Week 7 of the NFL season has arrived, and we are looking at six key teams on bye this week in the Bills, Cowboys, Chargers, Jaguars, Vikings, and Steelers. However, there are several exciting matchups on the slate this week as well as a few massive favorites to contemplate betting on or against. As always, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter if you disagree with any of my takes. Let’s get into the Week 7 games.
My Week 6 record: 10-4 SU, 8-6 ATS, 4-9-1 O/U
My record overall: 61-33 SU, 53-41 ATS, 45-48-1 O/U
Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns
Thursday, October 21, 2021 at 8:20pm ET
Injuries are piling up for the Browns on both sides of the ball, and it showed on Sunday as they suffered a 37-14 blowout home defeat to the ascendant Cardinals. Baker Mayfield was seen in a sling after the game with his shoulder banged up, and I should have seen it coming that the Cardinals’ pass rush featuring Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt would have put him in a brutal spot with offensive tackles Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills inactive. Running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are all injured as well. At this point, it’s difficult to know how to project the Cleveland offense with just an absurd number of injuries to cope with. The Broncos’ defense got torched on Sunday in allowing 34 points to the Raiders, but they are still allowing just 18.2 points per game, the fourth-fewest in the NFL. I’d be expecting the Cleveland rushing offense to expose a Denver front seven suddenly missing Josey Jewell, Alexander Johnson, Baron Browning, and Bradley Chubb, but that’s not going to happen without Chubb or Hunt.
The Broncos got some positive news on the injury front as Jerry Jeudy might be available to play on Thursday. The second-year wide receiver was expected to have a breakthrough season and form an elite tandem with Courtland Sutton. Teddy Bridgewater is coming off his worst game of the season as he threw three interceptions and had a fumble against the Raiders last week. The return of Jeudy and a matchup against a beatable Cleveland pass defense could be exactly what he needs. The Browns will be without rookie linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah who has been one of their best defensive players, which is clearly to the benefit of the Denver ground game with Javonte Williams starting to break out in his rookie season. Myles Garrett is the biggest concern for Denver against this Cleveland defense, but I’d give Garrett Bolles a great chance of at least slowing Garrett down enough to buy Bridgewater time in the pocket. With Jadeveon Clowney, Malik Jackson, and Mack Wilson all injured, the Broncos should have an easier time running the ball.
Neither of these teams has had good luck as far as injuries go, and it’s hard to imagine the Browns fielding an elite offensive attack with so many key players hurt. Denver’s defense is missing some key pieces, but it still features Von Miller and some excellent secondary talent to slow down Case Keenum without much notice that he will be the starter. Teddy Bridgewater is 23-4 ATS on the road and 5-2 ATS in night games in his career. The Browns opened as 7-point favorites in this game in the lookahead lines, and it’s been bet down significantly. With Vic Fangio coaching for his job at this point and the Browns decimated with injuries, I’m backing the Broncos to get the win.
Matchup To Watch: Garrett Bolles (DEN OT) vs. Myles Garrett (CLE DE)
My Pick: Broncos win 20-17, Broncos cover, under 42.5 points
Week 7 Betting Picks Video
Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans
Sunday, October 24, 2021 at 1:00pm ET
The Titans earned one of the biggest upsets of Week 6 on Monday night as they knocked off the Bills, the consensus-best team in the NFL. Derrick Henry ran all over what was supposedly a much-improved Buffalo front seven as he racked up 20 carries for 143 yards and three touchdowns, while A.J. Brown had seven catches for 91 yards and made a significant impact down the stretch. The game was decided by three points and had seven lead changes, tied for the most in Monday Night Football history. The Titans came away with a huge victory to move their record to 4-2, and they are firmly in the conversation for the best teams in the AFC. This week, their constantly improving offense will face the Chiefs, arguably the worst defense in the NFL. Kansas City’s run defense has been terrible, and Henry should have no problem exploiting that weakness. Ryan Tannehill should also have all day to throw as the Chiefs focus on stopping Henry, particularly if Chris Jones misses another game.
Patrick Mahomes has been incredibly sloppy this season as he already has eight interceptions through six games – his career-high was 12 interceptions in 2018. Mahomes still has a league-leading 18 touchdown passes, but his inconsistency has held back what should be one of the very best offenses in the league. Of course, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are still arguably the best receiver tandem in the NFL, and Darrel Williams ran for two touchdowns on Sunday in relief for Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The Titans’ defense made some big plays on Sunday, but it isn’t exactly set up to slow down the former MVP Mahomes, particularly with the Chiefs’ remade offensive line playing quite well. However, I was very impressed with Mike Vrabel’s game plan on Monday, and that momentum should carry over into this game. Kevin Byard is one of the best safeties in the NFL, and Harold Landry III was massive with two critical sacks in the game on Monday.
