Saturday, October 20, 2018

NFL Week 7 Primer (With Picks): Just The Picks, Ma'am - Just The Picks

Drew Brees and the explosive Saints offense will take on Baltimore's shutdown defense in one of the biggest matchups of the weekend.
By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin) and Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Jeremy is tired. He's spent this week watching the Red Sox win the pennant rather than trying to come up with something interesting to write in this here preview part of the weekly picks. So we're skipping the preview. Like, basically all of it - you're reading the preview right now.

We put together a slightly more respectable week last week. We agreed on 12 picks and went 6-5-1 (a winning record!). We disagreed on just three picks last week, and Joe took home winners with the Jets and 49ers, while Jeremy won by a half-point with the Chiefs. Entering Week 7, Joe currently sits 12 games under .500, so he only needs to be one game better than a standard issue coin per week over the rest of the season (plus another single game here or there) to get back on the winning side. Jeremy has an uphill battle - he's 20 games worse than average. He's pretty embarrassed about it. Let's just get to the picks.

Here Are The Picks We Agree On (Home Teams In CAPS)

Denver (-1) over ARIZONA

Once again, we're starting the week off right. Neither of us have much to say about it because neither of us watched it. There was too much baseball and basketball on to distract us from what turned out to be maybe the least-watchable prime time game of the season to this point.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-6.5) over Tennessee

JC: I think the Titans stink. Their offense is atrocious and I think their defense is grossly overrated. I think the Chargers are really good. They've played kind of a creampuff schedule - their wins are over Buffalo, San Francisco, Oakland, and Cleveland - but they've outscored those teams by a combined score of 124-71. That's a pretty good margin. I'll continue to ride the Chargers until they play a real team again.

JP: The Chargers at least have an NFL offense, and a pretty good one to boot. Against Tennessee's offense, that's all you really need to cover a touchdown spread.

New England (-3) over CHICAGO

JC: I thought Chicago had a good defense until they allowed Miami - yes, Miami - to accrue 541 yards of total offense. Miami. With Brock Osweiler at quarterback. Brock. Osweiler. 541 yards. The Dolphins. Brock Osweiler. Sure, it's just one game, but, like, come on, you know? The Patriots offense clearly seems to be back (38, 38, and 43 points their last three weeks), and while Chicago seems to be on the rise, I think I feel about them the same way I feel about the Chargers. I'll trust them most of the time to beat up on bad teams (particularly at home), but if they're playing against a real team, I don't quite trust them that much yet.

JP: The Patriots are rolling, and Chicago is coming back down to Earth. This line should be at least 4.5.

Cleveland (+3.5) over TAMPA BAY

JC: Tampa Bay has one of the worst defenses I've ever seen. Tulsa could probably put up 400 yards on the Bucs defense. This Brows team is still frisky - I'm willing to take them against other medium-or-worse teams, especially when they're getting the gravy half-point, which would have covered the spread in each of their other two road games this year (losses by three in both New Orleans and Oakland).

JP: Frisky is a good word for Cleveland (I like it better than scrappy), and that extra half-point has me feelin' good.

Carolina (+4.5) over PHILADELPHIA

JC: Honestly, I'm still not sure I want to be buying on the Eagles right now. Their wins are over the Falcons, Colts, and Giants (combined record - 4-14), and they've lost to the Bucs, Titans, and Vikings, and I'm not convinced that any of those teams are good. Their defense looks fine, but I still don't quite get what their offense does well. Carolina is coming off a loss where they actually looked okay - their defense is still strong and their offense had a chance to win the game in the final seconds. If I'm getting this many points, I'm not thinking twice.

JP: Don't look now, but Philly is a middle of the pack offense (17th) and defense (15th). The Eagles are playing better as Carson Wentz finds his footing, but Carolina's elite defense is enough to keep the Eagles in check, and Cam should have a field day against the struggling Philly D.

Buffalo (+7.5) over INDIANAPOLIS

JC: Look, I'm sorry, but the COLTS. Are GIVING. MORE. Than a TOUCHDOWN? Are you KIDDING ME? The Bills are bad, but they have two actual factual wins, and a defense that's 3rd best in total yards allowed. Derek Anderson will start at quarterback, which means that Nathan Peterman won't. That's worth a touchdown by itself. I actually think the Bills are a worthwhile football team. They might just be better than the Colts straight up. I don't understand this line at all, which, given my track record this season, kind of scares me, but it seems too juicy to pass up.

JP: Ugh, Buffalo.

Minnesota (+3.5) over NEW YORK JETS

JC: I guess I really like road teams this week. Minnesota's defense is bouncing back after a really poor showing against the Rams, and I feel like they're still getting some residual disrespect after their loss to the Bills, which was now almost a month ago, and they have a competitive loss to the Rams and wins over Philadelphia (on the road) and Arizona (by double-digits) since then. That seems like they're starting to take care of business. On the Jets, I'm still not ready to lay points against a real team, especially giving up the extra half-point. The Jets might be okay, but I'm not fully on board yet.

