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Week Seven Picks

October 17th, 2019

I don’t know.

Maybe I shouldn’t complain about 9-5. Picking straight up, I mean. My 9-5 record picking against the spread in week six feels pretty good (as it can when you have no actual money at risk — gambling is losing, kids). But 9-5 straight up? That’s not gonna cut it.

Through the first six weeks of the season, I stand at 60-31-1 (.658) straight up, 46-45-1 (.505) with the points.

And now that I’ve bellyached about 9-5, I’m probably heading for something like 4-10 in week seven.


Here’s what not to expect

Kansas City (-3) at Denver
Ugh. Taking the road team on a Thursday night is always problematic. But taking the Chiefs to drop a third straight game against a Broncos team that probably shouldn’t be in a position to try to win a third straight is problematic, too. I’m going to say Kansas City by a point, which at least makes it really hard for me to get this one wrong across the board.

Arizona (+3) at NY Giants
I suspect there’s going to be a lot of folks picking the underdog here. I won’t be one of those. We know that neither of these teams can beat a good opponent. I’m not sure the Cardinals can handle even a mediocre one. New Jersey by four.

Houston (+1) at Indianapolis
The Texans are the better team in this match. The Texans are going to win the AFC South title. But the Texans aren’t better than the Colts by all that significant a margin. And Houston is on the road for the second straight week and coming off a hard-fought victory in Kansas City while Indianapolis has had two weeks to rest up following their big win in KC. I think this one just lines up right for Indy. Colts by a field goal.

Miami (+17) at Buffalo
Every time I think I’ve got a handle on just how bad the Dolphins are, I find out they’re worse still. Bills by 20.

Minnesota (-1) at Detroit
Two things I think I’m done with: thinking the Lions will win games just because they should win them; thinking the Vikings will lose games just because they should lose them. Minnesota by six.

Oakland (+5.5) at Green Bay
Sooner or later, the balls are going to stop bouncing Green Bay’s way, and then things are going to get ugly. But not this weekend. Packers by a touchdown.

Jacksonville (-4) at Cincinnati
The Jaguars appear to have started thinking about next year. I have no idea what the Bengals are thinking about, and I suspect neither do they. Jaguars by nine.

LA Rams (-3) at Atlanta
Will Jalen Ramsey make his Rams debut this weekend? Do you think it matters? (Well, OK, maybe it matters a little bit. But not much.) Los Angeles by six.

San Francisco (-9.5) at Washington
The Racists sort of beat the Dolphins last week. So that’s, you know, sort of nice for them. Niners by 21.

LA Chargers (+2) at Tennessee
I’m not sure the Titans are bad enough to lose to the Chargers. Tennessee by a point.

New Orleans (+3) at Chicago
The Bears defense should be able to bring this one in. Chicago by four.

Baltimore (+3.5) at Seattle
The Ravens really excel at beating the snot out of bad teams. The Seahawks excel at slugging it out and finding ways to win against any team the schedule puts across the line of scrimmage from them. Seattle by two.

Philadelphia (+3) at Dallas
Which slightly better than average team will take the lead in the NFC East race? If they can manage to hold on to the ball, it should be the one playing at home. Cowboys by three.

New England (-9.5) at NY Jets
The predictive stats may not tell as definitive a story as usual given that the Jets have Sam Darnold back. But let’s have a look just the same: Passer rating differential, Patriots +30; scoring differential, Patriots +17.9; takeaway-giveaway differential, Patriots +8. How much of that does Darnold change? I’m not sure. Some. But let’s say instead of the Jets team passer rating, we looked at Darnold’s. And since the 2019 sample size is rather small, let’s split the difference between his 2019 passer rating and his career passing rating. That alone gives us to Patriots +27. Not much of a help, I’m afraid. He should affect scoring. And he might affect some aspects of defensive performance (like, if he can keep the offense on the field). But it’s not going to help that much. Shall we assume that might pull the differential down to Patriots +14? And even if you halve the takeaway-giveaway (which would be a crazy thing to do), you still land at Patriots +4. None of that screams Jets victory. And neither does the fact that the Patriots will be playing on 10 days rest. So, yeah, let’s be conservative and say Patriots by 13.

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