Week 7 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Hanson)
Here are my Week 7 NFL picks against the spread:
Houston Texans +6.5 (over Kansas City Chiefs)
First of all, I don't expect the Texans to go into Arrowhead and escape with a victory in Case Keenum's first start of his career, but I wouldn't be surprised if they cover the spread.
With Keenum getting the start, I expect to see a heavy dose of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. In fact, we have already seen a heavy dose of Foster over the team's last three games. Foster has carried the ball 20-plus times in each of those games and has a total of 82 touches during that span. In addition, no running back has more yards from scrimmage than Foster (487) over that stretch.
Unlike the high-powered Broncos offense led by Peyton Manning, it's been the Chiefs defense — not their offense — that has led them to their 6-0 start. No team has allowed fewer points than Kansas City this season and they lead the NFL in sacks (30). Although the Chiefs run defense is good as well, they are one of only three teams to allow more than 5.0 yards per carry this season.
Despite their horrible start, only three teams have a better yards-per-play differential than the Texans (via SportingCharts).
Considering the Texans currently have the league's top-rated defense in teams of yardage allowed, I see them keeping the score low (and game close) provided Keenum doesn't extend the pick-six streak for the Texans to six games.
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San Francisco 49ers -3.5 (over Tennessee Titans)
Typically, I prefer to avoid small road favorites, but I'm making an exception here with the 49ers. After a disappointing 1-2 start, the 49ers have regained their mojo and have won three consecutive games for the first time since 2011.
While the level of competition may not have been extremely difficult in their past three games, the Niners have beaten those opponents by a combined score of 101-34. Even though Colin Kaepernick has thrown for less than 200 yards in four of his past five games, he has protected the football better in the team's three wins with a five-to-one TD-to-INT ratio.
In addition, Frank Gore has been running the ball well as he is averaging 5.7 yards per carry in his past four games. Compared to Titans running back Chris Johnson (1.92 YPC in past three games), that is nearly three times better.
When it comes to winning on the road, the keys to success are what the 49ers have been doing well: (1) run the ball well, (2) don't turn the ball over and (3) play solid defense.
New York Giants -3.5 (over Minnesota Vikings)
The Giants get a mini-bye as they played on Thursday Night in Week 6 and play on Monday Night in Week 7 for a shot to get their first win of the season.
It's hard to believe that the Giants have yet to win a game and it's hard to have a ton of confidence in them after they have played so poorly, but the Vikings defense should put up little resistance as the Giants try to get back on track. Minnesota will be without safety Harrison Smith, who was placed on short-term IR, and they were already allowing 308.0 yards per game through the air.
Perhaps Eli Manning will still get sacked 93 times and throw 24 picks (or something like that), but the trio of Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle form one of the better wide receiver corps in the league. (Unfortunately for the Giants, Brandon Jacobs, who rushed for more than 100 yards vs. the Bears last week, is questionable.)
Picking an 0-6 team may be as much of a hunch as anything, but I like the Giants to win big as the 1-4 Vikings start their third quarterback (recently-acquired Josh Freeman) so far this season.
Five of our contributors make three weekly picks ATS every week and they will be posted here.
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