NFL odds 2017, Week 7: Betting lines, trends, and analysis for the week’s top games

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 4-0 straight up and 3-0-1 against the spread in their last four games against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers hope to extend that winning streak and solidify their spot atop the AFC North division with a win over the Bengals this Sunday.

The offensive line has been completely inept. And things looked especially grim with Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall both landing on injured reserve after Week 5.

So far, the change is working. New York kicked off Sunday night’s matchup with Denver with a 13-play, 69-yard field goal drive. It was the first time this season the Broncos defense allowed a score on an opponent’s opening possession.

Who is Mike Sullivan? Sullivan is in his second season as the Giants’ offensive coordinator. It’s his second stint in New York, where he previously was the wide receivers coach and then the quarterbacks coach from 2004 through 2011.

The Vikings were a disaster along the offensive line in 2016, and that showed in the limitations the offense had. Bradford had no time to really do anything longer than a checkdown, and the running game was among the most atrocious the Vikings have fielded since the advent of the 16-game schedule. I know that other new faces have contributed to that, such as Remmers at right tackle and rookie Pat Elflein at center.

Rich Hill at Pats Pulpit decided to rank each newcomer in New England. It’s no surprise that wide receiver Brandin Cooks came out on top:

Cooks has been an every-down player on offense and ranks 11th in the league with 294 receiving yards. His two receiving touchdowns are tied for sixth most in the league. His average receptions of 22.6 leads the league. He’s already contributing at a high level and he’s only going to get better.falcons_021

La Russa steps down as D-backs’ chief analyst

The Diamondbacks announced Wednesday that Tony La Russa will leave his position as chief baseball analyst at the end of October.

La Russa, who was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame for his managerial career, served from 2015-2016 as the team’s chief baseball officer before moving into the analyst position this year.

Wow.

That play is the NBA equivalent of breaking a dude’s ankles and then driving to the basket to throw down a monster reverse jam. And then hanging on the rim while staring down the helpless defender. So disrespectful (in a good way).

That’s just jaw-dropping stuff right there from a dude who had been so awful during the first two seasons of his career. Now he’s doing this?!

With plays like these, the Eagles certainly aren’t missing Jordan Matthews a lot in the slot. I’m not trying to make this an anti-JMatt thing, but Agholor is just so clearly more explosive.

Now, while this trade won’t directly affect the Vikings this season. . .barring an unlikely post-season meeting, the Vikings don’t play the Cardinals and they have already beaten the Saints. . .it could potentially affect the Vikings’ 2018 NFL Draft position.

Can the Saints keep up that sack rate? Probably not. Will they be one of the best defenses in football over the next 11 weeks? I’d be skeptical. Showing steady signs of life after three years of awful performances, though, is promising. Defenses as bad as the Saints have been often regress to the mean by virtue of the dead cat bounce; they get rid of replacement-level talent, change their coaches, invest in new talent, or get luckier.falcons_016

I wish we would have done better, but we won.

Larranaga pondered the question for a bit before answering, and it was clear he wanted to pick the right words.

I would say, on the court, people probably don’t realize what an unbelievable help defender [Horford] is, Larranaga said. You might see a blocked shot at the end of games, but it’s how he is in the right position, always. He’s covering for teammates constantly. I think people see how unselfish he is, offensively, but he is equally unselfish defensively, and has an equal impact on his teammates’ performance.

“We have a great team,” said Bellinger, a rookie from nearby Chandler, Arizona. “And to come here and sweep them, beat them on their home turf is hard to do and pretty special.”

Darvish, acquired from Texas in a trade deadline deal, struck out seven over five innings to outpitch Arizona’s Zack Greinke and earn the righty his first postseason victory in three tries.

“He’s put me in great positions to succeed,” Green said. “That’s all you can ask for as a coach and he’s given me that. I’m working hard to prove myself to him that I can do it.”

“He’s so well-loved, so respected around here. No one here wants to see that,” Mayo said.

The rest of the Panthers didn’t need to see to believe that this development can be worrisome for Kuechly, despite it feeling less devastating.

Here’s the latest edition of “He Said What?!”

Hundley on taking over for injured Rodgers: “Obviously, Aaron is Aaron, but I’m Brett. So, let’s have some fun.”

Brady on breaking the record for most regular-season victories: “I wish we would have done better, but we won.”steelers_038

Minus injured slugger Edwin Encarnacion, the Indians have scored three runs in two games since.

Unlike in their midweek home matchup with the Saints in Week 11 last season, a Pyrrrhic 23-20 victory in which Kuechly ended up being lost for the final six games with a head injury that had him being carted off the field in tears, they have a lot of meaningful games left in 2017.

Carolina is still in good position at 4-2 after falling to Philadelphia, which is now 5-1. The Panthers are still a strong playoff contender, not looking anything close to the Super Bowl-hungover bunch that went 6-10 and finished last in the NFC South last season.

