After a few poor outings and some griping from his receivers, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins carved up the Philadelphia Eagles’ secondary last week, throwing for 333 yards and four touchdowns. Stefon Diggs notched 167 receiving yards and three touchdowns and teammate Adam Thielen chipped in 57 yards and a score. Running back Dalvin Cook added another touchdown on the ground.

Diggs torched the Eagles secondary at all three levels but it was his deep routes that paid off the most. Five of his 11 targets were 20 or more yards down field and four of those five were thrown 40 yards or more by Cousins. And despite all that, Philadelphia still has a better passing rating-against on deep passes (20 or more yards) than Detroit this season (81.9 vs. 87.8).

“We’ve got guys that can light this thing up,” Cook said. “We give [Cousins] opportunities to do what he do, he’s going to be Kirk.”

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That offensive surge is one reason we are picking the Vikings to defeat the Lions this week. Here is how we expect the Week 7 games to shake out, starting with three prime picks against the consensus point spreads (as of Thursday morning) from multiple sports books in Las Vegas.

Minnesota Vikings (-1½) at Detroit Lions

Pick: Minnesota Vikings -1½

Cook has carried the ball 108 times for 583 yards and six touchdowns in 2019. He’s also topped the 100-yard mark in four of his six games. His 12 broken tackles are the fifth most at the position and only one running back with at least as many rushing attempts as Cook is managing more yards per carry after contact. Detroit and the league’s seventh-worst run defense (per Pro Football Focus) will have their hands full on Sunday afternoon.

New England Patriots (-9½) at New York Jets

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Pick: New England Patriots -9½

Sam Darnold made a triumphant return to the Jets last week, completing 23 of 32 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns in an upset win over the Dallas Cowboys. But there is a big difference between Dallas, the fourth-most efficient team of 2019, per Football Outsiders, and New England, the fourth-most efficient team since 1986.

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-1)

Pick: Houston Texans +1

Indianapolis has an average pass rush and below-average pass coverage unit this season, per the game charters at Pro Football Focus. Meanwhile, Houston’s quarterback, Deshaun Watson, is the fourth-most valuable passer this season, per ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating.

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You can also expect the Texans’ pass rush, featuring J.J. Watt and D.J. Reader, to pressure Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett, whose passer rating this season drops from 106.7 in a clean pocket to 61.0 when facing pass pressure.

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***

The three games above represent our best plays of the week because our analysis shows the point spreads are the most divergent from what we expect to happen once the teams take the field. Below are picks for the other games on this week’s schedule. However, trying to pick every single NFL game is something of a fool’s errand. The house wins so often partly because bettors try to make too many plays when the odds aren’t in their favor. Keep that in mind when evaluating the remaining games from the Week 7 slate.

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Kansas City Chiefs (-3) at Denver Broncos

Pick: Kansas City Chiefs -3

Los Angeles Rams (-3) at Atlanta Falcons

Pick: Los Angeles Rams -3

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-17)

Pick: Buffalo Bills -17

Jacksonville Jaguars (-3½) at Cincinnati Bengals

Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars -3½

Oakland Raiders at Green Bay Packers (-5½)

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Pick: Green Bay Packers -5½

Arizona Cardinals at New York Giants (-3)

Pick: New York Giants -3

San Francisco 49ers (-9½) at Washington Redskins

Pick: San Francisco 49ers -9½

Los Angeles Chargers at Tennessee Titans (-2)

Pick: Los Angeles Chargers +2

New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears (-3)

Pick: Chicago Bears -3

Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks (-3½)

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Pick: Seattle Seahawks -3½

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (-3)

Pick: Dallas Cowboys -3

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