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Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2020 (February 8-17)

The English Winter Break is in play for the first time this season and I think it has not gone as well as the Premier League and the top clu...

Sunday, 25 October 2015

NFL Week 7 Picks 2015 (October 22-26)

I didn't look to make a move on the Thursday Night Football game this week although I should have gone with my gut and backed the Seattle Seahawks to win in San Francisco. I just thought the spread was a touch too high, but they have handled the 49ers so easily and that continued on Thursday.

My Week 6 Recap can be read here.

Then it is on to the Week 7 Picks.

Week 7 Picks
Atlanta Falcons @ Tennessee Titans Pick: This is only going to be a single unit play as I don't particularly trust the Tennessee Titans, but surely they are getting too many points here.

I know Marcos Mariota looks to be ruled out, but I have mentioned before that teams have a very high covering rate when using a back up Quarter Back in his first start. I am also a big fan of Zach Mettenberger and feel he is more than a career back up so I can see him having a big enough game to keep up with the Atlanta Falcons whose undefeated season is over.

The Offensive Line has been a problem though and Mettenberger is not the most mobile of Quarter Backs, but there are also holes in the Atlanta Secondary he can exploit. It will be all up to the Quarter Back considering the Tennessee running game has been virtually non-existent, but that might be enough for the Titans if the Defensive unit can contain Atlanta to some extent.

Atlanta haven't looked the same with Julio Jones banged up, but Matt Ryan should still have a big bounce back game from the loss to the New Orleans Saints. The Tennessee Secondary has been solid, but they have rarely seen a team like Atlanta who can throw the ball very effectively and the one time they did saw Indianapolis and Andrew Luck put up thirty-five points.

Ryan may also just simply hand the ball off to Devonta Freeman and allow the breakout Running Back to rip off huge yards on the ground. That will keep the chains moving, but I think Atlanta are off a disappointing loss and go back to Divisional action next week.

I also read a great stat that shows teams who have started 5-0 or better are covering around 40% of their games following their first loss of the season. With the back up Quarter Back statistic too, I think Tennessee might be given too many points here and being able to fade the public who have basically forgotten two teams are playing in this game has to be a bonus.

New Orleans Saints @ Indianapolis Colts Pick: The Indianapolis Colts might have fallen short in their 'revenge game' against the New England Patriots, but they can blame a really strange decision to fake punt in the Third Quarter as a reason for that. If they want to be more positive, the Colts can at least point out that Andrew Luck probably had his best game of the season and getting their starting Quarter Back up to speed was a key for them if they are to realise their season ambitions.

Andrew Luck should be able to pick up from where he left off last week and arguably will have it slightly easier against the New Orleans Saints. The Saints might have come out of a big Divisional game where they knocked off the Atlanta Falcons, but this game is on the road where they have not been as strong throughout the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era.

The Saints Secondary has been torched because they are simply not a cohesive unit back there and haven't been helped by a Defensive Line that has gotten minimal pressure up front. Cameron Jordan showed up towards the end of the win over the Falcons and this Indianapolis Offensive Line hasn't been very good all season, but Luck is mobile enough to escape pressure and hit a number of Receivers down field.

It won't be all down to Luck either as Frank Gore should be able to have a huge game against a New Orleans Defense allowing 4.8 yards per carry on the season. Ahmad Bradshaw is back to spot Gore and between the pair of those veteran Running Backs I expect the Colts to keep the Offense in third and manageable spots and that should lead to plenty of scoring opportunities.

Can Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints keep up with Indianapolis in this one? I wasn't sure there was much left in the Brees tank after his shoulder injury, but he should have a clean pocket to use and exploit a banged up Secondary of the Colts. Unfortunately Brees doesn't have the reliable targets of the past even if Benjamin Watson and Willie Snead are doing their best to support him and that's an issue for New Orleans.

Mark Ingram and CJ Spiller might not have much room on the ground so it will be down to Brees to keep the chains moving although I am expecting him to have success doing that. However, I don't really think New Orleans are as good as Atlanta made them look and even that game was won thanks to the Falcons shooting themselves in the foot.

New Orleans are just 4-9-1 against the spread as the road underdog and I think they are perhaps over-rated in this game thanks to their win over Atlanta last week. I think the Colts will score too many points and will win this one by at least a Touchdown.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs Pick: Ben Roethlisberger is still out for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Mike Tomlin might not be in any rush to push his starting Quarter Back knowing the team have gone 2-1 in his absence. If it wasn't for some poor Field Goal kicking, Pittsburgh would have been 3-0 without Big Ben and that has them in a great position to kick on as soon as their Quarter Back returns.

