Week 7 features a handful of solid matchups and favorable spreads, but it’s only natural to sometimes look ahead to next week’s games. The look-ahead opening line for Jets at Kansas City is a whopping 22 points, and don’t be surprised if it exceeds Le’Veon Bell’s jersey number this week and approaches 30 (yes, 30!) by next Sunday.
Favorites went 6-8 against the spread (ATS) last week and are 42-45-2. Home teams went 7-7 straight up and 5-9 ATS, bringing their totals to 47-43-1 and 39-50-2 ATS.
My most confident picks are the L.A. Chargers, Green Bay, Buffalo and Chicago. Stay away from Dallas-Washington.
GAME OF THE WEEK
PITTSBURGH (5-0) AT TENNESSEE (5-0)
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Tennessee by 1; O/U: 50.5
This game was pushed back from Week 4 when it would've been 3-0 vs. 3-0. Now both teams are still undefeated, making for an intriguing matchup between the NFL's leading rusher, Derrick Henry, and the Steelers' second-ranked run defense. Tennessee scored 42 points apiece in back-to-back wins and hasn't missed a beat since their positive test issue. This is the week the Titans will finally meet their match. Pittsburgh not only has a well-balanced offense with plenty of playmakers but its defense makes it one of the NFL's most complete teams. Bud Dupree (5.0) and T.J. Watt have 9.5 of the team's NFL-best 24 sacks. The Steelers can also stop the run (second-best 66.2 yards per game). They'll slow Henry just enough to improve to 6-0 and 5-1 ATS.
The pick: Pittsburgh
1 p.m. Games
BUFFALO (4-2) AT JETS (0-6)
Buffalo by 12; O/U: 45
Buffalo enters after allowing 68 points in losses to Tennessee and Kansas City. Those teams are a combined 10-1 and played in last year's AFC Championship Game. The Jets? They're the NFL's lone winless team, and also the only one yet to cover. The Jets lost, 27-17, at Buffalo in Week 1 but it wasn't that close. Expect the Bills to take out their displeasure from back-to-back losses on national TV. I've picked against the Jets the last five weeks, and I'll continue to repeat this line: Keep picking against them until they give you a reason not to.
The pick: Buffalo
DALLAS (2-4) AT WASHINGTON (1-5)
Pick 'em; O/U: 46
Dallas is in such bad shape that its 28-point loss at home on MNF wasn't even the worst thing to happen. After that, players started calling out the coaching staff and that's never a good sign. I'd really like to pick against the Cowboys this week, but I also don't want to pick Washington. This might be the biggest stay-away game of the season so far but Dallas has serious O-line issues - down four, maybe five starters - and that is just too big to ignore. This will be close, and if Washington wins, the NFC East will have three teams atop the division with two wins. After seven weeks!
The pick: Washington
GREEN BAY (4-1) AT HOUSTON (1-5)
Green Bay by 3.5; O/U: 57
Houston's defense allows 30.3 points and 423 yards per game. If it holds Aaron Rodgers and the Packers under 30 a week after Green Bay put up 10 at Tampa Bay, it would be shocking.
The pick: Green Bay
DETROIT (2-3) AT ATLANTA (1-5)
Atlanta by 2.5; O/U: 55
Both teams blew huge fourth-quarter leads to Chicago. They also have underrated quarterbacks and talented offenses in common, so expect a lot of points. Atlanta has to do more than beat a one-win Minnesota team for me to feel confident picking them as favorites.
The pick: Detroit
CAROLINA (3-3) AT NEW ORLEANS (3-2)
New Orleans by 7.5; O/U: 51
The Saints don't look as strong as they have in recent seasons, but they have some things working in their favor. One, they're off a bye. Second, they're getting healthier. But maybe most importantly: Teddy Bridgewater played there last season, and they know his weaknesses. Carolina is pesky but the Saints should pull away and win by double digits.
The pick: New Orleans
CLEVELAND (4-2) AT CINCINNATI (1-4-1)
Cleveland by 3.5; O/U: 50.5
Baker Mayfield is 4-1 against the Bengals, including a 35-30 win on TNF in Week 2. Joe Burrow covered through the backdoor in that game, but he could do it the legitimate way this time. Mayfield is still banged up and Cincinnati (4-1-1 ATS) has shown some fight with Burrow.
