We’re back with the seventh edition of MTS’ weekly picks against the spread for the 2016 season. Week 6 was one to forget for Perry, as he went 5-8-2 ATS, and his “Pledges of the Week” were a horrendous 1-3.
This now drops Perry to 35-39-2 on the season, and his “Pledges” are now just 10-10. To take the infamous words of Smooth Jimmy Apollo, “when you’re right 52-percent of the time, you’re wrong 48-percent of the time.” We’re just waiting for Perry to swing back to that 52-percent.
Here’s what Mr. Port is bringing to the table in Week 7.
An asterisk denotes one of Perry’s “Pledges of the Week.” (Don’t call them “locks”; there’s no such thing!)
Week 7 Picks ATS
Thursday, October 20
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-9)
This may not be saying much, but the Bears offense has been better with Brian Hoyer at the helm. Chicago now surprisingly ranks seventh in total offense and fourth in passing. However, they have had a ton of struggles finishing drives, ranking 31st in scoring.
We are once again finding ourselves questioning Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers after a beating at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys. As I (along with many others) assumed, the Packers run defense is nothing special. They were first in the league against the run heading into last week, but that was a product of playing teams that lacked any sort of rushing attack, as the Cowboys proved on Sunday. The Packers 25th-ranked total offense is not something I foresaw, though.
We spent all of last season waiting for Rodgers and the Packer offense to breakout. I won’t make that same mistake this year. I’m finally coming to terms with the possibility that Green Bay’s offense is not a juggernaut. They’ll continue to struggle to put their opponents away.
Pick: Bears (+9)
Sunday, October 23
New York Giants (-3) at Los Angeles Rams
Finally, Odell Beckham Jr. has broken out of his slump. OBJ’s 220-yard, two-touchdown performance boosted the Giants over the Ravens in Week 6, but they have yet to show any improvements in the running game (30th) and are continuing to lose the turnover battle.
Fortunately, the Rams haven’t forced a turnover in two weeks, and their offense isn’t striking fear into anyone. If LA wants to remain competitive this season, they’ll have to find a way to get Todd Gurley going.
But that won’t happen this week against the Giants, who are only giving up 3.5 yards per carry (sixth).
Pick: Giants (-3)
New Orleans Saints at Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5)
Thanks to their second-ranked scoring offense and last-ranked scoring defense, the Saints have found themselves in a lot of shootouts so far. While I don’t expect their defense to get any better, the offense will have to face the best pass defense it’s seen this season in Kansas City.
Andy Reid’s impressive record coming off a bye just improved to 16-2 after their 26-10 victory over the Raiders in Week 6. Unfortunately, they don’t get another bye this season. In the victory, the Chiefs finally established their ground game (183 yards), but it was largely due to the fact that they didn’t fall too far behind on the scoreboard in the first quarter.
The Saints two worst offensive performances this season have been during their two road games, failing to reach 300 total yards in both contests. Brees and the offense aren’t the same away from the dome, and they’ll struggle even more in Arrowhead.
Pick: Chiefs (-6.5)
Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
The Vikings are the only undefeated team in the NFL and have had extra time to prepare for this game after a Week 6 bye. Sam Bradford has gotten better by the week and is finally showing some of the potential we saw coming out of Oklahoma. But, this team is where they are because of the defense, which ranks first in scoring and second in yards.
The Eagles defense had been great up until Week 6. Then they allowed Washington to put up 493 total yards. This was also a game that saw Carson Wentz struggle mightily for the first time in his career as Washington brought a ton of pressure.
Things won’t get any better for Wentz against the Vikings sixth-ranked pass defense, and Bradford will continue his safe play, while capitalizing on the short fields his defense gives him.
Pick: Vikings (-2.5)*
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-2.5)
Andrew Luck is leading the seventh-ranked scoring offense in Indianapolis, but he’s not getting much help from his defense, which ranks 28th in scoring. After another fourth-quarter blow-up, the Colts are now 2-4 and feeling very disheartened.
