NFL Week 7 picks and best bets, plus Congress might look into NFL emails and recapping Browns’ big win

Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six Newsletter!

If you fell asleep during the first half of the Thursday night game, let me be the first to say that I don’t blame you. I also don’t blame you if you’re a Broncos fan who cried yourself to sleep. 

The game wasn’t exactly a barn burner: The Browns were missing half their team due to injuries and the Broncos played like a team that was missing half their team due to injuries even though they weren’t. There were only 10 points scored in the entire first half and none of those came from the Broncos.

If you didn’t fall asleep during the game, then you got to see the NFL coming-out party for Browns running back D’Earnest Johnson, who almost single-handedly led Cleveland to a 17-14 win. 

So what did Johnson do? We’ll be covering that plus a lot more in today’s newsletter, so let’s get to the rundown. 

Remember, your job this weekend is to get as many people you know to sign up for the newsletter. To get your friends to sign up, all you have to do is click here and then share this link with them. 

1. Today’s show: Recapping the Browns’ win over the Broncos

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This was definitely one of the weirdest prime-time games of the year. The scoreboard will tell you that this game was close, but if you watched, it almost felt like a blowout. The Browns were in control the entire game and at no point did it really feel like the Broncos were going to be able to win. 

Despite the Broncos’ struggles, the game was still somewhat entertaining, kind of like the podcast we recorded afterward. In today’s episode, we covered every aspect of Cleveland’s win over Denver. If you missed the game, here’s a quick rehash of what happened and what we talked about on the podcast

  • D’Earnest Johnson goes off. With half of Cleveland’s offense out on Thursday night due to injuries, the Browns turned to Johnson and although relying on your third-string running back to carry your offense is something that almost never works, it definitely ended up working out for the Browns. Johnson gashed up the Broncos’ defense for 146 yards and a TD on just 22 carries (that’s 6.63 yards per carry if you’re scoring at home). Johnson’s rushing total was the fifth-highest by any NFL player in a single game this season. Overall, Johnson totaled 168 yards against Denver. In a must-win situation on a prime-time stage, Johnson came through for the Browns.
  • Broncos fell flat on their faces in the first half. The Broncos were so bad on offense to start the game that I would believe you if you told me that they didn’t practice this week. On their four possessions in the first half, they went three-and-out three times and on the only possession that didn’t end with a three-and-out, Teddy Bridgewater threw an interception. The Broncos totaled just 76 yards in the first half, which is even worse when you consider that 31 of that came on one play. Although things slightly improved for the Broncos in the second half, they trailed 10-0 at halftime and just were never able to dig themselves out of that hole.  
  • Case Keenum made one of the biggest plays of the game. The Browns quarterback didn’t make very many impressive plays with his arm on Thursday, but he did make one great play with his legs that was arguably the biggest play of the game. With the Browns leading 10-7 in the third quarter, they faced a fourth-and-3 from Denver’s 6-yard line. Instead of kicking a field goal, coach Kevin Stefanski decided to go for it. The decision almost backfired, but Keenum ended up saving the day with a 5-yard scramble where he bulled over a Broncos defender. The Browns would score a TD just one play later and that score basically iced the win. If Keenum doesn’t score there, the Broncos would have gotten the ball back with a chance to take the lead, but that didn’t happen thanks to Keenum’s rare scramble. To put his improbable 5-yard run into perspective, he rushed for 7 yards on four carries in the game, which means he only totaled 2 yards on his other three carries.  

To listen/watch today’s episode on YouTube, be sure to click here (Seriously, you can WATCH the podcast). You can also check out our takeaways from the game by clicking here

2. Today’s show Part II: Best bets for Week 7

The best part about Friday — besides the fact that it’s Friday — is that you get two episodes of the podcast in your feed. After the recap of the Thursday game, Brinson politely asked me and Ryan Wilson to leave so that he could bring in Pete Prisco and R.J. White for a discussion about their best bets for Week 7. 

Actually, Brinson didn’t politely ask us to leave, I think he might have actually banned us from the podcast because he was tired of us making fun of him for his picks record last week (Brinson went 2-12 against the spread in Week 6. Yikes.).

Anyway, the guys spent nearly 60 minutes going over the best bets for every single game being played in Week 7 and we’re going to cover three from each guy below. Last week was their ugliest one of the season with all three guys going a combined  2-7. That marked the first time all season that the three have had a combined record under .500. 

