Los Angeles Rams vs. New York Giants: 2016 Week 7 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Rams (3-3) vs. New York Giants (3-3) at London

The Rams have fallen back to earth in the last 2 weeks, losing back-to-back games after a surprising 3-1 start. They’re healthier now than they’ve been for a couple weeks, getting defensive ends Robert Quinn and William Hayes back from injury, but they’re still without defensive tackle Michael Brockers and cornerback Trumaine Johnson. They’ll be better defensively with their top-2 pass rushers back, but they’re far from good even with Quinn and Hayes. On the season, they rank 29th in first down percentage differential. Even when they started the season 3-1, they lost the first down percentage battle in all 3 games. Their 3 wins have come by a combined 15 points, but their losses have come by a combined 42, giving them a point differential of -27, 7th worst in the NFL.

The Giants, meanwhile, are better on both sides of the ball and come into this game ranked 6th in first down percentage differential. They’re just 3-3, but that’s pretty impressive considering they’re -10 in turnover margin. Turnover margin tends to be very inconsistent from week-to-week and if the Giants have just an even turnover margin going forward it should be noticeable on the scoreboard. It also helps that the Rams are probably the worst team they’ve played all year, as the Giants have had the toughest strength of schedule of any team thus far this season. This team is better than their record and the schedule is easier moving forward, starting this week. Not only is 3 points is too few, but the favorite also usually covers in these London games, going 9-4 ATS in the last 13, as better teams tend to do a better job of handling a weird situation like this. I like the Giants at 3 and I like them a lot more than 2.5 if you can get it.

New York Giants 24 Los Angeles Rams 17

Pick against the spread: NY Giants -3

Confidence: Medium

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins: 2016 Week 7 NFL Pick

Buffalo Bills (4-2) at Miami Dolphins (2-4)

One of my favorite things to do as a bettor is go against significant week-to-week line movements. Ordinarily, they’re the result of overreaction to a single week and they create line value in either direction. The line did only move a point from 2 on the early line last week to 3 this week, but, considering about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal, that’s a significant movement. In this case, the Bills’ 45-16 trouncing of the lowly 49ers is likely the reason behind the line movement, but the Dolphins had arguably just as impressive, if not more impressive of a week, winning 30-15 at home against a good Steeler team.

The Bills are a better team than the Dolphins, coming into this game in 9th in first down percentage differential, while the Dolphins come in 21st, but I still think we’re getting good value with the Dolphins as field goal home underdogs. Homefield is usually about 3 points, so that suggests the Dolphins would be around 8 or 9 point underdogs in Buffalo, which is what San Francisco was last week. The Dolphins are significantly better than the 49ers. They’re without top safety Reshad Jones with a season ending injury, a huge loss for this secondary, but Buffalo is expected to be without running back LeSean McCoy and remain without top defensive lineman Marcell Dareus. In addition, Miami is going into only their 2nd game of the season with a fully healthy offensive line and it seemed to make a big difference last week.

The Bills are also in an obvious look-ahead situation with a huge divisional game against the Patriots next week. That game could potentially be for the division and would give the Bills their first season sweep of the Patriots in the Tom Brady era. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if the Bills seem less focused and play less than their best this week, especially given how much Rex Ryan is obsessed with trying to beating Bill Belichick. The early line has the Bills as 6 point home underdogs and road favorites are understandably just 16-30 ATS since 2012 before being home underdogs. In addition, teams are just 37-85 ATS since 2012 before a home game in which they’ll be underdogs of at least 4.5 points. The only reason this isn’t my Pick of the Week is because the Dolphins are coming off of a home upset victory and teams are 53-76 ATS in that spot since 2012, but I’m still very confident in the Dolphins getting a field goal.

Miami Dolphins 20 Buffalo Bills 17 Upset Pick +125

Pick against the spread: Miami +3

Confidence: High

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

New Orleans Saints at Kansas City Chiefs: 2016 Week 7 NFL Pick

New Orleans Saints (2-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-2)

The Saints pulled off a big upset win over the Panthers last week, winning 41-38 in a crazy shootout. That’s obviously a huge win, even if the Panthers aren’t what they were last year, but teams tend not to cover off of a big home upset victory, as teams are 53-76 ATS following a home upset victory since 2012. It makes sense that teams would be overconfident and/or overvalued off of a home upset victory. On top of that, the Saints have to turn around and hose the Seahawks next week, another huge home game. The early line has them as 5.5 point home underdogs and teams are just 37-85 ATS since 2012 before a home game in which they’ll be underdogs of at least 4.5 points, which also makes sense. Huge upcoming home games can be a distraction for teams.

