NFL Predictions 2019: Week 7

It felt as if I did a lot better last week, probably because the late Sunday games were an absolute disaster. I started out 6-2 picking winners, but lost four of the five including SNF. Too many bad beats to cover although it really stung to lose both the point spread and over/under when a Green Bay running back did absolutely the right thing by not scoring to put his team ahead 27-22 (I predicted a 28-23 final). I finished 8-6 picking winners (54-37-1 overall) 6-8 against the spread (43-48-1 overall) and 6-8 on the over/under (37-54-1 overall).

Kansas City (4-2) @ Denver (2-4): It’s the moment of truth for the Chiefs. Another loss and Mahomes is hobbling. Now it’s a short week and on the road against a Broncos team with a vicious defense coming off a shutout. Before anyone assumes this is a walkover, last season they played twice in October and the scores were 30-23 and 27-23. Denver can make things very interesting in the AFC West with a surprise win here and for them this is kind of their last stand. Kansas City has been better on the road (3-0) than home (1-2) so maybe this is a good spot for them. A loss drops them out of the division lead in winning percentage and creates chaos. They are beaten up and reeling after losses to the AFC South contenders. Denver has allowed 13 points over the last two games, both wins, but has scored only 36. Teams aren’t generating sacks against the Chiefs (8) and Mahomes has only 1 interception. Their defense can’t stop the run, and the Broncos bring a tandem capable of taking advantage of that weakness. This is a tougher call than it seems. I see the visitors saying enough is enough here. They are going to protect Mahomes who can’t take any more damage to that ankle, and find a way to squeeze out an ugly win: Kansas City 23, Denver 17 (KC -3/under 50.5)

Miami (0-5) @ Buffalo (4-1): Saying the Dolphins are a mess is an understatement. Their comeback fell short on a failed two-point conversion at the end in a 17-16 loss to Washington. Head coach Brian Flores is going back to Fitzpatrick at quarterback and while that makes sense it also goes against what he said days before. Now they are on the road, maybe in the rain and at the very least not great weather against a team starting to gain momentum. The Bills are off an open week starting a three-game home stand. It’s hard to see them as such a huge favorite though considering they have only scored over 21 points once all season. I know their defense is great and has yet to allow more than 17, but can they open it up on offense? Gore is running against his former team having spent a single season in South Florida last year. Buffalo has such a lights out pass defense and Miami can’t run the ball, so a shutout is possible here. I think their offense will take advantage of a team that has no reason to try: Buffalo 28, Miami 6 (BUF -15.5/under 41)

Jacksonville (2-4) @ Cincinnati (0-6): The Bungles are back and worse than ever. They did keep it close last week at Baltimore, even scoring a touchdown late to earn the backdoor cover. This is only their third home game, and first against a team outside the NFC West because the NFL schedules make no sense. I don’t feel like the team has quit on their rookie coach just yet for what it’s worth. The Jaguars have lost a couple tough games the past two weeks against contenders from the NFC South and are fading in their division fast. They have a fun rookie quarterback in Minshew and now it has to translate to wins. The Ramsey saga is over and they got plenty in return that will help them in the future. For now they are worse without him in the secondary. Cincinnati has allowed a ton of sacks (22) and Jacksonville has plenty (19) so that’s a factor. The Jaguars average two full yards more per carry on offense (5.1-3.1) and 71 more yards per game. The Bengals are the worst rushing defense by a mile, allowing a wild 184.5 yards per game. Jacksonville also gives up a bunch of rushing yards, 5.2 per rush and 131.2 per game but Cincinnati is the dead last rushing offense so can they take advantage? I think this could get interesting and a first win scenario is possible if the turnovers go the way of the home team. I like the visitors to grind it out: Jacksonville 26, Cincinnati 24 (CIN +5/over 43.5)

