Week 6 was like most others thus far in a topsy-turvy 2019 season – a fair share of road upsets, a potential season-ending injury to another key player and a pair of “statement games” that, at least for the time being, shake up the balance of the power in each conference.
Week 7 will start with the Chiefs looking to get themselves back on track against the Broncos on Thursday night and will wrap up with the Patriots looking to remain unbeaten in what could be sneaky tough matchup against a Jets team that looked completely different with Sam Darnold back at the controls in a Week 6 victory over the Cowboys. In between, there will be several intriguing battles. That includes a trio of divisional showdowns in the Lions-Packers, Texans-Colts and Cowboys-Eagles, along with Ravens-Seahawks and Saints-Bears tilts featuring four playoff-contending squads.
Without further ado, here’s a live look at the lines at sportsbooks in the US as we look toward Week 7.
NFL Week 7 odds
NFL Week 7 predictions and analysis
Kansas City Chiefs (-3) at Denver Broncos — Thursday night
Despite two straight home losses, the Chiefs are still better than a field-goal favorite as they hit the road on a short week. Kansas City managed to get Tyreek Hill back in action for the first time since the opener Sunday against the Texans. The dynamic speedster responded with a pair of touchdown receptions, including a spectacular, leaping 46-yard scoring grab over two defenders. However, KC still didn’t have a fully healthy receiving corps, as Sammy Watkins sat out with a hamstring injury. Watkins reportedly has a chance to return for Thursday’s contest.
For their part, the Broncos continued to climb out of the early-season 0-4 hole they dug themselves into by notching a second consecutive victory. Granted, Denver isn’t exactly toppling the NFL’s elite during its modest resurgence – they’ve notched victories over a Chargers team that appears to be spiraling quickly and a Titans squad Sunday that may have finally had enough of Marcus Mariota. The Broncos finished out their 16-0 victory facing Ryan Tannehill, who replaced the struggling 2015 first-round pick in the second half.
The one area where Denver’s improvement does seem legitimate is in their run defense. Head coach Vic Fangio reportedly made some adjustments in his scheme after Leonard Fournette trampled Denver for 225 yards in Week 4, and the Broncos’ D looks like an entirely different unit. The Chargers duo of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler were the first to experience that improvement first-hand, and Tennesee’s Derrick Henry got his own up-close look while being limited to a meager 28 yards on 15 carries Sunday.
Disciplined defense is naturally always key to having a chance against the high-octane Chiefs. The Broncos may very well experience success shutting down the likes of LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams on Thursday. However, to a coach like Andy Reid, that simply will give more of a reason to dial up the type of pass-heavy attack he’s always favored. And whether Watkins plays or not, the Denver secondary will be in for an exponentially more difficult task against Patrick Mahomes than they faced Sunday versus the Titans.
The Broncos lost to Mahomes twice last season in close games, including a 27-23 defeat in Denver to kick off October. The Chiefs’ gunslinger threw for 304 yards and a touchdown in that contest and added rushing score as well. Denver has lost seven straight to its division rivals overall and has the misfortune of catching KC on a week where they’ll have a renewed sense of urgency after the rude awakening it’s gotten over the last pair of contests. The Broncos secondary will naturally be the key to success, as Joe Flacco isn’t likely to be able to keep pace with Mahomes were this game to start getting out of hand for Denver. Accordingly, Fangio may certainly look to keep the ball in the hands of his capable running back duo of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman as much as possible, especially considering the Chiefs have allowed an NFL-high 818 rushing yards to running backs.
For the season, the Chiefs are 3-3 (50.0 percent) ATS, including 2-1 on the road. The Broncos are also 3-3 against the number overall, including 2-1 ATS as a home team specifically. Then, Kansas City is 1-0 versus the spread in division games this season, while Denver is 1-1 mark ATS in those contests.
Given the Chiefs’ superior offensive talent overall and the urgency to avoid a third straight loss, I see them overcoming the tough Denver environment to notch both a win and a cover here in a bounce-back performance.
