NFL

NFL Picks Against the Spread Week 7: Analyzing Late-Game Lines

Oct 6, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) throws in the pocket against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Jesse ReedCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2013

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)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 13:  Frank Gore #21 of the San Francisco 49ers in action against the Arizona Cardinals at Candlestick Park on October 13, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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. 

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 29:  Jake Locker #10 of the Tennessee Titans throws a pass against the New York Jets at LP Field on September 29, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

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)

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 19:  Tamba Hali #91 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after sacking Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles in the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on September 19, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by El
Elsa/Getty Images

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.

The Packers are without Clay Matthews, Brad Jones, Randall Cobb and James Starks, and three other key players are listed as questionable on the team's official injury report

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. 

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.

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 02: Running back Isaac Redman #33 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is pulled down by a pack of Baltimore Ravens defenders in the third quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on December 2, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Pittsburgh Steelers won,
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

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.

 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78

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