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NFL Week 7 survivor pool picks, predictions: Can Cowboys, Raiders bounce back from losses?

Dallas and Las Vegas both lost their last time out but should get right on Sunday against overmatched foes.

Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys runs in a fourth quarter touchdown against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on November 17, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys runs in a fourth quarter touchdown against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on November 17, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)Read moreRey Del Rio / Getty Images

Congratulations to those of you who survived another week in this wacky NFL season, which has felt like six weeks of landmines for anyone still alive in their survivor pools.

Last week alone, we saw two more touchdown favorites go down in the Buccaneers and Packers, which has been a consistent theme all season long. Through the first one-third of the season, we’ve already seen six teams favored by seven or more points lose outright – that’s already half the total (12) we saw in the entire 2021 regular season.

If you followed our advice last week, you survived another week behind the Rams, who beat up on a dysfunctional Panthers team integrating a new coach and quarterback. This week won’t be so easy, though we’ve got our eye on one clear pick for Week 7. Here’s how we’d attack this week in your survivor pool:

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Top play

Dallas Cowboys

This pick, like so many this year, was a process of elimination. I simply don’t trust the Buccaneers and Packers after their embarrassing losses as big favorites over the last two weeks, while the Ravens have blown too many big leads to back them here.

That leaves us with the Cowboys, who have shown enough over the last five weeks to trust them in a big chalk spot here. Dallas’ defense remains one of the best in the NFL, even after a tense affair with the Eagles last week, and its pressure up front should be enough to thwart a high-flying Lions attack that finally lost steam in a shutout loss before last week’s bye.

There’s a chance Dak Prescott makes his long-awaited return from injury this week, which would be both a jolt for this offense and a potential concern if he isn’t at full strength. Still, whether it’s Prescott or steady fill-in starter Cooper Rush, I’d expect coach Mike McCarthy to lean on the same formula that’s carried this group for five weeks – one that should give the lowly Lions trouble in just their third game against a team currently with a winning record.

» READ MORE: An early look at Week 7 NFL betting lines

Sleeper pick

Las Vegas Raiders

This isn’t the sexiest pick on the board, but nearly every big favorite this week has either a glaring health concern or a tricky matchup against a team with upset potential. I don’t see either being the case for the Raiders, who should be rested and ready to get their season back on track after a Week 6 bye.

What better way to turn things around than a matchup with the Texans? Lovie Smith’s group has shown fight through its first five games, but it’s resulted in just one win against division rival Jacksonville with an 0-3 record outside of the division. Davis Mills doesn’t look like the answer, ranking 30th in QBR (31.2) and nearly as many interceptions (4) as touchdowns (5), which leaves this run game to do all the heavy lifting.

I don’t see that recipe working against Las Vegas, which is vulnerable against the pass but respectable against the run through the first six weeks of the season. The Raiders are better than their 1-4 record would suggest, and while it’s risky banking on a team with a 20% win percentage, it’s among the best options on the board.

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

Team to avoid

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are one of eight teams favored by at least six points at BetMGM, though with just three of them coming off a win, you might be tempted to ride the Bengals to another victory. Not so fast.

This isn’t an indictment on Cincinnati, which seems to have righted the ship after a sloppy start to the season. Rather, I’d be terrified to fade the Falcons, who are clearly one of the most underrated teams in the league thus far. Atlanta is the only team in the NFL with a perfect 6-0 record against the spread, and it’s won three of its last four outright after last week’s pummeling of the 49ers.

Even with Marcus Mariota completing just 11.8 passes per game over that four-week stretch, this team has found its identity behind a versatile rushing attack and opportunistic defense. The Falcons haven’t lost their three games by a combined 11 points this season, so I’d think twice before penciling them in for a loss on Sunday.

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