The Chiefs are at least a solid opponent as well, ranking 12th in first down percentage differential, but it’s very possible the Saints won’t be focused this week or at least won’t be focused enough to keep it close here against a superior Chiefs team. We’re not really getting much line value with the Chiefs as 6 point favorites and there’s not quite enough for me to put money on this (though that might change if it drops to 5.5), but Kansas City should be the right side here.

Kansas City Chiefs 31 New Orleans Saints 23

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -6

Confidence: Low

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles: 2016 Week 7 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (5-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-2)

The 5-0 Vikings are the NFL’s final remaining undefeated team. They’ve been impressive overall, but their offense actually has struggled to move the ball effectively for most of the season. On 310 offensive plays, they have just 87 first downs (fewest in the NFL) and 9 touchdowns (2nd fewest in the NFL), a 30.97% first down percentage, 31st in the NFL. As a result, they rank just 16th in first down percentage differential, despite an outstanding defense that allows the 4th lowest first down percentage.

They’re 5-0 largely because of a +11 turnover margin and a +4 return touchdown margin. That’s very impressive, but it’s also unsustainable. In fact, there’s almost no week-to-week correlation in turnover margins; teams that have strong turnover margins in one week are just as likely to have poor turnover margins the following week as any other team. If the Vikings are going to continue winning, they’re going to have to play better and won’t be able to rely on the turnover margin.

They have a tough test this week on the road in Philadelphia and have a good chance to lose their first game of the season. The Eagles were the best team in the league through the first 3 games of the season, defeating Cleveland, Chicago, and Pittsburgh all by double digits, the only team in the league to win each of their first 3 games by double digits. They’ve since lost 2 straight, but their loss in Detroit came by just one point and it’s very possible they got caught looking forward to this game in last week’s 7 point loss in Washington.

Overall on the season, they still rank 17th in first down percentage differential, just one spot behind the Vikings and they should be much more focused and this week. Last week’s loss in Washington moved this line from Philadelphia being favored by a point on the early line to Philadelphia now being 3 point home underdogs. About 1 in 4 games are decided by 3 points or fewer, so getting a full field goal is more than it seems. Considering I have these teams about even and the Eagles should probably be favored by a full field goal at home, getting the full field goal with them is a great value.

I love to fade significant week-to-week line movements whenever it makes sense and it makes sense here. Also, despite the line movement, the public is still all over Minnesota and I also love fading the public whenever it makes sense as the public always loses money in the long run. The only reason Philadelphia isn’t my pick of the week is they have another tough game on deck against the Cowboys, while the Vikings have a very easy game in Chicago, meaning they have no real upcoming potential distractions, while the Eagles do. Teams are 81-57 ATS since 2012 before being road favorites of 4+ and the Vikings are 5.5 point favorites in Chicago on the early line. I still like the Eagles a lot at a field goal though, as a field goal is a good amount of protection at home against a team with an underwhelming offense.

Philadelphia Eagles 17 Minnesota Vikings 16 Upset Pick +130

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia +3

Confidence: High

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Washington Redskins at Detroit Lions: 2016 Week 7 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (4-2) at Detroit Lions (3-3)

I have these two teams as more or less equal. They’re also very similar, as both teams have effective offenses, but weak defenses. In terms of first down percentage, Detroit ranks 4th offensively and Washington ranks 5th, but Washington is a few spots higher on the defensive side (25th and 30th) and, as a result, a few spots higher overall (20th vs. 23th). However, the Lions have been without top defensive lineman Ezekiel Ansah for most of the season thus far (limited to 85 snaps in 3 games by injury).

The Lions remain without defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and linebacker DeAndre Levy, two key players on this defense, but Ansah is now in his 2nd game back and could make a big impact on this game, after playing just 32 snaps in his first game back last week. Meanwhile, the Redskins are without tight end Jordan Reed, arguably their best offensive weapon. The Redskins won without Reed last week, but he’s such a good player that it really hurts to not have him out there. Despite that, the Lions are only favored by a point here at home. These two teams are even, so this line should be at least 3 in favor of the host.

