NFL odds Week 8: Commanders will cover, early best bets

Village Geoff Schwartz
FOX Sports NFL Analyst

It’s never too early to look ahead to another NFL Sunday.

This week, I’m going with one NFC South team to bounce back and an NFC East squad to cover two consecutive weekends.

Here are my early best bets on two games on the Week 8 slate (odds via FOX Bet).

Panthers that Falcons (1 p.m. ET Sunday, FOX and FOX Sports App)

I’m going to fade a miserably bad Panthers team as they face a feisty Falcons team that ran into a buzzsaw Bengals team Sunday.

The Panthers — underdogs by almost two touchdowns — embarrassed Tampa Bay and won 21-3 in a game Sunday that didn’t even feel that close. The Panthers started their third quarterback of the season and were without Christian McCaffrey, who is now a 49er. It was a feel-good story. Feel-good stories only last a week in the NFL and don’t happen often on the road.

Now, let’s look at Atlanta. The Falcons defense was without many starters in the back end of their secondary against Cincinnati, and the Bengals took full advantage. Joe Burrow threw for more than 400 yards with multiple explosive plays. The Falcons had no chance to stop their passing attack. Well, the Panthers don’t have that passing attack, and even if the Falcons are without some secondary pieces again this week, they shouldn’t be worried about allowing as many yards and points. Carolina’s interior offensive line is going to struggle to block Grady Jarrett.

I expect the Falcons run game to get back on track at home inside their dome. The Panthers rushing defense looked stout against the Bucs because every rushing defense looks like the 1985 Bears against Tampa Bay. The Falcons rushing attack is so diverse, and when it’s rolling, it allows quarterback Marcus Mariota to hit play-action passes with success.

I like the Falcons to bounce back in a big way this weekend.

PICK: Falcons (-6.5 at FOX Bet) to win by more than 6.5 points

Commanders that Colts (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday, FOX and FOX Sports App)

The Colts continue to play bad football, while the Commanders look completely different without Carson Wentz in the lineup. No shock to this guy.

The Colts got pushed around by the Titans on both sides of the ball. Matt Ryan got hit more than 10 times, and news came out on Monday that Sam Ehlinger will be the new Colts QB moving forward (more on that later). Indianapolis’ running backs only had 16 rushes for only 63 yards. Tennessee dominated both sides of the line, and it won’t get easier this weekend. The Washington defense is difficult to run on, and I’m not sure the Colts can function well on offense without a run game. On the other side, the Titans’ Derrick Henry had 128 rushing yards, and the offense controlled the game’s pace.

I’ll say it again — the Washington Commanders are a different team without Carson Wentz leading the way. Taylor Heinicke is not good, but he’s also not bad. Washington’s offense just has a different vibe when he’s in. He makes enough plays to keep his team in the game each time he’s in the lineup. It’s tougher for them to win when they play better teams with his style of play. However, the Colts are not that much better of a team, and now that Matt Ryan is benched for this game, I like Washington’s chances even more.

I expect the Commanders to keep this game close, allowing them a chance to cover. I’ll take them on Sunday.

PICK: Commanders (+4 at FOX Bet) to lose by fewer than 4 points (or win outright)

Geoff Schwartz played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. He is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.

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