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THE CHALKBOARD

Week 7: Best Bets

Things are going your way when Brock Osweiler steps in at the last minute and leads a second half comeback cover. If QC could have acted more quickly and grabbed Cardinals +10.5 (instead of the +10), the 5-2-1 week would have been even a little better. But that's not a complaint. We will take 5 out of 7 every week. Week 6 was QC's fifth profitable week this season. (Only the 0-5 Week 4 disaster has been out of hte money.)

1. Chargers -6.5 over Titans
This is another game in London where one team comes in surging and the other comes in wobbling. LA has thumped a pair of teams in the Bottom 10 in play design differential the last 2 weeks (Oakland and Cleveland). Tennessee has the 11th worst play design differential and was physically manhandled last week by Baltimore. Chargers QB Phil Rivers has tossed 15 TD passes already and LA ranks No. 5 in the NFL in play design differential and is +3 TO. LA also rank No. 1 in the NFL in rushing yards on first down (582 yards) and ranks No. 1 in the NFL in explosive runs, as RBs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekkeler and company have broken off 34 runs of 10 yards or more. Special teams are always a concern with the Chargers and the Titans excel in that area. But if the bookmakers are not going to require more than a one score for LA to cash a ticket QC is going to take them up on it.

2. Bears +3 over Patriots
Chicago wilted in Florida heat and humidity yielding 118 of the 161 rushing yards it surrendered in the second half and overtime. Prior to meeting the Dolphins, no opponet had rushed for as much as 75 yards against the Bears. It is important for Chicago to get back to its old run-stuffing ways because New England's resurgence has coincided with the emergence of rookie RB Sony Michel (and 3 straight home games). On the other side of the ball, Chicago QB Mitch Trubisky did nothing in the first half in Miami and then led 4 TD drives in the second half. Don't expect the peaks and valleys to go away or become less severe with Trubisky, but QC does think he can have success against New England running HC Matt Nagy's designs. Nagy's former boss, KC's Andy Reid, seemed to have receivers running free throughout the Patriots' secondary and if Pat Mahomes's accuracy had not been a little off in the first half the Chiefs might have hung 60 points on the Patriots. Look for Nagy and Trubisky to have success against the New England D, which ranks 31st in the NFL in pass pressure (-2.30 sack yards lost per attempt).

3. Panthers +4.5 over Eagles
Philadelphia looked a lot more like its 2017 Super Bowl self in spanking the Giants. QB Carson Wentz was efficient (8.361 QCYPA), tossed 3 TD passes, and was TO-free. The defense stifled Eli Manning and everyone else on New York except rookie RB Saquon Barkley. With RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina ranks No. 8 in the NFL in explosive runs of 10 yards or more. The Panthers have failed to cover this year when Cam Newton has thrown 40 or more passes, so Carolina needs to get the lead so it can try to run the ball and force Wentz and the Eagles to take risk in an effort to catch up. Philadelphia's defense has forced just 6 TO so it is reasonable to expect that Carolina (+2 TO) will bounce back from a -3 TO performance against Washington and at least keep this game close.

4. Texans +4.5 over Jaguars
In 5 of Houston's 6 games, the difference has been a field goal. In the other game, the Texans lost by 5 points to the Giants. So it seems unlikely that the punchless Jaguars are suddenly going to discover enough offense to blow Houston out. Since RB Leonard Fournette hurt his hamstring, Jacksonville's offense has fallen apart. The Jaguars have run the ball just 17.5 times per game in their last 2 games and committed 7 TO. To try to fix the problem, Jacksonville acquired RB Carlos Hyde from Pittsburgh today. Blake Bortles ranked 21st in the NFL in pass attempts last year (32.9 per game), but he currently ranks No. 8 (39.5 per game). That's too many passes for Bortles so Jacksonville needs Hyde to contribute immediately. Houton's offensive line has struggled all year, but QB Deshaun Watson is elusive and tough and 40.8% of his passes result in first downs, which moves the chains and ranks No. 4 in the NFL. The Texans also rank No. 7 in the NFL in explosive pass plays (passes of 25 yards or more). Put all this together and it looks like another close game that could go either way by a field goal.

5. UNDER 41.5: Redskins vs Cowboys
QC is 2-1 picking Washington to the under and with no Drew Brees in sight this looks like Redskins game made in under heaven. Washington is the stingiest team in the NFL committing just 4 TO while Dallas is tied for fifth (just 6 TO). The Cowboys rank No. 2 in the NFL in rushing frequency (47.5% of plays) while the Redskins rank No. 9. Washington ranks No. 3 in the NFL in time of possessiona and No. 31 in big plass plays (passes of 25 yards or more) and Dallas ranks No. 25 in big pass plays. If this game goes according to form, it should easily stay under hte 41.5 point total. QC is 7-2 to the under in 2018.

6. Rams OVER 30.5 and
7. OVER 52: 49ers vs Rams and
8. Rams -9.5 over 49ers

Jared Goff and LA are averaging better than 10 QCYPA and are infintely productive, simultaneously replacing every down they use to pass with a fresh first down (on average). Since 2009, four infintely productive teams have entered Week 7 of an NFL season. In all of those games, the infinitely productive team scored at least 30 points. In 3 of those games the total touched or exceeded 60 points. LA HC Sean McVay relied primarily on the running of Todd Gurley last week, but in the 4 pior games Goff exceeded 10 QCYPA. He should do so again against San Francisco's poor pass coverage, which has yielded 14 TD passes to lesser competition. LA is averaging 32.7 points per game and San Francisco is averaging 24.7 points per game. Given those figures, this total looks like a great bargain, particularly next to the 58 total that bookmakers have hung for the Kansas City vs. Cincinnati game. Under these circumstances, laying the 9.5 points is a good hedge against Kyle Shannhan's 49ers being out of gas after a 30-point effort last Monday in Green Bay.

9. Chiefs -6 over Bengals
Andy Dalton's 6-14 SU record in primetime is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Bengals problems. Cincinnati ranks No. 28 in the NFL in time of possession, which means Kansas City's explosive offense should be on the field more than usual. Against New England, the Chiefs had the ball for just 23:51 and still put up 40 points. If KC gets the ball for the 31:26 that Cincinnati opponents' average, it seems likely Pat Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt, et al. will go for 40 points again. The Bengals also will be without LB Nick Vigil, who sprained his MCL against the Steelers. Vigil had improved this year to an above-average LB according to Pro Football Focus. He might be missed more than expected, particularly in defending the multi-dimensional Hunt. Mahomes has not been sacked in 3 of 6 games this year and the Bengals failed to record a sack last week against statuesque Big Ben Roethlisberger. For the year, Cincinnati ranks 30th in pass pressure (-.262 sack yards lost per pass attempt).

Last Week: 5-2-1
Season: 22-13-2 (.629)

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