Expert NFL Picks for Week 7, Including Giants-Jags, Jets-Broncos and Chiefs-49ers
A trio of handicappers offer their insights on five of this week's best games
This is NFL Best Bets, a recurring series in which professional sports handicappers lend us their insights and picks for the most intriguing matchups for each week of the professional football season. Here are our Week 7 NFL picks.
You’ve got places to go, people to see and possibly some wagers to make, so let’s get to it with some help from Thomas Gable, the director of race and sportsbook at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum of VSiN and Odds Assist CEO Dave Rathmanner.
New York Giants (+3, O/U 43) at Jacksonville Jaguars
A compelling matchup because…New York running back Saquon Barkley leads the NFL with 771 scrimmage yards and has been the driving force behind the 5-1 Giants getting off to their best start in years. The Giants have erased 10-point deficits in three of their five wins this season and Barkley has the game-winning points in each of the comebacks. Another comeback may be needed here because Jacksonville, despite losing three games in a row, have a +24 point differential on the season. The G-Men have won three straight but are just +14 through six games.
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This is the fishiest line of Week 7. The Jags opened as a 3-point home favorite and the line hasn’t budged. Why on Earth are the 2-4 Jags favored over the 5-1 Giants? This makes no sense. The public thinks the wrong team is favored and 82% of bets are taking New York with the points. However, despite this lopsided betting, the line hasn’t moved. This line stinks. If it looks too good to be true, it almost always is. I’m going to fade the trendy dog and embrace this fishy number. Give me Jags on the moneyline -155.
Gable’s Guess: It’s an interesting line because I think these team are very close when you power rate them. I would probably make this a bit lower than three, but I do feel like the Giants are doing this with a lot of smoke and mirrors. They’re 25th in the league in yards per game at only 317.3 per game. They’re 31st in passing yards per game and 31st in sacks allowed per pass attempt. They are also only scoring about 21 points per game. They’re 5-1, but they are in the bottom third of the league statistically The Jags have a very good run defense at 89.3 yards per game, so we’ll see if they can slow down Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones on the ground. The Giants are fourth in rushing, but I don’t think it’s sustainable that they are going to contine to be victorious. I actually want to lay the points with the Jags at home.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: The Giants will need to work hard to establish a run game against the Jaguars, who have one of the best run defenses in the league. But don’t look for the Giants to abandon the run game given they have one of the best backs in the league in Saquon Barkley and don’t want to ask too much of Daniel Jones. The Jaguars should also be focused heavily on the run game, given the Giants have a bottom-five rushing defense. In addition, both teams have allowed under 20 points per game this season. I’ll take the under.
Our Pick: The line does seem very, very odd. That being the case, will roll the dice with the under.
Cleveland Browns (+6.5, O/U 45.5) at Baltimore Ravens
A compelling matchup because…you can expect plenty of ground-and-pound action here as the Browns lead the NFL with 172.0 rushing yards per game while the Ravens lead the NFL with 5.95 yards per carry. Playing on the road may actually be a good thing for the Browns as they have gone just 1-3 in Cleveland this season. Meanwhile, the Ravens are just 1-2 at home and have not won consecutive games this season. Baltimore lost last week. The Ravens have blown plenty of big leads this season and have contributed to the 19 total games that have been won or tied by a team that trailed by 10-or-more points thus far this season. Keep an eye on injury updates here.
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Ravens listed as a 6-point home favorite. We’ve seen Baltimore move from -6 to -6.5, signaling some respected money laying the points with the Ravens. I’m not a fan of laying points with a favorite in a division game. I’ll focus on the total instead. The total has fallen from 46.5 to 45.5, indicating sharp money leaning on a lower-scoring game. The under is 57-37 (61%) this season. Unders that fall at least a half-point are 32-20 (62%). Divisional unders are 22-10 (69%). I’ll take the under 45.5.