Neither of these defenses is quite capable of slowing down the other team’s offense, which should make this a very exciting shootout. The Titans proved that they could overcome a sloppy start to the year on Monday, and they shouldn’t be docked too many points for a loss to the Jets when their team was significantly injured. Kansas City’s offense is still one of the best in the NFL, however, and the Titans got very lucky on Monday night. Derrick Henry is going to run all over the Chiefs’ defense but it doesn’t matter – the Titans have no hope of stopping the Chiefs when they have the ball.
Matchup To Watch: Orlando Brown Jr. (KC OT) vs. Harold Landry III (TEN OLB)
My Pick: Chiefs win 35-28, Chiefs cover, over 57.5 points
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, October 24. 2021 at 1:00pm ET
The Ravens are coming off arguably the win of the season as they completely shut down Justin Herbert and the Chargers. Lamar Jackson’s final stat line wasn’t particularly impressive. Still, he was the engine that drove the Ravens’ offense, and his threat as a rusher allowed Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, and Le’Veon Bell to all finish with rushing touchdowns. Jackson has been a willing passer this season, with the Ravens missing their top two running backs. Marquise Brown is coming off a quiet game, but he’s had some monster performances this year, and Mark Andrews has scored three touchdowns in his last two games. The Bengals, however, quietly have a borderline top-ten defense this season. Chidobe Awuzie has been electric in coverage as an excellent free agency addition, while it’s hard to find a better safety tandem than Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell. Trey Hendrickson has also been a fantastic free agency add and will have the upper hand in a matchup against Alejandro Villanueva with Ronnie Stanley injured.
Joe Burrow will be compared to Justin Herbert for the rest of his career, and while he hasn’t evolved into an elite passer as quickly as Herbert, he’s having an excellent sophomore season. I had concerns about his ability to overcome the mental struggles that inevitably come with the significant injuries he had last year. Still, he’s looked no worse for the wear despite playing behind a mediocre offensive line. Burrow has already thrown for 14 touchdowns in six games, more than he did in ten games last season, and is completing 70.7% of his passes. The emergence of rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase has been exceptionally beneficial to the offense, and he has already scored five touchdowns this year. At the same time, the return of Tee Higgins is significant, as well. Joe Mixon couldn’t handle a full workload on Sunday, but Chris Evans and Trayveon Williams picked up some slack as the Bengals put up 34 points in a rout of a Lions team that nearly beat Baltimore a few weeks ago.
The Bengals are still being slept on as a real playoff contender, and I’d even go as far as to say they may be the biggest threat to the Ravens in the AFC North with how injured the Browns are at the moment. Cincinnati has been excellent this season, and they almost beat Aaron Rodgers and the Packers a couple of weeks ago. Joe Burrow is capable of keeping this game within a touchdown and while the Ravens likely still get the home win, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Cincinnati pull off a big upset.
Matchup To Watch: Mark Andrews (BAL TE) vs. Jessie Bates (CIN S)
My Pick: Ravens win 24-21, Bengals cover, under 46 points
Washington Football Team at Green Bay Packers
Sunday, October 24, 2021 at 1:00pm ET
I expected Washington to have a solid offensive game against what came into the game as the worst defense in the NFL, but they managed to score just 13 points, all of which came in the first half. Taylor Heinecke underwhelmed with just 182 passing yards and a QBR of just 27.9, and Terry McLaurin, who I expected to have a huge game, finished with just four catches for 28 yards. Jaire Alexander is still injured, so McLaurin should have another winnable matchup in this game, but he failed to take advantage last week. Washington was without Samuel Cosmi and Brandon Scherff last week, leaving the right side of their offensive line decimated, and that’s a concern moving forward. Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, and Kenny Clark should put a lot of pressure on Heinecke behind that injured O-line. With Curtis Samuel, Logan Thomas, and Antonio Gibson injured, Washington is dealing with several absences on offense. If they can’t produce against Kansas City, I don’t know how you can trust them to deliver against anyone with their current personnel. This year, Green Bay is allowing the fifth-fewest yards per game, so this is a much more difficult matchup than last week.