Pete Prisco (0-3 last week in picks featured here)
Lions (+15) to cover against the Rams
Bengals (+6) to cover against the Ravens
Chiefs at Titans OVER 57.5

Will Brinson (1-2 last week in picks featured here)
Patriots (-7) to cover against the Jets
Chiefs (-4.5) to cover against the Titans
Eagles (+3) to cover against the Raiders

R.J. White  (1-2 last week in picks featured here)
Ravens (-6.5) to cover against the Bengals
Dolphins (+2.5) to cover against the Falcons
Seahawks (+4.5) to cover against the Saints

The three guys also have a parlay they like that pays out +595 and that parlay is: 

  • Patriots (-7) to cover against the Jets
  • Giants (+3) to cover against the Panthers
  • Chiefs at Titans OVER 57.5

That parlay will pay out $595 on a $100 bet.  

To hear what the rest of the best bets are for Week 7 — and there are quite a few — be sure to click here so you can listen to the entire episode of the podcast. You can also watch the trio give out their picks on YouTube by clicking here

3. Congress wants emails and other information about NFL’s investigation into the Washington Football team

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The NFL’s lack of transparency during its investigation of the Washington Football team has caught the eye of Congress. The league uncovered more than 650,000 emails during the investigation, but none of those have been made public, except for the ones that leaked out, which included the emails that led to the resignation of Raiders coach Jon Gruden. 

Due to the multitude of questions that still remain about the investigation, two members of Congress have written a letter to Roger Goodell demanding that the league provide Congress with the findings of the investigation. Right now, we don’t really know anything about the investigation because the league didn’t even have a written report on the situation, which is a little weird considering this is the same league that had a 243-page report done on Deflategate. 

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-New York), who is the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois) sent a five-page letter to Goodell asking him to turn over all the pertinent information by Nov. 4. 

“The NFL has one of the most prominent platforms in America, and its decisions can have national implications,” the committee chairs wrote. “The NFL’s lack of transparency about the problems it recently uncovered raise questions about the seriousness with which it has addressed bigotry, racism, sexism, and homophobia — setting troubling precedent for other workplaces.”

Here are a few things the committee chairs want the NFL to turn over by Nov. 4

  • All documents and communications obtained in connection with the investigation into the WFT, its management, its owners, and any other matter relating to or resulting from the WFT investigation.
  • All reports or findings made in connection with investigations into the WFT, including but not limited to semi-annual reports from the WFT, and all documents and notes referring or relating to any oral reports and findings. 
  • All NFL policies and procedures referring or relating to the use of confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements by the NFL and its teams. 

The committee also wants to know why the NFL decided to oversee the investigation, which was run by attorney Beth Wilkinson. The group also would like to know what Jeff Pash’s role was in the investigation. Pash is a lead NFL attorney who appeared to have a chummy relationship with then-Washington president Bruce Allen. 

“The Committee is seeking to fully understand this workplace conduct and the league’s response, which will help inform legislative efforts to address toxic work environments and workplace investigation
processes; strengthen protections for women in the workplace; and address the use of nondisclosure agreements to prevent the disclosure of unlawful employment practices, including sexual harassment.”

The NFL hasn’t said if it’s going to comply, but if it doesn’t, you can bet things will get even more interesting come Nov. 4.  

4. NFL Week 7 picks

This is the final newsletter of the week, which means I feel morally obligated to cram as many picks as possible into this space. I once crammed 71 beers into a mini-fridge while I was in college, so I know I’m good at cramming. 

With that in mind, we’ve got some Week 7 picks coming your way and those will be coming from Will Brinson, Tom Fornelli and Jonathan Jones along with writers Jordan Dajani and Tyler Sullivan. 

Here’s how things are going to work: I’m going to give you one pick from each guy and then direct you to the rest of their picks. That way, if you like their pick, you’ll be able to read the rest of them, but if they pick against your favorite team, you can ignore the rest of their picks and move on. 

