Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys: 2019 Week 7 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) at Dallas Cowboys (3-3)

The conventional wisdom is that the sky is falling in Dallas, with the Cowboys being on a 3-game losing streak. However, the Cowboys actually have a positive first down rate differential across those three games, at +1.98%. Their -4 turnover margin over those 3 games is the primary reason behind their losing streak, but turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. Despite just a 3-3 record, the Cowboys rank 4th in first down rate differential at +6.48%, winning the first down rate battle in every game this season except last week’s loss to the Jets.

Their only three wins thus far have come against easy opponents, but they won all 3 games convincingly, by at least 10 points, winning the first down rate battle by +10.96% across the three games, while all three of their losses could have been wins if a couple things had gone differently. They are also still one of the most talented teams in the league on paper, so I still like their chances going forward. The Eagles also look like one of the most talented teams in the league on paper, but they haven’t played as well, coming into this game ranking just 16th in first down rate differential at 0.21%, very much in line with their 3-3 record. 

The Cowboys also seem to have the better injury situation, though both teams are pretty banged up. The difference is that it looks like most of the Cowboys’ injured players will try to play through their injuries, while the Eagles have ruled out several starters already. Left tackle Jason Peters and top linebacker Nigel Bradham will join top cornerback Ronald Darby, starting defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, starting cornerback Avonte Maddox, and starting wide receiver DeSean Jackson on the sidelines this week for a Philadelphia team whose injuries are starting to pile up. 

The Cowboys, meanwhile, have ruled out starting cornerback Anthony Brown, but top cornerback Byron Jones, wide receivers Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb, and offensive tackles Tyron Smith and La’El Collins are reportedly likely to play through their injuries, though all could easily be at less than 100% and at risk of in game setbacks. Despite being the better team in the better injury situation, the Cowboys are favored by just 2.5 points here at home, so we are getting good line value with them. I have this line calculated at -5.5. I wouldn’t go crazy with this bet because of all of the injury uncertainty, but this line really seems off.

Dallas Cowboys 28 Philadelphia Eagles 23

Pick against the spread: Dallas -2.5

Confidence: Medium

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts: 2019 Week 7 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (4-2) at Indianapolis Colts (3-2)

Typically, I like to go against significant week-to-week line movement, as it tends to be an overreaction to a single week of play. The Texans were 3-point underdogs in Indianapolis last week on the early line, but after their upset victory in Kansas City, they are now 1-point underdogs, significant as about 20% of games are decided by 2 or 3 points. However, I don’t think this line has moved enough.  The Texans, who are borderline a top-5 team, should be favored by at least a field goal in this game, as the Colts are incredibly banged up, especially on defense. 

The Colts are getting safety Clayton Geathers and linebacker Darius Leonard back off of a bye week, but they will be without top cornerback Kenny Moore, top safety Malik Hooker, starting defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis, and possibly starting cornerback Pierre Desir, top edge rusher Justin Houston, and All-Pro offensive lineman Quinton Nelson, all three of whom did not practice on Friday, but have not been ruled out yet. The Texans are worth a bet this week and this could become a bigger play depending on who ends up being out for the Colts. 

Houston Texans 24 Indianapolis Colts 20

Pick against the spread: Houston +1

Confidence: Medium

Los Angeles Chargers at Tennessee Titans: 2019 Week 7 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Chargers (2-4) at Tennessee Titans (2-4)

Going into the season, part of the reason why I liked the Titans was because they added Ryan Tannehill as a backup quarterback in the off-season, in case Marcus Mariota got hurt or struggled again. After Mariota led the Titans to a shutout in Denver last week, Tannehill is now under center for Tennessee. Tannehill is not a great quarterback, but he’s an experienced starter and is still arguably one of the top-32 quarterbacks in the league, so he’s a big upgrade over the kinds of backup quarterbacks they’ve had in the past. 

The Titans don’t need a great passing game to win either. Last year, led by a defense that ranked 4th in first down rate allowed, they went 9-7 despite Mariota struggling through injuries for much of the year and they went 4-5 in their league leading 9 games against playoff qualifiers. They had an 8-game stretch after the bye last season where Mariota was healthy and they went 6-2, including multi-touchdown wins over the Cowboys and Patriots. 

This year, they are just 2-4, but they rank 4th in first down rate allowed and 12th in first down rate differential, as much as their offense has struggled. Even with last week’s shutout loss in Denver, the Titans still have a +6 point differential, best among teams with a losing record, and that’s despite having a game in which they missed 4 field goals in a 7-point loss. If Tannehill can even be a little bit of an upgrade over a struggling Mariota, this could be a really competitive football team going forward, despite their underwhelming record.

The Chargers are actually the other team with a losing record and a positive point differential, at +2, but that’s in large part due to the fact that they’ve faced the Dolphins, who they beat by 20 points. Their only other victory came in overtime against the Colts in a game they would have lost if the Colts hadn’t missed multiple makeable kicks. Having already matched their loss total from 2018, the Chargers are clearly not the same team without left tackle Russell Okung, defensive end Melvin Ingram, center Mike Pouncey, and most importantly safety Derwin James. We’re not getting much value betting against them any more, but this line at Tennessee -2 suggests the Chargers are slightly better and I have that the other way around, so the Titans are worth a bet this week. If Okung, who could make his season debut after returning to practice this week, does not play, I will consider increasing this bet. 