Arizona Cardinals at New York Giants (-3)
This could be one of the more fascinating matchups of the week. That’s not something commonly expressed about a game between two teams with losing records. However, especially if Saquon Barkley makes it back for this contest – likely a safe bet, given his upward trend in activity recently – this could well be the most entertaining Week 7 contest by the time it’s all said and done. If Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram can also return from their respective concussion and knee issues, then this will truly have the full array of ingredients for a back-and-forth affair between two exciting rookie quarterbacks.
Kyler Murray was back over 300 yards again and also threw a career-high three touchdown passes against the Falcons in Week 6. He’ll have to travel across multiple time zones in this one. However, he faces a Giants squad that’s allowed the second-most passing yards (1,822) along with 10 passing touchdowns. Moreover, even though New York has done a good job of containing running quarterbacks (68 rushing yards on 27 carries allowed to QBs this season), they have surrendered three rushing touchdowns to the position.
Then, the Cardinals haven’t exactly been a lockdown unit. In fact, they’re right behind Big Blue with 1,776 yards allowed through the air. What’s more, no team has yielded more than the 16 passing touchdowns Arizona has. Granted, the Cards have usually made opponents work their way deliberately down the field by keeping plays in front of them. Yet that would play right into Shepard’s, Barkley’s and Golden Tate’s wheelhouses, setting up a potentially prolific performance for Daniel Jones following some recent struggles. That could hold true even as Arizona gets back Patrick Peterson from a season-opening six-game suspension this week.
Ultimately, this could shape up as a true pick ‘em situation – Murray has played well on the road twice already and seems to be getting better with each passing week. While the spread is difficult to commit on early in the week, a bet on the Over of a total hovering just under 50 as of Monday afternoon might be a prudent wager.
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-1)
This AFC South showdown will have no shortage of intrigue in its own right. Houston has managed to completely change the perception around its squad over the last two games, putting up a 50-spot on the Falcons and then upending the Chiefs at Arrowhead in Week 6. There is growing Deshaun Watson buzz, and deservedly so. But a big test looms in the form of the Colts. How does Houston respond to a crafty team with a head coach in Frank Reich that is doing a masterful job of scheming against opponents, and that’s had an extra week to prepare for them no less?
The Colts shocked the NFL with their Wee 5 road upset of the Chiefs and have mostly adapted to life without Andrew Luck. Jacoby Brissett boasts a sparking 10:3 TD:INT that would make Luck proud. Marlon Mack is finally getting a chance to show what he can do a true lead back and has had plenty of extra time to rest his previously ailing ankle. The same holds true for T.Y. Hilton, who was dealing with a leg injury heading into the game against Kansas City.
It’s worth noting Reich gave the Texans all they could handle in his first season as the Colts’ head man. Houston needed overtime to notch a 37-34 win in Indy in Week 4 of the 2018 campaign before dropping a 24-21 decision to the Colts at home in Week 14. And Indy eventually handled Bill O’Brien’s squad in the AFC Wild Card Game by a 21-7 score as well. Watson and company will look to break out in a manner similar to that first meeting last season. In that contest, Watson threw for 375 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 41 more and another score. A total of 21 of his completions and 278 of his passing yards went to the duo of Keke Coutee and DeAndre Hopkins.
Houston will strive to keep things balanced on the ground with Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson, which have made this team’s new-look backfield into a rousing success. The Colts have only been about average stopping the run –113.2 rushing yards allowed per game – so there could be a path to success here for a Texans offensive line that’s proven adept at opening holes on a consistent basis.
The way both squads have played recently, this shapes up as a wire-to-wire dogfight that could well come down to a field goal. Indy’s rest advantage could carry the afternoon for them late, but it will be a wait-and-see throughout the week on this game’s number.
ALSO READ: Week 7 Picks ATS For Every Game
Jacksonville Jaguars (-3.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
Minshew Magic may have had some its sleight of hand exposed in Week 6 by the Saints, which frustrated the rookie quarterback to the tune of 163 yards, one interception and two sacks. However, in Week 7, Gardner Minshew and his teammates run into nowhere near as capable a unit in the Bengals. Cincinnati is serviceable against the pass (241.5 yards yielded per game), but it only has two picks on the season. And just as important, considering Minshew’s mobility – no team has even come close to allowing as many rushing yards to quarterbacks as the Bengals (304).
