It turns out Kirk Cousins isn’t the weakest link after all. The Vikings QB responded to criticism on Sunday by throwing for 333 yards and four TDs in Minnesota’s 38-20 trashing of Philadelphia. “Captain Kirk” will have a chance to prove that his latest outing wasn’t a fluke this coming weekend when the Vikings travel to Ford Field to take on Matthew Stafford and the Lions.
We have odds and analysis for that NFC North matchup as well as all of the biggest Week 7 trends and storylines from around the National Football League.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions
In the only division with four winning teams, the Detroit Lions square off with the Minnesota Vikings in an NFC North rivalry showdown.
The 4-2 Vikings hosted the Eagles on Sunday in a 38-20 home victory, as Kirk Cousins stepped up in the passing game to go 22-of-29 for 333 yards and four touchdowns. Cousins connected with Stefon Diggs for three scores, and Adam Thielen added another touchdown on a six-yard pass in the first quarter.
— Athlete Vidz (@Athlete_Vidz) October 13, 2019
The Eagles’ No. 2 run defense held running back Dalvin Cook to his second lowest rushing yardage of the season (41) after he broke out for 132 yards against the Giants the week before. He should bounce back against a Lions defense that’s ranked 23rd against the run (124.8 YPG).
The Lions, meanwhile, rank ninth in passing yardage (267.0) and 13th in rushing (120.5) but give up the sixth-most total yardage per game (405.5). The Vikings boast the No. 5 defense in the league and allow just 310.3 total yards on average.
Detroit nearly knocked off the Chiefs in Week 4 and held Patrick Mahomes scoreless, unveiling a blueprint on defense for the Chiefs’ next two opponents. The Lions took a week off in Week 5 and meet with another adversary from the NFC North, Green Bay, on Monday Night Football.
Minnesota is 3-1 against the spread in its last four games against Detroit and beat the Lions twice, 24-9 and 27-9, in 2018.
The Houston Texans visit rival Indianapolis on Sunday in a clash to determine the top spot in the AFC South. The 3-2 Colts sat out last week on bye, while the 4-2 Texans moved into first in the division after a 31-24 road win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Texans trailed 17-3 in the first quarter against the Chiefs but scored 20 unanswered points in the second quarter of Sunday’s road trip to Arrowhead. Deshaun Watson looked a bit shaky in the passing game, competing 30 of 42 passes for 280 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He made up for it on the ground, as he ran for 42 yards and two scores— one in the second period and the other in the fourth to give Houston the decisive lead.
Deshaun Watson is a winner.
— Jake Asman (@JakeAsman) October 13, 2019
On Sunday, Watson and company will confront the team who handed Kansas City its first loss of the season. The Colts held the Chiefs to just 36 rushing yards in Indy’s stop in KC and limited Patrick Mahomes to one touchdown and 288 passing yards.
Colts running back Marlon Mack piled on 132 rushing yards for the Colts, while backup Nyheim Hines led the team in receiving, with 46 yards on four catches.
Mack will have his work cut out for him against the NFL’s No. 8 run defense. The Texans surrender just 88 rushing yards per contest, but their pass defense has been a weakness (24th in the league).
The Texans own the advantage on offense, as they rank 10th in passing (257.0 YPG) and fifth in rushing (139.8). Houston will go up against a middling Colts defense that gives up an average of 23 points per game.
Teddy Bridgewater earned win No. 4 as a starter on Sunday in Jacksonville, where the Saints took down a declining Jaguars team, 13-6. Drew Brees’ replacement completed 24 of 36 passes for 240 yards and one game-deciding touchdown to tight end Jared Cook in the fourth quarter.
— Josh Lemoine (@LsuFBallTruth) October 13, 2019
The defense played a key factor in the Saints’ victory. New Orleans held Jacksonville to 75 yards rushing and quieted Minshew Mania, as rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew connected on 14 of 29 passes and failed to score, while tossing one interception.
The Saints D will get an even easier matchup against an abysmal Bears offense ranked 30th in the NFL in total yardage (266 per game). Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky may return for the first time since he dislocated his shoulder against the Vikings in Week 4. In his absence, Chase Daniel helped the Bears hold off Minnesota for a 16-6 win, but fell to the Oakland Raiders in Week 5 while throwing two touchdowns and as many interceptions on 22-of-30 passing.
The Bears enter Sunday’s game fresh off a bye week and need a win to help climb the NFC North standings, where they currently sit in last with a 3-2 record.
