NFL Week 7: Picks & Predictions

Starting off the week with a massive loss is never how you want it to go and it’s the first time I’ve incorrectly picked the Thursday night game. Despite a litany of injuries for the Browns, they managed to set the tone early in front of their home crowd and beat the Broncos 17-14.

Honestly, it looked like Denver didn’t even want to be there as the Browns gashed them repeatedly on the game’s opening drive. Cleveland’s running game didn’t miss a beat with D’Ernest Johnson stepping into the lead back role and he ran right through the Denver defense on 22-carries for 146-yards and a touchdown. Case Keenum also played well filling in for the injured Baker Mayfield, going 21/33 for 199-yards and a TD.

D’Ernest Johnson did basically whatever he wanted against the Broncos defense.

The game was 10-0 Browns at the half thanks to a very poorly thrown ball in the endzone by Teddy Bridgewater. After a 3-0 start to the season, Denver is learning the hard way why Carolina moved on from Teddy 2-Gloves. Truth be told, I don’t dislike Bridgewater. He’s a responsible QB who typically has a very good completion percentage, but all of his issues were on full display on Thursday night. He repeatedly underthrew receivers and displayed an alarming lack of arm strength. That could be due to the foot injury he’s dealing with, but it was ugly out there. Even so, the defense tightened up in the second half and gave the offense a chance.

Trailing 17-7 with about 12-minutes remaining in the game, Denver went on a 17-play 80-yard TD drive that took about 6-minutes off the clock. Yes, they scored on the drive to make it a 3-point-game but they showed absolutely no sense of urgency as time was becoming more and more valuable. When they kicked off to the Browns after the score, they never got the ball back and that was the end of it.

Case Keenum wasn’t in the game to be an observer, he went right into the fire

It was a good win for Cleveland as they responded to plenty of adversity and got an important win as they head into an extended rest period. I had my reservations about Denver before the game and if not for the injuries to the Browns, this would have been a lay-up pick. As the Broncos stare down the barrel of 4-straight losses, it’s time for the front office to consider a massive overhaul. The supposedly strong defense hasn’t looked good at all facing stiffer competition during this losing streak and the offensive philosophy doesn’t mesh with the personnel they have in place. Something’s gotta give and after that performance, we could see head coach Vic Fangio out of a job sooner rather than later.

There aren’t a lot of intriguing games this week as bye week purgatory has shortened the schedule and surely handcuffed many people’s fantasy football teams (myself included) but there are a couple of good ones on deck.

(+230) Bengals at (-280) Ravens (-6.5, 46)

Moving on to a couple of other teams competing with Cleveland in the AFC North, the (4-2) Bengals aim to make a statement with a road win over the division-leading (5-1) Ravens. The Green Bay game was a big one for Cincy, but this is against not only a division rival but the best record in the AFC and a win put the Bengals in a great spot atop the division and tied for the best record in the conference. The Ravens come into the game without RB Latavius Murray or WR Sammy Watkins but they didn’t seem to need either guy too much when they eviscerated the Chargers last week. The Bengals are a good young team and the healthier of the two but there are levels to the game, and the Ravens are playing at a higher one right now.

Pick: Ravens| Vs Spread: Bengals +6 | O/U: Over 46

(-150) Panthers at (+130) Giants (+3, 42.5)

The Panthers are a lot like the Broncos in that they started the season 3-0 and their defense looked great against sub-par competition, but they’re on a 3-game skid and the defense looks non-existent during that stretch. However, if there was a game to get back on track it would be against the 1-5 NY Giants who’ve been gutted by injury. Here’s who is out for the G-Men: RB Saquon Barkley, WR Kenny Golladay, and WR Kadarius Toney. Carolina isn’t the healthiest bunch either with RB Christian McCaffrey already on IR and WR Terrence Marhsall Jr., FB Giovanny Ricci, LT Cameron Erving, and WLB Shaq Thompson are all out for this game. You’ve gotta think the better defense wins on the road here against a mangled offense, but if there was a game where the Giants could steal one, this would be it.

