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Andrew Mather/Kansas City Chiefs

2023 NFL Game Picks: Week 7

Last week: 9-6

Season: 59-34


JAX (4-2) @ NO (3-3)

Thursday, October 19 | 8:15 PM ET | Prime Video


The health of Trevor Lawrence (knee) on a short week is the biggest storyline entering tonight’s game, and Jacksonville signing Nathan Rourke to the active roster—as the No. 3 and potential emergency quarterback—could signal that either Lawrence won’t play or will be in danger of being pulled early. Another factor is the Saints having a good pass rush that might come alive if they smell blood in the water, so it’s key for the Jaguars to continue playing through Travis Etienne Jr., including perhaps an increased role in the passing game. On defense, Jacksonville has been boosted by Josh Allen seemingly on his way to reaching superstar status, and New Orleans not having right tackle Ryan Ramczyk (concussion) could allow the former top-ten pick to have a showcase game in primetime. I still think Derek Carr and the offense will be able to get on track soon for the Saints, but Allen and the Jacksonville defense gets the edge this week.


Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars


DET (5-1) @ BAL (4-2)

Sunday, October 22 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


Lions-Ravens should be a terrific matchup between Super Bowl hopefuls from each conference, and any questions about Jared Goff’s play on the road should be erased with wins over the Chiefs, Packers, and Buccaneers to begin 2023. A couple of years ago, Baltimore was able to win a 19-17 battle as Justin Tucker hit a record-breaking 66-yard field goal as time expired, but both quarterbacks have much more firepower in the rematch—including emerging game-breakers in Jameson Williams and rookie Zay Flowers. Detroit was notably able to contain Lamar Jackson for most of the game in 2021, but it was allowing a handful of chunk plays through the air that doomed them; fortunately for the Lions, Aaron Glenn’s defense has made significant strides over the past couple of years, and it’ll be interesting to see how they defend Jackson on Sunday. Keep an eye on Jahmyr Gibbs in the featured role with David Montgomery (ribs) likely out, and undrafted rookie Mohamed Ibrahim could also get some run if Craig Reynolds (hamstring/toe) doesn’t suit up.


Winner: Detroit Lions


LV (3-3) @ CHI (1-5)

Sunday, October 22 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


I didn’t think the Raiders would win against Green Bay or New England over the past two weeks, but they are now 3-3 with a very winnable game in Chicago up next. Somewhat surprisingly, it’s been the defense of Las Vegas that has led the way this season, and their opponent on Sunday will be undrafted quarterback Tyson Bagent—who is almost a complete unknown for a guy that will be starting an NFL game this weekend. If it works out and Bagent shows well, this week could be a “win” for general manager Ryan Poles showing he can evaluate quarterbacks; but if not, Chicago’s positive vibes from a Thursday night win over the Commanders could be a thing of the past for a team that’s gone 4-19 under Poles, including ten consecutive losses at home. The play of rookie right tackle Darnell Wright against Maxx Crosby (with a knack for getting in the head of opponents) could determine the fate of the Bears in Week 7.


Winner: Las Vegas Raiders


CLE (3-2) @ IND (3-3)

Sunday, October 22 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Anthony Richardson (shoulder) being done for the season is a major disappointment, but the Colts should have seen enough to feel highly confident in him as their franchise quarterback, and an upper-body injury—even to his throwing shoulder—is much better than a lower-body injury for an athletic player like Richardson. I know some have suggested Indy could be in position to “tank” for Marvin Harrison Jr. to follow in the footsteps of his Hall of Fame father by being drafted by the Colts, but that won’t be happening under Shane Steichen, and Gardner Minshew should play better this week after three interceptions against the Jaguars. Of course, Cleveland won’t be an easy matchup by any means with an unbelievable 121.4 passing yards per game allowed this year, so Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss need to be fed, and it’s fair to wonder if Indy might at least look at outside options if Minshew has another sub-par showing. This is a tough pick, but I like the defensive mentality of Cleveland under Jim Schwartz to keep them going strong rather than falling off after a gritty win over the Niners.