I had some concerns about Aaron Rodgers against a potent Bears’ defense. Still, he was incredibly efficient as he completed 73.9% of his passes and threw for two touchdowns with no turnovers to finish with a near-perfect passer rating. Washington’s defense picked off Patrick Mahomes twice last week. Still, Rodgers only has three interceptions all year, but Washington ranks 11th in the NFL against WR1s in DVOA so Davante Adams could be a bit less productive. Green Bay’s offensive line has remained productive without All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari who returned to practice on Monday, but Washington is coming off its best pass-rush performance arguably of the season. If Adams is kept in check and Rodgers is under pressure, I think Washington can do enough to limit what can be a one-dimensional Green Bay offense at times.
I’m very confident in the Packers winning this game, but a 9.5-point spread is enough for me to take Washington against the spread. Aaron Rodgers has led the Packers to a 5-1 ATS record this year, while Washington is just 1-5 ATS on the year, the worst in the NFL, so this is a spot where Green Bay is overvalued and Washington is undervalued. This also feels like a look-ahead game for the Packers as they have the Cardinals and Chiefs coming up on the schedule.
Matchup To Watch: Davante Adams (GB WR) vs. Kendall Fuller (WAS CB)
My Pick: Packers win 28-21, Washington covers, over 48 points
Carolina Panthers at New York Giants
Sunday, October 24, 2021 at 1:00pm ET
We’re looking at two quarterbacks who objectively cost their team their respective games last week in this game. Daniel Jones had a shockingly bad game at home against what had been a beatable Rams’ defense as he threw three interceptions and had a fumble to finish with a QBR in the single digits. Sam Darnold completed just 41% of his passes and, at halftime, was just 5-18 passing for 60 yards. At one point in the game, he had a passer rating of 0.0. Sam Darnold has struggled mightily without Christian McCaffrey in the lineup. While Chuba Hubbard has performed admirably in his absence, CMC is the Carolina offense’s engine, and he has been placed on Injured Reserve. While the Panthers scored 28 points on Sunday, a blocked punt returned for a touchdown was a huge part of that scoring output. Outside of D.J. Moore, the Panthers have struggled to find consistent pass-catchers, which doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.
Daniel Jones’s awful performance certainly didn’t cost the Giants a game they were never going to win against the Rams, but it didn’t help. New York’s offensive line struggled to hold up against the likes of Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd while an injured wide receiver room gave Jones limited pass-catching options. The fact that Dante Pettis had 11 targets should tell you everything you need to know about the state of the Giants’ wide receivers. Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, and Kadarius Toney are all injured at the moment. Offensive tackle Andrew Thomas also left the game on Sunday and he’d be an important player to helping to keep Carolina pass-rushers Brian Burns and Haason Reddick at bay. Sterling Shepard finished with ten catches for 76 yards against the Rams but he faces a tough cornerback crop in Carolina. Last week, I wrote about how I was not totally sold on the Panthers’ defense, and Minnesota proved me right. However, the Giants are in much worse shape offensively heading into this matchup.
The Panthers are somehow the healthier team in this matchup despite being without Christian McCaffrey as the Giants are dealing with injuries to tons of their top players. In this matchup, Carolina’s defense should get back on track with all of the injuries to the New York offense. I’ll come back later in the week to update this preview, but I’m sticking with the Panthers to bounce back and break their sudden three-game losing streak ATS.
Matchup To Watch: D.J. Moore (CAR WR) vs. James Bradberry (NYG CB)
My Pick: Panthers win 24-17, Panthers cover, under 43 points
New York Jets at New England Patriots
Sunday October 24, 2021 at 1:00pm ET
The last time these teams met, the Patriots coasted to a 25-6 win as Zach Wilson threw four interceptions and Mac Jones played a clean, efficient game. I’m expecting the betting public to be all over the Patriots after they pushed the Cowboys to the brink in overtime last week. Jones continues to outproduce the entire rookie quarterback class, but Wilson will come into this game with something to prove. Wilson has played much better in recent weeks. He has benefitted from a full complement of receivers as his improved play has coincided with the reintroduction of Jamison Crowder to the lineup. Crowder provides a reliable safety blanket that makes life a lot easier on the rookie quarterback. Mekhi Becton is still several weeks away from a return. Still, the offensive line is steadily improving as George Fant and Morgan Moses have held down the tackle spots while Alijah Vera-Tucker, the first-round offensive lineman, is already proving to be an excellent draft investment. The bye week came at a perfect time for the Jets as offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur should continue working with Wilson as he gets more comfortable in his rookie season.
