HOUSTON, October 19, 2016 — What happens in Las Vegas does not stay in Las Vegas. Yet sometimes even information meant to be public gets confused in the cacophony of nonsense. This may be remembered as the week the oddsmakers took the week off. Maybe they were distracted by Las Vegas holding the third presidential debate. Maybe they are focused on whether the Raiders are leaving Oakland for Sin City. Maybe they enjoyed some recreational pharmaceuticals before laying their odds on the table. Whatever the reason, several games this week have point spreads that make no sense. NFL 2016 Week 6 is done, and now the lucky 7-7-7 city of dreams brings us some strange numbers in Week 7.
The Bengals are 10 point favorites over a winless club that fights to the end. The Raiders had one bad game in awful weather conditions and were demoted to underdogs against the lowly Jaguars. The Colts are underdogs to a Titans team lacking anything resembling an offense. The Jets are favored despite losing by 25 points last week and having two quarterbacks playing badly. The Saints are seven point underdogs despite Drew Brees racking up yards and points at a blistering pace.
We will soon see if the experts deserve that title. With that, here is the Week 7 NFL Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with very questionable point spreads provided by the usually sensible FootballLocks.com and all times Eastern.
Thursday, October 20, 2016, 8:30 p.m.
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-8) — Green Bay looked uncharacteristically un-Packer like in an embarrassing home loss last week. The offense is out of sync and even Aaron Rodgers is playing subpar. Against the awful Bears, this is where the Packers get healthy. Packers cover.
Sunday, October 23, 9:30 a.m.
New York Giants (-3) at Los Angeles Rams in London — Three world class cities unite to watch two inconsistent average football teams.
Jeff Fisher’s 46 Defense is vulnerable to big plays, and Eli Manning and O’Dell Beckham know about big plays. Giants cover.
Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) at Philadelphia Eagles — The Vikings are the NFL’s lone unbeaten team, and they had two weeks to prepare for this game. The Eagles have dropped two straight after a 3-0 start. However, give the Eagles a chance at home to show their start was not a mirage. Upset special, Eagles win outright.
New Orleans Saints at Kansas City Chiefs (-7) — Drew Brees has been on fire, but this week he faces a tough defense. The spread is way too high for any team led by Alex Smith. Chiefs win but fail to cover.
Washington Redskins at Detroit Lions (-1) — Neither team is as bad as they looked early on. They may even be average. Matthew Stafford and Kirk Cousins switch from Jekyll to Hyde frequently. Give the Lions the slight edge at home. Lions cover.
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-10) — The Browns are the NFLs lone winless team, but they are losing agonizingly close games for the most part. Cincinnati has not been playing well, making the spread ridiculously high. Bengals win but fail to cover.
Buffalo Bills (-3) at Miami Dolphins — Buffalo has won four straight games, while Miami won a stunner one week after their ugliest loss. The Dolphins are due for a letdown, and Rex Ryan’s defense should devour Ryan Tannehill and frustrate the inept Miami offense. Bills cover.
Oakland Raiders at Jacksonville Jaguars (-1) — While the Raiders looked awful at home last week, the Jaguars have looked awful most of the season. Despite their win last week at an even worse Chicago team, trust Derek Carr over Blake Bortles with the game on the line. Carr has more help. Upset special, Raiders win outright.
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-2.5) — Tennessee barely survived winless Cleveland at home, while the Colts collapsed on the road and blew a 14-point fourth quarter lead in the final three minutes. If Andrew Luck gets even the slightest help, the Colts should rebound. Upset special, Colts win outright.
Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets (-1) — Baltimore lost a heartbreaker to the other tenant that plays in Metlife Stadium for their third straight loss after a 3-0 start. The Jets are a 1-5 mess, with Ryan Fitzpatrick keeping his job only because Geno Smith is the alternative. Upset special, Ravens win outright.
San Diego Chargers at Atlanta Falcons (-6.5) — Atlanta lost a heartbreaker at Seattle while the Chargers have lost a bunch of heartbreakers this year. Matt Ryan has been throwing to Julio Jones with ease, but Philip Rivers is throwing well enough to keep this game competitive. Falcons win but fail to cover.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2) at San Francisco 49ers — Both teams looked great in the opening week and have been awful ever since. The 49ers switched quarterbacks, resulting in a 29 point loss last week. At home, give the 49ers won more chance only because the Buccaneers have regressed, styling Jameis Winston’s growth. Upset special, 49ers win outright.
New England Patriots (-7) at Pittsburgh Steelers — Both teams began the season with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. The Patriots survived while Tom Brady served his four game suspension. Now the Steelers need to survive without an injured Ben Roethlisberger. Brady has been playing like a demon possessed. The spread is high, but without Big Ben the Steelers are overmatched. Patriots cover.
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (-1.5) — Both teams have fallen from their elite status of one year ago. Yet they both got big wins last week. Russell Wilson has been outplaying Carson Palmer. In a close game, give the edge to the Legion of Boom. Upset special, Seahawks win outright.
Monday, October 24, 8:30 p.m.
Houston Texans at Denver Broncos (-7.5) — Brock Osweiler faces the team he ditched while Gary Kubiak faces the team that fired him. Denver has lost two straight while the Texans overcame a 14 point fourth quarter deficit last week at home. This game returns each team back to reality. Houston is not that good, and Von Miller and the Denver defense will tee off on Osweiler. Despite the high spread, this is a mismatch. Broncos cover.