JP: The Jets are better than I thought, and I've happily taken them and given points this season, but not against this Vikings offense.

Los Angeles Rams (-9.5) over SAN FRANCISCO

JC: The Rams have burned us two weeks in a row, winning but not by enough to cover on the road the last two weeks (even giving up a backdoor cover to Denver last week), and here they are laying a big spread on the road once again. I just can't quit these Rams - they'll get back to blowing out teams soon enough. Hopefully this week.

JP: I've been betting on Rams blowouts and getting disappointed lately, so either LA is about to win by a million, or get shocked by the Niners. I'll go with the former, but I'm not counting out the latter.

ATLANTA (-4.5) over New York Giants

JC: Atlanta's offense got back to clicking last week, and their defense went back to well, sucking. The defense is bad, nobody is denying that, but the offense is still one of the best outfits in the league. The Giants might be able to get some offensive rhythm against this Atlanta defense, but even if they do, I don't think I buy them being able to keep up with the Falcons at home. This seems like a high-scoring game that the Falcons put away late.

JP: Could Eli make it a trend and retire at halftime?

Here Are The Picks We Disagree On (Home Team Still in CAPS)

JC: MIAMI (+3) over Detroit

So far this season, I'd say Detroit and Miami are the two teams that I have the worst feel for. I've missed on every Detroit game so far this season, and I'm 1-5 picking Miami games (my only win was their loss against Cincinnati). If I have no grasp on either team, I'm just going to take the points (especially for the home team against a dome team) and move on.

JP: Detroit (-3) over MIAMI

Agreed. Good luck figuring out either of these teams, but I can't trust Brock Osweiler two weeks in a row.

JC: KANSAS CITY (-6) over Cincinnati

I really want to take the points here, because Kansas City's defense is actually pretty bad (especially without Eric Berry and Justin Houston), but if the Chiefs are at home and coming off a loss, I think they're going to put up a lot of points, and I'm not sure that the Bengals can keep pace. I really like this Bengals team, but not go-on-the-road-and-take-down-the-Chiefs like them.

JP: Cincinnati (+6) over KANSAS CITY

Both teams are looking to get back on track, but Cincy absolutely needs a win after blowing last week's game against Pittsburgh. Not sure if they pull it off, but I know the Bengals have the fire power to keep pace.

JC: JACKSONVILLE (-4.5) over Houston

If the Jaguars are going to get back on track, playing at home against a division rival that seems better than they are thanks to an easy schedule seems like the place to do it. Jacksonville needs to get their offense right (or at least just stop turning the ball over), and they've actually played well at home (putting up 31 each against the Patriots and Jets). Like, even against the Chiefs, they had 500+ yards of total offense, but just couldn't hold onto the ball. I think they'll be fine.

JP: Houston (+4.5) over JACKSONVILLE

Guys, I'm beginning to lose faith in the Jaguars. Blake Bortles hasn't looked great since the New England game, and this defense is getting seemingly worse against the run. Houston is middle of the pack running the ball, but I think they'll be able to move it enough to keep things close.

JC: BALTIMORE (-2.5) over New Orleans

The Ravens currently sit at the top of the league in both scoring and yardage defense. Their defense has allowed six total touchdowns in six games. That seems pretty good. New Orleans has a pretty spectacular offense, ranking first in scoring and third in yardage. So, something has to give here. The Saints are coming off a bye week, but the Ravens are at home (and dome teams playing outdoors on the road in cold weather is always worth keeping in mind). With the line just short of a field goal, I'm fine with taking the Ravens. I don't love it, but if the game is close I'll take the home team with the great kicker.

JP: New Orleans (+2.5) over BALTIMORE

Not sure I can bet against Drew Brees and all his weapons after last week.

JC: WASHINGTON (-1.5) over Dallas

I think I hate all of the teams in the NFC East. Nobody is consistent, none of the four teams have a specific standout strength - it just seems like it's going to be a three-way rock fight among the non-New York teams and whoever gets to 9-7 will win the division. Washington seems like the most competent team so far, and if they're at home giving less than a field goal, that seems like a fair price.

JP: Dallas (+1.5) over WASHINGTON

Dallas has, uh, momentum?...

Jeremy's Record:
Last Week: 7-7-1
Season: 34-54-5
Last Week's Disagreements: 1-2
Season's Disagreements: 12-16-1

Joe's Record:
Last Week: 8-6-1
Season: 38-50-5
Last Week's Disagreements: 2-1
Season's Disagreements: 16-12-1

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