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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...

Thursday, 17 October 2019

NFL Week 7 Picks 2019 (October 17-21)

I was lucky enough to have a ticket for the Carolina Panthers-Tampa Bay Buccaneers game that was played at Tottenham Hotspur in Week 6.

One it was a very good game even if the Buccaneers spent much of the second half almost finding a way back into things before making back breaking mistakes to fall to a defeat. Second the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is very, very impressive both inside and outside the venue and it is easily the best Stadium I have visited in the United Kingdom and surpasses Wembley as far as I am concerned.

There are still two more games to come in London although I am not going to be able to make either. The Houston Texans vs Jacksonville Jaguars game looks the best for those who are hoping to see one of the four NFL games that have been scheduled for the United Kingdom.

Detroit Lions hosed by the Officials: This whole season has shown that the Officials have not been on the ball as we would like to see, while the new rules to challenge pass interference calls have seen the outcome being erratic to say the least.

However the performance of Clete Blakeman and his crew was below even the low standards that have been set by the zebras in 2019.

Being on the nationally televised Monday Night Football highlighted the poor performance which effectively cost the Lions the game against the Green Bay Packers. I get the idea that Detroit should be looking at themselves for settling for too many Field Goals instead of working Touchdowns, but that's beside the point as far as I am concerned.

The Packers would likely have had to settle for a Field Goal on one drive which was extended by a bogus 'hands to the face call', while the game winning drive saw the Packers earn the same call again when it was clear as anything that Trey Flowers was not hitting the face of the Offensive Lineman.

Booger McFarland has taken over from Jason Witten as the main colour commentator for ESPN and he was rightly livid with the performance of the referees. I am not sure what is going to come out of this other than the Packers are 5-1 and Detroit dropped to 2-2-1, but it was an awful look for the NFL.

Is it worth firing Jason Garrett mid-season?: Most NFL teams don't want to fire a Head Coach during the regular season and especially not those who really believe they are destined for the PlayOffs and perhaps more.

Dan Quinn is almost certainly the next Head Coach that will be looking for a new job and I think he Atlanta Falcons will fire him during their next Bye Week.

However there has to be a growing feeling that the Dallas Cowboys should consider removing Jason Garrett who looks very unlikely to be given a contract extension at the end of this season. The Cowboys players are clearly frustrated with the Head Coach and three straight losses while showing Offensive predictability has to be putting the pressure on Jerry Jones to think about making a change and giving his talented roster a much better chance of going deep in the PlayOffs.

If there was a really experienced Coach working under Garrett the change would be easier to make, but Rod Marinelli didn't have a great time in his only other Head Coach role with the Detroit Lions.

For now I believe Jones when he says he is not preparing to fire Jason Garrett, but his mind could easily be changed if the Cowboys lose to Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football in Week 7. That would make it four straight losses for a lame duck Head Coach wh the players may not be respecting as much as they should and that would make the Week 8 Bye for the Cowboys a potential time to remove Garrett and try and save the season.

How many more big trades will be made before the deadline?: I am not talking about Fantasy Football trades here, but the NFL seems to have taken inspiration from some of the other major sports Leagues in the United States and that has led to more activity ahead of the trade deadline.

Jalen Ramsey was the latest big name to make a move as he heads west to the Los Angeles Rams from the Jacksonville Jaguars.

With teams looking to develop from mere contenders to genuine Super Bowl hopefuls and some veteran teams already in a world of trouble to even get into the PlayOffs I do think there are one or two big names to be targeted. Both the Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons may soon be 'selling clubs' and teams like the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles are always looking for someone to take them up a level so I would not be surprised to see plenty more activity over the next two weeks.

My Top Five
1) New England Patriots: they are the team to beat in the NFL, but I do think there are one or two vulnerabilities about the New England Patriots that won't be seen until they take a real step up in level of competition.

2) New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees is close to returning, but the Saints Defensive unit have stepped up to show they can carry this team as far as they want to go. Perhaps the best team in the NFC, especially when Brees is back.

