The weekly preview runs into the endzone with NFL tips for the eight best match-ups of Week 7, getting underway with an AFC West showdown between the Broncos and Chiefs.
History: Played 118: Chiefs 63 V Broncos 55
Last meeting: October 28, 2018: Chiefs 30 d Broncos 23 at Arrowhead Stadium
Final Thoughts: The 2-4 Denver Broncos’ and 4-2 Kansas City Chiefs’ 2019 campaigns have followed the exact opposite patterns to date.
The Broncos lost their opening four games, but they have rallied with back-to-back wins over the Chargers (20-13) and Titans (16-0). The jury is still very much out on Joe Flacco under centre, but Denver’s defence is keeping them afloat.
The Chiefs made a blistering 4-0 start, but the Super Bowl hopefuls dropped two in a row at home to the Colts (19-13) and Texans (31-24). Kansas City bottled a 17-3 lead in the latter. Tyreek Hill’s return as a target for Patrick Mahomes is a huge boost this week, however.
The Chiefs are on a seven-matches winning streak against the Broncos. Last season Kansas City won tight games away (27-23) and at home (30-23) in the space of four weeks, with Patrick Mahomes passing for over 600 yards and five TDs across the two encounters.
The Broncos will attempt to strangle the Chiefs out of the contest, but if Mahomes and co. get going the hosts don’t have the points in them to keep up.
History: Played 35: Colts 27 V Texans 8
Last meeting: January 5, 2019 (AFC Wild Card Game): Colts 21 d Texans 7 at NRG Stadium
Final Thoughts: The 3-2 Indianapolis Colts come off the bye to take on in-form AFC South rivals Houston Texans. The Colts – still adjusting to life without Andrew Luck – pulled off a 19-13 away upset of the Chiefs in Week 5. Jacoby Brissett has been a solid QB replacement, but the Colts’ rush game underpins their offence.
The 4-2 Texans are coming off back-to-back wins over the Falcons (53-32) and Chiefs (31-24). They overturned an early 14-point deficit to replicate the Colts’ feat in grabbing an upset in Kansas City. Though he tossed up a couple of picks against the Chiefs, Deshaun Watson has been on fire, throwing for 426 yards and five TDs against the Falcons.
The Colts have won 10 of their last 14 against the Texans. The Texans won in overtime in Indianapolis last season, before the Colts responded with a 24-21 victory in Houston and followed that up with a convincing 21-7 Wild Card win on the road. Houston have won three of their last four in Indianapolis, however.
The Texans’ rush defence is strong enough to blot out the Colts’ run game, while Watson’s sizzling form is enough to get behind the visitors as a slight underdog.
History: Played 79: Rams 47 V Falcons 30 (2 Ties)
Last meeting: January 6, 2018 (NFC Wild Card Game): Falcons 26 d Rams 13 at LA Memorial Coliseum
Final Thoughts: The Atlanta Falcons’ playoff hopes are already hanging by a thread, losing four straight to be left with a 1-5 record. After leaking 50-plus against the rampant Texans, the Falcons lost a 34-33 heartbreaker to the Cardinals after rallying from a 10-point halftime deficit. Matt Ryan is doing everything possible to inspire his side, throwing for over 2,000 yards and a league-high 15 touchdowns, but Atlanta are lacking elsewhere.
The LA Rams are facing a mini-crisis of their own, starting off 3-0 before losing three straight to the Buccaneers, Seahawks and 49ers. They are at a crossroads less than nine months after going toe-to-toe with the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. Todd Gurley’s injury issues are affecting the Rams’ run game, while QB Jared Goff’s production has been massively down.
The Falcons have won seven of their last eight against the Rams, including the last five straight. The Rams’ last win in Atlanta came in 2001.
This is a lottery with both teams in confidence-sapping form. The Falcons are tempting underdogs at home with an offence that is performing better than the Rams’ at present, while the over also looks a sound option.
History: Played 32: Redskins 20 V 49ers 11 (1 Tie)
Last meeting: October 15, 2017: Redskins 26 d 49ers 24 at FedEx Field
Final Thoughts: The Washington Redskins belatedly got off the mark for 2019 last weekend, but they face a tall order to go back-to-back as the undefeated San Francisco 49ers make their way to the capital.
The floundering Redskins edged the equally awful Dolphins 17-16 in Miami to open their account. It was a pressure-relieving result after four straight losses by 10-plus, but hardly hinted at a genuine revival. Meanwhile, the 49ers – coming off four straight losing seasons, including a 4-12 record in 2018 – are 5-0 after stamping out the Rams 20-7 last week.