There’s also the matter of Cincy’s rush defense overall, with “defense” a term loosely applied in this instance. The Bengals have surrendered the second-most rushing yards (759) to running backs overall and are tied with several teams with seven rushing touchdowns allowed to the position as well. Those numbers don’t bode well with Leonard Fournette coming to town, even as Cincinnati has proven to be much more vulnerable against the run on the perimeters than between the tackles.
Cincinnati’s offense isn’t exactly doing its part to help out the other side of the ball, either. Injuries are playing a part in the passing game’s struggles with A.J. Green (ankle) still to make his season debut and John Ross on injured reserve with a shoulder problem. An injury-depleted offensive line is also making life difficult on Andy Dalton and rushing lanes nearly non-existent for Joe Mixon (3.4 yards per carry). The Jags’ defense isn’t what it’s been in previous years, but it did a solid job against New Orleans in the Week 6 loss and could have Jalen Ramsey back. Ramsey appeared to be on the verge of suiting up Sunday before being declared inactive.
It will be interesting to check back in on this number at the end of the week to see if there’s been any movement in either direction. An Under bet on the projected total may ultimately be the most appealing wager on this game, given Cincy’s inefficient offense in particular.
Los Angeles Rams (-3) at Atlanta Falcons
To the chagrin of Rams fans, it appears certain members of the team’s current lauded coaching staff has been swapped out for some who helped bring about the recent leaner years in franchise history. For example, it sure looked like it was Steve Spagnuolo and not Wade Phillips out there calling defensive plays in Weeks 4 and 5 as Los Angeles allowed a combined 85 points across two contests. Then, was that Jeff Fisher or Sean McVay overseeing the offensive gameplan in a loss to the 49ers in Week 6? Jared Goff’s stats from the contest – 13-for-24, 78 yards – have the offensively challenged former Rams head coach’s fingerprints all over it.
But if there’s an NFC recipe for curing what ails a team this season, it’s the Falcons (along with the Redskins). Atlanta is 1-5 following a one-point loss to the Cardinals in Week 6. The game would have gone to overtime were it not for a rare missed extra point from Matt Bryant. Nevertheless, the Falcons’ inability to slow down opposing attacks was front and center, with rookie Kyler Murray doing a number on them through both the ground and air.
Something’s got to give here, considering the Rams haven’t been any great shakes themselves lately. The fast track of the dome environment could be a big factor here. With their cadre of fleet-footed receivers, Goff could certainly bounce right back from his nightmare versus the 49ers. The availability of Todd Gurley (quadriceps) will be big here as well. Early-week reports have the running back trending in the right direction for a Week 7 return. Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson were serviceable in Gurley’s stead in a very tough matchup Sunday and would have to take on the full workload again were Gurley unable to go.
The Rams are projected to be almost a touchdown better than the Falcons as the week begins, when factoring in the usual three-point default advantage afforded the home team. Regardless of owner Arthur Blank’s public-facing statements, the Falcons could be playing for the job of head coach Dan Quinn from this point forward. Yet Los Angeles can nearly match Atlanta’s desperation after three straight losses, making this another scenario that we’ll want to revisit at week’s end.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-17)
The original modern-day “magic purveyor” of the NFL – Ryan Fitzpatrick – almost led the Dolphins to an unlikely comeback win against their previously winless brethren, the Redskins, in Week 6. While coach Brian Flores’ decision to go for a two-point conversion and win failed, Miami continued its trend of showing some improvement each week. Fitzpatrick is well known for short spurts of surprising production as well before Fitzmagic’s typically short shelf life ultimately sends him back to the bench. That expiration date could be as soon as Week 7 in this case.
Facing the current edition of the Bills defense is no picnic regardless of setting. Facing them at home is usually that much worse. Even the venerable Tom Brady received a first-hand reminder of that a couple of games ago. Considering the current state of the Dolphins’ personnel, the only X-factor at play against Buffalo here might be simple overconfidence. Yet that might well be offset by the fact the Bills will also be well rested and prepared coming off their bye week.
