NFL Betting Guide: Week 7
Do you think you know a lot about NFL football? Try regularly picking five games against the spread.
Even with all the information and advanced stats, elite sports bettors are lucky to get about 53% to 54% of -110 (even probability) bets correct. It's essentially flipping a coin.
That being said, people -- myself included -- try. There are plenty of contests, media personalities, and other casual games at work or with friends that pick five games each week against the spread to see how they fare.
Using NFL odds from FanDuel Sportsbook, here are my five picks against the spread and a couple of totals I like this week. Play or fade as you please.
Week 6 Recap
Last Week: 3-2
Year-to-Date Record: 19-11-0 (63.3%)
Regardless of that brutal beat, we extended our streak to six straight winning weeks. The Bills downed Kansas City at Arrowhead, the Eagles dominated on Sunday night, and the Seahawks cruised at home.
The other loser was Baltimore, who had a phenomenal chance to cover until a late fumble.
Onto Week 7!
Pick #1: 49ers (+2.5) vs. Chiefs
If the public is going to keep giving me the Chiefs' opponent at this price, I'll keep buying.
The Bills and Raiders bludgeoned Kansas City on the ground, and we know San Francisco wants to use that same formula. The Niners have the seventh-highest rush rate over expectation in the league. Surprisingly, it hasn't been going well; they're numberFire's fourth-worst rushing offense on the season. A certain someone might change that in future weeks.
That might also just change this week if left tackle Trent Williams, who returned to practice, is back in the fold for San Fran. Plus, a couple of the 49ers' defensive line starters were back practicing earlier than expected last week. Their Week 6 letdown to Atlanta could be directly correlated to their limitations.
The Chiefs are 2-4 against the spread (ATS) this year. They have numberFire's sixth-worst defense overall. That's way too poor to favor them against such a quality team on the road -- especially in a buy-low spot after last week.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: 49ers 27-20
Pick #2: Commanders (+4.5) vs. Packers
I think we're fading another elite quarterback where perception doesn't meet reality here.
The Packers' offense just isn't good. They're 15th overall in our nERD rankings, and Aaron Rodgers' thumb injury isn't likely to help. Like the Chiefs without Tyreek Hill, this offense can be functional, but the team with Davante Adams that won 10 straight ATS last year is gone.
Forcing Rodgers and his inconsistent supporting cast to do it themselves isn't a good idea, and Washington has the second-best rush defense in our nERD metrics.
As for the Commanders' offense, some might view Taylor Heinicke as an outright upgrade over Carson Wentz. I don't, but he does bring a level of stability and consistency that Wentz doesn't. It makes handicapping their run-first offense far easier, and Green Bay's rush defense is the eighth-worst, per those aforementioned metrics.
As a home 'dog, Washington's defense figures to give a scuffling Green Bay offense a tough afternoon. When the Commies have the ball, Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson could both mix in to support Heinecke.
If those who are Wentz's deepest critics are correct about his attitude and acumen, then the ex-Football Team might be ready to go on a run.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Commanders 20-19
Pick #3: Broncos (-1) vs. Jets
The only thing I like fading more than a bloated favorite is a bloated, public underdog. That's my beloved Jets this weekend.
New York is 4-2 ATS, and yes, I believe they've been undervalued, too. However, the Jets' last three opponents -- Pittsburgh, Miami, and the aforementioned Packers -- have been in total disarray. Maybe this is controversial, but I see the Denver Broncos as more limited than in disarray.
Denver isn't what we thought before the season, but they've also been horribly unlucky. They're 18th in yards per play as an offense, but they're dead last in overall scoring. There have been a lot of penalties and missed opportunities. Still, they've been right there with the Colts, Raiders, and Chargers.
We know their defense is exceptional, and this is a battle of two top-seven units in numberFire's power rankings. One of them will be at home, though.
The Broncos are only receiving 20% of bets in this spot, but sharps have backed them to the point where they've got nearly half the money (46%). I see this as a Denver stock at its absolute low point, and the Jets are at what could be a peak.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Broncos 17-13
I had Washington in a week-long timeout, and Jacksonville will get one if they continue to let New York roll.
The Giants continue to be incredibly fortunate. Some may call it coaching, but the G-Men are numberFire's 9th-worst overall defense and 15th-worst passing offense, and they're 5-1. They were outgained by 168 yards and won outright as a 5.5-point 'dog against Baltimore. I almost can't even make this up.
The bottom line is this Jags' defense gets pressure. Their 32% pressure rate is sixth-best in the NFL, and the New York offensive line is ceding a 27% rate (fifth-worst) themselves. They're also numberFire's 12th-best rushing defense.
On the road, Daniel Jones should have to make plays against a competent pass rush. I just can't fathom a way they sneak it out again.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Jaguars 23-16
I don't have an ounce of doubt the Raiders will pull this one out off a bye at home, but they haven't really earned seven points against anybody.
The backdoor should be wide open here against numberFire's eighth-worst overall defense, and they're the third-worst passing defense. Davis Mills might not be your favorite, but he's capable of a late score down 14 points.
Overall, the Raiders have played every game within nine points this year. If you want to extend that sample further, 11 of their last 12 last games have been decided by single digits. They're a close-game team.
This is a "Pros vs. Joes" spot. 58% of the bets are on the Raiders to cover the spread, but 67% of the money is on Houston in this spot. That should speak volumes in the backyard of most professional bettors.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Raiders 29-24
Totals of the Week
Pick #1: Browns at Ravens (Over 45.5)
One of the most shocking things in the NFL this year has been the Browns' defense. It's awful.
They are a bottom-six unit, according to our nERD metrics, against both the run and the pass. Their personnel, individually, seems better than a league-worst unit, but it's hard to ignore when Bailey Zappe just dropped a Mahomes-like 0.32 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back on them.
Despite last week's total, the Cleveland offense is also surprisingly capable, serving as numberFire's eighth-best overall offense. It's the exact opposite formula we expected during this period without Deshaun Watson.
Because of this unexpected trend, five of the Brownies' six games have gone over. This is another modest total when Lamar Jackson and the Ravens should be able to move the ball at will, and Jacoby Brissett will be able to attack a bottom-half pass defense.
I'll keep riding Cleveland's surprise formula until it breaks.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Ravens 31-24
Pick #2: Buccaneers at Panthers (Under 40.5)
I say this without exaggeration -- I have zero idea how the Carolina Panthers score an offensive touchdown this week.
They didn't in Los Angeles, and they just traded tailback Christian McCaffrey to San Francisco. P.J. Walker appears healthy to return, and he's been a total disaster. He posted a league-worst -0.46 Passing NEP per drop back last week. The Rams are also just numberFire's 10th-best defensive unit; Tampa Bay is 2nd.
I think we can confidently take this with Tom Brady and the Bucs' offense struggling so mightily, too. Brady (0.18 Passing NEP per drop back) didn't even play poorly this week, and Tampa's biggest issue is they are numberFire's worst rushing offense. Into a decent Carolina front, it probably won't get better.
This game has a gross slog written all over it. The process play in this game is to take Carolina's spread (+10.5) as a divisional home underdog coming off a loss by multiple scores. I just wouldn't be shocked if they lost by multiple scores again because they literally cannot score.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Buccaneers 16-6