Tennessee Titans 23 Los Angeles Chargers 19

Pick against the spread: Tennessee -2

Confidence: Medium

Oakland Raiders at Green Bay Packers: 2019 Week 7 NFL Pick

Oakland Raiders (3-2) at Green Bay Packers (5-1)

The Raiders won back-to-back games before their week 6 bye and now seem to be overrated as a result. Those wins came against a banged up Colts team and a Bears team that hasn’t been nearly as good this season as last season. Those teams rank 20th and 23rd respectively in first down rate differential and the Raiders won those games by a combined 10 points. Including a 8-point week 1 home win over the mediocre Broncos, the Raiders’ 3 wins have come by a combined 18 points this season, while their two losses to the Vikings and Chiefs came by a combined 38 points, giving them a -20 point differential that is worst among teams with a winning record. In terms of first down rate differential, they rank just 21st at -1.68%.

Despite that, they are just 4.5-point road underdogs in Green Bay, against a 5-1 Packers team that is among the best in the NFL. Their win over the Lions’ last week was controversial because of some bad calls on Detroit, but they could have still won that game even without those calls, despite gifting the Lions a trio of turnovers. Turnover margin tends to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis and they won the first down rate battle convincingly (+9.33%) over a solid Detroit team. They failed to cover, winning by 1 as 4-point home favorites, but are still 40-21 ATS at home since 2011 in games Aaron Rodgers starts and finishes. 

The Packers have a banged up receiving corps with Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison, and possibly Marquez Valdes-Scantling set to miss this game, but wide receiver is a big concern for the Raiders as well, who are without top wide receiver Tyrell Williams and lack depth behind him at the position. The Raiders are also likely to be without right tackle Trent Brown and, with right guard Gabe Jackson likely a week away from returning after being limited in practice all week, they are likely to be without the entire right side of their offensive line. I have this line calculated at Green Bay -10 and I expect this game to be similar to the Raiders’ big losses to the Vikings and Chiefs, so we’re getting great value with Green Bay at -4.5. This is my Pick of the Week.

Green Bay Packers 27 Oakland Raiders 17

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -4.5

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos: 2019 Week 7 NFL Pick

Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) at Denver Broncos (2-4)

During last week’s Broncos/Titans write up, I said I was disappointed the two teams were playing each other because I thought both teams were underrated. Fortunately, when two underrated teams square off, they tend to remain underrated, which is the case with the Broncos. They won that game against the Titans to improve to 2-4, but they’ve been better than their record suggests, as two of their losses came on last second field goals. Their point differential is even and they rank 17th in the NFL in first down rate differential at -0.33%, suggesting they’ve been an average team thus far. Their offense is underwhelming, but their defense has allowed just 9 offensive touchdowns in 6 games and they rank 5th in first down rate allowed at 32.42%.

Despite that, they are 3.5-point home underdogs against a banged up Chiefs team. This line is at least in part because the Broncos are underrated, but the Chiefs may be a little overrated right now, even after back-to-back losses, as the general public may not realize how bad their injury situation is. They are missing the left side of their offensive line and their best defensive player Chris Jones, while starting wide receiver Sammy Watkins and starting cornerback Kendall Fuller are both banged up and may not play as well. 

Most importantly, quarterback Patrick Mahomes is playing at less than 100% through an ankle injury and has not played as well in the past couple games. That could become even more of a problem on a short week without normal rest, especially on the road against a tough defense. Everything this team does revolves around Mahomes and his otherworldly playmaking ability, so having him at less than 100% severely hurts the Chiefs’ chances of playing the way they want to play. Right now, I have these two teams about even in my roster rankings, so a field goal or more with the Broncos at home is stealing. Thursday games can be unpredictable so I don’t want to make this my Pick of the Week, but this will definitely be one of my top plays of the week.

Denver Broncos 23 Kansas City Chiefs 20 Upset Pick +150

Pick against the spread: Denver +3.5

Confidence: High

2019 Week 6 NFL Pick Results

2019

Total Against the Spread: 48-42-2 (53.26%)

Pick of the Week: 5-1 (83.33%)

High Confidence Picks: 10-3-1 (75.00%)

Medium Confidence Picks: 8-10-1 (44.74%)

Money Picks (Medium Confidence and higher): 23-14-2 (61.54%)

Low Confidence Picks: 13-17 (43.33%)

No Confidence Picks: 12-11 (52.17%)

Upset Picks: 10-9 (52.63%)

2018

Total Against the Spread: 154-102-11 (59.74%)

Pick of the Week: 10-6-1 (61.76%)

High Confidence Picks: 21-13-2 (61.11%)

Medium Confidence Picks: 41-27-1 (60.14%)

Money Picks (Medium Confidence and higher): 72-46-4 (60.66%)

Low Confidence Picks: 35-28-1 (55.47%)

No Confidence Picks: 47-28-6 (61.73%)

Upset Picks: 25-17-1 (59.30%)

All-Time (Since 2013)

Total Against the Spread: 893-752-49 (54.16%)

Pick of the Week: 66-41-3 (61.36%)

Money Picks (Medium Confidence and higher): 425-306-20 (57.92%)

Upset Picks: 142-162-1 (46.72%)