Week 7 of the NFL brings us some key matchups across the league. The marquee matchup of the week is the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans, both 5-0, squaring off on Sunday afternoon.
The meeting of the 4-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 3-2 Las Vegas Raiders should be a good one, as well as Jimmy Garroppolo and the 3-3 San Francisco 49ers taking on the 2-2 New England Patriots.
On Sunday night, a pivotal NFC West showdown takes place as the 4-2 Arizona Cardinals host the 5-0 Seattle Seahawks. Then on Monday night, the 5-1 Chicago Bears play underdog yet again, this time to the 4-2 Los Angeles Rams in a game that could affect the NFC playoff race.
MVP Watch: Quarter Season
Week 1: 10-6
Week 2: 11-5
Week 3: 8-7-1
Week 4: 10-5
Week 5: 7-7
Week 6: 10-4
Overall: 46-30-1 (61% correct)
Last week I incorrectly predicted:
- Vikings over Falcons (saw it as a toss-up but thought Minnesota was better)
- Patriots over Broncos (didn’t see Denver’s upset coming)
- Packers over Buccaneers (TOTALLY didn’t see Tampa Bay coming)
- Rams over 49ers (San Francisco wasn’t looking too hot leading up to this game)
Thursday Night Football
New York Giants (1-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-4-1)
Line: Philadelphia Eagles (-4.0)
Anything goes in this NFC East rivalry, and the Giants will have a chance on Thursday night. But Philadelphia has been generally more competitive this season, nearly pulling off a miracle comeback against the Baltimore Ravens last week. If Daniel Jones plays like he has all season, that means turnovers.
Eagles win 27-17, Eagles win ATS
Sunday Day Games
Detroit Lions (2-3) at Atlanta Falcons (1-5)
Line: Atlanta Falcons (-2.5)
This could be a fun one, with two subpar defenses and two stellar passing games, led by Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan. Conventional wisdom would say the Falcons come in with some momentum after getting their first win: but quite contrary, I expect they’ll show inconsistency with a losing effort.
Lions win 36-20, Lions win ATS
Cleveland Browns (4-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-4-1)
Line: Cleveland Browns (-3.0)
The Browns were blown out by the Steelers 38-7 last week, but still hold a strong 4-2 record. Their first win of the season was a 35-30 victory over this Cincinnati Bengals team. The Bengals haven’t been horrible since then, tying the Eagles, beating the Jaguars, being blown out by the Ravens, and losing by four point to the Colts.
Point being, this game could be a lot closer than people think. I’m probably going to stick with Cleveland, but a Bengals upset wouldn’t surprise me much at all.
Browns win 33-30, PUSH ATS
GAME OF THE WEEK: Pittsburgh Steelers (5-0) at Tennessee Titans (5-0)
Line: Tennessee Titans (-1.0)
There was a couple other contenders for Game of the Week, but having two undefeated teams go at it five weeks in to the season takes the cake. While this matchup was supposed to happen a few weeks ago, it was rescheduled due to the Titans COVID-19 outbreak.
While their records are perfect, neither team’s play has been perfect quite yet. The Titans have only won one game by more than one score, and could have easily lost to the Broncos, Jaguars, and Vikings. The Steelers have less flaws, and a better defense, but were often knocked for having weak wins (last week’s 38-7 win over the then 4-1 Browns was Pittsburgh’s first victory over a team with a wining record.) The Steelers also struggled to put the Broncos and Texans away in five and seven point victories.
Both teams have great offenses, and this should be a fun one on Sunday afternoon. Both teams also tend to play in close games, so this game could be decided in the fourth quarter. I think the Titans luck runs just short, despite a great effort from Derrick Henry.
Steelers win 33-32, Steelers win ATS
Carolina Panthers (3-3) at New Orleans Saints (3-2)
Line: New Orleans Saints (-7.0)
The Carolina Panthers, especially with Christian McCaffrey on the sidelines, are one of the least talked about teams in the NFL. But after ripping off three straight wins prior to a loss to the Chicago Bears, Teddy Bridgewater’s Panthers are a dangerous team.
I would almost pick them to upset an up-and-down New Orleans Saints team, but I like Brees and Payton at home where they’re 2-1 this season. Carolina is also 2-1on the road, however. While I won’t pick the Panthers outright, they could definitely cover the seven-point spread.
Saints win 26-23, Panthers win ATS
Buffalo Bills (4-2) at New York Jets (0-6)
Line: Buffalo Bills (-12.5)
The Bills had a tough couple weeks, dropping back-to-back games against the Titans and Chiefs to tarnish their previously undefeated record. Luckily, the competition couldn’t get softer in Week 7, as the Bills take on the abysmal New York Jets. Sam Darnold is expected back under center, which may help the Jets eclipse 10 points on Sunday.
Bills win 27-10, Bills win ATS
Dallas Cowboys (2-4) at Washington Football Team (1-5)
Line: Dallas Cowboys (-1.0)
This game is a toss-up for all the wrong reasons. Rather than two good teams going back and forth, this will be a struggle to see which team can avoid beating themselves the most.
Dallas’ defense is all-time bad, evidenced by their 38-10 loss against the Arizona Cardinals last week. Washington showed some good things in their 20-19 loss to the New York Giants, but it was more a case of New York beating themselves.
