In Week 5, a couple NFL superstars suffered season-ending injuries, with Texans DE J.J. Watt and Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. out for the season. In Week 6, it was one of the league’s best quarterbacks that probably suffered that same fate when Packers QB Aaron Rodgers left the game against the Vikings with a collarbone injury that will likely cause him to miss the rest of the season. The Packers are at home this week for their first post-Rodgers game, taking on the Saints in what is expected to be a shootout. The game of the week is the Sunday nighter, featuring a Super Bowl LI rematch when the Falcons visit the Patriots. I went 6-8 last week, giving me an overall record of 50-41 for the season. 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: Lions, Texans
Thursday Night Football
Chiefs at Raiders (+2.5) – Coming off their first loss of the season, the Chiefs look to get back to their winning ways on a short week when they visit the Raiders, who are a disappointing 2-4 on the season. Raiders QB Derek Carr returned from his injury last week, but that didn’t help the offense like people thought it might. Facing the Chiefs defense won’t help the Raiders put points on the board. Give me the Chiefs.
Sunday 1PM games
Buccaneers at Bills (-2.5) – The Buccaneers may be heading to Buffalo with veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starter with QB Jameis Winston day-to-day with a shoulder injury. The Bills are coming off their bye, giving them plenty of rest for this game at home. I’ll take the Bills.
Panthers at Bears (+3.5) – The Bears needed overtime to beat the Ravens on Sunday, and they now face a more potent offense in the Panthers. QB Mitch Trubisky has helped improve the Bears offense since being named the starter, but I don’t think the Bears have enough weapons to compete with QB Cam Newton and the Panthers. I’ll give the points.
Titans at Browns (+5.5) – The Browns are still winless on the season, and I think that will continue after this game. QB Marcus Mariota came back in Week 6 after missing the previous game and played well despite his hamstring injury limiting his production on the ground. I fully expect the Titans to win the game, it’s just a question of whether they cover the spread. The Browns offense is so bad I think they will. Give me the Titans.
Saints at Packers (+5.5) – This was expected to be a matchup of two of the game’s best veteran quarterbacks with Drew Brees leading the Saints and Aaron Rodgers the Packers. With Rodgers sidelined with his injured collarbone, though, it’ll be QB Brett Hundley leading the Packers against an offense that put up 52 points last week. While they probably won’t score that much again, I don’t think Hundley will be able to keep up with the Saints offensively. Saints win and cover.
Jaguars at Colts (+2.5) – The Colts don’t have many weapons on offense, and Jaguars QB Blake Bortles isn’t very good. The Jags do have the best offensive player in the game with RB Leonard Fournette and a much better defense, so I give them the edge in this one. I’ll give the points.
Cardinals at Rams (-3.5) – RB Adrian Peterson played better in his first game with the Cardinals last week than he did all season with the Saints before being traded to Arizona. It seemed to invigorate a Cardinals offense that had been struggling of late with QB Carson Palmer and WR Larry Fitzgerald putting up good numbers. I expect this to be a close game that I expect the Rams to win, but I think the Cardinals to keep it close enough that I’ll take the points.
Jets at Dolphins (-2.5) – The Jets only scored 17 against a bad Patriots defense last week while the Dolphins overcame a deficit to beat the defending NFC champion Falcons. Neither Jets QB Josh McCown nor Dolphins QB Jay Cutler — both former Bears — is great at this point in their careers, so I’ll go with the team with the best running back, which would be Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi, who I think will lead his team to the win. Dolphins cover.
Ravens at Vikings (-5.5) – The Ravens’ offensive struggles continued last week, losing to the Bears. The Vikings, on the other hand, has continued to perform decently with QB Case Keenum filling in for injured QB Sam Bradford. I expect the Vikings to win the game, helped in part by RB Jerick McKInnon, but I don’t think they cover so I’ll take the Ravens with the points.
Sunday 4PM games
Cowboys at 49ers (+6.5) There was some uncertainty early in the week over whether Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott would be able to play this week or if he’d begin serving his six-game suspension. He will play, which helps the Cowboys offense coming off the bye. They’ll win the game, and I think they cover the spread.
Bengals at Steelers (-5.5) – The Steelers are coming off an impressive win against the Chiefs that came a week after QB Ben Roethlisberger had a five-interception game. RB Le’Veon Bell had his best game of the season for Pittsburgh last week, and I think the offensive momentum continues on Sunday at home against the division-rival Bengals. Give me the Steelers.
Broncos at Chargers (-1.5) – The Chargers are looking to rebound from a surprising loss to the Giants on Sunday night in which they only scored 10 points. I expect the offense to play better this week, but the Broncos will still rely on the defense to keep them in the game this week. I think the defense will be able to do that against the Chargers, I’ll give the minimum points.
Seahawks at Giants (-5.5) – The Giants are looking to start a winning streak after picking up their first win of the season on Sunday night. It’ll be tough to do against a strong Seahawks defense and with the Giants offense still not at full strength. WR Sterling Shepard may be back this week, but QB Eli Manning still doesn’t have many other weapons in the passing game to throw to. The Seahawks should win the game, and I think it’ll be close as to whether they cover. I think they’ll barely cover, so I’ll take Seattle.
Sunday Night Football
Falcons at Patriots (-3.5) – The Falcons seek revenge against the Patriots, who overcame a 25-point deficit to beat them in Super Bowl LI in February. This year’s Falcons team isn’t the same team that came within minutes of winning the Super Bowl, as the offense has struggled this season. The good news for them is the Patriots defense isn’t as good as what last season. That’ll give QB Matt Ryan a chance to shine, but I don’t think he’ll be able to outplay Patriots QB Tom Brady, which he’ll likely have to do if he wants to lead his team to victory. I’ll give the points.
Monday Night Football
Redskins at Eagles (-4.5) – The Eagles may be the best team in the NFC with Rodgers likely out for the year in Green Bay. QB Carson Wentz has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league this season. It’s never easy to beat a division rival, but it’s a home game for the Eagles, and I think they’ll be able to continue the success they’ve had this season. I think they’ll win to improve to 6-1 on the year, and I’ll give the points again.