The Professor’s Week 7 Games of the Weekend and How to Bet Them

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The Professor's Week 7 Games of the Weekend and How to Bet Them

Week 7 in the NFL only features 13 games, but it is headlined by intriguing matchups. Quarterback Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals will attempt to establish themselves as an AFC North contender in their trip to Baltimore, the Chiefs and Titans may set a points record in a matchup of AFC playoff contenders, and the NFL’s Sunday Night matchup between the Colts and 49ers features two teams attempting to climb back into the NFL playoff race. This week in the NFL also features potentially competitive games with Philadelphia at Las Vegas and Carolina at the New York Giants, but for The Professor’s Games of the Week, the column went with a dramatic storyline rather than a competitive matchup and will conclude with an analysis of quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams hosting his old team, the Detroit Lions.

This “Games of the Week” column may not always point to a spread or total, but it will look for an angle for you to bet so you can make the biggest games even more enjoyable. All spreads and totals are provided by DraftKings.

Cincinnati at Baltimore (BAL -6.5, Total 47)

Model Projection: Baltimore 29.02 – Cincinnati 22.91 (BAL -6.11, Total 51.93)

BET: Over 47, 1 UNIT

Cincinnati got a dress rehearsal against the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago, but Sunday’s road trip to Baltimore is the true test of how far this rebuild has come with head coach Zac Taylor and quarterback Joe Burrow.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Ravens had several close calls stringing together their current five-game winning streak, but they are coming off a beatdown of the Los Angeles Chargers and appear to have worked through the numerous personnel losses they suffered early in the season. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley was placed on IR this week with the ankle injury that has sidelined him since Week One, another reminder that the Ravens have put together this 5-1 record early in this NFL season despite the losses of elite contributors.

Burrow and the Bengals faced very little in the way of obstacles against Detroit last week, but it was a critical win for a franchise attempting to reestablish itself as a playoff contender. Cincinnati sits at 4-2, with both of their losses coming by three points, and while it’s Burrow and rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase who draw the bulk of headlines, the defense is continuing to put together solid results, led by free agent-signee Trey Hendrickson at defensive end. Cincinnati plays the Jets two weeks from now, so there is an opportunity to rebound if this week goes against them, but there would be a lot more buzz around this team if they can pull off the upset against the Ravens this week.

The model has a similar spread to the BAL -6.5 available at DraftKings but projects a total of 51.93. The weather is expected to be clear for this one; I’ll put one unit on the over 47.


Kansas City at Tennessee (KC -5.5, Total 57.5)

Model Projection: Kansas City 30.91 – Tennessee 29.13 (KC -1.78, Total 60.04)

BET: TEN +5.5, 2 UNITS

Tennessee appeared to be lucky to be down 6-0 rather than 10-0 early in their game against Buffalo, but then running back Derrick Henry broke loose for a 76-yard touchdown run and Tennessee’s early struggles were forgotten.

Henry continues to stave off injuries despite his immense workload, and while that debate will resurface later in the season, there’s no reason to think Henry will drop off this week against a Kansas City defense that has struggled throughout the season. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs put together an outstanding second half on offense against the Washington Football Team last week, but the fact that this line rose from KC -3.5 before the weekend up to KC -5.5 despite Tennessee’s win over Buffalo seemed strange. The Professor boosted the Titans’ offense after last weekend but did not change anything about Kansas City’s ranking, which brought this projection from roughly KC -4 to KC -1.78. Both offenses are humming and both defenses are struggling, which resulted in a projected total of 60.04, the highest NFL total in the model’s existence.

The health of receiver Julio Jones and left tackle Taylor Lewan remains a concern for Tennessee, but quarterback Ryan Tannehill should be able to have a productive day as long as receiver A.J. Brown is in the fold. Henry has been productive despite a series of injuries on the offensive line this season and should do work against the Chiefs with or without Lewan. Mahomes and his offense are also clicking, so there’s every reason to expect a shootout in this one.