Minnesota (4-2) @ Detroit (2-2-1): The Lions have to be pissed. They were screwed on MNF and have a short turnaround to face a team riding a huge win. The Vikings blasted Philly 38-20 and could care less how the refs treated these guys. They have a lead back averaging 5.4 yards a pop and got their passing game confidence last week. Detroit’s leading rusher is at 3.3 so they are definitely one-dimensional. Still, with some breaks this team could be 5-0 very easily. None of their games have been decided by more than 4 points and I figure this one will be that way as well. Minnesota has already scored 28-plus points four times, all of their wins. Their defense can lock down the pass and Detroit is susceptible. Plus the Lions are allowing 5.1 yards per carry. The visitors can come in here and pound the ball while playing defense. That’s a tough recipe to go against: Minnesota 24, Detroit 20 (MIN +0/over 43.5)

Oakland (3-2) @ Green Bay (5-1): The Packers got lucky on MNF thanks to the refs and they are not apologizing. The Raiders will be catching a team on short rest and they are off a bye week having come back from the game in Europe. They also got extra time to prepare and game plan although I’m not sure how much it helps. Rodgers is as elite as it gets and while the defense he is facing has gotten better they are incapable of stopping him. Even with his receiving corps in shambles he still worked a comeback under the lights against Detroit. Oakland has beaten Brissett and Daniel in their last two games and this is a different universe. Plus it’s their fourth straight game away from their home field. Green Bay has a big litmus test next week on SNF at Kansas City, but I don’t think they will be looking ahead. The Raiders only have 9 sacks and lack of pressure is a killer against Rodgers. I do think Oakland can run the ball on a defense allowing 4.9 yards per carry, and keep this close for a while: Green Bay 28, Oakland 21 (GB -4.5/over 46)

LA Rams (3-3) @ Atlanta (1-5): Jalen Ramsey can’t suit up soon enough as the Rams head to the ATL where the Falcons have several aerial options. This was a playoff matchup after the 2017 season and Atlanta won 26-13. Both teams have dropped off since then although obviously the home team has fallen much more. Ryan is having a big season statistically, and 7 interceptions is not ideal although 3 of those came in the only game they won. They have scored 24-plus points in every game since an opening 28-12 loss at Minnesota, but have now allowed 27-plus four times including a ridiculous 87 points over the last two games. Los Angeles is licking their chops to get their offense back in gear. Last week’s 20-7 loss to San Francisco exposed them and a third straight loss has put them firmly in third place. Is this the Super Bowl loser curse at work? They have scored 27-plus points four times, but are only 2-2 in those games and have allowed 105 points during this three game skid. I expect an offensive show on both sides. The Falcons have only 2 interceptions and 5 sacks defensively on the season. That’s pathetic. Vic Beasley is MIA and they are a mess on that side of the ball. The run defenses aren’t bad, but I expect the air attacks to be lethal. Ryan is a better quarterback, but Goff at least has the best defensive player in the game to hassle the passer: LA Rams 31, Atlanta 27 (LAR -2.5/over 52.5)

Houston (4-2) @ Indianapolis (3-2): The last time these teams met it was a sound playoff win for the Colts who then were led by Luck. He retired and now it’s Brissett. Watson is now clearly the best quarterback on the field and just got a win over Mahomes. It feels like the Texans can turn the corner and this is a huge contest for them within the division. The AFC South has been muddled thus far, but a win here sets up some breathing room and sends a message. Indianapolis also beat Kansas City, before their bye week and comes in rested. The other two games they won came versus teams a combined 2-9 and they lost to a Chargers team that is otherwise 1-4. Houston hasn’t played a murderer’s row of teams either, but their close losses came against good NFC South teams (Carolina, New Orleans). Both teams have thrived running the ball with top 5 attacks, and the Texans have a better average per carry (5.0 to 4.5) plus better stretch options in the passing game and a more mobile passer. Defensively the Colts allow more yards per carry (5.1 to 4.5) by almost the same margin and the better rushing team is going to win this one, easily I think: Houston 28, Indianapolis 20 (HOU +2.5/over 47)

