The AFC South looks like a two-team race. The Jacksonville Jaguars just traded Jalen Ramsey, and the Tennessee Titans have already switched quarterbacks. Things can change in a hurry in the NFL, but it seems like the division winner will be the Indianapolis Colts or Houston Texans. And we’re likely to see the AFC South champ on that first game of wild-card weekend, as usual.
The Texans and Colts, who meet Sunday in Indianapolis, are both coming off wins at the Kansas City Chiefs. The Colts went into Kansas City and won, then had a bye. Houston beat the Chiefs last week. The Texans are 4-2 and the Colts are 3-2 as they prepare to meet.
Both teams look pretty good and come to that place in much different ways. Thanks to Andrew Luck’s retirement, the Colts have to rely on the strength of their roster around quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who hasn’t been that bad. The Texans rely heavily on quarterback Deshaun Watson to carry a roster that has some pieces around him, but isn’t great on the whole.
It’ll be crucial for the Colts to dictate the tempo of the game. They kept Patrick Mahomes off the field in Kansas City by grinding it out with their run game. It would help to do the same to Watson on Sunday. The Colts offensive line has a challenge against the Texans’ defensive front, which is pretty good. If they can’t win that battle, it’s likely Watson will take over the game.
I’ll pick the Colts as a 1-point favorite at home. I trust the coaching staff and think having the bye was a huge edge. It wouldn’t surprise me if Watson carried the Texans to victory because he’s one of the best players in the league, but I think Round 1 of the AFC South championship battle will go to the Colts.
Here are the against the spread picks for Week 7 of the NFL season:
Rams (-3) over Falcons: This Falcons defense is absolutely horrendous. Losing at Arizona on a missed extra point last week should take away any hope that they can turn around their season. If the Rams can’t win decisively here, they are in a ton of trouble.
Vikings (-1) over Lions: I’ve been down this road before, but I’m going to buy into the Vikings as being a good team. That win over Philadelphia was impressive. The Lions are pretty good too, but let’s give the Vikings a shot to show they belong among the NFL’s elite.
Giants (-3) over Cardinals: The Cardinals caught a lot of breaks last week and still only beat a moribund Falcons team by a single point at home. Their defense will be better with cornerback Patrick Peterson back, but it still won’t be good.
Bears (-3.5) over Saints: This will be an ugly, low-scoring game. I’d have more concern picking against the Saints if Alvin Kamara was healthy, but that’s not the case. (The Bears are minus-3 in the Yahoo Pro Football Pick’em.)
Seahawks (-3) over Ravens: I’m still not buying the Ravens. Russell Wilson is going to have another huge day and add to his MVP argument. (The Seahawks are minus-3.5 in the Yahoo Pro Football Pick’em.)
And the rest of the picks ...
Broncos (+3) over Chiefs (picked Thursday): Yikes. That’s what it looks like when a team has a bad game plan, doesn’t do well calling plays, looks like it has no motivation to play and executes poorly.
Dolphins (+17) over Bills: The worst feeling in the world might be picking the Dolphins and then actually watching them play.
Bengals (+3.5) over Jaguars: The Bengals are not good. And they have bad injuries at cornerback. But I also think we’ve overrated Gardner Minshew a bit because he’s a fun story to root for, and I wonder about the Jaguars’ psyche after trading Jalen Ramsey. Also, the Bengals might be getting into the “we need to win this game because there aren’t many other opportunities to get one” desperation mode.
Raiders (+6) over Packers: The Packers’ injury situation at receiver is scary. Their offense might be very limited on Sunday.
Redskins (+10) over 49ers: This will be a tough spot for the 49ers to get up for, facing a terrible Washington team coming off a Monday night win over the Browns and then a divisional showdown over the Rams. It wouldn’t surprise me if they’re a little flat.
Titans (-2) over Chargers: It’s not like the Marcus Mariota-to-Ryan Tannehill switch is a downgrade for the Titans. And the Chargers are the most disappointing team in the NFL.
Eagles (+3) over Cowboys: I picked the Eagles to win the Super Bowl before the season, and now I’m just going to be stubborn. I think they’re a good team that is going to emerge as a contender at some point. This is a really fun Sunday night matchup.
Jets (+9.5) over Patriots: The Jets are just a different team with Sam Darnold. That isn’t because Darnold is a superstar already, but the upgrade from Luke Falk to him is enormous. I don’t think the Jets can pull off the upset, but maybe they can keep it close.
Last week: 8-6
Season to date: 48-45
SuperContest: 1-4 last week, 11-18-1 season to date
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