Over the last two weeks, we have seen Marcus Mariota get involved in Tennessee’s ground game and start making plays with his arm. It’s been a marked turnaround from the first four weeks. The Titans possess the league’s ninth-ranked total defense, and 11th-ranked pass defense. They have also been able to pressure the passer, recording 18 sacks this season (fifth).
The Colts are allowing 4.8 yards per carry, while the Titans are averaging 4.9 yards per tote. Tennessee will run the ball all over Indianapolis (much like Lamar Miller just did for Houston) and Dick LeBeau will not allow Luck to get comfortable.
Pick: Titans (-2.5)
Buffalo Bills (-3) at Miami Dolphins
As I have mentioned before, I’m always extremely nervous to start putting any faith in the Buffalo Bills. But, their rushing attack (first) has proved unstoppable since Anthony Lynn took over for Greg Roman, and Rex Ryan has his injury riddled defense sitting fifth in scoring and 12th in yards.
I’m not buying into Miami’s Week 6 performance. I do not believe anything has changed, Pittsburgh just had one of its classic stinkers on the road against a bad team. The Steelers also have a brutal pass rush, which failed to capitalize on Miami’s horrid O-line.
The Dolphins rank 31st against the run and Ryan Tannehill will find himself under pressure against a Bills defense that has 20 sacks on the season (second).
Pick: Bills (-3)*
Washington at Detroit Lions (-1)
Just as I mentioned with Miami, I do not believe Washington’s Week 6 performance is indicative of who they are. Largely because Philadelphia is not who we thought they were, either. However, Jay Gruden finally got out of his own way and ran the ball. Despite only handing the ball off 138 times this year (26th), Washington ranks 12th in rushing and fourth in yards per carry.
Detroit has also been a very one-dimensional team in 2016, but it hasn’t been by choice. They can’t run the ball effectively, and Matthew Stafford has had to throw them back into games too often due to their awful defense. On the bright side, Stafford is playing at an elite level.
Washington’s 230-yard breakout on the ground in Week 6 will result in a more balanced attack, which will only make their fifth-ranked passing offense all the more dangerous.
Pick: Washington (+1)
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-10)
The Browns may be winless through their first six games, but they’ve been more competitive than their record indicates and had a chance to win at least three of those. Their 11th-ranked rushing attack has kept them in games, while the defense (and kicker) has let them slip away.
Cincinnati’s offense is a mess. Despite ranking 12th in total offense, their 29th in scoring. Problems in the red zone are to blame. They have had too many promising drives stall out and have had to settle for field goals (or less). On top of that, their defense has allowed back-to-back 400-yard games.
Even if Tyler Eifert returns, it will not solve all of the Bengals’ offensive woes. Hue Jackson will have some tricks up his sleeve for his former team and his Browns will keep this one close.
Pick: Browns (+10)
Oakland Raiders at Jacksonville Jaguars (-1)
Oakland’s defense ranks last against the pass and 30th against the run. They’ve only held one team under 400 total yards this season: the Titans, who were limited to a paltry 393. But their offense has been able to bail them out more often than not, averaging 25.3 points per game (11th).
The Jaguars have won their last two games, but both were against bad teams and only came by a combined four points. Turnovers have haunted their offense thus far (nine in five games), and it has repeatedly put their defense in awful situations.
Oakland’s 13th-ranked rushing attack will get a boost from Latavius Murray’s return, while Jacksonville’s offense will continue to struggle. (Side note: Oakland’s 3-0 ATS on the road.)
Pick: Raiders (+1)*
Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets (-1)
The switch to Marty Mornhinweg did not result in any drastic changes in Baltimore’s struggling offense: they still can’t run the ball efficiently, and Joe Flacco didn’t look any better either. The defense came into last week as one of the top units in the league against the pass, but struggled to keep Odell Beckham Jr. from celebrating with his beloved kicking net.
The Jets’ offense has been non-existent for the last four weeks, scoring a combined 36 points in that time. The offensive ineptitude is making the defense look a lot worse than it actually is, ranking 23rd in yards and 25th in scoring.
