What to know for NFL Week 7: Score picks, bold predictions, fantasy tips, key stats and more

, , Leave a comment


The Week 7 NFL schedule for the 2021 season is stacked with great matchups, and we’ve got you covered with what you need to know heading into the weekend. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the biggest keys to every game, a bold prediction for each matchup and, of course, final score picks.

Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information provides a big stat to know for each contest, and our Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a matchup rating (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a game projection. ESPN researcher Kyle Soppe hands out helpful fantasy football and betting nuggets as well. Everything you want to know is here in one spot to help you get ready for a loaded weekend of NFL football.

Let’s get into the full Week 7 slate, including a meeting between Patrick Mahomes and Derrick Henry, an AFC North showdown between the red-hot Ravens and the up-and-coming Bengals, Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford facing off against their old teams and a rookie-quarterback clash in New England. It all culminates with a Monday Night Football matchup between the Saints and the Seahawks on ESPN. (Game times are Sunday unless otherwise noted.)

Jump to a matchup:
KC-TEN | CIN-BAL | WSH-GB
CAR-NYG | NYJ-NE | ATL-MIA
DET-LAR | PHI-LV | CHI-TB
HOU-ARI | IND-SF | NO-SEA

Thursday: CLE 17, DEN 14
Bye: BUF, DAL, MIN, PIT, LAC, JAX

1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
70.3 | Spread: KC -4.5 (57.5)

What to watch for: Chiefs quarterback Mahomes is third in the NFL with five passing plays of 40 yards or more, and he’s leading the NFL with 18 passing touchdowns. The Titans, meanwhile, have allowed six passing plays of 40 yards, third worst in the NFL. Tennessee’s banged-up secondary has to find a way to keep the Chiefs’ passing game from hitting the big play on Sunday. — Turron Davenport

Bold prediction: The Chiefs will hold Titans running back Derrick Henry to fewer than 100 rushing yards. Henry has had some big live against the Chiefs. He is off to a red-hot start, with 783 yards and 10 scores on the ground, and the Chiefs are allowing 5.2 yards per carry (No. 30 in the NFL). But the Kansas City defense may have finally found its footing in last week’s game against Washington, and the expected return of defensive tackle Chris Jones (wrist) should help. — Adam Teicher

Stat to know: Titans receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill all rank in the top 10 in yards per route among 83 players with at least 150 targets since 2019. Brown is sixth at 2.64, Jones is eighth at 2.56, Kelce is ninth at 2.50 and Hill is 10th at 2.48.

Injuries: Chiefs | Titans

What to know for fantasy: Kansas City running back Darrel Williams scored 23.9 fantasy points in his first start of the season in Week 6, a total that normal starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire (knee) has yet to hit this season. With 21 carries, the feature role is clearly his right now, and he has caught multiple passes in four straight live. See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: Kansas City is 4-13 against the spread (ATS) in its last 17 live, including the playoffs. It has not covered back-to-back live since Weeks 6-8 of last season, and it is 0-3 ATS against teams with winning records this season. Read more.

Teicher’s pick: Chiefs 31, Titans 24
Davenport’s pick: Titans 35, Chiefs 30
FPI prediction: KC, 59.1% (by an average of 3.2 points)

Matchup must-reads: Mahomes and the Chiefs have a turnover problemHenry’s fifth straight 100-yard game helps Titans to win over BillsChiefs running back Williams turned his mom’s tears into hollers of happinessFor the Titans, win over Bills just the start during rough stretch of their schedule


1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
62.6 | Spread: BAL -6.5 (46.5)

What to watch for: How will Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow navigate the Ravens’ defense? Burrow has thrown 14 touchdown passes, the second-most by a Bengals quarterback through the first six live of a season. But he faces a different challenge in the Ravens, who held him to the lowest Total QBR (4.2) of his career last season. Burrow was pressured on a career-high 48.7% of his dropbacks and sacked seven times in his only meeting against Baltimore. — Jamison Hensley

Bold prediction: The Bengals will be limited to fewer than 300 offensive yards. Cincinnati’s offense has gotten away with some inconsistency against lesser opponents, but there will be no room for error against Baltimore and defensive coordinator Don Martindale. — Ben Baby

Stat to know: Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson — the NFL’s only player with 1,500-plus passing yards and 300-plus rushing yards this season — is 5-0 in his career against the Bengals, with an average margin of victory of 20.8 points per game. The Ravens won the past three live against the Bengals by a combined score of 114-19.

