Picking through the trash: NFL Week 7 Picks

NFL Picks

We are not gamblers. That doesn’t mean we can’t pretend. Some of these choices have actual thought put into them. More of these choices were made with gut, intuition, and a little thing called grit.

Employ these recommendations at your own peril. Gambling is ungentlemanly.

[Home team in caps. All lines per VegasInsider.com consensus. Bye: Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Green Bay]

Buffalo (-4.5) vs. Jacksonville (in London)

Melina Vastola, USA TODAY Sports

Melina Vastola, USA TODAY Sports

Derek: The Jaguars lost to Houston by double digits at home. This is the same Houston team that has been routinely getting smacked around, including a notable loss at home to Matt Hasselbeck’s Colts. Though the Jaguars are London’s Team, I’m back to never picking them unless they’re double digit underdogs. Too bad, since the Bills are so banged up and I’d like to pick against them. I offer my unenthusiastic backing to Buffalo.

Will: Quickie pickies from me this week. Most of these games don’t get my juices running enough to string full sentences together. This first game is one of them. Screw it, I’ll take the Jags.

ST. LOUIS (-6.5) vs. Cleveland

Derek: Former Redskin Jamie Morris set the record for rushing attempts in a game on December 17, 1988, when he rushed for 152 yards on 45 carries against the Bengals. On November 4, 2007, Adrian Peterson set the record for rushing yards in a game when he ran for 296 on 30 carries yards against the Chargers. I bring these figures up for absolutely no reason. Certainly not because Todd Gurley is an incredible running back and his team’s only offensive weapon facing arguably the worst rush defense in the league.

I’m still taking the Browns because I think this spread is too high. It’s entirely possible that the Browns will put 11 guys in the box and make Nick Foles beat them, which is not something he looked capable of doing the last time we saw him. And the Browns offense might be pretty decent. From a fantasy perspective, Travis Benjamin trails only DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, and Larry Fitzgerald in standard points for wide receivers. Gary Barnidge trails only Gronk. If Josh McCown can avoid the crippling interceptions, the Browns have a shot.

Will: The mood in Cleveland have been pretty down recently. Players are anonymously complaining about the defensive scheme, Joe Haden is still out, Mike Pettine’s seat is gradually warming…it’s just the right time for the Browns to be surprisingly competitive. They valiantly cover in a losing effort.

Pittsburgh (???) vs. KANSAS CITY

Derek: This game has no spread at the moment because Ben Roethlisberger’s status is unknown. I’m taking the Steelers either way. This Chiefs offense is in the tank without Jamaal Charles, and Jeremy Maclin could also miss the game with a concussion. Pittsburgh shouldn’t have to score too many points to win.

Will: The. Chiefs. Suck. Steelers.

MIAMI (-4.5) vs. Houston

Derek: I’m all aboard the Dan Campbell bandwagon! DeAndre Hopkins may win the game by himself, but it’s also possible Campbell will have Hopkins in Dolphins jersey before the game is over. Fins cover.

Will: Dan is one of my newest and most cherished heroes. Which is why it’s so hard for me to pick against him. I’m leaning on the ol’ arbitrary “J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins are really good” strategy. Texans!

NEW ENGLAND (-8) vs. New York Jets

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Derek: I have no doubt the Pats will win, but I say the Jets cover. The Pats have played three decent teams (Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Indianapolis) and they won by seven or eight in each game. The Jets have enough talent to hang with New England unless Ryan Fitzpatrick is particularly careless. Plus, these games are usually close. Five of the last six games between these two teams have had a margin of victory of three points or fewer, including all three games in Foxborough.

Will: By all accounts the Jets — at least their defense — are for real, and they oughta be able to hang with New England. I’m not convinced, especially not in Massachusetts. Pats keep rolling.

Minnesota (-2) vs. DETROIT

Derek: The Lions won last week. Nice job! I still think they’re bad. The Vikings are 4-1 against the spread, and the Lions are 1-5. The teams are evenly matched in terms of DVOA, but Adrian Peterson against the poor Lions defense is the deciding factor for me. I’ll take the Vikings.

Will: Can’t even pretend to care about this one. I’ll back Detroit.

Atlanta (-5.5) vs. TENNESSEE

Derek: The Falcons have had 10 days to sit around and think about their upset loss to the Saints. Julio Jones should be closer to full health and Devonta Freeman hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. The Falcons get back to beating up on bad teams.

Will: Yep, Atlanta whoops on the apparently hapless Titans.

WASHINGTON (-3.5) vs. Tampa Bay

Derek: Man, I don’t know. I’m taking Tampa because they’re inexplicably better on the road.

Will: Woof, another showdown. Sure, I’ll go with the Bucs.

INDIANAPOLIS (-4) vs. New Orleans

Derek: The Colts would have been favored by double digits if the Saints had lost to the Falcons. That game did not change my opinion of the Saints. We also saw signs of the Colts offense we were expecting last Sunday night. Indy should have their way with the porous Saints defense. Colts win big.

Will: I’m stupidly picking the Saints for no real reason at all.

SAN DIEGO (-4) vs. Oakland

Derek: It’s the Los Angeles Bowl! So, that probably dashes any sort of home field advantage the Chargers would have had. San Diego defends the pass well, and the Raider running game has fallen off a cliff in recent weeks. I’ll take San Diego.

Will: Meh. Chargers it is.

NEW YORK GIANTS (-3.5) vs. Dallas

Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News

Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News

Derek: Is Matt Cassel really that much better than Brandon Weeden? Because I feel like this spread would be higher if Weeden were participating. Dallas does have the schedule in it’s favor, seeing as the Giants are playing on a short week the Cowboys are coming off their bye. The Cowboys may also unleash Christine Michael in this game, which is something a great many football fans have been waiting for. I just have no interest in betting on this offense until Romo and Dez are back. Giants cover.

Will: This is a decent game, if you don’t mind the whole “Dallas is on their third-string quarterback thing.” It should be a cakewalk for the Giants, but I like the Cowboys to keep it close. 

CAROLINA (-3) vs. Philadelphia

Derek: This is one of the toughest games of the week for me. Carolina could be due for a letdown game, but I’m really not comfortable with backing Sam Bradford. The Panthers are at home and have covered at a higher rate than the Eagles, so I’ll reluctantly back Carolina.

Will: I like the narrative of Chip Kelly finally proving the league wrong more than Cam Newton’s return to glory. Eagles on the road. 

ARIZONA (-8.5) vs. Baltimore

Derek: Remember last week, when I mentioned the Cardinals had been beating up on terrible teams and losing to decent ones? Well, the Ravens are a bad team. And the Cardinals’ margins of victory this year are 12, 25, 40, and 25. Have you seen the Ravens’ pass defense? I expect Arizona to win by a whole, whole bunch.

Will: Um, yes. The Ravens might actually suck. Cardinals big.

Last week

Derek: 7-6-1

Will: 6-7-1

Overall

Derek: 45-42-4

Will: 48-39-4



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