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David Carr was chosen to start over Vinny Testaverde, but does it really matter? The Panthers have limped through six games to a decent record and have benefited whoever was crazy enough to side with them in the betting community. They are an astounding 4-2 ATS (and I say ‘astounding’ because this team is admittedly terrible).
Indianapolis Colts (6-0) vs. Carolina Panthers (4-2)
Sunday, October 28th — Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte — 1:00pm EST
Opening NFL Line: Indianapolis -6 (44)
The Colts have been owning teams since they were scared by the Titans and Texans. They have controlled the clock with immaculate care while pounding between the tackles with Joseph Addai and Kenton Keith. They average 141.8 yards per game and the Carolina defense gives up 110.3 yards on the ground.
With Bob Sanders, this defense is completely different. They are lethal against the run, and the pressure he creates in the secondary causes turnovers. Steve Smith and the Carolina passing game only gain 184.8 yards per game, and besides the fact that Smith shows up in a big way against big opponents, the Colts will man handle the Panthers en route to a 7-0 record. They are too disciplined under Dungy to look past the Panthers towards their Week 9 matchup against the Patriots.
NFL Free Pick:: Indianapolis 28 Carolina 13
Detroit Lions (4-2) vs. Chicago Bears (3-4)
Sunday, October 28th — Soldier Field, Chicago — 1:00pm EST
Opening NFL Line: Chicago -4.5 (43.5)
I hate it when two yo-yo teams face each other. The Lions and Bears (oh my!) have been flip-flopping between wins and losses, but both won their matchups this past weekend. Making matters worse for those of you that keep your eyes on betting trends, Detroit has lost their last two games on the road and Chicago has lost their last two home games.
This goes without mentioning that Chicago got pummeled by Detroit on the road 37-27 in their matchup in Week 5. Making matters worse for this patch-work Bears defense is the apparent resurgence of running-back Kevin Jones who ran for 76 yards against a good Tampa defense. His yard per carry average has steadily improved over the last few games. Right now, he gets 4.3 yards per carry and Chicago gives up 132.6 yards per game.
Detroit is a curious team, but they play well against a team that uses the cover-2 defense, and despite Chicago’s phenomenal (and I say phenomenal because it was Brian Griese) game-winning drive last week you have to remember it was against Philadelphia, a team that has no finish. This game will be won on the ground and Kevin Jones is playing at a far higher level than Cedric Benson.
NFL Free Pick: Detroit 24 Chicago 20
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) vs. Cincinnati Bengals(2-4)
Sunday, October 28th — Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati — 1:00pm EST
Opening NFL Line: Pittsburgh -1 (48.5)
Pittsburgh owns this matchup, but that was with Bill Cower at the helm. They are 7-3 SU in their last 10 games against the Bengals but they are coming off a disastrous loss to the abysmal Denver Broncos. The Bengals engineered a masterful second-half last week against the Jets who melted down faster than Ryan Leaf on a father-son vacation.
The Bengals are 2-3-1 ATS and are getting outscored by opponents by 3.8 points per game. Their defense is simply terrible, although it proved opportunistic against Chad Pennington who was picked off for an icing pick-six. Not to mention that Pittsburgh averages 159.0 rushing yards per game and Cincinnati gives up a depressing 135.5 yards on the ground.
This Steelers team knows Carson Palmer and Troy Polamalu loves to play against him. The Steelers can control the clock with the running game and keep Carson and his 273.7 passing yards per game on the sidelines as they Steelers bust up the Bengals to reinforce the trust of their betting faithful as the third best team in the league.
NFL Free Pick: Pittsburgh 31 Cincinnati 17
Oakland Raiders (2-4) vs. Tennessee Titans (4-2)
Sunday, October 28th — LP Field, Nashville — 1:00pm EST
Opening NFL Line: Tennessee -7 (41.5)
What happened to Oakland’s defense? This high-impact secondary helped rank the Raiders as a top-10 defense last season but this year they are getting chewed up on the ground for 141.7 yards and 171.8 yards through the air. They are 2-4 SU and ATS this season, and the Oakland offense is having trouble moving the ball.
It turns out the thrashing of the Miami Dolphins at the hands of Daunte Culpepper had more to do with the fact that Miami stinks outright than it did with the offense in Oakland. After ranking in the top-10 in a few key offensive categories, they have fallen back to Earth. They are 20th in the league in total yards per game and 14th in the league with 21.0 points per game.
The Titans are a good team and are getting Vince Young back this week after Kerry Collins and Sage Rosenfels put on a shootout last weekend. Never bet against Vince Young. He always does something to blow the spread apart, and Daunte Culpepper can get taken advantage of by this defense. Oakland is predicated on establishing the run, and the Titans only give up 59.7 yards per game. The Titans betting faithful should stand by Tennessee.
