As teams begin to separate themselves from one another – some climbing to elite status, while others fall into the dreg category – you start to see big points spreads. However, it’s been a while since we’ve seen anything like we’re up against in Week 7 – not one, not two, but three games with a team favored by 12.5 points or more – and Jacksonville is on its bye week.
The biggest problem I have with this strange scenario is that those numbers didn’t meet the point it would take for me to choose the underdog. The defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a mini-bye after playing the Thursday night game last week and are 12.5-point home favorites over Chicago and rookie QB Justin Fields. Liking the Bucs.
The Los Angeles Rams are at home against the winless Detroit Lions and are favored by 14.5 points. I’d need closer to 20 to get off that bet. Finally, the last unbeaten team (Arizona) plays host to my least favorite team in the league (Houston). The Cardinals are favored by 17.5 points. Houston, you still have a problem. Welcome to the pending beatdown.
As injuries and teams bottom-feeding become more prevalent, new teams may be added to the double-digit dog list from one week to the next. Welcome to the NFL in 2021, where the good are really good and the bad are really bad.
Denver Broncos (+102) at Cleveland Browns (-125)
Let me see if I got this right … No Baker Mayfield. No Nick Chubb or Kareem Hunt. OBJ is questionable, as are both starting offensive tackles and the center. So are two starting defensive linemen (DT Malik Jackson and DE Jadeveon Clowney). And Cleveland is a 1.5-point favorite (Browns -112, Broncos -108)? If I wanted to bet on the lineup Cleveland is putting out Thursday, I would have bet on the second preseason game. No thanks. Take the Broncos on the Moneyline (+102).
Carolina Panthers (-165) at New York Giants (+133)
It’s almost impossible to give the Giants any consideration, because they’ve been collapsing on both sides of the ball. The G-Men have scored 20 or fewer points in four of six games and, in the last two, have allowed 82 points. Carolina has lost three straight, but they have the ability on both sides of the ball to have the edge in both phases. Carolina is getting enough respect being favored by 3.5 points (Panthers +105, Giants -130). It seems like the oddsmakers are tempting people to take the Panthers. Count me in. Take the Panthers and lay the 3.5 points.
Cincinnati Bengals (+230) at Baltimore Ravens (-300)
The Ravens have rolled off five straight wins after losing their opener and are getting the respect they deserve being favored by 6.5 points (Cincinnati -108, Ravens -112). I don’t believe the Bengals are getting the respect they deserve for a team that can win games based on the talent of either side of the ball. Cincy is 4-2 and four of the games have been decided by three points – two of the wins and, more importantly, both of the losses. Baltimore is on a roll, but the Bengals need to make their statement that they’re in it to win in the AFC North. I’m not bold enough to predict a win here, because I’m getting 6.5 points to hedge my bet. Take the Bengals and the 6.5 points (-108).
Atlanta Falcons (-140) at Miami Dolphins (+115)
Two teams nobody really wants to touch because they’ve been poisonous. Miami has lost five straight, and the Falcons are 2-4. Personally, I would avoid any bet on this game, but the only aspect of this one I really like is that Miami didn’t get a bye following last week’s game – played in Europe! That’s a road trip. Miami broke that mold by choosing to play immediately. Why is Atlanta a 2.5-point favorite (Falcons -117, Dolphins -103)? The Falcons are coming off their bye and have had two weeks to prepare for a team still getting used to local body clock. Take the Falcons and lay the 2.5 points (-117).
Kansas City Chiefs (-240) at Tennessee Titans (+190)
A 3-3 road team playing a 4-2 home team and the road team is a 5.5-point favorite (Chiefs -115, Titans -105). Is Kansas City the better team? Yes. But, Derrick Henry is the X-factor. Over the last five games, he has rushed 145 times (that’s 29 a game), has topped 100 yards in three of those, and has 113 or more rushing yards in each game – 130 or more in all but one. The Chiefs need to make a statement, but their defense sucks, and they’re facing a Titans team capable of holding the ball for 35 to 40 minutes with good clock management. Take the Titans and the 5.5 points (-105).
