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NFL Week 7 picks: Giants a lock to cover on MNF; Cousins, Vikes too much for Jets; Chargers roll in London

Saquon Barkley should have lots of running room

Saquon Barkley should have lots of running room against the Falcons on Monday night.  Credit: AP/Julio Cortez

One of the best pieces of advice I can give for picking NFL games is to go with your gut instinct. There have been a handful of games this season where I second-guessed myself into changing a pick and it backfired every time. Trust your initial analysis.

There are four teams on the bye this week and an early London game. Underdogs went 8-7 against the spread last week and are 46-37-6 for the season. 

My most confident picks ATS this week are the Giants, Chiefs, Chargers, Cowboys and the Bills. Two tricky games to avoid: Panthers-Eagles and Lions-Dolphins. Remember, I pick every game so that you don't have to.

VIKINGS (3-2-1) AT JETS (3-3)

TV: Ch. 5, 1 p.m.

Vikings by 3 1/2; O/U: 46 1/2

By now you know that Kirk Cousins turned down $90 million guaranteed from the Jets to sign with the Vikings. So, will the resurgent Jets make him pay at MetLife Stadium on Sunday? The answer here is no. It would make for a great back page but Cousins and the Vikings have righted the ship after a 1-2-1 start and they'll be too much for the Jets. This will be close, but Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, one of the best 1-2 receiving punches in the NFL, will be the difference against a banged-up Jets secondary. The Jets have looked great the last two weeks but the Vikings aren't the Broncos or Colts. No three-game home sweep for the Jets as Mike Zimmer's defense forces Sam Darnold into a costly rookie mistake that will seal the win and cover. 

The pick: Vikings

LOCK OF THE WEEK

MONDAY NIGHT

GIANTS (1-5) AT FALCONS (2-4)

TV: ESPN, Ch. 9, 8:15 p.m.

Falcons by 5; O/U: 54 1/2

The Giants are one of the NFL's worst teams. They're also my best bet of Week 7. Please, let me explain. For starters, they've played their best in their last two road games, winning at Houston and having victory snatched away at Carolina on a 63-yard field goal. They covered in both those spots, also right around a touchdown spread. Secondly, teams always seem to play well when you least expect it. Remember last year, when the 0-5 Giants went into Denver on Sunday night as 11 1/2-point underdogs and won going away? Eleven days removed from the Eagles' debacle, the Giants will be motivated to change the narrative. Thirdly, the Falcons' defense has allowed a total of 150 points over the last four weeks. They lost two safeties and a top linebacker to injuries and haven't recovered. There will be lots of room for Saquon Barkley to run, plus Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. will have lots of chances downfield. This is going to be a shootout, and the Giants will be in it till the final gun. Don't be surprised if they win.

The pick: Giants

LONDON GAME

CHARGERS (4-2) VS. TITANS (3-3)

TV: Ch. 2, 9:30 a.m.

Chargers by 6 1/2; O/U: 45

Talk about two teams going in different directions. Marcus Mariota was sacked 11 times in a shutout loss to the Ravens at home a week after the Titans scored just 12 points in a loss at Buffalo. They'll need at least 20 to cover this spread against a hot Chargers team that has won three in a row while scoring 29, 26 and 38 points. If this game were in California instead of London, the spread would be a couple points higher so cash in on the extra value as Philip Rivers & Co. roll again.   

The pick: Chargers

1 P.M. GAMES

PANTHERS (3-2) AT EAGLES (3-3)

Eagles by 4 1/2; O/U: 45 1/2

Carolina is 0-2 on the road and Cam Newton has a 28-28-1 record compared with 37-20 in the same amount of home games. After a loss at Washington last week, Carolina concludes its NFC East schedule against a rested Philadelphia team that had its most complete performance last Thursday night. Carson Wentz is 0-2 ATS at home but this is a spot where I think he and the defending champs could get on a roll. This will be close, but lay the points.

The pick: Eagles

TEXANS (3-3) AT JAGUARS (3-3)

Jaguars by 5; O/U: 42

Houston's three-game winning streak is one of the least-impressive you'll see, needing two fortunate OT wins and a pick-6 against the Bills. Jacksonville has been outscored 70-21 on the road the last two weeks, so expect a hungry team with a chip on its shoulder to bounce back at home.

The pick: Jaguars

BROWNS (2-3-1) AT BUCS (2-3)

Bucs by 3 1/2; O/U: 50

Tampa Bay has lost three in a row and just fired its defensive coordinator. Cleveland (4-1-1 ATS) looked like its old self with a bad loss to the Chargers. This is the coin-flip game of Week 7, so take the points. Gregg Williams' defense should be a problem for Jameis Winston in only his second start. One more thing: There has been at least one overtime game the first six weeks, an NFL record. This is a prime candidate if the streak is to continue.

