The NFL’s Week 7 schedule has the potential for some fireworks with games like Packers-Broncos and Chargers-Chiefs. But when the under is 57-35-1 (61.3%) this year, maybe the right call is to lower your expectations for scoring.
- Chargers-Chiefs Under 50 Points (-109) at BetRivers (check our BetRivers Review)
- Packers-Broncos Over 44.5 Points (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook (check our Caesars Sportsbook Review)
- Falcons-Buccaneers Under 38.5 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
The Subdued Herbert-Mahomes Shootout?
Real NFL fans know Chargers-Chiefs is the most entertaining division rivalry to watch this decade. While Justin Herbert is only 1-4 against Patrick Mahomes, the Chargers have led in the 4th quarter in all 5 matchups. The last 4 meetings have all gone over 50.5 points too.
But these teams look a little different in scoring this year. The Chiefs are a 5.5-point home favorite with a total of 50 points. We are looking at the under.
Sunday, October 22, 2023 – 04:25 PM EDT at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium
Why the Chargers May Not Score as Much
We are used to seeing Herbert step up his game against the Chiefs, and the Chargers (2-3) may be playing like their season is on the line, as it kind of is after Monday night’s loss to Dallas.
But Herbert had one of the worst games of his career on Monday night, as the Chargers scored a season-low 17 points. He egregiously missed some open receivers, and he took a crucial sack before throwing a game-ending interception when he only needed a field goal.
A broken finger on his non-throwing hand should not affect his accuracy this much, but something just seemed off for Herbert against Dallas. It was not even a good night of pass pressure for the Cowboys.
But the Chargers also have issues at receiver as there is not much left after Keenan Allen. Mike Williams usually has big games against the Chiefs, but he is out for the season with a torn ACL, and rookie wideout Quentin Johnston, who was the failed target on Herbert’s pick Monday night, has been a bust so far.
A Resurgent Kansas City Defense
The other reason to not expect a ton of points from the Chargers is that the Kansas City defense looks stronger than it ever has in the Patrick Mahomes era. The Chiefs are allowing 14.7 points per game, which ranks No. 2. The yardage ranks are also solid, the situational play has been good, and they are not even doing it by getting a lucky number of takeaways.
The only team to score 21 points against the Chiefs this year was Detroit on opening night, and that only happened because Kadarius Toney dropped a pass that turned into a pick-6, so the defense only allowed 14 in that game.
You can argue Herbert and the Chargers are the best test yet for this Kansas City defense, but they do not come into this one with great confidence after Monday night’s disappointment.
Why the Chiefs May Not Score as Much
The Chargers are again struggling on defense, but the unit had 5 sacks of Dak Prescott on Monday night, and the Chargers have not allowed more than 24 points in regulation since Week 1 against Miami.
But the real reason to think the Chargers have a better shot of keeping Mahomes under 30 points this week is that everyone but Chicago has kept the Chiefs under 30 points this year. Kansas City is averaging 24.5 points per game, which is solid, but it is also easily the lowest total through 6 games in the Mahomes era.
The lack of experience and trust at the wide receiver position is the main culprit. If Travis Kelce gets hurt, this offense would have a hard time replacing him. Rookie Rashee Rice looks like he could be a good one, but he is still learning on the job.
The Chiefs could be much better on offense later in the season than they have been so far, but with games like Miami and Philadelphia coming up, they better get a little more in the zone sooner. The Chargers are usually a good defense for Mahomes to feast on, but they did make last year’s game in Arrowhead hard on him with a 10-point comeback needed in the 2nd half.
You expect these quarterbacks to play well and bring out the best in each other, but right now the story is the Kansas City defense stepping up and the wide receivers hoping to figure things out. For that reason, I think you have to lower the expectations with the score in this one from your typical Mahomes-Herbert duel. A score like 27-19 is more than reasonable, and we’ll trust it enough to take the under for your NFL picks.
Score Prediction: Chiefs 27 – Chargers 19
NFL Pick: Under 50 (-109) at BetRivers
Jordan Love and Russell Wilson Airing It Out?
Neither the Green Bay Packers (2-3) nor Denver Broncos (1-5) have been very impressive this season, proving just how much Matt LaFleur and Sean Payton miss having that consistency with Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. But their teams both had some extra days to prepare for this one after the Packers had a bye and Denver played last Thursday in an ugly 19-8 loss to the Chiefs.
The Packers are a 1-point road favorite with a total of 44.5 points. We are feeling the over.
Sunday, October 22, 2023 – 04:25 PM EDT at Empower Field at Mile High
Will Love Improve?
The last we saw Jordan Love, he was throwing 3 interceptions in an ugly 17-13 loss in Las Vegas. He was a gambler before that Vegas trip, throwing into tight windows more than any quarterback this year. Love is also only completing 55.6% of his passes, so accuracy and decision-making have been issues.
The Denver defense held the Chiefs to 19 points last week, so it is doing better with Justin Simmons back as their best player in the secondary (and entire defense, for that matter). But the defense is still lousy against the run, and the Packers hope to get more out of its ground game. It would help if Aaron Jones could return healthy and start.
