NFL WEEK 7: TJ Calkins Weekly
Thanks for stopping by for week 7 of NFL. First things first with a review of both last week’s process and results. The play of the week Kansas City Chiefs stumbled at home, losing consecutive home games for the first time since 2013 and losing consecutive games for just the second time in the Mahomes era. The extremely surprising part of this game is not that they allowed 31 points to the Texans, it was that the offense as a whole remained out of sync and that the Chiefs were scoreless in the final 23 minutes of this game. Andy Reid got pass happy on a silly level, passing 35 times versus just nine called running plays and inexplicably only getting top back Damien WIlliams two touches in this game. For reference, those two touches created 20 yards and a touchdown. Patrick Mahomes ankle injury is likely a little bit worse than he’s letting on, but he got no help from the normally high end coaching staff and the offense was predictable. It’s never fun to lose but I would go back to the Chiefs in this spot each and every time. Now to review the rest of the action from week 6.
Play Of The Week
Without an overwhelming spot to identify as the play of the week, the Eagles are in the best spot for an outright win as an underdog. The Cowboys are a team that is better at racking up hollow statistics than they are at playing effective football and the Eagles have a wide advantage at both coaching and quarterback play. Look for an Eagles win in prime time.
The Panthers rolled on the Bucs in London, dropping 37 points on their own, securing the easy cover and accounting for 76% of the total in a spot where the over came in comfortably. The Falcons over hit rather comfortably. The Lions mostly dominated the game in their cover, but had the victory utterly stolen from them in the worst display of prime time officiating in recent memory.
I was extremely incorrect about the level of stubborness in the play calling for the Vikings. Of their first 49 snaps, 31 were passes and they properly exploited the weakness of the Eagle defense en route to an early lead that was never in jeopardy. I was also incorrect on the overall levels of both the 49ers defense and the Rams offense. Jared Goff managed just 78 passing yards, the fewest in any game of his four year career. The seven points scored for the Rams is the lowest home output of the Sean McVay/Jared Goff era. In the first 17 home games for this head coach/quarterback combo, they averaged 32.8 points. They were only held under 30 points in 6 (!!) of 17 games and were held under 20 points just once and not since October of 2017.
Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew played his worst game as a pro against an exploitable Saints passing defense. Despite allowing just 13 points, the Jaguars lost to a team that had allowed at least 24 points in four of their five games to this point. The Redskins, who never trailed in the game and held at least a 7 point lead for the last 25 minutes of the game, allowed a score with just 10 seconds left and the failed 2 point conversion attempt took overtime out of play and made Washington -3 a money line winner sans a cover. The Falcons, after a fully uninspired first half on the defensive side of the ball, found themselves trailing by 17 after an early third quarter score by the Cardinals. The Falcons went on to score 17 unanswered before trading touchdowns late in the game. Kicker Matt Bryant went on to miss the PAT, costing the Falcons a late win and cover at a point where the offense was in full and complete control and had every bit of momentum.
An ugly 4-6 on a week that really felt like it should have been a winner. Eager to be on to this week.
The Odds Provider of the Week
Arizona Cardinals at New York Giants
- Opening Line: Giants -3 and 50
- Current Line: Giants -3 and 49
The Cardinals got the best game to date out of developing but high ceiling quarterback Kyler Murray last week. He was nearly flawless, delivering 340 passing yards and a trio of scores with another 32 rushing added on. Despite this effort from Murray, the defense all but blew the game, only being saved by kicker shenanigans, and that will be the MO of the Cardinals all year long. They continue to be smoked by the tight end position at an otherworldly pace. Austin Hooper was just the latest beneficiary as he caught all eight of his targets for 117 yards and a score. It probably doesn’t get any easier for the Cardinals this week as Evan Engram, one of the few tight ends in the league that are of a markedly higher ability level than Hooper, is likely healthy enough to return to action for the Giants. Also potentially healthy enough to return to action is Saquon Barkley, and if not him, highly competent three down backup Wayne Gallman should return from a concussion. The main takeaway is the Giants will have competence at the running back position and not the street free agents they’ve been forced to play since Gallman was concussed early in the game two weeks ago. The Giants secondary remains one of the worst in the league and in the four games played against non Dwayne Haskins quarterbacks, they’ve given up 1,344 passing yards and 10 passing touchdowns. That works out to 336 yards and 2.5 passing touchdowns per game. Defensive incompetence will remain on both sides of the ball in this one and the total is simply not set high enough. The over is extremely attractive.