NFL Free Pick: Oakland 13 Tennessee 24
Cleveland Browns (3-3) vs. St. Louis Rams (0-7)
Sunday, October 28th — Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis — 1:00pm EST
Opening NFL Line: Cleveland -3 (44)
Cleveland scores 27.8 points per game, Derek Anderson has reacted in a big way to having Brady Quinn looming in the background and the Browns are 4-2 ATS. So why the tight line against a St. Louis Rams team that is winless this season and get embarrassed by the unsexy Seahawks last weekend? Two words: Steven Jackson.
The Rams are a completely different football team if Steven Jackson is on the field. Despite the woes on the offensive line, teams have to respect Jackson and that takes pressure off of Marc Bulger who can really shred the secondary if given time. Teams have been pulling back guys in to the secondary against Bulger because the Rams have averaged a paltry 82.6 yards per game. They won’t be able to do that against the Rams with Jackson in the backfield.
The Browns may be without Jamal Lewis, which means that unheralded Jason Wright will be given the rock. Cleveland has averaged 354.5 yards per game behind Derek Anderson’s surprising canon and the St. Louis defense has been getting blown apart. It’s important to remember the parity between the AFC and the NFC when betting on this matchup. The Browns have had some stiff opponents and, while St. Louis will probably show some offensive punch in this game, they simply can not keep people off the scoreboard. And the offensive line still sucks, so Jackson may not be able to break the defense apart like he normally can.
NFL Free Pick: Cleveland 27 St. Louis Rams 20
New York Giants (5-2) vs. Miami Dolphins (-7)
Sunday, October 28th — Wembley Stadium, London — 1:00pm EST
Opening NFL Line: NYG -9.5 (48.5)
Miami is officially running second-stringers, unless you count Marty Booker as a viable receiving threat (which you shouldn’t). Cleo Lemon, Jesse Chatman, Derek Hagan and Tedd Ginn Jr. are going up against a surprising and surging Giants team when they ‘host’ New York in Wembley Stadium. The Giants have risen to sixth in the league in scoring with 26.7 per game.
The Giants are also 5-2 ATS which explains the near-double-digit spread. They have absolutely decimated teams with weak offensive lines behind Osi Umenyiora terrifying pass-rushing. They have held teams 206.0 passing yards and 97.4 ground yards while giving quarterbacks absolute nightmares. The offensive line for Miami is awful. Simply awful.
The Dolphins showed some feistiness against a New England defense that fell asleep in the second-half last week. Whoop-dee-do. Plaxico has all the measurables to expose this secondary like Randy Moss did, and the front-seven will get zero pressure on Manning. The Giants are 5-0 ATS in their last five, and Eli has been a steady and safe bet during that stretch. Take the ‘road team’ in this one.
NFL Free Pick: NYG 28 Miami 13
Philadelphia Eagles (2-4) vs. Minnesota Vikings (2-4)
Sunday, October 28th — Metrodome, Minneapolis — 1:00pm EST
Opening NFL Line: Philadelphia -1 (39.5)
This line simply astounds me. The Vikings are the best against the run (76.5 yards per game), the best with the run (163.7 yards per game) and have a ball-hawking secondary that has 7 interceptions this season. The Eagles are melting down right before our very eyes, and allowing Brian Griese to march all over your supposedly feared defense is about as embarrassing as it gets.
The Vikings can control this game by unleashing Adrian Peterson against the Eagles eighth ranked rushing defense. Though Tavaris Jackson won’t move the ball against Philadelphia like Griese, the Vikings will play it safe against Philly and hand the ball to Peterson.
McNabb is a stronger quarterback, but he can not escape the pass-rush like he used to. The Vikings front-four will devour the tattered and slow offensive line of the Eagles, rushing McNabb in to mistakes. This game will be tight, but the Eagles have a major problem and have betrayed their betting investors by going 2-4 ATS. Andy Reid needs to take five dollars, go down to the hardware store and buy some finish, apply it generously to his team, and then maybe you can feel safe betting on these guys.
NFL Free Pick: Philadelphia 14 Minnesota 17
Buffalo Bills (2-4) vs. New York Jets (1-6)
Sunday, October 28th — Giants Stadium, New York — 4:05pm EST
Opening NFL Line: NYJ -3 (36.5)
Speaking of meltdown, ladies and gentleman, your 2007 New York Jets! News came down the wire that Mangini is inexplicably sticking with Chad Pennington in a move that generally should be seen as “please fire me now”. The Jets lost their last tilt against the Bills 17-14.
The Bills have been able to move the ball, but are having a lot of trouble punching the ball in to the endzone. Trent Edwards is still a rookie at the end of the day, and is adjusting to the pace of the NFL on the fly. Buffalo’s Marshawn Lynch continues his ROY campaign by spearheading the rushing attack, which averages 99.0 yards per game.
The key to this game is the Bills athletic and agile defense, which has shown a lot of promise and grinded opposing offenses in to dust. Their numbers do not impress (they allow 302.5 yards per game and 22.0 points) but they can take advantage of a Jets offense that can barely throw and never runs.
