Welcome to Week 7 of the 2022 NFL season.
Throughout the season, our VSiN experts will combine to give their best bets on every game. Check back for our picks for the Monday night game as we get closer to kickoff.
Odds are from DraftKings (unless noted) as of Thursday night.
Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys (-7, 49)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Femi Abebefe: The Cowboys weathered the storm after Dak Prescott fractured his right thumb in the season opener against Tampa Bay. Sitting at 4-2, all systems should be go with Prescott slated to return as QB1. However, to steal a line from the great Lee Corso, “Not so fast!”
Regardless of what you make of the gulf between Prescott and backup QB Cooper Rush, I don’t think you can give Dallas a full-and-healthy rating in Prescott’s first game back. I’d expect a little rustiness from Dak, similar to what we saw in his return from injury last year against the Broncos.
I get that the Lions didn’t look good their last time out — they got blown out by the Patriots — but they’re coming off the bye and are expected to be healthier with running back D’Andre Swift returning from injury. Also, one thing the Lions can hang their hat on is their offensive line. Detroit’s big boys up front might be able to limit the amount of havoc plays from the Dallas pass rush, which would give QB Jared Goff time to find playmakers downfield.
There was a lot of positive buzz about the Lions entering the season, and it definitely jumped the shark. However, they’re now in the comfortable role of being a big road underdog — a situation they’ve thrived in under Dan Campbell.
Pick: Lions + 7
New York Giants at Jacksonville Jaguars (-3, 43)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Femi Abebefe: The Giants are the surprise team of the season and could be headed toward their first winning season since 2016. With that said, the betting market is not yet convinced.
Last week I faded Big Blue against the Ravens, but they were able to pull one over on me with a fourth-quarter comeback. One of the reasons the betting market isn’t buying this team is because of the underlying statistics. Look no further than the box score of last week’s game, when the Giants were outgained 406 to 238 and only gained 3.8 yards per play.
Typically I’d love to fade a team off a fraudulent victory, but I don’t think this is the spot to do it. I’ve found myself on a lot of Jacksonville games this season, and my main takeaway is this: They’re not a good team. On paper, the Jags have some decent young talent, but they haven’t shown the know-how to win by margin as a favorite.
Rewind to last week when the Jaguars were 1.5-point underdogs against an average Colts team without All-Pros Jonathan Taylor and Shaquille Leonard. They haven’t proven to me that they’re a justified favorite of a field goal or more. In a game of two probably below-average teams, I’ll roll with the underdog. Square, don’t care — give me the G-Men.
Pick: Giants + 3
Wes Reynolds: Nobody expected the Giants to be 5-1, but they were a sneaky team for an Over bet on the season win total by many (including yours truly) on the VSiN staff over the summer. In four of their five victories, the Giants have either been tied or trailed in the fourth quarter, including Sunday’s 24-20 victory over Baltimore. Against the Ravens, the Giants were outgained by 168 yards, as Femi noted in his writeup, and gained 3.2 fewer yards per play.
Brian Daboll certainly looks like the front-runner for Coach of the Year, but the G-Men have been a bit lucky so far. The Jaguars have not been so fortunate. After crushing the Chargers 38-10 on the road in Week 3, “the Jags are for real” refrain emerged in the mainstream NFL media. Then things got ugly:
— After the Jaguars took a 14-0 lead on the road against a sleepy Eagles team off a divisional road win, they were dominated the rest of the way and lost 29-21, getting outgained 401-219 and losing the turnover battle 5-1.
— Next, the Jags looked like the clear better side against the then-winless Texans, outgaining Houston 422-248, but they went 0-for-3 in the red zone and lost the turnover battle 2-0 in a 13-6 home defeat.
— Finally, Jacksonville got out to an early 14-3 lead in Indianapolis on Sunday but again lost the turnover battle (1-0) as Trevor Lawrence was sacked four times.
The Jaguars are reeling with a three-game losing streak but they’re laying a field goal to a 5-1 team? The G-Men have been a run-oriented team this season, partially because of injuries to their receiving corps, but they might not find it as easy to run on a Jaguars front that ranks ninth in Rush DVOA.
This line looks fishy, but it shouldn’t because Jacksonville looks like the better team, even at 2-4. The market seems to think so as the lookahead line was also Jaguars -3, though there is still a possibility this line drops as more of the public comes in.
Pick: Jaguars -160 ML
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-2.5, 42)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Both of these teams had rough starts to the season, but the Titans (3-2 and leading the AFC South) have won three straight games while the Colts have back-to-back wins over the Broncos and Jaguars.
