The Indianapolis Colts won again when the public was down on them, this time at home against Houston to take the lead in the AFC South. As a result, it appears the fickle public sentiment on the Colts has finally turned. We’ll get to that in more detail with our Week 8 pick analysis.

For more background on how to pick for value and maximize your edge in pick’em pools, see our two-part series on NFL office pool strategy. Otherwise, read on to find out about the NFL Week 8 picks that need to be on your radar screen.

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How Last Week’s Value Picks Did

We highlighted two head-to-head matchups where the public was taking the underdog over half the time (Chicago-New Orleans and Tennessee-LA Chargers), and another where the favorite was coming at better value (Dallas).

The unpopular favorites split, with the Bears laying an egg at home against the Saints, while the Titans held on for a win in Ryan Tannehill’s first start at quarterback for Tennessee. Dallas also cruised to an easy victory. That put our value plays at two wins, while the public would have gotten 1.6 wins on average in those games based on pick popularity data.

Good & Bad Week 8 Value Picks In NFL Office Pools

Every week, we highlight three pairs of possible picks. Sometimes, we compare favorites from two different games who have similar odds of winning, and discuss where the relative value lies. Sometimes, we compare two teams playing head-to-head in the same game, and discuss which is the better value option. 

This week, we compare two different favorites to a team that is being over-picked by the public, and also highlight a game where the outcome is closer to a toss-up, but the public is more heavily on one side. 

Note: Win odds and estimated national pick popularity data below may change between publication time and kickoff time. If you want to see the latest numbers, our product updates multiple times per day.

Better Value: Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Miami)
Worse Value: Indianapolis Colts (vs. Denver)

The Pittsburgh Steelers are favored by 14.5 points at home against the woeful Miami Dolphins, the second-largest line of the week. We ordinarily would not be discussing a two-touchdown favorite in our value plays because you should almost universally be picking them in pick’em contests, and we don’t like to be Captain Obvious. 

But in the context of this week, there are a lot of heavier favorites, and the public is picking several teams at a very high rate. When that happens, if you are going to take a chance on any upsets, don’t make it on the biggest favorites. 

The public is picking Pittsburgh 97% of the time, and the Indianapolis Colts 96% of the time. But the Colts are only favored by 6 points against Denver, and have much lower win odds (85% for Pittsburgh, 67% for Indianapolis).

It’s easy to see why the public would be down on Denver after their primetime debacle last Thursday. Miami, meanwhile, showed signs of a pulse (though, we should point out they still ended up losing by 10). So you might want to lock in a lot of heavy favorites this week anyway, but make sure you aren’t going crazy on picking the upset in Pittsburgh, when there are other upset options that are far more likely, but equally unpopular.

Better Value: San Francisco 49ers (vs. Carolina)
Worse Value: Indianapolis Colts (vs. Denver)

Are we cheating by comparing the Colts-Broncos game twice in a value comparison? Well, the first comparison was to a team with far higher win odds. This one is to a team with similar win odds but lower popularity.

The point spread in the 49ers-Panthers game is nearly identical to the Colts (San Francisco by 5.5). San Francisco is a popular choice (85% of the public is going with them) but compared to other choices like Indianapolis they are coming at value. The public is picking the Panthers to pull an upset nearly four times more frequently than the Broncos. 

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Carolina has won four straight with Kyle Allen at quarterback, but the 49ers are also the far more dominant favorite this year, and sit at No. 2 in our predictive power ratings behind only the Patriots. The Colts have thrived in an underdog role, and have played an excellent, ball control, slow tempo game plan against explosive offenses. But that style of play has smaller margins of error, and also keeps underdogs in games when you are the favorite. 

The 49ers are the better value here of these favorites, and locking them in as a pick allows you to gain an edge on more of the public. This isn’t to say that you should automatically pick the Broncos in the other matchup, because that depends on your pool and scoring system. But in a large weekly prize contest, going against the Colts when only 4% of the public is on Denver as a 6-point underdog is an excellent value. 

Better Value: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Worse Value: Tennessee Titans

Tampa Bay at Tennessee is tied for the smallest point spread of the week, with the Titans favored by 2.5 points. The betting market implied win odds are 42% for the Bucs, while our models are even more optimistic, giving them a 48% chance of winning.

The public, though, is taking Tennessee 70% of the time even though we see this one as closer to even. You can understand why that is. The last time we saw Tampa Bay, Jameis Winston was turning the ball over six times in London in the loss to Carolina. Meanwhile, Tennessee benched Marcus Mariota for Ryan Tannehill before last week, and Tannehill threw for over 300 yards in the win over the Chargers on Sunday.

Given that this is a week with relatively scarce options when it comes to close games, combined with Tennessee’s higher popularity, Tampa Bay is an attractive upset pick here in a weekly contest to differentiate your entry.

Which Of These NFL Week 8 Picks Should You Make?

Once you know the best value picks of NFL Week 8, you can increase your odds to win your pool by making educated gambles on them. There are a lot of potential decisions to make, though, and not all of them will make sense for your specific pool.

Factors like your pool’s size, scoring system, prize structure, and even your current position in the pool standings should all weigh in to your Week 8 pick strategy, and it takes a lot of data and math to get to the right answer.

For the season, our subscribers have reported winning weekly prizes twice as frequently as you would expect, compared to an average entrant. Last year, 80% of our subscribers reporting winning a prize in football pick’em pool

We invite you to give the product a try for free for NFL Week 8. Our NFL Pool Picks are customizable, and offer advice for a variety of pool types, including confidence pools and those picking against the spread.

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