Week 8 of the NFL season is upon us, and the overreactions are loud on the streets. We’re nearly halfway through the regular season and have a better idea of which teams are contenders and which are pretenders.
That said, this is still a small sample size of games. Those that have been played can be dug through and sprinkled with context to become useful. Team-adjusted stats like DVOA have some value, and we also have to be aware of how injuries have affected teams in the early going.
Last week’s piece was a complete DUD and that’s on me (obviously). Let’s look to shake it up this time around.
With that in mind, let’s dive into some NFL Week 8 upset predictions and best bets. All NFL gameday odds are current as of 11:00 a.m. ET on Friday, October 29.
NFL Week 8 Upset Predictions
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons
This game is setting up as the bounce-back needed for Carolina after hitting a 4-game losing skid.
The Panthers started off hot by going undefeated through the first three games, but Sam Darnold‘s regression and Christian McCaffrey‘s absence have mostly fueled the recent dip. Atlanta’s defense is the easiest one they will face maybe all year and should provide enough cushion for Darnold and the lackluster offense to operate.
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Despite the emergence of Kyle Pitts alongside Calvin Ridley for Atlanta, Stephon Gilmore will be suiting up for the first time as a Panther on Sunday and providing much-needed help to a secondary that has lost some sheen since Jaycee Horn‘s injury.
The Panthers (or better yet, Darnold) just have to not shoot themselves in the foot this weekend to take home a win.
Upset Prediction: Panthers 24, Falcons 20
Panthers at Falcons Upset Picks
Upset Pick: Panthers Moneyline (+145) at BetMGM
This would likely be a pick ’em in a vacuum, and Atlanta’s at home and may be getting some favor after winning three of their last four (with the one loss being extremely close).
The Panthers are the better team despite worse QB play and are returning several key pieces on the defensive end.
Upset Pick: Under 47 (-110) at BetMGM
If the Falcons’ offense can’t get going early against Carolina’s stout D, the Panthers may opt for an extremely run-heavy approach to get the ball out of Darnold’s hands as much as possible.
This could be really ugly and/or boring despite the dome environment and plethora of weapons on both sides.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
This game stinks on paper.
The Steelers’ offense looks terrible thanks to Ben Roethlisberger‘s decrepit arm and their horrible offensive line. The Browns’ offense is potentially down their starting QB and potent RB duo.
Reports suggest that Nick Chubb (calf) may play this week, but he has been limited in practice thus far. D’Ernest Johnson would be happy to reprise his role as the starter but the question remains whether Week 7 was a fluke on his part or not.
Nevertheless, Pittsburgh’s advantage remains apparent despite playing in Cleveland. They are coming off of a bye week, and despite losing JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Steelers have received hope from rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth, who saw a season-high snap-share (60%) in Week 6 and may be in for more opportunities.
Upset Prediction: Steelers 23, Browns 20
Steelers at Browns Upset Picks
Upset Pick: Steelers Moneyline (+140) at BetMGM
The Steelers have lost back-to-back games against Cleveland, but this time should be different.
They have an actual weapon out of the backfield in Najee Harris and are running a much less predictable offense thanks to OC Matt Canada. While Roethlisberger does limit the bottom-line at the end of the day, this offense is still better than the one Cleveland will field Sunday, and their defense is better as well.
Upset Pick: Under 42 (-110) at BetMGM
It’s hard to imagine either team running up the points in this one, making this our NFL bet of the day.
Even if Baker Mayfield starts, he’s likely limited as a thrower and runner due to his shoulder injury. Odell Beckham Jr. is also injured and playing through it, which has been the furthest thing from beneficial for the offense given how well backup Donovan Peoples-Jones has played.
New England Patriots at Los Angeles Chargers
The Patriots head into Los Angeles to face a significantly more talented team. While LA has the better QB and offensive skill players, New England has the matchup advantage given that they play through the ground.
New England isn’t a typical team that LAC can stop. Their league-worst rush defense should be exploited by the likes of Damien Harris, who is coming off of consecutive 100-yard performances on fewer than 20 rushes each.
Baltimore exposed some weaknesses in LA’s offense before their Week 7 bye, and this week, Austin Ekeler (hip) is at risk of sitting. Breakout WR Mike Williams has been dealing with knee inflammation and the offense as a whole lacks speed.
This could be a wake-up game for a team that may need to be active prior to the trade deadline.
Upset Prediction: Patriots 27, Chargers 23
Patriots at Chargers Upset Picks
Upset Pick: Patriots Moneyline (+180) at BetMGM
Taking the 5.5 points is more appealing, but it’s just not as fun. This game is winnable for New England and one that can turn their season around from a 3-4 start.
Upset Pick: Over 49 (-110) at BetMGM
This barely hits, but it hits nonetheless.
As mentioned, New England’s rushing attack should lead to several point opportunities and the win. Meanwhile, Justin Herbert is blossoming into an elite QB and can figure out how to score by himself if need be thanks to his big arm and incredible athleticism.
This game comes off as sneaky fun to watch.