Injuries: Bengals | Ravens

play

1:50

Matthew Berry explains why Rashod Bateman is a worthwhile stash in fantasy football.

What to know for fantasy: You know the rushing production is there for Bengals running back Joe Mixon (either a rushing touchdown or at least 5 yards per carry in each of his past four live), but the five catches last week in Detroit were noteworthy, too. He had four total catches in the four live prior. See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: Cincinnati live are 5-1 to the under this season, and all three of its road live have gone under the total. Read more.

Baby’s pick: Ravens 24, Bengals 13
Hensley’s pick: Ravens 34, Bengals 24
FPI prediction: BAL, 68.3% (by an average of 6.5 points)

Matchup must-reads: Burrow still on voice rest ahead of Ravens gameWhy the improved Bengals are(n’t) ready to challenge the Ravens for AFC North superiorityAre Ravens the AFC’s best? Baltimore QB Jackson prefers flying under radar


1 p.m. ET | FOX
Matchup rating:
47.8 | Spread: GB -7.5 (48.5)

What to watch for: Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Davante Adams are riding high. Rodgers has 12 touchdowns and one interception during the Packers’ current five-game winning streak, and Adams has an NFL-best 668 receiving yards this season. Washington has allowed 186 points this season, its most through six live since 1998. It seems like a recipe for Rodgers and the Packers to roll. — Rob Demovsky

Bold prediction: Washington receiver Terry McLaurin will have his third 100-yard game of the season and score one touchdown, but Washington will be the first team this season that fails to score a TD when it enters the red zone against Green Bay. Cincinnati’s Ja’Marr Chase is the only receiver to go over 100 against the Packers this season. — John Keim

Stat to know: The Packers are 16-2 at home in the regular season since Matt LaFleur became the coach in 2019 — the best home record in the NFL in that span.

Injuries: Washington | Packers

What to know for fantasy: McLaurin hasn’t finished better than WR45 in three of the past four weeks. See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: Washington is 1-5 ATS this season — worst in the NFL — including 0-3 ATS as an underdog. And under coach Ron Rivera, it is 0-4-1 ATS as an underdog of at least seven points. Read more.

Keim’s pick: Packers 33, Washington 24
Demovsky’s pick: Packers 31, Washington 21
FPI prediction: GB, 72.0% (by an average of 8.0 points)

Matchup must-reads: Washington releases kicker Hopkins, opts for untested BlewittPackers’ problems on defense in the red zone reach historic lowsRivera’s goal for Washington: ‘Play two halves of football’Here an injury, there an injury, almost everywhere an injury for Packers


1 p.m. ET | FOX
Matchup rating:
28.9 | Spread: CAR -3 (43.5)

What to watch for: The Panthers bring two dangerous edge rushers to this game with Haason Reddick (6.5 sacks) and Brian Burns (3.0). It’s possible they wreck this game against Giants tackles Nate Solder and Matt Peart, who steps in after starting left tackle Andrew Thomas landed on IR earlier this week. Solder has a below-average pass block win rate of 82.8% while Peart is at 81.0%. These matchups should dictate whether the Giants can produce any offense. — Jordan Raanan

Bold prediction: Panthers rookie running back Chuba Hubbard will rush for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Carolina coach Matt Rhule promised a vastly different look on offense and more of a lean on the run, and the Giants’ defense is ranked 25th in the NFL (4.5 yards per carry allowed) against the run. — David Newton

Stat to know: Over the past three live (all losses), the Panthers have allowed 30.3 points per game, 27th in the NFL. They allowed 10.0 per game in their first three live, the second fewest league-wide.

