NFL: Week 7 Thoughts

Through 7 weeks, we’re down to 2 win-less teams, while just 1 undefeated squad remains.

New Orleans and Oakland had their byes.

I know it’s the NFL, and injuries are apart of the game, but this week seemed to contain a lot more season ending ones than normal.

NFC EAST (We Have a Winning Team Atop the Division)

  • Cowboys: Despite many injuries, the defense came to play.  They harassed Nick Foles all day, then knocked him out late in the 3rd quarter with an injury.  Not to mention holding a high octane offense in Philly to under 300 yards of total offense.  A decent day on the ground without DeMarco Murray, along with just enough from Tony Romo and a Phillip Tanner TD run, means a winning record and an NFC East lead all to themselves.  Dallas is also now 3-0 in the division.  (4-3)
  • Eagles: Down two quarterbacks following a head injury to Nick Foles, Matt Barkley saw his first action, and it wasn’t a great debut.   Three interceptions, no touchdowns for the fourth round pick out of USC.  The defense did all they could against the Cowboys, picking off Romo twice, and holding him to one touchdown.  The score was just 3-0 boys at the half. (3-4)
  • Redskins:  A good day for the offense, with both Alfred Morris and RGIII running for over 80 yards a piece.  Add 298 yards and 2TDs from Griffin to that against a take-a-way happy Bears defense.  But this day belonged to Roy Helu Jr, who scored 3 touchdowns, including the game winner with 45 seconds left.  Rookie tight-end Jordan Reed had a big day as well, catching 9 passes for a 134-yards including getting into the end-zone once. (2-4)
  • Giants: It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win, New York’s first of the season.  For the third straight game, the Giants defense shutdown a top 5 running back, this time the reigning MVP.  And for the first time this season, the defense pitched a shutout, forcing three Vikings turnovers to their one.  This while Eli Manning finally played turnover free football.  That’s not to say the Giants QB looked great.  There were a couple missed picks by the Vikings, to go with some poorly thrown balls and drops, but a turnover free day from the offense is something this team desperately needed.  Ruben Randle did lose a fumble on special teams, but made up for it with a 24-yard touchdown catch.  Peyton Hillis made an immediate impact running the ball, as did rookie Michael Cox, even if the numbers don’t show it.  Philly’s up next before their bye week. (1-6)

NFC NORTH (New Leader, But Still Crowded at the Top)

  • Packers: Aaron Rodgers and company got off to a fast start against Cleveland, leading 14-0 after the 1st quarter, and they never let up.  Rodgers threw for 3 touchdowns, while rookie back Eddie Lacy added another on the ground.  They’ve leaped back into first, but it came with a cost.  Tight-end Jermichael Finley, who was getting more targets with the loss of Randall Cobb, was carted off the field in the 2nd half after a big helmet-to-helmet hit.  As of Monday night, Finley was out of the ICU, had movement in his extremities, and is out indefinitely. (4-2)
  • Lions: Matthew Stafford had a big day, thanks in large part to his favorite target.  He hooked up with Calvin Johnson to the tune of two touchdowns and 155 yards.  Stafford ended up over 300 yards, something a passer hadn’t done to the Bengals in 20 games.  But it wasn’t enough, as rookie punter Sam Martin shanked a kick late in the game, which set up a Cincy game winning field-goal as time expired. (4-3)
  • Bears:  Devin Hester and Matt Forte were the stars.  Hester tied an NFL record with his 19th return touchdown, an 81-yard punt return in the 1st half.  Forte ran in for two touchdowns, including a 50-yarder in the 3rd quarter.  But the defense had no answer for RGIII and the Redskins, and it didn’t help when they lost Jay Cutler to a groin injury late in the 1st half.   They held two short lived leads, including 41-38 late, but it’s hard to win when you allow nearly 500 yards of total offense.  (4-3)
  • Vikings: How Josh Freeman is their best option is quarterback astounds me, but maybe we give the guy a break, as he learns a new system.  But what I really want to know is how a game changer like Adrian Peterson only ran the ball 13 times. I get the Giants did a good job stopping him, but he’s the type of back that no matter how a game is going, can rip a long one.  And this was a close game throughout.  That being said, without a special teams touchdown, there’d be no real positives for this team.  Sure they didn’t do terribly on defense, but they also missed a couple opportunities. (1-4)

NFC SOUTH (It’s Still All About the Big Easy)

