Man vs Machine: Pickswise expert vs the computer model NFL Week 8 best bets

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Andrew Ortenberg


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I'm an NFL handicapper here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up. For Andrew Ortenberg media enquiries, please email
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Man vs Machine

Welcome to the 2021 edition of Man vs Machine. This NFL season, I’ll be making my five best NFL bets each week. Our Pickswise supercomputer will make its best five bets, and then we’ll compare. May the best man (or machine) win.

Our computer model gives probabilities and projections for the main NFL betting markets (spread, total & money line), best bets for spread, total, money line, and same game parlays. It also features prop bet probabilities for first and anytime touchdown scorer, plus individual player projections for passing, rushing, receiving yards, and touchdowns for betting and fantasy use.

For more information on how the supercomputer works and how it generates picks, scroll down to the bottom of this page. Now let’s look at the picks:

My 5 best bets

Colts -2.5 over Titans

This Colts team is better than most people realize. Indianapolis has won three of four games, and their one loss in that span was to the Ravens in overtime. Even in that game, they led Baltimore virtually the entire way. The Colts almost beat the Titans on the road back in Week 3, and that was when they were depleted by injuries and at rock bottom. This time, they can finish the job.

Falcons -3 over Panthers

I’ve faded the Panthers each of the last two weeks, and I’m not going to stop now. These teams are headed in opposite directions, and that’s putting it kindly. Carolina has turned into an absolute dumpster fire, and they just benched Sam Darnold last week. When’s the last time doing something like that worked out positively?

Steelers +4 over Browns

The Steelers have a great chance to get their playoff revenge from last year here. At the very least, they should keep this game within the number. I don’t have any confidence in an injured Baker Mayfield against a tough defense. Ben Roethlisberger has showed some signs of life the past couple of weeks, and the Steelers have put up 50 points over their last two games.

Jaguars +3.5 over Seahawks

The Jaguars picked up their first win of the season in their last game, and I expect them to pick up their second here. Seattle is now 2-5, and the Geno Smith era has started off 0-2. They should be demoralized after back-to-back heartbreaking losses in primetime. The offense isn’t doing anything with Smith under center, and Trevor Lawrence is improving with each passing week.

Vikings -3 over Cowboys

I liked the Vikings even before it looked like Dak Prescott might not play, and I like them even more here. Even if Prescott is under center, he clearly won’t be close to 100%. That’s not a good recipe against a Mike Zimmer defense that can still bring a lot of pressure.

Computer picks

Colts -2.5 over Titans, Eagles -3.5 over Lions, Texans +15.5 over Rams, Jaguars +3.5 over Seahawks, Patriots +4.5 over Chargers

The computer and I are on a couple of the same sides this week. We agree on the Colts and Jaguars. We were also both on the Colts last week, so we’re each going right back to the well. Our model is also going with the Eagles, Texans and Patriots to round out their selections. After going 2-3 last week, I’ve now fallen to 18-17 on the year. The computer also went 2-3, and it’s now at 21-13-1. It’s a tight race, now let’s see if I can catch up in Week 8….

2021 Season Results

Pickswise Expert (18-17)
Pickswise Computer (21-13-1)

Don’t forget to check out our free picks on the side and total for every NFL game. You can also view all of our computer picks here.

How are the pre-game win probabilities calculated?
The Pickswise supercomputer creates pre-game probabilities using machine learning techniques as inputs to a Monte Carlo approach. This means we simulate a sporting event 10,000 times, catering for the deep range of outcomes and probabilities within a given event. We first predict the performance of each individual player based on hundreds of algorithmic variabilities, which we use to run our event simulations.

Why do the win probabilities and predictions change over time?
The probabilities are dynamic in nature and get updated as new information becomes available. This includes but is not limited to team news, weather conditions, and moves in the betting market.

What does a ‘value bet’ mean?
A value bet is where we’ve identified that the probability of the event occurring is more likely than the listed sportsbook odds. Taking these bets gives you an increased chance of being a successful gambler.

How is the change in win probability calculated during a live game?
Live win probability is a statistical metric that projects the team’s likelihood of winning at any given point by simulating the remainder of the game. Based on the performance of historical teams in the same situation and the current state of the game, the model updates in real-time following every major event during the game.

Pickswise is the home of free NFL Picks and NFL Odds. Check out the latest NFL Prop Bets and NFL Parlays as well as expert NFL Underdog Picks and NFL Computer Picks.

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