Stuckey: My Favorite Week 7 NFL Bets
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Cooper Kupp
Stuckey highlights his three favorite NFL picks for Week 7 below.
Let’s run through how he’s betting the Rams-Falcons, Chargers-Titans and Ravens-Seahawks spreads.
Odds as of Sunday morning and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).
Falcons +3 vs. Rams
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
The Rams have gambled with an inexperienced interior on the offensive line and its backfired significantly.
Out of 57 guards with at least 250 snaps, Joseph Noteboom and Austin Blythe don’t rank in the top 50 in Pro Football Focus’ overall grade. With Noteboom now hurt, rookie fifth-round draft pick David Edwards will make his first career start on the road.
Center Brian Allen has been one of the worst in the NFL at his position. And on the outside, an aging Andrew Whitworth and a suddenly lost Rob Havenstein haven’t helped matters.
Take a look at just how bad the line has performed:
- Offensive line ranks last in pass-blocking efficiency at 76.2 (the next worst is Miami at 80.0)
- They’ve allowed a league-high 91 QB Hurries (the next-highest is Green Bay at 60)
- They have given up a gaudy 115 QB Hurries (the next-highest is the Chargers at 115)
Per PFF, Jared Goff has dropped back under pressure a league-high 114 times. That’s 43.3% of all drop backs — the second-highest frequency in the NFL, trailing only Daniel Jones in New York.
On those plays, he has an adjusted completion percentage of just 60.7 — 21st out of 21 quarterbacks with a minimum of 150 drop backs. In comparison, Matt Ryan, who also deals with a shaky offensive line, sits at 68.9% — seventh-best in the league.
The strength of Atlanta’s defense is the interior of its defensive line. Expect the Falcons to blow up a number of plays, forcing Goff into some drive-killing inaccurate throws and/or turnovers.
The Rams acquired Jalen Ramsey to help to their struggling secondary, but if he can’t go, the two starting outside corners will be Troy Hill and Darious Williams (making his first career start). That’s not ideal against an explosive Falcons offense averaging 317.8 passing yards per game, trailing only the Chiefs.
The Falcons are also a mess along the offensive line, but that doesn’t disrupt the Falcons’ offense as much. L.A. will certainly score points against a beat up and subpar Atlanta defensive backfield. But I’ll gladly take the points at home in a game that I have as a coin flip.
Titans -2 vs. Chargers
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET
There’s no buying low or selling high here as both teams come in on two-game skids. Both offenses are an absolute mess, primarily due to horrible offensive line play.
The Chargers at least have an excuse as of playing without their two best offensive linemen in LT Russell Okung and Mike Pouncey. Still, their offensive line ranks near the bottom of the league in almost every stat. As a result, the run game has been nonexistent — Melvin Gordon not being fully up to speed yet doesn’t help — and Philip Rivers looks rushed and panicked right from the snap.
Now, there’s an outside chance that Okung does play as he just returned to practice, but I’d be shocked if he does with such little prep. And even if he does, rust and continuity are major concerns.
Regardless, this is a unit that should struggle, especially on the road in a hostile environment. It also doesn’t help that the Chargers are the slowest team as a result of Rivers constantly snapping the ball with 1 on the play clock, which can give the defensive line a well timed jump off the snap.
The Titans, meanwhile, have an excellent defense. They rank in the top-five in the league in points per game allowed and have yet to allow more than 20. They can also get pressure, ranking in the top 10 in adjusted sack rate. Their secondary is also rock solid, especially with the significant improvement of cornerback Adoree Jackson.
The Titans may also be getting back one of their best pass rushers, Cameron Wake, and be adding first-round draft pick Jeffery Simmons — the steal of the draft, in my opinion — in the middle of the defensive line.
Titans DI Jeffery Simmons’ 2018 season ranked 5th in terms of highest ever grade recorded by an interior d-lineman in the PFF College era pic.twitter.com/UT6YerPBE5
— PFF (@PFF) May 9, 2019
Now, I’m not here to tell you the Tennessee offense will light up the world. The Titans have been a horror show to watch, in large part due to their offensive line, which ranks dead last in adjusted sack rate. But the talent is at least there and Lewan looked like he was finally getting back up to speed last game after missing the first four.
With players like Jack Conklin, Ben Jones and Roger Saffold, I trust this unit much more than the Chargers.
Plus, Marcus Mariota deserves some of the blame. He’s not only been wildly inaccurate at times but also indecisive when his first read isn’t there, which has led to some of the sacks. And while Ryan Tannehill is no Tom Brady, he has a stronger arm for throws to the hashes and will get the ball out quicker (just hopefully not to the other team).
