We're almost at the halfway point in the NFL season, and it's been a wildly untraditional one so far.
With games needing to be rescheduled due to COVID-19 the NFL schedule has been thrown into a constant state of chaos at this point, and as fans we're just hoping that they can finish the season. An uptick in injuries can likely be traced back to a truncated offseason not allowing teams and players the adequate amount of time to get their bodies prepared for the season. Let's hope that the league and Commissioner Goodell are able to enact a plan to keep football going to see a proper end to the season with a team being crowned Super Bowl champions.
Let's take a look at the Week 7 power rankings based on what we've seen so far this year.
32. New York Jets (0-6) -There isn't a lot to say about the Jets. Until they fire Adam Gase this franchise has no chance to turn things around.
Stop hiring people like Adam Gase, and start hiring people like Eric Bieniemy. https://t.co/8q70NTLem4— Doug Farrar (@Doug Farrar)1603401710.0
31. Washington Football Team (1-5)
30. New York Giants (1-6)
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) - It's hard not to like Gardner Minshew, but it's been getting increasingly harder to watch the Jaguars. DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, and Keelan Cole provide a solid group of receivers to complement James Robinson, who has been a pleasant surprise for Jacksonville this year.
@NFL_DovKleiman Gardner Minshew should bench Doug Marrone— Clint Lamb (@Clint Lamb)1603318520.0
28. Philadelphia Eagles (2-4-1) - The Eagles have been a major disappointment so far this season. They have dealt with injuries to their offensive line and receiving groups, but Carson Wentz needs to continue to post games like he did on Thursday against the Giants in Week 7 for them to have a chance at redemption. Miles Sanders has been banged up this season, but Boston Scott looks able to fill in. Scott scored the game winning touchdown to defeat the Giants.
WENTZ TO BOSTON SCOTT FOR THE LEAD WITH 40 SECONDS LEFT 😱 (via @NFL) https://t.co/lDrubfpYSr— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter)1603423956.0
27. Los Angeles Chargers (1-4)
26. Cincinnati Bengals (1-4-1)
25. Dallas Cowboys (2-4) - After getting a peek at how the Cowboys will look without Dak Prescott under center. It may be a good time to sell Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas receivers in fantasy if you can find buyers.
The Dallas Cowboys organization after operating just one week without Dak Prescott https://t.co/3j3BbZFiM7— Blogging The Boys (@Blogging The Boys)1603216929.0
24. Atlanta Falcons (1-5)
23. New England Patriots (2-3)
22. Houston Texans (1-5)
21. Denver Broncos (2-3)
20. Minnesota Vikings (1-5) - If Dalvin Cook can stay healthy this season, and Kirk Cousins stops throwing interceptions (10 already this season) the Vikings could find themselves climbing this list quickly. As Justin Jefferson continues to develop, he creates a dangerous tandem with Adam Thielen and should help Cousins as he attempts to overcome some early season struggles.
Most receiving yards in a game by a rookie since 2018: Justin Jefferson (Wk 3) - 175 Justin Jefferson (Wk 6) - 166 https://t.co/GS3inCFL24— PFF (@PFF)1603053810.0
19. Detroit Lions (2-3)
18. Carolina Panthers (3-3)
17. Las Vegas Raiders (3-2)
16. San Francisco 49ers (3-3) - As the Niners are still dealing with a rash of injuries, they have managed to keep themselves in the race for the division thus far. Raheem Mostert suffered a high ankle sprain last week and is looking at a stint on the IR. Jerick McKinnon will assume the role of starting running back in his stead.
49ers’ HC Kyle Shanahan said RB Raheem Mostert “most likely" will go on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain.— Adam Schefter (@Adam Schefter)1603147588.0
15. Indianapolis Colts (4-2)
14. Cleveland Browns (4-2) - If Baker Mayfield doesn't start to look better quickly, the Browns season could begin to fall apart as they wait for the return of star running back Nick Chubb.
Baker Mayfield is now holding back a super talented offense & very capable coaching staff.— Colin Cowherd (@Colin Cowherd)1603044242.0
13. Miami Dolphins (3-3) - Dolphins' coach Brian Flores this past week made the surprising announcement that Tua Tagovailoa would be taking over as starting QB for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitz had Miami sitting at 3-3 good for second in the AFC East. Considering Flores has done such a great job of turning the team around, as a fan you just have to have faith that this is the right time for the move.
