefs were unable to stop Deshaun Watson as he marched the Texans up and down the field. The Packers quarterback is Aaron Rodgers, which is obvious, but he is finally starting to look like Aaron Rodgers in Matt LeFleur’s offense.
Perhaps the fact that a 1 Hoot bet made it into my Best Bets is a sign of the week, but seeing that Green Bay is only four-point favorites against a backup QB and a below-average defense warrants acknowledgement.
Other Best Bets (all 1 Hoot)
NYJ +6.5 @ JAX
Does everyone forget that the Jets beat the Cowboys just a couple of weeks ago?
New England has waxed the floor with everyone this season, and the fact that they did that with the Jets is no surprise.
In this game, the Jags enter having lost all of their deep passing ability and with a weakened secondary (without Jalen Ramsey) that is only passing as serviceable because they have not played any real competition.
If you’re not betting this game, then consider playing a DFS lineup with Darnold at the QB. No one will consider it and this could be more of a Cowboys performance than a Patriots performance for Sammy Spleens.
ARI +10.5 @ NO
Picking between these two teams is like picking between you two children, but honestly if you gave one of my fictional children 10.5 points, they’d for sure be my favorite.
In this case, I do tend to believe that this is a closer game than conventional wisdom may dictate. We have had a good rhythm with both of these teams this season, nailing when they have been over or under-valued. In this case, I am not sure why a team that has kept almost every game close on their way to a 3-3-1 record would be considered such underdogs. The Cardinals have managed to run the ball as well as anyone in the league and may be getting Christian Kirk back for this one.
I don’t blame you if you like the Saints, but if you don’t want to bet on this game, then at least find a way to bet on Kliff Kingsbury kicking a 20-yard field goal. The Oatmeal Cookie is undefeated in that category.
MIA +14 @ PIT
I don’t want to spend too much time on this one, but basically it is a repeat of the Early Best Bets points:
Miami’s offense has been improved with Fitzpatrick
Pittsburgh is not trustworthy with some sort of backup playing
Miami has covered two spreads in a row
I just don’t like the Steelers
Bet it if you want, but all I can tell you is that these two teams are not as far apart as their records indicate, and the fact that this Steelers team is 14-point favorites over anyone is a crime. Keep in mind Buffalo was only 16.5-point favorites last week, and they’re far superior to Pittsburgh.
The Big Money Makers
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for!
Last week we hit our biggest parlay of the season and we were one SF field goal away from having a $3000 parlay weekend.
Interestingly, the one that hit was our most dangerous of the week, so we’re going right back to the well and pushing the envelope by sprinkling in a few underdogs to pump these babies up.
Also working in our favor this week is that we have a birthday parlay on our hands! OEF superfan Robert celebrated a birthday this past week, so in his honor we are going to have our first birthday parlay of the season. That feels like a can’t miss situation.
Customary disclaimer: these are not the bets that you place with your rent money, these are the bets you place to try to buy a house.
Let’s see if we can continue our hot streak with one of our three parlays this week:
TB to win (+120)
NYJ to win (+205)
OAK to win (+235)
MIN to win (-1050)
LAR to win (-660)
NE to win (-650)
SF to win (-220)
$30 to win $1328.76
NYJ to win (+205)
ARI to win (+400)
MIA to win (+575)
$5 to win $577.19
Robert’s Birthday PARLAY
TB to win (+120)
NYJ to win (+235)
BUF to win (-125)
LAC to win (+165)
LAR to win (-800)
NE to win (-650)
SF to win (-220)
$10 to win $775.11