The Patriots played their hearts out to make the Cowboys sweat on Sunday, and Mac Jones pushing Dak Prescott and friends to overtime was incredibly impressive. Damien Harris ran all over the Dallas defense to the tune of 101 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, while Kendrick Bourne made New England’s first big play of the season on a 75-yard touchdown reception. Hunter Henry caught another touchdown, his third in three weeks. However, the Patriots continue to play stagnant offense, and their refusal to go for it on fourth down twice late in the game ultimately led to their loss. Jakobi Meyers seems to catch everything that comes his way while the offensive line, while injured, is one of the best in the NFL when healthy. However, Shaq Mason and Trent Brown are not expected to play this week, leaving the O-line lighter against Quinnen Williams and John Franklin-Meyers.
Zach Wilson is steadily improving and should come out firing after the bye week with a full complement of skill position players to support him. The Patriots’ defense is good but also vulnerable to big plays, and the Jets match up pretty well, despite what we saw last time these teams played. I’m not backing the public in this matchup, and I like the Jets to keep this game surprisingly close.
Matchup To Watch: Michael Onwenwu (NE OL) vs. Quinnen Williams (NYJ DL)
My Pick: Patriots win 20-14, Jets cover, under 42.5 points
Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins
Sunday, October 24, 2021 at 1:00pm ET
I had high hopes for Year Two of the Tua Tagovailoa experience, but the NFL world is loudly convinced he is a bust. I’m not at that point, and the Dolphins have much bigger problems than the quarterback position at the moment. The continued absences of DeVante Parker, Will Fuller, and Preston Williams have limited Miami’s passing offense, although rookie Jaylen Waddle is coming off his best game of the year. Waddle finished with ten catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Jaguars and looks like a crucial part of this team’s future. Miami also has one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL that went into Week 6 as Football Outsiders’ fifth-worst unit in terms of pass-blocking. A lack of protection is not what Tagovailoa needs as he transitions to his second offensive system in as many years and attempts to overcome a murky injury history. A matchup against the Falcons, who rank third-worst in the NFL in defensive DVOA, will help Tagovailoa get back on track, mainly if he can get some of his skill position players back in the lineup.
The Falcons are quietly back in the playoff picture in the NFC after wins in two of their last three matchups before their bye week. A matchup against the currently 3-3 Panthers looms in Week 7 as an important one between the two NFC South teams. Atlanta gets back Calvin Ridley this week after he missed the London game against the Jets, and with the Dolphins dealing with injuries to both Byron Jones and Xavien Howard, Ridley could be set up for his best game of the year. Rookie tight end Kyle Pitts broke out with nine catches for 119 yards and a touchdown in London. At the same time, Cordarelle Patterson has scored five combined rushing and receiving touchdowns in a breakout season for the longtime elite return specialist. The Falcons quietly have put together a lot of offensive talent for Matt Ryan to work with, and the bye week should help the veteran QB get more comfortable in Arthur Smith’s offense. Miami’s defense has been one of the worst in the NFL, and I’m expecting Ryan and the offense to come out firing.
I haven’t tried to hide my continued belief in Tua Tagovailoa, but the Dolphins have too many injuries at the moment to have faith in their ability to compete. I don’t understand why the NFL didn’t extend them the usual luxury of a bye week following a game in London. Still, I don’t believe in Brian Flores’s ability to have this team ready to face a well-rested Atlanta team. I’m backing the veteran Matt Ryan to get his team back to .500 against one of the worst defenses in the NFL.
Matchup To Watch: Austin Jackson (MIA OG) vs. Grady Jarrett (ATL DT)
My Pick: Falcons win 30-24, Falcons cover, over 47.5 points
Detroit Lions at Los Angeles Rams
Sunday October 24, 2021 at 4:05pm ET
I understand the desire of some bettors to back the Lions as massive road underdogs, but I can’t get there with Jared Goff. Daniel Jones turned the ball over four times last week, and Jared Goff has had a passer rating under 70 in each of his past two games. Sean McVay knows all of Goff’s worst tendencies as a passer and will help defensive coordinator Raheem Morris exploit the former Rams’ quarterback. It also doesn’t help Goff that the team’s two best offensive linemen, center Frank Ragnow and offensive tackle Taylor Decker, are currently on Injured Reserve. Aaron Donald should feast in a matchup against former undrafted backup center Evan Brown while Leonard Floyd dominates off the edge. D’Andre Swift has been excellent this season, but he and T.J. Hockenson are dealing with nagging injuries that have capped their production this season. Amon-Ra St. Brown has emerged recently, but he’s not going to be enough against the Rams’ defense.
