It’s a dog eat dog world out there, but when it comes to the 2019 NFL season, the dogs have been feasting on favorites.
Underdogs went an impressive 10-4 against the spread in Week 6, running their season record to 53-36-2 ATS. You would think that would start to even out at some point, but given the public’s love for the favorite, perhaps not.
The NESN.com trio of Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian were more than willing to tail the dogs last week and came away with a 28-14 combined record in their against-the-spread picks.
Here’s how they each did last week.
Mike Cole: 11-3 (49-42-1 overall)
Ricky Doyle: 9-5 (49-42-1)
Andre Khatchaturian: 8-6 (46-45-1)
Here are their Week 7 picks.
THURSDAY, OCT. 17
(-3) Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos, 8:20 p.m. ET
Mike: Broncos. The Chiefs obviously have a ridiculously high ceiling, but enough injuries can make any team mortal. Not having offensive linemen Eric Fisher and Andrew Wylie has grounded KC’s high-flying offense; the Chiefs have an NFL-low time of possession over the last three weeks. Hard to score when you don’t have the ball.
Ricky: Chiefs. Kansas City has some serious issues, namely on the defensive side, where the Chiefs can’t rush the passer, slow the run or limit their mistakes in coverage. Denver’s offense still leaves much to be desired, though. Not sure the Broncos will keep up. For what it’s worth, the Chiefs are 22-3 SU and 17-8 ATS versus divisional opponents since 2015, and they’ve won seven in a row over the Broncos (6-1 ATS).
Andre: Broncos. Kansas City’s inability to stop the run or run the ball themselves are major issues. Over the last two games, the Chiefs have lost the time of possession battle 77:03 to 42:57. Now, Kansas City’s tired defense has to go to a hostile environment on short rest. Not helping matters for K.C. is the fact that Denver has the top-ranked rush defense, according to Pro Football Focus.
SUNDAY, OCT. 20
Arizona Cardinals at (-3) New York Giants, 1 p.m.
Mike: Giants. Turnovers have been an issue for the Giants, but Arizona has just three takeaways all season. Related: The Cardinals’ run defense isn’t great, and they endure the third-longest average drive in the NFL, which is bad news when (presumably) facing the returning Saquon Barkley.
Ricky: Cardinals. Arizona’s offense is making significant strides by the week under Kliff Kingsbury, and that trend will continue this week when the Cardinals ride their ground game — with or without David Johnson — to a third straight win over a bad opponent.
Andre: Giants. Barkley is likely returning, which will be a major boost for the Giants’ offense. Arizona allows 4.7 yards per carry and have the seventh-worst rush defense, according to Pro Football Focus. The Giants have the second-worst turnover differential, but Arizona is the only team in the NFL without an interception.
Houston Texans at (-1) Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.
Mike: Colts. A couple of key Houston injuries — offensive tackle Tytus Howard and cornerback Bradley Roby — put the Texans in a bad spot, while Indy gets Darius Leonard back. Frank Reich’s team takes care of business in these spots, going 6-2 in the division and 7-3 at home since taking over.
Ricky: Colts. This smells like a letdown game for the Texans, who everyone has been fawning over all week. The Colts are at home, getting healthier and coming off a bye, whereas the Texans are entering the second leg of back-to-back road contests after suffering a couple of notable injuries. Expect Indianapolis to lean on Marlon Mack and its rushing attack to wear down Houston’s defense. The Texans rank 31st in tackling, per Pro Football Focus.
Andre: Texans. In the first four games of the regular season, Deshaun Watson’s average release time was 2.92 seconds. He was sacked 18 times during that span. In Week 5 and 6, he reduced that time to 2.43 and 2.61 seconds, respectively. He wasn’t sacked at all in those two games. Expect big games from Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde. Indy allows more than five yards per carry on the ground.
(-3.5) Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jaguars. Tried to find a worthwhile contrarian angle to take Cincy, and then I realized this: The Bengals are allowing 207 rushing yards per game since taking Seattle to the wire in Week 1. Big spot for Leonard Fournette and his 5.3 yards per carry the last three weeks.
Ricky: Jaguars. I really hope the Bengals trade A.J. Green before the deadline. That’s all.
