By Flint Wheeler
Can you believe it’s week 7 already? Almost the halfway point of the NFL season includes a great AFC clash that looked like it would feature two of the best quarterbacks of this era. But that won’t happen now. I reached out to my buddy Chester Vargas, professional sports better and employee at the Mandalay Bay Sports Book and touched on this week’s upcoming contest.
New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers (no line)
Pittsburgh has looked Super Bowl-contender great in its four wins, but equally as awful in its two losses – a blowout at Philadelphia in Week 3, and Sunday’s setback at Miami. The Steelers (4-2 SU and ATS) had only eight points until late in the fourth quarter and lost to the Dolphins 30-15 laying 7.5 points.
But the bigger news came postgame. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger injured his knee in the second quarter, but returned in the third quarter, though he didn’t play well. Afterward, he was diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his left knee and ruled out for this week’s game. He will have surgery this week, which will determine how much longer he’s out.
Meanwhile, Tom Brady’s return to action has been everything New England expected, and perhaps more. After throwing for 406 yards and three touchdowns in a rout at Cleveland, Brady was back at it Sunday, with 376 yards and three TD passes in a 35-17 dusting of Cincinnati as a 7.5-point home favorite. The Patriots are now 5-1 SU and ATS.
“Big Ben was initially listed as questionable, but is now out indefinitely,” Chet said. “The Steelers will be forced to start perennial journeyman Landry Jones, and I’m not sure we can open this line high enough. I really haven’t given the game much thought because of the Steelers’ quarterback situation, but the line will be well over a touchdown.”
New York Giants vs. Los Angeles Rams (+3)
Sunday morning will come a few hours earlier for NFL fans – 9:30 a.m. on the East Coast, and a wicked 6:30 a.m. here in Vegas. That’s when the Giants and Rams will square off for their game in London.
New York (3-3 SU, 2-3-1 ATS) got back to .500 on Sunday, thanks to the sometimes flighty Odell Beckham. The flashy wideout had eight catches for a whopping 222 yards and two TDs, including a 66-yard score that gave the Giants a 27-23 win over Baltimore as a 3.5-point home favorite.
Los Angeles (3-3 SU and ATS) has followed its three-game SU and ATS upswing by going 0-2 SU and ATS the past two weekends. On Sunday at Detroit, the Rams lost 31-28 as a 2.5-point pup.
“The Rams are going to be on the road for 10 days, having played in Detroit on Sunday, now going to travel straight to London,” Chester said. “While I believe that will help them get acclimated to the time and weather in London, that’s a long time to be away from home and family.
“This is truly a neutral-field game, and we have the Giants the higher power-rated team, so we opened them a solid 3-point favorite.”
Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (+2.5)
Through six weeks, there’s only one unbeaten team left in the NFL, and it’s Minnesota. The Vikings are a perfect 5-0 SU and ATS and are coming off their bye week, following a 31-13 victory over Houston as a 6-point chalk on Oct. 9.
Meanwhile, rookie quarterback Carson Wentz and Philadelphia have cooled off from their 3-0 SU and ATS start, losing SU and ATS each of the past two weeks. The Eagles were a 3-point favorite Sunday at Washington, but lost outright 27-20.
“Man, how the mighty have fallen,” Chet said. “The Eagles were the people’s champ two weeks ago, but now after back-to-back losses, I have a feeling bettors are going to be very shy about backing this team. The Vikings are coming off a bye, playing some great, great football.
“I had this game in the pick-’em range before the Eagles took the field against the Redskins, but after that below-average performance, we decided to open Vikings -2.5, and all the early money is on them. It didn’t take us long to get to Vikings -3, our current number.”
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (-1.5)
NFC West rivals and playoff teams from last year collide in the Week 7 Sunday night game. Seattle (4-1 SU, 2-3 ATS) edged Atlanta 26-24 Sunday as a 7-point fave for its third consecutive SU win. Arizona (2-3 SU and ATS) still has some Week 6 work to do, hosting the New York Jets in the Monday nighter.
“A huge game and pretty much a must-win for the Cardinals if they want any chance to win their division,” said Chet. “The Cardinals play on Monday night, but we opened them a small 1.5-point home favorite, and a lot will depend how they look in their game against the Jets. The Seahawks are playing some really good football and are coming off a nice win over one of the hotter teams in the NFL.
“I have a feeling the public is going to back the Seahawks, but we’ll see.”