NFL Week 7 Picks

That’s a little bit more like it. A few of the picks that I thought were reaches (Baltimore over Green Bay and New Orleans over New England [to me it was a reach]) didn’t pan out, but I’ll take 10-5. The Week 6 performance bumped the overall to 57-35, still well in the mix with ESPN’s stable of experts.

It’s crazy how quick this season moves along, but here’s to another week of football.

Your byes for Week 7: Oakland and New Orleans

Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals, Thursday, 8:25pm

When the offense struggles, Seattle’s number-one ranked defense will always be there to pick them up. And when the offense isn’t struggling, well, they won’t have to pick the defense up, so those weeks are likely to be easy wins for the Seahawks. That includes this week, even though it’s on the road, against a Cardinals team that is in the midst of one hell of a stretch (San Fran, Seattle, Atlanta, and Houston are their weeks 6-10 matchups—their Bye is in there at week 9). Carson Palmer has been nothing special this year, like usual, and is working with no real offensive weapons aside from Larry Fitzgerald. Seahawks win 32-17

Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles, 1pm

If there was ever a time when the Eagles could put their stamp on the NFC East against the only other team that’s going to compete for the division, it’s this week. Dallas is reeling after losing DeMarco Murray and DeMarcus Ware for the time being (Ware could play, but probably won’t be 100 percent by Sunday). No matter who’s under center, the offense should be able to move relatively well against Monte Kiffin’s defense. As for the other side of the ball, questions are abound. Romo has historically struggled against the Eagles (16 TDs and 11 INTs in 14 games, with 179.1 yards per game—the lowest vs. any NFC East opponent), but he’s had the hot hand through the first several weeks, and he’ll face the league’s worst passing defense. It’s obvious, but for the Eagles to win, they’ll have to contain the Cowboys running game and get pressure on Romo. Eagles win 29-27

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons, 1pm

Mike Glennon is a rookie who will be making just his third start when he travels to Atlanta. It’s safe to say, he hasn’t really ever seen a crowd much like the one that will show up at the Georgia Dome on Sunday—people just don’t get too excited for ACC football. The only big question for Atlanta is how Harry Douglas and a banged up Roddy White are going to hold up against Revis Island. Atlanta wins 28-20

Cincinnati Bengals @ Detroit Lions, 1pm

Quick note on Joseph Fauria, Matthew Stafford’s new toy—his reception-to-TD total is 7-and-5 right now. He’s on pace for 19 catches and 13 TD’s, meaning nearly 70 percent of his receptions go for 6. Incredible. This week, though, they’ll be playing host to a Bengals team that has only given up 8 receiving TDs all season, and has the 9th best passing D, giving up just 210 yards per contest. That’ll be the matchup to watch in this one—Stafford (who’s already amassed 1,772 yds and 12 TDs) going up against the Bengals secondary. Cincy’s D as a whole is giving up the 7th fewest points per game (18.5), while Detroit is averaging the 6th most (27). Lions win 24-21

Buffalo Bill @ Miami Dolphins, 1pm

After an impressive comeback, orchestrated by Thad Lewis to send their game against Cincy to OT, the Bills fell flat and lost 27-24. This week, they’re not entirely sure who’ll be starting under center—Lewis is expected to start after suffering some sort of foot injury and being seen in a walking boot, but they signed Matt Flynn as an emergency backup. Whoever goes, they’ll be matching up against a Miami D that ranks 27th against the pass (287.6 yards per game). Both teams come into this one on two-game skids, though Miami is coming off of a bye. I lean their way for that reason alone. This one is a proverbial coin flip. Dolphins win 21-17

New England Patriots @ New York Jets, 1pm

Defense has been the name of the game for the Jets this season. They’re holding teams to just over 75 yards on the ground per game (2nd best in the league) and just over 228 yards through the air (12th best). Defense dominated the last time these two teams hooked up with the Pats holding on in a rain-soaked second half for the 13-10 win. It’s been a month and a half since that contest, which means Brady has had more time to get acquainted with his receiving core, which finally came together on their stunning game-winning drive against the Saints a week ago. When Brady’s on like he was at the end of that game, he’s impossible to beat, no matter how good an opposing defense has been playing. That’ll be the case in this one. Pats win 34-24

Chicago Bears @ Washington Redskins, 1pm

Washington sorta kinda hung in there for a good three quarters against the Cowboys before RGIII pulled several Romo’s and the ‘Skins defense collapsed yet again. This week they’ll have to try and stop a resurgent Jay Cutler, who’s on pace to put up some of his best numbers since 2008—his last year in Denver. The most impressive of those stats is his 65.9 percent completion percentage, which is good for sixth highest in the league, and, if he maintains that, would be a team record for Chicago. Defending the pass has been a huge issue for Washington, and will be their unraveling in this one. Bears win 23-17