Andre: Jaguars. What Mike said. Not helping matters is Cincinnati struggling to get to the quarterback. They have just seven sacks all year. They also have the second-worst yards per play differential in the NFL.
(-3) Los Angeles Rams at Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m.
Mike: Falcons. Despite the Jalen Ramsey trade, the Rams still have big questions in the secondary after Aqib Talib went on injured reserve, while the O-line is now an even bigger issue with Joe Noteboom going down. If the Falcons just protect the ball, they’ll keep it close.
Ricky: Rams. Atlanta’s defense looks horrendous. So does Los Angeles’ offense. That said, I have more faith in Sean McVay to correct the Rams’ problems moving the football than I have in Dan Quinn to solve the Falcons’ issues stopping anyone. Something’s gotta give, right?
Andre: Rams. Part of the Falcons’ problem this year is they’re too one-dimensional. Matt Ryan leads the league in pass attempts because Atlanta’s rush attack is non-existent. It’s last in the NFC in terms of yards per carry, and L.A. allows just 3.5 yards per carry.
Miami Dolphins at (-17) Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bills. The Bills haven’t been giving 17 points in nearly 30 years, but this Dolphins team might be once-in-a-lifetime bad. Assuming Buffalo can protect the football (and Miami has just two takeaways), it should stifle the Dolphins.
Ricky: Bills. According to Sporting News, the Dolphins are 1-4 ATS with a 27.6-point losing margin on average and a minus-14-point differential on average against the spread. It’s also worth noting NFL teams are 21-11 ATS when favored by two or more touchdowns over the past five years, in case you’re thinking about just blindly taking the abundance of points. Sure, it’s a huge spread. But rightfully so.
Andre: Bills. Mike isn’t lying when he says Miami is once-in-a-lifetime bad. Since the merger, the 2019 Dolphins have the worst yards-per-play differential ever after the first six games. If you calculate the spread in this game using yards per play differential, Buffalo should be 25-point favorites on a neutral site and 28-point favorites at home.
(-1.5) Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.
Mike: Lions. Everyone’s going to be on the Vikings after their blowout win last week, but the Lions just keep themselves in games, and the Vikings are too up and down to trust here.
Ricky: Vikings. The Lions’ suspect run defense — ranked 25th, according to Pro Football Focus — opens the door for a big game from Dalvin Cook, just one week after the Vikings’ passing attack stole the show against the Eagles.
Andre: Vikings. Minnesota might be the most complete team in the NFL. They’re third in yards per play and fifth in yards allowed per play. The way to stop the Vikings is to limit their lethal running attack. Unfortunately for the Lions, they allow 5.1 yards per carry.
Oakland Raiders at (-6) Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Raiders. Packers are on a short week against a rested Raiders team, and it’s also a bit of a look-back/look-ahead sandwich coming off a divisional win vs. Detroit on Monday night with a juicy Sunday night tilt in KC looming next week. Oakland has been a very good first-half team, too, so they might be able to get ahead of the number like the Lions did in Lambeau.
Ricky: Raiders. Are the Raiders actually good? My gut still says “no” despite back-to-back wins over the Colts and Bears. But maybe this week will change my mind.
Andre: Raiders. Despite their 5-1 record, Green Bay has a negative yards per play differential. This could be a huge time of possession advantage for Oakland. They’re averaging 4.9 yards per carry and the Packers have the third-worst rush defense, according to Pro Football Focus. Oakland’s strength defensively has their rush defense, as they allow 3.7 yards per carry.
(-10) San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Redskins. The number feels about right, but this also seems like a bit of a letdown spot for the 49ers after the big win against the Rams last week.
Ricky: 49ers. Just not sure how the Redskins score — against most teams, let alone one of the best in the NFL.
Andre: 49ers. The 49ers’ average margin of victory is 16.6 points, so I’m not too concerned about the large spread. Where do the points come from for Washington? The Skins will most likely be trailing and have to throw the ball a ton. Unfortunately for them, San Francisco has the second-best coverage grade on PFF.