But Matt LaFleur will hopefully have put his bye week to good use to settle Love down and get this offense moving in the right direction. Christian Watson is a big-play receiver who can get behind this Denver secondary, and they have some young receivers worth getting excited about if they can just find some consistency with Love’s accuracy.
If Justin Fields can complete 16 passes in a row against Denver, then maybe Love has a shot at a good game here. He needs one badly.
The Broncos are 1-5 as Sean Payton has improved the Denver offense from last to middle of the pack, but the defense has fallen from great to worst in the league. The 70-point game against Miami is hurting the stats, but Denver still ranks last in yards, points, and rushing yards per carry allowed.
But Russell Wilson has to play much better after he led the offense to one touchdown drive in Kansas City in a 19-8 loss where he failed to pass for 100 yards. The Broncos seemed to have found some good young players in running back Jaleel McLaughlin and wide receiver Marvin Mims, but Payton’s coaching has never been worse, as he does not use his talent enough to get more out of this offense.
The Packers are not a strong defense like the Chiefs seemingly are this year. This should be a much better home game for Wilson, who has fared much better in the home games this year despite the 0-3 record for Denver.
If this was a prime-time game, I would say hammer the under. But as a late-afternoon game that few people will be watching, let’s expect these offenses to both utilize the extra days they had to prepare for this one and to score multiple touchdowns on their way to hitting the over.
When the computer pick is 10 points above the total line, we cannot help but think there’s something worth exploiting there. The Packers and Broncos have shown some offensive value this year. They just haven’t done it consistently and that is why they have bad records. Well, that and a horrific defense in several of these games from Denver.
Score Prediction: Packers 30 – Broncos 25
NFL Pick: Over 44.5 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
NFC South Scoring Blues
The entire NFC South was winless in Week 6, with the Falcons (3-3) and Buccaneers (3-2) both losing at home. The Buccaneers still lead the division, but the Falcons are an evenly-matched opponent for them in what should be a tight game.
The Buccaneers are a 2.5-point home favorite with a total of 38.5 points. We are looking at the under here.
Sunday, October 22, 2023 – 01:00 PM EDT at Raymond James Stadium
Are We Sure Desmond Ridder Is the Guy?
Last week against Houston, Desmond Ridder had his best NFL start. Last Sunday against Washington, Ridder had perhaps his worst NFL start. While he passed for over 300 yards for the 2nd game in a row, he also tossed 3 costly interceptions and looked late on some of his reads.
Ridder only ranks 25th in QBR (40.0) as he has been too inconsistent to trust. We also must acknowledge that the running game with Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier has not been as explosive or effective as one hoped before the season. The Falcons are only 11th in rushing yards and 19th in yards per carry. Last season when they ran at will on teams, they were 3rd in yards and 4th in yards per carry with Allgeier (rookie season) and Cordarrelle Patterson.
That’s not to say Robinson is holding the offense back, but maybe fewer passes to him and more to Drake London, Kyle Pitts, and Jonnu Smith would be better for the offense.
The Buccaneers are also not a good defensive matchup to run the ball against. The Bucs are No. 7 in rushing yards and No. 10 in yards per carry against. They caught a break when David Montgomery was injured early in Sunday’s game for Detroit, but they still held the Lions to 40 rushing yards, and that’s a good offensive line. They also held the Vikings to 41 rushing yards in Week 1. The Eagles (201) are the only offense to rush for more than 70 yards against Tampa Bay this year.
With coach Arthur Smith looking a little confused on what kind of offense he wants in Ridder’s 2nd season, it is best to predict the Falcons to struggle to score much in this road division game.
Are We Sure Baker Mayfield Is the Guy?
Baker Mayfield always felt like a stop-gap solution in replacing the retired Tom Brady, but a 3-1 start and some spirited play from the veteran had people thinking otherwise going into a bye week.
But after another home loss to a contender where the Bucs failed to score, it looks more and more that Baker is the player we thought he was. Someone who could excel in the right situation against the right opponents, but if you need him to step up in a big game, it’s likely not going to work out.
Mayfield did well against really poor defensive teams like the Bears and Vikings, and he made good use of the field position in New Orleans. But when it came to playing the Eagles, his offense was stuck on 3 points going into the final 10 minutes of the game.
When it came to Sunday’s game against a stout Detroit defense, the Buccaneers never found the end zone and finished with a pair of field goals in a 20-6 loss.
Despite some offensive improvements, Tampa is still terrible at running the ball, as no offense averages a lower yards per carry (3.0). Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are doing well with Baker at wide receiver, but there’s not really any 3rd receiving threat in this offense.
If the Falcons can get decent pressure on Mayfield after sacking Sam Howell 5 times last week, this should set up well as a low-scoring game. The Buccaneers played a ton of low-scoring division games last year, and that should be the expectation right now with the way the team has played so far. A score like 19-16, regardless of which team is on the winning side, looks solid for an under to hit.
Score Prediction: Falcons 19 – Buccaneers 16
NFL Pick: Under 38.5 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
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