3) San Francisco 49ers: I had them at Number 5 last week, but the 49ers had the most impressive win in Week 6 when blowing out the Los Angeles Rams on the road. The Defense is for real, but Jimmy Garoppolo still has to show he can make the plays to take the team deep into the PlayOffs.

4) Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers is losing Wide Receivers at an alarming rate, and they did need the Officials to help them win in Week 6. However the Packers are 5-1 and you have to think the Offense will be improved the more time they spend together.

5) Seattle Seahawks: This is very much down to the level that Russell Wilson is producing. I have the Seahawks knocking out the Kansas City Chiefs who have back to back losses and Patrick Mahomes dinged up.

My Bottom Five
32) Miami Dolphins: Losing to the previously winless Washington Redskins leaves them in pole position to earn the Number 1 Draft Pick, but Ryan Fitzpatrick almost secured the come from behind win.

31) Cincinnati Bengals: The Offensive Line is struggling and the Defensive unit can't stop anyone... That doesn't bode well.

30) Washington Redskins: They might have won in Week 6, but the Redskins were a two point conversion away from losing to the miserable Miami Dolphins which shows where they stand right now.

29) Atlanta Falcons: Another team that is struggling to protect the Quarter Back and have a Defense that is struggling all over the field. Dan Quinn is surely the next Head Coach to be removed following Jay Gruden in Washington.

28) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Might be a surprising choice, but Jameis Winston looks like a lame duck Quarter Back and the Defensive unit doesn't make enough plays in the Secondary. Bruce Arians might realise the size of the task in front of him.

Week 7 Picks
Week 6 proved to be a much better week than the last couple for the NFL Picks, but it would have been a very strong week if the Washington Redskins had not blown a 14 point lead over the Miami Dolphins in the Fourth Quarter.

I won't complain too much about a winning week though, especially as the Bengals made up for the Dolphins failure by scoring a garbage time Touchdown to get within the double digit spread set for the game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Hopefully I can build on the Week 6 successes with the selections from Week 7.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos Pick: Go back to the beginning of Week 5 and you would think the Kansas City Chiefs were going to surge clear of the rest of the AFC West after opening the season with a 4-0 run. Things have changed considerably since with the Chiefs heading into Week 7 off back to back home defeats to the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans.

The gap between the Kansas City Chiefs and the rest of the AFC West will be much tighter if they were to lose on a short week in Week 7 as they head to the Denver Broncos for Thursday Night Football. The Broncos are playing with the exact opposite momentum than the Kansas City Chiefs as they have put a 0-4 start to the season behind them and moved back to 2-4 following wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee Titans.

Momentum is one thing, but this is a Divisional rivalry that the Kansas City Chiefs have become to dominate since Andy Reid rocked up to become the Head Coach for the Chiefs. After losing the first five games to the Broncos, the Kansas City Chiefs have won seven in a row in the series and that has to be a big reason why they are favoured to win on the road at Mile High Broncos Stadium.

It is also the only reason I can really provide for why the public seem to be so behind the Chiefs to win off back to back losses. Granted Patrick Mahomes covered the spread the only other time he has faced that situation as the starting Quarter Back for Kansas City, but he looks a little hobbled at the moment and the Denver Broncos Defensive unit has shown signs of life in their wins over the Chargers and Titans.

Kansas City might feel they can just ease some of the pressure on Mahomes by running the ball effectively and I do think they will have chances to do that against the Broncos. While the Defensive Line is strong, it has not played up to the level you would have expected and so Kansas City should have an opportunity to at least manage the Offensive drives.

They can't afford penalties to be backed up though as the Broncos pass rush has finally come alive in the last couple of weeks after a miserable start to the season. Now they are getting after the Quarter Back and I do think the Kansas City Offensive Line's obvious weaknesses are beginning to show up with Patrick Mahomes struggling to move away from the pressures as he would do if he was 100% healthy on his ankle.