Betting Play: Over 49
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
- Opening Line: Colts -2.5 and 47.5
- Current Line: Colts -1 and 48
The Texans offense and quarterback Deshaun Watson really found their groove the last two weeks against subpar defenses in the Falcons and Chiefs. The Colts aren’t exactly world beaters on that side of the ball, but they are far more competent than the previous two opponents and coming off a bye week. The Texans defense has done enough to win these previous two games, but allowed 56 points in the pair and are still just a middling unit in the league. They will see a totally different offensive approach than that of their last two opponents in a Colts team that is happy to grind it out on the ground and feed running back Marlon Mack in anything resembling a neutral game script. Additionally, both of these teams don’t generally separate from their opponents and a one score game that could swing in either direction late in the game can be considered a likely outcome. The total is one to stay away from as it is not quite high enough to hit the under and the game runs the risk of being shortened by the Colts rushing attack. This is a game to stay away from.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
- Opening Line: Bills -15.5 and 41
- Current Line: -17 and 40
Sooooo close… so close to failing by winning that is. The Dolphins brought last week’s game down to a late two point conversion for a win, which would have been a terrible setback for a team that fully planned on rebuilding this year. Fear not, they got the loss and remain fully in the driver’s seat in the “Tank For Tua” sweepstakes. They get at least this week off from worrying about accidentally winning a game as the Bills are a true candidate to shut them out. That would only fall 11 points shy of their implied team total of, well, 11 points. There is not an area on either side of the ball where Miami has an advantage in this tilt, and the Bills will methodically and systematically find themselves farther and farther in front. Wide receiver John Brown is a candidate for a big game in the mold of Terry “F1” McLaurin last week, but the running game could just as well take this one over. It’s never fun to lay 17 but the 2019 Dolphins have us adjusting to a new normal.
Betting Play: Bills -17
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
- Opening Line: Pickem and 44
- Current Line: Vikings -1 and 45
There are no two ways to put it. The Lions were robbed of an earned victory on national television Monday night. They thoroughly outplayed the Packers and had not just one, but three egregiously atrocious calls go against them in spots that would have essentially cemented the victory. Getting screwed doesn’t just happen to us gamblers, if it’s any consolation at all. The Lions defense was stout and they do well with their coverage and anti blitzing scheme. They are however, still susceptible to the run as they were touched up by the Packers more trustworthy running back Jamaal Williams and it gets much more difficult in the Dalvin Cook lead Minnesota ground attack. This is a spot where Cook will have much success and be the focal point of the offense, as we learned that he is in games where the specific matchup does not dictate otherwise. The Detroit offense showed on Monday that they are both willing and want to be a balanced team that does not rely on the run, and they will likely need to be a bit pass heavy in this matchup. They will likely be motivated at home after the disaster on Monday night, but they are certainly up against it trying to stop the Minnesota rushing attack. On paper I lean the Vikings but the narrative of motivation is stopping me short of labeling them a play.
Oakland Raiders at Green Bay Packers
- Opening Line: Packers -7 and 46
- Current Line: Packers -6 and 46.5
The Raiders travel to Green Bay coming off their bye week in a spot where they have a favorable matchup from a stylistic perspective. We already discussed the Packers being gifted a win on Monday Night this past week, and again are favored by nearly a full touchdown. This team is simply not as good as their 5-1 record suggests, particularly given the state of the wide receiving corps. Davante Adams is likely to miss another game and slot receiver Geronimo Allison’s status is in doubt after being injured Monday night. This could be a major factor for regressing quarterback Aaron Rodgers. While Rodgers still makes his fair share of exceptional throws, any play where a wide receiver doesn’t do exactly as he envisions, tends to end with an incompletion and a look of disgust from Rodgers. While they remain a run first team, the Raiders have been stout against the run, allowing only the Dalvin Cook lead Vikings to hit the century mark while holding three of their five opponents to 62 or fewer rushing yards. The Packers defense remains one more susceptible to the run than the pass and the Raiders are quite willing to pound the football with rookie running back Josh Jacobs. The Raiders have won all three of their games in which they were able to create a favorable or neutral game script and feed the ball to Jacobs. This is likely a close game that the Raiders can win. They are quite a sound play with the points and can be pressed on the money line.