Flores reiterated after Sunday’s game that Rosen will remain the starter. I wouldn’t bet against him reversing course at some point this week. Not only does Fitzpatrick give Miami a slightly better chance of success, the Fins are also heading into a stadium that the veteran quarterback won’t be intimidated by. As the Bills’ starting quarterback between 2010 and 2012 under then head coach Chan Gailey, Fitz racked up 71 touchdown passes. Given the thorny task that is facing off against the Buffalo defense, he may be slightly better suited than Rosen to give Miami a chance to stay in this game.
However, the reality is that whatever unfolds on the offensive end may not matter much. The Dolphins’ defense is in such a tattered state on most weeks that the Bills should be able to take their pick on how they want to attack. Against Miami this season, there are usually no wrong answers. It could be former ‘Fin Frank Gore and explosive rookie Devin Singletary on the ground, or Josh Allen through the air with John Brown and Cole Beasley. In either case, the Bills should be capable of consistently moving the chains.
The Dolphins have been two-touchdown-plus point underdogs for the majority of the season, so the current lines are no surprise. For what it’s worth, they’ve narrowed their margin of defeat from 25 to 20 to one over the last three games. Therefore, a bet on them sliding in under the current number at plus-money is an interesting proposition, especially if Flores indeed changes his mind on the starting quarterback.
Minnesota Vikings (-1) at Detroit Lions
We’ll get a much better grasp of what this current edition of the Lions is made of Monday night against the Packers at Lambeau Field. However, irrespective of those results, this shapes up as a solid NFC North matchup made just a bit more interesting by the fact it’s in Detroit and courtesy of Minnesota’s suddenly improved passing game. Kirk Cousins looks like a new quarterback the last two games, and Dalvin Cook will catch a break after having to deal with the stonewalling Eagles front in a Week 6 win.
The Lions will need to keep balance on offense to help prevent Stafford from taking too many hits against an aggressive Vikings defensive line. Minnesota only allowed a combined 18 points to Detroit in two meetings last season. Kerryon Johnson’s efforts on the ground therefore figure to be key. The second-year back could well come into this game with some solid momentum if he can follow up a 125-yard showing against the Chiefs with another productive effort against a Packers team that struggles to defend the run Monday night.
We’ll check back in with a late-week update on this game, as the current number is likely to move in one direction or another following Monday night’s results.
Oakland Raiders at Green Bay Packers (-5.5)
Interconference games always shape up as interesting scenarios in and of themselves. Two teams that meet only once every four years naturally have plenty of unfamiliarity, regardless of how much film they’ve digested. Then, there’s the significant rest disparity at play for this particular game. Oakland comes off a bye week after last having suited up Week 5 versus the Bears in London. In turn, the Packers will be coming off what’s likely to be a bruising NFC North battle against the Lions on Monday night.
The Raiders pulled off one of the more unlikely feats of the NFL season so far when they upended the Bears in London while missing three receivers. Rookie Josh Jacobs isn’t getting as much pub as he should in a year where rookie QBs Murray, Minshew and Jones have garnered plenty of headlines. Yet Jacobs has seemingly improved each week, just notched the first 100-yard rushing effort of his career against Chicago and seems to be raising his profile in the passing game. As just mentioned, stopping the run has not been the Pack’s strong suit by any means. That could go a long way toward Jon Gruden’s team maintaining key offensive balance in enemy territory.
With Oakland still dealing with a pair of key injuries and Green Bay playing Monday night, we’ll check back at the end of the week to see if the near-touchdown projected advantage bestowed upon the Packers as of Monday afternoon still applies.
San Francisco 49ers (-9.5) at Washington Redskins
As alluded to earlier, any remaining skepticism about the 49ers should have been washed away by their win over the Rams in Week 6. But, the “L” word – as in letdown — could certainly come into play here. Yet what makes this matchup especially interesting is that it could actually be f at play for both teams. Sure, San Francisco could be a prime candidate given their statement victory and the fact it may be hard to take the Redskins seriously. Then again, Washington – a team that would seemingly have no business not getting up for a game – may also have a bit of a motivation drain as the “first game under an interim head coach” magic starts to slowly wear off.
