NFL Picks Week 7: Predicting Scores for Closest Games vs. Spread
Picking games against the spread allows for some margin of error when the outcome is in staunch deliberation, but not when the difference is paper-thin—or if it's a straight-up picking scenario.
According to the experts at Topbet, Sunday's clash between the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins is a total wash. Beyond that contest, there are several other vital games between division rivals that have major ramifications for the races in the AFC North and NFC East.
Both of those have been consistently mentioned with the best divisions in the league, but the 2013 season has been a different story through six weeks of action.
Let's take a closer look at the tightest games against the spread and predict the score for each, followed by a complete list of picks against the spread for Week 7.
Chicago Bears vs. Washington Redskins (PICK)
This should be a shootout, in part because Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III seems to be getting his dynamic rushing ability back after scampering for 77 yards in Week 6's loss at Dallas.
If Griffin can be that dynamic and simply clean up his footwork in the pocket, he should be able to light up a Bears pass defense that gives up 271 yards per game.
Robert Griffin III has 35 off-target passes this season (16 off-target passes through 6 starts last season)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 15, 2013
But Jay Cutler should have a field day against a suspect Washington secondary in his own right, especially with the Redskins' inability to stop the run. That's good news for Matt Forte, who should have a big game at FedEx Field.
Forte's primary counterpart, Alfred Morris, is still running hard despite RGIII's lackluster play to start the year for the 1-4 Redskins.
Morris is averaging 5.2 yards per carry and will face a depleted Chicago interior defensive line, which has lost tackles Henry Melton and Nate Collins for the season with torn ACLs.
Washington will keep the ball away from Cutler and Co. enough, and Griffin will have his best performance of the season in a must-win scenario for the defending NFC East champions.
Prediction: Redskins 34, Bears 31
Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (-1)
Few could have imagined the Steelers getting off to such an ugly 0-4 start, but a victory in Week 6 has them somehow back in the hunt for the AFC North.
Traveling to Heinz Field isn't an ideal remedy for the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens, who are coming off a tough 19-17 home loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Which 1-4 team is more likely to make the playoffs?
The biggest problem Baltimore faces is that it has been ineffective in the area where Pittsburgh has been most vulnerable on defense: versus the run. Ray Rice is averaging less than three yards per carry, putting the onus on Joe Flacco to live up to massive expectations.
For two organizations whose foundation is built on running the ball and hard-nosed defense, both are lacking in at least the former category.
Since the Steelers have a top-four pass defense and have seized at least some momentum, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau will be able to come after Flacco with exotic blitzes and stymie the Ravens' passing attack.
That will net the Steelers a second straight win to move to 2-4, well within striking distance of the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals.
Prediction: Steelers 23, Ravens 17
Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5)
Despite modest 3-3 records to this point, one of these clubs will take the outright lead in the NFC East by Sunday's end.
Before the game clock strikes zeros, plenty of points should be on the scoreboard, too. The Eagles' Chip Kelly-orchestrated offense will wear down a Dallas defense in both dimensions, with the NFL's leading rusher LeSean McCoy opening up play-action opportunities to attack a suspect Cowboys secondary.
QB Tony Romo will keep America's Team well within striking distance, though. He himself will be facing a bottom-three pass defense with weapons such as Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten at his disposal.
There's no way around this being an absolute thriller, because neither defense has proved capable of stopping a nosebleed. Plus, the Eagles are far from a sure bet at home:
First-place Eagles will try for first home win in 385 days next Sunday vs. Cowboys.— Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham) October 13, 2013
It seems like this would be a classic game for another ill-fated Romo pass in the fourth quarter, who will continue to hear unfair criticism despite his excellent season to date.
Philadelphia's superior back in McCoy gives the Eagles the edge at home in a tight contest that gives them their third consecutive victory.
Prediction: Eagles 45, Cowboys 41
|Away Team||Home Team||Pick (Spread)|
|Seattle Seahawks||Arizona Cardinals||Seahawks (-7)|
|Chicago Bears||Washington Redskins||Bears (PICK)|
|St. Louis Rams||Carolina Panthers||Panthers (-6)|
|San Diego Chargers||Jacksonville Jaguars||Chargers (-7.5)|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Atlanta Falcons||Falcons (-7)|
|New England Patriots||New York Jets||Patriots (-4.5)|
|Dallas Cowboys||Philadelphia Eagles||Eagles (-2.5)|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Detroit Lions||Lions (-3)|
|Buffalo Bills||Miami Dolphins||Bills (+8)|
|San Francisco 49ers||Tennessee Titans||49ers (-4.5)|
|Cleveland Browns||Green Bay Packers||Browns (+10)|
|Baltimore Ravens||Pittsburgh Steelers||Steelers (-1)|
|Houston Texans||Kansas City Chiefs||Texans (+6.5)|
|Denver Broncos||Indianapolis Colts||Broncos (-6.5)|
|Minnesota Vikings||New York Giants||Vikings (-3.5)|
Source: Odds are courtesy of Topbet
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