Patrick Mahomes is still producing some eye catching numbers and he is a player that regularly looks after the ball very well. Tyreek Hill being back allows the Chiefs to stretch the field with consistency, but Denver's Secondary remains a strength of the team and I do think the Broncos have an opportunity here to at least give themselves a real chance of the upset at home.

Vic Fangio and the Broncos have to have seen the blueprint that the likes of the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts have laid out the last couple of weeks and that is with a keen emphasis on ball control. The best way to do that is by running the ball and making sure the clock is moving and Patrick Mahomes and the much vaunted Kansas City Offense is sitting on the sidelines cooling off.

In the conditions that we tend to find in Denver, it will also be key in wearing out the Chiefs Defenders, especially those on the Defensive Line that have struggled to stop the run all season. Fortunately for the Broncos they have Philipp Lindsay and Royce Freeman in strong form and I do think Denver will be able to rip off some big gains on the ground which will mean Joe Flacco is doing nothing more than managing this game.

Flacco might also open up his arm in play-action situations against the Chiefs pass rush that has been struggling in recent games. Running the ball has the knock on effect on slowing down those looking to pin back their ears and get after the Quarter Back and I do thin the Broncos can score plenty of points as long as they avoid getting into silly penalty situations.

Joe Flacco has been guilty of some terrible mistakes in losses to the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears which has contributed to the losing record, but he should be left in a good position throughout this game to not have to take too many risks. With the Broncos expected to run the ball with some real consistency, I do think Denver can cover and possibly win this one outright.

Kansas City do have some very favourable trends behind them, but I do think injuries and the inability to stop the run is key to the outcome of this one. The Broncos are 10-2 against the spread on the short week too and remain at home so everything feels set to oppose the public who can't believe that they only need the Chiefs to win by more than a Field Goal to cash in.

Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills Pick: It has been almost twenty years since the Buffalo Bills have been favoured by as many points as they going into Week 7, and the players are well aware of the expectation on their shoulders. Sean McDermott has made it clear that they are not focusing on that but instead looking to keep the momentum of a strong start to the 2019 season behind them as the Bills come out of their Bye Week.

An upset win at the Tennessee Titans helped Buffalo move back to 4-1 and recover from the first loss of the season when going down to the New England Patriots at home. They will be confident they can do enough to earn a Wild Card spot in the AFC considering how well the Defensive unit have played, although Buffalo will be hoping to see continued development from Josh Allen and the Offense.

We might get a chance to see the very best of the Bills in Week 7 as they host the hapless Miami Dolphins. A bit of Ryan Fitzpatrick magic almost helped the Dolphins come back from 14 points down in the Fourth Quarter against the Washington Redskins last week, but a decision to go for two rather than the tie proved the difference, although Fitz Magic will be in play on Sunday.

The uncertainty at Quarter Back is just a small part of the issues for the Miami Dolphins who have parted way with pretty much every valuable piece they had on the roster over the last several months. It is very difficult to see how the Dolphins can establish any kind of consistent Offense in this game barring the Buffalo Bills being very complacent and it might even be asking too much for the Dolphins to get up to 10 points in this one with everything being equal.

An inability to establish the run has seen the Miami Dolphins place Kenyan Drake on the trading block and I really don't think the Offensive Line is going to have much success in this one either. The Buffalo Defensive Line is stout up front and it is going to mean Ryan Fitzpatrick having to make plays from third and long spots to keep the chains moving.

Even that is going to be problematic with the Offensive Line struggling in pass protection and I do think the Bills pass rush is going to be swarming all over Fitzpatrick any time he drops back to throw. The Buffalo Secondary has been very difficult to throw on anyway, and I do think it is going to be a long day for Dolphins fans waiting for points this weekend.

Running the ball is not going to be a big problem for Frank Gore, Josh Allen and the rest of the Buffalo Offensive unit and I think the Offensive Line will be very excited about the prospect of this game. The Bills are producing 4.8 yards per carry and the Dolphins Defensive Line have shown little up front to suggest they are going to slow them down too much.

