One of the best games of Week 7 is in the early Sunday slot when the Patriots — coming off a tough Sunday night game against the Chiefs — head to Chicago to take on the Bears, who are coming off an overtime loss to a Brock Osweiler-led Dolphins team. Two four-win teams meet in Baltimore when the Saints, coming off their bye, take on the Ravens. The Cowboys and Redskins do battle in a NFC East rivalry game, and the Sunday night contest pits two of the AFC’s best teams against each other with the 4-2 Bengals visiting the Chiefs, who are playing in their second straight Sunday nighter coming off their first loss of the season. I went 8-7 last week, giving me an overall record of 42-61 for the season. As always, I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick (straight up, not ATS) is in red
Byes: Packers, Raiders, Steelers, Seahawks
Thursday Night Football
Broncos at Cardinals (+2.5) – A couple of struggling teams meet in the Week 7 opener, with the 2-4 Broncos visiting the 1-5 Cardinals. Both squads are coming off close losses in Week 6, but I think the Cardinals are on the upswing while the Broncos are headed in the opposite direction. Arizona has young QB Josh Rosen, RB David Johnson and emerging WR Christian KIrk, and QB Case Keenum hasn’t been doing much for the Broncos and has led to questions about whether he’s close to being benched in favor of QB Chad Kelly. Given that, and the Cardinals being at home, I’m going to take the points.
Sunday 9:30AM game (London)
Titans at Chargers (-6.5) – The second London game of the season sees a couple of AFC teams taking each other on. The Chargers have gotten off to a good start this season behind veteran QB Philip Rivers and RB Melvin Gordon, and the Titans have struggled in recent weeks despite leading the AFC South at 3-3. The Titans are coming off a shutout loss to the Ravens, who sacked QB Marcus Mariota 11 times. The Titans don’t have any playmakers on offense, so I’m going to go with the Chargers and give the points.
Sunday 1PM games
Bills at Colts (-6.5) – The Colts haven’t been good so far this season so I would normally be hesitant to pick them to win by a touchdown, but the Bills are going to start veteran QB Derek Anderson — who hasn’t started a regular season game since Week 13 of the 2016 season — rather than QB Nathan Peterman with rookie QB Josh Allen sidelined for the next two or three games. In a matchup of Anderson, who just signed with the Bills last week, against Colts QB Andrew Luck, I’m going to have to give the points at home.
Patriots at Bears (+3.5) – Last week was probably the worst game the Bears have played this season, losing to Osweiler and the Dolphins in overtime. QB Mitch Trubisky came back to Earth in the game after a six-touchdown performance in Week 4, prior to the team’s bye. After losing to Osweiler, the Bears now have to deal with QB Tom Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Julian Edelman, RB Sony Michel and the rest of the Patriots. That’s a tough task for a good Bears defense. I’m going with the Patriots on the road to cover.
Browns at Buccaneers (-3.5) – The Buccaneers came out on the losing end of a shootout with the Falcons last week, but this week they face a significantly less-powerful offense in the Browns. The Bucs lack a good run game, but QB Jameis Winston has some good weapons in the passing game, including WR Mike Evans and TE O.J. Howard. The Bucs don’t have a great defense, but I don’t think the Browns will be able to capitalize on that so I’m going to go with the Buccaneers to snap their three-game losing streak.
Lions at Dolphins (+0.5) – Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill has been ruled out for Sunday’s game with his lingering shoulder injury, which means Osweiler will get a second straight start. Despite Osweiler leading the Dolphins to a win last week, his track record in the league isn’t great so I give the advantage to the Lions. I’m going with the road team.
Vikings at Jets (+3.5) – This will be a tough test for Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold, facing a stout Vikings defense. On offense, Vikings RB Dalvin Cook remains a question mark in terms of his health after he was inactive for last week’s game. RB Latavius Murray would get another start if Cook again sits. Even if Cook doesn’t play, the Vikings receiving corps led by WRs Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs should be able to put enough points on the board for the Vikings to cover the spread on the road.