This week it is Landry Jones who will be getting the start at Quarter Back having sparked the Offense when Michael Vick went down last week. Don't be mistaken, Jones had a huge impact for the Steelers who barely had any positive yards in the first half of their win over the Arizona Cardinals until the former Oklahoma Sooner came in for an injured Vick.

The Pittsburgh Offense is now back to full strength with just Ben Roethlisberger missing in action, but that should give Jones a real chance to lead them to a road win. Of course a first road start at Arrowhead is going to be a difficult experience for Jones, but the Kansas City Chiefs are treading water at the moment.

It might need Jones to help the Steelers win this game because Le'Veon Bell looks to have a difficult match up trying to run the ball against this Chiefs Defensive Line. However, Bell will be a threat taking short screen passes or lining up in Receiver positions and that should open up the passing game against this Secondary that has given up some big yards through the season.

The key for the Quarter Back is making the reads quickly because Houston do have a very good pass rush that will put him under pressure and Pittsburgh may need to rely on a surprisingly good Defensive unit to help them through this game.

With Jamaal Charles out and Jeremy Maclin limited at best, Kansas City will have some difficulties in this one while the Offensive Line has barely given Alex Smith any time. In the last couple of years Pittsburgh might not have been able to get much pressure up front, but this Steelers team certainly have been able to hit the Quarter Back and I think they will get after Smith.

Smith will scramble for some first downs, but there won't be much running room on a consistent basis and the Chiefs might have a hard time sustaining drives in what looks like being a close game. However, Kansas City are going to London next week and teams are now 6-18 against the spread ahead of that trip and Pittsburgh are 9-5-1 against the spread as the road underdog.

Pittsburgh do face Cincinnati at home next week in a huge Divisional game, but I don't think they overlook this one and they are getting more points than I imagined they would. As long as Landry Jones isn't overawed by the road game in Arrowhead, I think he will keep this close and potentially lead the Steelers to another win without Ben Roethlisberger.

Houston Texans @ Miami Dolphins Pick: The Miami Dolphins showed the kind of performance that they were expected to have through the season when demolishing the Tennessee Titans last week. Dan Campbell showed he can get the team organised and playing as a cohesive unit on both sides of the ball as the Interim Head Coach and Miami showed a lot more heart than they did under Joe Philbin.

The Offensive Line looked much better against Tennessee than they have all season and Miami showed they can open holes for Lamar Miller at Running Back. It has been one of the surprising elements of the Houston Texans season that they had been struggling to stop the run, but they might have found the right formula and they have begun to improve in doing that.

With JJ Watt being double and triple teamed, Houston are looking for the other members of the Defensive Line to try and get to the Quarter Back but that has yet to happen consistently too. Ryan Tannehill was given plenty of time last week and he could perhaps have his second solid outing in a row after struggling early in the season to justify the big contract he had been given.

Moving the chains consistently for a second week in a row will be impressive from Miami, but the big question will be if the Defense can pick up their play again. After a really poor first four weeks of the season despite the money invested into the Defensive Line, Miami and Cameron Wake came to life last week as they consistently got into the Tennessee backfield and produced a number of Sacks.

The Houston Offensive Line has actually been pretty good in pass protection and Brian Hoyer is a solid, if unspectacular, Quarter Back who is definitely a better option than Ryan Mallett. He has hooked up with DeAndre Hopkins for some big plays and the Wide Receiver may have another solid game although Houston need to find some other consistent options in the passing game if they are going to produce a run of wins.

One problem they have had is establishing the run and Bill O'Brien needs to fix that to ensure his Offense can move the ball effectively through the game. While Miami have struggled to stop the run all season, Arian Foster is yet to really get uncorked for the Texans and this game might be on the arm of Hoyer instead.

This is a game between two Divisional games for Houston which makes it a difficult spot, but the Miami Dolphins face the cream of their Division in the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football. After a solid performance against Tennessee, Miami could potentially overlook the 'terrible' Texans while you can't ignore the fact they are 4-8 against the spread.

Getting more than a Field Goal start looks like to many points in this one and I will back the Texans to cover in what looks a much better spot for them than Miami.