These teams met three weeks ago with Tennessee winning 24-17 at Indy, so I’m not interested in the Colts at this short number (besides, the Titans are 6-0 SU and 5-0-1 ATS in their last six post-bye week games), but I do like Indy as a teaser play as this should be another one-score game.
I was going to suggest pairing the Colts with the Jets (taking them from + 1.5 to + 7.5), but all of the 1.5s are now gone on the Jets, so taking the Patriots from -8 to -2 at home against the Bears makes sense.
Pick: Colts + 8.5/Patriots -2 Teaser
Atlanta Falcons at Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5, 47)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Predicted by many to be the worst team in the league, the Falcons are the biggest overachievers of the season so far as they’re 6-0 ATS (and the last undefeated ATS team) after upsetting the 49ers 28-14 on Sunday. With a hodgepodge of RBs and WRs, Marcus Mariota has had the Falcons in every game as they’ve also upset the Browns and Seahawks while covering in losses to the Saints, Rams and Buccaneers.
The Bengals started 0-2 and have been battling the “Super Bowl loser hangover” but are now tied with the Ravens atop the AFC North at 3-3. I’m still willing to fade them as they’re still not playing as well as they did last year. And I’m going to stick with the Falcons as long as their run lasts.
Pick: Falcons + 6.5
Wes Reynolds: Despite the 6-0 ATS record, the Falcons have been outgained in five consecutive games by nearly 80 yards per game. Needless to say, Atlanta has had some good fortune.
Speaking of good fortune, that is what Cincinnati got Sunday in pulling a late victory out of the fire in New Orleans. The injury-riddled Saints went just 1-for-5 in the red zone, which allowed Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase to connect on a 60-yard touchdown with 1:57 left to pull out the win.
The Bengals still continue to run the ball at just 23rd in Rush DVOA (Atlanta is first in that category). However, Cincinnati has the substantially better defense in this matchup (No. 8 DVOA vs. Atlanta’s No. 29).
Against-the-spread records are one of the more overrated angles that bettors, especially newer and casual bettors, use in their handicapping. Yes, Atlanta is 6-0 ATS. But Cincinnati is on a 12-2 ATS run dating to last December.
Pick: Bengals -6.5
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-6.5, 46)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: Another week when Joe Woods has a job means another week to bet a Browns Over. The Browns seem unwilling to make a change at defensive coordinator (or special teams coordinator) until the bye week and that will likely be to their detriment again. Under Kevin Stefanski, the Browns have surrendered almost 31 points per game in four meetings against the Ravens and more of the same is likely coming this week.
One of those four games was Stefanski’s debut after there was no preseason in 2020, but another featured Tyler Huntley instead of Lamar Jackson, so that evens out to some degree. Nevertheless, the Browns are 31st in Total DVOA on defense, ranking 27th against the pass and 30th against the run.
The Ravens are also struggling a bit on defense, particularly against the run, where they rank 24th in DVOA. That should certainly benefit Cleveland’s top-five rushing attack. Jacoby Brissett also hasn’t played bad, but his receivers haven’t given him a lot of help. Still, the Browns are eighth in Total DVOA on offense, ranking 14th with the pass and fourth with the run.
Baltimore boasts a top-five offense in both categories, as the defense has clearly been the weak link. We have seen this total move up a bit, but the Browns defense cannot be trusted until Woods is let go, and the Ravens know that they need to score points with their defensive shortcomings.
Pick: Over 45.5 (widely available)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-13, 39.5) at Carolina Panthers
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Dave Tuley: The Panthers + 10 was my third early recommendation of the week on “The Greg Peterson Experience” and in VSiN’s daily email update, though I did add the caveat that I was waiting to bet it as we felt this line would go higher. And sure enough, even though the Bucs haven’t been as strong as expected (some blame Tom Brady’s marital distractions, some say his age is finally catching up to him), this line was bet up to 10.5 at all books and up to 11 at DraftKings as of mid-week. Thursday night, it started jumping again, hitting 13 at DK, on news that the Panthers traded Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers.
I get it. Most people are running to the betting windows or their phone app to fade the dysfunctional Panthers, who fired coach Matt Ruhle and then lost 24-10 to the Rams on Sunday with WR Robbie Anderson being kicked off the sideline. However, as ugly as that non-cover ended up being (and I was on the Panthers + 10 in that game, too), I still saw enough from them taking a 10-7 lead into the locker room that they can still stay in games even without McCaffrey. Besides, this is really a play against the Bucs, who are just 3-3 SU and 2-4 ATS with four straight non-covers. I’ll have to plug my nose, but give me the ugly double-digit home dog.