The Bears rank 10th in passing defense and fifth against the run and should find success against a middle-of-the-road Saints offense.
Thursday, October 17, 8:20 p.m. ET | Mile High Stadium
The Kansas City Chiefs are riding a two-game losing streak after home losses to the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans. On Thursday, the Chiefs travel to Denver to battle a Broncos team that collected back-to-back wins over the Chargers and Titans and now claim a 2-4 record.
The Broncos delivered a 16-0 defeat to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday and forced head coach Mike Vrabel to bench Marcus Mariota in favor of Ryan Tannehill, who went 13-of-16 for 144 yards and one interception. The Broncos also sacked Tannehill and Mariota a combined seven times and stuffed the Tennessee run game, which totaled 39 rushing yards.
On offense, running back Phillip Lindsay recorded the only touchdown of the game on a two-yard run in the third quarter. Kicker Brandon McManus accounted for Denver’s nine other points and was a perfect 3-of-3 on field goals and nailed his only extra-point attempt.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 13, 2019
The Chiefs should feel nervous about their matchup with the Broncos, who boast the fourth-best passing defense (196.0 YPG) and No. 4 overall defense in the league. Denver may not be intimidating on offense, but the Chiefs defense is one of the worst in the league, especially against the run.
In both losses to the Colts and Texans, the Chiefs gave up 180 and 192 rushing yards, respectively. Over his last two games, Lindsey has racked up 184 yards on the ground and scored twice. He should play a significant role for the Broncos in Thursday’s matchup.
Sunday, October 20, 8:20 p.m. ET | AT&T Stadium
The Dallas Cowboys are in desperate need of a win after dropping three games in a row to the Saints, Packers and Jets.
On Sunday, Dallas visited an 0-4 New York team and trailed the entire time inside MetLife Stadium. At one point, the Jets led by as much as 18 in the second quarter, before Dallas nearly pulled off a late comeback.
On the Cowboys’ final drive, Dak Prescott ran the ball in for a touchdown but needed a two-point conversion to tie the score with under a minute to play. His pass fell incomplete to Jason Witten in the end zone, and Dallas departed New York with a 3-3 record.
The Cowboys host NFC East foe Philadelphia, also 3-3, in a battle for the division lead. The Eagles traveled to Minnesota on Sunday for a 38-20 loss, as Philly’s secondary made the Vikings’ Kirk Cousins look like an MVP-level quarterback.
Kirk Cousins will go to 4-0 against a Jim Schwartz-coached Eagles defense when they get fewer than 4 sacks and 0-2 when they reach 4 sacks.
The cornerbacks are a problem right now, but the story of this defense hasn’t changed — when they don’t get pressure, they’re in trouble.
— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) October 13, 2019
The Eagles gave up 333 yards and four scores through the air and another 122 and a touchdown on the ground. Prescott should feel excited for the opportunity to challenge the fifth-worst passing defense in the league. The Cowboys currently rank third in passing yardage (304.8 YPG), and second in total offense (443.7 YPG).
The defense gives up the ninth-fewest yards per game and should fare well against Carson Wentz and Philly’s mediocre passing attack.
Philly is 5-2 against the spread in its last seven games on the road, and Dallas is 7-1 straight up in its last eight games at home.
Monday, October 21, 8:15 p.m. ET | MetLife Stadium
With Sam Darnold back from a spell with mononucleosis, the New York Jets grabbed their first win of the season in a 24-22 rout of the Cowboys.
Despite Ezekiel Elliott breaking the 100-yard rushing mark for the 24th time in his career, the Jets managed to pull off a win behind Sam Darnold’s 326 passing yards and two touchdowns. Darnold returned for the first time since Week 1 and ignited a spark the Jets offense severely needed.
— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) October 13, 2019
Le’Veon Bell tacked on 50 yards rushing and one touchdown, while Robby Anderson emerged as the star of the game, with 125 yards on five receptions and one 92-yard touchdown.
With a win finally under their belt, the Jets host a rematch with the New England Patriots, who defeated New York 30-14 in Week 3 with Luke Falk under center for the Jets.
The Patriots are coming off a somewhat ugly 35-14 thumping of the New York Giants. Tom Brady missed on 10 of his 41 passes and threw an interception in the first quarter, but he ran the ball into the end zone twice to become the oldest player in the Super Bowl era to rush for two scores in one game. Brady also moved into second, ahead of Peyton Manning, on the NFL’s all-time passing yards list, with 72,757.
