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Week Seven Picks

October 21st, 2017

Well, I underestimated the Raiders — overestimated the Chiefs? both? — and now I find myself starting week seven in an 0-1 hole both straight up and against the spread.

That bodes well, doesn’t it?

Here’s what not to expect on Sunday and Monday.

Tennessee (-6) at Cleveland
One might think a team that went 1-15 in 2016 had bottomed out. The Browns seem determined to belie that notion. Tennessee by 10.

Jacksonville (-3.5) at Indianapolis
The Colts can’t score and can’t stop opponents from scoring. I’m pretty sure that’s a bad combination. Add in an inability to hold on to the ball and you’ve got real problems when you have to face the Jaguars. Jacksonville by six.

Cincinnati (+5.5) at Pittsburgh
Even when the Bengals are playing well, they have trouble with the Steelers. And the Bengals are not playing well this season. Pittsburgh by a touchdown.

Baltimore (+5.5) at Minnesota
The Ravens have been undone this season by their defense’s inability to stop the run and their quarterback’s poor play. Those factors killed the Ravens in their own building against the Bears a week ago. I can’t see how they don’t take a similar toll in Minnesota this weekend. Vikings by 10.

NY Jets (+3) at Miami
Remember how last week people were talking about how the Jets were playing the Patriots for first place in the AFC East? That’s pretty funny, huh? This week, the Jets get to solidify their position at the bottom of the AFC East standings with a narrow loss to the Dolphins. Miami by a point.

Tampa Bay (+3) at Buffalo
The Bills are rested. The Bucs are hurt. Buffalo by four.

Carolina (-3) at Chicago
Can the Bears pull off an upset victory for a second straight week? Only if the Panthers leave their run defense in Charlotte. Carolina by six.

New Orleans (-4.5) at Green Bay
I’m certain that Brett Hundley‘s going to be able to do enough in the Packers offense to win his fair share of games. But winning this one would take a contribution from the Green Bay defense that I have no reason to believe is a real possibility. New Orleans by seven.

Arizona (+3.5) vs. LA Rams at Twickenham Stadium, London
It started to look last week like the Cardinals had solved their offensive line troubles. If that’s the case, this is a tougher game for the Rams than one might think. I’m still not certain the Arizona offense can keep up, though. So I’ll take Los Angeles. But I probably wouldn’t give more than a point and I certainly wouldn’t give as much as three and a half.

Dallas (-6) at San Francisco
I don’t see the Cowboys pulling themselves out of the middle of the pack this season. But neither do I see the 49ers pulling themselves off the bottom. Dallas by four.

Seattle (-5) at NY Giants
Home field gives New Jersey a chance to make this game competitive. But I suspect Seattle still finds a way to come out on top. Seahawks by a field goal.

Denver (+1) at LA Chargers
The first of three straight road games for the Broncos is the most winnable of the lot. If Denver keeps the ball on the ground, I think they come out ahead. Broncos by a point.

Atlanta (+3.5) at New England
One gets the feeling that if the Falcons can’t find a way to win this game, their season is likely to spiral out of control quickly. Atlanta comes in on the heels of two consecutive home losses to lesser AFC East opponents (Buffalo and Miami), the latter of which saw them blow a 17-point halftime lead even after having had an extra week to prepare. If they make it three straight while simultaneously failing to exorcise the demons that have lingered since their collapse in Super Bowl LI, the Falcons could end up in a situation where there’s no way for them to regain their confidence. The good news for Atlanta is that New England is beatable. The Patriots already have lost two home games this season. And while the New England defense has looked less horrifyingly bad over the team’s last two games than it did over its first four, it hasn’t exactly turned into a shutdown unit. This game looks like another shootout in the making for the Patriots. And while I expect the Patriots to be able to do just enough to win, yet again, against the Falcons highly suspect D, I’m not foolish enough to believe that the Pats are likely to log a victory that’s either comfortable or convincing. New England by a point.

Washington (-4.5) at Philadelphia
With a win here, the Eagles effectively wrap up the NFC East title. Philadelphia by seven.

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