Pick: Panthers + 13
Green Bay Packers (-4.5, 41.5) at Washington Commanders
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: When the starting quarterback goes out and people say, “Well, it can’t get any worse,” that’s usually a bad sign. In the case of the Commanders, it may be entirely accurate. Taylor Heinicke does have starting experience and takes over for Carson Wentz, who was sacked 23 times in six games and had a 10-6 TD-INT ratio with just over five adjusted net yards per pass attempt.
The Commanders enter Week 7 ranked 26th in third-down conversion rate and have entered the red zone only 14 times. Their 1.39 points per drive ranks 29th, and they have scored on only 23% of their offensive possessions. So, yeah, frankly, it can’t really get any worse.
But how much better can it get? The Commanders have rushed for only four yards per carry and have racked up just 10.3 yards per reception. The play-calling is uncreative and opposing defenses have adjusted, allowing just 47 points to the Commanders over the last four games.
The Packers, though, have forced only four takeaways. They’ve played well within the base defense, holding opponents to just 5.4 yards per play, but that is also equal to their offensive output. Aaron Rodgers has not developed a rapport with his receivers and that is a big reason why the Packers are 27th in points per drive with 1.54.
These are two pretty bad offenses, while the defenses have been fine. The Commanders have allowed a lot of points because they’ve been put into a lot of bad spots, coming in 26th in opponents’ starting field position. Add it all up and this looks like an Under.
Pick: Under 41.5
New York Jets at Denver Broncos (-1, 38.5)
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: Brett Rypien is preparing as if he will be starting this week for the Broncos, as Russell Wilson battles shoulder and hamstring injuries. A few seasons ago, it would have been crazy to ask if Rypien was an upgrade over Wilson. In 2022, the question is really not that outlandish.
If nothing else, a Rypien start has the chance to galvanize a Broncos team that has been wandering aimlessly in the mountains. This offense stinks. And it shouldn’t. There is a ton of talent at the skill positions, but the play of Wilson coupled with the outright ineptitude of first-year play-calling head coach Nathaniel Hackett have turned these Broncos into Geldings.
That being said, the Broncos are still outgaining teams by 0.8 yards per play because Ejiro Evero’s defense has played so well. The Broncos are second in points allowed per drive and have been the league’s best red-zone defense, holding opponents to four touchdowns in 15 trips. On the offensive side, the Broncos have only three touchdowns in 15 trips, but a rallying cry could go a long way.
The Jets don’t really set the world on fire offensively and Zach Wilson, while 3-0 as a starter, has only completed 56% of his passes with a 1-2 TD-INT ratio and just 191 passing yards per game. This is absolutely a game that the Broncos can win and I think they get the job done.
Pick: Broncos -1
Houston Texans at Las Vegas Raiders (-7, 45.5)
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: By definition, no game in Week 7 is a must-win, but for the Raiders it comes pretty darn close. They’re off to a 1-4 start but are only -5 in point differential and have actually outgained the opposition on the season. They are third in points per drive and lead the NFL in percentage of possessions ending in points.
The problem is they’ve settled for field goals while the opposition has cashed in touchdowns. They’ve given up 2.43 points per possession because opponents are 14-of-17 scoring touchdowns in the red zone. The Texans don’t have a very good offense and should produce some positive regression in that department for Las Vegas.
The Raiders are only 9-for-19 in their red-zone chances, so you know what Josh McDaniels and the offensive coaching staff focused on during the bye week. Per Team Rankings, Las Vegas has played the sixth-toughest schedule in the NFL. Houston has played the 24th-toughest schedule and is still being outgained by 0.8 yards per play.
This has all the makings of a blowout win for the Raiders against an inferior offense, inferior defense, inferior coach and an altogether step down in competition.
Pick: Raiders -7
Dave Tuley: Why are the Raiders (1-4 SU, 2-3 ATS) favored by a full touchdown?
OK, I know it’s because they’re facing the Texans, who are 1-3-1 SU, but not many people realize that they’re 3-1-1 ATS with a tie and cover versus the Colts and a cover in their loss at the Broncos before upsetting the Jaguars 13-6 prior to their bye week. So, are they really that much worse? I say “no” and will take the inflated line.
