Sports | October 22, 2021 8:46 am

Expert NFL Picks for Week 7 Including Chiefs-Titans, Bengals-Ravens and Colts-49ers

Kevin Rogers of VegasInsider, Borgata sportsbook director Tom Gable and VSiN sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum offer their insights

Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals players line up for a play
Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals players line up for a play.
Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty

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 football season.

For this edition of Best Bets, Kevin Rogers, a veteran handicapper for VegasInsider.com, Thomas Gable, the director of race and sportsbook at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, and sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum of VSiN share their opinions on five Week 7 games, including a divisional grudge match between the surprising Bengals and steady Ravens and the Colts heading to San Francisco for Sunday Night Football.

You’ve got places to go, people to see and possibly some wagers to make, so let’s get to it.

Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5, O/U 57.5) at Tennessee Titans


A compelling matchup because … back to .500 after a convincing win in Week 6, the Chiefs travel to Nashville for a date with the Titans. Tennessee is leading the AFC South by a substantial margin due to the futility of the Colts, Jaguars and Texans, and the Titans should be riding high after knocking off the AFC’s best team, Buffalo, on Monday Night Football. Meanwhile, Kansas City is looking to win back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Chiefs (3-3 SU, 2-4 against the spread) crushed Washington 31-13, easily covering as 6.5-point road favorites in Week 6. The Titans (4-2 SU, 4-2 ATS) have won four of their last five games and just shocked the Bills 34-31, winning outright as 6-point home dogs. The public is all over Kansas City and we saw the line shoot up to -5.5. Then an overload of Titans money showed up, dropping it back down to 4.5. Conference dogs are 39-26 ATS (60% this season). Also, if I’m on a dog, I want them to be able to put up points and either keep pace or backdoor cover. The Titans are averaging 28 points per game, eighth-best in the NFL. I’ll follow the late movement and grab Tennessee as a home dog.

Gable’s Guess: The Chiefs came out pretty sluggish on Sunday against Washington and found themselves down 13-10 after three quarters. Then they ripped off 21 straight points to win and cover, which haven’t been doing lately. They made some key personnel changes that may have provided some sort of spark for the defense, because they certainly looked better. Patrick Mahomes had two more interceptions and just seems to be making poor decisions. For the Titans, Derrick Henry has re-established himself as the most dominant back in the league. On Monday, QB Ryan Tannehill spread the ball around to seven different receivers and didn’t get sacked once. I think this number’s a little too high, especially with what the Titans did to a good Bills defense on MNF. They may not be able to stop Kansas City on offense, but they should be able to keep up offensively. I’m going to take the points with the Titans.

Rogers’ Recommendation: Coming off an exciting win on Monday night against Buffalo as an underdog, the Titans are faced with another situation in the role of a home underdog. Kansas City has been strong away from Arrowhead Stadium this season by starting 2-1 SU/ATS and would be 3-0 if it weren’t for the Chiefs squandering a double-digit lead in a Week 2 loss at Baltimore. In spite of this line dropping in favor of the Titans, I’ll back Kansas City to cash on the road. Best Bet: Kansas City -4.5.

Our Pick: The total here is high, but both these teams put up points in bunches. We’ll side with the over.

Cincinnati Bengals (+6.5, O/U 46.5) at Baltimore Ravens


A compelling matchup because … led by second-year QB Joe Burrow and potential Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja’Marr Chase, the Bengals head to Baltimore to take on a Ravens team that has yet to lose at home this season. Cincy’s defense has allowed the third-fewest points in the AFC this season (behind Buffalo and Denver) and will certainly be tested by the Baltimore offense, which was scored the third-most points in the AFC.

Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Bengals (4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS) have won three of their last four games and just waxed the Lions 34-11, easily covering as 3.5-point road favorites. The Ravens (5-1 SU, 3-3 ATS) have won five straight and just crushed the Chargers 34-6, covering as 3-point home favorites. This line opened with Baltimore listed as a 6.5-point home favorite. The public is laying it with Lamar Jackson, no questions asked. However, this line has remained frozen at 6.5 or even hinted at a fall to 6 at some shops. This signals some liability on road dog Cincinnati. Divisional dogs are roughly 54% ATS over the past decade and road dogs are 33-21 ATS (61%). I’ll take the points and hope Burrow keeps this within a touchdown.

