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October 19, 2023

Week 7 NFL picks

Jimmy Kempski makes his NFL picks for Week 7, including the much-hyped Eagles-Dolphins Sunday Night Football matchup.

Eagles NFL
101923TuaTagovailoa Sam Navarro/USA TODAY Sports

Tua Tagovailoa hasn't often been hit this season. The Eagles will hope to change that Sunday night.

For the gambling degenerates, here are my Week 7 NFL picks. To note, the team logos indicate who I think will win the game, not cover the spread. At the end of the picks, I'll note a few teams that I like based on the spread.


Jaguars at Saints (-1.5): Trevor Lawrence is listed as questionable for this matchup, which I assume is why the Saints are favored, because they are most certainly not the better team. Hang on... looking to see who the Jags' backup QB is... Oh God, it's C.J. Beathard. Good Lord, Doug, you won a Super Bowl because you had a great backup quarterback and you're going into a season with C.J. Beathard as your No. 2?

I suppose a bet on the Jags is a bet on whether or not Lawrence can (a) play and (b) not be affected by his sprained knee. A bet on the Saints is a bet on Beathard playing at some point. This tweet from Adam Schefter has me skeptical:

The consensus seems to be that Lawrence will play. But the following roster move kinda indicates otherwise: 

My read? The Jags already know that Lawrence isn't playing, but they were like, "Hey Schefter, tweet this, thanks," hoping to keep the Saints guessing as long as possible. I reeeeaaaalllly wanted to make the Jags one of my picks against the spread this week, but the smart play is to just stay away.


Commanders (-2.5) at Giants: In the last 10 full seasons (plus the one Giants-Cowboys matchup this season), the Giants are 8-33 against the Eagles or Cowboys. They are 13-6-1 against the Commanders. The Giants feel like they might be ready to finally win a game again after giving the Bills a scare last weekend, and I'm not sure the Commanders are even the better football team in this matchup. (I'm not dumb enough to make them one of my picks, though.)


Falcons at Buccaneers (-2.5): There are nine teams in the NFL that are 3-3. Here are my 3-3 power rankings:

  1. Bengals
  2. Jets
  3. Texans
  4. Rams
  5. Saints
  6. Colts
  7. Raiders
  8. Falcons
  9. Commanders

I guess what I'm saying here is that I don't think much of the Falcons, who by the way are 1-9 on the road since last season.


Lions at Ravens (-3): The Lions might be really good, and the Ravens are perpetually overrated. Give me the better team, and sure I'll take 3 points.


Bills (-8.5) at Patriots: I see maybe 3 or 4 wins left on the Patriots' schedule, if that. And you know what? If things go really badly the rest of the way, I wouldn't rule them out of the Caleb Williams sweepstakes. Looking back at the preseason talk about the Pats, it's funny that there were more than a few people who were like, "Bill O'Brien is going to come in and fix this offense." The only team they've outscored this season is the Giants, and only by one point (72-71). And the Giants haven't scored an offensive touchdown since Week 3.


Browns (-2.5) at Colts: Do I like the Browns' elite defense against Gardner Minshew? Yes. Yes, I do.


Raiders (-3) at Bears: The Bears are starting someone named Tyson Bagent at quarterback, and that's still not enough for me to lay 3 points with the Raiders. That's how little I trust Josh McDaniels.


Cardinals at Seahawks (-7.5): At first glance, I loved this (-7.5) line for Seattle, until I realized that all five of their offensive linemen are on the injury report. Here was their Wednesday practice:

Charles Cross - Limited Damien Lewis - Limited Evan Brown - DNP Phil Haynes - Limited Jake Curhan - DNP 

The Seahawks' O-line stinks as it is, and now they're all hurt? I'd be banging the Cardinals (+7.5) if I didn't already know that trusting Jonathan Gannon's defense against any decent offense is a terrible idea.


Steelers at Rams (-3): The Steelers have been out-gained in all three of their wins, and they got smashed in both of their losses. They are not as good as their 3-2 record might indicate.


Chargers at Chiefs (-5.5): When in doubt, just take the Chiefs. Also when in doubt, never take the Chargers.


Packers (-1) at Broncos: The Broncos' defense has been historically bad through the first 6 games, and the Packers are probably the healthiest they have been all season coming off their bye. Both of these teams are bad. The Broncos are worse.


Dolphins at Eagles (-2.5): In the wake of the Eagles' alarming Week 6 loss to the Jets, I had it in my head that the Birds are ripe for a loss to the Dolphins, a team with incredible speed at the skill positions, which is especially concerning given the Eagles' injury woes in their secondary.

However, the more I examined the Dolphins' roster, the more it became clear that this is a flawed team. They rank 27th in defensive DVOA, and their biggest weakness at the moment — their offensive line — could be vulnerable against the Eagles' outstanding pass rush. On a lesser note, they're 30th in special teams DVOA.

Certainly the Dolphins' speed at wide receiver and in their backfield is nothing to sneeze at. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle form one of the fastest wide receiver tandems ever, and they have the ability to create game-breaking plays in a flash. Containing those guys — as well as speedy RB Raheem Mostert — will be Sean Desai's most difficult challenge of the season to date, by far.

But ultimately, the Eagles' wide receivers are every bit as capable of inflicting pain on opposing secondaries as the Dolphins', who could be without both of their starting cornerbacks. Beyond the WR-DB mismatches that each team possesses, the Eagles have a better roster, especially in the trenches.


49ers (-7) at Vikings: In the 49ers' loss to the Browns Week 6, Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel left the with injuries, and Brock Purdy subsequently had his worst game as a pro. Actually, he had his first regular season loss as a pro. It's probably easy to say, "Oh hey look Purdy sucks without McCaffrey and Samuel," but I think last Sunday was more about the Niners' shaky offensive line getting exposed by a great Browns defensive front. Purdy will be fine and the Niners will roll on Monday night, with or without McCaffrey and Samuel.

BYE: Cowboys, Panthers, Bengals, Titans, Jets, Texans.

• Picks against the spread: Buccaneers (-2.5), Lions (+3), Browns (-2.5).

• Eagles picks (straight up): 5-1
• Eagles picks (ATS): 2-3-1

• 2023 season, straight up: 60-35 (0.632)
• 2023 season, ATS: 16-14-3 (0.530)
• 2022 season, straight up: 176-107-2 (0.621)
• 2022 season, ATS: 50-50 (0.500) 
• 2021 season, straight up: 179-105-1 (0.630)
• 2021 season, ATS: 46-40-1 (0.534)
• 2020 season, straight up: 169-81-1 (0.675)
• 2020 season, ATS: 45-37-3 (0.547)
• 2019 season, straight up: 160-107-1 (0.601)
• 2019 season, ATS: 42-35-3 (0.544)
• 2018 season, straight up: 173-94-2 (0.647)
• 2018 season, ATS: 41-36-2 (0.532)
• 2017 season, straight up: 181-86 (0.678)
• 2017 season, ATS: 36-32-2 (0.529)
• 2016 season, straight up: 171-94-2 (0.644)
• 2016 season, ATS:  41-34 (0.547)
• 2015 season, straight up: 163-93 (0.637)
• 2015 season, ATS: 46-30-2 (0.605)

• Last 9 years, ATS: 361-305-16 (0.541)

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