(19-11 against the spread this season)
By Danny Picard
BOSTON — I would’ve had a perfect 5-0 week in Week 6, had Mac Jones thrown the ball to a wide-open Rhamondre Stevenson on third down instead of taking a sack in his own end zone, in the final minutes of Sunday’s loss in Las Vegas. Instead, I went 4-1 against the spread.
This weekend, six teams have a bye, and there are six home underdogs, so, it does feel like a tricky week. But someone has to give you the winners.
Here are my picks for Week 7:
BUFFALO BILLS (-7.5) over New England Patriots
-As I mentioned above, the Patriots let me down last weekend. They’ve let everybody in New England down all season long. At 1-5, we’re now looking at the 2024 Draft order, and I honestly can’t tell you the last time I did that with the Pats. But here we are. The 4-2 Bills come to Foxboro on Sunday having won their last four games against New England, all by more than 10 points. Maybe the Patriots will surprise us here and keep it close enough to cover, but I can’t put my money on that. Buffalo has looked somewhat human in its last two games — losing to Jacksonville across the pond, and just barely beating the Giants last Sunday night. I do think the Bills’ trip to London two weeks ago has something to do with their recent struggles. That said, this is probably a bad time for the struggling Patriots to face a Bills team that handed the Dolphins their only loss of the season three weeks ago in a 48-20 blowout. So, it should be recognized that Josh Allen and the Bills are still a problem. And they’ll once again be a problem for New England on Sunday. Bills win big at Gillette Stadium.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (-3) over Detroit Lions
-This is a game with two top-10 defenses, and two quarterbacks in the top-five in passer efficiency. Both Lamar Jackson and Jared Goff are completing 70 percent of their passes this season. Each team is in first place in their division. This might sound a little crazy here in October, but with those defensive and offensive stats I just mentioned, I really wouldn’t be surprised if this ended up being a Super Bowl preview. Super Bowl or not, the Lions’ story has truly been something special to watch. They’ve trusted the process, and here they are, at 5-1, having won four straight. With this game in Baltimore though, I can’t bet against a Ravens pass defense that ranks No. 2 in the NFL, allowing just 163 pass yards per game. That might be a problem for Goff. The Lions’ pass defense allows 221 pass yards per game, which ranks in the middle of the pack. If this game was being played in Detroit, I’d pick the Lions. In Baltimore, I’m taking the Ravens by a touchdown.
LOS ANGELES RAMS (-3) over Pittsburgh Steelers
-The 3-3 Rams are a different team with Cooper Kupp on the field. Kupp returned two weeks ago and has put up big numbers in both games he’s played. Two weeks ago, he had eight catches for 118 yards in a loss to the Eagles. Last Sunday, he had seven catches for 148 yards and a touchdown in a win over the Cardinals. The 3-2 Steelers are coming off the bye and have one of the worst pass defenses in the league, allowing 246 pass yards per game. So I feel pretty good about what this Rams offense can do at home to Pittsburgh on Sunday. The Steelers’ offense will see the return of wide receiver Diontae Johnson, but they’ll also see the loss of tight end Pat Freiermuth, who was placed on injured reserve this week. The Rams shouldn’t lose this game in LA. I expect them to beat the Steelers by 10.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (+5.5) over Kansas City Chiefs
-After losing to the Lions in Week 1, the 5-1 Chiefs have won five straight. Still, Kansas City’s last three wins over the Jets, Vikings, and Broncos, have been close games — almost too close. The Chiefs have won their last three games against the Chargers, who are 2-3 and are coming off a loss to the Cowboys. But I feel confident that Justin Herbert will at least put up a fight on Sunday at Arrowhead. Herbert doesn’t turn the ball over. In fact, the Chargers have turned the ball over less than any team in the NFL this season, with just two interceptions and one lost fumble. The same can’t be said for the Chiefs, who’ve turned the ball over nine times so far this season. Herbert is only 2-4 in his career against Kansas City, but I like his numbers enough in this matchup — 15 touchdowns, four interceptions, and 291 pass yards per game — for me to take LA to at least cover the 5.5-point spread, especially with running back Austin Ekeler back and fully healthy. Give me the points.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (-3) over Miami Dolphins
-This is another potential Super Bowl preview, in Week 7. Both the Eagles and Dolphins are 5-1, and this game on Sunday Night Football in Philadelphia is expected to be a shootout, with the highest over-under of the week, at 51.5. Philly is coming off its first loss of the season, and it came against the Jets, in a game where Jalen Hurts threw an uncharacteristic three interceptions. Miami has won two straight and covered as double-digit favorites in both of those games. The Dolphins are 5-1 against the spread this season, and all four times I’ve bet them — including the last two games as heavy favorites — I’ve won. But I’m picking against them this week, mainly because the game is in Philadelphia. I also love the Eagles with a chip on their shoulder after a tough loss. Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins are definitely one of the more dangerous teams in the league this season, no doubt. I just think they get punched in the mouth in Philly on national TV, and get brought back down to Earth a little bit. So I’m taking the Eagles to get back on track with a message-sending cover.
Follow Danny on instagram @DannyPicard.