Sports Football


Randall The Handle's NFL picks for Week 7

Randall the Handle

By Randall The Handle

Blake Bortles of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs with the football in the second half of their game against the Los Angeles Rams at EverBank Field on Oct. 15, 2017. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Blake Bortles of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs with the football in the second half of their game against the Los Angeles Rams at EverBank Field on Oct. 15, 2017. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)


Jaguars (3-3) at Colts (2-4)


Perhaps the Jaguars are unreliable with their win-lose-win-lose pattern, but they have at least shown that they can blow out a team or two (Baltimore and Pittsburgh). Sure, Jax QB Blake Bortles may cause you to shake your head most days, but a ninth-ranked defence and the top rushing offence in the league can cover up Bortles’ inadequacies. Colts don’t have such fallbacks. Indianapolis is dead last in points allowed, 31st in yards allowed and 30th in passing yards permitted. Yes, Indy has a couple of wins, but those victories have been against the league’s only two winless team as Cleveland and San Francisco are a combined 0-12. Each of those victories were by a field goal. Now the feeble Colts must play on a short week after watching a 19-9 lead over Tennessee quickly turn into a 36-22 defeat on Monday night. Jacksonville is 3-0 vs. spread after a loss and should up that stat here.


Cardinals (3-3) at Rams (4-2)

at London, England


One win does not change the course of the hideous Cardinals. Arizona is an old and slow team that is resting on its 2015 laurels. The ages of its three marquee players (Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Adrian Peterson) totals 103 years. No wonder the team has so much trouble scoring. The Cards did manage to rack up 38 points last week, but that was against the gutless Buccaneers. Arizona has faced one team currently above .500 and that game resulted in a 34-7 crushing by the Eagles. The Cardinals needed overtime to take down both the Colts and Niners before last week’s win over Tampa. Let’s just say the wins lack merit. Now Arizona, which ranks 28th in points allowed, will face the top scoring offence in the league and will do so with key guys out of lineup and others on the limp. The Cards’ first trip to London figures to be an unpleasant one.


Broncos (3-2) at Chargers (2-4)


The Giants caught Denver flat-footed in front of a national audience with the Broncos on short end of an embarrassing 23-10 home defeat after being favoured by as many as 13 points. Hours earlier saw the Chargers trip up Oakland in a 17-16 win. The oddsmakers knows the “what have you done for me lately” mentality that accompanies bettors and after Denver’s colossal failure, they had to make the Bolts chalk here. That’s just wrong and we’ll gladly take back what is offered with the superior team. The Chargers are at home, but that’s hardly an advantage in their neutral-crowd soccer stadium. More importantly, the Broncos will be focused on stopping the run here after the G-Men cracked Orange’s previously impenetrable run defence and, without Melvin Gordon taking pressure off Philip Rivers, the Chargers could be in for a long afternoon. Do note, teams that lost their previous game as a 10 or more favourite have covered 34-of-53 in following game.



Titans (3-3) at Browns (0-6)


Cleveland continues to churn out losses and, without being offered an abundance of points, they simply have to be avoided. We don’t expect you to risk your cash on a team that has one win its previous 25 games and even with points allotted in almost all of those games, the Browns have managed just five covers in that same span. The quarterback horror movie continues as Cleveland will send rookie QB DeShone Kizer back out as its starter after being benched for Kevin Hogan. Kizer’s start in the NFL has been atrocious with a completion rate of 51% which includes just three touchdowns compared to nine interceptions in four starts. Tennessee DC Dick LeBeau is 21-3 lifetime against rookie throwers. Titans can ill afford to look past Browns as they are in three-way dead heat for division.


Bengals (2-3) at Steelers (4-2)


Steelers’ nation is all giddy again after Pittsburgh knocked off only remaining unbeaten team with 19-13 victory at Kansas City. It could be a short lived celebration. We’ve seen the acute inconsistency of the Steelers this year after losing to the Bears, being lambasted at home by the Jaguars, but then taking down aforementioned Chiefs. We’re not willing to trust them here when spotting points to a Cincinnati team that is feeling good about itself after turning a 0-2 start into a 3-2 mark currently. Having made a change at offensive co-ordinator, along with return of defensive leader Vontaze Burfict after suspension, has the Bengals back in the thick of things in the AFC North. Pittsburgh offence not scaring anyone these days having surpassed 19 points only once in past four while Cincy defence shutting down opposing foes. Too many points in what figures to be a close one.


Ravens (3-3) at Vikings (4-2)


Watching the Ravens play can hurt your stomach. Even so, we’ll take some antacids here and try to get through it. Baltimore’s offence is one of the weaker units in the league right now. Fortunately, they are playing a team that mirrors the Ravens in that way as the Vikings have lost both their starting quarterback and running back and points will be coming at a premium as a result. While Baltimore’s Joe Flacco has struggled this season, he still trumps Minny backup Case Keenum, the latter being a game manager at best. The Vikings could also be caught napping here as they come off big win against Packers and will fly to England after this game for game in London next week. For whatever reason, teams heading over there have covered just 14 of the past 38 in game prior. Blimey!


