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TheStreet Open House

Against the Spread: 2011 NFL Picks: Week 7

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- " I'm not going to lie: Week 6 looks like the toughest week for picking NFL games against the spread."

That's how I began last week's picks column, a week in which my picks against the spread went 1-3 with one tie. It's unfortunate that the same can be said about Week 7, as it's really tough for bettors to find value in the spreads Vegas oddsmakers have posted.

Carson Palmer, QB of the Oakland Raiders

Through six weeks, my record against the spread is 11-17 with two ties. My lone victory last week was on the Dallas Cowboys +7 and I pushed on my pick of the Buffalo Bills +3. My losses were on the St. Louis Rams, Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers. The Rams pick, at +14, was particularly painful as it seemed like they were in Green Bay territory constantly, and yet only came away with 3 points in 60 minutes.

This week, a similarly tough slate of matchups has given bettors some trouble. I guessed the lines earlier this week and found that they all nearly matched Vegas' lines. That's not a good sign for how this week will go, especially since now is the time of the season where I can usually get into a groove.

That problem is compounded by a bevy of roster moves, particularly four new quarterbacks set to start this week. As you've probably heard by now, the Raiders mortgaged the farm to land Carson Palmer, who hasn't played a game in nearly a year. John Beck will step in for Rex Grossman in Washington, rookie Christian Ponder takes over for Donovan McNabb in Minnesota, and Tim Tebow takes over the reins from Kyle Orton in Denver.

"It is an interesting week because of all the changes," says Paul Bessire, the general manager and creator of the Web site PredictionMachine.com. His Prediction Machine is a quantitative way to break down NFL games as it simulates each contest 50,000 times to come up with a pick against the spread.

"In most of those situations, the public will overvalue those changes," Bessire adds. "In none of those specific quarterback changes is the backup that much different from the starter in terms of the overall impact of the team's chances of winning and the line itself. In all honesty, there isn't that much of a gap. Not one of these changes is like going from Peyton Manning to Curtis Painter."

"How do you grade the quarterback changes? Is it a positive or a negative, and not for this week but the whole season?" asks Bryan Leonard, a professional sports handicapper with Pregame.com who is also part of the Tuesday Group, a collection of professional bettors in Las Vegas who get together to handicap the games each week.

"I haven't seen too much of a difference in the lines yet," Leonard says. "We had the same situation in college football last week. Is it really a positive, or is it a change of pace?"

With that, let's get on to the picks for Week 7 of the NFL season. As I'll remind you through the entire season, these are for entertainment purposes only. Once again, I have enlisted the help of PredictionMachine.com's Paul Bessire, who offers analysis of the data his model provides for the games I've picked this week.

I have also collected commentary from Leonard, whose analysis focuses on the spread movement by Vegas oddsmakers to determine where the public and professional money is moving on each game. These trends prove to be critical for bettors who are on the hunt for inefficiencies and value.

Read on for the first game pick, where the Kansas City Chiefs travel to play the Oakland Raiders. And as always, I encourage you to leave comments below with your favorite picks against the spread this week. I am always looking for more thoughts on this week's games.

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