The NFL football season heads into Week 7 with a slate that doesn’t crackle and pop. There are two true showcase games here, but the other matchups of note are important not for their quality. They are headliners because at least one if not both teams need a win in the worst way at this early and delicate stage of the season. Let’s take a look at the matchups for those who bet online.
Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans
Odds: Chiefs -5.5
The Kansas City Chiefs are playing like a borderline playoff team, which might win nine games if it is lucky. The truth needs to be said: the Chiefs aren’t good — not terrible, but not particularly good. Their talent will keep them competitive, but they are not playing to the full extent of their skill level – not even close.
The Chiefs’ game at the Washington Football Team this past weekend was a perfect example. Kansas City committed horrible turnovers in the first half. Tyreek Hill watched a pass go off his hands near the goal line and get intercepted. Mecole Hardman didn’t tuck away the ball with two hands and lost a fumble as a result. He was tackled, but not especially forcefully. Patrick Mahomes bobbled a snap, then threw a pop-up pass which was intercepted just before halftime.
The Chiefs were in field goal range but threw away three points because Mahomes panicked. Those three mistakes didn’t fill a full game; they filled one half. The Chiefs stumbled around for two and a half quarters before finally playing better. Washington is not a very good team, so Kansas City was able to get away with that bad first half and win the game with a solid second half.
However, playing 25 quality minutes in a game and 35 bad-to-ordinary minutes will not lead to a win against good NFL opponents. The Titans qualify as a good NFL opponent. They defeated the red-hot Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football. They came from 15 points down to beat the Seattle Seahawks earlier in the season when Russell Wilson was still healthy.
They beat their foremost AFC South challenger, the Indianapolis Colts. They’re a good team. Kansas City cannot and will not beat the Titans if the Chiefs play at the level they have demonstrated in the first six weeks of the season. This is a time when the Chiefs have to make a statement that they are still worth taking seriously in the AFC.
Philadelphia Eagles at Las Vegas Raiders
Odds: Raiders -3
This is a game both teams badly need. The Raiders started the season on fire but then absorbed a multi-game losing streak. Coach Jon Gruden stepped down amid a scandal, and the team lost a home game to the Chicago Bears, the kind of game a playoff team simply can’t lose. The Raiders beat the Denver Broncos this past Sunday in a bounce-back effort, but if they stumble at home against the Philadelphia Eagles, that Denver win won’t mean nearly as much.
The Eagles are a wildly inconsistent team. Their offense goes dormant for long stretches but then finds short bursts in which it comes alive. This was true against the Carolina Panthers in Week 5, when the Eagles scored just six points in nearly three quarters but then surged ahead in the fourth quarter and won, erasing a nine-point deficit on the road.
A week ago, on Thursday Night Football, the Eagles were down 28-7 against the world champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers but then scored 15 quick points and very nearly defeated Tom Brady and Company. The Raiders should win this game, but the Eagles have these spurts within games which make them hard to write off entirely.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
Odds: Ravens -6.5
This is the game other than Chiefs-Titans that deserves top billing for Week 7. Chiefs-Titans is a heavyweight game. This is a star-power game, with Joe Burrow of the Bengals going up against Lamar Jackson of the Ravens.
The Bengals have been a pleasant surprise, beating the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers to enter the playoff picture in the AFC. Ja’Marr Chase has been a star-wide receiver for the Bengals, whose passing game has thrived. Their offensive line, believed to be a weakness, has generally held up through the first six games of the season.
The Bengals’ decisions in roster management have generally worked out through a month and a half of football. Now the Bengals will begin to find out if they are ready to compete in the AFC North. Pittsburgh is not a very good team this year, but the Ravens and the Cleveland Browns are good teams.
Cincinnati will find out when it travels to Baltimore just how well it stacks up against the AFC North’s best. Baltimore struggled earlier in the season but pulled out close wins in the final seconds. Those close wins are what have the Ravens in first place in their division.
They played their best game of the year this past weekend against the Los Angeles Chargers. They will try to carry the momentum from that game into this contest versus Burrow and the Bengals. This is a tough one for NFL predictions.
Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Odds: Buccaneers -12.5
The Bears, having lost at home to the Green Bay Packers, need to find some upset victories if they want to collect enough wins to make the playoffs. It won’t be enough to sweep the Detroit Lions and beat the bad teams on their schedule. For NFL game betting purposes, though, this doesn’t look like a spot for an upset.
The Bears will have to spring a few surprises, such as this one over Tom Brady and the reigning champions, if they want to win nine games this season, which might be needed to get the seventh and final playoff seed in the NFC.
Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers (SNF)
Odds: 49ers -3.5
This is a game in which no one knows which version of which team will show up. The Colts took a 22-3 lead over the Ravens a few weeks ago and then collapsed, losing in overtime. The Colts pushed the Los Angeles Rams to the brink in a very tough Week 2 game, but they also lost at home to the Seahawks and were rarely competitive in that contest.
The 49ers played a great game against the Packers a few weeks ago. They looked imposing on defense in a Week 1 win over the Eagles. Yet, Jimmy Garoppolo remains enigmatic, and Trey Lance is not throwing as many passes as many people expected he would.
Coach Kyle Shanahan is struggling to give Lance the plays he needs to become a successful quarterback. The 49ers’ offensive plan is unclear and requires readjustments. We will see if Shanahan can make them against the Colts.