The Professor’s NFL Week 7 Best Games to Bet column profiles four games that the Professor is betting on this NFL weekend. All spreads and totals are provided by DraftKings.
Washington at Green Bay Packers (GB -8, Total 48.5)
Model Projection: Green Bay 29.6 – Washington 21.02 (GB -8.58, Total 50.62)
BET: GB -8, 2 UNITS, Over 48.5, 1 UNIT
Before the NFL season kicked off, Packers fans would have been wringing their hands at the prospect of facing the Football Team’s defensive line without left tackle David Bakhtiari. A lot has changed since then.
Washington’s defense continues to produce abysmal results as we near the halfway point of the NFL season and there’s no reason to expect improvement at this point. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke has played how backup quarterbacks typically play in the NFL, which has prevented the offense from establishing any consistency. Washington is constantly playing from behind, which limits the defensive line’s pass rush opportunities, and the players in the back end are not making plays on the ball.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is playing efficient football and his run game is rolling. Heinicke should make some plays on the injury-depleted Packers secondary, but Green Bay will also have opportunities for turnovers in those situations, which could turn this into another blowout for the Football Team.
The model has the Packers as 8.58 point favorites; I’ll put two units on Green Bay at -8 and one unit on the over at 48.5
New Orleans at Seattle (NO -4.5, Total 43)
Model Projection: New Orleans 26.79 – Seattle 20.35 (NO -6.44, Total 47.14)
BET: NO -4.5, 2 UNITS
The Saints are coming off their bye, so let’s look at some of the issues involved with Seattle’s utilization of safety Jamal Adams from last week’s Monday Night NFL matchup.
We will start with the positive: Jamal Adams is a phenomenal player at the point of contact. He is a violent tackler with a strong track record of forcing turnovers and high-level instincts in the box. During last week’s game, this showed up when Adams leveled Pittsburgh running back Najee Harris.
The negative is that Adams’ coverage deficiencies lead Seattle to use him as a blitzer on pass downs too frequently, and while Adams gets his share of sacks, he can also put his defense in a vulnerable position.
This series of screenshots comes from Pittsburgh’s first touchdown, a pass to Najee Harris. Adams is lined up at the bottom of the screen and will be part of a five-man pressure. The three defenders behind him are responsible for the bunched receivers, the two defenders to the top of the screen have their receivers in man, and free safety Quandre Diggs has the middle of the field.
The issue is that defensive end Benson Mayowa is matched on Harris so Adams can blitz. Mayowa doesn’t have the skillset to keep up with one of the NFL’s best receiving backs and Harris beats him to the flat on a quick route before Adams can close on the quarterback as an unblocked blitzer.
It’s a predictable result and wasn’t the only time the Steelers took advantage of an Adams pressure. The screenshots below show a 3rd and 4 where the Seahawks run an exchange pressure with Adams coming from depth and a defensive lineman dropping into coverage, which allows Seattle to get Adams involved with the pressure while keeping seven in coverage.
Many teams employ this tactic, but most have the element of surprise on their side when they bring the safety. Nobody is surprised when Adams comes on pressure, so the Seahawks essentially drop a defensive end in coverage so they can bring a pass rusher who started eight yards off the ball, which allows Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to throw from a clean pocket and hit receiver Diontae Johnson for the third-down conversion.
Jamal Adams is talented, but Seattle might be better off designating him as a linebacker. There are plenty of players who have thrived after making this transition and Adams’ skillset seems to be a perfect fit for that role in 2021’s NFL. The Seahawks may eventually make that shift, but until they do, their $20 million safety will continue to be a liability. Without quarterback Russell Wilson, it’s difficult not to like any opponent Seattle faces.
The model has the Saints as a 6.44 point favorite; I’ll put two units on New Orleans at -4.5.
Atlanta at Miami (ATL -2.5, Total 47.5)
Model Projection: Atlanta 24.66 – Miami 22.92 (ATL -1.74, Total 47.58)
BET: ATL -2.5, 2 UNITS
The time to make this bet was before last weekend when those who like Jacksonville’s odds in London had an opportunity to bet on Atlanta at +2.5. After Miami’s loss to the Jaguars on a walk-off field goal, the line stands at -2.5.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa did a solid job distributing the ball in the short game and can get the ball downfield with timing, but his lack of juice on the deep ball allows defenses to creep up in coverage. It’s similar to what happened to Drew Brees late in his time with the Saints; the difference is that New Orleans built an elite offensive line and run game to compensate for that, while Miami has the worst offensive line in the NFL and an atrocious run game.
Atlanta’s trip to London went better than Miami’s; not only did they win, but receiver Calvin Ridley’s absence allowed rookie tight end Kyle Pitts to shine. Ridley will be back this week, but Atlanta’s staff might get fired if they don’t feature Pitts after the absurd talent he put on display two weeks ago. With offensive weapon Cordarrelle Patterson playing at a high level, quarterback Matt Ryan should be able to put up points the rest of the season, provided his trio of playmakers stays healthy.
The model only has Atlanta as a 1.74 point favorite, so there isn’t great value at -2.5, but the model doesn’t account for Miami having to play immediately after a London trip. NFL teams typically get their bye after a London trip (see Atlanta), so I’ll take Atlanta at -2.5 for two units.
Philadelphia at Las Vegas Raiders, (LVR -3, Total 49.5)
Model Projection: Las Vegas 25.41-Philadelphia 24.7 (LVR -0.71, Total 50.11)
BET: PHI +3, 1 UNIT, and Over 49.5, 1 UNIT
Unless the Eagles are attempting to build trade interest among NFL teams by showing off Jalen Hurts’ throwing ability, it’s difficult to explain why they run their offense the way they do. Despite having a signal-caller with the skill set to feature the quarterback run game, Philadelphia has thrown the ball 62.6% of the time this year, which is 10th in the NFL. As a reference point, the Baltimore Ravens, another team that can employ a quarterback-centric run game, has thrown it 52.5% of the time.
It would be one thing if the Eagles were playing well on offense, but they’re not, and despite their 2-4 record, improvements on offense could allow them to make a playoff run, because Philadelphia has one of the NFL’s easier schedules the rest of the way, with games against the Lions, Broncos, Jets, Football Team (2x), and Giants (2x) remaining. That doesn’t matter the way things are going, because the Eagles have been one of the NFL’s worst teams, but it appears the offense could improve dramatically if they emphasized their quarterback’s strengths. The question was supposed to be whether Hurts could throw the ball accurately enough to operate a run-heavy offense that created opportunities in the passing game off of play-action, not whether he could carry the team playing from the pocket.
This would be the week to turn it around; Las Vegas picked up a decisive win over Denver last week, but this is a flawed football team whose offensive line will struggle to handle Philadelphia’s defensive line. Quarterback Derek Carr will likely put up points despite that, but the back end of the Vegas defense has struggled, so if the Eagles can keep defensive end Maxx Crosby in check, they should be able to keep up with the Raiders offense.
The quarterback run game could disrupt the rhythm of the Vegas pass rush; I hope the Eagles show more of that because the model has Philadelphia as a 0.71 point underdog and I’m backing their side in this one. I’ll put one unit on the Eagles at +3 and one unit on the over 49.5.
This article previewed four prominent NFL matchups for the coming week and talked about how to bet them. For more content from The Professor, including the rest of his game previews and his fantasy content, check out The Professor on BeerLife Sports!