Chicago Bears teammates Lance Briggs (linebacker) and Charles Tillman (cornerback) set an NFL record in Chicago’s last outing by each returning an interception for a touchdown for the second straight game. No teammates had ever scored defensive TDs in back-to-back games. In a weird coincidence, Briggs and Tillman both did it from 36 yards last time out vs. Jacksonville (first game was at Dallas). Tillman has a franchise-record eight defensive scores in his career, and the Bears lead the NFL with five interception returns for touchdowns this season. Coach Lovie Smith stresses forcing turnovers, and the Bears have now recorded 30 defensive touchdowns under Smith.
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One of Bovada’s Week 7 specials is whether the Bears score a defensive touchdown in the Monday night game vs. Detroit: “No” at -500 and “Yes” at +300. The Lions are terrible in giving up special teams touchdowns but haven’t been too bad in turnovers with seven giveaways. The Bears are tied with Atlanta in leading the NFL with 17 takeaways. In a Monday night loss at Detroit last season, the Bears didn’t score a defensive touchdown. But in a Week 10 home win, the Bears scored on two interception returns (Tillman had one) and a Devin Hester punt return. If this prop were to read “non-offensive touchdown” I would roll the dice. But not just on defense.
Patriots receiver Wes Welker could tie an NFL record in Week 7 vs. the Jets. Welker has had four straight games with at least 100 yards receiving (tying a team record; NFL record is seven) and two straight with at least 10 catches and a touchdown. Should Welker have double-digit catches vs. the Jets, he would tie Jerry Rice for the most games all-time with at least 10 catches at 17.
Bovada offers two Welker props this week: Will Welker have at least 100 yards receiving (No -200, Yes +150) and will Welker have 100 or more receiving yards, 10 or more receptions, and one or more TDs (yes-only at +700).
The Jets have a good pass defense, allowing 209 passing yards per game (sixth in NFL) and six touchdown passes (tied for sixth). Of course, the Jets no longer have star cornerback Darrelle Revis, but they still haven’t allowed any receiver to get 100 yards or 10 catches this season. Welker didn’t come close to 10 catches in two games vs. New York last season (no touchdowns, either) but did have a 124-yard game. Two years ago, he had a 15-catch, 192-yard game vs. New York. I would go with the 100-yard prop but no on the other.
Finally, here are two interesting futures props for Week 7: What Will Ray Lewis’ status be for Week 1 of next season (player for Ravens -250, retire +250, play for another NFL team +500); and will Michael Vick be a member of the Eagles in Week 1 next season (yes -150, no +110).
Lewis is likely done for the year with a torn triceps and would be 38 next season. From what I have read in the Baltimore media, most believe there’s no way he would go out this way – he’s too proud. But Lewis’ son also will start college ball at the University of Miami next season (if he doesn’t redshirt), and he wants to see him play. Lewis won’t play for another team, forget that. I believe he does return for one final season in 2013.
As for Vick, he’s clearly tied to Andy Reid, and Reid’s status is tenuous to stay the least. Vick has been a turnover machine this season, and here is his contract status according to a Yahoo! story: “Vick is currently scheduled to earn $15.5 million in base salary in 2012, the third year of a five-year, $80 million contract. If Vick is on the Eagles' roster on the second day of the 2013 waiver period, which begins on the day after the Super Bowl, the $3 million that is currently guaranteed ‘for injury only’ will become fully guaranteed. Should the Eagles release Vick before that date, they'll save $15.5 million in cash and free up $12.7 million in salary cap space.”
If the Eagles somehow make a nice playoff run, he and Reid will return. Short of that, both are gone. I lean toward the latter.
Week 7 Sportsbook.ag Leaders
I hit on the highest-scoring team of last week (Packers), so now it’s time to get one of these “most” player props right (although I have come very close multiple times).
On the most passing yards prop, Drew Brees is the +300 favorite as the Saints come off a bye and visit Tampa Bay, which has the NFL’s second-worst pass defense. However, Brees has generally been not quite as good when he’s playing outside of a dome. And unless the Bucs built a roof on Raymond James Stadium this week, he won’t be playing in one in Tampa. The pick is Robert Griffin III at +1200 vs. the Giants. If you read my Week 7 team props story, you will see I picked the Giants to score the most points this week as Eli Manning faces Washington’s No. 32 pass defense. But I believe the G-Men get up big and that Griffin gets a ton of garbage yards.
On the rushing yards, Houston’s Arian Foster is the +300 favorite as the Texans face a Baltimore defense without Lewis (and Lardarius Webb). Normally it would be preposterous to pick a running back against the Ravens, but they are No. 26 against the run this year at 136.5 yards per game. I honestly don’t believe the team misses Lewis that much as he has slowed down, although Webb is another matter. I think the good Chris Johnson shows up for only the third time this season and the Titan is the choice at +1000 vs. Buffalo, which has the NFL’s worst run defense.
On the receiving end, I really like the Giants’ Hakeem Nicks (+800) vs. Washington, but I worry about his health. He apparently will play but could be one misstep or hit from heading to the sideline. Nicks has been in just three games so far with a knee problem and barely practices. Thus, I will go with the Saints’ Marques Colston at +1200 vs. the Bucs. Star tight end Jimmy Graham is a bit gimpy and might not even play, so Brees could target Colston more than usual.
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