Gable’s Guess: What makes Baltimore’s performance last week impressive is that it didn’t take a Herculean effort from Jackson and they still demolished the Chargers. They disguised coverages and blitzes really well on defense and were very good on special teams. Any adversity that comes up with this Baltimore team doesn’t really seem to keep them down. They certainly have emerged as a contender in the AFC. The Bengals have been a pleasant surprise. Burrow and his resiliency may get the attention, but it’s been the defense that has helped them get to where they sit now. They have yet to allow more than 25 points in a game. They’ll certainly need to be great here, as Jackson is undefeated against them in five starts. He’s also rushed for 442 yards in those five games. I still think there are big offensive line problems for Cincinnati, but I’ll give their defense credit. I’m going to take the under in this one.

Rogers’ Recommendation: Big proving spot here for Cincinnati facing AFC North-leading Baltimore. The Ravens crushed the Chargers at home last week and Baltimore is playing its third straight home game. Burrow has struggled on the road in his short career, but the Bengals have picked up victories at Pittsburgh and Detroit. Cincinnati has lost five straight meetings with Baltimore. This is a time for Cincinnati to break through and cover as an underdog. Best Bet: Cincinnati +6.5.

Our Pick: Baltimore is due for a letdown after destroying the Chargers. Go Bengals with the points.

Philadelphia Eagles (+3, O/U 49) at Las Vegas Raiders


A compelling matchup because … with the Jon Gruden email fiasco now fading away, the Raiders welcome an Eagles team that will be playing its first game since trading away longtime tight end Zach Ertz to the Cardinals. Winless at home this season, the Eagles’ two victories this season have come on the road. Philly hasn’t beat a team with a winning record this season. The Raiders have only beaten one (Baltimore).

Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Eagles (2-4 SU, 3-3 ATS) have lost four of their last five games, although they did manage to cover last week in a 28-22 loss at home to the Bucs. The Raiders (4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS) rolled the Broncos 34-24 last week, winning outright as 5-point road dogs. This line opened with Las Vegas listed as a 3-point home favorite. With 3 points typically awarded for home-field advantage, the oddsmakers are saying these teams are even and it would be a coin-flip game on a neutral field. The line hasn’t budged off the key number of 3. Short road dogs +3 or less are 12-4 ATS (75%) this season. Road teams that see the line stay the same or move in their favor are 239-26 ATS (60%). Philadelphia also has a rest advantage, having last played on Thursday while the Raiders played Sunday on the road. I’ll grab the points with the Eagles in what feels like a toss-up kind of game.

Gable’s Guess: There are so many questions for the Eagles as they come into this game other than if their fans are going to behave out in the desert. Will the Eagles finally run the ball? Will they cut down on the number of screen passes? Does Nick Sirianni trust Jalen Hurts to throw the ball downfield? While the Eagles coaching staff is coming under fire from Philadelphia fans and media for their performance so far, Las Vegas unexpectedly stepped up after the Gruden controversy and came away with a big division win in Week 6. There are definite holes in this Eagles defense, primarily in the secondary, that the Raiders can exploit. Derek Carr should be able to successfully move the ball. Until this Eagles coaching staff shows any signs of understanding schemes and being able to adjust mid-game to what they’ve seen from the other team, I can’t back them. I’m going to lay the points with the Raiders.

Rogers’ Recommendation: Las Vegas picked up some confidence in last week’s blowout of Denver on the road to put a halt to a two-game slide. The Silver and Black are back at home to host the Eagles, who overcame a big deficit against the Buccaneers to pick up the cover last Thursday. This is the fourth time this season that the Eagles are a road underdog of four points or less and they have won outright at Atlanta and Carolina already. With Gruden no longer in the picture, the Raiders are worth a strong look to win once again. Best Bet: Las Vegas -3.

Our Pick: The Raiders, crazy as it is to say, feel like the better team. And they’re at home. Lay the points.

Chicago Bears (+12.5, O/U 47) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers


A compelling matchup because … last year, Chicago got the best of Tampa Bay during a game on Thursday Night Football where Tom Brady looked very shaky. It’s been about a year since that game was played and the Buccaneers barely resemble the team that lost to Chicago last season, even though Tampa’s roster, at least on offense, is very similar. Winners of three in a row, the Bucs have scored 73 points combined over the past two weeks. The Bears have only scored 98 total points this season, the fewest in the NFC.

Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Bears (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS) saw their two-game winning streak come to an end last week, falling to the Packers 24-14 and failing to cover as 5.5-point home dogs. The Bucs (5-1 SU, 2-4 ATS) keep rolling and most recently beat the Eagles 28-22 on Thursday Night Football, failing to cover as 7-point road favorites. This line opened with Tampa Bay listed as a 10-point road favorite. Respected money has steamed Tampa Bay up to -12.5. It even reached as high as 13 or 14 at some shops before some Bears buyback hit the market. Tampa Bay enjoys a big rest advantage as they last played on Thursday while the Bears played on Sunday. Also, the Bears are only averaging 16 points on offense while the Bucs are averaging 33. I don’t think Chicago scores enough to keep it under two touchdowns. Despite the big number, I’ll lay the points with Brady at home against a rookie quarterback.

Gable’s Guess: If there’s one team you want to face when you have a depleted secondary like Tampa does, it’s Fields and Chicago. The Bears will continue to need to lean on their defense and their ability to force turnovers in order to stay in games. Tampa is susceptible in the passing game, but they still defend the run pretty well, which is the main strength of Chicago on offense. The Bears are definitely a run-first offense, especially with Fields at quarterback. He is still adjusting to the speed of the NFL game and certainly holds onto the ball too long. He seems to be missing open wide receivers at times. Perhaps this will turn out to be a game where we see him make some strides in the passing game. But I expect both teams to run the ball plenty here. It’s too big of a spread for me to back Tampa, so I’m going to take the under.

Rogers’ Recommendation: Tampa Bay is a heavy favorite against Chicago here and for good reason. The Buccaneers have scored 45, 48, and 31 points in three home wins, all as a favorite of 10 points or more. Chicago fell short against Green Bay last week, 24-14 in a game that the Bears trailed by three points with five minutes remaining. The Bears have been blown out twice as an underdog of 7.5 points this season against the Rams and Browns, but this is a good spot to back them with this many points. Best Bet: Chicago +12.5.

Our Pick: It’s a ton of points. But the Bears have lost by 20 twice already. We’ll lay the points with the Bucs.

Indianapolis Colts (+4, O/U 44) at San Francisco 49ers


A compelling matchup because … losers of three straight games to start the season, the Colts have won two of their last three games and will hope to make it three out of four on Sunday Night Football in San Fran. The 49ers should be well-rested after having last week off and it sounds as if Jimmy Garoppolo will return as the team’s starter with rookie quarterback Trey Lance banged up. The loser of this game likely kisses any chance of winning their division goodbye.

Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Colts (2-4 SU, 4-2 ATS) just demolished Houston 31-3, easily covering as 11.5-point home favorites. The 49ers (2-3 SU, 1-4 ATS) have lost three straight games, most recently falling to the Cardinals 17-10 and failing to cover as 6-point road dogs. This line opened with San Francisco listed as a 5-point home favorite. Wiseguys have taken the points with road dog Indianapolis, dropping the line from 5 to 4. The Colts match several profitable betting systems this season. Road teams that see the line stay the same or move in their favor are 39-26 ATS (60%). Short road dogs + 6 or less are 25-9 ATS (74%) this season. Primetime dogs are 12-6 ATS (67%). Give me the Colts plus the points in what feels like a field goal game. 

Gable’s Guess:  All signs seem to be pointing to Jimmy Garoppolo starting. The Colts’ defense has been very hit-or-miss this season. They had a late collapse against Baltimore, which wasted a very good Carson Wentz performance. But they took care of business last week when they had to. They were facing a very weak Houston team, but held them to only three points. This is a game where the loser may have a really tough time making the playoffs as both teams come in with losing records. The Colts have been leaning on running back Jonathan Taylor. He’s averaged 147 total yards per game in the last three weeks. In those three weeks, the Colts have gone 2-1. I think this game could come down to a field goal, so I’m going to take the points with the Colts.

Rogers’ Recommendation: Garoppolo is expected back in the lineup for the 49ers as San Francisco looks to snap a three-game slide. It’s been a tough stretch for the 49ers as they’ve lost to the Packers, Seahawks and Cardinals with Lance starting in the 17-10 loss to Arizona. Indianapolis has all of a sudden covered three straight games, while winning two of the three. However, San Francisco should be able to rebound here off the bye and beat Indianapolis. Best Bet: San Francisco -4.

Our Pick: The Colts have possibly turned a corner and it’s not certain Garoppolo will play. Take Indy and the points.

Last Week: 1-4; Season: 13-16-1

Editor’s note: Betting lines fluctuate throughout the week based on injuries, weather reports and other factors. Make sure to double-check odds before betting.