The pick: Cincinnati
4 p.m. Games
SAN FRANCISCO (3-3)
AT NEW ENGLAND (2-3)
New England by 2: O/U: 43.5
TV: Ch. 2
New England hasn't been 2-3 since 2001, and it's tempting to back Bill Belichick after a bad loss at home. The 49ers showed last week how motivating that can be. San Francisco should be able to stop the Pats' attack the way Denver did, though, so I will take the better team getting points.
The pick: San Francisco
TAMPA BAY (4-2) AT LAS VEGAS (3-2)
Tampa Bay by 3.5; O/U: 52.5
TV: Ch. 5
This is a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVII, only Jon Gruden is coaching the Raiders again instead of the Bucs. Both teams are off two of the NFL's most impressive wins this season - Tampa Bay 38-10 over Green Bay and Las Vegas 40-32 at Kansas City two weeks ago. Gruden having two weeks prepare is huge, but the Bucs defense is legit and after news broke that the Raiders had a positive test and Gruden sent the entire starting offensive line home, I'll back the visitors in what should be a close game.
The pick: Tampa Bay
KANSAS CITY (5-1) AT DENVER (2-3)
Kansas City by 9.5; O/U: 45.5
Patrick Mahomes is 5-0 vs. Denver and he will be 6-0. Covering is another story, though. Denver is a sneaky good 4-1 ATS and just won outright at New England. Its defense could keep this to single digits.
The pick: Denver
LOCK OF THE WEEK
AT L.A. CHARGERS (1-4)
Los Angeles by 7.5; O/U: 49
The Chargers were supposed to play the Jets last week but instead had a bye because of the schedule reshuffling. Wait, isn't playing the Jets the same as a bye? Justin Herbert has played well (931 yards, 5 TDs, 102.2 rating), but the rookie quarterback is 0-4. Two of those were OT losses to Kansas City and New Orleans. The Chargers have had nearly two weeks to stew over a typical Chargers meltdown on MNF. Expect them to take it out against an overmatched Jaguars team that has lost five in a row while giving up 33, 31, 33, 30 and 34 points.
The pick: Los Angeles
SEATTLE (5-0) AT ARIZONA (4-2)
TV: Ch. 4, 8:20 p.m.
Seattle by 3.5; O/U: 56
Seattle is off a bye and Arizona probably feels as if it had one after coasting at Dallas, 38-10, on MNF. The Seahawks are 7-3 after their bye week under coach Pete Carroll, including 4-0 the last four seasons. This game was moved to prime time, and that’s Russell Wilson’s time: 27-7-1 overall.
The pick: Seattle
CHICAGO (5-1) AT L.A. RAMS (4-2)
TV : ESPN, 8:15 p.m.
Los Angeles by 6; O/U: 45
If the Rams played NFC East teams only, they might go 16-0. All four of their wins are against the NFL's worst division, with the two losses at Buffalo and San Francisco. Chicago is not an elite 5-1, but its defense is delivering. Jared Goff struggled in two starts (1-1) against the Bears: 0 TDs, 5 INTs, 33.9 rating.
The pick: Chicago
STAFF STANDINGS AND PICKS
(best bets in bold)
39-50-2 overall, 3-3 best bets
Last week: 5-9
Buffalo Pittsburgh Washington Green Bay Detroit
New Orleans Cincinnati San Francisco Tampa Bay
Denver L.A. Chargers Seattle Chicago
Last week: 7-7
Buffalo Pittsburgh Washington Green Bay Atlanta
Carolina Cleveland San Francisco Tampa Bay
Kansas City L.A. Chargers Seattle L.A. Rams
Last week: 4-10
Buffalo Pittsburgh Dallas Green Bay Detroit
Carolina Cleveland New England Tampa Bay
Kansas City Jacksonville Seattle Chicago
Last week: 7-7
Jets Pittsburgh Dallas Green Bay Atlanta
New Orleans Cleveland New England Tampa Bay
Kansas City Jacksonville Seattle L.A. Rams