Week 7 NFL Picks -TJ Calkins Weekly Football Picks

October 21, 2020

I believe we are turning the corner in this 2020 NFL season. All of the odd circumstances surrounding the season are starting to normalize, and it is beginning to have the feel of a more typical season. This is the first week in some time we have no rescheduled games, and I think both players and coaches are now having a feel for how to navigate this season. While I do believe that to be true, it would certainly be helpful for gamblers if it were true. Adding consistency and increased predictiveness can never be a bad thing.

We have four flat plays for Week 7. Of course, those will be supplemented by prop plays and a Monday night piece as well. Read Week 6 recap.

Let’s get to this weeks NFL Picks.

Detroit Lions 2-3 at Atlanta Falcons 1-5

Betting Play: Lions +2.5

1PM EST
Opening Line: Falcons -1.5 and 56.5
Current Line: Falcons -2.5 and 55

It would be easy to be fooled by the Falcons last week. They got their first win of the season, and the defense had a good first half, their first sound half of the season. They intercepted Kirk Cousins three times and put up a shocking scoreless half. Of course that 23-0 lead turned to a 40-23 final, so it is fairly safe to say that first half was an anomaly. The list of teams that have allowed more points is short, and is as follows: Cowboys, Jets, Browns. That’s it, that’s the list. Enter the matchup with the Lions, who have had no problems scoring of late. They are averaging 29.7 points over their last three games with a low of 26 and have seemingly learned they have an effective young running back in Swift. Star receiver Kenny Golladay also seems to have settled in and an explosion game is coming for him, probably this week. Tight end TJ Hockenson also gets a sweet matchup as the Falcons are clueless in tight end coverage. All signs point to Stafford and company uncorking an offensive explosion against an Atlanta unit that has allowed at least 23 points in every game and at least 30 in four of six.

The Falcons were able to play from ahead against the Vikings, and the Vikings are much like the Browns in the sense that early negative game scripts will be their undoing. We won’t see three early interceptions from Stafford like we did with Cousins, the Falcons will be forced to chase points and I don’t see them being able to have balance on offense like they did last week. Gurley had 21 carries which he did nothing with, but a one dimensional Falcon offense is much much easier to defend. If you can’t tell, I believe the wrong team is favored in this game, and, per usual, the Falcons being competitive will hinge on the wide receivers, and more importantly the play of Matt Ryan. Ryan has been very unsteady this season and the velocity on his throws looks to be going the way of Philip Rivers and Drew Brees. We have also seen improvements from the Lions secondary in recent weeks, which was understandably unsteady to start the season, but seems to be settling in.

I think there’s real value in the underdog Lions, and certainly deem them more likely to win. Take the points here.

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Green Bay Packers 4-1 at Houston Texans 1-5

Betting Play: Packers -3.5

1PM EST
Opening Line: Packers -3.5 and 56
Current Line: Packers -3.5 and 57

As a general rule, do not let very recent outcomes sway you from the body of work. This holds especially true for the Packers this week, as they come off of a complete dud in Tampa last week. The Bucs have shown enough to make me believe they are a high end team, and the matchup with the Texans this week, well, it’s not the same. Both sides of the ball failed for the Pack last week, but let’s start with the defensive side of the ball. Mike Pettine defenses in general will fail more against teams who are able to lean on the running game, and that was certainly the case last week with the Bucs. They were able to call more runs than passes and nearly accumulated more rushing yardage than passing yardage. The Texans are simply not built to attack the same way as they don’t run block well and they rely on a declined back in David Johnson who can no longer remotely control a game. The secondary is far better in coverage than the Titans and will not allow Watson to rain on them as he did last week, and once the Packers build a lead, they will make the one dimensional Texans struggle.

On the offensive side of the ball for the Pack, it’s very easy to pinpoint what happened last week. Aaron Rodgers played very poorly, and was not at all the player we saw this season leading up to last week’s game. I think it is a safe assumption that he will bounce back this week against a Houston defense that is exploitable at all levels, and we will see effectiveness with balance from the Green Bay offense. Backs tend to do their best work against Houston, but they truly can be beaten everywhere. We will see this offense get back to the version that averaged 38 points per game over their first four games over the version that scored 10 last week. This is the type of soft matchup they have feasted on and will continue to do so. Take the Packers to roll.

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