Itching to watch an underdog try to overcome the odds or triumph against adversity? Simply looking to pass the time reading another NFL.com article while stuck in your cube? Nick Shook offers a bead on three us-against-the-world scenarios to track entering Week 7 of the 2022 NFL season. The order below is determined by confidence rankings, from No. 1 (most confident) to No. 3 (least confident).
Start spreading the news, folks: New York football is back!
The Giants and Jets are a combined 9-3 through six weeks, a record none of us can honestly say we saw coming at the start of the season. Both squads appear in my picks for Week 7 -- with one spawning a new section at the bottom of this file -- because they're both on fire. They're also matching up with teams that are struggling to find their footing at this point in the season.
Add in the Bills' success, and the entire state -- featuring the team that plays within New York's borders plus the two that call East Rutherford, New Jersey, home -- is on a roll. I don't see that slowing down this weekend.
These are the underdogs I believe in most to score upsets in Week 7.
The lines below provided by DraftKings are current as of 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct. 19 unless otherwise noted below.
The Giants' last two weeks have produced quite the statement to the rest of the league. New York held on to beat Green Bay in London, then completed a frantic, defense-driven comeback to top the Ravens in a thrilling finish at MetLife Stadium. The G-Men will return to the road this week, but they're facing a team that's crashed back to earth after a hot start to the 2022 campaign.
The Jaguars forced us all to ponder whether they were legitimately good after a 2-1 start. For those of us who took the bait (myself included), we've since learned that tasty worm was disguising a hook. The Jaguars lost their way offensively on a sloppy Sunday in Philadelphia a few weeks ago and have yet to truly rediscover their mojo, putting just six points on the board against Houston and falling to a Colts team they had dominated back in Week 2.
Jacksonville needs a win to get back on track. I don't see it coming against a red-hot Giants team that is the surprise of the league through six weeks and has shown mettle we haven't seen from Big Blue since Tom Coughlin was roaming the sideline.
History tells us this will be a close game. Every Giants game this season has finished with a one-possession difference, which leads me to believe we'll get more of the same in Duval County. The reason I'm confident in these G-Men, though, is they've shown a fight and sense of belief necessary to win these games. Daniel Jones doesn't need to go out and light it up; the Giants will still likely find a way to win. I trust them to exploit the cracks that have emerged in Jacksonville’s offense and defense this month.
- WHERE: State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)
- WHEN: 8:15 p.m. ET on Thursday | Prime Video
- SPREAD: Saints +2
The prevailing question here is appropriate for both teams at this stage: Just who are the Saints and Cardinals?
After taking down the woeful Panthers in Week 4, the Cardinals have lost two straight. They dropped a tough one at home to the still-undefeated Eagles, but showed signs of potentially figuring things out defensively. Then they went to Seattle, scored a whopping nine points and lost top receiver Marquise Brown to injury for roughly the next six weeks.
Robbie Anderson is now a Cardinal, and DeAndre Hopkins is back from his six-game suspension. The latter should matter more, but neither might be the miracle cure the Cardinals are seeking for their struggling offense, especially against the Saints' defense.
That same Saints defense needs to make a statement. Despite its reputation and the elevation of former coordinator Dennis Allen to head coach, New Orleans hasn't been as effective on that side of the ball as it was a year ago. Just look at the way in which the Saints lost to the Bengals last weekend, with Cincinnati scoring twice in the final four minutes for a come-from-behind win.
This all sets up for a perfect bounce-back game for both teams, but because I'm tasked with choosing a team to win here, I'm going to roll with the Saints against a Cardinals offense that has a lot of swapped-in parts and has yet to establish a rhythm in 2022. New Orleans needs to improve its safety play, but I still trust this group to cause problems similar to the ones Kyler Murray experienced in Seattle last weekend. There's too much experience in that defensive unit to make me think the Saints won't figure it out, and the matchup leads me to believe Week 7 will be a get-right game for New Orleans.
- WHERE: Nissan Stadium (Nashville, Tenn.)
- WHEN: 1 p.m. ET on Sunday | CBS
- SPREAD: Colts +2.5
Recent history isn't on my side here, as the Colts have lost four straight to the Titans. What's interesting, though, is what the Colts did last weekend.
Let's face it: Indianapolis' offense has been a tough watch this season. Matt Ryan hasn't come close to the expectations set for him when the Colts acquired him via trade, Jonathan Taylor's absence in recent weeks has hurt the team, and we all know the Colts aren't stocked with playmaking pass-catchers. Having said all of that, Indy did find a way to make up an 11-point deficit at home against the Jaguars last week, putting together scoring drives of 8, 9 (twice), 10 and 11 plays on the way to a 34-27 comeback win. After a near-constant shuffling of the offensive line, Indianapolis might have finally found a good group up front.
If ever there was a time to start a turnaround, Week 6 might have been it. And if we go back to Week 4 in the first meeting of the season between these teams -- when the Colts fell behind 24-3 and rallied to make it a one-possession game before a turnover and missed field goal doomed them -- we can find evidence of fight in Frank Reich's team there, too.
The location of this showdown won't help the Colts, but they might have built just enough momentum to battle with Tennessee. The bye could benefit the Titans, who had an extra week to prepare for the rematch, but don't be surprised if the Colts, winners of three of their last four games, find a way to top a team ranked 31st in total offense and 28th in total defense.
When I first filed this article, the Jets were 1.5-point underdogs. Not all that surprisingly, the game moved to a Pick 'Em shortly before publish time. If you've seen the Jets play in each of their last two games, they certainly don't look like a team that should be expected to lose to a Denver squad that might never find itself offensively.
The Jets haven't just won their last two games, they've done so in emphatic fashion. New York took a close game against Miami into the fourth quarter and blew it wide open, then held the Packers to 10 points for a 17-point win at Lambeau Field, a triumph deserving of Sauce Gardner's cheesehead-wearing celebration.
What makes anyone believe the young, hungry Jets are going to slow down any time soon? Well, Denver's defense will have something to say about it.
Denver ranks third in yards allowed per game, fifth in passing yards allowed and fourth in scoring defense. The Broncos have certainly played well enough defensively to have more than two wins to their name, and they'll present quite a challenge to Zach Wilson, Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate Breece Hall and the rest of the Jets' offense.
I'm highly confident in the Jets here, though, because I have zero confidence in Denver's offense. The Broncos rank 22nd in yards per game, but they're dead last in points per game, and the rankings aren't needed to describe this offense -- the tape will tell you it’s been dreadful. And it’s worth noting that Russell Wilson is dealing with a hamstring injury.
New York, meanwhile, seems to be finally growing into an effective defense under Robert Saleh, who is getting the most out of Quinnen Williams and enjoying a quality start from offseason acquisition D.J. Reed. Gardner is already a difference maker and fellow rookie Jermaine Johnson II has made an impact when healthy (currently dealing with an ankle injury).
When it comes down to it, the Jets just appear to be the stronger team, and that's why I think they'll win Sunday, altitude be damned.
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