Going by any tangible metric, the 49ers would figure to blow the doors off the Redskins in this matchup. The matchup of San Fran’s predatory defense against a Washington offense that’s an odd mix of aging future Hall of Famers (Adrian Peterson), serviceable but unspectacular mid-career pieces (Paul Richardson, Case Keenum/Colt McCoy, Chris Thompson) and some promising young players (Terry McLaurin and Trey Quinn). The ‘Skins have allowed 15 sacks overall in six games, but that number would likely be higher had they not faced the impotent Dolphins defensive line Sunday. Meanwhile, the Niners have racked up 17 sacks across five contests.
San Fran has the horses through both the ground and air to take advantage of the leaks the Skins have sprung in both areas. The road environment shouldn’t make much of a difference here – Washington has scored just 43 points across three home games while allowing 95. Additionally, the revitalized running game the Redskins flashed in South Florida during Week 6 will be hard-pressed to make an encore appearance. San Francisco has allowed a miserly 87.2 rushing yards per contest, good for second-fewest in all the NFL.
An early-week bet on a Niners cover at the 9.5-point number this game sports as of Monday afternoon isn’t a bad idea. It wouldn’t be surprising to see this number bet up even further by the time we check back in on Friday.
Los Angeles Chargers at Tennessee Titans (-2)
This game is one of the biggest question marks of the week. A matchup between two teams with increasingly worsening records can lead to unpredictable results. The only fly in the ointment here might bet whether these offenses have enough firepower to force the other team to keep its foot on the gas.
The Titans were absolutely impotent versus the Broncos in Denver on Sunday. They ultimately suffered a shutout and benched Marcus Mariota. Yet the Chargers weren’t much better, despite ostensibly having superior offensive talent to Tennessee’s. They dropped a 24-17 decision to the Steelers, at home no less. The game wasn’t as close as the final score implies.
The Bolts had no semblance of a running game for the second straight week. Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler combined for just 32 yards on 13 carries. Philip Rivers did finish with 320 yards and two touchdowns. However, a lot of his production came in desperation time and he also suffered two interceptions. One very positive development was tight end Hunter Henry’s return. The talented but oft-injured Henry paced Los Angeles in both receptions (eight) and receiving yards (100). Meanwhile, Keenan Allen’s inexplicable slump continued – he saw his receptions drop for the third straight week, logging just two grabs for a modest 33 yards.
Tennessee brings solid defense, but it can’t be expected to carry the entire team. When asked to do so Sunday against the Broncos, it held up about as well as could be expected. The Broncos were held to just 270 total yards. With the Chargers’ recent struggles and the fact this will be a road game a couple of time zones away, they could find offensive continuity elusive yet again in Week 7.
On the other side, it could be either Mariota or Ryan Tannehill under center against Los Angeles. Head coach Mike Vrabel has indicated he’ll make that decision by Tuesday. Tannehill may in fact offer the Titans’ passing attack a steadier hand. He had some solid seasons in Miami and completed 13 of 16 attempts for 144 yards against the Broncos. If he has the chance to put in three full practice days as the No. 1 quarterback, he could be a viable option against a Chargers secondary that’s been on and off in the early going without Derwin James (foot) and Adrian Phillips (forearm).
Reserving judgment on this one until later in the week, as the Titans quarterback announcement should get the line moving in one direction or another. In the meantime, with a projected total of 38 as of Monday afternoon, that number will also be one to watch. An early bet on the Over with the assumption it’s Tannehill under center for the home team is not a bad idea.
Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks (-3)
This game shapes up as one of the crown jewels of the entire Week 7 slate, and easily the best contest of the late window. Whenever two dynamic mobile quarterbacks get together, fireworks tend to fly. Throw in a pair of defenses with previously fearsome reputations that aren’t quite what they used to be, and the scoreboard could be working overtime.
Baltimore’s cross-country trip is another factor to consider here. From a historical perspective, there’s also the Ravens’ 23-22-1 ATS mark in non-conference games in the Harbaugh Era (2008-present), including 8-12-1 in the last five seasons-plus. The pedestrian numbers hint at a bit of a struggle for Harbaugh and his coaches to have the team at its sharpest against unfamiliar opponents.
