Each week, oddsmakers put out point spreads for each college and professional football game. These point spreads are mostly for gamblers, but many analysts use the spreads to determine who should win which game and judge if the point spread is too high, too low or just right.
Most of ESPN’s flagship programs such as Mike and Mike in the Morning, First Take, Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption discuss point spreads.
Although I currently have a 46-39 wins-loss record using Yahoo! spreads, here are my predictions for each Week 7 game.
Note: These spreads are as of October 19 using Yahoo! spreads.
Atlanta opened the season strong for the most part while Cincinnati has been a major disappointment for the amount of star power on the entire team.
Atlanta really let me down last week against Philadelphia as I thought the Falcons would pull out the road victory and begin to distance themselves as an elite team in the NFC.
Dunta Robinson is questionable for this game after the big hit he laid on DeSean Jackson, which resulted in him also missing the rest of the game.
I think the Bengals' offense, which has yet to truly click, gets going against the Falcons. Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco and Jermaine Gresham will prove to be too much for the Falcons secondary coming out of the bye week refreshed and rejuvenated.
The Bengals' defense will do enough to stop the Falcons at home, who have been up and down on offense this season.
Pick: Not only do the Bengals cover the four-point spread, they win outright.
Washington has surprised me to start the season. For a team I thought would be toward the bottom of the league, they are 3-3 and have played well in the past three weeks. In all of their wins, I predicted them to lose, including to two teams in Dallas and Green Bay that I believed would make the playoffs.
Chicago has also surprised me as I didn’t think the offense would click as well as it did. However, the Bears' pathetic home loss to the Seahawks showed me that they are not ready to take the next step.
Washington should be able to disrupt Jay Cutler, who will continue to drop back behind a terrible offensive line and no running game whatsoever in Mike Martz’s offense.
Washington’s secondary may not be able to hang on to the ball, but the unit has capable cover corners and none of the Bears receivers overly scares me.
While I think the Bears defense is amazing, I don’t know if they will be able to do enough to keep the Redskins from covering this game.
Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett both scored against Chicago. Ryan Torain has been running like a beast on a mission and I don’t see the Bears stopping him.
Would I be surprised to see the Bears win this game?
Not at all. Not with the Bears' defense and special teams.
Do I think they will?
Pick: Just like the Bengals, I think the Redskins manage to go on the road, cover the spread and even win the game outright.
As of October 19, this game has no spread, meaning all a team has to do is win the game to cover.
Philadelphia has won two straight games and is exceeding my expectations for the season.
Kevin Kolb was fantastic against Atlanta in Week 6, finally living up to the praise head coach Andy Reid gave him in the offseason.
However, the Iggles paid a hefty price in their underdog win over Atlanta. DeSean Jackson suffered a concussion at the hands of Dunta Robinson and is doubtful to play Week 7.
Tennessee dominated the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 6, but Vince Young left the game early with a knee injury. Kerry Collins came in and did a fine job, just like he did a couple of years ago.
Vince Young is day-to-day, but Collins will still be effective for the Titans if he starts.
Michael Turner was unable to garner much production, but Chris Johnson will run through the Eagles defense.
Pick: With Tennessee’s running game and stout defense, I’m giving them the nod at home even if Young is forced to sit.
Another game with no spread as of October 19.
Kansas City lost a heartbreaker in the final seconds to the Houston Texans.
Kansas City also looked great against the Colts for a while and had a chance to cover the spread, had Dwayne Bowe caught a ball in the end zone.
Kansas City has exceeded everyone’s expectations. The coaching staff has done a great job with the young team.
Jacksonville is on the way down.
David Garrard left Week 6 with a concussion and it is unknown if he will play. Trent Edwards won’t scare the Chiefs defense and Mike Sims-Walker has been invisible for most of the season.
With only Maurice Jones-Drew as a threat, Kansas City should win this game. The Chiefs have a better offense, defense and special teams.
Pick: Kansas City wins this home game.
Miami pulled off a big win against the Green Bay Packers on the road. Initially I had Miami taking the game, but switched the pick when it was confirmed Aaron Rodgers was starting.
Pittsburgh covered against the Cleveland Browns in a perfect matchup for Ben Roethlisberger to shake off the rust.
Miami is a resilient team. The Dolphins have one of the best playmakers in Brandon Marshall and a big, bruising offensive line with two capable running backs in Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.
Still, I think the offensive and defensive playmakers for the Steelers get it done on the road. Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, Rashard Mendenhall, Mike Wallace, Troy Polamalu, James Farrior and James Harrison will be too much for the Miami Dolphins.
Pittsburgh shuts down the Dolphins running game and forces Chad Henne to make a mistake. Pittsburgh’s offense has too many playmakers for the Dolphins to stop, just like we saw when the Jets traveled to Miami in Week 3.
Pick: Pittsburgh covers this low spread.
Many might hop on the Saints' bandwagon after their blowout win over Tampa Bay.
I’m actually going with Cleveland in this road game even though the Browns failed to cover against the Steelers.
The Browns actually held their own for most of the game against the far superior Pittsburgh defense.
Colt McCoy looked surprisingly good throwing for almost 300 yards in the contest. Benjamin Watson and Peyton Hillis will serve as big time check-down options and they can actually make things happen for the Browns.
The Browns defense is surprisingly good as well. The Browns have been involved in a lot of close games to open the season despite the lack of playmakers.
Although Mohamed Massaquoi and Joshua Cribbs are questionable to play after suffering concussions at the hands of James Harrison, I think the Browns can keep this closer than two touchdowns.
Pick: I’ll take the points and go with the Browns to cover.
