The 5-1 New England Patriots will take part in the marquee game of NFL Week 7, traveling to Pittsburgh to face the 4-2 Steelers. Although this contest has lost a bit of its luster due to the absence of Ben Roethlisberger, it is still the best matchup of the week. With elite players such as Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown that are capable of making defenders look foolish, Pittsburgh is still a formidable foe even without Big Ben.
The winner of this game will hold a very early lead in pursuit of home field advantage for the AFC playoffs. The game kicks off at 4:25 pm eastern time and will be televised nationally on CBS, with the exceptions of Atlanta and San Francisco.
In the early time slot there are a few compelling games to check out. On FOX the undefeated Minnesota Vikings go on the road to face the Eagles, and New Orleans is at Kansas City. The Bills and Dolphins renew their AFC East rivalry in south Florida on CBS; the Patriots will play at Buffalo next week. The two prime time games should be competitive as well. Sunday night Arizona hosts the Seahawks, and then Houston is at Denver in a battle between two AFC contenders on Monday night.
NFL Week 7 Early NFC Games
★★ 3-3 New York Giants ‘at’ 3-3 Los Angeles Rams in London
Sunday, October 23 at 9:30 am ET on NFLN; Kevin Harlan and Dan Fouts
Giants -2½ . . . . over/under 44½ . . . . NYG -145, LAR +125
Broadcast in all markets.
An already good Ram defense gets better with the return of DE Robert Quinn from a shoulder injury. Between injuries to their running backs and poor play up front the Giants’ rushing game is non-existent. Getting pressure without having to blitz will allow LA to cover New York’s receivers better than Baltimore did last week.
Prediction: Rams 27, Giants 17
Rams +2½ (two units). . . . . under 44½ . . . . . Los Angeles +125
Final Score: Giants 17, Rams 10 x
Rams +2½ xx . . . . under 44½ ✓ . . . . Rams +125 x
★★★★ 5-0 Minnesota Vikings at 3-2 Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, October 23 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman and Erin Andrews
Vikings -2½ . . . . over/under 39½ . . . . MIN -155, PHI +135
Broadcast in New England, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, Las Vegas NV, New Mexico, New York (except Buffalo and NYC), Charlotte NC, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee (except Nashville), Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Minnesota is no fluke, possessing the best defense in the NFL. As expected Philadelphia rookie RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who is subbing for suspended starter Lance Johnson, struggled last week. That’s a situation that Viking head coach will be able to exploit. The Vikes would surely like to help teammate Sam Bradford stick one to his former team after casting him off as an afterthought.
Prediction: Vikings 20, Eagles 13
Vikings -2½ (one unit) . . . . . under 39½ . . . . . Minnesota -155
Final Score: Eagles 21, Vikings 10 x
Vikings -2½ x . . . . under 39½ ✓ . . . . Vikings -155
★★★ 4-2 Washington Redskins at 3-3 Detroit Lions
Sunday, October 23 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Justin Kutcher, Charles Davis and Chris Speilman
Lions -1½ . . . . over/under 49½ . . . . DET -125, WAS +105
Broadcast in DC, Michigan, North Carolina (except Charlotte), Virginia and West Virginia.
Washington has won four straight after stumbling out of the gate. Does that mean that the Skins are better right now, or due for a stinker? Detroit has been up and down all season thus far. This one is really tough to call. With hesitation I will give a slight lean to the team on the winning streak.
Prediction: Redskins 27, Lions 24
Redskins +1½ . . . . . over 49½ . . . . . Washington +105
Final Score: Lions 20, Redskins 17 x
Redskins +1½ x . . . . over 49½ x . . . . Redskins +105 x
NFL Week 7 Early Inter-Conference Game
★★★★ 2-3 New Orleans Saints at 3-2 Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, October 23 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Kenny Albert, John Lynch and Pam Oliver
Chiefs -6 . . . . over/under 50½ . . . . KAN -240, NOR +200
Broadcast in Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Nebraska.
The Saint offense ranks second in the NFL, averaging 31.0 points per game. However, their problem once again is a shoddy defense that ranks near the bottom in just about every category. Jamaal Charles should be back at full strength, giving KC a potent 1-2 punch out of the backfield along with Spencer Ware (5.3 yards per carry). The Chief defense is still not the same with OLB Justin Houston remaining on PUP, but is far superior to the swiss cheese New Orleans D.