That said, being off balance against Russell Wilson is about as precarious a situation as there is. Just as with Watson, the Russ MVP talk is gaining steam. He added to his candidacy in impressive fashion against the Browns in Week 6 with a 295-yard, two-touchdown effort through the air that he complemented with a nine-carry, 31-yard, one-TD tally on the ground. Wilson sports a Brady/Rodgers-like 14:0 TD:INT through six games. When he lost one of his favorite targets, Will Dissly, to what looks like a season-ending Achilles tear early against Cleveland, Wilson simply turned to a talented group of receivers to still put together a mistake-free effort.
Then, Chris Carson has left his early-season fumbling issues firmly in the rearview mirror. The third-year back has three straight 100-yard, turnover-free games and is playing a solid complementary role in the passing game as well. The threat of Wilson as a runner invariably helps Carson as well by keeping defenses out of full attack mode. Baltimore’s defense has been formidable against the run (80.7 rushing yards per game allowed), so this could be a game where Wilson and his pass catchers make or break Seattle’s fortunes.
On the other side, Lamar Jackson will pose an even bigger threat on the ground to the Seahawks’ defense. The second-year signal-caller is coming off a career-high 152 rushing yards versus the Bengals and has also made strides as a passer. Jackson has upped his completion percentage almost seven points – 58.2 percent to 65.1 percent – over his that of his 2018 rookie campaign. He already has 11 touchdown passes.
The Seattle secondary has had its issues as well, so a return to action by the speedy Marquise Brown (ankle) after a one-week absence would be particularly timely in this case. Jackson got by against the Bengals without the star rookie. This matchup is considerably tougher and may require Baltimore to remain aggressive through the air, especially with the Seattle defense quite adept at stopping the run itself (92.8 rushing yards per contest allowed).
The home team got a nod from oddsmakers with a projected advantage of four points to start the week. This will be as interesting a number as any to watch this week and revisit in several days. While the Ravens don’t have the best track record against the number versus NFC foes, this year’s edition is capable of keeping up with most squads.
New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears (-3)
An ornery and rested Bears squad is one no team wants to see. Yet that’s exactly what’s on the menu for Teddy Bridgewater and his teammates Sunday. Chicago served up an unexpected egg overseas in London against the Raiders in Week 5. They could get Mitchell Trubisky back this week from his shoulder injury. If not, Chase Daniel, who doesn’t represent much of a drop-off from Trubisky, is available to fill in.
Meanwhile, New Orleans will be without Drew Brees for at least one more week due to his thumb injury. Facing the Monsters of the Midway at Soldier Field is tough enough. Doing so with a backup quarterback, even a capable one, is even more challenging.
The Saints will look to get Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray going versus the Bears in much the same way the Raiders were able to with Josh Jacobs. That task will likely be much tougher with Chicago having had an extra week to clean up mistakes and being at home. Yet staying with the run as long as possible will be crucial to keep the dogs off Bridgewater. Chicago has brought the heat with 17 sacks through five games. Meanwhile, Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn and Jared Cook will try to make inroads versus a Bears secondary that’s helped limit opposing air attacks to the 10th-fewest passing yards per game (229.2).
New Orleans has also pressured the quarterback well, so either Trubisky or Daniel will have to get the ball out relatively quickly. The Bears have had the advantage of extra prep time for this matchup, but the Saints sport a pretty well-balanced defense that’s starting to hit its stride against both the run and pass. Rookie David Montgomery has yet to have a breakout game, yet this may not be the ideal scenario in which to do so. New Orleans has allowed a modest 102.8 rushing yards per contest.
As far as the passing attack, Daniel showed some nice chemistry with Allen Robinson (7-97-2) in London but will need to cut down on the mistakes that helped facilitate an Oakland upset.
The Bears are perfectly capable of defending home field and seem to take their defense up a couple notches when suiting up there. Therefore, the early number looks like a coverable one, especially considering the rest difference between the teams.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (-3)
Traditional TV viewing may be on a downswing these days, but this game shapes up as a vintage primetime drama if there ever was one. Plenty of storylines abound. Eagles coach Doug Pederson outright guaranteed a win on a Monday morning radio show appearance. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett job security/firing rumors are in full force after three straight losses, and his players don’t seem all that thrilled with him either. Amari Cooper may not be available due to the thigh injury suffered in Week 6 versus the Jets. And lastly, we’re talking Eagles-Cowboys here, with both teams in the thick of things nearing midseason.
