NFL best bets Week 7: Broncos, Bengals, Colts odds lead our expert betting picks
We’re now six weeks into the 2021 NFL season, and all predictions from before the season have been thrown out the window. The Chiefs are still in last place in the AFC West with a 3-3 record; the Cardinals stand as the league’s lone undefeated team, and the Cowboys finally look like legitimate contenders. Bettors will need to rely on the latest trends to sort through the latest odds, lines, and spreads for NFL Week 7 in order to make accurate predictions about each game.
Underdogs started the season well, but recent weeks have belonged to the favorites. Favorites posted an 8-6 record in Week 6 but had an impressive 8-2 showing in the Sunday main slate. Will that continue into Week 7? It might be a bit tougher for that to happen.
There are three games in Week 7 that feature massive spreads of 12.5 or more. The Bucs, Rams, and Cardinals are all heavily favored in their matchups with the Bears, Lions, and Texans. It makes sense, as the three favored teams have excellent offenses and the latter three have struggled to score this year. Teams favored by 12.5 or more points are 138-125-4 all-time, though, so covering isn’t guaranteed; it’s just slightly more likely.
Additionally, there are six teams that aren’t playing in Week 7. The Chargers, Cowboys, Bills, Vikings, Jaguars, and Steelers are all out of action, so there will only be 13 games on the slate. Just 10 have single-digit spreads as of this writing. That will make it a difficult week for bettors to find line value and solid picks to make against the spread.
Still, there are some worthwhile spreads of which bettors can take advantage. Injuries and line movements continue to help create betting opportunities, so if you pay attention to those elements, you will have a good chance to come out on top in Week 7.
Here’s a look at Sporting News’ best bets for Week 7 of the 2021 NFL season, including picks against the spread, Moneyline bets, over/under wagers, and some player props.
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Last week, fading the Browns as three-point favorites against the Cardinals worked very well. We’ll continue to fade them here in what appears to be an immensely difficult spot.
The Browns are one of the most banged-up teams in football right now. They had 20 players listed on their original injury report Monday. On Tuesday, it was revealed that Kareem Hunt (calf) and Nick Chubb (calf) would both miss the game, knocking the team’s top two running backs out of the game. Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was also placed on IR, and Baker Mayfield revealed that the injured labrum in his throwing shoulder was “completely torn.”
Baker said his left labrum is actually “completely torn” and that other stuff within it is “frayed” too #browns pic.twitter.com/cjjcR4QFJ1
Mayfield was declared out for Thursday, and making matters worse for backup Case Keenum is that Cleveland’s offensive line is also banged up. Jedrick Wills and Jack Conklin, his starting tackles, both missed last week’s game and the team’s swing tackle, Chris Hubbard, is on IR. Oh, and Odell Beckham Jr. (shoulder) didn’t practice all week and is “questionable.”
Denver is averaging 2.3 sacks per game, tied for the 10th-most in the NFL. If it can just get a bit more pressure than it normally does, it should have a good chance to rattle Keenum and make it hard for the Browns’ offense to move the ball. This is a good spot in which to fade the Browns. They’re simply too beat up to be favored in this one.
Yes, the Ravens just crushed Justin Herbert and the Chargers, posting a 34-6 win on the road. Shouldn’t they be able to make life equally as difficult for the Bengals? Not necessarily.
Cincinnati matches up particularly well against Baltimore in one area. The Bengals are excellent against the blitz. Joe Burrow has completed 72.3 percent of his passes for 493 yards, six touchdowns, and just one interception when facing pressure this season. His passer rating in those scenarios is 136.8.
The Ravens have been a blitz-heavy team under Don “Wink” Martindale. They have blitzed 32 percent of the time this season, which is good for the fifth-most in the NFL. That has helped them in previous matchups, including their Week 6 win over the Chargers and Justin Herbert, who has a passer rating of 96.1 when facing the blitz. Against Burrow, things might be a bit more difficult for the Ravens.
It’s also worth noting that the Bengals have kept almost all of their games close this season. Four of their games have been decided by exactly three points while the other two were wins of 14 over the Steelers and 23 over the Lions. So, they would have covered a six-point spread in all six of their previous games. That doesn’t mean that they’re guaranteed to in this matchup, but it’s a good sign nonetheless.
Also, the Bengals have lost all five games that Lamar Jackson has started against them during his career. That may seem like an advantage to the Ravens, but it also could mean that the Bengals will come into this one motivated and prepared to beat Jackson.
We saw that happen with the Ravens earlier in the year when they covered in Week 2 against a Chiefs team that Jackson and John Harbaugh had struggled to beat. They covered a 3.5-point spread and won outright. Perhaps Burrow and Zac Taylor will bring the same kind of energy to this one and spark a win or a cover.
This seems like a terrible spot for the Dolphins. They just lost in heartbreaking fashion in a game against the Jaguars in London. Now, they have to return to Miami to take on the Falcons, a team that hasn’t been great this year but is coming off a bye week and will be well-rested for this game.
