Identifying Value and NFL Week 7 Underdogs
While rising totals and record scoring are one of the stories of the season with games now averaging 50.78 points per game through six weeks, we're performing like the NY Giants offense following another dismal display of how to blow a football game by the Giants on Thursday night in a 22-21 loss to NFC East rival Philadelphia. A pair of blowout losses on our Week 6 underdog picks sends us further towards 'fire Fairway' status.
We'll try to get back to some fundamentals in our handicapping that includes evaluating point of attack play and rushing guidelines more accurately and often in our point spread prognosis.
NFL stats through six weeks
On to Week 7 and looking to regroup and improve on our 3-plus year record of 83-66 ATS (55.7%) posting underdog picks. Be sure to check the online sportsbooks special promotions each week.
457 Detroit (+2.5) at Atlanta – Lions Moneyline +110
464 NY Jets (+13) vs Buffalo - Jets Moneyline +465
468 Arizona (+3.5) vs Seattle - Cardinals Moneyline +155
472 Denver (+10) vs Kansas City - Broncos Moneyline +360
Leading online sportsbook BetOnline is dealing +13 on the Jets and +10 on the Broncos.
Detroit at Atlanta
Expectations were higher for both the Lions (2-3) and Falcons (1-5), and each team enters Week 7 off a win last week. The Falcons won after firing head coach Dan Quinn. But the dirty birds defense is still so deficient, allowing 432 yards per game to rank No. 31 in the NFL and 6.7 yards per play, which is dead last in the league. Toss out the rushing numbers although a pair of former Georgia stars are capable of running wild in the Falcons Todd Gurley and Lions D'Andre Swift. But the Falcons pass defense gets torched week after week and have allowed each opponent and quarterback to pass for at least 300 yards. Now it's Matthew Stafford's turn, and with a more balanced attack last week that included 180 rushing yards and career-best day from rookie RB D'Andre Swift, the Lions can win back-to-back road games with a defense that also played much better last week in dominating the Jaguars. Atlanta is 0-3 SU/ATS at home this season.
Buffalo at NY Jets
A year ago, the Miami Dolphins were considered one of the worst teams in NFL history following an 0-7 start. The Dolphins lost their first four games by at least 20 points and their first two by more than 40 points each. Miami was a double-digit underdog in six of their first nine games, and after starting 0-4 SU/ATS, the Dolphins covered five straight games starting in Week 6 while scoring less than 17 points in three of those contests. Miami went on to win five games, and while the Jets look like a one or two win team this season, the point is improved results, at least when betting, should be coming. A majority of bettors don't believe so as one leading online sportsbook reports more than 90% of both the bets and money are betting on Buffalo. The Jets are scoring a league-low 12.5 points per game and will be further embarrassed when they travel to Kansas City next week as the lookahead line on that game is Chiefs -21. Of course this is not a big endorsement or bet on the Jets, but with Buffalo off their first loss of the season and allowing 245 rushing yards on 46 attempts in getting dominated much more than the 26-17 score suggests against the Chiefs on Monday night football, this looks like a letdown situation for Buffalo. The Bills offensive line is a bit banged up and QB Josh Allen (shoulder) has played the last two weeks less than 100% and it showed against the Chiefs with his worst game of the season and just 206 yards total offense for the Bills. The Jets can at least cash-in ATS for the first time this season with a lower-scoring game a more likely result.
Seattle at Arizona
Really like the Cardinals (4-2) here despite unbeaten and so fortunate Seattle (5-0) in a better situational and scheduling spot off a bye with MVP quarterback Russell Wilson. But with the Seahawks very deficient defense allowing a league-worst 471 yards per game and poorly coordinated by Ken Norton, Jr., the Cardinals will definitely capitalize with their talented weapons and leading receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who we expect to play after missing practice the last two days with an ankle issue. Arizona is on a short week but should continue their strong offensive performance in this NFC West division duel that's been moved to Sunday Night Football. The Cardinals are off a pair of road wins and racked up at least 438 yards offense against the Jets and Cowboys and balanced the attack last week with 261 rushing yards. Quarterback Kyler Murray's added value in running and moving out of the pocket should cause more trouble with Arizona's offense also operating out of the no-huddle a league-high 37% of the time. The Cardinals defense is also much improved and gets pressure on the quarterback while tied for No. 6 in the league in sacks. Death in the desert for Seattle as their incredibly good fortune and win streak comes to an end.
Kansas City at Denver
Note the weather if you like the under as it may dip lower with an 80% chance of snow and at least 3 inches in the forecast Sunday. It's not easy to bet against the Chiefs knowing they blew out the Broncos twice last season and are capable of doing so when they play their best. Kansas City rose up in their biggest games against Baltimore and Buffalo, but struggled against the Raiders in defeat and the Chargers when they escaped with a road win in overtime. Kansas City also had just 323 yards offense against the Patriots when New England rushed 35 times for 185 yards but suffered four turnovers. That's likely the similar game plan for the Broncos to stay committed to the run and controlled short passing game. Denver gets RB Melvin Gordon back this week along with TE Noah Fant to attack a Chiefs run defense now allowing 145 rushing yards per game. The Broncos flashed signs of their defensive strength last week in a 18-12 victory at New England, and the Chiefs are dealing with some offensive line injuries. The Broncos offense is still a concern and will likely be without a starting guard. No doubt QB Drew Lock needs to play better, limit mistakes and improve Denver's 36% third down rate as he starts against his hometown team that he grew up idolizing. Expect the Broncos to bring their best against the Chiefs traveling back-to-back weeks off a Monday night game at Buffalo. At least 70% of the side bets and money is on the Chiefs, and while this may only be a lean at best for many bettors taking the Broncos, we'll side with Denver as a contrary call and big home division 'Dog.
FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and betting analyst, and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay here and follow him on Twitter @FairwayJay.