Tannehill will at least get to go up against a defense that’s been decimated with injuries, especially in the secondary. Injuries have forced Roderick Teamer into playing time and it has not gone well. Teamer has allowed a perfect passer rating (158.3) when targeted, giving up 15 catches on 16 targets for three touchdowns. Los Angeles sorely misses All Pro safety Derwin James. The Chargers still do have an elite corner on the outside in Casey Hayward but it’s not like the Titans rely on a dominant No. 1 receiver in their offense.
The tackling has also been nonexistent for LA. Per PFF, the Chargers rank dead last as a team with a tackling grade of 36.3; no other team ranks below 40. (Tennessee’s defense ranks fourth at 75.2.) This isn’t the Chargers defense of last year but rather a unit that just lost at home to Devlin Hodges and Joe Flacco
In my opinion, the Chargers simply aren’t being downgraded enough by the market. This is a team that has won one game since an OT victory at home in the season opener. And that victory came against the winless, tanking Dolphins.
I hate to side with Tannehill and the ugly Titans offense, but I don’t mind the atrocious Chargers OL and banged up defense on the road here at under a FG. I’ll side with the one unit I trust in this game: The Titans defense.
Ravens +3 at Seahawks
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET
Russell Wilson is playing at a ridiculous level. He’s had a QB rating above 100 in each of the first six games — a feat only three quarterbacks have reached since the inception of that metric. He’s the well-deserved MVP frontrunner, but it says a lot about the flaws of this Seahawks team that they’ve pulled out four of their five wins by a combined eight points, none of which have come against teams better than .500.
This team could just as easily be 1-5 with a few different bounces of the ball. As a result, I think the Seahawks continue to be overvalued. They have plenty of flaws, especially on defense. They struggle to get pressure; only five teams have fewer than their 10 sacks, and three have played one fewer game. And they have subpar safety play; Tedric Thompson continues to be one of the worst cover safeties.
And now the Seahawks could be without three starting offensive linemen.
If Duane Brown is ruled out, it would leave Germain Ifedi and George Fant as the starting tackles. Of 71 tackles with at least 70 snaps, Ifedi and Fant rank 70th and 71st in Pass Blocking Efficiency. That’s not ideal against a Ravens team that blitzes more than any other. Expect defensive coordinator Don Martindale to bring constant pressure off the edge to get into the backfield and take away the edges from Wilson, where he’s so dangerous in creating big plays.
By the way, Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown rank first and 35thin Pass Blocking Efficiency, respectively. That duo, along with star guard Marshal Yanda, lead one of the NFL’s strongest pass-blocking units.
The loss of Will Dissly will also hurt the Seahawks in the red zone, where they’ve excelled with him as one of Wilson’s favorite targets. He’ll be especially missed as the Ravens have struggled to cover tight ends.
Speaking of tight ends, look for Mark Andrews to have a big day, especially when he ends up in the area of the aforementioned Thompson, whose 39.4 coverage grade is second-worst among 62 safeties (minimum 200 snaps). Per Football Outsiders, Seattle ranks 25th against opposing tight ends.
Another area where these teams mirror each other is in their run-heavy offensive schemes. Both rank inside the top five in run percentage, which could spell trouble for a Seattle team that’s allowing 4.7 yards per rush (25th) against an explosive Baltimore rushing attack that’s averaging an NFL-best 5.5 yards per carry.
Finally, I think many are undervaluing the acquisition of Marcus Peters.
The Ravens have one lockdown corner in Marlon Humphrey. But due to a plethora of injuries, their second corner has been nothing short of a disaster. It’s one of the main reasons their pass defense has been so poor, allowing 7.7 yards per pass (26th). Per Football Outsiders, the Ravens rank second overall vs. No. 1 receivers and 24th vs. No. 2 receivers, so Peters will help sure up that gap immediately.
A common misconception is that Peters can’t play press man — which the Ravens do a ton of — but that’s just not true. He’s an elite press man corner. Look no further than the 2017 season when he was one of the best corners with the Chiefs, who ran Cover 1 more than any team (at almost a 50% frequency) — he had the lowest QB rating allowed of any corner from 2015-17.
I was convinced Peters was never healthy last season, which explained his drop-off in production. And seeing his underlying metrics this season — top 10 in yards per cover snap with two touchdowns and two interceptions — confirms that.
You should see Peters either in press man or Cover 3, where he can use his ballhawks and route-jumping skills to try to create turnovers. He’ll get burnt for the occasional big play, but regardless, he fills one of the Ravens’ biggest needs. Peters, like former Seattle safety Earl Thomas, is also very familiar with the Seahawks, having played in the same division the past two seasons.
I have the Ravens rated a point better than the Seahawks on a neutral field, so I gladly took +3.5 and would take anything at 3 or above.
I also think Baltimore is a worthy teaser piece in what should be one of the week’s most competitive games. Wilson won’t make it easy, but I think the Ravens pull this out on the back of their superior offensive line, special teams and, yes, with the help of Peters.