Matthew Stafford could have some nerves facing his old team, but it’s not going to be like Tom Brady heading into Foxborough. Stafford should have all day to throw against a defense missing Romeo Okwara, its best pass-rusher, and Jeff Okudah, its best cornerback. Stafford is having an excellent season with 16 touchdowns to just four interceptions through four games. Darrell Henderson has also emerged as a crucial piece of the offense, and he had 21 carries for 78 yards and two total touchdowns last week. He should run roughshod over the Lions’ poor front seven. Detroit doesn’t have any defensive backs who can hang with Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, either. The Rams’ elite offensive line buoys one of the highest-scoring units in the NFL, and there just isn’t a lot of necessary analysis as LA should score at will in this game.
About 15 points favor the Rams in this game, which is a ton in any NFL game. However, I see this as a terrible matchup for the Lions for several reasons, and Jared Goff delivering in his return to Los Angeles seems very unlikely. The Lions have not taken a snap this season with the lead in a game, and I have the Rams leading wire-to-wire in a dominant win.
Matchup To Watch: Amon-Ra St. Brown (DET WR) vs. Jalen Ramsey (LAR CB)
My Pick: Rams win 38-17, Rams cover, over 50.5 points
Philadelphia Eagles at Las Vegas Raiders
Sunday, October 24, 2021 at 4:05pm ET
I bet on the Eagles to cover against the Buccaneers last week, and they were frankly fortunate to do so. Tampa Bay built a 28-7 lead at one point, and I felt that there was no way the Eagles could force the backdoor cover. However, Jalen Hurts ran for two touchdowns late and helped Philly make the final score look very close. The more significant takeaway for me, though, was that Hurts completed less than 50% of his passes and finished with just a 55.7 passer rating against the Buccaneers’ secondary, the most injured defensive unit in the NFL at the moment. Hurts proves that he’s a far better fantasy football weapon than a real-life passer, and I do not believe he is long for the starting position in Philadelphia. The Eagles now have a mostly healthy offensive line which should help Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell be productive. The matchup between offensive tackles Jordan Mailata and Andre Dillard against Vegas pass-rushers Maxx Crosby, Yannick Ngakoue, and Carl Nassib should be one of the deciding factors in this game. However, even if the Eagles can keep Hurts upright, I’m not confident in his ability to lead a potent offense.
The Raiders went into Denver with every reason to be sluggish and uninspired following the disheartening exit of Jon Gruden from the team’s head coach position. However, interim head coach Rich Bisaccia had the team fired up to stomp the Broncos on the road – Vegas had a 31-10 lead entering the fourth quarter. The Raiders’ new-look offensive line did a surprisingly good job of keeping Derek Carr upright as he was able to throw for 341 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions against a defense that was expected to give him a tough time. Henry Ruggs III had some big plays on his way to three catches for 97 yards and a touchdown while Bryan Edwards, Darren Waller, and Hunter Renfrow round out a talented passing attack. Philly’s secondary has quietly been excellent this season, but I still trust Carr to move the ball against the Eagles more than I do Hurts against the Raiders.
The Eagles seem to be getting their legs under them a bit in recent weeks, but they still lost by multiple scores to the Cowboys and Chiefs not too long ago. The Raiders, meanwhile, have impressive wins over the Ravens and Steelers with a home loss to the Bears and a narrow home win over the Dolphins. I’m still trusting Carr to take care of business at home, but understand that these are two of the most inconsistent teams in football right now.
Matchup To Watch: DeVonta Smith (PHI WR) vs. Casey Hayward Jr. (LV CB)
My Pick: Raiders win 23-22, Eagles cover, under 48.5 points
Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, October 24, 2021 at 4:25pm ET
Week 6 was one of some significant steps forward for Justin Fields as he threw his first career touchdown and made Aaron Rodgers and the Packers sweat for a good chunk of the game. The final stats weren’t particularly impressive for Fields, but the Bears gradually let him open up the offense more. The more significant concern is Fields was sacked four times on Sunday and now has to face the likes of Shaquill Barrett and Vita Vea behind a struggling offensive line. However, the Buccaneers are still without Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Antoine Winfield Jr., and Richard Sherman. Fields could take advantage of the weakened secondary with Darnell Mooney and Allen Robinson capable of making some plays. The Bears expect Damien Williams to be back in the lineup this week, but how much work he sees remains to be seen after rookie Khalil Herbert took 19 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown in a start last week. Regardless, the Bucs have the best run defense in the NFL, and the Bears would be wise to pick on the weak secondary rather than try to run on the elite defensive line.