  • Saints: Bye Week. (5-1)
  • Panthers: Another good day from Cam Newton and their defense helped Carolina double up the Rams 30-15.  Newton didn’t put up big numbers, throwing for just over 200 yards, but was accurate and smart with the football.  The run game was adequate with Newton teaming up with DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert to combine for over 100 yards on the ground.  The defense forced two turnovers, racked up 4 sacks and knocked the Rams Sam Bradford from the game. (3-3)
  • Falcons:  Harry Douglas was huge in the absence of Julio Jones and Roddy White.  The 5th year pro had seven receptions for a career-best 149 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown catch.  The Bucs made it interesting but the defense had its moments, like when safety Williams Moore sacked Mike Glennon to force a fumble on Tampa Bay’s first possession. Safety Thomas DeCoud added a 30-yard TD on a fumble recovery.  It was a much needed win for a team many thought had chances at a Superbowl run. (2-4)
  • Buccaneers: The offense had probably it’s best game of the year, and had a chance in the 4th, but couldn’t muster more than 2 field-goals in the final period.  Vincent Jackson continues to put up big numbers, grabbing 10 balls for 138-yards and 2 scores.  But in a winless year, things got worse.  Tampa Lost star running back Doug Martin for the year to a torn labrum.  (0-6)

NFC WEST (The Hawks Continue to Fly Higher than the Rest)

  • Seahawks: They never trailed Sunday against Arizona, but didn’t pull away until the 2nd half.  Seattle played well on both sides of the football.  Their defense picked off Carson Palmer twice and dropped the Cards QB 7 times.  The offense turned both those turnovers into touchdowns as a part of a 3 score day for Russell Wilson.  Wilson did fumble twice, but a fourth touchdown on the ground by Marshawn Lynch helped the hawks pull away.  Wide-receiver Sidney Rice found the endzone for the 3rd time in 2013. (6-1)
  • 49ers: The score says they only won by 14, but their fourth straight victory was never really close.  Up 17-0 at halftime, it took until the 4th for Tennessee to do anything productive on offense.  Colin Kaepernick wasn’t at his best in the air, but on the ground, him and Frank Gore did work.  Kaepernick found paydirt once, while Gore scored two rushing TDs.  The 49ers special teams added a score, when Kassim Osgood recovered a muffed punt for a touchdown.  (4-2)
  • Rams:  Sam Bradford was carted off late in the 4th, and it was revealed that he did in fact tear his ACL, and is lost for the season.  But the game was basically over by then thanks in large part to penalties.  St Louis was flagged for five personal fouls alone, and defensive end Chris Long was ejected for throwing a punch.  Turnovers and a lack of a ground game didn’t help. (3-4)
  • Cardinals: They kept it close early, but couldn’t avoid losing their 7th divisional game.  With absolutely no help on the ground, Palmer was forced to throw the ball 45 times, and managed just one touchdown and two interceptions.  Palmer did manage to spread the completions around, with 9 players registering receptions.  Jay Feely had a good day kicking the ball, going 3-3 on his field-goals, with a long of 52. (3-4)

AFC EAST (We Have a Race)

  • Patriots: They rallied late in the 4th to force overtime, but a new league penalty call helped set up New York’s game winner.   Chris Jones was called for and unsportsmanlike conduct for pushing a teammate forward in an attempt to block the kick.  But the game only went to overtime after New England rallied in the 4th after allowing the Jets to score 17 unanswered in the 3rd.  For the 2nd time in 3 games, Tom Brady didn’t throw a touchdown, and threw a pick 6 in the first half.  It was the run game and the leg of Stephen Gostkowski that gave them a chance in overtime.  Rob Gronkowski had a big day in his season debut, catching 8 Brady passes for 114-yards.  (5-2)
  • Jets: A risky 56-yard field goal attempt in overtime almost gave New England a chance to win it.  But the penalty on Jones gave New York new life, and Nick Folk an easier attempt from 42, which he nailed.  Geno Smith has yet to lose 2 straight games thanks to their overtime win against the Pats. Chris Ivory with over 100 yards on the ground. (4-3)
  • Dolphins: It wasn’t the performance you want coming out of your bye week.  Down 14-0 early, they managed to take the lead heading into the 4th quarter, but a turnover late set up a game winner for Buffalo.  Ryan Tannehill threw 3 touchdowns to lead the comeback, but his three turnovers (two interceptions) led to two Bills scores.  After starting out the season 3-0, the fins need to figure some stuff out in an improved division and quick. (3-3)
  • Bills: The defense won the game for Buffalo.  Rookie defensive back Nickell Robey’s pick six on the 3rd play of the game helped them build a big 1st quarter lead.  After blowing that 14-0 lead, Mario Williams had the play of the game, a sack forced fumble set up the game winning field goal but none other than former Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter.  Carpenter was released by Miami in August. The win snapped a 6 game road losing streak.  (3-4)

