Finally an easy, no sweating the last-minute victory for our pick of Miami last week. Picking against the Jets is going to be more and more popular and that won’t change this week. The one play last week that cost the majority of exits from pools was New England losing at home to the Broncos. That is the risk of going against the grain to try to gain an advantage but there were few that thought taking the Patriots were much of a risk.

We have made it to week 7 and still have to check on Covid tests as the NFL and the country try to mitigate the latest surge in cases. Looks like Carolina has gotten beyond their scare and this comes into play.  There are 2 home favorites of 7 or more points but the two biggest favorites are on the road. Let’s take a look at these games.

After a bye, the Saints host the Panthers and are favored by 7 ½. The Saints should have Michael Thomas back after his injury and team suspension. The Panthers are still waiting for Christian McCaffery to heal and don’t expect to have him ready. Carolina’s three-game winning streak came to an end against the Bears. The Saints defense should hold Carolina in check and the return of Thomas should open up both the passing game and the running game for Alvin Kamara

The Chargers are 8 point favorites over the visiting Jaguars. The Chargers have been up and down this season and have cost some (me) in pools losing in week 3 to the Panthers. They have played some very good teams well losing to the Chiefs, Bucs, and Saints by a touchdown or less. The Jaguars opened the season with a surprising victory over the Colts but have not won since. They were dealt “Swiftly” last week by the Lions and don’t appear to pose much of a threat to the Chargers. The Chargers have been struggling with the running game after the loss of Austin Ekeler but the emergence of Justin Herbert has kept them competitive. 

Kansas City visits division rival Denver and are 9 point road favorites. The Broncos are coming off their upset on the road over the Patriots, but don’t let that get your expectations up. They didn’t score a touchdown and face a Kansas City defense that is playing well. The Chiefs ran the ball down the Bills’ throats on Monday and showed that they can beat you in whatever way Andy Reid and Eric Bienemy want to. Philip Lindsay returned from his toe injury just in time to replace Melvin Gordon who missed the game with strep throat. Even if Gordon returns, the Chiefs should prevail in Mile High.

Should we bother with the biggest favorite? They are going to be the chalk pick and rightfully so. The Bills travel to MetLife to face the hapless Jets and are 12 ½ point favorites. Even though the point spread isn’t as high as when the Vikings lost as 17 point favorites to the Bills in 2018, I would consider this the biggest upset in the last 25 years if it happened. 

A review of the teams that I have taken so far this year: Buffalo, Arizona, Chargers, Rams, Dallas, and Miami. Since I took Buffalo in week 1 I can’t go chalk this week but if you took someone else week 1 and have the Bill still available they are the obvious choice of the week. I also took the Chargers earlier so it comes down to Kansas City and New Orleans.

Pick of the week: New Orleans

This game is the Saints’ easiest game by win probability for the rest of the season. This is the week to take them as there are other teams to choose from each week going forward. With the return of Michael Thomas , the Saints offense will be at full strength, and coupled with their above-average defense, they should be able to handle the Panthers at home. Why not the Chiefs? I’m saving them for either of the next two weeks when they play the Jets and Panthers.

Good luck this week! If you have a question you can ask me on Twitter @gasdoc_spit

FRIDAY Update:

With Michael Thomas looking unlikely to play and Emmanuel Sanders out with Covid, this weakens the Saints pick a bit.  It is also a possibility that the game gets postponed if other players test positive.  Three of the better pivots are teams I’ve already taken so far this year. Buffalo is the obvious first choice.  If you haven’t taken them with the uncertainties of the other games, I don’t see how you pass them up.  The Chargers are another pick, but again they seem to play everyone close and are the lone mark on my record this year.  I haven’t mentioned the Rams who are 6 point favorites over the Bears and could provide some value as they won’t be highly owned.  I don’t think you should take Kansas City yet. They have much more value over the next two weeks especially in week 9.