This handicapper puts a lot of credence in the idea that running the ball & stopping the run, are still keys to winning games and covering spreads, as evidenced by our free NFL picks for Week 7.
New York is 4-1 both SU and ATS this season, after beating Washington last week 34-20, covering at -7. The Jets outgained the 'Skins 474-225 and outrushed them 221-34. So on the season New York has outgained all five opponents, and outrushed four of them.
New England, meanwhile, is 5-0 SU, 3-2 ATS, after winning at Indianapolis last week 34-27. The Patriots outgained the Colts, but only by 417-409, and lost time of possession by a 33/27 margin.
The Jets were terrible last year, going 4-12, but they gave New England two tough games, falling by scores of 27-25 and 17-16, covering as dogs of nine and 10 points. Also, so far this season New York is outrushing opponents by 63 yards per game, while the Patriots are getting outrushed by 17 YPG. And teams that have outrushed their opponents this season are 60-30 SU, 57-29 ATS. So we like the Jets in this spot, plus the points.
Free NFL Pick: New York +8 (-115) at Bovada
Minnesota Visits Lackluster Lions
Minnesota is 6-2 ATS over its last eight meetings with division-rival Detroit, including a 26-16 victory over the Lions just one month ago. The Vikings shoot for the season sweep Sunday at Ford Field.
The Vikes are 3-2 SU, 4-1 ATS this year, after beating Kansas City last week 16-10, covering as three-point home favorites. Minnesota led that game 13-0 heading into the fourth quarter, allowed the Chiefs to get within 13-10, but added a field goal and held on from there. The Vikings didn't get a whole lot going offensively, but held KC to just 57 yards rushing and won time of possession by a 33/27 margin.
Since dropping its season opener Minnesota has won three of four games, and the only loss came on a field goal with under two minutes to go at Denver.
Detroit, meanwhile, just picked up its first victory of the season last week, a 37-34 overtime decision over Chicago. The Lions tried to blow that game, allowing the Bears to drive 69 yards on three plays in the final 20 seconds for the game-tying field goal at the regulation buzzer, but eventually got a big Stafford-to-Johnson hookup late in the OT that set up their game-winning kick.
Last week was the first time this season Detroit outrushed an opponent.
Minnesota outrushed the Lions in that 10-point victory a month ago 199-38, and as mentioned above outrushing your opponent is an excellent way to win games and cover spreads in the NFL. We like the Vikes today.
Free NFL Pick: Minnesota at “pick 'em” (-116) at Pinnacle
Atlanta Looks to Bounce Back at Tennessee
The Falcons just suffered their first loss of this season last week, but have an excellent chance of bouncing back Sunday against the Titans.
Atlanta started 5-0 this season, but ran into a fired-up Saints team two Thursdays ago and lost at the Superdome 31-21. The Falcons fell down 14-0 in the first quarter, with “help” from a blocked punt New Orleans turned into a special teams touchdown, and never recovered. But before that Atlanta had won five in a row, averaging 32 points per game. Perhaps most importantly, the Falcons have outrushed five of six opponents this season.
Tennessee, on the other hand, has lost four games in a row, after winning its season opener, and has been outrushed in each of its last three games. Last week the Titans allowed Miami to run for 180 yards in a 38-10 defeat.
Also, Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota will miss Sunday's game with a sore knee, so Zach Mettenberger will handle the duties behind center.
Atlanta is a different team right now than it was last season, especially in the health department. And the fresh legs of Devonta Freeman have already produced three 100-yard rushing efforts so far this season. The Titans, on the other hand, are a work in progress, at best. We like the Falcons here, giving the points.
Free NFL Pick: Atlanta -6 (-107) at Pinnacle