AFC NORTH (The Cats Have Come to Play)

  • Bengals: It wasn’t easy, but they did just enough to outlast a high-powered Lions offense.  Andy Dalton had a good day, showing he can go deep with an early 82-yard TD strike to AJ Green, as apart of a 3 touchdown, 372-yard passing day.  Dalton needed a big day in the air, because he got very little help on the ground.  Taking advantage of a short field in regulation, Dalton got into field-goal range, and Mike Nugent kicked the game winner, a 54-yard field-goal as time expired.  It was a big win, putting some distance between them and the rest of the league, with both Baltimore and Cleveland losing.  It’s also their 2nd straight road win. (5-2) 
  • Ravens: Another day, another close game doesn’t go their way.  They managed to come back and tie the Steelers in the 4th, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a 3rd loss in their last 4.  The defense did it’s job, holding Pittsburgh to mostly field-goals.  But once again Ray Rice did nothing on the ground, while Joe Flacco didn’t do much good or bad in the passing game.  Justin Tucker continues to be their only consistent offense, going 3-3 on field-goal attempts to keep it close.  (3-4)
  • Browns: Brandon Weedon with another bad start since returning from injury.  Cleveland’s QB went just 17-for-42 for 149 yards, a touchdown and an interception.  The Packers offense was just too much for their defense, which had been rounding into form during their 3 game win streak. Yet another case of a team not getting steady production on the ground, which puts the onus on the quarterback to throw more.  (3-4)
  • Steelers: Shaun Suisham’s leg was the hero, hitting all four of his field-goal attempts, including the 42-yard game winner as time expired.  Rookie rusher Le’Veon Bell ran for a career high 98 yards.  The defense only dropped Flacco once, but did a good job stopping the run.  It’s their 2nd straight win after starting the season 0-4. (2-4)

AFC South  (Luck Has Everything To Do With It)

  • Colts: This team continues to show they’re for real.  They have no defeated the Seahawks, 49ers and Broncos, and by an average of over 10 points.  It’s hard to win any games against Denver, let alone in Peyton Manning’s return to Indy.  But Manning’s replacement shows more and more why he was the number 1 pick in last years draft.  Andrew Luck was on point, An MRI confirmed that iconic wide-out Reggie Wayne is done for the year with a torn ACL suffered in Sunday night’s win.  (5-2)
  • Titans: Jake Locker’s return wasn’t enough to save Tennessee from a 2nd straight loss.  The offense couldn’t do anything until the 4th quarter, but by then it was too late.  Another week, another lack of production from Chris Johnson on the ground, though he did have a nice showing in the pass game.  Locker threw for 326-yards, but was sacked 3 times and picked off once in his return from injury. (3-4)
  • Texans:  Making a bad season worse, Houston is now on a 5- game losing streak, and saw both of their tailbacks go down.  Arian Foster left in the 1st quarter with a hamstring, then Ben Tate went down early in the 3rd, but he would return.  They also saw Brian Cushing go down with a left knee injury.  The defense got their first take away, a fumble recovery, since week 4 against Seattle,  One of the few positives was the play of Case Keenum at quarterback.  He looked steady all game, spreading the ball to many different players, and he didn’t throw any picks, something unique to Texans QBs this season.   But little protection late led to a lot of drive killing sacks, as well as the final one on a potential game winning drive which resulted in a lost fumble.  But look for Keenum to get another shot after throwing for more yards in a debut by a Texans quarterback. (2-5)
  • Jaguars:  According to NFL.com, their the first team since the 1984 Houston Oilers to lose every game of the season (played so far) by double digits.  The Oilers opened the season losing their first 10 this way.  After a decent showing against Denver, the offense couldn’t do much of anything.  Chad Henne wasn’t awful, throwing for over 300 yards, but he couldn’t find the end-zone, and threw one interception.  Maurice Jones-Drew and the run game was non-existent once again.  (0-7) 

