It is hard to believe we are in Week 7 of the 2014 NFL season already. Two more weeks will mark the “midpoint of the schedule and each game, each week will get more and more important in defining the playoff picture. Last week the Best Bets were 1-4, and the only thing we can take away from that debacle is that many professional handicappers had bad weeks as well. The 1-4 record could easily have been 3-2, with the Jets and the Dolphins both missing out on covering in the last seconds of the game. These are called “Bad Beats,” and they usually happen, maybe, twice per season. Suffering two in a matter of five minutes means that cruel Dame Karma owes me big time. Our season record is now 14-11, and is precariously close to the fabled “Mendoza Line.”
At first glance, nothing stood out on this week’s slate. After “further review,” however, the staff has come up with some winners to help you enjoy your NFL weekend. (By the way, when a play is challenged, why do officials turn on their microphone and say “After further review…”? They have reviewed it only once. The correct phrase should be: “After review….” Nothing further needs to be said.) On to the candy for Week 7 (Home team in CAPS):
BEARS (-3) over Dolphins—There are no trends supporting this pick. In fact, the only trend to be found on this game is, according to Pregame.com, Bear QB Jay Cutler is 11-27 against the spread (ATS) as a home favorite. This is certainly not a statistic in favor of picking Chicago in this game. Sometimes there is a gut feeling and this is it. The Bears will have their offensive line intact again for this game, and both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are absent from the injury report this week. The Dolphins suffered a tough loss at home last week, and there are players openly criticizing their coaches’ defensive play calls at the end of the game. The Chicago defense gets its mojo back this week.
JAGUARS (+5.5) vs. Browns—The Browns have become the darlings of the NFL and, believe it or not, a betting favorite. They are such a fan favorite that they are now in the uncomfortable position of having to give up points the road. This is the most points by which the Browns have been favored away from home since 1995. It is hard to handle prosperity if you have not had it in a while. Look for an inspired effort from the Jaguars.
Chiefs (+4) vs. CHARGERS—It is difficult to go against San Diego after getting the team got a wake-up call last week at Oakland. The trends are just too strong in favor of Kansas City. In their last 12 road games the Chiefs are 11-1 ATS. KC coach Andy Reid is 14-2 straight up in the week following a bye. It will be a tough divisional game, and the Chiefs need their best effort to wrestle some headlines away from the Royals.
Giants (+6.5) vs. COWBOYS—This is a classic example of one team looking like a world-beater a week ago, and the other team appearing to be the opposite. The world loves the Cowboys right now and the bookmakers know it. What the world might not know is that Dallas has covered only 6 times in their last 26 games as a home favorite. When the Cowboys are favored after a win, they are 2-14. Add in the fact that their last win was a hard-fought contest against the 12th man in Seattle and it makes more sense than ever to take the Giants. Admittedly, it is hard to back the G-Men after their effort in Philly last week, but this is more a bet against the home team.
Cardinals (-3.5) over RAIDERS—Last week’s pick of the Raiders was our only win, and this week Oakland reverts to being themselves again. They had that one week, with a new coach, off of a bye, where their opponent did not know what was coming. The Arizona Cardinals’ coaching staff has now had a week to see the tendencies of new Raider coach Tony Sparano and will get the best of them. It is hard giving up that extra half-point in this game, but chances are it will not come down to a field goal. The Cardinals are for real, and Bruce Arians is Coach of the Year.