St. Louis Rams @ Carolina Panthers, 1pm

This could easily be the hardest game to pick this week due to the fact that you never really know which version of each team is going to show up. For the Rams, is it going to be the club that completely dominated a Houston team (on the road, mind you) that had Super Bowl aspirations coming into 2013, or the team that got embarrassed at home on Thursday night football against a division rival? For Carolina, you could have the team that dismantled the Minnesota Vikings on the road last week, or the bunch that got manhandled by the Arizona Cardinals. Carolina is one of only three teams that is holding opponents to under 300 yards of offense per game, which should be the difference maker in this one. Panthers win 26-20

San Diego Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars, 1pm

Another east coast trip for the Bolts, coming off of a huge win against the NFL’s sweetheart team this year. That’s quite the high to come back down from, so if they want to keep the train rolling, they’ll have to make sure that they continue to do what ……. oh, wait, nevermind. They’re playing the Jags. Chargers win 35-10

San Francisco 49ers @ Tennessee Titans, 4:05pm

Colin Kaepernick put up some gaudy passing numbers last year, but he was never really going to be a true passing threat. He took the league by storm last year because of the work he does with his legs, which opened up the passing game for him. This year, though, he’s running less (31  rushes through the first 6 weeks, compared to the 67 attempts he had in his 10 starts last year), and defenses have been more effective against the read option. Still, the Niners tout the 4th best rushing offense. That combined with their pass defense, which gives up 206 yards per game (6th best) should be enough to stymie the Titans, who have played well at home this year. 49ers win 26-17

Cleveland Browns @ Green Bay Packers, 4:25pm

Aaron Rodgers, even with a depleted receiving core is still light years better than Brandon Weeden and whoever the Browns throw out onto the field. That’s all you need to know about this one. Packers win 42-20

Houston Texans @ Kansas City Chiefs, 4:25pm

Prior to Matt Schaub going down, this one could’ve been looked at as a high-quality matchup and potential playoff preview. That’s definitely not the case anymore. The Texans once-top-ranked defense has really slipped off in recent weeks, giving up 125 points over the last four games (granted a good chunk of that came off of Matt Schaubs pick-sixes and special teams miscues)—they’ve actually outgained opponents by a wide margin over that stretch, but haven’t been able to put up enough points to come out on top. Their 5-game Matt Schaub pick-six streak goes up against a Chiefs defense that has absolutely dominated all season long and is among the league leaders in scoring defense (3 pick-sixes and 1 fumble return for a TD). My guess is the Texans make it six games with a Matt Schaub pick-six in a row. Chiefs win (and go 7-0, holy shit) 34-24

Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers, 4:25pm

Pittsburgh finally got their first win of the season, on the road in New York last week behind the power of four Shaun Suisham field goals. The defense also showed up against the pass for the first time this season—through the first four games they had given up 6.7 yards per attempt and had a 61 percent completion percentage against, with 3 TDs and no picks; against the Jets they held Geno Smith to just 4.3 yards per attempt, a 53 percent completion percentage and no TDs and 2 picks. It’ll be a much tougher task against Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco who, despite throwing for seven interceptions over the last three games, has thrown for the 8th most yards in the league this year (1,578). Had the Steelers lost last week, this would’ve been an easier pick, because trying to get their first win in a game jam packed with emotions would’ve been nearly impossible, but getting off the shnide has added a little pep to their step (a little too much pep if you ask me) and made this a much more manageable situation. I’d consider this one a huge upset. Steelers win 17-14

Denver Broncos @ Indianapolis Colts, 8:25pm

Speaking of emotion. Peyton Manning returns home for Football Night in America this week, and the Colts are ready to roll out the red carpet for their former franchise quarterback. While they’re busy preparing some sort of ceremony for the man, Peyton is going to be hard at work, trying to figure out how to top a Colts defense that has only given up 5 passind TDs this season and has the fifth lowest QB rating against. This is going to be a unique look at the past and future of Indy, and I think, for the moment, the past is going to school the future. Broncos win 42-37

Minneapolis Vikings @ New York Giants, Monday, 8:30pm

If the Giants have any shot at getting the goose egg out of the win column, it’s this week against a Vikings team that is all sorts of unstable right now. The only things for certain about the Purple People Eaters are Adrian Peterson and the fact that they’ll give up about 30 points per game. It’ll be interesting to see how Josh Freeman will do in his first start with his new team—my guess, the chemistry won’t be there quite yet, though he could put up some decent numbers against a Giants secondary that gives up nearly 270 per game through the air. One team in New York has to end the week on a happy note, right? Giants win 31-28

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