AFC WEST (And Then There Was One)

  • Chiefs: Don’t look now, but a 2-win team from last season now stands as the last undefeated team and the division leaders.  Jamaal Charles ran for 86-yards and a score, while Alex Smith added a rushing score of his own.  They got one of their tougher tests from a desperate Texans team, but a strip sack with under two to play by Tamba Hali on rookie quarterback Case Keenum sealed the one point victory.  (7-0)
  • Broncos: They let the Colts jump out early, and they just couldn’t recover.  Peyton Manning sure tried to get his team to 7-0, and it looked like it would work.  But an interception and a fumble in the fourth quarter meant Denver just didn’t have enough time to complete a comeback.  They were down as many as 19, but managed to close the final deficit to 6. Eric Decker went for a season high 150 yards and a touchdown, while the run game continues to force Manning to throw nearly 50 passes. The loss ended their undefeated season and snapped a 17-game regular season win streak.  And just like that, they’re not even in first anymore thanks to a great start by KC.  (6-1)
  • Chargers: Ryan Matthews with his second straight 100 yard rushing game, while finding the endzone twice.  Phillip Rivers with a good day, going over 30,000 yards passing for his career.  The defense did exactly what it should against a team like Jacksonville.  They kept the pressure on them and held the Jags to just a pair of field-goals.  (4-3)
  • Raiders: Bye Week. (2-4)

So that’s it.  Week 8 is upon us.  It gets started in Tampa Bay on Thursday, where Mike Glennon hopes to lead his team to their first win of the year, while Cam Newton hopes to lead his team to a 3rd straight victory.  Enjoy it everyone.

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NFL: Week 7 Predictions

Two teams are on their bye as the NFL heads into week 7.  The Saints and Raiders have time off after they each lost in week 6.

As for me, I had a pretty good week 6, going 10-5 in my picks, so let’s see if I can at least match that this time around.

Thursday Night Football

  • Seattle @ Arizona:  It’s an NFC West showdown to kick off the week of football.  The Seahawks are looking like a top 2-3 team in the NFC, while the Cardinals are much improved from a year ago.  Seattle is coming off a win, Arizona a loss.  I think it will be close for most of the game, but Seattle’s defense will make a big play late to seal their 6th win of the season. SEATTLE WINS

1PM Sunday Games

  • Tampa Bay @ Atlanta: This division game is actually a battle to stay out of last place. Shocking yes.  But still true.  The Falcons are having a down year to say the least, and lost Julio Jones for the year before their bye week.  They’ll also be without Roddy White for the first time in his 8-year career.  The Bucs are win-less and had a hard time stopping any part of the Eagles high-powered offense in week 6. Even without Jones and White,  I see think Matt Ryan can lead his team to win number 2. ATLANTA WINS
  • Chicago @ Washington: The Bears already beat one NFC East team this month, can they do it again?  If their offensive line can protect Jay Cutler like they did last week, they’ve got a shot.  The Redskins weren’t anything to write home about last week, but they’ve got one thing that can really tip the score in their favors.  The bears usually shutdown defense has been suspect of late, and they let Brandon Jacobs turn back the clock and have a big day on the ground.  I’m going with the road team, but if RGII and Alfred Morris can get it going big time running the football, this could be Washington’s night.  CHICAGO WINS
  • Dallas @ Philadelphia: Another week of NFC East fun for the Cowboys, against the team they’re currently tied for first place with.  Neither team has looked good for more than a week at a time, so with both coming off wins, this will give one team their first winning streak of the season.  The Boys will be without starting back DeMarco Murray, and Nick Foles should get another start at QB after a great performance in place of the injured Michael Vick.  I think Dallas is the better team, even without Murray, and Demarcus Ware who suffered a pulled quad last week.  DALLAS WINS
  • New England @ New York Jets:  The Patriots are feeling good after a late second win over the Saints, while the Jets took a step backwards against Pittsburgh.  New England already has a 3-point win over their AFC foes, and I think they get another one.  Their run game is starting to improve, and Tom Brady is feeling a lot more comfortable with his new receiving core.  But don’t be surprised if this is another one-score game.  NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Buffalo @ Miami: The Dolphins are coming off their bye and are looking to keep pace with the Patriots.  The Bills are looking to get back in the win column with a new quarterback.  I think Buffalo showed a lot coming back in the 4th quarter last week against Cincy. But I think Miami is just the better team, and with it being a home game for the Dolphins, that tips the scale for me.  MIAMI WINS
  • San Diego @ Jacksonville:  The Jags played probably their best game of the year against Denver, while the Chargers probably played their best game against Indy.  San Diego has been very up and down this year, while Jacksonville is has looked a bit better the last two weeks, though moral victories in an 0-6 season don’t count for much.  I’d like to say this is the week the Jaguars get rid of the zero, but I think Phillip Rivers and company make it two in a row.  SAN DIEGO WINS
  • St. Louis @ Carolina:  These are two teams coming off easy victories.  The Rams made the Texans look silly, getting big contributions on defense and in e passing game.  While the Panthers pounced on a Vikings team hit by tragedy and controversy.  I know it’s a road game, but give me the Rams in a close one. ST LOUIS WINS
  • Cincinnati @ Detroit: It’s a match-up of two 4-2 teams that are both starting to play well in all facets of the game.  Cincy’s defense almost blew a 14 point lead last week, but they did enough to allow the team to get an overtime win.  They’ve shown flashes of true greatness this year, snapping Tom Brady’s 52-game touchdown streak two weeks ago.  The Lions played really well in Cleveland, stopping a team on a hot streak while getting big contributions from guys like Josesph Fauria and DeAndre Levy.  If the Bengals defense can play somewhere between how they did against New England and Buffalo, and get similar run production, I think they pick up a big road win. CINCINNATI WINS