On top of that, the Redskins are in a bad spot coming off of last week’s home upset victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Teams tend not to cover off of a big home upset victory, as teams are 53-76 ATS following a home upset victory since 2012. It makes sense that teams would be overconfident and/or overvalued off of a home upset victory. On top of that, the Redskins have to fly overseas and play the Bengals in London next week and teams are 8-19-1 ATS before playing in London all-time, which also makes sense. As long as this line is under 3, it’s worth putting money on Detroit. This figures to be a shootout, but the Lions should be able to win by at least a field goal at home.

Detroit Lions 31 Washington Redskins 27

Pick against the spread: Detroit -1

Confidence: Medium

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Oakland Raiders at Jacksonville Jaguars: 2016 Week 7 NFL Pick

Oakland Raiders (4-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3)

The Raiders were one of my underrated teams coming into the season but, despite a 4-2 start, I’ve been very disappointed with them. Their record is misleading, as their first 5 games were all decided by a touchdown or fewer (with 3 of them decided by 3 points or fewer). The only game they’ve played that’s been decisive either way was last week’s crushing 26-10 home loss to divisional rival Kansas City. They also rank 27th in first down percentage differential, thanks primarily to a defense that ranks 29th in first down percentage allowed.

Their offense, which ranks 9th in first down percentage, might actually be exceeding my expectations a little bit, but their defense has been horrendous, as they have not played up to their talent level at all. That could still happen going forward, as they are, on paper, one of the more complete teams in the NFL, with strong talent on both sides of the ball, but it’s far from a guarantee at this point. A week ago, I would have been all over Oakland as underdogs of any amount of points in Jacksonville, but I’m less confident in them now, as 1 point road underdogs.

I am still taking Oakland though and it’s not because, on paper, they have a significant talent advantage. They’re also in a much better spot than the Jaguars, who have to turn around and play division rival Tennessee on Thursday Night next week. Favorites are just 50-77 ATS before Thursday Night Football since 2008. The Raiders, meanwhile, go to Tampa Bay next week to take on a Buccaneers team that isn’t that good, so they don’t have any upcoming distractions. On top of that, the Raiders have been much better on the road (13-6 ATS) than at home (6-12 ATS) over the past few years, dating back to 2014. I’m still putting money on the Raiders, but this would have been a higher confidence pick a week ago.

Oakland Raiders 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 20 Upset Pick +100

Pick against the spread: Oakland +1

Confidence: Medium

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets: 2016 Week 7 NFL Pick

Baltimore Ravens (3-3) at New York Jets (1-5)

No team has had a bigger drop-off from 2015 to 2016 than the New York Jets. A year removed from going 10-6 and finishing 2nd in first down percentage differential, the Jets are now 1-5 and rank dead last in that metric. They entered the season with one of the oldest rosters in the league, so some drop-off was to be expected, but they’ve been night and day different than last year. The obvious culprit is the offense, where veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been easily the worst quarterbacks in the NFL this season and has looked lost without injured wide receiver Eric Decker, who is out for the season. However, their defense has been just as bad. One year after finishing 1st in first down percentage allowed, they enter this game 28th in that metric, just one spot worse than their offense, which enters in 29th in first down percentage.

The Jets have made the switch at quarterback from Fitzpatrick to backup Geno Smith, who will be making his first start since 2014 this week. He’s unlikely to be better though, as he looked overmatched as a starter in his first 2 seasons in the league in 2013 and 2014 and didn’t look much better in relief of Fitzpatrick last week. In his career, he’s completed 57.9% of his passes for an average of 6.84 YPA, 27 touchdowns, and 36 interceptions. He also doesn’t have a lot of talent around him on either side of the ball; outside of the defensive line, this team doesn’t have a single above average position group.

Despite that, they’re actually favored at home in this matchup for some reason, as 2 point home favorites over the visiting Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are far from great, entering at 3-3 with all 6 games decided by a touchdown or less, and also enter this game very banged up, missing both starting outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, middle linebacker CJ Mosley, wide receiver Steve Smith, and right guard Marshal Yanda. Those are some of their best players. However, they still shouldn’t be getting points here on the road against an awful Jets team. Even as banged up as they are, they still have a significantly more talented roster than the Jets.

On top of that, the Ravens are in a great spot in their 2nd of two road games. Teams are 132-100 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 104-68 ATS when it’s their 2nd of 2 road games. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 222-236 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.87 points per game, as opposed to 322-448 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.03 points per game. In fact, the Ravens have actually played a game in New York more recently than the Jets did, losing a close one to the Giants last week. The Jets, meanwhile, have had to fly to the West Coast and back in the past week, with a crushing 28-3 defeat in Arizona on Monday Night Football in between. I don’t see them being able to bounce back on a short week. The Ravens are my Pick of the Week.