Betting Play: Raiders +6
Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals
- Opening Line: Jaguars -3 and 47.5
- Current Line: Jaguars -3 and 43.5
As we already covered, the Jaguars offense laid an egg in a pretty good matchup with the Saints last week, and they walk into one of the league’s nicer get right matchups with the Bengals. The Bengals defense is equally susceptible to the run and pass and they simply aren’t a unit that can carry an offense that is wholly capped by a simply bad offensive line. Emerging wide receiver DJ Chark has a beatable individual matchup this week and he should be a big part of the offense’s bounce back. Running back Leonard Fournette will continue to see large workloads and this is a team he will be able to wear down, particularly in the second half. The Jaguars defensive front should be able to get home early and often and land plenty of hits on Andy Dalton. The Jaguars will miss stud corner Jalen Ramsey, but the lack of playmakers on the outside for the Bengals will mean this is not one of the weeks they feel that loss. The Jaguars are simply an all around better team and their only identifiable path to losing this one lies in Bengals running back Joe Mixon unleashing a massive individual performance, but that is a small percentage chance with that offensive line. The total opened at a number that was mostly correct, but has moved in the wrong direction. There is plenty of value in the over here and it is a play.
Los Angeles Rams at Atlanta Falcons
- Opening Line: Rams -4 and 52.5
- Current Line: Rams -3 and 54
We should get some real fireworks in this game. The Falcons passing offense is truly a high powered one and it keeps the team competitive despite having what might turn out to be a historically bad defense. That defense is looking to be the most beatable overall defense without having a specific hole. They are just completely inept. It’s for this reason Matt Ryan and company will be busy throughout the season and will continue to be a consistently statistically high output offense. We covered the Rams regime worst showing last week already, and this is a matchup they desperately need at the very right time. Jared Goff could bounce back purely on accident in this one as all three of his wide receivers have very nice individual matchups, particularly emerging star Cooper Kupp. The Rams defense has been quite beatable and the secondary a mess to this point in the season, and they heavily addressed this on Tuesday. They traded a haul for elite corner Jalen Ramsey and additionally traded away struggling corner Marcus Peters. Now we don’t know for certain that Ramsey will be available to play in this game. If he is available, the game is a no play at all, as he will shadow Julio Jones and eliminate the Falcons top playmaker. If he does not play, it’s a sound bet to take the home dog and the over. The viability of the play depends wholly on Ramsey’s availability.
Betting plays (if Ramsey is out)
San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins
- Opening Line: 49ers -9.5 and 43
- Current Line: 49ers -9.5 and 42
The 49ers continue to roll this season and the easy matchups keep coming, leaving question marks as to how much the real deal they actually are. After last week’s showing, I’m much closer to believing they are legit. They will remain a run heavy team in Kyle Shanahan’s system and are quite effective with it. In this lopsided matchup however, the strength of the Redskins defense is stopping the run and are more exploitable in the passing game. It is the type of game where quarterback Jimmy Garropolo makes mind boggling mistakes and keeps the game closer than it should be, and it is making me too hesitant to pull the trigger on what feels like a line that is too low, too hesitant to play the 49ers. Even still, the 49ers can cover in this spot if a pick six comes. The Redskins will continue to try to ride Adrien Peterson as a power run team under lame duck interim coach Bill Callahan and are going nowhere fast, but for whatever reason they want to be competitive. There will be lots of running on both sides, keeping the clock running and the game short, so the total is one to stay away from. The 49ers are the play to look to in this game.
Betting play: 49ers -9.5
Los Angeles Chargers at Tennessee Titans
4:05 PM EST
- Opening Line: Titans -1 and 40.5
- Current Line: Titans -2 and 39
The Chargers continue to play uninspired and inept football and head coach Anthony Lynn has been a problem dating back to last season. There is little motivation for the players and they have been generally outschemed on a week to week basis. There are playmakers present on both sides of the ball, particularly on offense and there is really no excuse to have the result of the season to date show a very ugly 2-4 record. Enter a matchup with the unexciting Titans, who have made a quarterback change and will be starting Ryan Tannehill going forward. The offensive side of the ball brings little excitement in Tennessee as they haven’t fully committed to running the offense through running back Derrick Henry and the passing game is underwhelming from an ability perspective, and unable to be the facet that carries a team. The Chargers should be favored in this spot and the fact that they aren’t is a testament to what they’ve put on tape so far this year. This is a value spot to take the Chargers getting points as they can win a low scoring affair.