San Francisco (5-0) @ Washington (1-5): It’s sad to see a former NFC power deteriorate the way the Redskins have. Jay Gruden is fired and Bill Callahan, who once took over for his brother, is now 1-0 thanks to beating perhaps the worst NFL team in league history by stopping a two-point play at the end. The 49ers have returned to power and sent notice last week with a win over the Rams. Shanahan used to work here under his father and it’s been a black hole for coaches for a while. This has blowout written all over it except that San Francisco has to travel across the country coming off an emotional victory to play a team everyone expects them to crush. It’s a trap! Washington has already lost four games by double digits and had lost three in a row by 16-plus before the win at Miami. Their offense is soft and the defense is just average. The 49ers have only allowed more than 17 points once, and that was a 5-turnover game they won 24-20 over Pittsburgh who was starting their backup quarterback. The defense has elevated since the bye week, allowing a total of 10 points the past two games. San Francisco has allowed only 6 sacks and hasn’t missed much without left tackle Joe Staley. They are second in rushing offense churning out 179.8 yards per game so it hardly matters that their passing game is mediocre. Their pass defense is ranked first and they are sixth against the run. The Redskins allow 4.6 per carry and 134.0 a game. Unless something funny happens they will win comfortably: San Francisco 23, Washington 10 (SF -9/under 43)

Arizona (2-3-1) @ NY Giants (2-4): This one could be fun. Each team lines up a rookie quarterback and while neither team expects to be making any sort of playoff run this season one of them at least could consider themselves in the hunt with a win here. Murray has brought excitement to the Cardinals and a 34-33 win last week against Atlanta on the heels of a 26-23 victory in Cincinnati has them feeling good. It will be chilly in Jersey, but not bad enough to tweak the desert based team too much. New York is on extra rest and while they did lose 35-14 to New England they were in the game and competed. Their schedule has been pretty stiff this season actually. The only bad team they have played was Washington and they won 24-3. The only other team that isn’t at least 3-3 was Tampa Bay and they won that one too. The Cards have allowed 21 sacks and as quick as Murray is that’s a lot and it’s a factor. Both teams actually have run the ball effectively in terms of yards per carry, and both are awful in pass defense. Only the Bucs are worse than these two. Arizona has allowed 16 TD passes and has yet to intercept a pass though, and that’s the difference. Their run defense is a little softer as well. New York is the better team here and they will get physical to muscle this one out: NY Giants 24, Arizona 19 (NYG -3/under 50.5)

LA Chargers (2-4) @ Tennessee (2-4): It’s hard to figure either of these teams out. The Titans opened the season with a bang winning 43-13 at Cleveland. They have scored a total of 55 points since then including 7 over the past two weeks. The defense has not allowed more than 20 points yet this season and they are 2-4? This is only their third home game, but they are 0-2 here so it’s not really a boost. Making the move to Tannehill at quarterback makes sense because they had to do something. The offense is atrocious. The Chargers are fading fast having just lost to a third-string quarterback a week after falling to a previously winless opponent. They have scored over 20 points twice, both their wins. Tennessee has allowed 29 sacks and that’s a huge number it’s a major problem. Los Angeles is averaging over 100 yards more per game through the air and Rivers is clearly the better passer. The pass defenses are both top 6, but the Chargers allow a crazy high completion percentage (73.5%). The Titans have run the ball better, but Gordon is working his way back into the mix for the visitors. It’s tough to guess which team shows up ready to play. Home field usually matters. I keep waiting for Los Angeles to wake up. Maybe it’s time to give up on them: Tennessee 17, LA Chargers 16 (LAC +2.5/under 41)

New Orleans (5-1) @ Chicago (3-2): The Saints have thrived under their backup Bridgewater and seem poised to make a run at the NFC title. The Bears have not been as lucky without Chase Daniel as they lost in London against Oakland. A bye week gave Trubisky time to get back, however, and he has to be in top form for them to get this one. New Orleans has better offensive weapons and has already won twice outdoors without Brees. Plus, the weather will be mild. All four of their wins during this roll have come by one score though, and that figures to bite them at some point. The league is just that way. Chicago has the defense and hadn’t allowed more than 15 points in a game prior to their loss across the pond. The Saints have a much better passing offense and actually rank only a spot below in pass defense. More troubling is that the Bears allow passers to complete 70.7% of their throws. New Orleans runs the ball better, but Chicago defends the run better. This is one of those games where I want to go against the numbers. I feel as if the Bears are due, rested and can get this done. It’s a new season though and they aren’t the team they were last year: New Orleans 20, Chicago 17 (NO +3.5/under 38.5)