The Raiders’ lone win and cover was a 9-point victory over the Broncos (who, again, the Texans also covered against) and they failed to cover in a loss to the Chargers (just like the Texans did). In addition, the Texans are 8-3 SU and 7-4 ATS in their last 11 post-bye week games, while the Raiders are on an 0-5 SU and ATS skid in post-bye week games, so we’re counting on the Texans to come out of their bye week stronger (or at least keep this within one score).
Pick: Texans + 7
Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5, 48.5) at San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: A dose of reality may be coming for the 49ers this week. They’ve outgained the opposition by 1.5 yards per play, as they’ve limited teams to just 4.2 yards per play on offense. However, they’ve also faced the Bears, Seahawks, Broncos, Rams, Panthers and Falcons. Seattle has gotten great play from Geno Smith, but none of those other teams have gotten anything resembling competent QB play. This week, the 49ers get Patrick Mahomes.
Furthermore, they get Mahomes and the Chiefs coming off of a loss to the Bills. Kansas City ranks second in third-down conversion rate and red-zone touchdown percentage, so the 49ers will have a big task trying to get their defense off of the field.
The addition of Christian McCaffrey is great for San Francisco, but a Thursday night trade means limited packages of plays for CMC and he could very well be a non-factor. The market did drop the line a tad on the news, but the reality is the 49ers are not running the ball well, as they rank 26th in Rush DVOA on offense. They’ve actually been saved by Jimmy Garoppolo, which isn’t how the blueprint for 2022 was supposed to go.
The Chiefs have had issues defending the pass, but they’ve been pretty stout against the run. With San Francisco throwing the ball a lot more effectively this season, this game has the chance for some points. Running it at the Chiefs hasn’t been a sound strategy thus far, and McCaffrey may ultimately end up with more touches as a receiver while working into Kyle Shanahan’s elaborate run-game scheme.
Even with San Francisco’s stellar defensive numbers to date, this total has been on the rise and that makes a lot of sense.
Pick: Over 48.5
Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Chargers (-5, 50.5)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: The Chargers are off to a 4-2 start, but their victories haven’t exactly been pretty. They eked past the Browns two weeks ago and then outkicked the Broncos in an awful Monday night game to run their winning streak to three. They’re laying a hefty number this week against a Seahawks team that has been a big surprise thus far.
Geno Smith has been one of the league’s best quarterbacks with a 73.4% completion rate and 9-2 TD-INT ratio. As Russell Wilson rides the struggle bus in Denver, Smith has taken the starting gig by the horns and run with it. He’s also been aided by a renewed rushing attack, first with Rashaad Penny and now with second-round pick Kenneth Walker III. Penny had over six yards per carry before hitting injured reserve. Walker has 5.5 yards per pop and fell just short of the century mark against the Cardinals last week in his first career start.
Facing a Chargers defense that ranks 22nd in Rush Defense DVOA, Walker and the Seahawks should be able to move the ball in chunks on the ground. Not only does that put the offense in better positions to score, it also eats up some clock. That will be important against Justin Herbert as the Seahawks pass defense has struggled for most of the season.
Still, 5 points feels like a lot as the Chargers are good at letting opponents hang around. The Seahawks should do exactly that in this one.
Pick: Seahawks + 5
Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins (-7, 44.5)
Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET
Femi Abebefe: Not all bets are created equal. Typically, I like to go by a perceived edge in the betting market. That isn’t the case in this game, at least for me. I can see how the betting market makes this game a full touchdown in favor of the Dolphins.
However, when I add a little art to the science, it’s hard for me not to like the Steelers as road underdogs. It’s well documented that Mike Tomlin is an awesome underdog coach, which came to fruition again last week at home against the Buccaneers.
Additionally, the Steelers should be getting some pretty good injury news with rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett making his way through concussion protocol and key defensive backs, including Minkah Fitzpatrick, scheduled to return.
There’s enough to like on the Steelers side, but the main reason to fade the Dolphins is the mercurial health of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Tua has cleared concussion protocol and is slated to start but hasn’t been seen since a Week 4 loss to the Bengals.
I truly wonder how much Mike McDaniel will change his play-calling in order to prevent Tua from suffering another injury. If the Dolphins choose to be a little more conservative, it might prevent them from winning by multiple scores. Also working in Pittsburgh’s favor, former Dolphins coach Brian Flores is on the Steelers defensive staff and knows the strengths and weaknesses of Miami’s personnel. I’ll take another shot with Tomlin and the Steelers as a dog.
Pick: Steelers + 7