NFL Week 7 Picks Against the Spread (Trifone)
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Here are my Week 7 NFL picks against the spread:
Pittsburgh Steelers -1 (over Baltimore Ravens)
If you've read any of my previous writings on the Steelers, you'd know I'm not a big fan of them this year. They came into the year pretty banged up, and have had very little offense to keep them in games.
It looks, however, like that may be starting to change. Tight end Heath Miller is back and healthy, and Le'Veon Bell gives them a solid presence at RB. The Steelers have a solid organization that knows how to win, and Ben Roethlisberger had a pretty nice game this past Sunday on the road against a tough defense.
Baltimore is Pittsburgh's biggest rival, and, with a win, the Steelers could really be right back in the mix for the division. I think they step up at home and handle the Ravens, whose offense has also been pretty meager.
Give the one point as the Steelers should win this one. This is a full five-unit wager.
New York Jets +4.5 (over New England Patriots)
Here I go again — picking against the Patriots. I can't help it, though. Vegas oddsmakers just keep tempting me, and I can't help but bite. The Patriots are 3-3 ATS on the year, although if the Saints didn't give Tom Brady three chances to beat them in the final three minutes of the game, they'd be 2-4.
Not surprisingly, two of the games that they did not cover in were against divisional opponents: the Bills and Jets. New England was a double-digit favorite at home against the Jets in Week 2, and were only able to escape with a three-point win. This week, they go into New York, and are giving 4.5. I don't know if this is an overreaction to the Jets looking bad at home against Pittsburgh, a wave of momentum for the Pats after a huge come-from-behind victory over the Saints, or some combination, but this number looks too big for me. I would have stayed away from the game at around 3.5, but there are too many ways the Jets can cover 4.5.
In the last two weeks, we've seen the bad Patriots (scoring only six points against the Bengals) and the good Patriots (putting up 30 in a win over New Orleans). We've also seen the good Jets (putting up 30 points in a road win at Atlanta) and the bad Jets (a home loss against Pittsburgh in which they were only able to score six points).
I think the Pats are going to come down a bit after a good performance, and the Jets will rise up a bit from their poor showing. Because of Brady, this is only a four-unit wager, rather than five, but I like the Jets to cover here.
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Atlanta Falcons -7.5 (over Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
The Bucs, fresh off a loss to a mediocre NFC East team, have taken over the number 32 slot in my rankings this week (our weekly power rankings are posted here). Running back Doug Martin is averaging a mere 3.5 yards per carry with just one touchdown on the year. The Bucs came into the season with some reasonable expectations, but they have underperformed pretty much across the board.
They remain winless through their first five games, and their last two losses are against the Cardinals and Eagles; and although both teams are 3-3, I think a strong case could be made that both teams will finish the year below .500. The Eagles three wins are against teams with a combined record of 1-15 and the Cardinals wins are only slightly more impressive.
The Falcons have also underachieved to start the season. They had Super Bowl expectations, after making it all the way to the NFC Championship Game last year. While I believe they were riding a wave of momentum to get that far, and should not have made it past Seattle last year, they are clearly better than a 1-4 team. Even with Julio Jones going down, Steven Jackson being out, and Roddy White having a nagging injury, the Falcons still have formidable offensive weapons. Tony Gonzalez is still one of the league's premiere tight ends, Harry Douglas can step in and make plays, and Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling are pretty dynamic out of the backfield.
As good as the Falcons have been at home over the past few years, I don't think there is much of a chance they will lose back-to-back games there. Especially not to a winless Bucs team. I think the Falcons finally break out, and really take it to Tampa, something along the lines of 31-13. This is a five-unit wager.
Five of our contributors make three weekly picks ATS every week and they will be posted here.