Gable’s Guess: The Browns have lost three in a row and their defense has not been good and is giving up big plays on the ground and in the air. While they wait for Deshaun Watson to come back from suspension, Jacoby Brissett continues to make mistakes and turn the ball over. They’ve already lost to Joe Flacco, Marcus Mariota and Bailey Zappe this season and now they have Lamar Jackson to contend with. The Ravens are coming in with their own issues. Lamar plays stellar in the first three quarters, but his QBR in the fourth quarter is 29th in the league this year. He kind of just falls apart in the fourth. Baltimore has held a double-digit lead in all six games this year yet somehow they’ve only ended up 3-3. They can’t seem to close teams out. I think the Browns should be able to run the ball and control the clock to keep this divisional game close. I’m gonna take the underdog.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: The Ravens are one of the more frustrating teams in football to handicap at this point. They have blown huge leads in all three of their losses, but that should change Sunday against the Browns. The Browns have one of the worst defenses in the league and are allowing over 27 points per game, so Lamar Jackson and the Ravens should not have any trouble scoring enough points to win this game. On the other side of the ball, the Ravens have improved on defense since their Week 2 collapse against the Dolphins. Look for the Ravens to hold the Browns in check and score plenty to get the win and cover at -6.5 or less on Sunday.
Our Pick: The Ravens could explode on offense at home, but the under still seems like the best play.
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New York Jets (+1, O/U 38) at Denver Broncos
A compelling matchup because…before the season began, many bettors would have predicted that these two teams’ records would have been reversed. However, as is, the disappointing Broncos (2-4) will host the surging Jets (4-2) in a true measuring-stick game for both clubs. Denver’s defense has been stellar this season and has only allowed one touchdown total in the team’s last two games, both losses. For the Jets, Garrett Wilson leads all AFC rookies with 290 receiving yards and will have an intriguing matchup with second-year corner Pat Surtain II.
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with Denver listed as a 3.5-point home favorite. Sharps pounced on the Jets when news surfaced that Russell Wilson is dealing with a hamstring injury, which dropped the line from 3.5 to a pick’em. But we’ve since seen the line rise back to Broncos -1 or -1.5, indicating some buy-low buyback on the Broncos when the line bottomed out. The Jets are getting 80% of bets, making them one of the top public plays of the week. Meanwhile, we’ve seen heavy smart money hit the under, dropping the total from 43.5 to 38. The forecast calls for 15-10 MPH winds. When the wind blows 10 MPH or more, the under is roughly 55% over the past decade. Bill Vinovich, the lead ref, is 59% to the under historically. Denver is 5-1 to the under. Give me the under 38.
Gable’s Guess: Denver has struggled out of the gate and they’ve only scored more than 16 points once this season. Russell Wilson appears to have a hamstring injury now and this line definitely speaks to the injury. Denver has defense and skill-position players to be a lot better, but they rank dead last in red zone efficiency at only 20%. That really falls on Wilson and each coach Nathaniel Hackett. Meanwhile, the Jets are off to a good start. They’ve cut down on the costly turnovers and penalties that plagued them in the beginning of the year. They’ve also played really solid defense the last few weeks and they’re running the ball a lot more since QB Zach Wilson came back from injury. Overall, they just look like a more solid team than they were to start the season. That being said, the Denver defense is very good and, with the lack of offense we’ve seen from the Broncos this year, I’m gonna take the under.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: Both of these teams are very good defensively and points will be hard to come by Sunday afternoon. The Broncos are allowing 290.3 yards and 16.5 points per game, while the Jets are allowing 313 yards per game and 21.3 points. Broncos QB Russell Wilson is dealing with shoulder and hamstring injuries, but he intends to play. Not having a healthy Wilson will spell bad news for an offense that is already the worst in the league and is scoring only 15.2 points per game. The Jets will likely have trouble moving the ball themselves against a Broncos defense that has recorded 19 sacks already on the season. Denver has gone under in seven of their last 10 games. The under feels like the right side here.
Our Pick: Probably overthinking, but the under seems too low and obvious here. Cross your fingers and go over.
Seattle Seahawks (+5.5, O/U 50) at Los Angeles Chargers
A compelling matchup because…as shockingly impressive as Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith has been thus far for Seattle, Charger QB Justin Herbert has been equally as disappointing and threw a whopping 57 passes in Week 6 without tossing a touchdown. He did have an interception, but it didn’t matter in the end as the Chargers emerged with a win, their third in a row. Both teams have a negative point differential this season even though neither one is below .500. The Seahawks have yet to win two games in a row in 2021. They won last week.
Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Chargers opened as a 7.5 and have since fallen all the way down to 5.5 to even 5 across the market. This signals heavy sharp money grabbing the points with the Seahawks, triggering massive sharp movement in favor of the road dog. Dogs with “severe” line moves of 2-points or more are 8-3 ATS this season and 61% ATS since 2019. Dogs +3.5 or more are 28-19 ATS (67%) this season. The Seahawks are getting all liability and movement and we haven’t seen any buyback on the Chargers. I have to follow the smart money and take Seahawks +5.5.