Pick: Panthers | Vs Spread: Panthers -3 | O/U: Under 42.5

(+310) Washington at (-400) Packers (-8, 47.5)

This game had a lot of promise when the schedule was first released but things have changed quite a lot since then. The Packers are 5-1 and sitting at the top of the league while Washington is 2-4 and their defensive did a complete 180 to become one of the worst units in the league. Besides being dead last in scoring defense and second to last in total defense, they are also dead last against the pass heading into a showdown with Aaron Rodgers. The Packers are without their starting center Josh Myers and depth players, WR Malik Taylor and RT Dennis Kelly. Washington is much worse off missing two starting linemen RG Brandon Scherff and RT Sam Cosmi along with WRs Curtis Samuel and Cam Sims. Should be a win for Green Bay.

Pick: Packers | Vs Spread: Packers -8| O/U: Over 47.5

(-210) Chiefs at (+175) Titans (+4, 57.5)

Mahomes will have to make his decisions count with King Henry on the other side

The spread has shrunk 1.5-points since the Chiefs opened as 5.5-pt favorites and I get it. After seeing how the Titans played against the Bills, I’m surprised the Chiefs are favored at all but especially on the road. Kansas City needs this game desperately and the Titans may be overconfident after taking down Buffalo, but I’m sure Tennessee still wants to avenge their loss from when these two teams last met in the AFC Championship game two seasons ago. This is a tough game to call but the Titans are very dangerous when they play their best football. Kansas City hasn’t played their best football yet but there’s also been nothing to show that they are heading in that direction. They’d lost to every team they’d faced with a winning record heading into this week, including a one-sided loss to their common opponent (BUF). The Chiefs will be without their FB Michael Burton and MLB Anthony Hitchens while the Titans will be without LT Taylor Lewan and slot receiver Chester Rogers. Neither defense is great but the Chiefs’ is definitely worse, especially in 3rd down and red zone conversion rates. This is a good chance to get TEN at plus money.

Pick: Titans | Vs Spread: Titans +4 | O/U: Over 57.5

(-130) Falcons at (+110) Dolphins (+2.5, 47.5)

This a clunker and something of a throw-away game between two teams that aren’t playing for much. I’m sure Atlanta would like to pretend that they are in playoff contention but. at 2-4, they are at the bottom of their division. Miami is taking on water and they are just looking to plug the holes before the ship goes down completely and they are so desperate it seems they’ve already moved on from starting QB Tua Tagovailoa. He’s hardly played this year and the mere mention of trading to get DeShaun Watson should be a clear indication that the franchise isn’t truly invested in Tua. Quarterback purgatory is the worst situation to have as a team because it’s the most important leadership position on the field, and the Fins are feeling the worst of that right now. Miami has more injuries right now too with the Falcons coming off their bye week, with WRs DeVante Parker and Preston Williams, center Greg Mancz, and cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones all questionable. Right tackle Kaleb McGary is out for Atlanta, but they still have more veteran leadership in the spots that count. I hate to have to do it, but I’m leaning Falcons.

Pick: Falcons | Vs Spread: Falcons +2.5 | O/U: Under 47.5

(+250) Jets at (-320) Patriots (-7, 42.5)

When these teams met earlier in the season, it was a rude awakening for Jets’ rookie QB Zach Wilson. He threw 4-interceptions and they lost 25-6. New York did manage to pick up a surprise win in there vs Tennessee, but promptly lost to the Falcons the following week. The Patriots haven’t had a much better go of it, but at least they have some higher quality losses (TB, DAL, NO, MIA). The Jets are coming off their bye week so they are technically healthier but TE Tyler Kroft and LB C.J. Mosley likely won’t play. Defensive backs Jonathan Jones and Shaun Wade are out for NE but their 14 guys listed as questionable could be concerning. The Pats’ defensive scheme should still pose problems for the Jets so I don’t see this going much differently than the first time.

Pick: Patriots | Vs Spread: Jets +7 | O/U: Under 42.5

(+700) Lions at (-1100) Rams (-16, 50.5)

The Rams are a monstrous 16-point favorite heading into this game and that should tell you all you need to know. The Lions have taken over the mantle of the worst team in the NFL and they have the injuries to cement that. It is, however, the mirror revenge game for both QBs and Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford each face off against their old teams. Maybe Goff knows the Rams’ defense well enough that he can exploit some holes in their system and keep it close, but there’s no reason the Rams should lose this one.