Breaking: The Dolphins are naming Tua Tagovailoa their starting QB, a league source tells @AdamSchefter. Tua Tago… https://t.co/EjsftVVO2F— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter)1603207869.0
12. Los Angeles Rams (4-2) - All four of the Rams' wins this season are against NFC East teams. That makes them suspect until further notice. We're on to you Rams!
Tua Tagovailoa's first opponent as starter ... Aaron Donald and the Rams 😤 https://t.co/lQN67tk67d— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter)1603210169.0
11. Chicago Bears (5-1) - The most unlikely of 5-1 records. Neither Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles has looked particularly good, and the same can be said of David Montgomery and Allen Robinson. The defense is good, but expect the losses to start to pile up.
10. New Orleans Saints (3-2) - Star receiver Michael Thomas tweaked his hamstring in practice this week, and his status for this Sunday is in question. After Thomas was suspended last week after an altercation with a teammate, the team may be missing him yet again as they will take on the Panthers in an important division matchup.
9. Arizona Cardinals (4-2) - The Cardinals have managed to keep pace with the rest of the NFC West behind the electric play of Kyler Murray. As Kenyan Drake appears to be settling into the offense, Arizona should be a threat to compete for the division crown all year.
This Kyler Murray-Christian Kirk TD is even better from this angle 😱 (via @AZCardinals) https://t.co/FUUD2eL2ov— Bleacher Report (@Bleacher Report)1603159095.0
8. Buffalo Bills (4-2) - Coming off a poor performance against the Chiefs on Monday night, the Bills hope to rebound against the hapless Jets which shouldn't be a problem.
7. Green Bay Packers (4-1) - Speaking of poor performances, the Packers were thwarted by the Bucs last week 38-10 which resulted in their first loss of the season. Green Bay will need to brush that loss off and move on as they take on Houston, Minnesota, and San Francisco the next three weeks. Aaron Rodgers has been having a resurgent year, but FREE AARON JONES!
Aaron Jones with some major Macho Man vibes 😎 https://t.co/EbDRaxoWOf— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter)1603056582.0
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2) - The aforementioned Bucs have been getting it together since a shaky start to the year. Tom Brady appears to be getting more comfortable in the offense every week, and if Ronald Jones can continue to hand in 100 yard performances as he's done the past three weeks, Tampa will be tough to beat.
5. Baltimore Ravens (5-1) - The Ravens have a Week 7 bye, but when they return they better be ready for the gauntlet. Over the next five weeks they will play the Steelers twice, the Colts, Bill Belichick's Patriots, and the Titans. Time to earn your respect Big Truzz.
4. Seattle Seahawks (5-0) - Coming off of their bye week, the Seahawks return to action this week against the Cardinals on Sunday night. Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray will headline a game of the week contender that promises to be a high scoring affair. If Seattle can pull out a win here, they will jump up a spot of two next week.
With so many injuries across the league, including ones to star receivers, is it time to start thinking about @AB84… https://t.co/xQD1ehUko1— FindBet (@FindBet)1601222098.0
3. Kansas City Chiefs (5-1) - An under-appreciated fact for the Chiefs this season is that, other than the outlier of the Raiders game, the Kansas City defense hasn't allowed more than 20 points in a game (40 to the Raiders). If the Chiefs can keep their defense healthy we know they have the firepower on offense to compete in any contest.
2. Tennessee Titans (5-0) - The Titans will play the Steelers this week in the rescheduled game from a few weeks ago. Tennessee is coming off a shootout win over Deshaun Watson and the Texans which featured a 94 yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry. Mike Vrabel has his team playing with discipline and focus early in the year. They will need their offense to continue its hot run against a Steelers defense that has only allowed 94 points on the season which is best in the NFL.
Man you are too damn big to be movin like that🤯 @KingHenry_2 https://t.co/sA2AbtiwIg— HJR III™💎 (@HJR III™💎)1603053073.0
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-0) - Our top two teams on the power rankings list clash in a battle for supremacy in Week 7. The Steelers had a statement performance on both sides of the ball against division rival Cleveland in Week 6. The Steelers will bring the NFL's stingiest defense into a matchup against the seventh highest scoring offense in the league in the Titans. With Chase Claypool emerging as a dual threat in the Pittsburgh offense, we like the Steelers to hold this spot next week.