Injuries: Panthers | Giants

play

0:48

Adam Schefter breaks down the pressure facing Joe Judge after the Giants’ 1-5 start.

What to know for fantasy: Hubbard is locked into a fantasy-friendly role with Christian McCaffrey on IR, but be careful. Here are Hubbard’s yards per carry over the past four weeks: 4.7, 4.4, 4.2 and 3.8. Last week, against the Vikings, none of his 16 carries gained more than nine yards. See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: New York is 0-3 ATS at home this season, and quarterback Daniel Jones is 4-11 ATS at home in his career. Read more.

Newton’s pick: Panthers 24, Giants 21
Raanan’s pick: Giants 13, Panthers 9
FPI prediction: CAR, 56.6% (by an average of 2.3 points)

Matchup must-reads: Gilmore’s ‘homecoming’ gives Panthers and Football City USA a boostGiants left tackle Thomas put on IR, out at least 3 liveGetting healthy will help Panthers, but coach Rhule says they still ‘have a long ways to go’


1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
25.2 | Spread: NE -7 (43)

What to watch for: The Patriots intercepted Jets quarterback Zach Wilson four times in the Week 2 meeting between these teams, and several of those were gift-wrapped by the No. 2 overall pick. Will history repeat itself? The Patriots have just two interceptions in their other five live and have a minus-3 turnover differential on the season. — Mike Reiss

Bold prediction: A first-quarter pick-six by safety Marcus Maye will kill two slumps with one stone, so to speak. It will be the Jets’ first interception in eight live, dating to last season, and their first score of the season in the opening quarter. The Jets have been outscored 30-0 in the first quarter and 75-13 in first half this season. But they’ll still find a way to lose the game. — Rich Cimini

Stat to know: New England receiver Jakobi Meyers has 121 career receptions but zero receiving touchdowns. No other wide receiver to debut in the past 40 seasons has ever had more than 100 receptions before his first career TD reception, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Injuries: Jets | Patriots

What to know for fantasy: In Weeks 4-5, there were just five players to run for a score and see three targets in both weeks. Four of those names won’t surprise you: Jonathan Taylor, Kareem Hunt, Austin Ekeler and Najee Harris. Jets rookie running back Michael Carter is the fifth. See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: New England is 0-4 outright and 1-3 ATS at home this season, including two outright losses as a favorite. Read more.

Cimini’s pick: Patriots 23, Jets 20
Reiss’ pick: Patriots 27, Jets 17
FPI prediction: NE, 70.9% (by an average of 7.6 points)

Matchup must-reads: Jets rookie Wilson battles the ‘Mahomes Effect’Patriots need clutch plays to prove they are good teamJets need playmakers, so why isn’t Moore getting the ball?


1 p.m. ET | FOX
Matchup rating:
21.1 | Spread: ATL -2.5 (47.5)

What to watch for: Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has never thrown for 300 yards in consecutive live in his NFL career and faces a Falcons defense that has yet to allow a 300-yard passer this season. Tagovailoa has also never thrown for three touchdowns in a single game, but Atlanta has allowed three of its five opponents to do this season. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Bold prediction: Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley will have his first 100-yard game of the year and score two touchdowns to get his season back on track. During joint practices with the Dolphins in August, Ridley dominated on the field. On Sunday, he’ll do more of the same, no matter who is lined up against him. — Michael Rothstein

Stat to know: Atlanta tight end Kyle Pitts (308) and Miami receiver Jaylen Waddle (301) are Nos. 4 and 5 in receiving yards among rookies this season.