Brandon Marshall is a great receiver, but he can’t do to Baltimore what OBJ did. The Ravens’ defense will feast on Fitzpatrick and the offense will take a small step forward in Mornhinweg’s second week calling the plays.
Pick: Ravens (+1)
San Diego Chargers at Atlanta Falcons (-6.5)
Despite trying to give another game away in the fourth quarter, the Chargers were able to win their second game of the season in Week 6. But, I see that more as a Denver loss than a Charger win. Though Joey Bosa, their lone bright spot on defense, is proving to be worth the trouble, the unit as a whole still ranks 23rd in scoring.
The Falcons have gone into two very hostile environments (Denver and Seattle) in back-to-back weeks and put up 47 combined points against two of the toughest defenses in the league. Matt Ryan is putting up MVP numbers, while the duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman in the backfield is giving defenses fits.
The Chargers’ high will only last for one week as Atlanta will put this game out of reach early.
Pick: Falcons (-6.5)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2) at San Francisco 49ers
This is a game between two really bad teams. The Bucs are suffering due to Jameis Winston’s sophomore slump, which is the main culprit for the team’s 11 turnovers through five games. Fortunately, they should get Gerald McCoy and Doug Martin back in the lineup, but a turnaround is dependent on Winston dramatically elevating his game.
The 49ers are also suffering due to lousy quarterback play. It didn’t get any better last week when they made the switch to Colin Kaepernick. The controversial QB was better than Blaine Gabbert, but he was not good. We may end up seeing Christian Ponder if Kaepernick doesn’t show better against the Bucs’ 19th-ranked pass defense.
This game will be decided by which team can run the ball more effectively (and prevent its quarterback from throwing the game away). I’ll side with Chip to stubbornly pound away.
Pick: 49ers (+2)
New England Patriots (-7) at Pittsburgh Steelers
Tom Brady has been everything we expected him to be in his first two games back, and the Patriots’ offense looks unstoppable with him at the helm. But their offense hasn’t had to carry the whole load, as their defense ranks second in scoring.
Just when we thought Pittsburgh was beginning to look like a real contender, they get dominated by the Dolphins and lose Ben Roethlisberger to a torn meniscus. Throw out all of their offensive numbers coming into this game. Landry Jones will not be able to lead this offense to anything similar.
Bill Belichick will scheme to remove Le’Veon Bell from the game and make Jones beat them with his arm, something Landry is incapable of.
Pick: Patriots (-7)*
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (-2)
The Seahawks continue to mask a struggling ground game with a good aerial attack. Russell Wilson has Seattle sitting 11th in the league in passing offense. Alright, I guess their defense deserves some credit, too: the unit ranks third in scoring and first in total defense.
The Cardinals may have actually benefited from Carson Palmer sitting out in Week 5; it gave them the opportunity to see how their offense looks when putting the ball in David Johnson’s hands more often. Over the last two weeks, Arizona has rushed for 343 yards and their offense has been much more efficient.
However, Seattle’s third-ranked rush defense will remove Johnson from the game and Palmer will be forced to shoulder the load. That doesn’t bode well against a fifth-ranked pass defense that gets after the QB.
Pick: Seahawks (+2)
Monday, October 24
Houston Texans at Denver Broncos (-7)
Sure, Brock Osweiler led the charge in a late-game, come-from-behind victory over the Colts, but it should not have taken an Indianapolis collapse for Houston to put up points. Osweiler continues to turn the ball over, and the better defenses he’s faced have made him look like a joke.
Now, he’ll have to go back to the city he turned his back on and play the league’s top-ranked pass defense. Fortunately for Osweiler, the Broncos offense has been terrible over the last two weeks, and he may not have to put up many points to come away with a win.
The problem is, I don’t see Osweiler putting up more than ten, and with some extra time to prepare, I see the Broncos’ offense figuring out their line troubles. Trevor Siemian will also enjoy the rest, as he didn’t look healthy in their loss to the Chargers last week. Isee Denver’s defense scoring some points, themselves, off Osweiler turnovers while John Elway struggles to contain some maniacal laughter.
Pick: Broncos (-7)
Photo credit: Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.