The @steelers defense has been dominant to start the year! 😤 https://t.co/cVhugwomp0— FOX Sports: NFL (@FOX Sports: NFL)1603402200.0
It's another eventful week in the NFL.
Four teams -- the Jets, Falcons, Saints, and 49ers -- are the first teams to get a bye week. After Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers narrowly escaped Thursday Night Football with a 28-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, the reigning Super Bowl champs are the first team with five wins in the league. Who will join them on Sunday? We know that we'll get at least a second five-win team since the 4-1 Ravens are hosting the 4-1 Chargers. That is going to be an epic battle, so let's start with that clash of AFC contenders. Welcome to our Week 6 NFL Best Bets.
Playing on the road is a difficult task for any team, but if any team can escape with a victory, it's Justin Herbert and the Chargers. This isn't the Chargers of the last decade. This team is winning the close battles. Herbert is playing at an MVP level this season and already has led this team to big-time wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns -- two of the top teams in the AFC. This L.A. team is deep at the skill positions, can rush the passer, has an improved offensive line and a great young coach. What's not to like?
All that said, Lamar Jackson seems to be playing as he did during his 2019 MVP campaign. Not to mention, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown is actually catching passes. He eclipsed 100 yards last week and scored two touchdowns (including the game-winning catch in overtime). Simply put, this is a tough team to bet against. It did take last-second heroics for the Ravens to beat the winless Lions and a pretty pedestrian Colts team. Overall, Baltimore hasn't faced a test like this yet this season. Take the points and the better overall squad. Chargers may win this game, but if they don't, they are not going to lose by more than a field goal.
PICK: Chargers +3.5
It's been a tough start to the season for the Chiefs. They had great odds to return to the Super Bowl and are now last in the AFC West heading into Week 16 with a 2-3 record. They desperately need this game. This is a great opportunity for the Chiefs to prove they are still elite by defeating a team that made the postseason last year on the road. The Chiefs are going to turn it around against a Washington defense that is allowing the sixth-most passing yards and second-most passing touchdowns this season. Patrick Mahomes is going to blow up. Tyreek Hill is going to dominate. Travis Kelce is going to continue to provide a steady source of receptions down the middle of the field. As long as the Chiefs' offensive line holds against Chase Young, it's going to be a long day for Washington's defense. Betting on Mahomes to right the ship isn't a really difficult choice.
PICK: Chiefs -6.5
Yes, the Texans are one of the worst teams in the league. Betting on them on the road against a divisional rival might seem crazy at first. However, the Texans are 7-3 against the spread as underdogs in their last 10 games. Plus, the Colts are emotional after completely giving away the game against the Ravens in which they blew a 22-3 lead late in the game. This is going to cause a bit of a hangover in that locker room. When New England suffered a terrible loss against Tom Brady and the Bucs, the Texans managed to cover the spread the following week. Look for history to repeat itself. Texans coach David Culley has Houston playing hard in spite of its lack of talent and quarterback Davis Mills appeared to take a step forward last week against the Pats. Houston has played pretty good pass defense, too. The Texans have allowed only seven passing TDs this season.
PICK: Texans +9
Sunday night will be an interesting matchup to watch as Geno Smith will make his first start in four years as the Seahawks travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. I hate betting on Ben Roethlisberger, but it's hard to envision the Seahawks covering the spread without the services of Russell Wilson. And as much as I think Big Ben should hang up his cleats, you have to give him credit for the way he dominated a solid Broncos defense last week. Roethlisberger looked better than he did earlier in the season and was able to get the ball to his playmakers -- Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and running back Najee Harris. Seattle's defense is one of the worst in the league and their secondary is even worse than their front seven. Look for the Steelers to light up Seattle in the passing game.
PICK: Steelers -5
Both of these offenses can put up a lot of points, though they go about it very differently. The Browns are a run-heavy team, and even though they will be without the services of Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt is more than capable of getting the job done. Meanwhile, Arizona's offense runs through electric quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray is able to move the chains with his legs but he isn't afraid to toss the ball either. He loves getting his guys involved and his weapons are elite in DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, and Christian Kirk.
The Browns are coming off an 89-point slugest with the Chargers and hit the OVER in their other game against a high-end offense in a 33-29 loss to the Chiefs. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have scored 30-plus points in four of five games this year. Smash the OVER.