New York Jets @ New England Patriots Pick: The tension between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots might have softened since Rex Ryan left the former as Head Coach. Todd Bowles isn't likely to be the confrontational Head Coach that Ryan was, but he has gotten the New York Jets playing some very good football and I can see them giving the New England Patriots plenty to think about this week.

There isn't too much you can say about Tom Brady and the New England Patriots Offense that most people won't know. They have a decent balance while the Quarter Back has been playing with a chip on his shoulder all season which is when he produces his best football.

However, there are some questions this week for Brady to deal with- Julian Edelman was a little banged up last week in the hands which took away his normal reliable performances. Rob Gronkowski remains a big weapon for Brady, but Darrelle Revis returns to New England and is capable of helping the Jets shut down one half of the field and slow down this Offense.

The Jets Defensive Line is very good too and they will have seen Dallas take advantage of the Offensive Line of the Patriots to hit Tom Brady and I can see New York getting into him too.

One aspect where the Jets might be able to be a little more effective than the Cowboys is giving their Defensive unit the chance to rest by prolonging drives. Chris Ivory has been huge for the New York Jets all season and he should be able to establish the run and keep the team in third and short situations for Ryan Fitzpatrick.

I am concerned that Fitzpatrick is yet to have the terrible game full of turnovers that have defined his career, but he has been able to manage games thanks to Ivory being so effective on the ground. I think it helps the Quarter Back that the likes of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker have been making some big plays in the passing game and I do think there are some issues in the New England Secondary that can be exploited.

Bill Belichick has a way of getting pressure on the Quarter Back, but this Offensive Line has been very good for the Jets all season. Establishing the run and Fitzpatrick's ability to get the ball out of his hands quickly will keep the chains moving for New York in this one and make this a closer game than many imagined.

The sharp money is down on the Jets and I also think New England's games with the Jets have generally been tight enough to believe more than a Touchdown worth of points is too many to be given to the Jets. New York are 7-3 against the spread as the road underdog in Divisional games and the Jets have covered in four straight games against New England and I will look for them to make it five in a row here.

Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants Pick: If the New York Giants weren't so banged up, you would think they were going to be too strong for a Dallas Cowboys team missing Dez Bryant and Tony Romo. However, I like the moves they made on their bye week by changing their Quarter Back to Matt Cassel and also pointing out that Christine Michael will have more touches running the ball.

In the last couple of weeks, we have seen the Giants begin to give up some yards on the ground and I think Dallas' Offensive Line has to show why they have been described as one of the best in the NFL before the season began. They haven't opened the holes that were expected for their Running Backs, but Michael offers them a bigger body than either Joseph Randle or Darren McFadden and I am pretty high on him.

Cassel is a game manager, but he should be asked to take some shots against this Giants Secondary that has struggled through the season and is missing some key pieces. There hasn't been much pressure from the Giants pass rush and I think Cassel is more mobile than Brandon Weeden and can make some plays with the ball.

The Giants have also begun to be a little banged up on the Offensive side of the ball and I think the Dallas Defense has been under-rated. They are now getting Randy Gregory back to join Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain and I really believe the Giants could have a tough time moving the ball consistently.

There hasn't been much running room for the Giants and that means the pressure is on Eli Manning to make the plays with his arm. He has been very good this season, but last week the Offensive Line had a really difficult time protecting Eli Manning and this Dallas team was very impressive in bashing up Tom Brady in their last game.

Sean Lee has been a huge piece for Dallas too, but the players that have returned have really improved the Cowboys and Odell Beckham is banged up and might not have the impact New York would hope. I expect Manning to be under pressure and Dallas are 5-1 against the spread as the road underdog in Divisional games.

New York are 6-10 against the spread as the home favourite in Divisional games themselves and I will have a small interest on Dallas covering.

MY PICKS: Tennessee Titans + 6 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Indianapolis Colts - 4 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (2 Units)
Pittsburgh Steelers + 2.5 Points @ 2.00 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Houston Texans + 4.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
New York Jets + 7.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Dallas Cowboys + 3 Points @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

Week 6: 3-5-1, - 3.33 Units
Week 53-5-1, - 3.48 Units
Week 44-3-1, + 2.24 Units
Week 38-2, + 9.03 Units
Week 24-5, - 1.71 Units
Week 15-2-1, + 6.46 Units

Season 201527-22-4, + 9.21 Units
Season 201477-80-2, - 8.47 Units
Season 201386-70-2, + 22.27 Units
Season 2012- 4.78 Units

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