Prediction: Chiefs 34, Saints 27
Chiefs -6 . . . . . over 50½ (one unit) . . . . . Kansas City -240
Final Score: Chiefs 27, Saints 21 ✓
Chiefs -6 -push- . . . . over 50½ x . . . . Chiefs -240 ✓
NFL Week 7 Early AFC Games
★★ 0-6 Cleveland Browns at 2-4 Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday, October 23 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Andrew Catalon, Steve Beuerlein and Steve Tasker
Bengals -10 . . . . over/under 45 . . . . CIN -500, CLE +400
Broadcast in eastern Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.
Only two teams are giving up more points (29.3 per game) than Cleveland. The Browns just don’t come up big in the clutch allowing opponents to score touchdowns in 73% of their red zone possessions. Cincinnati is not performing well in the red zone either. The Bengals rank 28th on offense (8/19, 42%) and 27th on defense (13/19, 68.%) in the red zone. On paper Cincy should win this game easily. It will be interesting to see how the Bengals respond to last week’s loss at New England. With Ben Roethliberger out, this is a golden opportunity to make a run for the AFC North title.
Prediction: Bengals 30, Browns 23
Browns +10 (one unit) . . . . . over 45 . . . . . Cincinnati -500
Final Score: Bengals 31, Browns 17 ✓
Browns +10 x . . . . over 45 ✓ . . . . Bengals -500 ✓
★★★ 4-2 Buffalo Bills at 2-4 Miami Dolphins
Sunday, October 23 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Tom McCarthy and Adam Archuleta
Bills -2½ . . . . over/under 44½ . . . . BUF -140, MIA +120
Broadcast in south and central Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, western New York and Rhode Island.
Since Ryan Tannehill became Miami’s starting quarterback Buffalo has dominated this series, winning six of the last eight games. The Bills are plainly superior on both the offensive and defensive line, even without NT Marcell Dareus. Miami’s offensive line is getting healthier and Buffalo RB LeSean McCoy may not play due to a hamstring injury. Still, the best hope for Miami is for the Bills to be looking ahead to next week’s game against the Patriots. Rex Ryan’s crew is due for an unexpected loss.
Prediction: Dolphins 20, Bills 17
Dolphins +2½ . . . . . under 44½ . . . . . Miami +120
Final Score: Dolphins 28, Bills 25 ✓
Dolphins +2½ ✓ . . . . under 44½ x . . . . Dolphins +120 ✓
★★★ 4-2 Oakland Raiders at 2-3 Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, October 23 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green and Jamie Erdahl
Jaguars -1½ . . . . over/under 47½ . . . . JAC -115, OAK +105
Broadcast in Alabama, northern Florida, Georgia (except Atlanta), Michigan, Mississippi, Wisconsin, and everywhere west of the Mississippi River (with the exception of Houston and Kansas City).
The Oakland defense ranks last in yards allowed (445 per game), last in passing (8.9 yards per attempt and 313 yards per game), last in yards per play (6.9), 31st in opponent red zone possessions (4.7 per game) and 30th in run defense (4.8 yards per carry). Somehow the Raiders have clamped down in the clutch however, holding the opposition to 53.6% red zone touchdowns (16th) and 4.2 third down conversions per game (5th). Jacksonville cannot run the ball though, and Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree should be able to get open early and often against the Jaguar secondary. Trivia: the last time these two met was three years ago. The quarterbacks then were Terrelle Pryor and Chad Henne, and the running backs were Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew.
Prediction: Raiders 28, Jaguars 24
Raiders +1½ . . . . . over 47½ (one unit) . . . . . Oakland +105
Final Score: Raiders 33, Jaguars 16 ✓
Raiders +1½ ✓ . . . . over 47½ ✓ . . . . Raiders +105 ✓
★★ 2-4 Indianapolis Colts at 3-3 Tennessee Titans
Sunday, October 23 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Spero Dedes and Solomon Wilcots
Titans -3 . . . . over/under 48 . . . . TEN -175, IND +155
Broadcast in Atlanta GA, Illinois, Indiana, western Kentucky, Tennessee and Houston TX.
Colt owner Jim Irsay says that criticism of GM Ryan Grigson is unjust. No mention that the only draft pick Grigson has got right was the no-brainer for Andrew Luck after the team tanked in order to obtain the number one overall pick in the draft. Grigson whined about the contract that he himself gave to Luck, leaving him little money to spend under the salary cap. Perhaps Grigson should look at how franchises like Pittsburgh and Green Bay get it done year after year rather than attempting to frame a team he can’t beat.
Irsay went on to say that with a few bounces the Colts could be 6-0. While that might be true, what is more probable than not is that with a few bounces Indy could be 0-6. You know it is time for the owner to just shut up and go away when Antonio Cromartie makes a more coherent and intelligent comment than Irsay.
