Six teams are on a bye week and we have four double-digit spreads out of the 13 games for Week 7. Injuries are a major concern around the league for just about every team. Those daily reports and the practice briefings will have a major impact on the lines this week, but it is never a bad idea to get a lay of the land on Sunday night and Monday morning.
Let’s look at some early NFL lines I like for Week 7:
Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns (-5, 44)
Sunday could not have gone worse for the Browns. They were embarrassed at home by the Cardinals and now look like even more of a M*A*S*H unit going into their Thursday Night Football game in a few days. Quarterback Baker Mayfield re-aggravated his shoulder injury and seemingly made it worse based on his postgame remarks. With Nick Chubb out, Kareem Hunt left the game with a calf injury and had to be carted to the locker room in the fourth quarter. He looked slow prior to that anyway.
Jedrick Wills Jr. and Jack Conklin both missed the game on the offensive line and their losses were obvious, as neither Blake Hance nor James Hudson played very well.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was hobbled in the fourth quarter and left the game. The Browns just got healthy in the back seven with the returns of some defensive backs, though several of those guys have bruised egos after getting carved up by DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk. Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater has played very well for the most part.
As far as the Browns QB situation, we could be looking at the Case Keenum Revenge Game, as the veteran signal caller played for the Broncos back in 2018. He has only thrown 13 passes over the last two seasons. If not, we’ll see a clearly injured Mayfield.
The Broncos did not look good against the Raiders, which actually kept this line from crashing down in light of Cleveland’s injury woes. The Raiders responded really well for interim head coach Rich Bisaccia and racked up 8.2 yards per play. The Denver defense had problems covering downfield, but the Browns don’t throw a lot downfield. As ugly as it looked for the Denver defense, the Broncos ran 77 plays and only had to defend 52, which should keep them fresher than the Browns, even with the travel on the short week.
The Browns only have four turnovers in six games, which makes it hard to cover as a favorite and to cover in games with a low-scoring expectation. That means the Broncos look attractive on Thursday.
Pick: Denver Broncos + 5
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-6.5, 48)
Doesn’t this feel like a letdown spot for Baltimore? It is a division game against an AFC North opponent, but the Ravens look ripe for a flat spot. They rolled over the Chargers in a big litmus test game on a short week right after the Monday Night Football comeback against the Colts. They beat the Chiefs in Week 2 and then needed an historic kick from Justin Tucker to survive against the Lions. Then they won comfortably in the altitude in Denver.
This just has the feel of being a game where Baltimore wins, but doesn’t cover. The Ravens have dealt with a lot of injuries already this season and Baltimore is on the bye next week, something that could certainly be worth looking forward to given how pressure-packed the early part of the season has been. A “win and get out” attitude seems like a real possibility.
Cincinnati thoroughly dominated Detroit in Week 6. Dominating the Lions isn’t exactly newsworthy for most, but the winless Lions had plenty of chances to win their previous three games. The Bengals defense was just suffocating this past week and has played well most of the season.
Cincinnati is trying to prove that it belongs. Joe Burrow has looked really good aside from the Bears game and the scheming for the Bengals has really improved from last season. They’re stepping up in class a little bit here, but the Ravens may very well play down to their level.
Pick: Cincinnati Bengals + 6.5
Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-12.5, 49)
This is a big number for the Buccaneers on Sunday. Checkdown Tom and the Bucs only managed 8.7 yards per catch last week against the Eagles and only had 5.5 YPP overall. This is not an offense generating explosive plays. Brady and Byron Leftwich are trying to rely on a lot of yards after catch, including a lot of screen passes to Leonard Fournette.
That isn’t how you win a game by margin. The Buccaneers defense hasn’t looked nearly as stout this season as we saw during last year’s Super Bowl run. Tampa Bay has effectively stopped the run this season, but it also hasn’t faced many proficient running offenses. Teams have become very one-dimensional against the Bucs, who have easily faced the fewest rushing attempts in the league.
The Bears offense is limited, but Khalil Herbert looked good in the absence of David Montgomery last week and Chicago’s defense is still a very formidable unit. As long as Justin Fields can take care of the ball and avoid giving Tampa Bay too many short fields, the Bears look like a good bet to keep this game close.
Pick: Chicago Bears + 12.5