The Jets are miserable and they are 1-5-1 ATS and are giving you no reason to put money down on them. Bet on the 4-2 ATS Buffalo Bills as Rian Lindell steals the show.
NFL Free Pick: Buffalo 18 NYJ 14
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-2) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-3)
Sunday, October 28th — Raymond James Stadium, Tampa — 4:05pm EST
Opening NFL Line: Tampa Bay -4.5 (33)
David Garrard was steadily becoming a consistent threat at quarterback, with zero turnovers, leading a passing offense that currently has 185.2 yards per game. Then he throws a pick to Bob Sanders and now he’s out for a month with an ankle injury. Hello, Quinn Gray (whoever you are). Goodbye, playoff chances.
Tampa Bay has gone 1-1 ATS and SU against the AFC South after getting crushed by Indy, then squeaking out a win against the Titans. They are still a very good football team though they only manage 314.9 yards per game. Jeff Garcia continues to play mistake-free football. Do not be fooled by the loss to Detroit. They were facing Rod Marinelli, one of the coaches that helped create the coveted Tampa-2 defense.
Jacksonville was not that good with Garrard at quarterback. They have no true number one receiver, and Maurice Jones-Drew has been steady but still can not control games. He can pop huge runs, but he can’t steadily move the chains. Earnest Graham and Michael Bennett are a good 1-2 punch for Tampa and should find room to run against a rush defense that allows 103.8 yards per game.
NFL Free Pick: Jacksonville 10 Tampa Bay 20
Houston Texans (3-4) vs. San Diego Chargers (3-3)
Sunday, October 28th — Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego — 4:05pm EST
Opening NFL Line: San Diego (-11)
San Diego is getting ravaged by forest fires and that will no doubt be in the heads of the Chargers as they take the field on Sunday. Either the Chargers will draw strength from it, or will crumble in the face of adversity. If the latter happens, nobody will blame them. But it makes this a tough game to call.
Sage Rosenfels steps to the helm for the Texans after his four touchdown, three interception fourth quarter explosion last week. He will not have that same kind of success against an overly aggressive and terrifying San Diego front-seven led by Shawne Merriman. The Chargers stifle opponents to 84.5 rushing yards, but have been slightly vulnerable through the air with 239.7 passing yards allowed.
Houston will remain without Andre Johnson for this game and will be without their starting quarterback. Their starting tailback, Ahman Green, is still licking a few wounds but is expected to play. The safe bet is on the Chargers, whom I feel will be inspired to give the city of San Diego something to cheer about after the catastrophe that has engulfed this town. Take the emotionally driven Chargers despite the big spread. Houston is 1-5 ATS in their last six.
NFL Free Pick: Houston 14 San Diego 31
Washington Redskins (4-2) vs. New England Patriots (7-0)
Sunday, October 28th — Gillette Stadium, Foxboro — 4:15pm EST
Opening NFL Line: New England -16.5 (50)
This Redskins team is much better than people think. At 4-2 SU, they have been rewarded for their efforts, but their betting investors are getting justifiably annoyed with their 2-2-2 ATS record. Washington has been able to scamper to a solid 114.7 rushing yards average, and have stymied opponents to 80.7 yards on the ground.
The secondary is also very opportunistic. They have 11 turnovers on the season, and eight of those are interceptions. And what the hell am I talking about?! Does any of this matter? These are the PATRIOTS we are talking about. Even Joe Gibbs was asking members of the press for suggestions on how to beat this team.
The Patriots are embarrassing teams right now, which was evident when they ran a two-minute drill against the Dolphins in the first half with a 28 point lead. Disgusting. They are crushing opponents by 22.7 points per game and can kill you with the pass or the run. Bet on the Patriots to hit pay dirt by grinding the Washington run defense in to the ground with Laurence Maroney, who runs like he’s angry at the world. Keep your money safe with the undefeated Patriots.
NFL Free Pick:: Washington 13 New England 38
New Orleans (2-4) vs. San Francisco (2-4)
Sunday, October 28th — Monster Stadium, San Francisco — 4:15pm EST
Opening NFL Line: New Orleans -3 (41)
The Saints are slowly getting themselves together despite going 1-5 ATS this season. They allowed the Atlanta Falcons, of all people, to stage a fourth quarter, spread covering, almost-comeback last week which was infuriating to the betting investor. But the San Francisco 49ers won’t pose much of a threat.
The biggest threat on the 49ers is Frank Gore, who has been slowed this season because defenses aren’t scared of the listless and pathetic receiver set for the Niners. San Fran manages a league worst 213.8 total yards per game. Only 88.8 of those yards are gained on the ground.
Still, the 49ers secondary comprised of Walt Harris and Nate Clements is difficult to throw against, so that means a lot of balls being fed to Reggie Bush and the rushing attack. The Saints have a much more reasonable spread this week, and the smart betting investor will take the Saints as they ground and pound with the 49ers to a decisive victory. Alex Smith or not, the 49ers are a terrible football team.
NFL Free Pick: New Orleans 24 San Francisco 17
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