NFL Picks Week #7 (2022 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #7)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Wednesday October 19th, 2022 at 2 pm Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
Both of my official picks last week were winners: the Bills -2.5 in Kansas City, as well as Denver +5.5 at the Chargers. Let’s go!
This week I am using a different format than usual. Not only will I share with you my best bets of the week, but I will make a pick on every single game. I am curious to see whether you like it or not.
Without further ado, let’s dive into my Week 7 NFL picks right away!
PICK #1: LAS VEGAS RAIDERS -6.5 VS HOUSTON TEXANS
Both of these teams are coming off their bye week, so they will be well-rested. But the main reason I am opting for the Raiders in this meeting is the way these two clubs match up.
On one hand, Houston’s offense relies a lot more on the effectiveness of their running game, which is led by Dameon Pierce, who is enjoying an impressive rookie campaign. He is coming off three straight games in which he racked up at least 80 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground.
However, Vegas’ defense fits perfectly well against Houston’s offense since they are very stout against the run. Indeed, many of you may be surprised to hear that the Raiders rank first in the league in terms of “expected points added”, also called EPA, per rushing attempt.
Now, you will hear me talk about this key statistic more often from now on, so let me explain it to you, in case you are not familiar with it. The concept is very simple and intuitive.
Suppose a team has the ball at its own 20-year line on first down and 10. According to the numbers, such a team can expect to score 0.7 point, on average, during this drive.
Now, assume they complete a 20-yard pass. They are now at their own 40-yard line with a fresh set of downs, right? Now, their expected number of points scored during this drive just went up to 2.06. In other words, the expected number of points just increased by 2.06 – 0.70 = 1.36.
When a team makes a “good” play on offense, the EPA is positive, otherwise it is negative. In this case, when teams try to run against Las Vegas the average EPA has been -0.185, which indicates Vegas opponents tends to make plays that generate less yards than anticipated.
In my humble opinion, EPA statistics are better indicators of performance, rather than simply looking at points scored or yards gained.
So, in short, I believe the Raiders defense matches up extremely well to stop Houston’s offense. The Vegas pass defense has been pretty bad, but the Texans struggle throwing the ball anyway. Davis Mills is not having a very good year, as evidenced by his 5 TD passes and 4 interceptions thus far in 2022.
Speaking of Mills, his stats are completely different whether he plays at home or on the road. Last year, he racked up 12 TD passes versus just one pick at home, whereas he had a very bad 4-to-9 TD-to-INT ratio on the road. Things have gone the same way so far this season. He has 4 TDs and 2 interceptions at home, versus a 1-to-2 ratio on the road.
Meanwhile, the Raiders offense is well-balanced with both their run and pass offense ranked slightly above average. They should finally have Davante Adams, Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow and Josh Jacobs all healthy.
Don’t be misled by the Raiders 1-4 record. They lost one game in overtime, while they lost the other games by margins of only 5, 2 and 1 point. I think Las Vegas wins this one easily.
PICK #2: WASHINGTON COMMANDERS +5.5 VS GREEN BAY PACKERS
The Packers are struggling in a big way. My concern is they might rebound after losing to both New York teams. But they have not shown any signs of improvement through six games, so you have to take their opponents at home as 5.5-point underdogs. It’s not easy to win by 6+ points as the visiting team in the NFL, unless you are a top team in the league, which is not the case of Green Bay right now.
The Commanders get three extra days of rest after playing last Thursday. They also have the revenge factor going their way since they lost 24-10 at Lambeau Field last year.
With Carson Wentz breaking a finger last week, Taylor Heinicke will get the nod for Washington. He doesn’t have great numbers, but you’ve got to admit he is a true warrior. He plays with a lot of passion and he will do whatever it takes to pick up first downs. He does not hesitate to sacrifice his body when running with the ball.
Green Bay’s offense has fared a bit better than Washington’s in 2022, but the Commanders’ defense has surprisingly done a bit better than the Packers’ unit, especially defending the run where they rank 7th in terms of EPA per rushing attempt. Meanwhile, the Packers run defense has been very generous, which might lead to a solid day by rookie Brian Robinson.
In the end, I believe the Packers might prevail, but I see Washington having much more than a 50% chance of either winning outright or losing by 5 points or less. I’m betting the Commanders in this one.
PICK #3: JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS -3 VS NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants are coming off impressive come-from-behind victories over the Packers and the Ravens. Can’t you feel the letdown game coming, especially on the road against a non-conference opponent? I do.
On the other hand, after a promising 2-1 start, Jacksonville hast lost its past three games so they are much more desperate for a win. All of their four losses occurred by a margin of 8 points or less, including a tough road test in Philadelphia.
Saquon Barkley is the heart and soul of New York’s offense. He hurt his shoulder last week. He will be in the lineup, but you have to wonder how much it will affect him.