Dallas has enjoyed recent success in this series. The ‘Boys have won three straight against Philly. Last season’s matchup at AT & T Stadium finished in a 29-23 overtime win for the Cowboys, which was also Wentz’s last game of the campaign. This time around, both teams come in looking to finally get on a run that both seemed highly capable of early. The Eagles have been up and down through the first six games, with only true convincing victory over a Luke Falk-led Jets team. Not that the Cowboys have beaten anyone of note. Their three victories came against the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins.
The Cowboys will likely have to rely heavily on Dak Prescott in this contest. That makes Cooper’s potential absence all the more concerning. Only the Buccaneers have shut down rushing attacks better than the Eagles, which are yielding 72.8 rushing yards per game. Ezekiel Elliott has the talent to transcend any matchup. However, if the Cowboys are once again missing the bookends of their offensive line in Tyron Smith (ankle) and La’el Collins (knee), that will only make Elliott’s task that much harder.
The Eagles offense’s prospects may actually be much brighter. The Dallas defense is struggling as much as any part of the team. The Cowboys essentially laid out a welcome mat to what should have been a rusty Sam Darnold on Sunday and allowed him to connect on a 92-yard bomb to Robby Anderson on his way to 338 yards and a pair of scores. Wentz could have DeSean Jackson (abdomen) back for this game as well, which would give Philadelphia’s offense that downfield dimension that Dallas failed to defend effectively against New York.
Pederson’s Namath-like proclamation certainly gives the ‘Boys some bulletin board material, even if the tried to cram the toothpaste back into the tube later Monday. This tussle could well come down to the final seconds. Therefore, the projected early-week minimum three-point advantage for the home team is appropriate. What direction this number moves will certainly be interesting to see as the week unfolds.
New England Patriots (-9.5) at New York Jets – Monday night
The Patriots make the short trip into MetLife Stadium for a second straight game when they take on the division-rival Jets for the second time this season. Unlike the first encounter in Week 3, New England will have to face Sam Darnold. The second-year quarterback made a triumphant return to the lineup in Week 6 versus the Cowboys after a multi-week bout with mononucleosis. Darnold’s 338-yard tally came close to matching that of interim replacement Luke Falk’s total for all three games he saw action in. Gang Green’s receiving corps looked like an NFL-quality unit again with Darnold under center. Robby Anderson (5-125-1), Jamison Crowder (6-98) and even Demaryius Thomas (4-62) all reaped the rewards of Darnold’s return.
Of course, the challenge Monday night could hardly get trickier for New York. The elite Patriots defense has been a mostly impossible puzzle for teams to solve thus far. What’s worse, Bill Belichick will have had a few extra days to prepare with the Pats having played the Thursday night game in Week 6. New England also comes in having rattled off seven consecutive victories in this series and notched a 14-point victory in New York last season. Zooming out to a long-term view, it’s notable the Patriots are an NFL-best 27-9 mark (75.0 percent) straight up this decade when playing with a rest advantage, although they’re a more modest 18-16-2 (52.9 percent) ATS under those conditions over that span.
The Patriots should have a roster close to full health if things break their way this week. Josh Gordon (knee) suffered a scary-looking knee injury against the Giants in Week 6 but has a chance to return in Week 7. Meanwhile, Philip Dorsett (hamstring) has chance to get back into action after a one-game absence. The same could hold true for Rex Burkhead (foot). Of course, Tom Brady has proven time and time again that he doesn’t need a full arsenal of weapons to not only pull out a win, but to play well while doing so.
The two teams know each other well. Even Adam Gase’s offense isn’t foreign to the Patriots after having seen it during his tenure with the Dolphins over the last several seasons. As New England has proven over its last couple of games, it can overcome slow starts to still post multi-touchdown wins. With the current spread a “small” one by New England standards, I see it as conquerable, even as the Jets are likely to give the Patriots a much more competitive game this time around.