Injuries: Falcons | Dolphins

What to know for fantasy: After not finishing as a top-15 tight end in consecutive weeks, Pitts was the TE3 in Week 5 against the Jets. See Week 7 rankings.

play

1:47

Field Yates and Matthew Berry discuss the pros and cons of starting Jaylen Waddle.

Betting nugget: Miami is the fifth team to not have a bye following a London game. The previous four (two in 2016 and two in 2017) went 2-2 both straight up and ATS. Read more.

Rothstein’s pick: Falcons 31, Dolphins 21
Louis-Jacques’ pick: Falcons 30, Dolphins 24
FPI prediction: MIA, 50.5% (by an average of 0.2 points)

Matchup must-reads: Falcons WR Ridley returns to practiceIt’s time to adjust expectations for Dolphins as playoff hopes fade


4:05 p.m. ET | FOX
Matchup rating:
49.9 | Spread: LAR -15.5 (50.5)

What to watch for: Sunday’s matchup marks an intriguing pair of reunions. Rams coach Sean McVay will face off against Goff, his former quarterback of four seasons who admitted this week that he remains sour about how last January’s blockbuster trade that sent him to Detroit in exchange for Lions quarterback Stafford went down. And while McVay and Goff will face each other for the first time, Stafford will also for the first time face his former team, which he requested a trade from after 12 seasons. — Lindsey Thiry

Bold prediction: Goff will pass for 300-plus yards. Although he has had just one such game this season, he will bring his A-game against his old team while trying to be as accurate as possible. Going against his former teammates Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey is a tough task, but he knows their tendencies. — Eric Woodyard

Stat to know: Stafford’s 16 touchdown passes this season are the most in NFL history in a player’s first six live with a team.

Injuries: Lions | Rams

What to know for fantasy: The NFC has seen a QB throw over 25 passes and average 0.85 fantasy points per pass in a game five times this season, and Stafford is responsible for two of them (Weeks 1 and 6). See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: Double-digit favorites are 8-0 outright and 6-2 ATS this season. Read more.

Woodyard’s pick: Rams 34, Lions 19
Thiry’s pick: Rams 38, Lions 14
FPI prediction: LAR, 86.3% (by an average of 15.0 points)

Matchup must-reads: Lions QB Goff ‘motivated’ to take on Rams in LAHow the Stafford-Goff trade landed in Detroit, LAWhy the McVay-Goff partnership fell apart for Rams


4:05 p.m. ET | FOX
Matchup rating:
39.3 | Spread: LV -3 (49)

What to watch for: How will the Raiders compartmentalize their emotions against an Eagles team that last played 10 days ago? Las Vegas ran the gamut in an emotional week that included the resignation of coach Jon Gruden after his email scandal and ended with its most impressive all-around game in recent memory. The Eagles are well-rested, and with another quarterback who can extend plays in Jalen Hurts, the Raiders defense will again be put to the test. — Paul Gutierrez

Bold prediction: Hurts will become the first QB to rush for two touchdowns in three straight live since 1950. The Raiders rank 26th against the run (4.6 yards per carry allowed), and Hurts will take advantage to help get the Eagles’ season back on track. He’s tied for most quarterback rushing TDs (five) entering Week 7 while leading his team in rushing yards (300). — Tim McManus

Stat to know: Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr is 54 passing yards shy of 2,000. The most by a Raiders QB through seven live is 2,382 (Rich Gannon in 2002).

play

0:52

Field Yates and Matthew Berry agree that Derek Carr is a solid QB to pick up.

Injuries: Eagles | Raiders

What to know for fantasy: Hurts has thrown just five touchdown passes over the past five weeks, and yet he is the only quarterback in the NFL who has been a top-12 option at the position every week this season. See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: Nine of Las Vegas’ 11 home live at Allegiant Stadium have gone over the total since it opened last season. Read more.

