NFL

NFL Week 8 betting preview: The Browns can cope without Odell Beckham but can they cope with the Raiders?

October 29, 2020

WEEK 7 of the 2020/21 NFL season saw a remarkably high number of contests settled on the final play of the game with the prime time clash going one better as the Cardinals ended the Seahawks' winning run with an overtime winner. It's the Chicago Bears versus the New Orleans Saints in the prime time slot this weekend – Nat Coombs takes a lot at that game along with Browns versus Raiders, and Bengals versus Titans.
 

Cleveland Browns vs Oakland Raiders

Sunday November 1, 18:00 GMT
 

Baker Mayfield started 0-5 — including an interception on his first attempt of the game – against the Bengals last week but then flipped the switch from first round bust mode to future HOFer, completing 22 of the next 23 passes on his way to a five TD performance. Mayfield will be without star receiver Odell Beckham for the season but as many have suggested, this may serve to improve the offense, counterintuitive as it sounds. 

Beckham just hasn’t clicked as a Brown – and therefore with Mayfield – and the undeniable pressure of forcing the issue, and the need to target him will be negated. And it’s not like there is a dearth of talent within this Browns offense. Kevin Stefanski has added calm, mostly requiring Mayfield to tick along, and play carefully, protecting the ball. And it’s mostly working, with trickery and explosive individual talent from the likes of Jarvis Landry, Kareem Hunt and Rashard Higgins making this one of the most watchable offenses in the league when clicking. And like him or not, Baker has that box office watchability and the Browns are likely to put up plenty against the Raiders.

But there’s every reason to suggest Las Vegas will go toe to toe with them. Cleveland are giving up 31.6 points to opponents this season, and Derek Carr is a deeply underrated QB, with a lot around him including a running game with tremendous upside led by Josh Jacobs, and big play receiving threats including rookie burner Henry Ruggs III.

Match odds: Browns (7/10) Raiders (5/4)
Handicap: Browns -2.5 (10/11) Raiders +2.5 (10/11)
Total points: Over 51.5 (10/11) Under 51.5 (10/11)
Tip: Over 52 total points (23/25)
 

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Cinccinnati Bengals vs Tennessee Titans

Sunday November 1, 18:00 GMT
 

The Titans will take a lot from their second half performance against the Steelers, in a comeback that should have gone to OT, but for a missed FG from Stephen Gostkowksi, a superb kicker who has been in erratic form this year. The Steelers held Derrick Henry in check for most of the game, in a way I don’t see the Bengals being able to, and the offensive line in front of Joe Burrows continues to be an issue.

There’s a lot to like about Burrows composure and acclimatisation to the NFL and he has a burgeoning receiving corps including Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins and veteran AJ Green. The Titans were solid against the pass in their defeat to the Steelers, and their Run D may hold firmer if Joe Mixon is out, as is suspected. The Bengals have kept most games close this year, but I think Henry burns the 28th ranked run D Ryan Tannehill and AJ Brown leverages this with effective play action, and the Titans cover.

Match odds: Bengals (2/1) Tennessee Titans (21/50)
Handicap: Bengals +5.5 (10/11) Titans -5.5 (10/11)
Total points: Over 53.5 (10/11) Under 53.5 (10/11)
Tip: Titans -7 (6/5)
 

For all NFL Week 8 betting markets, click here

Chicago Bears vs New Orleans Saints

Sunday November 1, 21:25 GMT
 

The Saints headed to Chicago to face a Bears side that have fallen back down to earth after their prime time drubbing at the hands of the Rams. Chicago is a lop-sided team, with an effective defense yet one of the poorest offenses in the NFL, ranking 27th in points per game (19.7), 29th in total yards per game (312.8) and dead last in rushing yards per game – the latter not great news when going up against a top five run defense like New Orleans.

Chicago QB Nick Foles has thrown at least one pick in each of his last four games, and whilst he demonstrates the strong leadership lacking in Mitchell Trubisky, the quarterback he replaced, there’s only so much he can do with the limited weapons, and a fragile line in front of him.

The key here is whether the Bears D can stall Drew Brees and the Saints offense without Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Much of that rests on the shoulders of Alvin Kamara who has been running effectively all season and the Bears have been giving up 4.5 yards per carry this season. If Kamara has a strong afternoon, this will provide enough support for Sean Payton and Drew Brees to finding ways of unlocking an impressive Chicago secondary and despite the absence of a deep ball, Brees’ smarts will be enough to get the job done.

Match odds: Bears (37/20) Saints (4/9)
Handicap: Bears +4 (49/50) Saints -4 (5/6)
Total points: Over 43.5 (10/11) Under 43.5 (10/11)
Tip: Saints -4.5 (41/50)

Treble

Browns/ Raiders Over 52 total points (23/25), Titans -7 (6/5), Saints -4.5 (41/50) – 13/2
 

Check out the Nat Coombs Show podcast on ESPN right here.