Winner: Cleveland Browns


BUF (4-2) @ NE (1-5)

Sunday, October 22 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


The Patriots being 1-5 and staring down a 1-7 start with games against the Bills and Dolphins to close out October is stunning, and it feels increasingly likely that Bill Belichick won’t finish his career in New England; just last week, former Patriots star Tedy Bruschi said on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown that he thinks Belichick should be done after this year (though I would agree with Rex Ryan that he is still a top-tier head coach and needs someone else to handle the general manager duties), and Robert Kraft might have others in his ear saying similar things. For this week, Belichick will try to keep it close and see if they can’t get some breaks versus Josh Allen and the Bills—but the past four meetings have been 33-21, 47-17 (in the playoffs), 24-10, and 35-23 in favor of Buffalo. Somehow, the Patriots need to get Mac Jones back to playing like he did as a rookie, but the offensive line is arguably the worst in football, and there are no feared playmakers on the outside.


Winner: Buffalo Bills


WAS (3-3) @ NYG (1-5)

Sunday, October 22 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


It’s several weeks earlier, but the Commanders are in an eerily similar spot to last season when they were able to get a close win over the Falcons and then headed to New York—which ended in a 20-20 tie and then three-game losing streak to fall out of playoff contention. Another similarity to last year is Jahan Dotson failing to catch a pass against Atlanta, but like last year, Ron Rivera has suggested his time will come, so a breakout for the former Penn State standout could happen on Sunday, especially with him going for lines of 5/54/1 and 4/105/1 against the Giants as a rookie. For a general view of the Washington offense, there are still concerns about Sam Howell needing to speed up his clock with a whopping 34 sacks absorbed in six games, and the offense should run through Brian Robinson Jr. this week against a New York defense allowing the second-most rushing yards per game (147.5) in the league. Still, I have more faith in Brian Daboll’s coaching staff, and Tyrod Taylor’s on-point deep ball (something that he’s had his whole career) can lead to some big plays if Daniel Jones (neck) is out again.


Winner: New York Giants


ATL (3-3) @ TB (3-2)

Sunday, October 22 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The story for Baker Mayfield and the Buccaneers this season has been them playing very well against most teams, but they’ve lost by 14 points at home to both the Eagles and Lions, which uncoincidentally have been the two worst rushing performances of the year for Rachaad White. I would like to see rookie Sean Tucker be re-involved as the change-of-pace option to maybe spark the rushing attack, but the offensive line is the biggest issue right now, and adding more complex routes for White to run might be a natural extension of the ground game if holes don’t start opening. For Atlanta’s offense, Desmond Ridder simply has to play better after a three-interception performance in the loss to Washington, and Tampa Bay won’t be an easy opponent to get his confidence back against. Whether Ridder stays in the starting role or Taylor Heinicke eventually takes over, I think it’s crucial for the Falcons to lean heavily on Bijan Robinson, Drake London, and Kyle Pitts to carry them in these NFC South battles.


Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers


PIT (3-2) @ LAR (3-3)

Sunday, October 22 | 4:05 PM ET | FOX


Pittsburgh and Los Angeles are definite playoff contenders, and they are essentially opposites with the Steelers having a veteran defense and young offense, while the Rams are powered by a veteran offense and younger defense outside of Aaron Donald. There are obviously other exceptions, and the one I’m most excited about is cornerback Joey Porter Jr.—who inexplicably went in the second round when he could have easily been a top-five pick, and is set to come out of the bye as a starter with Patrick Peterson saying on his podcast that “Joey has to be on the field at some point” because of how impressive he’s been. In Week 5, the youngster turned the game around to beat the Ravens with an interception in single coverage on Odell Beckham Jr., and he could see a lot of fellow rookie Puka Nacua on the outside this week. Pittsburgh’s offense might also hit their stride coming out of the bye with Diontae Johnson (hamstring) and Pat Freiermuth (hamstring) back, but I’d just hope George Pickens is still a top priority for the passing attack.


Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers


ARI (1-5) @ SEA (3-2)

Sunday, October 22 | 4:05 PM ET | FOX


Seattle has not looked good at all in either of their two losses this season, but they bounced back the first time with an overtime victory over Detroit, and Sunday is an opportunity to get back in the win column with the Cardinals coming to town having been outscored 95-45 over the past three weeks. Although rain is in the forecast to perhaps even the matchup some, talent should lean heavily towards the Seahawks, and it feels like DK Metcalf is due for a monster outing against a secondary that has allowed Brandon Aiyuk (6/148), Ja’Marr Chase (15/192/3), and Cooper Kupp (7/148/1) to go off during the current rough stretch for Arizona. So far, the Seattle offense has wanted to be balanced (aside from playing through Kenneth Walker III), but having Metcalf featured could help open things up for the other pass-catchers, and Geno Smith might be able to get in a groove, too. But if Smith struggles again, Joshua Dobbs can pull off his second upset of the year as the Cardinals anticipate a return for Kyler Murray (knee).