  • Will Brinson: Patriots 24-10 over Jets (New England covers -7). “Bill Belichick and the Pats are down in the dumps. Will that prevent them from thrashing a bad Jets team twice this season? Nope. Belichick’s record against rookie/young quarterbacks speaks for itself. Lots of Pats field goals and a similar game to the first one, which New England won 25-6.” For the rest of Brinson’s Week 7 picks, be sure to click here.
  • Jonathan Jones: Raiders over Eagles (Las Vegas -150 moneyline). “The Eagles had the bye to think on things, but unfortunately a bye won’t clean up Jalen Hurts‘ accuracy. I was impressed with the Raiders’ resolve last week against Denver and I think they roll here.” For the rest of Jones’ Week 7 picks, plus his insider notebook, be sure to click here.
  • Tom Fornelli: Panthers 21-20 over Giants (New York covers +3.5). “Part of the reason I’ve done so well this season is that I’m willing to eat my vegetables when so many others aren’t. No, it’s not fun to bet on the New York Giants, but do you want to bet on the Panthers as road favorites? Carolina will be without Christian McCaffrey again this weekend, and it has lost three straight after starting 3-0.” For the rest of Fornelli’s Week 7 best bets, be sure to click here. Fornelli only gives out three picks per week and is 12-6 on the year with his best bets. 
  • Jordan Dajani: Ravens 30-23 over Bengals (Baltimore covers -6.5). “I think this Ravens team is one of the best in the NFL. Not only is Lamar Jackson a legitimate MVP candidate, but the defense has been better than anticipated. The Ravens are 15-4 at home since the start of the 2019 season. Only the Green Bay Packers have a better home record during that span (16-2).” For the rest of Dajani’s Week 7 picks, be sure to click here.
  • Tyler Sullivan: Colts 24-21 over 49ers (Indianapolis covers +4). “Don’t look now, but Carson Wentz is starting to get hot. Over his last three games, he’s completing nearly 69% of his passes, averaging roughly 285 yards through the air and has six touchdowns with zero interceptions. San Francisco’s bread and butter on offense is running the football, and stopping the run is what the Colts do best” For the rest of Sullivan’s Week 7 picks, be sure to click here.

5. Baker Mayfield’s injury is more serious than originally thought

USA Today

After playing with an injured shoulder for four straight weeks, Baker Mayfield finally missed a game on Thursday night and the reason he missed it is because the injury was more serious than originally thought.

Here’s what Baker is dealing with and when he might be back: 

  • Mayfield fractured his humerus bone. Not only is Mayfield dealing with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder but he also fractured the humerus bone, according to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports. Mayfield told Glazer that the fracture is going to have to “heal” before the QB can return to the field. 
  • When will Baker be back on the field? This isn’t an easy question to answer. According to former NFL doctor David Chao, this is the type of injury that could keep someone out for a month, but there’s also a chance that Mayfield could play in Week 8 against the Steelers (Mayfield told Glazer he wants to be on the field). Mayfield had been wearing a harness on his shoulder the past few weeks and that harness could make it safe enough for him to play, even with the fracture humerus bone. 
  • Kevin Stefanski offers zero details. The Browns coach was asked about Mayfield’s injury after Thursday’s win and he basically ducked the question, “I am not going to get into specifics of Baker’s injury at this time,” Stefanski said, via “He is another guy who is fighting, and he will be back out there as soon as he can.”

Saying Mayfield will be back “as soon as he can” doesn’t really help if you’re trying to figure out a potential return timeline. Right now, it seems like the best-case scenario is that he returns on Halloween for Cleveland’s game against the Steelers while the absolute worst-case scenario would probably have him back in mid-November. The problem with returning too early is that there will be a higher chance that Mayfield could aggravate the injury like he did against the Cardinals, which could keep him out even longer.

6. NFL insider notebook: Deshaun Watson derby is down to one team, Odell Beckham trade scenarios

With the NFL trade deadline less than two weeks away, there are going to be a lot of rumors flying around between now and the deadline day of Nov. 2. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the juiciest tidbits that CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones had to offer in his latest insider notebook.

Only one team is in the Deshaun Watson derby. “The Dolphins have “been bidding against themselves” as one league source put it, since they’re the only team remaining in the Watson “sweepstakes” before the Nov. 2 trade deadline. Sources have told me Watson wouldn’t be interested in Philadelphia and the ship to Carolina sailed before the start of the season. Watson is either a Dolphin by the trade deadline or he’ll remain a Texan until the start of the new league year in March.”

Conclusion: Watson has a no-trade clause, which means if he doesn’t want to play in Carolina or Philly, then a trade isn’t going to happen. As Jones notes, this means Watson is either going to be playing for the Texans or Dolphins this year. 

Odell Beckham trade scenarios. “There are plenty of reasons why the Browns wouldn’t trade Odell Beckham Jr. before the Nov. 2 deadline… But the one scenario I can see where Beckham is shipped off is if a contending team (preferably in the NFC) loses their No. 1 wide receiver to injury for a significant period of time. That would be enough for a team to call the Browns and be willing to roll the dice on Beckham with his health plus salary. The Browns aren’t impatiently waiting for that call, though. I don’t get the sense they’re making or getting calls about Beckham, and I believe they’ll be fine if that’s the case through the second afternoon of November.”

Conclusion: Although there’s been a lot of trade speculation regarding Odell, don’t look for him to get dealt unless a team out there gets desperate and makes the Browns an offer for Odell that they can’t refuse. 

For a full look at Jones’ Insider Notes, be sure to click here

So what NFL picks can you make with confidence? And which Super Bowl contender goes down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams win and cover the spread, all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $7,700 since its inception, and find out.

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