Prediction: Titans 30, Colts 24
Titans -3 . . . . . over 48 . . . . . Tennessee -175
Final Score: Colts 34, Titans 26 x
Titans -3 x . . . . over 48 ✓ . . . . Titans -175 x
★★ 3-3 Baltimore Ravens at 1-4 New York Jets
Sunday, October 23 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Ian Eagle and Rich Gannon
Jets -2 . . . . over/under 41 . . . . NYJ -130, BAL +110
Broadcast in Connecticut, DC, Maryland, western Massachusetts, eastern New York (Albany, NYC), North Carolina, Pennsylvania (except Philadelphia), South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia.
The Jets are an abysmal 1-5 and the wheels may be falling off. In Todd Bowles’ defense, Gang Green has had to open the season against five teams that made the playoffs last year, and only two home games. Not surprisingly Baltimore’s 3-0 start was a mirage. Despite a relatively easy schedule thus far the Raven offense is averaging just 4.9 yards per play (29th). John Harbaugh didn’t read the NFL rule book last week, apparently thinking that a Cover 2 defense was an illegal formation. End result was a loss to the Giants even though their sole offensive weapon was Odell Beckham.
Prediction: Jets 23, Ravens 17
Jets -2 . . . . . under 41 . . . . . New York -130
Final Score: Jets 24, Ravens 16 ✓
Jets -2 ✓ . . . . under 41 ✓ . . . . Jets -130 ✓
NFL Week 7 Game of the Week
★★★★★ 5-1 New England Patriots at 4-2 Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, October 23 at 4:25 pm ET on CBS; Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Tracy Wolfson
Patriots -7 . . . . over/under 47½ . . . . NWE -310 PIT +260
Broadcast in all markets with the exception of Atlanta and San Francisco.
With Landry Jones under center you can count on Le’Veon Bell running the ball more than the ten times he did last week. Bell is averaging 5.5 yards per carry and 147 yards from scrimmage this year. Jones does not have anywhere near the same ability to pass the ball deep to Antonio Brown that Ben Roethisberger does. That means this game hinges on New England’s ability to neutralize Bell, and prevent the Steeler offense from keeping Brady, Gronk and company on the sidelines.
Prediction: Patriots 30, Steelers 20
Patriots -7 . . . . . over 47½ . . . . . New England -310
Final Score: Patriots 27, Steelers 16 ✓
Patriots -7 ✓ . . . . over 47½ x . . . . Patriots -310 ✓
Other NFL Week 7 Late Games
★★ 2-4 San Diego Chargers at 4-2 Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, October 23 at 4:05 pm ET on FOX; Sam Rosen, Daryl Johnston and Laura Okmin
Falcons -6 . . . . over/under 54½ . . . . ATL -240, SDC +200
Broadcast in Alabama, southern California, parts of Florida (Jacksonville, Miami, West Palm), Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, South Carolina, Baltimore, Buffalo, Nashville and New York City.
Thanks to a stealth negative PR campaign waged by the Chargers and the NFL this off-season, most people don’t think much of DE Joey Bosa. The reality is that his presence has improved the Charger defense. Much of that is due to his play, but equally important is that opponents can no longer focus on stopping OLB Melvin Ingram. Those two are going to have to dominate if San Diego is to have a chance of winning. Nobody has been able to completely neutralize Atlanta’s offense. The Falcons lead the NFL with 33.2 points per game, 442 yards per game and 9.9 yards per pass attempt. Mike McCoy is not a head coach that I have faith in to come up with a game plan to stop Atlanta.
Prediction: Falcons 34, Chargers 27
Falcons -6 . . . . . over 54½ (two units) . . . . . Atlanta -240
Final Score: Chargers 33, Falcons 30 OT x
Falcons -6 x . . . . over 54½ ✓✓ . . . . Falcons -240 x
★ 2-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 1-5 San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, October 23 at 4:05 pm ET on FOX; Chris Myers, Ronde Barber and Jennifer Hale
Niners -1 . . . . over/under 45½ . . . . SFO -115, TAM -105
Broadcast in northern California, Florida (except Jacksonville, Miami and West Palm Beach) and Reno NV.
Neither team has a good defense, but San Francisco is particularly bad. The Niner D is 31st in scoring (30.8 ppg), thanks to a run defense that is giving up 5.0 yards per carry and a jaw-dropping 175 rushing yards per game. The Bucs on the other hand are a team that has never performed well on the west coast (7-28), though to be fair that record was complied under other coaching regimes.
