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Lions, Anyone? Week 7 NFL Picks

After racking up another winning Sunday last week, I'm looking at today's slate and pretty much hate all of it.

Several games appeared to have an angle on the surface, but upon further inspection I'm seeing no edge. To quickly summarize games I'm not picking, I have no choice but to turn to bullets:

Bet you didn't expect to see Sonny Corleone massacred during your morning shit, but here we are.

  • GB -3 @ HOU: I liked Green Bay bouncing back after Aaron Rodgers smugly smirked through a 38-10 drubbing from the Bucs on national TV, but with 80% of the early bets on the Pack this week, everyone is thinking the same thing. I'm staying off this game because it's a carbon copy of last week: the Texans will "unexpectedly" score in bunches against a public favorite that has a sneakily bad defense. If you had the Titans over the Texans last week, bless your heart, but it took a few miracles for you to cover and I don't recommend a similar bet this week.
  • TB @ LV +5: I was eyeing the Raiders at home off a bye after the Bucs' emotional win, but the COVID diagnosis of Raiders OT Trent Brown defeated the whole "great O-line vs. elite front-7" dynamic that made this game worth betting. No thanks on this one.
  • PIT +1.5 @ TEN: At first glance, the Steelers' elite run-stopping unit looked very tasty as the recipe to stifle Derrick Henry and the Titans. I dug a little deeper though, and it turns out that Tannehill plays outta his mind in match-ups against top run D's, and the Steelers' loss of LB Devin Bush only helps him. With a replenished set of receiving weapons, Tannehill will be equipped to keep this game close and prove to be more of a challenge than last week's aching Baker Mayfield. No bet.

Lions (2-3) @ Falcons (1-5); 12pm CT

Pick #1: Lions +2

Action: 53% of bets on Lions

Even Lions fans are shouting "nooo!" at their screens right now. I don't love betting on a team whose identity revolves around inventing new ways to lose, but I really like this spot.

I took the Falcons' lunch money two weeks ago when I called the firing of Dan Quinn, I waited a week for their mommy to refill their pockets, and now I'm shaking them down again.

Atlanta gave an all-in effort in their "coach got canned" game last week to notch their first victory on the season against the 1-win Vikings…

…but it's back to reality. This was a "win now" team coming into the season, and now they have no shot at the playoffs in the stacked NFC South. It's a lost season, and now the faces of the franchise (Matt Ryan and Julio Jones) have been the subject of trade rumors all week. The saddest part is that the Falcons would love to trade both of them before the deadline, but they likely can't because of financial limitations (cap hit for the other team, dead cap for Atlanta). Talk about "motivating!" This is like you finding out that your partner wants to break up with you but they're waiting for the dating scene to improve once the pandemic blows over. Just depressing shit.

On a positive note, the Lions are trending in the right direction. They started the season with a curiously heavy workload for the insanely inefficient Adrian Peterson (14 carries/game), but I can't blame Patricia for wanting to slow the game down because he knew his defense wasn't where it needed to be. But now, the defense is coming together with a change in scheme (mostly from Cover 1 to zone), and that's opening more blitz opportunities to create pressure that has been sorely lacking. With added trust on the defensive side, the Lions offense is turning to a more dynamic RB in D'Andre Swift, throwing more on first downs, and taking more deep shots. All good stuff.

And lastly, let's consider the human element. The Lions are looking ahead at their schedule, and 5 of their next 6 games are very winnable (Falcons/Vikings/Football Team/Panthers/Texans). They genuinely believe in a realistic road to the playoffs. I personally think that's cute and know they'll hilariously crumble down the stretch, but their self-belief matters in the short term.

The Lions have only lost to good teams (Bears/Packers/Saints), and their play is trending up as they approach a soft schedule. They'll take care of business against the hopeless Falcons today. Give me the team that doesn't know they're fucked against the team that knows they're fucked.

Pick #2 (Teaser): Lions (teased from +2 to +8) and Seahawks (teased from -3.5 to +2.5)

Quick note on teasers: You should always tease through multiple key numbers (like teasing the Lions through the 3 and the 7), and that's why you should never tease through zero. For reasons below, I will only break this rule for the Seattle Seahawks.

Seahawks (5-0) @ Cardinals (4-2); 7:20pm CT

Action: 64% of bets on the Seahawks

When we last saw Seattle two weeks ago, they failed to cover against a soft Vikings team in prime time. On the flip side, Arizona smashed America's team on Monday night 38-10.

You couldn't tell from the score, but Kyler Murray was lackluster in Dallas. Outside of an 80-yard bomb to Christian Kirk, he was 8-of-23 for 108 yards against an abysmal Cowboys D. If Zeke didn't cough up the ball on two consecutive drives in the first half, it would have been an entirely different ballgame. Kyler will need to come with something better if he plans to out-duel Russell today.

Seattle has the best offense in the league, and it has everything to do with Russell Wilson. He's #1 in completed pass percentage above expectation, and he's leading an offense that ranks #1 in DVOA, yards per play (6.6), and red zone scoring percentage (89%). Yeah, they've scored TDs on about 90% of their red zone trips.

But fuck the stats, just look at the player. We're talking about a generational QB in Russell Wilson who has the mental makeup of a Michael Jordan. He's a cold-blooded killer and competitive psychopath who wants to play when he's 50. Outside of standard operating procedures with the Seahawks over his bye week, I can assure you that Wilson ate a pristine diet, spent hours in a hyperbaric chamber, meditated on success visualization, visited hospitals to give hope to pediatric cancer patients, and made deeply meaningful love to Ciara in missionary. He has regimented every aspect of his life, and that robotic physical/mental/emotional commitment translates to consistently elite performance on the field. They guy is DIALED. 

I've been saying it for weeks: the Seattle D can't stop anybody. With Jamal Adams' continued absence, their only strength is at linebacker, and that doesn't really matter against an Arizona offense that spreads the field. The Cardinals have every reason to score at will, but I can't promise which version of Kyler Murray we'll see in this one. He has all the physical capabilities to be a top-tier QB, but I think we'll need a couple more seasons before learning if he's the type of guy that can consistently put it all together.

The public affection for Seattle (64% of the bets) is a little concerning, so that's why I'm teasing away the hook at -3.5 and shifting this to a scenario where they just need to win outright. The Cardinals have better pieces collectively, but the Seahawks have the advantage where it matters most. I'm reducing this down to the match-up of the two guys that will be touching the ball on nearly every play. In a prime time divisional game, give me the QB who has led a zillion comebacks against a QB who's still figuring out his place in the league.

Let's have ourselves another profitable day.