I feel like Dallas is the safer pick here, and Andy Dalton should be better in his second start with the team. But it’s a very low confidence pick for the Cowboys, perhaps even lower than when I picked the Giants over Washington last week.
Cowboys win 27-24, Cowboys win ATS
Green Bay Packers (4-1) at Houston Texans (1-5)
Line: Green Bay Packers (-3.5)
Despite the disparity in records, this could actually be a close one. The Texans have had a brutal schedule, filled with one-score losses. The Packers have beat up on some bad teams, and were shocked by the Buccaneers in Week 6 with a 38-10 loss.
I probably won’t pick Houston to win, but I could see a fun game with Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson trading shots. Houston is averaging over 24 points per game, while Green Bay averages 27 points per game. Add in some less than stellar defenses, and I could see yet another shootout this weekend.
Packers win 34-27, Packers win ATS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2) at Las Vegas Raiders (3-2)
Line: No Line (COVID-19)
Originally slated for Sunday Night Football, Buccaneers-Raiders has moved to the 4:05 PM ET timeslot and could move again, pending further COVID-19 testing within the Raiders organization. A Monday or Tuesday night matchup could still be possible.
But as long as the game is played this week, the pick remains unchanged. The Raiders have some of the most impressive wins in the NFL, outdueling both the Saints and Raiders. But with a 14-point loss to the Patriots and 7-point loss to the Bills, they’ve failed to show consistency. The only constant has been their poor defense: with 30, 24, 36, 30, and 32 points allowed in their first five games.
The Buccaneers defense has been largely stout, allowing just 20.3 points per game and only allowing one opponent to go over 30 points.
When I started writing this pick, I wanted to go with Las Vegas. They have good offense, play well against good teams, and I’m not sold on the Buccaneers as a dominant, elite team just yet. But they’re pretty good, and over the course of writing this pick (mostly realizing how bad Las Vegas’ defense has been) I’ve talked myself into a Tampa Bay victory.
Buccaneers win 31-26
San Francisco 49ers (3-3) at New England Patriots (2-3)
Line: New England Patriots (-2.0)
Man, Week 7 is just chok full of good games. In this matchup, former New England Patriots backup quarterback and reigning NFC champion Jimmy Garroppolo returns to Gilette Stadium. Of course, he’s not taking on his mentor, Tom Brady, but rather Cam Newton, another quarterback who once represented the NFC in the Super Bowl.
Newton lost Super Bowl 50 to the Denver Broncos, and failed to get it done against Denver again in Week 6. Through five weeks, the Patriots have both good and bad games, and it’s hard to gauge exactly where they are right now.
And yet, the 3-3, injury-plagued 49ers may be even harder to gauge. Their first two wins came against the New York Jets and Giants, two of the league’s weakest teams. In Week 5, they lost 43-17 to the Miami Dolphins in a game that Jimmy G started. But then lat week, they defeated the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday Night Football.
The more I write about a pick, the more torn I am. I love how the Patriots played against the Dolphins, Seahawks (even in a losing effort,) and Raiders. If New England can get back to that play style, they should be able to win the game.
I think this will be a classic, smashmouth football game with a lot of yards gained on the ground by both teams, and a low score by today’s league standards.
Patriots win 20-17, Patriots win ATS
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) at Los Angels Chargers (1-4)
Line: Los Angeles Chargers (-7.5)
Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers are well overdue for a win, after losing to the Saints, Buccaneers, Panthers, and Chiefs, all in one-score affairs. I think the Chargers are the far better team here.
Chargers win 30-15, Chargers win ATS
Sunday Night Football
Seattle Seahawks (5-0) at Arizona Cardinals (4-2)
Line: Seattle Seahawks (-3.5)
Flexed into the Sunday Night slot, Seahawks-Cardinals is a juicy NFC West matchup. Seattle is 5-0, and has topped my NFL Power Rankings for the past two weeks. Still, there are legitimate concerns about the Seahawks defense and their need to outscore their opponents in one-score games. Four of Seattle’s five victories have come by a score or less, with last Sunday’s 27-26 win over the Vikings representing the tightest margin possible.
Russell Wilson (my MVP front-runner) is leading the Seahawks to an NFL-high 33.8 points per game. But their defense is giving up 27 points per game, and has to buckle down in order to put less pressure on the offense to be so high-scoring every week.
The Arizona Cardinals appeared to have a breakout win in Week 1 over the 49ers, but San Fransciso’s struggles this season make the win a little less impressive. Beating Seattle at tying them in the win column would be a huge advancement for Kyler Murray and the Cardinals.
But to keep it simple, I expect what we’ve been seeing all season: a close, high-scoring game, where the Seahawks come out on top.
Seahawks win 27-24, Seahawks win ATS
Monday Night Football
Chicago Bears (5-1) at Los Angeles Rams (4-2)
Line: Los Angeles Rams (-6.0)
For the second straight week, the Chicago Bears play the underdog to a team with less wins than them. The Rams are at home, but the six-point spread suggests the Rams would be three-point favorites even in a neutral site. The Bears continue to get little to no respect despite a 5-1 record with recent wins over the Buccaneers and Panthers.
The Rams bullied the NFC East for all four of their wins this season, dropping two games to the Bills and Chiefs. Los Angeles appears to be a resurgent team after a down year, but it’s too early to tell just how good they are.
This game could really go either way, but I’ll give the Bears the respect they should have by now and pick them to win on Monday night.
Bears win 23-20, Bears win ATS
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