The 49ers have won 12 of their last 16 against the Redskins, including four of the last five.
The Redskins have one of the worst offences in the NFL, while the 49ers have conceded the second-fewest points in the league. Bank on a convincing win for the visitors in a low-scorer.
History: Played 46: Chargers 28 V Titans 17 (1 Tie)
Last meeting: October 21, 2018: Chargers 20 d Titans 19 at Wembley Stadium
Final Thoughts: The Tennessee Titans are desperate for a win after losing four of their last five, including insipid defeats to the Bills (14-7) and Broncos (16-0) in the past fortnight. The Titans benched Marcus Mariota after he managed just 63 passing yards and two INTs in three quarters against Denver, with Ryan Tannehill a chance of getting the start this weekend.
The 2-4 LA Chargers are also in a hole, crashing to the previously-unfancied Broncos (20-13) and Steelers (24-17) in the last two outings. To be fair, the Chargers have been hit hard by injuries – but that doesn’t change the fact they need wins now to stay in the post-season hunt.
The Chargers have won 11 of their last 12 against the Titans. A dominant display from Phillip Rivers led the Chargers to a 20-19 victory in London last season. But the Titans won the only Tennessee-hosted encounter between the side since Christmas Day, 2009.
A flip of the coin result-wise, but with both offences struggling big-time the under stands out like a beacon in this crunch clash.
History: Played 30: Bears 15 V Saints 15
Last meeting: October 29, 2017: Saints 20 d Bears 12 at Mercedez-Benz Superdome
Final Thoughts: The 3-2 Chicago Bears are coming off the bye and need wins to keep up in the highly-competitive NFC North. After three straight victories, they went down to the Raiders in London in Week 5. The Bears are sweating on Mitch Trubisky’s fitness, with Chase Daniels patchy after stepping into the QB breach.
Despite Drew Brees’ ongoing absence with a thumb injury, the New Orleans Saints have stormed to a 5-1 record with stand-in Teddy Bridgewater chalking up four straight Ws as starting quarterback. The Saints’ secondary stood up again last week in a 13-6 road win over the Jaguars.
The Saints are on a four-match winning streak against the Bears, including their last two visits to Chicago.
But as admirable as the Brees-less Saints have performed, the Bears’ vaunted D should propel them to a vital win whether Trubisky returns or not.
History: Played 120: Cowboys 68 V Eagles 52
Last meeting: December 9, 2018: Cowboys 29 d Eagles 23 (OT) at AT&T Stadium
Final Thoughts: The wind has gone right of the Dallas Cowboys’ sails, dropping three straight games to the Saints, Packers and the previously winless Jets after starting off 3-0. Ezekiel Elliott has been in sizzling form but Dak Prescott has gone off the boil in recent weeks.
The Philadelphia Eagles, their biggest rival in the NFC East, are also 3-3. But after strong wins over the Packers (34-27) and Jets (31-6), they were humbled 38-20 by the Vikings last weekend. Carson Wentz had a shocker and is lacking passing options.
The Cowboys have won their last three – and nine of their last 14 – against the Eagles. Last season they defeated the defending Super Bowl champs 27-20 in Philadelphia and 29-23 in an overtime victory at home.
In an absolutely crucial encounter in the NFC East race, take the Eagles – whose run defence has to limit Elliott’s influence – with the points.
History: Played 120: Patriots 66 V Jets 54 (1 Tie)
Last meeting: September 22, 2019: Patriots 30 d Jets 14 at Gillette Stadium
Final thoughts: The New York Jets line up against the might of the New England Patriots for the second time already this season, having gone down to the champs 30-14 on the road in Week 2.
But they come into this showdown with a bit of confidence after upsetting the Cowboys for their first win of the season last weekend. Sam Darnold threw for 338 yards and two TDs in the Jets’ 24-22 victory. The surprise result atoned for a horrible 31-6 loss to the Eagles in Week 5.
The 6-0 Pats are carving a dominant path through 2019. Five of their six wins have come by 16-plus points, including last weekend’s 35-14 beatdown of the Giants. They have scored the most points in the league and conceded the least.
The Jets’ only wins in their last 17 games against the Pats were overtime victories in 2013 and 2015. They are currently on a seven-match losing streak in the rivalry, going down by 14-plus in the last four.
The hosts aren’t being afforded enough of a start to get behind in this one.