It will only help Josh Allen and the passing game for Buffalo with play-action likely going to be a factor for them, while the Quarter Back can run the ball himself whenever plays break down in front of him. The biggest concern with Allen is that he can sometimes be a little loose with his throws which leads to Interceptions, but this is the worst Secondary in the NFL especially without Xavien Howard and Allen will really have to play without concern to give the ball away in this one.

Buffalo don't exactly scream a powerful Offensive unit which makes this spread look a big one, but the Defensive unit can limit what the Dolphins are able to produce and that should be key to the cover. The Bills have been good coming out of their Bye Week in recent seasons and Miami are just 3-13 against the spread in the last sixteen road games played.

You could wonder about a backdoor cover, but I think Josh Rosen might be back in the game for the Dolphins by the end of this one and he will be under heavy heat from the Buffalo pass rush which should prevent that happening.

Los Angeles Rams @ Atlanta Falcons Pick: Any time a team loses three games in a row in the NFL there are going to be some big questions that need to be answered, but the Los Angeles Rams have been busy trying to change things with big trades made over the last week. The most notable might be the decision to bring in Jalen Ramsey to help an ailing Secondary, but the Rams need their top players from 2018 to begin to step up if the current NFC Champions are going to have a chance to defend their crown in the PlayOffs.

The home loss to the San Francisco 49ers off the back of a road defeat to the Seattle Seahawks are huge blows for the Rams and sees them 2.5 games out of the Division lead in the NFC West. Another defeat will begin to have some question whether the Rams are good enough for a PlayOff berth, especially if they are beaten by a team with way more issues than themselves.

Los Angeles have lost three in a row to fall to 3-3, but the Atlanta Falcons have dropped four in a row to fall to 1-5 and the feeling is the window for this current team to compete is firmly closed. Matt Ryan can still produce some big numbers, but Atlanta look like a team going through the motions and with a lame duck Head Coach who is not getting the best out of his team.

Dan Quinn has tried everything to turn things around, but a defeat to the lowly Arizona Cardinals in Week 6 just shows where the Falcons are right now. They are struggling in the trenches on both sides of the ball and any team that does that is going to have issues winning Football games.

Some of the Offensive problems for Atlanta are down to the fact that they have not found a way to establish the run and I expect to see more of the same in Week 7. The Falcons are only producing 3.5 yards per carry over their last three games and the Los Angeles Defensive unit's big strength is the Defensive Line which has clamped down on the run no matter who they have faced.

Secondary concerns have seen Ramsey brought in from the Jacksonville Jaguars and Matt Ryan will feel his has enough skill players in the Receiving areas to make some big plays through the air. His problem remains operating behind an Offensive Line which has struggled in pass protection and while I think Ryan will have some big moments, I also think drives are going to be stalled by Sacks and Penalties for the Falcons.

Offensive Line concerns have also been affecting the Los Angeles Rams, but they will be boosted by the likely return of Todd Gurley who missed the defeat to the San Francisco 49ers last week. The Rams have been decent when it comes to establishing the run rather than in pass protection for Jared Goff and I do think the likes of Gurley and Malcolm Brown can at least slow down any pass rush that the Falcons are able to generate.

It will still be mainly up to Goff to make his plays through the air to help the Rams get back to winning ways and I do think he is going to be experience having a bit more time than he has during the three game losing streak. Atlanta have very little pass rush pressure being put together as the Defensive unit has struggled in all aspects of their game and I do think Goff will be able to have a bounce back performance after a terrible Week 6 effort.

There has been very little sign of the Falcons slowing anyone down through the air and I do like the road team here.

I have to respect the fact that the Falcons have beaten the Philadelphia Eagles at home in 2019, but Dan Quinn looks to have lost his team and I am not sure the excitement levels will be as high as they were in Week 2. And especially not when you think the Falcons have dropped four in a row and likely will be parting with the Head Coach in the next few weeks.

