NFL Betting Predictions: Week 7 Opening Line Report and Picks
Could be a referendum on the futures of Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace, coach Matt Nagy and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky this Sunday with the Bears hosting the New Orleans Saints in what looked like a potential NFC title game preview back when the season began.
The Saints have done their part. Few NFL handicappers picked them to be in this spot after losing future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees to a thumb injury in Week 2. Chicago, meanwhile, hasn't had a Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback in about three generations and still clearly doesn't.
Pace traded a handful of draft picks to move up from No. 3 overall to No. 2 in the 2017 draft to take Trubisky even though he started just one season at North Carolina. Pace could have stayed put and taken either Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes or Clemson's Deshaun Watson. Both were multiple season starters in college and had a lot more success than Trubisky did. Obviously way early, but they both look bound for Canton someday as long as injuries don't factor in.
Meanwhile, after another losing season in 2017 under John Fox, Pace smartly fired him and hired Chiefs offensive coordinator Nagy - who was fairly in demand despite some serious offensive mistakes in Kansas City's playoff loss to the Titans in Nagy's final game there. Nagy was named NFL Coach of the Year in 2018 in leading Chicago to a 12-4 record and division title. He was the toast of the town. However, the Bears' offense wasn't all that great last year. It ranked 21st in yards per game and the team really only averaged 26.3 points because of a handful of defensive touchdowns. That defensive unit was the key to the season.
Chicago comes off a bye week and a hugely disappointing loss to the Raiders in Oakland. The Bears had one of the worst offensive halves in franchise history before rallying in the second, but they still totaled just 236 yards. Yes, it was backup Chase Daniel in for an injured Trubisky, but the company line was that Daniel knew the offense better because of his previous time with Nagy in Kansas City.
The Bears have yet to even reach 300 yards offense in a game this year. And this was a Super Bowl contender ? Trubisky had regressed in the three-plus games he had played, averaging just 5.5 yards per attempt with a rating of 81.0. Chicago had a week to get everyone on the same offensive page, and Trubisky is expected to return Sunday. This could be a career turning point, either good or bad, for the three guys we listed.
I'm frankly surprised the Bears opened as 3-point favorites vs. the Saints. Here are some other Week 7 early lines that caught my eye. We won't touch on Thursday's game (Chiefs at Broncos) or Monday's (Patriots at Jets) because we will be previewing them individually here at Doc's. The Browns, Steelers, Bucs and Panthers are on the bye. Picks are ATS.
Rams at Falcons (+3, 54): No clue what to think of the Rams these days after they lost a third in a row Sunday, 20-7 at home vs. the 49ers. I did like L.A. in that one until Todd Gurley was ruled out due to a thigh injury. That guy may never be the same. Think L.A. already has buyer's remorse over giving Jared Goff that huge contract? He was awful, throwing for just 78 yards and the team had only 157 total yards. Sean McVay offensive genius? OK. Atlanta dropped its fourth straight Sunday 34-33 in Arizona and I'm not sure why Coach Dan Quinn is still employed. Reportedly, owner Arthur Blank is giving him until the bye week (Week 9) to turn things around or he is gone. Then again, not Quinn's fault that Matt Bryant missed the tying extra point in the final minute. Bryant had missed just three extra points over the past 11 seasons before Sunday. The last time these two teams played, the Falcons were still good. They upset the Rams in L.A. 26-13 in the Wild-Card round following the 2017 season. Pick: Falcons.
Jaguars at Bengals (+3, 43.5): What the heck are the winless Cincinnati Bengals doing continually throwing quarterback Andy Dalton out there? Clearly, he's not going to be back next season with zero dead cap money attached to his contract. He wasn't good in Sunday's loss in Baltimore. The Jaguars looked like they were in quarterback trouble in Week 1 when Nick Foles went down injured, but now the franchise appears to have its future under center in Minshew, although he looked a bit overwhelmed in Sunday's loss to New Orleans. Isn't it time the Bengals take a look at third-rounder Ryan Finley out of NC State? He looked excellent in preseason. Sometimes you need luck (in the Jags' case) to find a good quarterback, but sometimes you need to be proactive (in the Bengals' case) when you have nothing else to lose. Pick: Bengals.
Cardinals at Giants (-3, 49.5): It's possible this could be the only time this season that two rookie quarterbacks face off. Arizona took Kyler Murray at No. 1 overall and New York selected Daniel Jones at No. 6. The only other rookie currently starting is Minshew, and Jacksonville doesn't play either of these teams. Washington does host the Giants in Week 16, and I'd think that Redskins rookie QB Dwayne Haskins would be starting by then. Jones could also get hurt before that too. New York was incredibly short-handed in last Thursday night's blowout loss at the Patriots, sans running backs Saquon Barkley and Wayne Gallman, No. 1 receiver Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram. Obviously too early to tell on them for this one, but Shepard surely won't be back from his second concussion. Arizona won its second in a row, the beneficiary of Bryant's missed PAT. The Cards get back Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson from suspension this week. Pick: Giants.
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