Prediction: Buccaneers 24, 49ers 20
Buccaneers +1 . . . . . under 45½ . . . . . Tampa Bay -105
Final Score: Buccaneers 34, Forty Niners 17 ✓
Buccaneers +1 ✓ . . . . under 45½ x . . . . Buccaneers -105 ✓
NFL Week 7 Night Games
★★★★ 4-1 Seattle Seahawks at 2-3 Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, October 23 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya
Cardinals -1 . . . . over/under 43½ . . . . ARI -120, SEA +100
Broadcast in all markets.
Arizona has been known for their vertical passing game and not much of a running game in recent years. 2016 is different though, with RB David Johnson shouldering the load for the Cardinals. Johnson leads the NFL with 833 yards from scrimmage, with 568 rushing yards and 265 receiving for an average of 139 yards per game. Arizona would love to put an end to reporters questions about being outscored by Seattle 105-34 in their last three games in Phoenix, but the Seahawks are a worthy adversary. Russell Wilson has thrown 158 passes without an interception. After a slow start (15 points in two games) the Seattle offense has gelled; the Seahawks have averaged 30 points in their last three games.
Prediction: Seahawks 23, Cardinals 20
Seahawks +1 . . . . . under 43½ . . . . . Seattle +100
Final Score: Seahawks 6, Cardinals 6 (OT) -tie-
Seahawks +1 ✓ . . . . under 43½ ✓ . . . . Seahawks -100 -push-
★★★★ 4-2 Houston Texans at 4-2 Denver Broncos
Monday, October 24 at 8:30 pm ET on BSPN; Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden and Lisa Salters
Broncos -8 . . . . over/under 40½ . . . . DEN -360, HOU +300
Broadcast in all markets.
While the headlines will focus on Brock Osweiler returning to Denver, the primary focus should be on the Broncos’ impotent offense. Denver has managed to score only 29 combined points in their last two games, and both were against mediocre defenses. Unfortunately for Houston their defense has been ravaged with injuries and they just don’t have enough firepower on offense to overcome that fact.
Prediction: Broncos 23, Texans 17
Texans +8 . . . . . under 40½ . . . . . Denver -360
Final Score: Broncos 27, Texans 9 ✓
Texans +8 x . . . . under 40½ ✓ . . . . Broncos -360 ✓
★★ 1-5 Chicago Bears at 3-2 Green Bay Packers
Thursday, October 20 at 8:30 pm ET on CBS; Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Tracy Wolfson
Packers -7½ . . . . over/under 46½ . . . . GNB -350, CHI +290
Broadcast in all markets.
Prediction: Packers 27, Bears 13
Packers -7½ (one unit) . . . . . under 46½ . . . . . Green Bay -350
As expected, the Packers were able to take care of business at home. The Bears simply do not have the talent level or depth to compete against better teams.
Final Score: Packers 26, Bears 10 ✓
Packers -7½ ✓ . . . . under 46½ ✓ . . . . Packers -350 ✓
3-Team Parlay (one unit): x
Chargers at Falcons over 54½ ✓
Rams +2½ vs Giants x
Vikings -2½ at Eagles x
4-Team 6-Point Teaser (two units): xx
Chargers at Falcons over 48½ ✓
Vikings +3½ at Eagles x
Raiders at Jaguars over 41½ ✓
Rams +8½ vs Giants ✓
Tale of the Tape
The only downside to Week Six was that neither of my top picks were winners. A four-team teaser was a big payoff, comprised of the Pats (vs Bengals), Cowboys (at Packers) and Bills (at Rams) all winning outright, while the Falcons (at Seahawks) covered easily. Worst predictions were Pittsburgh (-7) at Miami and Raiders (-2½) versus Chiefs.
Week 6 Results:
11-4 Straight Up
10-4-1 Against the Spread
2-unit plays: 0-2, -280
1-unit plays: 8-0-1, +790
3-Game Parlay: 1u, 0-1, -110
4-Game Teaser: 3u, 1-0, +900
17 units invested
9-3-1, +1300 on $1870 risk
Year to Date Results:
50-42 Straight Up
52-38-2 Against the Spread
3-unit plays: 2-5-1, -1080
2-unit plays: 16-9, +1380
1-unit plays: 24-8-1, +1510
Parlays: 1-3, +270
Teasers: 3-1, +1690
46-26-2, +3770 on original $2310 risk.
163.2% ROI on original $2310 bankroll.
28.6% ROI on $13,200 (120 units) of total weekly investments.
9-3-1, +1300 on 17 units (+69.5%) in Week 6.
7-7, +50 on 22 units (+2.1%) in Week 5.
9-2, +1910 on 18 units (+96.5%) in Week 4.
3-9-1, -1280 on 22 units (-58.2%) in Week 3.
9-3, +950 on 20 units (+43.2%) in Week 2.
9-2, +840 on 21 units (+36.4%) in Week 1.
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