Both of these teams have really surprised me to open the season.
In fact, I’ve taken these teams in a bunch of their games to start the season.
Both of these young teams have been stellar for the most part, and Sam Bradford and Josh Freeman look like winners.
It should be a close game, but I think the Rams manage to go on the road and win this game.
Both young defenses are playing well even though the Bucs were dominated by Drew Brees in Week 6. Both coaching staffs have done a good job.
I think Steven Jackson will be the difference maker here against the Bucs’ improved defense.
Sam Bradford does just enough with his amazing accuracy to keep the Rams in fine field position throughout the game.
Pick: I’ll take the points and believe the Rams can pull out the win too.
The 49ers, my prediction to win the division, finally won their first game.
They defeated the Oakland Raiders in a fairly impressive fashion.
Vernon Davis came away injured, but appears set to play. Frank Gore ran the ball well despite not recording a reception.
Michael Crabtree even made an appearance.
The Panthers are in disarray. Matt Moore is still an upgrade over Jimmy Clausen, but won’t do much if Steve Smith fails to play again after suffering a leg injury against New Orleans.
The Panthers' bread and butter, the dual threat of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, has failed miserably to start the season.
I think the 49ers shut down the Panthers once again as they carry their momentum into this road game. It’s usually tough for a team from the West to travel to the East, but if the 49ers want to make a run for the division, they need to start beating teams they’re supposed to beat.
Pick: 49ers to cover.
Although the Bills went on the road and played the Patriots tough a few weeks ago, and they’re coming off a bye, I see the Ravens avenging last week’s loss to the Patriots on the Bills at home.
The Ravens' defense will manhandle the Buffalo offense.
Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and the Ravens offense will deliberately pick apart the Bills.
Pick: Ravens cover the big spread at home.
Coming off a big win against the Chicago Bears on the road, the Seahawks are soaring high and eyeing a division title.
Marshawn Lynch leads the way as Matt Hasselbeck finds his young receivers all day.
While I don’t think the Cardinals defense is that bad, I don’t trust rookie QB Max Hall against a defense that always plays better in front of its raucous home crowd.
Larry Fitzgerald has the potential to dominate the game, but I don’t think he’ll be enough for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals have plenty of playmakers on defense, but the Seahawks are coming home with a lot of momentum.
If the game were in Arizona, I’d gladly take the points.
Pick: At home, I’ll give the points and take Seattle to cover.
As of now, there is no spread, probably because nobody knows who will play quarterback for the Oakland Raiders.
Jason Campbell is suffering from a knee injury, Bruce Gradkowski missed last week’s game and it could be former Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller starting for Oakland.
If they were getting points, I would be inclined to take Oakland as I predicted them to win this division.
They have failed to live up to my expectations on all sides of the ball.
Denver surprisingly played the New York Jets very well at home. They had opportunities to win the game, but the team just isn’t there yet.
Eddie Royal could miss this game, but Kyle Orton has made every one of his receivers look amazing at one point or another this season. His effectiveness and ability to distribute the ball amongst all of his receivers eliminates the threat of Nnamdi Asomugha, who is 1B to Darrelle Revis’s 1A for best corner in the league.
Denver ran the ball surprisingly well against the stout Jets defense and will continue that Week 7.
Pick: With no spread as of October 19, I have to take Denver to simply win the game at home.
This spread makes no sense to me.
The Patriots won a tough game against a Super Bowl contender in the Baltimore Ravens while the Chargers have shown zero promise this entire season.
The Chargers could potentially be without its top two receiving options in Antonio Gates and Malcolm Floyd.
The Patriots have all of the momentum despite traveling across the country. Bill Belichick will make sure his team is ready as they aim to crush the San Diego Chargers.
Pick: Thanks for the points, but won’t even need them. Patriots win this game.
The rough start by Minnesota has not surprised me.
The rough start by Green Bay has.
Green Bay has suffered from injuries in the first six weeks and has let me down repeatedly, especially in the past two weeks.
Minnesota pulled out a must-win game at home against the Dallas Cowboys. Brett Favre will be anxious and excited returning to Green Bay once again, but this time he has Randy Moss by his side.
The Vikings will definitely keep this close. Although I think they will win this game, I’ll still hold out some hope that Green Bay, my pick to win the division, hangs on to the win.
Pick: Still, I think the Vikings cover the spread and keep this a close game throughout as they play with more confidence than they have all season.
The Cowboys have managed to screw themselves over in most of their games this season. All of the blame can be put on the entire team as a whole, from the players to the coaching staff. They have played uninspired and unintelligent football.
The Giants come in to this game with a lot of momentum and the desire to put the nail in the Cowboy’s coffin and kill their playoff hopes.
The Giants were not overly impressive against the Detroit Lions at home, but the Lions have been playing good football for most of the season.
New York vs. Dallas is always a fun adventure, but I’ve yet to see a reason as to why the Cowboys "with all of this talent," are still a favorite to make the playoffs.
Pick: I think New York wins this game, but at the very least, I’ll take three points.
Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5) @ Atlanta Falcons
Washington Redskins (+3) @ Chicago Bears
Philadelphia Eagles @ Tennessee Titans (pick)
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Kansas City Chiefs (pick)
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) @ Miami Dolphins
Cleveland Browns (+13) @ New Orleans Saints
St. Louis Rams (+3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
San Francisco 49ers (-3) @ Carolina Panthers
Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens (-13)
Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks (-5.5)
Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos (pick)
New England Patriots (+3) @ San Diego Chargers
Minnesota Vikings (+3) @ Green Bay Packers
New York Giants (+3) @ Dallas Cowboys