There are some heavy hitters on the NFL's Week 7 late-game schedule, and as such, there are a few tricky spreads.
Nearing the halfway point of the season, the playoff picture is beginning to take shape. Contenders and pretenders are separating themselves, but momentum can change in an instant.
Here's a look at the lines for Sunday's late games, along with some analysis that will help bring the games into focus.
Note: Betting lines via Covers.
San Francisco vs. Tennessee (+4)
It's no surprise to see the Titans as underdogs at home against the 49ers.
San Francisco has rattled off three straight wins after losing two straight to the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts. During this recent winning streak, the 49ers have scored at least 32 points and have forced 10 turnovers on defense.
Featuring a heavy dose of Frank Gore on the ground, San Francisco's running game has opened up big plays for Vernon Davis downfield.
Jake Locker is back in action after missing a few weeks with a hip injury, as noted by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:
He was coming on strong before getting injured, and the Titans are better on offense with him in the lineup.
But without a strong running game from Chris Johnson, who is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry this year, Tennessee's offense will struggle to move the ball against San Francisco's No. 6-ranked pass defense.
Houston vs. Kansas City (-6.5)
If Alex Smith has a big game, then the Chiefs will easily cover this spread.
Case Keenum is in for a long, long afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium against the NFL's top-ranked pass-rushing defense. The Chiefs have sacked opposing quarterbacks 30 times already this season and sacked Terrelle Pryor 10 times last Sunday.
Houston's offense has been abysmal this past month, and its quarterbacks have thrown a pick-six in five consecutive games, as noted by the NFL:
Given the way Kansas City's defense has been scoring this year, nobody should be surprised if this streak is extended on Sunday.
Making matters worse, Houston's defense was recently picked apart by Sam Bradford, who threw three touchdown passes last weekend in St. Louis' blowout win over the Texans.
Cleveland vs. Green Bay (-9.5)
Cleveland could give the injury-riddled Packers a run for their money at Lambeau Field this Sunday afternoon.
Without Cobb and with Jones still mending from his knee injury, Green Bay's offense will become much more reliant on Eddie Lacy this Sunday. Cleveland isn't an easy team to run against, however, ranking No. 8 in the NFL allowing just 98.2 yards per game.
If Brandon Weeden can rebound with a solid game against Green Bay's depleted defense and make a few connections with his big-play receivers, then the Browns will hang tough and beat this spread.
Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh (-1)
This contest is easily one of the trickiest games on the schedule to predict.
Which team will win?
Both teams are struggling on offense this year, competing without key playmakers.
Joe Flacco isn't having a good season, throwing seven touchdowns and eight interceptions, and Ray Rice is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry.
Ben Roethlisberger has made fewer mistakes than Flacco, but he's only thrown six touchdowns on the season. He also suffers without a running game, as the Steelers only average 61 yards per game—the second-worst total in the league.
This game could get ugly, and unless you've got a strong feeling about a winner you'd be wise to avoid betting on it.
Denver vs. Indianapolis (+6)
Peyton Manning's return to Indy is being featured by NBC on Sunday Night Football, and the Broncos enter the game with an undefeated record.
No team in the league has put up more points per game than Denver, which averages 44.2 points per contest.
However, the Jacksonville Jaguars surprisingly put up a good fight in Denver last weekend, holding the Broncos to just 35 points, and the defense of the Broncos played poorly against the pass.
Indianapolis lost last weekend in San Diego, as the Chargers controlled the clock and kept Andrew Luck frustrated on the sidelines. He should be unleashed this Sunday night, however, as Denver's secondary has been highly exploitable this season.
Von Miller makes his first appearance of the season this weekend after serving his six-game suspension. His ability to pressure Luck could be the difference in the game.
Go with Denver to cover the spread.
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