The pick: Browns

PATRIOTS (4-2) AT BEARS (3-2)

Patriots by 3; O/U: 49 1/2

Be honest, you looked at this line and thought: "Why aren't the Pats favored by more?" That's exactly why I like the Bears. Chicago has won and covered in its first two home games, and the Bears have the offensive weapons that could give the Pats trouble. Look for Bears coach Matt Nagy, the Chiefs' offensive coordinator last year, to utilize Tarik Cohen the way Tyreek Hill was used against the Pats last week. The Bears upset the Steelers and Panthers as home underdogs last year, and the 2018 version is vastly improved. Khalil Mack is hurting but looks as if he will play. Getting to Tom Brady will be key. Don't be shocked if Chicago wins outright.

The pick: Bears

BILLS (2-4) AT COLTS (1-5)

Colts by 7 1/2; O/U: 43

Josh Allen is out for the Bills, Derek Anderson is in and the Colts desperately need a win. But this is just too many points to lay with a one-win team. Sean McDermott's defense has allowed 12 and 13 points the last two weeks (Houston scored 20 but one TD was a pick-6). The pesky Bills are 3-1 ATS in their last four games.

The pick: Bills

LIONS (2-3) AT DOLPHINS (4-2)

Lions by 3; O/U: 47

The Dolphins are 3-0 at home with three covers thanks to some flukey plays. Detroit is rested off a bye whereas Miami played five quarters in an OT win last week, so I lean Lions. Matt Patricia should have a master plan for Brock Osweiler. (Note: I'm 0-6 ATS picking Dolphins games this season, so bettors beware).

The pick: Lions

4 P.M. GAMES

COWBOYS (3-3) AT REDSKINS (3-2)

Redskins by 1 1/2; O/U: 41 1/2

Dallas is 0-3 on the road and Washington has beaten Green Bay and Carolina at home but here's why you should back Dak Prescott and the Cowboys: He's 4-0 vs. Washington and Dallas has beaten its NFC East rival six out of seven and eight of 10. Ezekiel Elliott (110 yards per game and five TDs vs. Washington) has another big day as Dallas builds off last week's shocking 40-point outburst.

The pick: Cowboys

SAINTS (4-1) AT RAVENS (4-2)

Ravens by 2 1/2; O/U: 50

When I first saw the lines for Week 7, this one immediatey jumped out to me. The Saints catching points? Upon further review, it does make sense. Baltimore is one of the toughest home teams: Joe Flacco has a 60-19 record there. Still, the Saints are on an 8-1 ATS run after their bye week (stat courtesy of OddsShark's Joe Osborne). Drew Brees has beaten every NFL team but the Ravens (0-for-4), and unlike his record-setting night on MNF in Week 5, the Baltimore defense won't make it easy on him. I'm still sticking with the Saints, who have won four in a row and have scored 40 or more points in three of their five  games. Brees and Michael Thomas find a way late.

The pick: Saints

RAMS (6-0) AT 49ERS (1-5)

Rams by 9 1/2; O/U: 52

You never want to lay this many points in a division game, but make an exception for the NFL's only unbeaten team. The Rams didn't cover the last two weeks at Seattle (33-31) and Denver (23-20) but they're primed for one of their big games here a la Weeks 1-3, when they won by 20, 34 and 12.

The pick: Rams

SUNDAY NIGHT

BENGALS (4-2) AT CHIEFS (5-1)

TV: Ch. 4, 8:15 p.m.

Chiefs by 6; O/U: 58

This game was originally scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff before being flexed into prime time. Advantage: Kansas City. The 1 p.m. Andy Dalton has a 52-28-1 record. The prime-time Andy Dalton has a 6-13 record. The Bengals are 0-6 on Sunday Night Football with Dalton. Throw in the fact that this game is at Arrowhead and that the Chiefs will be fired up after their first loss and it adds up to more nightmares for the Bengals. K.C. has scored 38, 42, 38, 27, 30 and 40 points, and its two home wins have been by 11 and 16. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs (NFL-best 5-0-1 ATS) pull away for another cover. 

The pick: Chiefs

STAFF PICKS AND STANDINGS

(best bets in bold)

JOE MANNIELLO

39-48-6 overall, 3-3 best bets

Last week: 8-7

Vikings Giants Chargers Eagles

Jaguars Browns Bears

Bills Lions Cowboys 

Saints Rams Chiefs

BOB GLAUBER

38-49-6, 2-4

Last week: 7-8

Vikings Falcons Chargers Eagles

Jaguars Bucs Patriots 

Colts Dolphins Cowboys 

Ravens Rams Chiefs

TOM ROCK

40-47-6, 3-3

Last week: 4-11

Vikings Falcons Chargers Eagles

Texans Browns Patriots

Colts Lions Cowboys

Saints Rams Chiefs

AL IANNAZZONE

44-43-6, 4-2

Last week: 8-7

Vikings Falcons Chargers Eagles

Jaguars Bucs Patriots 

Bills Dolphins Redskins

Saints 49ers Chiefs

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