Panthers at Eagles (-4.5) – This looks like it should be a close game with a couple of three-win teams battling it out. The Panthers got TE Greg Olsen back from his foot injury in Week 6, and he played well in his first game in a few weeks. For the Eagles, RBs Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood are doing a decent job of filling in for injured RB Jay Ajayi. I think the Eagles win the game, but I expect it to be by a field goal or so, so I’ll take the points.
Texans at Jaguars (-4.5) – The Jaguars are coming off a surprising 40-7 thrashing at the hands of the Cowboys, while the Texans have won their last three contests after starting the season 0-3. The Cowboys game was the second straight in which the vaunted Jaguars defense allowed the opposition to put up at least 30 points. Texans QB Deshaun Watson struggled in Week 6 as he dealt with a chest injury. Facing a struggling Texans offense could be what the Jaguars defense needs to get back on track. If the Texans are going to win the game, it’ll likely be because of a good game by DE J.J. Watt and the defense getting to QB Blake Bortles. I think the Jaguars win, but it’ll probably be a close, low-scoring game so I’ll take the points with the Texans.
Sunday 4PM games
Saints at Ravens (-2.5) – The Ravens defense has played well so far this season but faces a tough matchup with QB Drew Brees and the Saints, who are coming off their bye. I think the Saints offense — with WR Michael Thomas and RBs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram — is too good for the Baltimore D to be able to stop it. I expect the Saints to win the game, so I’ll take the points.
Cowboys at Redskins (-1.5) – The Cowboys are coming off a surprising 40-7 victory over the Jaguars and now head into FedEx Field to take on the division-rival Redskins. If the Cowboys play like they did last week, they should easily win this game. Even though I don’t expect another 40-point performance, I think the Cowboys are the better team and could win outright, so I’ll take the points with the road team here.
Rams at 49ers (+10.5) – The 49ers came surprisingly close to beating Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on Monday night, and may have earned the victory if the defense did a little better down the stretch in the game. Now they have another similarly tough challenge with another good offense with the Rams, who are the lone undefeated team remaining in the NFL. The Rams will be without WR Cooper Kupp, who has been ruled out for Sunday with a knee injury. That’ll mean more targets for WR Brandin Cooks from QB Jared Goff and potentially more work for RB Todd Gurley, who ran for a career-high 208 rushing yards against the Broncos last week. The 49ers kept it close with Green Bay last week and I think they can do the same this week. Rams win the game, but I’ll take the points.
Sunday Night Football
Bengals at Chiefs (-5.5) – The Chiefs faced off against a potential playoff foe in the Patriots last week and now have another potential playoff opponent this week when the Bengals come to town. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes goes against another veteran thrower this week with Bengals QB Andy Dalton opposing him. The Bengals have the better defense of these teams, but the Chiefs have better playmakers with Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill and RB Kareem Hunt. Dalton’s best pass-catcher is WR A.J. Green, with RB Joe Mixon leading the ground game. I’m giving the points with the Chiefs at Arrowhead.
Monday Night Football
Giants at Falcons (-6.5) – These are two of the more disappointing teams in the NFC, with the Giants having just one win through six games and the Falcons with two victories. Neither team has a great defense, and the big difference offensively is at quarterback, with Eli Manning struggling for the Giants and Matt Ryan having one of his typically good seasons for the Falcons. Atlanta will again be without RB Devonta Freeman , who was placed on IR this week, and will rely on RBs Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith in the running game, with Ryan throwing to WR Julio Jones and TE Austin Hooper, who had a touchdown on nine catches last week. The Giants’ best player on offense is clearly rookie RB Saquon Barkley, but I don’t think he’ll have a good enough game to be able to keep the Giants close to the Falcons, who I think could win by 10 or more. I’ll give the points.