4/4:25PM Sunday Games

  • San Francisco @ Tennessee: The 49ers have looked very good of late, especially running the ball with Frank Gore.  Tennessee has also looked pretty good, despite losing to Seattle Sunday.  San Fran has had two straight blowout wins, and I think that ends this week.  The Titans didn’t make it easy for one of the NFC’s best last week, and will do the same this week.  But I still think the niners get the win.  SAN FRAN WINS
  • Houston @ Kansas City: The past few years I’d have said this is an easy road win for the Texans, but that’s not the case anymore.  Houston has been dreadful the past couple of weeks, while the Chiefs defense looks like it could be anyone right now.  So while this might not be the blowout Houston has been put through the last few weeks,  That being said, I still think KC remains undefeated for another week.  KANSAS CITY WINS
  • Baltimore @ Pittsburgh: Who doesn’t love Ravens/Steelers?  Over the last few years it’s been a battle for the ownership of the AFC North, but this year it’s a bit of a different story.  The Ravens are looking to avoid slipping below .500, while Pitt is looking for just its 2nd win of the season.  The Steelers looked a bit more like themselves in their win Sunday, while Baltimore continues to struggle running the football.  I see this being a low scoring game, but I think the road team gets it done.  BALTIMORE WINS
  • Cleveland @ Green Bay: Neither team looked great offensively Sunday, but the Packers were still able to pick up a win over Baltimore.  Brandon Weedon had one of the worst games of his career against Detroit.  I think both teams play better in this one, but I think Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have two down performances in a row, especially back home.  The Pack will be without big play threat Randall Cobb, but youngsters like Mylea White look to step up.  GREEN BAY WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Denver @ Indianapolis: This is the game everyone wants to see.  Peyton Manning returns to Indy for the first time in a different uniform and brings his undefeated Broncos with him.  The Colts offense couldn’t get anything going against San Diego, but I don’t see that being a problem this week. As good as Denver’s offense has been, their defense hasn’t been so great.  But I still think the Broncos walk out of Indy with the W, simply because of number 18 and his comfort level at Lucas Oil Stadium.  DENVER WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Minnesota @ New York Giants;  It’s a match-up of two desperate teams in prime-time.  They enter action a combined 1-10, with the G-Men off to their worst start since 1976.  You have to give Eli Manning and the Giants the edge at home, right?  Well as bad as the defense has been, they did a good job of stopping Matt Forte a week ago, and they themselves found a run game. The Vikings will start their 3rd quarterback of the season, benchind Matt Cassel in favor the recently acquired Josh Freeman. If you can find a way to limit the turnovers, and keep the run game going with new back Peyton Hillis, I think the Giants will pick up win number 1 of the year. NEW YORK WINS

So that’s that.  Enjoy another week of big hits, big plays, big wins and big mistakes.