Week 7 Football Pick’em Contest Strategy & Advice (2023)

Week 7 of the 2023 NFL season has 13 games, nine of which feature a spread of three points or less at the start of the week.

The Falcons will try to Grits Blitz the Bucs (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire)

After another wild week, no undefeated teams remain in the NFL. Week 7 brings us a lot of close matchups (and teams on byes), as nine of the 13 matchups this week currently have a point spread of a field goal or less.

In these columns, we explore strategies to maximize your edge in NFL and college football pick’em contests. We also provide some of the rationale behind picks potentially recommended by our premium product.

We plan to periodically update to this post through Sunday of Week 6, so check back for updates. Here’s what’s available now:


Tuesday 10/17

NFL Week 7 Early Value Picks

Here are some early Week 7 value picks in game-winner-based NFL pick’em contests we are seeing as of Tuesday.

Things are bound to change as kickoffs near, but it’s worth keeping an eye on them.

New Orleans Saints (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars)

Spread: -2.5
Win Odds: 55%
Pick Popularity: 33%

In another edition of some hot AFC South vs. NFC South action, the public is again swinging wildly. This time, they are all over the visiting Jaguars going against the Saints, a week after they were on the Saints following a shutout of New England.

This is the Thursday Night game, and the public may not be fully appreciating that Trevor Lawrence’s status is up in the air on a short week here, and he could be playing with an injured knee.

The Jaguars 37-20 win over the Colts is masking that they weren’t very good on offense in that game, and benefited from a lot of Colts’ miscues. Jacksonville failed to gain a first down on seven of their eight second-half possessions.

The Saints, meanwhile, put up their most yards of the season, but did it in a losing effort as they had two turnovers and two missed kicks in a close loss.

With the public heavily on the Jaguars here, you are getting great value on the Saints to march in the Dome on a short week.

Baltimore Ravens (vs. Detroit Lions)

Spread: -3.0
Win Odds: 60%
Pick Popularity: 40%

Baltimore has been a team that has imploded a bit at key times, while they are still 4-2. The Detroit Lions are off to their best start in a long time at 5-1. The public is on the Lions’ train, taking them more often in this really good matchup over the home Ravens. The Ravens have had one of the best defenses all year, and Detroit will be without workhorse RB David Montgomery.

There’s value on another favorite here, giving us two favorites being picked like the underdog by the public this week.

Atlanta Falcons (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Spread: +2.5
Win Odds: 48%
Pick Popularity: 16%

The public is having a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Falcons. Last week, for the first time since Week 1, the public picked Atlanta more often than the opponent (at a very high rate, and we had Washington as a value pick). Atlanta lost. So now the public is back to picking against them.

But Atlanta actually gained more than 200 yards more than the Commanders, and held them to under 200 yards (marking the first game all year a team lost while holding the opponent under 200 yards). Tampa Bay, meanwhile, was outgained again by the Lions, and relied on a +7 turnover margin to get off to their decent start.

Basically, we have a lot of mediocre in the NFC South, and Atlanta wasn’t as bad as the final score last week, but were killed by turnovers. If the public is going to go extreme against them this week, there’s a lot of value in a little division upset.

Denver Broncos (vs. Green Bay Packers)

Spread: +1.0
Win Odds: 50%
Pick Popularity: 28%

Green Bay has been a little overvalued in recent weeks, and as we’ve noted several times, the yards profile wasn’t matching the scoring output, and they were over performing a bit. Not even the Raiders’ win over Green Bay has slowed that (the bye week makes the public forget?), and Denver is a popular team to pick against.

So you can get the Broncos, who actually made significant progress on defense in holding KC to 19 points last week, as a value toss-up with over 70% of a typical pool going with the Packers.

New York Giants (vs. Washington Commanders)

Spread: +2.0
Win Odds: 47%
Pick Popularity: 23%

One of these teams managed to play a close game despite gaining under 200 yards last week, and the quarterback has been sacked a league-high 34 times so far.

The other team is the Giants.