Pick: Rams | Vs Spread: Rams -16 | O/U: Under 50.5

(+130) Eagles at (-150) Raiders (-3, 48.5)

The Raiders exorcised a lot of off-the-field drama last week as they went into Denver and got a big W to improve to 4-2, but we’ve seen that the Broncos really aren’t that good. The question then becomes: are the Eagles better than the Broncos? I think so. They will be getting O-lineman Lane Johnson and TE Dallas Goedert back, and it’s a good matchup for their offense to have a big game. Philly has a pretty good front seven defensively as well but haven’t always played great. Las Vegas’ defense hasn’t been great either but they’ve had moments and, by the numbers, the teams line up pretty evenly there. So, it comes down to playmaking, coaching, and matchups. Darren Waller is questionable for the Raiders and that could be a huge issue. The Eagles are coming off a reasonably close game against the defending champs and that will give them some confidence and it’s a coin toss game, but I could see the Raiders having a bit of an emotional dip after the last one.

Pick: Eagles | Vs Spread: Eagles +3 | O/U: Over 48.5

(+475) Bears at (-700) Buccaneers (-11.5, 47)

When these two teams met last season, it was the Bears’ defense that got the best of Tom Brady and resulted in the infamous 4th down confusion. The Bucs are better this season and the Bears are worse, but it’s still an interesting matchup with all the injuries. Wide receiver Antonio Brown, TE Rob Gronkowski, LB Lavonte David, and CB Richard Sherman are out for the Bucs, causing issues on both sides of the ball. The Bears are without the core of their defense Akiem Hicks and DB Tashaun Gipson Sr., while WR Allen Robinson is questionable with ankle issues. I have to think the Bucs are rightly favored here but they may not move the ball as effectively. If I trusted Justin Fields at the helm for Chicago a little more, I’d give them a better chance. I just haven’t seen the kind of play I would need out of him to think they win it.

Pick: Bucs | Vs Spread: Bears +11.5 | O/U: Under 47

(+900) Texans at (-1700) Cardinals (-18, 47.5)

When you see the Rams as 16-point favorites earlier on the list, you don’t think you’re going to see a bigger spread but here we are. This just goes to show how little parity there is in the league right now and how bad the matchups are this week as a result. There is always an underdog that sneaks in a gets an unexpected W, but this isn’t it. Arizona has a weird tendency to play the level of their competition which could gets them into a weird spot. Plus, the Texans are in such a weird spot that even former teammate J.J. Watt had to comb through the scouting report to see what’s what. The Cards should and almost have to win if they want the respect of being the #1 team in the land. Even while missing three starting defensive lineman, AZ should have the firepower to get the W.

Pick: Cardinals | Vs Spread: Texans +18 | O/U: Over 47.5

(+170) Colts at (-200) 49ers (-4, 43)

San Francisco is coming off of a much needed bye week and Jimmy G is back in the driver seat as Trey Lance is also out. Javon Kinlaw is also out along the D-line and LT Trent Williams is doubtful. For the Colts, WR T.Y. Hilton is out after just getting reactivated along with RT Braden Smith and CB Rock Ya-Sin. This is another one of these coin toss games as both teams similarly are supposed to have good defenses but have struggling offenses. A 4-pt spread seems kind of generous here. The Colts are playing better and could be on a 3-game win streak if not for the massive collapse vs the Ravens. The Niners rode a 3-game skid into the bye week, so they’ve had time to think about that. It should be a good one as both teams need a win to stay competitive in their respective playoff quests. It’s a good chance to get money on the Colts.

Pick: Colts | Vs Spread: Colts +4 | O/U: Over 43

(-230) Saints at (+190) Seahawks (+4.5, 42.5)

The week ends with the Seahawks getting a 3rd primetime game in as many weeks. It’s tough to tell if their league-worst defense improved vs the Steelers or if the Steelers general struggles to score were at play. Seattle is always a tough place to play but they’re dealing with a lot. The Saints are coming into this one without multi-use QB Taysom Hill, WR Deonte Harris, RB Dwayne Washinton, and DE Payton Turner. Seattle is super thin at running back but nobody was listed as out that we didn’t already know about, but Alex Collins is now questionable. Jameis Winston is 1-1 against Seattle in his career with very respectable numbers across those games and if this were the Drew Brees Saints against this Seahawks team, I wouldn’t even think twice. This is an absolute, must-win game for Seattle. If they fall to 2-5 on the season, that’s basically it for their post-season aspirations and they’ve been close with Geno Smith at the helm.

Pick: Seahawks | Vs Spread: Seattle +4.5 | O/U: Over 42.5

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