NFL Betting: Week 7 Tips

Sure thing: Oakland v Jacksonville (+4) at 1.92

Of course there is no such thing as a sure thing, except perhaps the under on Thursday night's Seattle at San Francisco match-up, where Jim Harbaugh's decision not to take a safety at the end of the game gave everyone who took the Seahawks and 7.5 points a win. But since that one's long gone, you might consider staying in the Bay Area as the Raiders host the rested (from a bye week) and ready Jags. There aren't a lot of things Oakland do right right now, but some of them play right at the Jags' weaknesses, which include offence and defence. Jack Del Rio kept the Jags competitive by keeping his defense stingy, but with his departure that benefit has gone, and unless Blaine Gabbert somehow morphs into, well, Christian Ponder by Sunday you can expect a couple of turnovers for the Raiders to capitalise by hitting the occasional big play. If Al Davis were alive, he'd be turning over in his grave.

Underdog: Houston v Baltimore (+6.5) at 1.95

The Texans aren't really the kind of team that can run away from people. Literally; their fastest player last year, Jacoby Jones, now plays for the Ravens, and the number of times Houston runners Arian Foster and Ben Tate get run down from behind is amazing. So I don't expect the Texans to run away with this game. But if they can get into the lead, and force Joe Flacco into the air, they can probably stay ahead, especially as the Ravens' defence is getting into a shorthanded/walking wounded kind of scenario. Oddly though, I don't think the loss of Ray Lewis will hurt them anywhere near as much as losing Brian Cushing has hurt the Texans, and this is also one game where they can probably do without Ladarius Webb, as you can contain the Texans' passing attack in underneath zones.

Value bet: Cincinnati (+1) v Pittsburgh at 1.95

I was sorely sorely tempted to pick the Bengals straight-up, but I feel that the Steelers will hit a big play or two against the Bengal secondary, and that they know the Bengals too well to get surprised by them. But up front the Bengals have the advantage on both sides of the ball, and they have one playmaker - AJ Green - who might give the Steelers' secondary fits. Check Ben Roethlisberger's injury status before you bet, but a rolled ankle is something he plays through all the time. A similar bet might be Cleveland (+1) at Indy: I have taken the Browns straight up, but if the Colts put a couple of scores on the board early, that could change things severely.

One to avoid: New England v Jets (+10.0) at 1.95

On the surface the Jets, coming off a big win over Indy, would seem a sure thing, especially given Rex Ryan's penchant for getting into Tom Brady's head and confusing him with weird defensive sets. The Jets aren't really a come-at-you-with-sacks kind of team any longer, but Ryan has to have noticed that neither of Brady's versatile tight end targets, Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez, is running at anything close to 100 per cent, and that Brady is decided shaky in his late game (and last week, late first half) decisions. Having said that, the Jets have to be able to run the ball to make their offence work, and the Pats are better against the run than they are against the pass. So the Jets ought to come out passing, but you get the feeling they don't feel at all comfortable with putting the game into Mark Sanchez's hands - with some justification. So if the Pats execute their offense and get a lead, this is one team that likely won't catch up by exploiting a weak New England secondary. The last 11 margins of victory between these two teams: 24, 10, 9, 3, 7, 17, 14, 42, 7, 9, 21. Stay away.