Washington bounced back with a win last week, but the offense continues to be inconsistent, while the defense still ranks near the bottom of the NFL. The Giants showed some signs of life against the Bills, with RB Saquon Barkley returning to the lineup. Washington’s very popular, and as with a lot of these matchups where both teams have a lot of warts, when the public is going to go extremely heavy on one side, you should zag to the other.

 


Tuesday 10/17

Week 6 Results Summary

Game-winner picks had a solid, above-average week with some shorter favorites prevailing, while the performance of spread picks was mixed, and weekly spread picks continue to underperform as popular picks with the public are still winning more often than not.

Game-Winner Pools

In game-winner pools, the public averaged 9.8 wins in Week 6, out of 15 possible games. The three biggest favorites won, and after that, the remaining favorites went 8-4. Several favorites of around a field goal won (teams favored by exactly 3 points went 4-0) and not all were that popular, contributing to the public underperforming.

Our game winner picks in season-long gained 1.5 wins over the public, averaging 11.3 wins on average from the “Max Profit” selections.

The weekly picks top options also finished above the public, though not quite as high, with 10.4 wins. Leveraged upset picks like the Patriots and Lions coming up short prevented a bigger week, while Washington was an unpopular toss-up pick that hit for the weekly picks.

Overall 2023 averages: Season-long Max Profit 60.8 wins, Weekly top option 55.1 wins, Public 56.5 wins

Spread Pools

The public finished just over .500, averaging 8.0 wins in 15 games. Favorites went 9-4 ATS, with some close hits including Kansas City covering by a half-point, and Mac Jones taking a late safety that turned that result into a spread loss and a four-point margin.

That Patriots’ close loss was one of our top model plays, so losing out on that cover impacted how things finished.

Our season-long picks came in below the public, with 7.6 wins on average. The weekly picks underperformed again at 6.0 wins.

Overall 2023 averages: Season-long Max Profit 46.7 wins, Weekly top option 43.3 wins, Public 48.3 wins


Tuesday 10/17

Week 6 News and Stats Rundown

We are adding this section to our weekly articles, where we put some random observations, news, and notes from the week that was, that may be important going forward. At the bottom this week, we also have a summary of adjusted turnovers (not only turnovers, but safeties, missed kicks, and turnovers on downs). These things can often be more random but high leverage in a given week, so seeing which teams have benefited or struggled the most in these categories can be informative.

Key Injuries in Week 6

  • Bears QB Justin Fields has a dislocated finger and will likely miss multiple games
  • Raiders QB Jimmy Garoppolo has a back injury that could impact his status this week
  • The 49ers had multiple offensive injuries, including Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey and we will see if either play this week
  • Eagles OT Lane Johnson suffered an ankle injury
  • Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence has a knee sprain, and will be day-to-day and in question this week, since the Jags play on Thursday Night Football against the Saints.

Going Inside the Stats

The public tends to overreact to wins, losses, and scores. But football is a game where a couple of bounces and key plays can swing scoring quite a bit in the moment, but may not be as predictive.

Here are some notes from Week 6:

  • We’ve been publishing our “Adjusted Turnover Margin” (below). In Week 6, the team with the worst adjusted turnover margin entering the matchup went 11-4 ATS, including the two largest differences, the Browns with the outright win over San Francisco as a 10-point underdog, and the Giants nearly beating Buffalo as a 15.5-point underdog.
  • Of the five lowest yardage totals by winning teams so far in 2023, four of them came in Week 6, with Washington (193), Cincinnati (214), Minnesota (220), and Jacksonville (233) all winning while having less than 240 yards of total offense.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles jumped out to a 14-3 lead against the Jets, but their last seven possessions included three turnovers, two punts, a missed field goal, and the game-ending turnover on downs.
  • Over half of the winning teams (8) in Week 6 scored 20 or fewer points. The previous high in that category was Week 1, when four of the winners scored 20 points or fewer.
  • Total yards gained by Jacksonville on their three possessions ending with a field goal: one. The Jaguars won despite gaining at least one first down on only one of their final eight possessions, thanks to special teams plays and Colts’ turnovers.