Several quarterbacks are making their respective cases for MVP this season, but Tom Brady shouldn’t be overlooked. He currently leads the NFL with 2,064 passing yards and is on pace to break Peyton Manning’s record for most passing yards in a season. Brady also leads the NFL in TD:INT ratio with 17 passing touchdowns and just three interceptions. Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin are all having excellent seasons, and the Bears simply don’t have the secondary talent to match up with those wide receivers. Jaylon Johnson will be overwhelmed on the perimeter no matter who he’s covering. That being said, Chicago is one of the few teams that could make Brady’s life somewhat uncomfortable with its pass rush featuring Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn. Still, Leonard Fournette should provide relief for the offense as he has emerged as a crucial piece of the puzzle. Tampa Bay should have no problem putting up points in this game, but we’ve seen them take their foot off the gas for long stretches this season.
The Buccaneers are still dealing with several injuries on defense, and the Bears’ defense can keep Tom Brady from running up the score in this game. Justin Fields should have enough success passing the ball against the injury-riddled secondary to keep the Bears in the game, and a 14-point spread is too much for where these teams are, respectively.
Matchup To Watch: Tristan Wirfs (TB OT) vs. Khalil Mack (CHI OLB)
My Pick: Buccaneers win 23-14, Bears cover, under 47 points
Houston Texans at Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, October 24, 2021 at 4:25pm ET
I continue to be burned by betting against the Cardinals, and I’m not doing it again this week. Even with Kliff Kingsbury unavailable after testing positive for COVID-19, starting center Rodney Hudson out, DeAndre Hopkins dealing with an illness, and Kyler Murray struggling with an injured shoulder, they routed the Browns on the road. Murray is racing towards an MVP award, and he added another four passing touchdowns to his season tally on Sunday. Hopkins caught two of those scores and should be very excited for this revenge match against the Texans. Zach Ertz should be ready to debut for Arizona this week and will join A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, and Rondale Moore in an excellent set of pass-catching talent. Carson Wentz averaged over 20 yards per completion against Houston last week, so Murray should be able to throw all over Houston. The Texans also allowed Jonathan Taylor to run for 10.4 yards per carry last week, so Chase Edmonds and James Conner could be set for massive games.
Davis Mills has been better than expected, but outside of a shockingly outstanding performance against New England, he has thrown for six interceptions to just one touchdown in four other starts. Brandin Cooks has been the lifeblood of the offense, and he finished with nine catches for 89 yards in Week 6, but the lack of proven pass-catchers outside of Cooks has held back the scoring. Rookie Nico Collins had four catches for 44 yards against the Colts last week, and he could pick up a more significant role moving forward. Mills has struggled under pressure, as most rookie passers do, especially behind an abysmal offensive line. J.J. Watt, arguably the best player in Texans’ franchise history, should be fired up to tee off against the team’s poor offensive line and will have great success, especially with offensive tackles Marcus Cannon and Laremy Tunsil on Injured Reserve. The running backs in David Johnson, Mark Ingram, and Phillip Lindsay have been gross and unproductive.
If you’re backing the Texans, it’s rational numbers play as teams that lost by 17 or more points in the week prior playing teams that won by 17 or more points in the week prior are 96-59-4 ATS the following week, covering 62% of the time. You can also make the case that the Cardinals may be caught looking ahead to a Week 8 Thursday Night Football game against the Packers. This is a prime letdown spot for the Cardinals as they’re coming off a mini COVID outbreak and Tyrod Taylor could return this week. It’s gross and I’m not rushing to the sportsbooks to bet on the Texans, but they’re my pick.
