N.F.L. Week 7 Predictions: Our Picks Against the Spread

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It is not your imagination that games have been incredibly close this season. Through six weeks, 54 of the 93 games have been decided by a single score, which matches 1999 for the most in N.F.L. history. Combine that with 21 teams entering Week 7 with a winning record and it seems as if nearly every game is anyone’s guess.

Here is a look at N.F.L. Week 7, with all picks made against the point spread.

Last week’s record: 11-3-1

Overall record: 49-41-3

Cowboys at Redskins, 4:25 p.m., CBS

The Pittsburgh Steelers may have saved their season with a win last week. This week’s version of an early-season, make-or-break game is between the Cowboys (3-3) and the Redskins (3-2), two N.F.C. East teams that deserve to be taken seriously but have not provided the consistency of a contender.

According to The Upshot’s Playoff Simulator, this game features the two biggest potential swings related to making the playoffs. Should Dallas win, it would have a 60 percent chance, while a loss would knock it down to 32 percent. The situation is just as dire for Washington, which would have a 59 percent chance with a win and a 31 percent chance with a loss.

The Redskins have faced a few teams with well-regarded running games, but have yet to face a true test against a team committed to grinding it out. Dallas will almost assuredly run Ezekiel Elliott right at Washington’s front seven to wear them down, and if the Cowboys continue that strategy long enough, it should create opportunities for Dak Prescott to throw downfield.

A road win against a division rival that gets them back over .500 could be exactly what the Cowboys need to shake off the malaise of the last two years. Pick: Cowboys +2

Patriots at Bears, 1 p.m., CBS

It somehow turned into a story that Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, the defensive coordinator of the great Giants teams of the 1980s, is not willing to declare Chicago’s Khalil Mack to be the equal of Lawrence Taylor, the Hall of Fame linebacker whom Belichick helped groom on the way to two Super Bowl titles. He did not say Mack wasn’t sensational. He actually detailed the many ways Mack affects a game as an elite linebacker. But for a coach who typically says nothing to show a modicum of emotion sent people running to their laptops to react, with even L.T. weighing in on Twitter.

The funniest part of the whole thing is that Mack, who is dealing with an ankle injury, might not even play, and even if he does, he is likely to be limited. That’s the main reason the Patriots (4-2) are favored over the Bears (3-2) despite being winless on the road. Pick: Patriots -3

Bengals at Chiefs, 8:20 p.m., NBC

Patrick Mahomes has not discouraged the Brett Favre comparisons with four interceptions over his last two games, but just like Favre, the Kansas City quarterback showed no quit last week when the Chiefs (5-1) got behind at New England. Tom Brady may have come out on top, but having a second-year player nearly pull off a huge upset in Foxborough had to at least make the future Hall of Famer wonder how long he has left atop the league. A home game against the Bengals (4-2) is not nearly as difficult a task, but when you factor in Kansas City’s horrific defense and Cincinnati’s above-average offense, one thing is fairly clear: The over in this game almost certainly won’t be high enough. Pick: Chiefs -6

Texans at Jaguars, 1 p.m., CBS

The Jaguars (3-3) were demolished on the road in Dallas last week, with their star-studded defense having absolutely no answer for Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. It was a result that was fairly predictable based on their struggles with the run, but before you assume that means the team is not worthy of its defensive hype, remember that it largely shut down Patrick Mahomes two weeks ago. The Texans (3-3) do not present nearly as many problems on the ground, and while Deshaun Watson has been sensational at quarterback, Jacksonville is more than up to the task of making him look human. Pick: Jaguars -5

Adam Thielen had 123 receiving yards against Arizona last week. It was his sixth consecutive game with 100 or more yards.CreditHannah Foslien/Getty Images

Vikings at Jets, 1 p.m., Fox

Charley Hennigan’s incredible 1961 season for the Houston Oilers has stood the test of time. It took 34 years for a player to top the 1,746 receiving yards he had that season, and his total is still the sixth best in N.F.L. history. Hennigan’s name should be back in the news this week, as another record he set that season — consecutive games with 100 or more receiving yards to start a season — may be matched. Adam Thielen of the Vikings (3-2-1) has gone for 100 or more each week this season, and if he can get there against the Jets (3-3), he will have tied Hennigan’s record of seven straight. As the Jets give up nearly 300 passing yards a game, Thielen should have plenty of opportunity. Pick: Vikings -3

Panthers at Eagles, 1 p.m., Fox

A big win over the Giants gave the Eagles (3-3) some relief from the endless questions about their Super Bowl hangover, but the team still lacks a viable running game, making them look far less scary than they did last season. The Panthers (3-2) have struggled on the road, and Cam Newton has endured some turnover problems recently. While this game might be a tossup, Carolina has the tools to record an upset. Pick: Panthers +4.5