Baltimore (4-2) @ Seattle (5-1): The Ravens made a bold move switching to Jackson from Flacco and it has worked out. Ages ago the Seahawks made a similarly risky quarterback change and has never looked back. Wilson is a legit MVP candidate. Jackson wishes he could be on Wilson’s level and while he’s a better runner now he’s not the complete package and it’s impossible to know if he ever will be until he gets some years under his belt. This is a tough road game for him though in his young career. It’s going to be loud and possibly rainy. Baltimore is going to the playoffs in all likelihood because the NFC North has totally collapsed around them. However, the fact that in consecutive weeks they needed overtime to beat Pittsburgh who had to move to their third quarterback in the second half, and won 23-17 over now 0-6 Cincinnati last week is not much to brag about. Not to mention getting blasted 40-25 prior to that by a Cleveland team that is otherwise 1-4. Five of their opponents have losing records. Seattle did struggle and needed a comeback to win at those Browns, and has likewise played four teams with a losing record. The Seahawks have yet to throw an interception this season and while they do face former LOB member Earl Thomas I expect them to do okay in the turnover margin here. Both pass defenses are bottom 10 actually, but have allowed a combined 14 touchdown passes in 12 games. The Ravens lead the NFL by a mile in rushing offense (205.0 yards per game) with their active quarterback. The Seahawks are ninth. The run defenses are both solid although neither team does very well per rush. If either team can stay with the run and keep pounding it could make a big difference. I like Wilson. He’s on fire and at home. Jackson is going to have his time, but this is a big moment on the road and he’s not ready for it: Seattle 23, Baltimore 19 (SEA -3/under 50.5)

Philadelphia (3-3) @ Dallas (3-3): These teams need a break. Instead they face on SNF with the division lead on the line. The Eagles were supposed to be in good hands with Wentz healthy. He doesn’t play defense so they aren’t. They were swamped 38-20 at Minnesota last week and it’s looking like their TNF win at Green Bay is an outlier. The Cowboys are reeling after three straight losses and can relax next week on a bye that is much needed. They lost a defensive struggle to New Orleans to start this slide and last week caught a Jets team pumped up by the return of Darnold. The Eagles are bad against the pass and that gives Prescott a chance to get well. The Cowboys can run the ball and will be balanced even though the visitors are solid against the run. Even short runs will keep things level. It’s time for Dallas to turn this around. They are against the wall. Philly wants it just as much, but they are too shaky in the secondary: Dallas 28, Philadelphia 24 (DAL -2.5/over 47.5)

New England (6-0) @ NY Jets (1-4): I understand why this game is on MNF, New York is a huge market and it’s a rivalry game but really? Do we need to see the champs beat these guys up in primetime? The Patriots are deadly on defense and have almost a bye week to get ready for this having beaten the other resident of Met Life 35-14 on TNF. As if they need another edge right? It was the fifth time they have scored 30-plus points this season, including the first meeting, a 30-14 rout. In that one Falk was the starting quarterback and Darnold is back now. The first meeting, by the way, was effectively a shutout because the Jets scored on a punt return and by intercepting Brady’s backup and housing it in the fourth quarter. New York finally had a game scoring more than 16 points last week, their 24-22 win over Dallas in Darnold’s return. The defense had allowed 61 points in their previous two outings. This is a matchup of the worst passing offense and the second best passing defense and if the numbers hold the home team will throw for about 160. Nothing ever goes to form when these teams hook up though. I think the defenses will have their way in this one. Brady is going to slow down at some point, maybe even get knocked around and lose a game or two this regular season. Maybe it’s this one in a fluke but I doubt it: New England 25, NY Jets 17 (NYJ +9.5/under 44)

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