Big Five Picks for NFL Week 7

Sorry for another losing week. 2-3 and 14-15-1 for the season. Things were looking fine last Sunday morning with Seattle taking care of business against Cleveland and Washington being firmly in control in South Beach. And then "Fitzmagic" happened. Josh Rosen's replacement seems to have a knack for backdoor covers. The afternoon games were not kind either. While the 49ers dominated the LA Lambs and our model was very close with predicting their 13 point victory (our model had them winning by 12 points), we were WAY off with Tennessee and Dallas. Tennessee (+2) never had a chance at Mile High getting shut out 16-0 and Dallas (-7) was down early to the lowly New York Jets 21-3 near the end of the 1st half even though they almost pulled off the comeback.

Selecting five teams to cover the spread every week doesn't seem hard, especially since it's not unusual in any given week to get 10 - 11 correct picks in straight up pools and about 7 - 8 correct picks in point spread pools. However, nailing the five teams you feel most confident in covering the spread is incredibly difficult. I will say that it is mighty impressive that the first place team in the Super Contest (Tuco) is currently 27-3. If you look at the teams Tuco has selected so far, they have mainly been dogs but not the kind of dogs playing a powerhouse team such as New England. They have been dogs by just a few points and they are not just covering but outright winning their games. Perhaps that is where we find value but, like the stock market, the NFL betting market is bound to correct or regress towards the mean.

So what does all of this mean? We somewhat stay the course. Take the chalk when it seems right but also don't be afraid to roll with the dogs. Much of Tuco's success has been selecting road teams and most of our selections have also been road teams. We just haven't quite picked the right road warriors for the last 6 weeks but we promise that we have five excellent picks for Week 7. We are ready to dust ourselves off and try again. Here we go!

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars -3.5. It is safe to say that there are 4 - 5 awful NFL teams right now and Cincinnati is one of them. While this is a road game for Jacksonville and they have managed just two wins, all the Jaguars have to do is win by 4 points against an inferior team. What helps is that Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette is 3rd in the NFL in yards per carry for all RBs with at least 100 carries. Guess which team ranks dead last in yards allowed per carry? You guessed it ... the Bungles! They allow 5.3 yards per carry so one has to think that Fournette's already spectacular 5.1 yards per carry average should only improve. Fournette also plays in most of his offense's snaps and is the epitome of a workhorse back. Our regression model has the Jaguars winning by at least 10 points and they are the top team in our probability model.

  2. Houston Texans +1. This should be a fun AFC South showdown. Houston wins and they get some much needed separation from their closest division rival. Indianapolis wins and they take over first place in the division. Needless to say, this is a pivotal game for both teams. The Colts victory in Kansas City during Week 5 was impressive. However, the Texans did the same thing in Week 6. If we continue the matchup comparison, both teams faced Atlanta at home and won. However, the Colts barely won with a score 27-24 while the Texans demolished the Falcons 53-32. Of course anything can happen on any given Sunday. We know this full well given that we have whiffed on 16 of our 30 selections this season. Still, the Texans have the composition of an elite team. If not for two nail biter losses to New Orleans and Carolina, Houston could be undefeated right now. There is Pro Bowl talent up and down the Texans roster while the Colts are more "smoke and mirrors" after Andrew Luck's sudden retirement announcement almost 2 months ago. Texans should win by a TD so you can money line them.

  3. San Francisco 49ers -9.5. Finally the 49ers are getting some respect. They are nearly a double digit favor on the road. That is usually reserved for the NFL elite and the books seem to think the 49ers have joined that class. We think so too! To hold the defending NFC champions to just 7 points on their turf and not allow a single 3rd down conversion is truly remarkable. The Deadskins are just that ... dead. They almost lost to arguably the worst team in NFL history and Washington has in fact lost all three home games this year by double digits. Make that four this Sunday. The 49ers defense is clicking on all cylinders so if it can shut down a juggernaut offense such as the Rams, imagine what it can do against an anemic offense in the Redskins. Defensively Washington is a complete joke so the 49ers should have no problem exposing the Redskins porous pass defense. Regression has the 49ers winning by 27 points. A 34 - 7 victory in the nation's capital sounds about right.

  4. Los Angeles Chargers +2.5. I still find it weird that the Chargers hail from LA. I want to call them the San Diego Chargers and the cheesy song "San Diego Super Chargers" often plays in my head. Enough nostalgia ... what about this game? Here we have two very underwhelming teams, both of which should have winning records. Interestingly, even though both teams are 2-4, each of them have positive point differentials. So what do you do in this kind of situation with two evenly matched teams? Take the dog! This game should be close and even if the Chargers continue their losing ways, a 1 or 2 point loss still works for us. However, we don't even see that happening. The Titans have managed only 55 total points after their impressive Week 1 victory in Cleveland. That is an average of 11 points per game. The Chargers can score at least 20 in this one and our regression model likes the Chargers to win by about 5 points. Money line the Super Chargers.

  5. New England Patriots -9.5. Four weeks ago the Patriots were favored to beat the Jets by 22.5 points. Now the spread is 13 points lower. True, this game is in New York and Sam Darnold is back. The Jets will probably be amped up to host the best team in the league on national TV. However, we are talking about the Patriots here. They show up to play regardless of the venue, opponent, or schedule. New England is great at covering spreads, especially when either the offense or defense is clicking on all cylinders. The Patriots defense is arguably one of the best in the last 20 years and is drawing comparisons to the greatest defenses of all time such as the 1985 Bears, 2000 Ravens, 2002 Bucs, and 2013 Seahawks. Right now the Patriots rank #1 in fewest points allowed and yards allowed. The Jets offense is in last place in yardage gained and 2nd to last place in points scored. This won't end well for the Jets. Expect another ass kicking from the defending Super Bowl champions. Regression likes the Patriots to win by 30 points so giving up about 10 points is nothing.

Once the dust settles, we will still have two undefeated teams and they will barely break a sweat when they dismantle the inept teams they are visiting this weekend. The other three plays of ours represent great value. We will refrain from wagering strategy this weekend. Just do individual plays while your cash stack grows. Good luck and we will check in again next week.