The NFL will need to do a toNn to come up with an encore that matches the excitement of week six after division leaders dueled for sixty minutes and the last remaining undefeated team dominated on the road. The week also saw Jacksonville break an historic losing streak, perhaps proving that London and not Florida should be their permanent home. So, with Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Minnesota and Tennessee on their bye weeks, here are my previews and predictions for all the week seven actions in the NFL.
Denver (3-3) at Cleveland (3-3): Both of these teams enter this Thursday night matchup coming off losses, but the Browns’ blowout home loss to an Arizona team without their head coach was stinging to the Dawg Pound. The Broncos lost in Las Vegas to a Raiders team in their first game without Jon Gruden as their head coach, making their 10-point defeat less of a surprise to me. Bettors are more down on the Browns and are showing it in force as this game opened with Cleveland as a 6-point favorite and has been bet down to the Browns being just a 3.5-point favorite. That makes this our first game of the week when the bettors and the computers disagree on the outcome. For me, it is clear that Cleveland has playoff talent but needs to start stringing some wins together to make their case as a team worthy of a postseason berth. On a short week and at home, the Browns need to win this game and they will, covering the 3.5 spread as they do.
Atlanta (2-3) at Miami (1-5): The Dolphins season died in London when they handed Jacksonville their first win of the season, putting them behind a Falcons team that is clearly rebuilding and is unconcerned about the 2021 standings. Miami chose not to take their bye week after their trip to London last week as most teams do, so fatigue may become factor late in this contest. Bettors have flipped this point spread, taking a Dolphins team that opened as a 3-point favorite and turned them into a 2.5-point underdog after what they saw early Sunday morning last week. Some of that Falcons money might be using stats from when Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa was out for three weeks, driving down the Dolphins’ offensive stats. With most people seeing a close game, taking even a small number of points might make the difference between two teams that even their local markets probably don’t want to watch anymore. Taking Miami +2.5 to cover if not win.
Carolina (3-3) at NY Giants (1-5): Panthers QB Sam Darnold returns to MetLife Stadium for the first time as a visiting player except he doesn’t play his former Jets team, but the Giants. Darnold and the Panthers defeated the Jets at home to start the season as part of a three-game winning streak, but after facing tougher teams over the last three weeks, have seen their record fall to .500. The New York Giants are a lost franchise in the eyes of most people … their players are undisciplined, and the front office has made bad draft picks and free agent signings while trying to rebuild a roster in the post Eli Manning era. The result is Big Blue is on the fast track to a top five draft pick next spring with the potential of a new head coach and general manager leading the way. Taking Carolina to win and cover the 3.0-point spread to break their three-game skid.
Cincinnati (4-2) at Baltimore (5-1): Who believed at the start of the season this game would be a battle for first place in the AFC North? Well, thanks to a two-game losing streak by the Browns and an earlier three-game losing streak by the Steelers, the Bengals travel to Baltimore one game behind the Ravens with a chance to join them atop the division with a win. The Ravens enter this game on a five-game winning streak and as a 6-point favorite against their upstart division foe with QB Lamar Jackson leading the way in some spectacular comeback wins involving him taking a physical beating using the run-pass option. Six points it a lot to give up in any division game, and with the Ravens becoming a run first team, they are not likely to blow anyone out unless their defense forces a lot of turnovers. Taking Cincy +6 to keep it close and make the Ravens sweat.
Kansas City (3-3) at Tennessee (4-2): Congrats to the Titans for their thrilling win on Monday night over the Buffalo Bills. Your reward, a game against Kansas City this week where you have already been bet up from a 3-point underdog to 5.5-points in the hours after your win. Being under .500 hopefully pissed off KC and they need to understand that the rest of the NFL has seen what’s in the bag of tricks that Andy Reid has used over the last two seasons. Without making more adjustments, KC is not going to have a much success and won’t dominate in the games they do win as they have before. And after seeing what Titans RB Derrick Henry did on Monday night, can you make the case he is the best player in the league right now, even better than Patrick Mahomes? Titans +5.5 to make a game of this and even win if Mr. Henry goes off again.
NY Jets (1-4) at New England (2-4): This AFC East matchup is a rematch of a late September game when the Patriots went to MetLife Stadium and dominated the Jets 25-6. New York is coming off their bye week while New England did all they could against the Dallas Cowboys last week, forcing the NFC East leaders to beat them in overtime. The Patriots are a humble 7-point favorite in this game, lower than I thought it would be, perhaps the week off helping the Jets in the mind of the oddsmakers. With these franchises still miles apart from each other in how they are run off the field, it is hard to think a month off for Gang Green would help them win this game. Taking New England -7 to win and cover, securing second place in the division.