McManus’ pick: Eagles 31, Raiders 26
Gutierrez’s pick: Raiders 27, Eagles 23
FPI prediction: LV, 60.1% (by an average of 3.5 points)

Matchup must-reads: Eagles TE Goedert returns from COVID-19 listRaiders starting to figure out how to utilize Jacobs, Drake comboTriple threat: Eagles could make history in 2022 NFL draft


4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
56.7 | Spread: TB -12.5 (47)

What to watch for: The Bucs have survived a rash of injuries — particularly among their defensive backs — and penalties to get to 5-1. But if you look closely at those wins, only one has come against a top-10 defense — the Patriots — and that was by the skin of their teeth against a rookie quarterback. So this may be closer than expected, but look for the Bucs’ pass-rush to continue to be the difference-maker against Chicago QB Justin Fields and a Bears offensive line that has surrendered a league-high 22 sacks this year. — Jenna Laine

Bold prediction: Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady will commit three turnovers — and Tampa will still win easily. The Bears can get after it on defense, where they lead the NFL in sacks. Not having pass-rusher Robert Quinn (Reserve/COVID-19 list) hurts, but Chicago has enough playmakers on D to rattle Brady. The problem is the Bears cannot score points to capitalize on those takeaways. — Jeff Dickerson

Stat to know: Brady and Bucs receiver Antonio Brown have connected for 10 touchdowns since Week 15 of last season. That’s the most by any QB-receiver duo in the NFL over that span.

Injuries: Bears | Buccaneers

What to know for fantasy: A single player has accounted for 100% of his team’s backfield touches five times this season: Harris (Week 1), David Montgomery (Week 3), Alvin Kamara (Week 5), James Robinson (Week 6) and … Chicago’s Khalil Herbert (Week 6). See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: Unders are 5-1 in Chicago live this season, tied for the best under mark this season (Bengals and Chargers). But all three Tampa Bay home live have gone over the total this season. Read more.

Dickerson’s pick: Buccaneers 28, Bears 10
Laine’s pick: Buccaneers 30, Bears 20
FPI prediction: TB, 81.1% (by an average of 12.1 points)

Matchup must-reads: Bears put pass-rusher Quinn on COVID-19 listSherman to be out a few weeks with pulled hamstring


4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
48.6 | Spread: ARI -17.5 (47.5)

What to watch for: It’s not a homecoming because it’s in Arizona, but it’ll be the first time that Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins and defensive lineman J.J. Watt will face the only other team they played for in their careers. That means there’ll be plenty of emotion, regardless of what they say publicly. How they’ll handle it and whether the emotion affects their play will be the big question Sunday. — Josh Weinfuss

Bold prediction: Watt will score a touchdown. This game against the team he spent his first 10 seasons playing for is probably one Watt has had circled on the calendar since the schedule came out. Watt has six career touchdowns — including three on offense — and he’ll add to it on Sunday against the Texans. — Sarah Barshop

Stat to know: Hopkins has six receiving touchdowns so far and is seeking to join Anquan Boldin (seven, 2008) as the only Cardinals in the Super Bowl era with seven in their first seven live of a season. But Hopkins has also been held under 100 receiving yards in eight straight live, the third-longest such streak of his career and his longest since 13 straight in the 2016 season.

play

1:09

Marcus Spears explains why Kyler Murray and the Cardinals are his favorite team in the NFC.

Injuries: Texans | Cardinals

What to know for fantasy: Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray‘s yards per carry have been cut in half from last season, but he ranks second among qualifiers (minimum 150 pass attempts) in fantasy points per pass (0.60, behind only Stafford). See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: Arizona is 5-1 ATS this season, tied for the second-best mark in the league. Arizona has covered four straight live — but it has not been a double-digit favorite since 2016. Read more.