Betting play: Chargers +2
Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks
4:25 PM EST
- Opening Line: Seahawks -4 and 50.5
- Current Line: Seahawks -3.5 and 49.5
The Ravens bring a 4-2 record to Seattle to try to match records with the 5-1 Seahawks. While both teams have favorable records, neither team stands out as a true contender. The Ravens have preyed on the week so far this season, with the only mildly impressive win coming over the Steelers that they needed an overtime fumble to secure. The Seahawks are very much the same, with poor coaching setting up weekly close games and then having the coaching staff turn to elite Russell WIlson (or the officials, as it were last week) asking for a bail out from the hole that they’ve dug. No matter who was favored in this game, I would want the underdog, and I’m glad that team is the Ravens. The Seahawks have allowed a rushing touchdown to both athletic quarterbacks they’ve faced so far in Kyler Wilson and Baker Mayfield and this is a spot Lamar Jackson could very well be in for a big rushing game. There’s also a very strong chance any Seahawks game comes down to the last possession and a game deciding field goal, which makes any underdog over a field goal an attractive proposition. The total would be an under only play with two run first teams and there’s just no comfortability in going in that direction.
Betting Play: Ravens +3.5
New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears
- Opening Line: Bears -3 and 38.5
- Current Line: Bears -3 38
It’s a testament to what to expect in this game when a total in the modern NFL opens at 38.5 and is actually bet down. The Saints have the potential to be without star running back ALvin Kamara and it would put more pressure on interim starter Teddy Bridgewater to be without Kamara. The Bears defensive unit is stout overall, but they did lose run stuffer Akiem Hicks this week and their ability to stop the run should be monitored this week for future weeks betting. The Bears believe low end starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will return for this matchup, but make no mistake, it’s a lateral move at best when comparing him to backup Chase Daniel. There won’t be much offense as a whole in this one and it is completely a sitution to avoid in what will be an ugly game.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
8:20 PM EST
- Opening Line: Cowboys -2.5 and 47.5
- Current Line: Cowboys -3 and 49
The Eagles hole on their team is the secondary as a whole, and they are very much a pass funnel defense, evidenced by Stefon Diggs big game against them last week. This could be problematic for the Cowboys this week as seemingly fraudulent quarterback Dak Prescott is likely to be without top wide receiver Amari Cooper. Both Prescott and rookie play caller Kellen Moore had the honeymoon phase end abruptly after their 3-0 start against low level competition. They have since lost three straight with the most recent loss coming at the hands of the mediocre Jets. If the Cowboys are to keep pace with the Eagles here, number two wide receiver Michael Gallup will likely need to have a career game, and even then it could not be enough. The Eagles, despite their secondary problems, are the better coached and quarterbacked team and they should absolutely be favored in this game despite being on the road. If Amari Cooper were to play, it would significantly weaken the Eagles play, but they would still be a play. They are in play of the week territory assuming Cooper is out.
Betting Play: Eagles +3
New England Patriots at New York Jets
8:15 PM EST, Monday Night
- Opening Line: Patriots -9.5 and 43.5
- Current Line: Patriots -9.5 and 42.5
The Patriots have been the league’s most consistent team so far, and that’s not something that has been uncommon over the last 18 seasons. They are 6-0 but have only the opening week blow out of the still Roethlisberger lead Steelers to notch in the impressive win category. They have had a mostly weak schedule to date and they have already played a very tight divisional game against the Bills on the road, and this one projects to play out similarly. This is the second matchup of the season for these two teams already, but the Jets were forced to start non NFL talent Luke Falk in the first meeting in Foxboro in a 16 point loss. The Jets showed they are a different team with Sam Darnold under center last week, notching their first win of the season in Darnold’s return. In his absence, the offense was simply too inept for the team to be competitive and are a completely different team with competence under center. I don’t expect the Jets to pull off a win at home, but I do expect the game to be a competitive one with the Jets defense continuing to be a competent if not overwhelming unit. In a fully dog or pass game, take the dog and avoid the total.
Betting Play: Jets +9.5
Good luck this week!