The model’s total projection total is reflected in the DraftKings numbers, where the over/under is at 57.5. The Professor’s model indicates there is more of an edge on the side; I’ll take TEN +5.5 for two units.


Indianapolis at San Francisco (SF -4.5, Total 44)

Model Projection: San Francisco 24.26 – Indianapolis 22.91 (SF -1.35, Total 47.17)

BET: IND +4.5, 2 UNITS

Indianapolis responded to a crushing loss to the Baltimore Ravens two weeks ago by throttling the Houston Texans last week, while the San Francisco 49ers enjoyed their bye week in the NFL season.

The week of rest was critical for the 49ers, who have had their persistent issues with quarterback injuries pop up once again despite going into the season with two quarterbacks. Rookie Trey Lance is out with a knee injury, eliminating the possibility of a matchup between North Dakota State quarterbacks in an NFL primetime matchup, but veteran Jimmy Garoppolo is sufficiently recovered from his calf injury to resume his duties as the starter this week. Garoppolo will be working without tight end George Kittle, who is on injured reserve, so it would be a huge boost for the San Francisco offense if second-year receiver Brandon Aiyuk rebounds after the bye week to give lead receiver Deebo Samuel some needed support.

Indianapolis is also dealing with some skill position injuries, as explosive receiver Parris Campbell is done for the season and veteran receiver T.Y. Hilton did not practice Wednesday after exiting this week’s game with a quad injury. The Colts did get some positive news, as mauling left guard Quenton Nelson is set to return this week. Nelson could be joined by stud right tackle Braden Smith, though Smith’s status remains unclear. Between the on-field play and injury recoveries, things are trending in the right direction for an Indianapolis team that looked dead in the water three weeks ago; quarterback Carson Wentz appears progressively more comfortable and the offense is starting to develop chemistry.

The model suggests the over is a play, but it does not account for weather and the storm forecast for the NFL’s Sunday Night game caused The Professor to pass on this total. The model also indicates that the 49ers are favored by a few too many points; I’ll take IND +4.5 for two units.


Detroit at Los Angeles Rams (LAR -14.5, Total 51)

Model Projection: Los Angeles Rams 31.9 – Detroit 17.34 (LAR -14.56, Total 49.24)

BET: First Half Under 26, 1 UNIT

The Detroit Lions rarely fit into the “Games of the Week” column, but Week 7 in the NFL has several large spreads and only thirteen games on the slate, which leaves quarterback Matthew Stafford’s game against his old organization as one of the more compelling storylines this weekend.

Los Angeles sits at 5-1 after last week’s decisive victory over the New York Giants and while Stafford may not be in the thick of the MVP discussion at this point, he is on the fringes of the debate. He continues to shred opposing defenses with precise passes to every level of the field and is getting unexpected support from running back Darrell Henderson. Henderson, who was once expected to play a minor role backing up Cam Akers, has taken his running style to a new level this season and is consistently putting his improved vision and patience on display. His play, along with the decisive running of backup Sony Michel, has brought balance to this Los Angeles offense.

Detroit’s offense is also balanced, though not in a good way. The offensive line is trending downward without center Frank Ragnow and quarterback Jared Goff has put together a series of poor games; a late rally made the Minnesota loss look respectable, but the Lions had six points in that game with three minutes left and scored all 11 of their points against Cincinnati in the 4th quarter.

Detroit is set to get the doors blown off them; the model and DraftKings both have the game as LAR -14.5. The model suggests the total is a bit high, so I like the under, but I’m going to add a twist to avoid Detroit’s late-game rallies; I’ll take the first-half under 26 for one unit.

Conclusion

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!

About the author:

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Steven Clinton, better known as "The Professor", is a former D-1 Quality Control Assistant (Northwestern, Toledo) who holds a B.A. in Economics and M.S. in Predictive Analytics from Northwestern University. He maintains an end-to-end NFL game projection model and is a film junkie who breaks down the tape of every NFL game.

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