Winner: Seattle Seahawks


GB (2-3) @ DEN (1-5)

Sunday, October 22 | 4:25 PM ET | CBS


Broncos head coach Sean Payton has stated that they need to find ways to get their pass-catchers open, but the solution might be as simple as having Marvin Mims Jr. more involved—as the rookie deep threat would stretch the field to create space for everyone else, and the 12 snaps he saw last Thursday night isn’t close to enough. On the bright side, Denver played much better defensively last week after releasing Frank Clark (on the heels of trading Randy Gregory), and the departures have led to increased effort with everyone on notice; getting Baron Browning (knee/wrist) will suddenly give them an exciting young duo with him and Nic Bonnito, but third-round cornerback Riley Moss not yet seeing any defensive action (zero snaps this season) is a disappointment considering the struggles for Damarri Mathis across from Patrick Surtain II. Green Bay has taken a different approach by throwing young players into the mix immediately, and their chances of competing for a playoff spot will be determined by how much improvement Jordan Love shows coming out of the bye week.


Winner: Green Bay Packers


LAC (2-3) @ KC (5-1)

Sunday, October 22 | 4:25 PM ET | CBS


The Chiefs have usually come out on top (4-2 record), but this AFC West rivalry has been extremely competitive since Justin Herbert was drafted by Los Angeles—with five of the six matchups being decided by six or fewer points. Both wins for the Chargers have actually come on the road, and Herbert brings his A-game when facing Patrick Mahomes by throwing for 290.7 yards per game with a 15:4 touchdown-interception ratio. For whatever reason, Herbert was not at his best in the loss to Dallas on Monday night with multiple missed throws to Keenan Allen that could have been the difference, but the same has been true for Kansas City’s offense most of the year; don’t overlook the return of Mecole Hardman Jr. as a weapon that can seamlessly step in to play a substantial role, though, and the 25-year-old was emerging last season before a rare pelvic injury derailed his breakout. Khalil Mack and the pass rush for LA getting to Mahomes is the best chance to avoid a 2-4 start, but Sunday could end up being another demoralizing loss.


Winner: Kansas City Chiefs


MIA (5-1) @ PHI (5-1)

Sunday, October 22 | 8:20 PM ET | NBC


It will be awesome to see Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts face off for the first time on Sunday night, as they will go down in college football history based on what they did at Alabama together with a couple of tag-team wins over Georgia (it’s easy to forget that in addition to Tua coming in to win the national championship, Hurts came off the bench to lead a comeback victory in the SEC Championship Game the following year), and they’ve since turned into top-flight NFL quarterbacks despite each having a chorus of doubters. This weekend, the speed of Miami’s offense will be a huge challenge for Philadelphia, but Haason Reddick (5.5 sacks over the past three weeks) can cause problems with Jalen Carter (ankle) expected back on the interior, and the only loss for the Dolphins came in a blowout to Buffalo where the offensive line couldn’t keep Tagovailoa clean. Plus, Jordan Davis might be able to stuff running lanes before Raheem Mostert is able to reach the second level, and the absence of De’Von Achane (knee) shouldn’t be discounted with his ability to do damage on non-traditional runs. Overall, I’m expecting a masterful performance by Hurts after last week’s loss, and you can be sure—even if they have a strong relationship and the situation was handled with total class by all parties—that Philly’s quarterback remembers being benched at Alabama.


Winner: Philadelphia Eagles


SF (5-1) @ MIN (2-4)

Monday, October 23 | 8:15 PM ET | ESPN/ABC/ESPN2


San Francisco lost a mud fight last week in Cleveland to drop the first game that Brock Purdy has started and finished for them, but Christian McCaffrey (oblique) leaving early was certainly a factor, and it’s unclear if the superstar running back will play on Monday night. Assuming he’s out, Kyle Shanahan will be missing a massive “counter” of the screen game with Brian Flores set to bring constant pressure, but Purdy has shown tremendous poise in his young career, and some of the throws he missed last week will usually be connections to Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle. Minnesota doesn’t have the same kind of firepower with Justin Jefferson (hamstring) out, so Kirk Cousins—who is 2-10 on Monday Night Football—might need to play close to a flawless game to come out on top. Looking ahead, the Vikings have a winnable stretch over the next several weeks (@ GB, @ ATL, v NO, @ DEN, v CHI, @ LV), but things could get interesting if a quarterback injury were to strike somewhere around the league prior to the October 31 trade deadline.


Winner: San Francisco 49ers