PICK: OVER 49.5
Week 2 of the NFL was full of breakout performances, thrilling finishes and potentially the start of the Justin Fields era in the NFC North as the Bears' win over the Bengals finds them in first place in the division.
We cap off the week with a Monday Night Football showdown between the Packers and the Lions with the winner finding themselves tied for first in the North. The Packers put up an absolute dud of a performance last week against the Saints in Week 1 while the Lions looked surprisingly effective while playing catch-up against the West-leading 49ers. The expectations for these two teams couldn't have been further apart coming into the season but with matching 0-1 starts on the books, I think there are a couple of interesting props and roster construction angles to exploit.
NFL DFS Showdown Picks
*Prices are from DraftKings
Captain: TE T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions ($9,600) ($14,400)
I'm normally not a fan of playing a tight end in the captain spot, but T.J. Hockenson is not your average tight end. He finished 2020 with an elite 18% target share in the Lions' offense and picked up right where he left off in Week 1, finishing with an 18.2% share on 50 routes run last week. Hockenson has always carried premium TD upside as a red-zone target but what was most encouraging about last week was that he ran nearly 55% of his routes out of the slot, leaving him a matchup against Chandon Sullivan, who's allowing a 67% catch rate in his coverage. In a game where the Lions are projected to be down early, expect Hockenson to get fed once again. His red-zone utilization gives him enough juice to take the captain's chair in my builds.
Core Consideration: QB Jared Goff, Detroit Lions ($10,000)
Two principles I take into Showdown slates apply to this play. Generally speaking, if I have a pass-catcher as my captain, I'm finding a way to get their QB into a flex spot. The second is that your build needs to tell a story. Mine is that the Packers come out with something to prove after getting embarrassed in Week 1 and that we'll likely see upwards of 50 pass attempts from Jared Goff as he attempts to mount a comeback. Goff is a surprisingly effective passer when getting good protection and this unit gave him a clean pocket on 86.7% of snaps last week. Expect that to continue tonight as Goff will continue to feast in garbage time.
Contrarian Play: WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers ($2,000)
I still chuckle at the thought of the return of Randall Cobb being on the short-list of demands from Aaron Rodgers in the midst of his holdout. I do, however, think there is something to be said about the importance of chemistry between a quarterback and his receiver and I expect that in a typical game (which Week 1 was not), Aaron Rodgers is going to find his spots to get Cobb involved. In a game script that figures to have the Packers up by a healthy margin, not many are going to look at the tertiary passing options for Green Bay and I think a $2,000 Randall Cobb could sneak in a handful of receptions at single-digit ownership..
Salary Relief: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions ($2,400)
This one fits perfectly into my narrative for the game as well. In a game where the Lions are likely to flirt with 50+ pass attempts and coming off a week where St. Brown ran routes on 75% of the team's passing plays, I will be overweight on Amon-Ra tonight. Lining up in the slot on 74.5% of plays means St. Brown will primarily see coverage from Chandon Sullivan, the most favorable of the options GB lines up in their defensive secondary. Expect St. Brown to see his target volume increase tonight. If Detroit can be more effective in getting to the red zone, he carries decent scoring upside with the way he's utilized in this offense. Plus, who doesn't love the extra motivation of playing against their big bro?
Monday Night Football Best Bets
Taking a look at the wagering side of this game; before we determine anything else we must ask ourselves what we think of these Green Bay Packers. I tend to look at last week's performance as the exception and not the rule. With that being the case, I am laying the 11.5 points and taking GB tonight. Over the past six seasons, oddsmakers have been fairly sharp when it comes to these larger spreads and NFL teams cover double-digit spreads more than 55% of the time. The total for tonight is sitting at 48.5 and given the somewhat surprising ability of the Lions to make up ground last week, I am confidently on the "over" side of that line.
Picks: Packers -11.5, OVER 48.5 points
Taking a look at the prop market, I am again mainly investing in the "GB Blowout" narrative:
D'Andre Swift: OVER 28.5 Receiving Yard
Coming off a 65-yard performance in a very similar game script, this one feels like a no-brainer. Swift averages nearly 8 yards per reception so this really boils down to whether you think he catches more than 3 passes. I certainly do and I'm confidently on the OVER for this prop. FanDuel is currently carrying the best odds at -110.
