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NFL Week 7 Picks Against The Spread

Unstoppable again: Derrick Henry's three touchdowns power Titans comeback  in Seattle - The Boston Globe
(The Boston Globe)

As crazy as it sounds, we are nearing the halfway point in the NFL schedule. Week 7 showcases some interesting match-ups, and some games that could get ugly quick (Texans at Cardinals, Lions at Rams). Here are four picks against the spread that I feel (somewhat) confident in.

Bengals at Ravens (-6.5)

In Joe Burrow’s one and only game against the Ravens last year, his Bengals were handed a 27-3 beatdown. Burrow threw for under 200 yards, no touchdowns, an interception, and was sacked 7 times in that game. This year’s Bengals team, however, is night and day from last year’s. In fact, they’ve already reached their 2020 win total of 4 and are surprising contenders in the AFC North.

The main difference is the defense, which ranks 6th against the run (3.9 ypc) compared to 31st last year (5.1 ypc). That’s huge against an elite rushing attack like Baltimore. The secondary and pass rush have improved as well with the additions of Trey Hendrickson and Chidobe Awuzie. On offense, Joe Burrow’s had an outstanding year despite a few bad mistakes, and Ja”Marr Chase is the clear favorite to win OPOY. He’s 4th in the league with 553 yards through the air and is averaging a sizzling 20.5 yards per catch.

Despite Lamar Jackson’s heroic year thus far, I think the Bengals keep this one tight against a banged up Ravens squad.

Pick: Bengals

Final Score: Ravens 27, Bengals 24

Panthers at Giants (+3)

The Panthers could join the Broncos as the second team to start 3-0 and drop to 3-4. The defense has come back down to earth the last few games, but a matchup with the injury-riddled Giants is a perfect opportunity for a bounce back game. The G-Men will be without Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Andrew Thomas on offense, while Sterling Shephard, Darius Slayton, and Evan Engram are listed as questionable. Even when healthy, this isn’t an offense that will light up the scoreboard (19 ppg). Add to that all of the injuries, and this Carolina defense should be licking their chops.

Sam Darnold, similar to the defense, has taken significant steps back in the last few weeks. Fortunately for him and this offense, they won’t need to score much to win this game. With Christian McCaffrey still out, look for Chuba Hubbard to step up in a big way against a Giants defense that has been vulnerable to the run.

Pick: Panthers

Final Score: Panthers 20, Giants 13

Chiefs at Titans (+4)

This will feel like one of those classic 55-52 Big 12 games. With two elite-level offenses and subpar defenses (to say the least), stops will be hard to come by. Stopping the run is key when you’re trying to defend a guy like Derrick Henry, and that’s not good news for a Chiefs defense that is giving up over 5 yards per carry. You can stack the box all you want, but all that does is set up play action for Ryan Tannehill to find A.J. Brown and Julio Jones.

On the other side of the ball, Patrick Mahomes will certainly “get his” as they say. He’s been a little too friendly with the ball this year, but this is a banged up Titans secondary that ranks 27th in the league against the pass. I expect Mahomes, Kelce, and Hill to be clicking on all cylinders on Sunday.

In what feels like a game that will come down to the last possession, I’ll take the team that’s getting points at home. In fact, I think the Titans find a way to win outright.

Pick: Titans

Final Score: Titans 35, Chiefs 34

Saints at Seahawks (+4)

Not only are the Saints coming off a bye, but they’re getting some key pieces back, especially on defense. Kwon Alexander, Ken Crawley, and Marcus Davenport are all expected to return to a defense that ranks 1st against the run and 4th in points allowed. Rashaad Penny returns, but Chris Carson remains on IR. I expect the Saints to shut down Seattle’s run game, making life tough on Geno Smith and the passing attack. On the other side of the ball, Jameis Winston should be pretty comfortable in the pocket against a weak Seattle pass rush. Alvin Kamara hasn’t had the season that I was expecting from him, averaging just 3.9 yards per carry with only 113 receiving yards. I think his breakout game comes Monday night.

Don’t be surprised if Sean Payton’s Saints dominate the line of scrimmage and control this game from start to finish. I think New Orleans will take care of a Russell Wilson-less Seahawks team, and I think they’ll do it handily.

Pick: Saints

Final Score: Saints 24, Seahawks 13

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