This is a massive rest advantage for the Falcons, and they’ve done well with that in the past. They are 4-2 against the spread when coming off a bye since 2016. They are 10-5 ATS when operating with any sort of rest advantage in that same span. That cover percentage of 66.7 percent is the third-best in the NFL since 2016.
Granted, that came under Dan Quinn’s leadership. The Falcons are now led by Arthur Smith, so he may run things a bit differently. Still, it seems like the Falcons should have the advantage here, especially with Calvin Ridley (personal) coming back.
That said, it’s worth noting that the Dolphins were originally scheduled to be 2.5-point favorites in this one, so the line has moved a whopping five points. It’s not always enticing to bet on massive line movements that aren’t caused by injuries, but in this case, this appears to be the right move — so long as the Falcons continue to be favored by fewer than three points.
It’s a tough week to find appealing Moneyline bets. That often happens during bye weeks, as there are simply fewer games to choose from. In this slate, where three games have spreads of 12.5 points or higher, it’s even harder to find worthwhile Moneyline bets where you can both get value and have a chance to win.
The Colts seem to be the most balanced choice of the bunch. They are four-point underdogs against the 49ers, but Indianapolis has played better of late and should have a chance to keep this one close.
The Colts may have a 2-4 record, but they have kept games close. In fact, in four of their past five games, they have had a fourth-quarter lead. The only game during which they didn’t was their Week 3 game against the Titans during which Carson Wentz played with two sprained ankles. Even in that contest, they trailed by only one early in the quarter.
On the one hand, it bodes well for the Colts that they have kept things close and held late leads. On the other, they have blown a couple of those late leads, so it’s easy to understand why some would be apprehensive to trust them.
Still, the Colts have a good team. Wentz is playing well and T.Y. Hilton is back (though he is “questionable” because of a quad injury). They can take advantage of San Francisco’s secondary, which is still beat up even after their bye week.
If cornerback Xavier Rhodes plays for the Colts, they should be able to contain the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo-led offense, as well. The Niners have averaged just 17.5 points per game on offense in their four games since Week 1. They may be a bit better after a bye, but it’s still easy enough to imagine the Colts pulling off the upset.
If you like the Colts but are a bit lukewarm on the Moneyline, you can always bet the Colts (+4). Additionally, the Broncos could be a nice Moneyline bet for the reasons we outlined above. So, if you’re confident in Denver, it could be a good option here.
This is the biggest over/under the line of the week, but choosing the over here still seems like the right decision. Both teams have shoddy defenses and each team is built to take advantage of its opponent’s weaknesses.
The Chiefs have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Patrick Mahomes. He has struggled with turnovers this year, but he seemed to put things together in the second half against Washington last week. The Titans have allowed the ninth-most passing yards to QBs this year (276.3), so Mahomes and his weapons should be able to move the ball with ease.
As for the Titans, they have the best running back in the league in Derrick Henry. The Chiefs have had an awfully tough time stopping anything this year, but their run defense has been particularly bad, allowing 133.2 rushing yards per game. That’s good for the sixth-most in the NFL. Henry could feast as a result and keep the Titans’ offense moving.
The Titans have scored 34-plus points in their past two games and have three games with at least 33 points in their past five outings. The Chiefs, meanwhile, are averaging 30.8 points per game, good for the fifth-most in the NFL. Both teams should have a chance to break 30 again in a high-scoring matchup, so we’ll take a chance on the over here.
In Week 2, Sporting News identified the Jets’ under-point total as a nice bet against the Patriots. We’ll stick with that again in this spot.
Bill Belichick has a 23-6 career record against rookie quarterbacks, which includes two wins this year. The Patriots beat Zach Wilson and the Jets in Week 2 and held the rookie to six points. In Week 5, they beat Davis Mills and the Texans, though Mills’ squad racked up 22 points in that one.
Even with Mills’ strong performance, the Patriots have allowed an average of 11.3 points per game in their past seven outings against rookie quarterbacks. Their defense simply knows how to rattle young passers, and Belichick schemes up creative coverages to help make life difficult on guys like Wilson. That’s part of why he threw four picks in his first game against the Patriots.
Maybe the Jets will play better in their second go-around against the Patriots, but history says that they still won’t score much. It would be better if this over/under total was 17.5, as we’d have two TDs and field goal cushion, but the Patriots may not need that much to limit Wilson, even with the Jets coming off a bye week.
The Browns are extremely shorthanded for their Thursday night game against the Broncos. That will open up opportunities for guys like Johnson to get more playing time, and he should find success.
Johnson toted the rock 33 times for the Browns last year and averaged 5.03 yards per carrying. He saw action sparingly, as he played behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, but he showed well in a game against the Cowboys during which he had 95 yards on 13 carries.
The current Broncos’ defense isn’t as weak as last year’s Cowboys squad was, but they have given up an average of 111.7 rushing yards per game in their past three outings. Johnson figures to handle a bulk of the work between the tackles, as John Kelly has averaged just 2.8 career yards per carrying on 30 carries while Demetric Felton has yet to log a carry. So, feel free to trust him as a runner for betting purposes and Felton as a receiver for fantasy football purposes.