Gable’s Guess: When you dig into the Seahawks, don’t let their performance against Arizona on Sunday fool you. They didn’t allow an offensive touchdown in that game, but Seattle’s defense is still the worst in the league. As we’ve seen the last two seasons, this defense tends to start very poorly and then right the ship midway through the season to become pretty decent. I think Sunday was more of an indictment on Arizona’s offense than it was the defense getting right. The Chargers continue to be unable to stop the run but the offense is getting Keenan Allen back and they should be able to go up and down the field against Seattle It’s a high total, so I am gonna lay the 6.5 here. Count me as someone who is not a believer in the Seahawks defense at all even after last weekend.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: Even with the Charger offense a bit banged up, they should be able to put up some points against one of the worst defenses in the league. The Seahawks are allowing 27.2 points per game. The Chargers’ defense is not much better allowing 25.3 points per game. Offensively, Seattle has been a pleasant surprise to start the season and QB Geno Smith has looked great completing 73.4% of his passes for nine touchdowns with just two interceptions. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett should have success against a Chargers defense that ranks near the bottom of the league and has allowed 11 passing touchdowns so far in 2022. Both offenses can score, with Seattle eighth in points at 24.3 and the Chargers not far behind them in 12th at 23.5 points per game. Bad defenses and good offenses will lead to points Sunday. Give me the over.
Our Pick: The Chargers previously lost by 28 points to the Jags at home. We’ll roll with Seattle and the points.
Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5, O/U 48.5) at San Francisco 49ers
A compelling matchup because…since the Chiefs defeated the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV to end the 2019 season, Kansas City leads the NFL in total yards per game (402.4) while San Francisco leads the NFL in fewest yards allowed (303.5). After facing NFL’s No. 1 offense last week (Buffalo), the Chiefs now go up against the top-ranked defense as San Francisco leads the league this season in fewest yards allowed (255.8) entering Week 7. Both teams are tied for first place in their respective divisions which gives this non-conference game playoff implications.
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Chiefs listed as a short 1.5-point road favorite. Early money hammered the Chiefs, steaming Kansas City up from -1.5 to -3. Once the line reached the key number of 3, we saw sharp buyback on the 49ers +3, dropping the line back down from 3 to 2.5. The Chiefs are getting 89% of bets, making them the top public play of the week. Jimmy G is 16-4 ATS (80%) as a dog in his career. The books seem to be begging you to take the Chiefs, which scares me off. I have to take the 49ers as they are the top contrarian play of the week (11% of bets). I took 49ers +3. I would wait and hold out for the +3 to come back.
Gable’s Guess: The 49ers were missing a lot of key pieces against the Falcons on Sunday and they really need Nick Bosa and Trent Williams back for this game. I think the biggest positive for the Chiefs coming off their loss to the Bills was how their defense looked. The Niners’ offense is a lot different than Buffalos’s, but they still have weapons that need to be contained. A lack of a significant run threat for the Chiefs has been a problem that has plagued them all season and San Francisco typically defends the run very well. Patrick Mahomes is always going to be the primary playmaker for KC, but there just doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of trust from the coaching staff around any of the current running backs. That said, I’m going to lay the points and hope San Francisco doesn’t get a lot of their talent back from the injury list. If San Fran still has a bunch of players out, the Chiefs should be able to score and I’m not sure the 49ers have enough on offense to keep up.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: The Chiefs are looking to bounce back after a tough loss to Buffalo last week and have to go on the road for a non-conference game before a bye week. The 49ers are returning off an upset loss to the Falcons in the second of back-to-back games on the east coast. At this point, I have more faith in Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense getting things together against a San Francisco defense that is banged up than I do in Jimmy Garoppolo and the Niner offense being able to score enough to points to keep up with the Chiefs. As long as the line stays at -3 or less, take the Chiefs to get the road win Sunday.
Our Pick: Still believe in KC’s offense more than anything else in this game so will lay the points with the Chiefs.
Last Week: 1-4-0; This Season: 11-19-0
Editor’s note: Betting lines fluctuate throughout the week based on injuries, the weather and other factors. Make sure to double-check the odds before making your own Week 7 NFL picks.
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