Barshop’s pick: Cardinals 35, Texans 3
Weinfuss’ pick: Cardinals 41, Texans 17
FPI prediction: ARI, 89.1% (by an average of 16.8 points)

Matchup must-reads: Texans looking to overcome ‘bad football’ and ‘mental mistakes’ to end five-game losing streakHow Cardinals star Watt became an F1 superfanInside the Cardinals COVID-19 outbreak


8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
Matchup rating:
58.0 | Spread: SF -4 (44)

What to watch for: Storylines abound here, with the North Dakota State quarterbacks on opposite sidelines, Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner‘s return to San Francisco and more. But the thing that will decide this game is the thing that decides most live: turnovers. The 49ers are minus-5 in turnover differential, tied for third-worst in the NFL, while the Colts are plus-7, which is tied for third-best. Both teams badly need a win here, and the turnover battle should go a long way in determining who gets it. — Nick Wagoner

Bold prediction: Buckner will match his season total in sacks with two. He said it’s “a little personal” playing against the team that drafted him and where he spent the first four years of his NFL career before being traded to the Colts in March 2020. Buckner has had least two sacks in a game eight times in his career. — Mike Wells

Stat to know: The Colts have a 42.9% red zone efficiency, which is the second-worst in the NFL (nine of 21 red zone drives ended in a touchdown).

Injuries: Colts | 49ers

What to know for fantasy: Indianapolis running back Taylor was RB28 in the first three weeks of the season. Since then, he’s RB2. See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is 8-19-2 ATS as a favorite. San Francisco is 2-7 outright in its last nine live as a favorite of at least three points, including 2-2 this year with back-to-back losses. Read more.

Wells’ pick: 49ers 27, Colts 24
Wagoner’s pick: 49ers 30, Colts 23
FPI prediction: SF, 65.2% (by an average of 5.4 points)

Matchup must-reads: Revisiting the Buckner trade between the 49ers and ColtsHow QB-passionate Fargo helped mold Colts’ Wentz and 49ers’ LanceWentz looks like the ‘big-play machine’ Colts envisioned


Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET | ESPN
Matchup rating:
55.7 | Spread: NO -4.5 (42.5)

What to watch for: Can Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith keep Seattle from falling into a probably-insurmountable 2-5 hole? This is pretty much a must-win game for the Seahawks, who are already four live back in the NFC West and will be without Russell Wilson for at least one more game after this one. Smith played well enough in the second half last week to give the Seahawks a chance to win before losing a fumble in overtime on a T.J. Watt strip sack. Against New Orleans, he won’t face as strong a pass-rush or as dominant a defender. — Brady Henderson

Bold prediction: After the Seahawks ran for a season-high 144 yards last week, they will run for a season-low total and fall short of 50 on Monday night. Not only is Seattle’s backfield banged up right now, but the Saints’ run defense has been among the NFL’s best over the past four years. And they will be extra motivated to shut down that element of Seattle’s game to force Smith to move the ball. — Mike Triplett

Stat to know: The Seahawks are allowing 433.2 yards per game this season, worst in the NFL. They have allowed 100 rushing yards in six straight live (tied for their longest streak since 2011).

Injuries: Saints | Seahawks

play

1:17

Matthew Berry tabs Marquez Callaway as an option for fantasy managers this week as the Saints face the Seahawks.

What to know for fantasy: During the first four weeks of the season, Saints running back Kamara was averaging an underwhelming 3.5 targets per game. Prior to going on bye in Week 6, the old Kamara reminded us of his potential as a pass-catcher, as he hauled in five of eight targets for 51 yards and a touchdown against Washington. See Week 7 rankings.

Betting nugget: New Orleans has covered nine of its last 12 live following a bye. Read more.

Triplett’s pick: Saints 26, Seahawks 22
Henderson’s pick: Seahawks 23, Saints 21
FPI prediction: NO, 58.7% (by an average of 3.1 points)

Matchup must-reads: Saints investment in CB Lattimore paying off as tricky stretch of elite WR corps loomsCould rookie Brown be solution for Seahawks’ cornerback issues?Seahawks’ rushing attack can help keep Smith from ‘coming up short’

 

Leave a Reply