Baltimore Ravens 20 New York Jets 16 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: Baltimore +2

Confidence: Pick of the Week

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers: 2016 Week 7 NFL Pick

Chicago Bears (1-5) at Green Bay Packers (4-2)

This is a tough one to start the week. On one hand, the line shifted from 10.5 to 8 over the past week, as a result of Green Bay’s home loss to a good Dallas team, so we’re getting the Packers in a buy low opportunity. The Bears, meanwhile, have another tough game on deck against the Vikings and tough home games like that often are distraction for teams, as teams are 48-94 ATS before being 4+ point home underdogs since 2012. The Bears are expected to be at least home underdogs of that many points.

However, the Packers have a tough game on deck as well, as they head to Atlanta to face a good Falcons team next week. More important, even at 8, this line might be too high the way the Packers are playing right now. They enter this game just 13th in first down percentage differential, thanks to an offense that shockingly ranks just 14th in first down percentage. The Bears are not too much farther down at 19. Of course, if Aaron Rodgers can play like himself again, this line might be a good value in the other direction.

That’s far from a given though, as Rodgers has looked average at best since the start of last season. Last year, it was understandable because the Packers were missing top receiver Jordy Nelson and had other banged up players on offense, but Nelson is back and the Packers have been relatively healthy around him this season. Now in his age 33 season, it’s fair to question if he’s losing it a little bit, even in an era where top quarterbacks are staying top quarterbacks into their mid-to-late 30s.

Making matters worse, the Packers are missing a lot of key players on a short week, most notably running back Eddie Lacy. With backup running back James Starks also out, the Packers are very thin at the position and may have to start Knile Davis, acquired just this week from the Chiefs in a trade. They’re also very thin at cornerback, missing their top 3 cornerbacks with injury, Sam Shields, Quinten Rollins, and Damarious Randall. However, on paper, they still have enough of a talent advantage to cover this spread if everyone plays like they should. On top of that, Rodgers is 26-13 ATS off a loss in his career and him having a huge game that shuts up all of his critics (for now) is certainly not out of the question, especially against a mediocre Bears pass defense. Especially with another tough game on deck, I couldn’t bet anything on the Bears this week, but they’re the pick here.

Green Bay Packers 27 Chicago Bears 20

Pick against the spread: Chicago +8

Confidence: None

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

San Francisco 49ers at Buffalo Bills: 2016 Week 6 NFL Pick

San Francisco 49ers (1-4) at Buffalo Bills (3-2)

The Bills have bounced back in a big way from an 0-2 start. After losing at home to the Jets on Thursday Night week 2, the Bills fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman, which appeared to be a desperation move at the time. With upcoming games against the Cardinals and Patriots, an 0-4 start and a Rex Ryan firing seemed likely. Instead, the Bills ripped off 3 straight wins, beating the Cardinals and the Patriots and then the Rams last week. Now they host the lowly 49ers with a good shot to improve to 4-2.

The question is whether or not they deserve to be favored by 9 points here. The 49ers have one of the worst rosters in the league, especially without middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman and cornerback Jimmie Ward, but the Bills rank just 23rd in first down percentage and probably shouldn’t be favored by this many points against anyone, especially with stud defensive lineman Marcell Dareus missing his 6th straight game thanks to a combination of suspension and injury. I can’t be confident in the 49ers, but they’re the pick here.

Buffalo Bills 20 San Francisco 49ers 13

Pick against the spread: San Francisco +9

Confidence: Low

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins: 2016 Week 6 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) at Washington Redskins (3-2)

This line was even last week, but has since shifted a full three points, with the Eagles now favored by a field goal in Washington, despite the fact that Philadelphia lost in Detroit and Washington won in Baltimore. Ordinarily, I like to fade significant line movements, but Philadelphia has been on my underrated list pretty much all year and I think it’s fair that they’re field goal favorites here against a Redskins team that is significantly inferior, especially without talented tight end Jordan Reed. The Eagles enter this game 2nd in first down percentage differential, while the Redskins are at 26th. Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins has a 14:13 touchdown to interception ratio without Jordan Reed over the past two seasons, as opposed to 32:12 when he’s in the lineup. That might not all be him, but a lot of it is. I can’t be confident in the Eagles at a 3, but they should be the right side.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 Washington Redskins 20

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -3

Confidence: None

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]