Saints at Ravens, 4:05 p.m., Fox

A team averaging 36 points a game against one allowing 12.8 could make for must-see TV. The Saints (4-1) demolished the Redskins heading into their bye week, with Drew Brees passing Peyton Manning to become the N.F.L.’s career passing yards leader, but it was surprising to see them generate so little movement in the running game despite Mark Ingram’s having rejoined Alvin Kamara in the backfield. To beat the Ravens (4-2) on the road would require a more balanced attack than New Orleans has shown, so the team’s four-game winning streak is in jeopardy. Pick: Ravens -2.5

Rams at 49ers, 4:25 p.m., CBS

To maintain a long winning streak in the N.F.L., you have to get away with close wins every now and again, and the Rams (6-0) escaping Denver with a 3-point win qualifies. Los Angeles, the last unbeaten team in the N.F.L., has a chance to match the franchise’s best start since 1985 with a win over the lowly 49ers (1-5). There is no doubt the Rams should be expected to win, but it will be the team’s third consecutive road game, and the 49ers have made most of their opponents work hard to beat them. Pick: 49ers +9.5

Titans at Chargers, 9:30 a.m., CBS

In the Philip Rivers era, the Chargers (4-2) have often endured slow starts to the season, but the veteran quarterback always seems to will them back into contention. With the team’s two losses coming against the undefeated Rams and the 5-1 Chiefs, there is every reason to believe there is some “there” there. This game, however, is a more difficult test than it may seem, as traveling to London to face the Titans (3-3) means one of their eight home games will come eight time zones away, against a team that is more than willing to provide a trap for a more talented team. Pick: Titans +6.5

Browns at Buccaneers, 1 p.m., Fox

The Browns (2-3-1) got a reality check last week in a loss to the Chargers. Baker Mayfield looked like a rookie quarterback and the team’s defense let Melvin Gordon run all over it. Cleveland is hoping to get back on track against the Buccaneers (2-3), losers of three straight games, but a road game against a team trying desperately to save its season might not provide much relief. Pick: Buccaneers -3

The Dolphins have had a quarterback throw for 380 or more yards 24 times in franchise history. Seventeen were by Dan Marino, one was by Brock Osweiler, above.CreditLynne Sladky/Associated Press

Lions at Dolphins, 1 p.m., Fox

As if passing yards hadn’t been devalued enough in the early part of this season, Brock Osweiler started for the Dolphins (4-2) last week and threw for 380. It was 72 more yards than he’d ever thrown for in a game, and it helped lead to a shocking upset of Chicago. The Lions (2-3) seem like an ideal team to exploit a subpar Miami pass defense, but the Dolphins have done well enough at home that they shouldn’t be written off even if Osweiler was a one-week wonder. Pick: Dolphins +3

Broncos at Cardinals, 8:20 p.m. (Thursday), Fox and NFL Network

A four-game losing streak by the Broncos (2-4) has the team in panic mode, with General Manager John Elway openly calling the season “disappointing.” A road game against a Cardinals team (1-5) that is struggling even more could theoretically stop the bleeding, or at least slow it, but quarterback Case Keenum’s ineffectiveness and a run defense that cannot stop anyone make this far from a sure win. Von Miller, a still-great player who serves as an awkward reminder of a better time for the Broncos, said the team would be fine against Arizona. “They’re going to get our best this week,” he told reporters. Pick: Broncos -1.5

Bills at Colts, 1 p.m., CBS

Derek Anderson’s last win came in December 2014, but the journeyman quarterback, who once emphatically denied finding anything funny, will start for the Bills (2-4) in place of the injured Josh Allen and the terrible Nathan Peterman. That is one of the few formulas that can lead to a team like the Colts (1-5) being favored by more than a touchdown. Pick: Colts -7.5

Giants at Falcons, 8:15 p.m., ESPN

The Falcons (2-4) have endured a season in which the offense has put up a ton of points only to repeatedly have the team’s defense let it down. They technically broke the cycle last week, but should get only partial credit since the win came against an unimpressive Tampa Bay team, and Atlanta’s defense still allowed 29 points. The Giants (1-5) wish they had Atlanta’s problems. They have been just as bad on defense — they’ve allowed 100 points over their last three games — with none of the positives on offense despite the presence of Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr.

An argument could be made that Ben McAdoo’s firing last season was as much a result of how he handled Eli Manning’s benching as it was the team’s overall ineptitude. If things do not improve soon for Manning, his new coach, Pat Shurmur, may be faced with a decision similar to the one McAdoo botched.

A win or a close loss on the road might take some pressure off Shurmur and Manning, and with Beckham going against a soft Atlanta defense, that is a possibility. Pick: Giants +5.5

All times are Eastern.

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