Both offenses rank similar in terms of EPA, both with respect to the passing and running game. However, there is a big gap between the two defensive units. Both teams have allowed about the same number of points, but the EPA statistics tell a whole different story. In fact, Jacksonville ranks 9th versus 22nd for the Giants.
So, in short, Jacksonville has the better roster and they are at home, which means they should be favored by more than three points. We are getting a discount due to the good publicity surrounding the Giants and their 5-1 record. Their biggest margin of victory was 8 points, and that occurred against the lowly Bears so it’s not like they were dismantling teams. I’m backing the Jags in this meeting.
Let me try something new. I’ll give you some quick-fire picks on all other games, but please note they are not official picks. I am not actually betting those games, not for now anyway, and I’ll do it for entertainment purposes only. Let me know if you like this format or not. Here we go!
- In the Thursday nighter I’d go with Arizona laying 2.5 points at home against the Saints, but this is a very low confidence pick here. Arizona’s offense has been a major disappointment, while New Orleans’ defense has also been doing worse than expected. Which unit will finally wake up? Marquise Brown is done for the year, but DeAndre Hopkins returns from a suspension. The Saints’ pass offense is likely to be without Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry. Ultimately, I believe Kyler Murray will do enough to pick up the W.
- If forced to bet, I would go with the Bengals -6 points against the Falcons. Joe Burrow has been playing better of late, and Atlanta ranks 30th in pressure rate, which is music to Burrow’s ears. Cincinnati holds an 8-1 ATS record the last nine times they came off a win.
- I am leaning towards the Lions +7 at Dallas. Dak Prescott returns under center, but he may be rusty. Meanwhile, the Lions will get a few playmakers back, including D’Andre Swift and D.J. Chark. Detroit’s defense is horrible, but their offense will do enough to cover the spread.
- Give me the Colts +2.5 in Tennessee. Indy’s offensive line finally found their groove last week! They did not allow a single sack despite Matt Ryan attempting 58 passes. Jonathan Taylor should be back in the lineup. Indianapolis is 0-4 ATS in the last four meeting with the Titans, but they are 7-3 the last 10 times they visited Tennessee. I’m taking the Colts even though the Titans are coming off their bye week.
- I like Tampa to destroy the Panthers (as 11-point favorites). The Bucs offense is not clicking and Brady got mad at his offensive line last week. I believe they break out this week and smash the Panthers, a team who is a mess right now.
- I am tempted to bet the Ravens as 6.5-point favorites. The Browns defense is a shame right now. Myles Garrett is clearly playing despite injuries, but he is not as effective as usual. Baltimore has beaten the spread in each of their last five meetings against Cleveland, and they are 7-2 at home against teams with a losing record. Jacoby Brissett has been fading in the last three games, and things won’t get better in a hostile environment in Baltimore.
- I’ll go with Denver straight up against the Jets. New York is due for a letdown game after a major upset at Lambeau Field, while the Broncos really need this win. The Jets are also likely to be looking ahead to key matchups against the Patriots and the Bills in the next two weeks. The Jets defense is playing very well, but Denver’s unit is doing even better.
- Seattle’s offense has to be one of the biggest surprises in 2022. Even though I’m wary of their defense, I’ll take the Seahawks +6.5 points in Los Angeles. The Chargers’ defense is also experiencing some trouble, especially their run defense that ranks in the bottom three in most categories. Rookie Kenneth Walker will continue to impress, while Geno Smith, D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett will keep this game close enough to cover the spread.
- I was about to take the 49ers as one of my official picks, but I changed my mind later on. I am too worried about the health of San Francisco’s defense. They rank as one of the best in the league, but they lost Javon Kinlaw, Azeez Al-Shaair and Emmanuel Moseley, along with having five starters listed as questionable, including Nick Bosa. I can’t pull the trigger under such circumstances, but if forced to bet I’d still go with San Francisco +3 against the Chiefs.
- Tua is expected to be back on the field after a frightening injury. I’m not sure how good he feels, but I would tend to take the Dolphins -7 against Pittsburgh (although I am very unlikely to actually place a bet). Miami has lost its past three games and will be desperate for a victory in front of their home crowd. The Dolphins have beaten the spread in four of their past five meetings with the Steelers, and they are 10-2 ATS at home against weak teams.
- In the Monday night game, I would tend to go with New England -8 points against the Bears. Bill Belichick is great at rattling inexperienced QBs, especially at home. The Pats are 19-7 ATS the last 26 times they were at home against teams with a losing record. New England’s defense has made great strides lately, while the offense has been surprisingly effective. The Pats win big.
That’s it for my NFL Week 7 picks! I hope you appreciated this post, enjoy the games my friend!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)