Washington Football Team (+290) at Green Bay Packers (-380)
There will certainly be lame “Legend of Lambeau” references surrounding this game, but you go with the history at times. Green Bay is at home and favored by 7.5 points (WFT -105, Packers -115). That’s not surprising. They’ve won three of their five games by 10 or more – including both of their home games. In their last four games, Washington has faced two quality teams – Buffalo and Kansas City. They lost those games by 22 and 18 points, respectively. I put Green Bay in their category. Take the Packers and lay the 7.5 points (-115).
New York Jets (+260) at New England Patriots (-340)
The Jets are coming off their bye, but they stink out loud on offense. New England has lost to every NFC team they have faced but beat the Jets 25-6 in Week 2, and neither team has changed much since then. The Over/Under is an ugly 42.5 points (Over -115, Under -110). But, I can’t see the Jets providing more than 14 to the equation and can’t picture New England scoring the 30 likely necessary to hit the Over. Barring at least one defensive touchdown – very possible with two rookie quarterbacks – take the Under (-110).
Philadelphia Eagles (+133) at Las Vegas (-165)
This is a tough one to jump on what seems an obvious bet. Both teams are in some form of uncertainty for their own reasons. The one thing both have in common is the ability to make the big play that gets them in scoring position in a hurry. There is the expectation of points with the Over/Under of 49.5 (-110 for both the Over and Under). Both teams are streaky with defenses that live and die by taking chances. Take the Over (-110).
Detroit Lions (+650) at Los Angeles Rams (-1100)
This is an absurd number with the Rams favored by 14.5 points (Lions -112, Rams -108). Simply stated, this is a revenge play. The Lions traded Matthew Stafford to the Lions and they threw in Jared Goff. Goff likely knew he wasn’t the long-term answer in L.A. Stafford likely thought he was finishing his career in Detroit. Even under a new regime, he likely knows all the defensive weaknesses the Lions have and will exploit them. The Rams are 5-1 and are a wild card right now. They need to keep their foot on the gas. Take the Rams and lay the 14.5 points.
Houston Texans (+850) at Arizona Cardinals (-1800)
The Cardinals are a whopping 17.5-point favorite (Texans -108, Cardinals -112). Since Week 1, Houston hasn’t scored more than 22 points and have lost two of their last three games by 40 and 28 points. The Cardinals are the last unbeaten team and have wins over the Titans, Vikings, Rams and Browns – all teams at .500 or better who would seem much more imposing with one more win on their resumes. While the Cards have been more dominant on the road, Houston stinks and the only thing that prevents clearing that big hurdle is taking their foot off the gas – and that’s not in Arizona’s DNA this season. Take the Cardinals and lay the 17.5 points (-112).
Chicago Bears (+500) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-750)
The Bucs are a veteran team that needed some rest and got it following a Thursday win over the Eagles. The Bears defense has shown improvement but are 0-3 against 2020 playoff teams. These are the defending champs who brought everybody back. The Bucs are 12.5-point favorites (Bears -112, Buccaneers -108). An attacking defense against a rookie quarterback without his bell cow running back spells bad news for Justin Fields. It may take a defensive touchdown, but take the Buccaneers and lay the 12.5 points (-108).
Indianapolis Colts (+175) at San Francisco 49ers (-220)
This is a tough one because the 49ers are capable of blowing out the Colts, but Indy likely isn’t capable of blowing out San Fran. The Niners are favored by 4.5 points (Colts -112, 49ers -108) and they are coming off their bye week. While I believe San Francisco will win, I think 4.5 points is a shade too many to give away. Take the Colts and the 4.5 points (-112).
New Orleans Saints (-230) at Seattle (+180)
The Seahawks don’t look like the same team without Russell Wilson, and the Saints are coming off their bye week. The bet that interests me is the Over/Under of 43.5 points (-103 Over, -117 Under). It seems clear by those odds that the expectation is to hit the Under on a very low total with enough talented players on both sides of the ball. I’m not buying it. Take the Over (-103).
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