2016 NFL Picks: Week 7
Last Week: 0-7-1
- New York Giants -3 vs. Los Angeles Rams
- Minnesota Vikings -3 at Philadelphia Eagles
- Washington Redskins +1 at Detroit Lions
- Baltimore Ravens EVEN at New York Jets
- Buffalo Bills -3 at Miami Dolphins
- Oakland Raiders +1 at Jacksonville Jaguars
- Seattle Seahawks +2 at Arizona Cardinals
- Denver Broncos -7.5 vs. Houston Texans
Okay, it turns out refusing to learn was a bad approach to picking NFL games, and probably isn't ideal for general life either. Last week was by far the worst week I've had since I started making picks. It makes my goal of 60% pretty hard to manage, but at least we have eleven weeks left to catch up. It won't be easy, but I don't think it can get much worse. Seriously, take a look at some of the rougher bumps:
My Chicago Bears gave up 17 points in the fourth quarter to Blake Bortles to lose 17-16.
The Indianapolis Colts took a 23-9 lead past the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter before giving up two quick touchdowns and an overtime field goal to lose and turn a win into a push.
The Bengals (getting nine points) were down three points at halftime and nine points entering the fourth quarter before falling apart and losing by 18.
The Raiders were shut out by the Chiefs in the second half and lost 26-10.
The very strong Seahawks defense allowed the Falcons to score 21 points in the third quarter before coming back to win but not cover, 26-24.
What I'm trying to say is that some of these games, with small breaks here or there, could have swung differently and allowed me to carry some confidence into this week. Alas, I'll just have to hope a bit of regression to the mean and a renewed commitment to learning is enough to get me back on track. Until then, I'd recommend not betting actual dollars on my picks until I get this bizarro 2016 NFL season figured out.
New York Giants -3 vs. Los Angeles Rams
The Giants are a better team than the Rams...right? The NFC's New York ranks 17th in DVOA compared to 22nd for Los Angeles. They have the advantage at quarterback and wide receiver, and their defense has been more competent than my free-agency-averse mind anticipated. Their first-year head coach might be below average, but he's facing off against Jeff Fisher, who hasn't finished above .500 since 2008. The Rams' quarterback, Case Keenum, somehow completed 19 straight passes in a loss to the Lions last week, but as I've said before...LIONS! I think Odell Beckham Jr. and the Giants will score enough points to make this game a joke, which is fitting because it's being played in London, where no one cares about the NFL.
Minnesota Vikings -3 at Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have burned me each of the last two weeks; I picked them to cover the spread against the aforementioned LIONS! two weeks ago and Washington last week. They not only failed to cover, but lost both games outright. I think Philly fans (who I have no affinity for) should be excited about Carson Wentz and this season in general, but I'm worried about their formerly-surprisingly-good defense. After holding the Browns, Bears, and Steelers to 10, 14, and 3 points, they've allowed 24 points to the Lions and 27 to the Redskins. That's not great. This pick is primarily based on the Vikings and their defense, though; Wentz is yet to face a defense ranked higher than 15th this season, and Minnesota is ranked 2nd. That's a big jump, and I think he'll struggle.
That means I'm picking a guy who failed at holding out for a new contract against to cover a spread against the team who called his bluff. Let's move on...
Washington Redskins +1 at Detroit Lions
Detroit has somehow managed to exceed and fall short of expectations this season. They're 3-3, which isn't bad, but their three losses have come against the Bears, Titans, and Packers. Those teams are ranked 19th, 16th, and 8th by DVOA. They've also beaten the Rams, Colts, and Eagles, who are ranked 22nd, 28th, and 4th. How does a team manage to be so inconsistent? LIONS!, I suppose. Washington, on the other hand, is 4-2 and hasn't been blown out of a game since they played the Steelers in Week 1. I think they're a better overall team, and they're getting points. This one seems like a no-brainer, so the LIONS! will probably win by 56.
Baltimore Ravens EVEN at New York Jets
Someone please tell me what I'm missing here. The Jets have been a burning landfill full of dumpsters set on fire so far this season, and they're a coin flip against a 3-3 Ravens team ranked 15th in DVOA. Is there any reason we should expect Geno Smith to be better than this year's Ryan Fitzpatrick? Is the Jets' defense suddenly going to remember how to stop opposing teams from moving the football forward? What seems more anomalous, the 37 points they scored in Week 2 or the 11.6 they've averaged in the other five games? Yeah, I think Baltimore should win this game no matter which bad quarterback the Jets start.
Buffalo Bills -3 at Miami Dolphins
Look, Miami, congratulations on beating Pittsburgh last week and ruining a perfectly reasonable pick. I'm super proud of you. You aren't going to earn any fans, and it isn't going to help you this week. The Bills are currently running wild on the NFL, and Miami sports the 24th-ranked rush defense. Sure, it's a divisional game and strange things can happen. But is there anything stranger than the Dolphins shutting down Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers after giving up 30 points to the Tennessee Titans? No, not even the Upside-Down.
Oakland Raiders +1 at Jacksonville Jaguars
Sorry, Yaxy - Blake Bortles still isn't good. The Raiders are a better team, and they'll bounce back from a Chiefs' smackdown this week by issuing one of their own on the road, where they've been strangely competent (3-0 ATS).
Seattle Seahawks +2 at Arizona Cardinals
I'm really sorry, Kat! The Cardinals just need to prove more to me before I pick them as favorites against Seattle. They had a nice bounceback last week against the Jets, but go read what I had to say about them above before you get too excited. Seattle will keep this game close; for Arizona to win (and I hope they do!) they'll need Carson Palmer to rediscover his full 2015 form. In other news, Carson Palmer is 36 years old. Give me the points.
Denver Broncos -7.5 vs. Houston Texans
Brock Osweiler returns "home" to face the reeling Denver Broncos, losers of two in a row after starting the season 4-0. Did anyone besides me watch the Texans-Colts game last Sunday night? I don't blame you if I did, but I do begrudge you for exercising good judgment. Beyond Cris Collinsworth (probably the best and also my least-favorite commentator) trying to sell the game as entertainment and commending Osweiler's "heroics", there was something else important to notice: the Texans are bad. I know, I know, it's hard to believe. Let's prognosticate, though. I see this game playing out much like the Sunday night game did, with Denver getting out to a lead because the Texans can't move the ball against competent defenses (see: the Patriots' 27-0 beatdown). Unlike the Colts, they'll hold this lead because Osweiler can't throw deep against anyone despite the presence of DeAndre Hopkins. The deficit leads to forced passes, but the difference this week is that the Broncos aren't as helpless as a Scooby Doo villain. The game ends in a blowout. Good story, right?
Cheers, Happy Friday, and see you next week!