It was another tough week, as I went 1-4 despite getting some favorable point spreads. The Browns loss was especially painful because they got out to a 20-6 lead and then had four crucial turnovers.
As always, my picks will be separated into five categories. Keep in mind that some game theory could factor into my selections because of the large-field NFL “picks” contest I’m in. For example, I might avoid a game in an attempt to be contrarian if I think a large amount of the field will be on a certain side.
I’m going to include a Thursday night game in my top five selections for the first time this season. Remember that I’ll tweet my five picks for the week before the games begin, so check my Twitter if you want to follow. Here’s what I’m currently thinking for the Week 7 slate.
Sides I’ll use unless there’s an injury
Colts (-1) over Texans: The last time we saw the Colts, they won straight up as double-digit underdogs at Kansas City on a Sunday night. It was one of the biggest surprises of the season, but was made even more impressive with Indianapolis missing key defensive pieces like linebacker Darius Leonard and safety Malik Hooker. The Colts had a much-needed bye to get healthy, and they are expected to get their defensive starters back when they host the Texans this week. I like the spot for the Colts coming off a bye — especially since Houston had to battle in Kansas City last week. I love the coaching matchup for the Colts in this game and will take them at this number.
Sides I’ll likely use
Broncos (+3) over Chiefs: I usually don’t get involved with Thursday games in contests, but I really like this spot for the Broncos. Not only do they have a strong home-field advantage, but road teams on a Thursday night are at a greater disadvantage than they would be during a normal Sunday afternoon game. I also like that the Broncos have won their last two games after starting 0-4, showing that they have heart. On the field, the Broncos should be able to run the ball against a bad Chiefs defense. Kansas City is missing a number of starters, including their left tackle and left guard. Protection has been an issue for Patrick Mahomes and the offense in their last two losses, and that should be a matchup that the Broncos exploit with Von Miller.
Picks I’m considering
Giants (-3) over Cardinals: After the Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray experiment initially got off to a bumpy start, the Cardinals are starting to play better football. The Giants might be a little undervalued here because I think the return of talented RB Saquon Barkley should impact the point spread more. This is an early start for Arizona on the East Coast, so I would lean with the home team in this matchup.
Falcons (+3) over Rams: I might be breaking a promise from last week, but I’m considering Atlanta for at least a contest pick. It’s more of a fade of the Rams and their offense that only gained 3.1 yards per play against the 49ers last week. The Falcons return home after two straight road games, and I’m hoping for one last stand from Dan Quinn to save Atlanta’s season.
Redskins (+9.5) over 49ers: I wasn’t high on the Redskins before the season, but I would’ve been shocked if you told me before the season that they’d be close to double-digit home underdogs against the 49ers. But that’s where we sit in Week 7 with the 49ers at 5-0 and the Redskins being the first NFL team to fire their coach. I can see Washington keeping this game within the number with Case Keenum starting at quarterback and the 49ers coming off a massive win at the Rams last week. My biggest worry about taking the Redskins is 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan possibly wanting to win by a big margin because Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder fired his dad after the 2013 season.
Chargers (+2.5) over Titans: I’m going to take a stand here and say Ryan Tannehill is a downgrade to Marcus Mariota. The benching might be deserved, but I don’t think it’s a lateral move or upgrade like the betting market has indicated. The Chargers are coming off two embarrassing losses at home to the Broncos and Steelers, and they now hit the road, which might be a good thing for a team that is slowly getting healthy on offense. I think the line should be a pick ’em, so I’ll reluctantly consider Los Angeles catching a small number.
Ravens (+3) over Seahawks: This number has gone down a bit despite the Seahawks having a 5-1 record. I would’ve liked the Ravens a lot at +3.5, but +3 will do given the lack of options. I still believe Seattle is not even close to being as good as their record indicates. While Russell Wilson has been the league’s MVP, I’m not a fan of Seattle’s defense and coaching staff. Regression is coming for Seattle, and I’m going to keep fading them.
Jets (+9.5) over Patriots: The Jets have been boosted by Sam Darnold, who helped pull off an upset as touchdown underdogs against the Cowboys last week. The offense is clearly upgraded with Darnold under center, but I also believe he helps out the defense’s morale by sustaining long drives. I hate betting against the Pats, but I like the Jets to cover this number in a game I suspect will be low scoring.
Games I’ll likely avoid
Vikings (-1) at Lions: I think this line is right where it should be. I’m high on the Vikings, but the Lions have impressed me this season, and they could easily be 5-0 if a few breaks went their way. This is a game to sit back and enjoy without having a bet on the line.
Raiders at Packers (-4.5): The Packers are the home team and only giving 4.5 points on the contest line, which seems incredibly short. This indicates that Green Bay is only one point better than Oakland on a neutral field — the same Oakland team that was a seven-point underdog against the Bears on a neutral field in London. But even though the math says the Packers are the play, Green Bay is dealing with injuries to their wide receiver corps AND facing a big scheduling disadvantage with the Raiders coming off a bye. I’m interested to see how this game plays out, but I don’t want part of either side.
Jaguars (-3.5) at Bengals: There’s some temptation to bet on the Bengals in this game, as I don’t believe in Gardner Minshew (despite backing Jacksonville last week) and don’t think he should be a road favorite of over a field goal against anyone other than the Redskins and Dolphins. That being said, I just don’t think taking the Bengals is necessary, even though it’s a tough week.
Games I’ll definitely avoid unless there’s a major injury
Dolphins at Bills (-17): I’m still maintaining my stance that I won’t bet on the Dolphins, and I’m also unlikely to bet on any games involving them. The Bills could be a good team to bet against later this season, but I’m staying away from a game with a hilariously high point spread.
Saints at Bears (-3.5): A lot of people will likely look at the Saints here, but I think this line makes sense. The Jaguars got bet up to -3 against the Saints last week before New Orleans grinded out another straight-up win with Teddy Bridgewater under center. The Bears are a better team than the Jaguars, so I get why the line is over a field goal against the Saints, but I can’t bet on the favorite here in a game with an over/under posted at 38.5.
Eagles at Cowboys (-2.5): It’s one of the marquee games of the week, but I have no opinion on what is going to happen. The Cowboys are trending down, and I don’t want to bet on them, but I also have no desire in taking the Eagles because I don’t trust their secondary.