T.J. Hockenson: Anytime TD
I'm not the biggest fan of these "to score" props, but I'll break from the norm with this one. I am projecting the Lions to at least have a go at it in this game and there simply isn't a scenario where that doesn't involve a score for Hockenson. +220 odds at FanDuel sort of feels like stealing given that I see this game going over the 48.5 total.
AJ Dillon | UNDER 8.5 Rushing Attempts
I know that the betting public is forecasting a fairly comfortable win for the Packers, but let's not get carried away. AJ Dillon would have to nearly double his career average for carries to get to this number. Plus, it's a bit unlikely that this game gets so far out of reach that Green Bay brings in their backups. Even last week when they did bring in the second-stringers, Dillon only saw 4 carries. I'm expecting Aaron Jones to have a monster day on the ground, as evidenced by my Saturday article.
Week 1 is in the books and it's time to move on to the best bets in Week 2.
If you listened to my article earlier this week, you would have started 1-0 for taking the Giants with the points against Washington in that thriller of a matchup Thursday night. Now, let's dive into Week 2's best NFL bets.
Tennessee Titans/Seattle Seahawks Over 54
The Seahawks' offense was high-flying in the first half last week. Because the Colts never really threatened the outcome of the game, the Seahawks were able to take the air out of the ball and finish the game with an easy win while only scoring seven in the second half. While both the Titans' defense and offense looked atrocious, expect Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry to have big bounce-back weeks and make this an epic high-scoring game. This has all the makings for a shootout in which both teams put up 30-plus points.
Cincinnati Bengals +2.5 @ Chicago Bears
Until that Monday night game, the Bengals had the honor of winning the craziest Week 1 game over the Vikings in overtime. The Bears' defense, which is supposed to be their strength, looked awful against the Rams, including one of the most blown coverages you'll ever see on Cooper Kupp's long touchdown. It was simply an awful week for the Bears. I don't think it gets any better until they remove Dalton and promote Justin Fields. If they don't do that prior to game time, the Bengals will run away with this one.
Los Angeles Rams -3.5 @ Indianapolis Colts
Coming out of Week 1 the Rams looked great on both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford had a great first game, going 20 for 26 with three touchdowns. The Colts... They didn't look that great on either side of the ball. While Carson Wentz's overall numbers didn't look bad, most of the yardage and one of his two TDs came in the fourth quarter as they were chasing from two or more scores back, never actually threatening to win the game. I'm leaning towards the Rams winning this in a blowout and would consider alternate spreads.
Arizona Cardinals -3.5 vs. Minnesota Vikings
Kyler Murray appears to be a man on a mission to avenge last season's bitter ending after absolutely torching the Tennesee Titans in Nashville. The Vikings' defense, who hasn't been as formidable as years past, is going to have their hands full with Kyler. Last week they allowed Joe Burrow to complete nearly 80% of his passes, and Burrow isn't a threat to run nor has a receiver as talented as DeAndre Hopkins. If the Vikings offense doesn't step up and make this a shootout, things could get ugly in Phoenix.
Dallas Cowboys + 3.5 @ Los Angeles Chargers
Dak Prescott looked great in Week 1 and if there were any issues with his shoulder after throwing 58 times, he had 10 days to get healed up again and ready for the Chargers. I can almost guarantee, whenever the Cowboys go to play either Los Angeles team in their stadium, that there will be more Cowboys fans than LA fans. So while they aren't playing in Jerry World, they'll have more fan support. My concern for Justin Herbert and the Chargers is their efficiency in the red zone. His most potent weapons in Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler become less effective as they get closer to the goal line. That leaves Jared Cook and Mike Williams as your bigger bodies in the red zone, which isn't ideal. The Cowboys have a decent chance to win this one outright, but you can take the points for some cushion.
- Cowboys ML (+160)
- Titans +6.5 (-105)
- Steelers ML (-225)
- Rams -3.5 (-110)
Five Props To Consider
- Calvin Ridley OVER 6.5 receptions (+115)
- Tyrod Taylor OVER 34.5 Pass Attempts (-105)
- Aaron Jones OVER 88.5 combined yards (-115)
- Nick Chubb OVER 17.5 carries (-120)
- James Robinson OVER 9.5 carries (-125)
All five of these props have an excellent chance at hitting. I like the idea of wagering a three-leg prop parlay with the last three props listed (Jones, Chubb and J-Rob). Thanks me on Monday.