Adjusted Turnover Standings, Week 6

Here are the adjusted turnover ranks. Teams at the top have benefited the most, on net, from opponent miscues and fails compared to their own. Teams at the bottom have had a lot of missed opportunities or a lack of mistakes by the opponent. (Safeties are included in turnovers.)

TeamTeam TOTeam TODTeam MFGOpp TOOpp TODOpp MFGNET
SF312115111
PIT530125110
DAL550125310
HOU3418347
NYJ82114137
TB52010216
BUF92213505
NO61310415
KC10209715
JAC86215605
SEA3447534
CIN55210413
LAC3417302
GB5405231
DET6517331
LAR5245431
MIA952582-1
PHI942850-2
IND981844-2
DEN1121552-2
TEN620420-2
WAS1023840-3
ARI761640-4
BAL1032740-4
NYG863534-5
CHI1160542-6
MIN1241632-6
LV1212621-6
CLE1212413-7
ATL1051440-8
CAR882520-11
NE1274432-14

 


FYI

Important Notes About Picks We Highlight

Keep in mind three things about picks we highlight in this article:

  1. Optimal pick’em contest strategy balances risk and potential reward.
    Maximizing your odds to win a pick’em pool generally requires exploiting the best opportunities to differentiate your picks from your opponents’ picks. Ideally, you want to fade the public while taking on minimal additional pick risk to do so. For example, taking a betting market favorite being picked by less than 50% of your opponents is usually a great opportunity.
  2. Not all of the picks we highlight are suitable for all pools.
    Don’t be surprised if our Football Pick’em Picks product doesn’t recommend several of the picks we mention in this post for your pool specifically—especially the upset picks. The best pick strategy for you depends on a number of factors such as your pool’s size, rules, and prize structure (a concept that’s covered in part by our article on season vs. weekly prize strategy).
  3. Picks we highlight may no longer look compelling by game day.
    We analyze and write about picks using data (e.g. win odds and pick popularity) current at the time we publish this article, but that data can change before kickoff. For example, a key player being ruled out or a shift in public sentiment about a team can erase the differentiation value that a pick initially offered.

We’ll provide periodic updates in this post if major data changes occur for picks we’ve mentioned, so make sure to check back. However, there’s a much better way to stay on top of changing data trends throughout a week, which all sharp players need to do.

Our Football Pick’em Picks product automatically imports the latest win odds and pick popularity data multiple times per day. You can see the latest information in the Data Grid.

After you generate customized picks for your pool, you can also update those pick recommendations whenever you want via the My Pool Picks screen. The updated picks will incorporate the most recent data we have.


FYI

About Our Pick’em Pool Advice

What makes pick recommendations from our Football Pick’em Picks product different from other sites is that it isn’t generic.

In any given week, the best picks for your football pool depend on a number of variables. Your pool’s size, rules, and prize structure all influence strategy, as do factors like your current place in the standings and how many weeks are left.

So many different scenarios exist that it’s impossible to give pick advice that makes sense for every one. An underrated 6-point underdog could be a great pick in a big weekly prize pool and a terrible pick for a small season-long pool where you’re currently in the money.

Technology to the rescue

As far as we know, we’re the only site that has built algorithms to evaluate all these strategy factors and provide you with customized pick recommendations every week.

The result? Every year, an average of 73% of our subscribers win a prize (season-long or weekly) in a football pick’em contest.

If you want to see all the Week 1 picks we recommend for your football pick’em contest, use our Football Pick’em Picks product.

Why we write this column

At the same time, we know our subscribers like to understand the rationale behind picks our product may recommend, especially when those picks go against the grain. So over the years, we’ve started to write more about the “whys” behind our approach.

This column can also help educate our readers with pick’em pool strategy. We highlight tactics proven to result in more pick’em pool wins over the long term and point out common pitfalls to avoid.

We hope you enjoy reading, and we encourage you to check out more of our football pick’em strategy articles.

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