Jets (3-3) at Dolphins (3-2)


The first current-season revenge game has the Jets visiting southern Florida after New York took down the Dolphins 20-6 in Week 2. Yes, the Jets have been a surprise with their competitive nature despite a subpar roster while the Fish are an enigma that few can figure out. At least the Jets have the decency to be at .500 after being outscored 130-109 on the year, unlike Miami which sits at 3-2 even though it has been out-pointed 84-61. Miami also has the dubious distinction of being the league’s lowest-scoring club, averaging just over 12 points a game. Do we really want to be spotting any points with a club with such offensive limitations? We’ll say “yes” to that question as Fins home for only second time this season. They beat Tennessee on this field and they return to it after a confidence-building win at Atlanta last week.


Panthers (4-2) at Bears (2-4)


Another one of many teams this year that you don’t know what you’re getting has the erratic Panthers visiting Chicago. Have to admire an undermanned Bears team this year for a pair of gritty wins, but at this small price, the talent levels between the clubs has us giving away the few required points. Carolina has had 10 days rest after loss to ascending Eagles. While you never know which Cam Newton shows up, we do know that Carolina’s stodgy secondary should have little trouble controlling rookie QB Mitch Trubisky. Despite an overtime win last at Baltimore, the neophyte pivot was just eight of 16 for 113 yards passing. That’s simply not going to cut it against this opponent. Good to be the road team where Panthers are involved as the visitor is 6-0 against the spread (ATS) this season in Carolina games.


Saints (3-2) at Packers (4-2)


We use the “overreaction” term quite frequently in this space and this is a classic case. When preliminary lines were released for this game, prior to last week’s game and the Aaron Rodgers injury, the Packers were a 6½-point choice in this game. Of course, the loss of arguably the league’s best quarterback is impactful, but to have this spread swing 12 points is simply overdoing it. Backup Brett Hundley will get his first ever start here. He has had a good mentor, having been in Green Bay since being drafted in 2015. The precocious quarterback has had impressive pre-seasons, which followed a stellar college career at UCLA. Linemakers know that John Q. Bettor believes that the Packers have no chance now with Rodgers out and have inflated this line in response. At Lambeau and against Saints’ suspect defence, we’ll expect a competitive effort from the host.


Cowboys (2-3) at 49ers (0-6)


San Francisco has set some sort of ineptitude record by losing five straight games by three points or less. While some may reason that taking the near touchdown here makes sense based on the unusual feat, we’re thinking the opposite. If five times has never happened before, what are the odds that it happens a sixth consecutive time? Let’s also not ignore the amount of times that San Fran has had double-digit deficits before scoring some garbage time points to make it look close. Of course, the Niners could always win this game to break the streak but that seems like a longshot against a rested Cowboys squad who will be facing a rookie QB for San Francisco as C.J. Beathard will make his first career start.

Note that road favorites after a bye are on a 49-23 (68.1%) ATS run.


Seahawks (3-2) at Giants (1-5)


Giants fresh in everyone’s minds after pulling off major upset in Denver last week while the Seahawks have been off for a couple of weeks after enjoying their bye. Outta sight, outta mind, let us remind you that Seattle has a stingy run defence and that the Giants don’t have front-line receivers after their top guys have all been shelved with injuries. Seattle’s previous game was a win against the Rams, holding the league’s top-scoring team to a mere 10 points. While the Seabirds’ offensive capacity raises concerns, we don’t see how the G-Men score enough points here to stay within range. Hard to imagine this battered host can succeed vs. Broncos and Seahawks on consecutive weeks. Inconsistent Giants also 1-4 ATS in past five games following both a straight up win and a spread cover.


Falcons (3-2) at Patriots (2-3)


Maybe Atlanta has stunk out the joint this season in anticipation of this one after blowing the infamous 25-point lead in last year’s Super Bowl? Unlikely, but we are expecting the Falcons to rise to this occasion considering how vulnerable the Patriots have become defensively. New England is dead last in the NFL in both total yards and passing yards allowed. Every quarterback that the Pats have faced this season has passed for at least 300 yards which includes last week’s contest against aerially challenged Jets. Even journeyman QB Josh McCown was able to rack up 354 yards through the air in that game after not reaching 250 yards in any game this year. Atlanta may be struggling but Matt Ryan and Co. should be able to take advantage. New England also not feared at home these days where they are 0-3 vs. spread this season.


Redskins (3-2) at Eagles (5-1)


A rematch after the Eagles defeated the Redskins 30-17 on opening week. While the Redskins have shown improvement since then, Philadelphia has proven to be a top club in the NFL. Home after a big win in Carolina and on 10 days rest, these Eagles should be even stronger with the return of stalwart RT Lane Johnson after sitting out last week with a concussion and the Redskins suffering a blow to its defensive front four when impressive rookie Jonathan Allen broke his foot last week. Washington is playing well, having won three of past four, but were manhandled in opener when QB Kirk Cousins was under siege most of the game and the Eagles were able to force four turnovers. The Eagles are making money for their backers, currently on a 7-2 run vs. the number and they get the nod here.


Buccaneers (2-3) at Bills (3-2)

LINE: No line as status of Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston is undetermined.