Washington (2-4) at Green Bay (5-1): Washington hung tough with Kansas City last week for the first half before giving up 21 points in the second half and being blown out. This week they travel to Green Bay and face another quarterback who is likely to toy with their defense in Aaron Rodgers. Some people are worried about this being a trap game for the Packers since they travel to Arizona for a Thursday night game after this contest; but Green Bay rarely falls into those traps. While some of the numbers have these teams closely matched up, the Rodgers factor at home is always something you need to bet on or at least never bet against. Taking Green Bay -9.5 to win and cover, setting up an epic matchup on Thursday night.
Detroit (0-6) at LA Rams (5-1): What can we say about this mismatch? Bettors have already spoken by taking the opening line of Rams -13.5 and moving it up to -15 points early in the week. The computers are not even giving the Lions a chance to score ten points and seeing LA break 40 is something every hard drive is predicting. There may be spots on their schedule for the Detroit Lions to win this season, but I don’t think in LA against the Rams is one of those chances. While it will be nice to see all those Matthew Stafford stories about his time in the Motor City, I am sure he is having more fun in LA than he ever had in Detroit. Rams -15 to win and cover by halftime.
Philadelphia (2-4) at Las Vegas (4-2): The last time we saw the Eagles on the field, Zach Ertz was their TE, then, after their last game, the team traded him to Arizona in a move the front office said was not a selloff … OK, if you say so. As for the Raiders, the Jon Gruden distraction was gone last week, and they won their first game without their former head coach … I am wondering if Gruden was always a distraction and with him out of the building, the team can relax a little bit and just play football and not deal with their head coach’s inflated ego. Las Vegas is a 3-point favorite in this game with bettors buying the Silver and Black by a 3-to-2 margin. I think the Raiders might be a force the rest of the season and we are going to find out that Jon Gruden was never part of the solution but was always the Raiders’ biggest problem. Take Las Vegas -3 to win and cover and keep their post-Gruden momentum going for another week.
Chicago (3-3) at Tampa Bay (5-1): The Bears are not known for dealing well with quality veteran quarterbacks. Last week they lost to Aaron Rodgers and this week they travel to Tampa Bay and take on Tom Brady. With a full training camp and all 22 of their starts from last season back, the Buccaneers have looked as good if not better than they did last year when they ran off seven straight wins on their way to the Super Bowl title. While they are still behind Arizona in the conference standings, the Bucs are a true title contender again this season. Chicago opened as a 10-point underdog and better raised the line to 12.5-points early in the week, and I would expect this spread to reach 14 by game time. Taking Tampa Bay to win and cover with ease this week.
Houston (1-5) at Arizona (6-0): The nightmare season for the Texans continues this week as they travel to the desert and take on the last undefeated team in the league. Oddsmakers didn’t give Houston too much hope after installing them as a 14.5-point underdog, with bettors showing even less faith, taking the line up to 17.5-point by Tuesday night. Like the Rams, Arizona is expected to post 40 points in this game as most computers think the Texans will be lucky to reach the endzone once in this game. Taking Arizona in what could be a trap game for them to win and cover the 17.5 points before hosting Green Bay on Thursday night.
Indianapolis (2-4) at San Francisco (2-3): The stats heading into this Sunday night game have the Colts and 49ers fairly evenly matched, which is why the hosts are just a 3.5-point favorite. The computers are giving San Francisco a decided advantage, predicting the home team will double up Indy on the scoreboard. Both of these teams need wins to keep their postseason hopes viable, even in a 17-game season; and getting back to .500 in the NFC West is more important to the ‘Niners than the Colts, who are only chasing one team in the Titans. Time for Kyle Shanahan to show the NFL what he is make of as a head coach. San Francisco -3.5 to win and cover on Sunday night.
New Orleans (3-2) at Seattle (2-4): Life without Russell Wilson begins its second week for the Seahawks as they host the Saints in a game that could save their 2021 season. New Orleans has been exactly what many people thought they would be, an up-and-down team with Jameis Winston as their quarterback, having great moments and game in equal proportions. Not too often you see the 12th Man in Seattle an underdog, especially in a primetime game, but without their quarterback, the Seahawks opened as a 3-point underdog with bettors moving the line to -5 before the money started to balance off between both teams. A close game is easy to see with the Seattle defense primed to make a big play against Winston. I just don’t think that Geno Smith will do enough to help the Seahawks win in this battle of average at best QBs. Saints -5 to win/cover on the road.
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NFL Week Seven Previews and Predictions | TooAthletic.com