Los Angeles have covered in their last five road games and they are 10-3-1 against the spread in their last fourteen when coming off a double-digit loss at home.

Matt Ryan has been very strong in his role as the starting Quarter Back as the home underdog and covered in that spot against the Eagles. That has to be respected, but I do think the overall team might be a little down with no confidence in the Head Coach and the Rams can win a high-scoring game here.

Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts Pick: The Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars look to have some serious issues that need to be cleared up and that leaves the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts as looking like they are in a straight fight to win the AFC South.

Both teams have winning records with the Colts half a game behind the Texans having been on a Bye Week in Week 6. Both teams are also coming in off upset wins over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium and the layers are finding it very difficult to separate the Colts and the Texans.

Houston are playing with the confidence that comes with back to back strong Offensive performances and they will have full belief in their ability to earn some revenge over Indianapolis who beat them in the PlayOffs last season. In fact all three games played between the Texans and Colts in the 2018 season were won by the road team and I would not be surprised to see that as the outcome of this one too.

The Texans have found a very good balance on the Offensive side of the ball with Carlos Hyde showing there is still something left in the tank. He has been helped by the legs of Duke Johnson and Deshaun Watson in giving the Houston Texans 5.1 yards per carry in their last three games and I do think the Indianapolis Colts have struggled to shut down the run without inspirational Linebacker Darius Leonard who will be missing again in all likelihood on Sunday.

An ability to pound the rock is huge for the Texans as it just opens things up for Watson and the passing game which has shown huge leaps in the last couple of weeks. Both DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller have shown they can make big time plays for Watson and this Colts Secondary have had some issues stopping the pass.

Their main Defense to the pass has been ball control through their own Offensive unit and that will be the challenge for the Colts again having kept Patrick Mahomes on the sidelines for the majority of the second half in their Week 5 upset. Over the course of the 2019 season you would think the Colts have shown enough to establish the run here too, but the Houston Defensive Line is improving in each week and I don't think it is a foregone conclusion.

Marlon Mack and Jacoby Brissett offer the same kind of threat as Hyde and Watson for the Houston Texans, but the Texans will feel they have a better chance of at least controlling the Line up front. Forcing the Colts to have to rely on the arm rather than the legs of Brissett is the key, but even then there is no suggestion to think Indianapolis won't have their moments too.

Brissett has been well protected by the Offensive Line in recent games so he should find time to attack a Houston Secondary that has given up some big plays. TY Hilton is a huge Receiving threat for the Colts and I would not be surprised if these two teams do have moments where they are moving the ball up and down the field.

However I am leaning towards the road underdog Quarter Backed by Deshaun Watson who has a very strong record as the road underdog in his short NFL career. Back to back road games is tough on any team, but I really like the way the Houston Texans have been operating and I think they can make a few more plays on the Defensive Line to at least force some stops.

The Coaching edge is with Indianapolis, but the road team has improved to 8-1-2 against the spread in the last eleven between these Divisional rivals. It isn't much of a line, but I will take the Houston Texans as the road underdog in what should be a fun Divisional game.

MY PICKS: Denver Broncos + 3 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Buffalo Bills - 16.5 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Los Angeles Rams - 3 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Houston Texans + 1 Point @ 1.91 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Oakland Raiders + 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Dallas Cowboys - 3 Points @ 2.00 William Hill (2 Units)

Week 6: 6-3, + 4.84 Units (18 Units Staked, + 26.89% Yield)
Week 54-5, - 2.72 Units (18 Units Staked, - 15.11% Yield)
Week 43-6, - 6.54 Units (18 Units Staked, - 36.33% Yield)
Week 35-2, + 3.28 Units (12 Units Staked, + 27.33% Yield)
Week 23-4, - 2.70 Units (14 Units Staked, - 19.29% Yield)
Week 14-4, + 0.16 Units (15 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

Season 201925-24, - 3.68 Units (95 Units Staked, - 3.87% Yield)

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