Through six weeks of the NFL season there's never been a more chaotic year to bet on.
Last week, our picks against the spread eked out a 6-7 record, and could have been 7-6 if not for a game-breaking performance from Derrick Henry for the Titans.
This week we're back at it, picking every game against the spread with hopes of finding some winners.
Halfway through the 2020 NFL season, it's safe to say it's like any year that came before it.
The schedule shifts from week to week, as do the active rosters of teams across the league with COVID-19 cases making it more important than ever to check the injury report before placing your bets.
Because it's unlike any other year, it's time to set one of the oldest rules in gambling aside — this week, we're betting against home underdogs.
In a normal year, home underdogs offer plenty of value. Still, given the lessened impact of the home-field advantage this year, as well as the general weirdness of the NFL season as a whole, we're making an exception and backing several road favorites in our best bets this week.
Take a look below at our best bets against the spread for Week 7 of the NFL season (* indicates home team).
LAST WEEK: 6-7
Philadelphia Eagles* (-4.5) over New York Giants
Much has been made of the terrible NFC East and the fact that a 4-12 team could wind up representing the division in the postseason this year. That horrifying reality is still a long way away, but the possibility of a 6-9-1 Eagles team marching into the playoffs feels about right. To do that, Philadelphia has to win their divisional games, so we'll back them to cover here despite an injury report that would make the 49ers blush. They're breaking out the blackout jerseys after all.
Cleveland Browns (-3) over Cincinnati Bengals*
After getting dismantled by the Pittsburgh Steelers last weekend, this feels like a good bounce-back spot for the Browns. Meanwhile, the Bengals blew a 21-0 lead last week to the Colts — that feels like a tough one to shake off.
It's scary picking against a home dog, but if there was ever a time to do it, it's here.
Dallas Cowboys (PK) Washington Football Team* (PK)
For what it's worth, I'm not touching this game with any of my actual money — the Cowboys are an absolute mess, and you never know what type of performance you're going to get from a team that has reported distrust in the locker room. That said, if I have to pick a side, the talent of the Cowboys should win out, and they can't possibly play as poorly as they did against the Cardinals last week.
Detroit Lions (+2.5) over Atlanta Falcons*
This is a coin toss game if I ever saw one, but it's tough to see why the Falcons are favored in any game right now. The Lions aren't world-beaters by any means, but in a coin toss, I'll take the points.
Buffalo Bills (-13) over New York Jets*
Again, we're betting against the Jets until they prove that they can cover a game. So far, the strategy has worked out well for us, as the Jets are 0-6 against the spread to start the season. Let's keep the good times rolling.
Green Bay Packers (-3.5) over Houston Texans*
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers got punched in the face by the Buccaneers last week, with Tampa Bay laying the playbook for teams looking to disrupt the Green Bay offense. Unfortunately for the Texans, aside from J.J. Watt, I'm not sure their defense has the players to cause Rodgers similar stress.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+1) over Tennessee Titans*
This is a game good enough to just watch, with two undefeated teams battling out for a win that will be key to the AFC playoff picture. I'm backing the Steelers because it feels like they're a bit more well-rounded right now, especially after the close calls the Titans had to survive last week against the Texans, but if you're not looking to bet against Derrick Henry, I totally get it.
Arizona Cardinals* (+3.5) over Seattle Seahawks
This game is bound to be a shootout, and while the Seahawks offense is one of the best in the league, the Cardinals have the horses to keep pace with them. Also, Seattle has a tendency to play every game close, so getting a talented Arizona team with a field goal and a half-point hook feels like a good value.
New England Patriots* (-2) over San Francisco 49ers
The Patriots are coming off of a dismal performance against the Broncos last week, while the 49ers just played their best game in weeks against the Rams. This line feels like an overcorrection, and I don't necessarily believe that both of these teams' last performance will be indicative of future results.
Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) over Denver Broncos*
The Broncos haven't beaten the Chiefs since 2015. In their two meetings last year, Kansas City won by a combined score of 53-9. Sometimes one team just has another team's number.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+8) over Los Angeles Chargers*
Too many points. This one feels like it'll be ugly, but I'm holding out hope the Jaguars can steal a backdoor cover in the fourth quarter.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5) over Las Vegas Raiders*
The Las Vegas Raiders have been short-handed in practice this week with their offensive line quarantining after being in close contact with right tackle Trent Brown, who was recently placed on the COVID-19/reserve list. There's a chance this game won't even be played, but if it is, it's tough to bet on an offensive line that hasn't gotten reps all week.
Chicago Bears (+6) over Los Angeles Rams*
Last week the Rams laid an egg against the 49ers. I had bet on them and was disappointed with that result. It was at that point that it came to my attention that the only wins the Rams had recorded so far this season had come against the NFC East, meaning that while their 4-1 record looked good, we still had no idea how the team would look against real NFL competition.
The Rams are better than the NFC East, but are they six points better than the Bears? We'll find out Monday night.
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