Forget how the Eagles’ offense got the tying touchdown and took the lead not long after Kuechly was hurt in the red zone right before halftime.

Why such a player would do anything beyond staying wide awake in every film session, running the assigned routes and catching whatever balls are thrown his way is hard to figure. But so is getting one’s self suspended for a year.

Severino got only one out in the wild-card game against Minnesota last Tuesday, but was bailed out by his teammates as New York advanced with an 8-4 victory. This time, the 23-year-old ace was determined to come through, and he did.

“That’s what it has to come down to, for him to possibly understand and hear from these players rather than hear from outside sources, hear it directly from the players.”

Wade’s role, of course, will reunite him with James in the starting lineup. The last time they linked up in that fashion, the pair made it to four straight Finals and won two championships with the Miami Heat.tigers_050

Sunday Night Football: Three takeaways from depleted Giants’ upset win over Broncos

Despite being a two-touchdown underdog, the injury-ridden Giants shocked the Broncos Sunday night in Denver for their first win of the season.

The Cubs, meanwhile, did not change their plans at starter; Jake Arrieta, who has battled a hamstring injury, will take the mound as had been planned before the postponement.

“Jake’s really primed for this opportunity,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s done a great job of rehabbing his leg. He feels very good arm- and leg-wise right now. I’m real eager to watch him play.”

“This city is so much more than The Strip,” said Golden Knights winger James Neal, who is just the second player to score five goals in an expansion team’s first three games. “We all live by the practice facility in Summerlin and a lot of people live here. It’s not just a city where you come and party and leave. We’re making this our home and making this a hockey town — and I think we’re off to a great start.”

Big Ben has it again: Shock. Turns out Ben Roethlisberger may have been ribbing us when he suggested he maybe doesn’t have it anymore. The Steelers handed the Chiefs their first loss, and Roethlisberger subsequently said: “I guess this old cowboy’s got a little left in him.”

Smith fired up at late hit: One of the low points of the Steelers’ victory came as Mike Mitchell dived at Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith’s knees on a late hit. Not usually one to lose his cool, Smith lashed out at Mitchell after the play and said postgame: “Certainly when I got fired up, I thought [the hit] was pretty late. I mean, when you get hit in the back of your knee like that, I didn’t understand how that happened.”
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Expect EJ Manuel and Matt Cassel to be taking snaps for the Raiders and Titans, respectively.

Aaron Jones (7:30 a.m.): With Ty Montgomery doubtful to play because of his rib injury, expect Jones — who was reported to have been taking first-team reps this week in practice — to get a chance to handle a lot of Green Bay’s rushing offense today.

Adam Schefter’s overnight update (7:15 a.m.): Our ESPN NFL Insider reports that wide receivers John Brown, Martavis Bryant, Tyrell Williams and Marqise Lee, despite being listed as questionable, are all expected to play today. As for quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr are both likely to be sidelined. Expect EJ Manuel and Matt Cassel to be taking snaps for the Raiders and Titans, respectively.

Jones, one of seven NFL owners who donated to Trump’s inaugural committee, spoke with the president after the Cowboys played the Cardinals. According to Jones, Trump said the entire issue could have been avoided if the NFL enforced a rule stating that players must stand for the national anthem. However, that requirement is not included in the NFL’s game operations manual.

According to the manual, “During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking.”

NFL players who have demonstrated during the national anthem over the past year have said that they are protesting police brutality and racism — not the flag or the anthem itself.

“If it comes between the impression or the perception that we’re not standing together, supporting each other or the perception that we’re disrespecting the flag, the perception that we’re not together will be secondary to not respecting the flag,” Jones said. “Respecting the flag is first.”x (9)

Reid said the 49ers’ actions during the anthem Sunday were not as planned as last week’s display in Arizona.

“These were guys that felt compelled to continue to protest. I think it is gaining ground,” Reid said. “… I will continue to say and encourage people to educate themselves on how we got to where we are today because it didn’t happen overnight and it’s not going to happen overnight to fix these issues. So we’re going to keep talking about it. I know that I will keep doing what I feel is necessary to use the platform I have to make those changes.

Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams: He’s human after all. Gurley, the top PPR scorer in fantasy football entering the week (119.6 points), couldn’t get anything done against the Seahawks’ defense on Sunday, turning 16 total touches into a mere five PPR and three non-PPR fantasy points. It was the fifth- and second-worst totals of his 34-game NFL career to date, but for more perspective, only once in 2016 did he have fewer PPR fantasy points in a game (4.6, Week 15), in a season that most of his owners declared a complete disappointment. Gurley was the third-most-started running back in ESPN leagues in Week 5 (99.6 percent), behind only Le’Veon Bell (99.9) and Ezekiel Elliott (99.7).