Matchup To Watch: DeAndre Hopkins (ARI WR) vs. Terrance Mitchell (HOU CB)
My Pick: Cardinals win 31-17, Cardinals cover, over 47 points
Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, October 24, 2021 at 8:20pm ET
Carson Wentz is starting to get more comfortable the further removed from his sprained ankles, and on Sunday, he threw for 223 yards on just 11 completions. In Week 5, he threw for over 400 yards against a Ravens’ defense that shut down Justin Herbert in the following week. The Colts’ offensive line is also getting healthier as Quenton Nelson could return this week to join Braden Smith and Eric Fisher in a whole starting group for the first time all year. The health of the Indianapolis offensive line will be crucial to this matchup as Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead is arguably the best pass-rushing tandem the Colts have faced or will face all year. Michael Pittman Jr. has emerged as the go-to wide receiver for Wentz as he has 31 catches for 403 yards and a touchdown this year. San Francisco’s secondary has struggled to establish consistency with Jason Verrett out for the year, and Pittman should be very productive in this matchup. A steady diet of Jonathan Taylor on the ground will also be essential to keep the 49ers’ potent pass rush at bay.
It’s unclear who will suit up at quarterback for the 49ers as Jimmy Garoppolo (calf) and Trey Lance (knee) are both nursing injuries. On Monday, Garoppolo practiced, and Lance did not, which could indicate who we will see this week. Garoppolo presents less volatility and arguably lower upside but more consistency and dependability. The Colts have been burned by opposing wide receivers all year, so this sets up as an excellent spot for Deebo Samuel, who has 548 receiving yards, the fifth-most in the NFL despite already having his bye week. Xavier Rhodes, Kenny Moore, and Rock Ya-Sin are not the answer to Samuel’s unique skillset. The 49ers also have one of the best offensive lines in the league anchored by Trent Williams, one of the best players at any position, which will present an intriguing matchup against a solid Colts’ defensive front. Regardless of who the 49ers have at running back, the ground game should be productive, however.
The Colts are much better than their 2-4 record suggests, but they are still facing the fallout of heading into the season with the most injuries in the NFL. It will be tough to trust them until their offensive line is fully healthy, especially against Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead, with Wentz notoriously struggling under pressure. However, Wentz has been playing better recently and the question mark at quarterback for the 49ers is enough for me to back the Colts ATS.
Matchup To Watch: Eric Fisher (IND OT) vs. Nick Bosa (SF DE)
My Pick: 49ers win 26-23, Colts cover, over 42 points
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks
Monday, October 25, 2021 at 8:15pm ET
I can’t say a matchup between Geno Smith and Jameis Winston stands out to me as one I’m particularly excited for, but this game should still present plenty of intriguing narratives. Last week, the Seahawks did well to cover the spread against the Steelers, and Smith proved much more capable against an elite Pittsburgh front seven than I expected. This week, Smith faces another elite defense and one of the best in the NFL in New Orleans. Cameron Jordan leads a stout pass rush that can pressure Geno Smith, while Marshon Lattimore will likely shadow D.K. Metcalf, leaving Tyler Lockett, continuing to be out-of-sync with his new quarterback. Chris Carson’s absence certainly hurts Seattle’s ability to have a semblance of balance, as well, particularly against a stout run defense. Pete Werner has emerged as a strong starter in his rookie season at the linebacker alongside Demario Davis.
The Jameis Winston rollercoaster has been entirely unpredictable this season, and it’s challenging to know which player we will see in any given matchup. When Winston is playing well, he’s capable of leading a high-level offense to pair with an elite defense. When he’s off, he’s throwing interceptions that surrender excellent field position to the other team. New Orleans hopes to get All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas back from injury this week, an introduction that could make a world of difference for the inconsistent offense. Thomas’s reintegration would be great news for everyone involved. New Orleans will also be hopeful that injured offensive linemen Terron Armstead and Erik McCoy will return to the field in this game. The return of those offensive linemen would be huge for Alvin Kamara, who has been unable to make his typically elite impact so far.
Since 2010, the Saints are 8-4 ATS coming off a bye, and the defense should have no problem facing a Geno Smith-led Seahawks offense, even in Seattle. My most considerable hesitation in backing the Saints to cover as road favorites is my lack of belief in Jameis Winston. Over the past few years, Winston’s opponents are 17-8-1 ATS when Winston is the favorite and Winston is also 0-2 on Monday Night Football. I think this ultimately is just too many points for the Seahawks to lay to the Saints on the road, and I’ll take the undervalued Seahawks ATS.
Matchup To Watch: D.K. Metcalf (SEA WR) vs. Marshon Lattimore (NO CB)
My Pick: Saints win 23-20, Seahawks cover, under 44 points