Los Angeles Chargers at (-2) Tennessee Titans, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Chargers. Marcus Mariota hasn’t been good, and Ryan Tannehill will get his chance now, but does it really matter who’s under center when you can’t block? Tennessee’s sack percentage allowed is the highest in the NFL, and now tackle Jack Conklin has an ankle injury keeping him out of practice.
Ricky: Titans. As Andre pointed out on “The Spread” this week, I predicted before the season that Ryan Tannehill would replace Marcus Mariota and lead the Titans to the playoffs. Well, the journey officially begins Sunday. And man, does Tennessee need a win.
Andre: Chargers. Since Melvin Gordon’s return, the Chargers have been out-scored 38-0 in the first half. As a result, he’s only had 20 carries in those two games and the team hasn’t been able to establish the run. This feels like a get-right game for the Chargers. They’ll make some big plays early against the Titans’ horrid offensive line, get on top and take control of the game.
Baltimore Ravens at (-3.5) Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Ravens. The Ravens might be able to exploit some things here, chief among them being the Seahawks’ 29th-ranked tackling (Pro Football Focus), as Mark Ingram is second in the NFL in average yards gained after contact. Not only that, Seattle struggles with tight ends, and Mark Andrews (34 receptions, three touchdowns) is Lamar Jackson’s favorite receiver.
Ricky: Ravens. This game might be played in about two hours given the manner in which each team operates. Baltimore and Seattle rank third and fourth, respectively, in run-play percentage, and first and fourth, respectively, in average time of possession. Ultimately, the Ravens feel like a watered-down version of the Seahawks, who have enough problems defensively and along their offensive line (thanks to a couple of injuries) for Baltimore to keep it within the number.
Andre: Seahawks. The Ravens haven’t beat anyone this year (wins over Miami, Arizona, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh with a backup quarterback). These aren’t your father’s Ravens. They allow the third-most yards per play. Russell Wilson, who doesn’t turn the ball over and is playing MVP-level football, should be able to feast at home.
New Orleans Saints at (-3) Chicago Bears, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Bears. I’m still not completely sold on the Saints with Teddy Bridgewater under center, and this might be his toughest test yet against a rested Bears defense.
Ricky: Saints. Teddy Bridgewater gets rid of the football quickly and doesn’t make many mistakes. That’ll play well against Chicago’s defense, which boasts arguably the most daunting pass rush in the NFL.
Andre: Saints. New Orleans’ defense is allowing just 4.5 yards per play over the last three weeks. Chicago’s offense is dreadful. They haven’t cracked 300 yards in a game yet. The Saints simply have more playmakers and they’re getting points.
Philadelphia Eagles at (-3) Dallas Cowboys, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Cowboys. Each team has a whole bunch of injuries, which complicates the pick here, but Dallas has won its last three vs. Philly, and the Cowboys seem well-positioned to take advantage of a banged-up Eagles secondary that isn’t good when healthy. Only Atlanta and the Giants are worse against the pass on the road.
Ricky: Cowboys. The Cowboys’ offensive issues are correctable, whereas the Eagles’ defensive shortcomings are legitimate. The Eagles rank 27th in opponent passer rating on play-action passes (120.8) and 28th in opponent passer rating on screens (117.1), per ESPN, giving the Cowboys a solid blueprint with which to build their offensive game plan. Dallas also is good in the red zone and on third down, which will make a world of difference in this tight divisional game.
Andre: Cowboys. Despite three consecutive losses, Dallas still has the third-best yards per play differential. Philly ranks 25th in the same category. The Eagles rush defense was tested for the first time last week and they failed miserably against the Vikings. They’ll face another tough test this week against the Cowboys.
MONDAY, OCT. 21
(-9.5) New England Patriots at New York Jets, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Jets. This is a much different team than the Patriots faced a few weeks ago. It sounds like stud linebacker CJ Mosley might return for New York, while QB Sam Darnold and first-round pick Quinnen Williams are already back. None of them played the first time these two teams met.
Ricky: Jets. Picking the Patriots seems like the safe play, and I woke up feeling dangerous.
Andre: Patriots. I feel like a broken record for repeating this every week, but the Patriots play inexperienced quarterbacks it seems like every game. Since 2016, New England is 16-0 SU and 11-5 ATS against quarterbacks with fewer than 20 games of experience.
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images