NFL Football Predictions: Week 7 Opening Line Report and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 10/14/2014
Sometimes just when you think you have a handle on what's going on in the NFL, something like Week 6 happens. The Seahawks are the NFC's best team? Hardly. Maybe Dallas is. Ben Roethlisberger owns Cleveland? Maybe Brian Hoyer owns Pittsburgh. But the most crushing result from a betting perspective, at least for me, had to be the Broncos-Jets game. I took New York and the points, which was 8 to start the week and then as high as 10 by kickoff. Figured Denver would win but that it was a bit of a trap game. The Jets had the cover in the bag. It was 24-17 in the final minute. New York had the ball, and all the Jets had to do was tie it or not, you know, give up a touchdown to the Denver defense. So, of course, that's what Geno Smith did, getting picked off by Aqib Talib, who returned it 22 yards for a score with 15 seconds left. Only the Jets! You may have read that boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. won $600,000 because that pick led to Denver's cover. I'm guessing he "made it rain" at a Vegas-area strip club not soon after! The Broncos were the most popular bet in Vegas in Week 6, so it cost the books millions.
Here are a few games and interesting opening WagerWeb Week 7 lines.
49ers at Broncos (-6.5, 50.5): This is the clear game of the week and obviously one of the marquee matchups of the season. Of course, one major story line is that Peyton Manning needs three touchdown passes to break Brett Favre's career record of 508. Expect a Bovada prop on which player catches that, just like his 500th (that was Julius Thomas, who is on pace to break the single-season TD catches record). It's about the toughest short week possible for the Niners off their come-from-behind win Monday night in St. Louis. Colin Kaepernick had one of the best games of his career in that one. The news wasn't all good, however. Star linebacker Patrick Willis left with a toe injury and will have an MRI on Tuesday. The Niners thus could be without their three best linebackers in Aldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman and Willis. Starting left guard Mike Iupati is also in question with a concussion. The pick: Love this staying under 7 points and Denver.
Seahawks at Rams (+6.5, 43.5): I couldn't love Seattle here more. Obviously, you have St. Louis on the short week. But this is more because I believe the Seahawks will play incredibly hard and focused after getting pretty well dominated in Sunday's shocking home loss to Dallas, probably the biggest upset defeat of the year thus far in the NFL. Do you realize the Seahawks are just third in their own division? I don't know why they are still NFC favorites. They could be without four starters this week: tight end Zach Miller, Byron Maxwell, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and center Max Unger. I still like them. The pick: Seattle and the "under."
Browns at Jaguars (+5.5, 45): This is the week for Jacksonville, I am calling my shot. Yes, the Jaguars will finally score at least 20 points in a game this season on Sunday against Cleveland. Don't look now, but the Browns could be 6-2 heading into a big Thursday night game in Week 10 at Cincinnati. After this game, the Browns host the Raiders and Buccaneers. Talk about an easy stretch (Josh Gordon returns right after). What do the Browns do with Hoyer? He can become a free agent after the season, but obviously they used a first-round pick on Johnny Manziel. Hoyer isn't putting up huge numbers, but he's not turning the ball over. Cleveland is also third in the NFL in rushing. The Jags are playing better the past two games, losing to Pittsburgh by only eight and then having a real chance of winning in Tennessee last week but having a last-second long field-goal attempt blocked. The pick: Jacksonville. This game and Week 16 at home vs. the Titans are the Jags' two best chances for a win.
Giants at Cowboys (-5.5, 48): This would appear to be the ultimate definition of a letdown game for Dallas after beating the Super Bowl champs in their house. Should DeMarco Murray rush for 100 yards, he would set an NFL record by doing so in seven straight games to start a season. The Cowboys' offensive line has been fantastic but did lose right tackle Doug Free for up to a month with a foot injury. No idea which Giants team will show up. They looked terrible in Weeks 1-2, great in Weeks 3-5 and then putrid in Sunday night's 27-0 loss to the Eagles. New York also lost No. 1 receiver Victor Cruz to a season-ending injury. Still, the Giants have fared very well at AT&T Stadium since it opened. The Cowboys did sweep last year but both were close. The pick: New York and "over."
Dolphins at Bears (-3.5, 49): Chicago is another team I can't get a grasp of. The Bears are 0-2 at home yet have impressive road wins at San Francisco, the Jets (it looked impressive back then) and then Sunday in Atlanta when the Chicago defense played its best game since perhaps 2012. Chicago's Willie Young, a rather off-the-radar free-agent signing from Detroit, leads the NFL in sacks. The Bears catch a break here in that the Dolphins ruled out running back Knowshon Moreno for the season on Tuesday. I am curious to see how Miami reacts to blowing last week's game at home to Green Bay. The pick: Bears.
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