The Pats D gave up one touchdown on a 64-yard pass from Daniel Jones to Golden Tate, but the Giants’ other score came on a fumble return by Markus Golden.
The Jets give up an average of 262.0 passing yards per game (21st in the league) and rank 13th in run defense. The Pats remain the No. 1 overall defense in the league and concede an average of just 8 points per game.
NFL Betting Trends
Looking to build your bankroll? These are the numbers you need to know:
- Home favorites have won just 51% of their games SU in 2019. By contrast, road favorites have won 69% of their games SU
- Road teams have won 61% of their games ATS in 2019. Road dogs have fared even better, winning 66% of their games ATS in 2019
- 54% of all non-overtime games have gone Under the projected point total in 2019
- The 49ers, Bills and Packers have all covered 80% of the time ATS in 2019
- The Falcons, Ravens and Redskins have covered just 16.7% of the time ATS in 2019
NFL Week 7 Schedule
Cancel all your plans this Sunday. Seriously, you won’t be going anywhere.
|Chiefs vs. Broncos||Thu, October 17 @8:20 PM||DEN +3.5||49.0|
|Dolphins vs. Bills||Sun, October 20 @1PM||BUF -16.5||39.0|
|Jaguars vs. Bengals||Sun, October 20 @1PM||CIN +3||43.5|
|Vikings vs. Lions||Sun, October 20 @1PM||DET PK||44.0|
|Raiders vs. Packers||Sun, October 20 @1PM||GB -7||46.5|
|Rams vs. Falcons||Sun, October 20 @1PM||ATL +3||53.5|
|Texans vs. Colts||Sun, October 20 @1PM||IND -1||48.0|
|49ers vs. Redskins||Sun, October 20 @1PM||WAS +10||41.5|
|Cardinals vs. Giants||Sun, October 20 @1PM||NYG -3||49.0|
|Chargers vs. Titans||Sun, October 20 @4:05PM||TEN -1||38.0|
|Saints vs. Bears||Sun, October 20 @4:25PM||CHI -3.5||38.5|
|Ravens vs. Seahawks||Sun, October 20 @4:25PM||SEA -3.5||50.5|
|Eagles vs. Cowboys||Sun, October 20 @8:20PM||DAL -3||48.5|
|Patriots vs. Jets||Sun, October 21 @8:15PM||NYJ +9.5||42.0|
Get to Know Devlin Hodges
Steelers rookie Devlin Hodges led Pittsburgh to a 24-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in his first career start. Here are three things you should know about the team’s promising third-string QB:
- The NFL is full of players who have won high school and college titles, but Hodges is the only one who can say he won the Junior World Duck Calling Contest. The Kimberly, Alabama native won the event in 2009 as a 13-year-old. Hodges has since won the Alabama State Duck Calling Championship and has expressed interest in entering more duck calling events in the future.
- Hodges attended Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, where he started all four seasons and set the FCS record for career passing yards with 14,584.
- Hodges owns 21 school records at Samford including most passing yards in a game (516) and longest touchdown pass (94 yards).
Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new #Saints. They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) October 13, 2019
His Holiness Pope Francis delighted fans in New Orleans on Sunday when he inadvertently threw his support behind the Saints. For what it’s worth, we hear he’s a huge fans of the Angels too.
Video: Bucs coach Bruce Arians talks about what he told Jameis Winston after his fumble at the end of the first half: “Throw the damn ball away!” pic.twitter.com/CGKR6TCJE3
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) October 13, 2019
Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston continually tested Bruce Arians’ patience on Sunday by committing six turnovers. So much for being a quarterback whisperer…
The Eagles’ Zach Brown did not want to talk about Kirk Cousins after he called him the “weakest link” earlier this week 😶
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) October 13, 2019
Zach Brown wasn’t quite so eager to talk about Kirk Cousins after the Vikings QB torched the Eagles for 333 yards.
Three and Out
Chargers QB Philip Rivers will start his 215th consecutive game on Sunday when he laces ’em up against the Titans. Here are three other active game streaks you may not know about:
- 153: Matt Ryan made his 153rd straight start on Sunday when he faced the Cardinals. His streak began way back in 2009.
- 133: Matthew Stafford will make his 133rd straight start on Monday night when he takes on the Packers. His streak began during his third season in 2011.
- 118: Russell Wilson may not be big by modern QB standards, but he is durable. He made his 118th consecutive start on Sunday against the Browns.