Sammy Watkins, WR, Rams: For the second consecutive week, Watkins failed to perform for his fantasy managers, and on Sunday he was nearly invisible if not for his four targets (none of which resulted in a catch). It was only the second time in his 42-game career that he was shut out, as he failed to score on two targets in 2015 Week 1.x (1)

Jerry Jones: Cowboys will bench any player who ‘disrespects’ flag

Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said emphatically that his players will stand for the national anthem and not disrespect the flag, and if they do, the player or players will not play.

“If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” Jones said after the Cowboys’ 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers. “Understand? We will not … if we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period.”

This was supposed to be TankFest 2017, but the Jets have ruined the story line. It doesn’t matter how they’ve won or who they’ve beaten: Todd Bowles has wrung two wins out of this team when it wasn’t obvious they’d get two all season. How ready are the Browns to suck up the roster-wide weaknesses and DeShone Kizer’s apprenticeship? The signs of progress just aren’t there yet.

This was not supposed to be TankFest 2017 … and technically it’s not, just Underachieve-Fest 2017. The Chargers might need a long road trip like this to forget the lack of home-field edge they have. They also need to face a team even unluckier than them, although the Giants are making their own bad luck with their lousy offense, even when Odell Beckham Jr. is doing spectacular things through an alarming string of nagging injuries.

It takes just two plays for Green Bay to move into Dallas territory. The Packers currently have it at the Dallas 48 with under a minute to play.

Green Bay will get the ball back at its own 25 with one timeout, needing a field goal to tie.

Touchdown Dallas. The Cowboys swing the scoreboard back in their favor with 1:13 to go and they currently hold a 31-28 advantage. Prescott fakes a handoff to Ezekiel Elliott, keeps the ball himself and runs into the end zone for an 11-yard score. x (6)

Vote: Are these Rams for real?

What a difference a year — and a new coaching regime — has made for the Los Angeles Rams.

Through three games, including Thursday night’s 41-39 thriller over the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium, the Rams have looked like a team that can score in bunches and make crucial defensive stops when needed most. Quarterback Jared Goff is looking like a guy who deserved to go No. 1 overall in the 2016 draft, while RB Todd Gurley has looked far more like the 2015 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year than the 2016 sophomore dud. Sean McVay might be the youngest head coach in NFL history, but so far his offense — which worked wonders with Redskins QB Kirk Cousins — looks pretty sharp with Goff, Gurley and receivers Tavon Austin and Sammy Watkins.

Zampese was in his second year as coordinator, having spent the previous 13 seasons as quarterbacks coach. The Bengals ranked 13th in total offense in 2016 but 24th in scoring (20.3 ppg).

Lazor, who becomes Lewis’ fifth offensive coordinator in Cincinnati, takes over an offense that has scored just nine points on three field goals. Before joining Lewis’ staff last season, he had served as offensive coordinator and/or quarterbacks coach with the Redskins, Seahawks, Eagles and Dolphins.

The Lions defensive line never gave an inch, and the secondary played the Giants receivers tight with the exception of one wide-open touchdown in the second quarter.

But the Giants defense played well too. Stafford hasn’t been held under 150 receiving yards since 2010 but managed just 122 yards against the stingy New York defense. Had he needed to throw more, he definitely could’ve added to his total, but it was still an impressive — albeit frustrating — night for the Giants defense

There’s a lot of way to show displeasure with your football team. But Giants fans nailed it with a thumbs down seemingly every time one got on camera.

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J.J. Watt wasn’t sure his finger was still attached after Texans’ win vs. Bengals

Following his team’s 13-9 win at the Bengals on Thursday night, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said he wasn’t sure the finger he injured in Houston’s Week 1 loss to the Jaguars will still attached to his hand.

“It was really great until the last three plays and then I was literally adjusting it and feeling it as I was running around and trying to chase that guy on the last play,” Watt said of his finger, per ESPN.com. “I’m honestly kind of scared to take my glove off. I honestly don’t know what it looks like.”

“He looks better than ever,” the Jets coach said Wednesday. “He actually looks quicker. Laterally, he looks just as good as he always has.”

Fantasy football owners should be on alert, because Bowles’ Jets gave up 110 rushing yards to Bills running back LeSean McCoy last week. Week 2 could provide another long afternoon for a New York defense in the midst of a rebuild.

“It’s not much of a change schematically,” Bowles explained when asked about the transition of thinking when it comes to defending Lynch a week after defending McCoy. “You still have to be gap conscious in your gaps as far as running the defense, but a great back is a great back.

“(McCoy) is great in a different way, and then you have Marshawn, great in a different way. You have to prepare for them all the same. They’re good backs and they are going to be tough every week, so we just have to get ready.”
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