It is week 7 of the NFL season and things are really heating up. No, Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh won’t be meeting inside a steel cage to settle their differences. The major battles will take place on the field. Or so we hope. Here are my picks for week 7.
Washington at Carolina.
Two desperate teams for different reasons. The Redskins are coming off a tough home loss to Philadelphia and are trying to stay in the race in the NFC East. Rex Grossman looked like…Rex Grossman. Which means he was putrid against the Eagles which prompted coach Mike Shanahan to turn to John Beck to start at quarterback. Some people love the move, others have questioned the change. Wait and see. The Panthers are 1-5 but have been competitive in every game. Cam Newton continues his ascendency but needs to start winning games. I think he wins this one because I’m not sure of the Redskins’ mindset right now with the quarterback change. Panthers win.
Atlanta at Detroit.
The Falcons scored a much-needed win over Carolina last week and are looking to gain some momentum from that outing. Michael Turner had a huge game rushing for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns which bodes well for the Falcons playing against the Lions defence who has struggled against the run. Detroit lost their first game of the season last week and may be without running back Jahvid Best who is suffering from concussion like symptoms. However Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are healthy and the Falcons struggle against the pass. Look for this to be a high scoring affair with Detroit winning at home.
Seattle at Cleveland.
Ugh. Unless you’re a hardcore fan of one of these teams, it is best to avoid this one. Both teams aren’t very good and it really is a toss-up who will win. I’ll take Cleveland only because I like Colton McCoy more than Tavaris Jackson. But that’s not saying much.
Denver at Miami.
Bronco fans are finally getting their wish this week. Tim Tebow will make his first professional start at quarterback and all eyes will be on the former Heisman trophy winner. On top of that he’s playing in his home state so this should be very interesting. If the winless Dolphins don’t win this game in front of a rare sellout crowd in Miami, they could very well go 0-16. I think that’s a good possibility. Denver wins.
San Diego at New York Jets.
Two teams loaded with potential meet at the Meadowlands. The Chargers are sitting atop of the AFC West with a 4-1 record but coach Norv Turner thinks there is room for improvement. The Jets are 3-3 and believe this is a must win game for them to have any chance of winning the competitive AFC East. Jets coach Rex Ryan made headlines by saying if the Chargers hired him in 2007 instead of Turner, San Diego would have won a Super Bowl. Rex likes to talk but I think it’s starting to grind on his players a bit. I like San Diego to be motivated and leave MetLife Stadium with a victory.
Chicago vs. Tampa Bay.
Two evenly matched teams meet at London’s Wembley Stadium as part of the NFL’s International Series. The Bears are 3-3 and still believe they have a shot in the NFC North. Jay Cutler has been superb for the Bears throwing for 267 yards and 2 touchdowns in last week’s win over the hapless Vikings. However problems have arisen in the Windy City. Both linebacker Lance Briggs and running back Matt Forte expressed frustration with their current contracts and Briggs has gone public saying morale is a problem within the Bears dressing room. The Bucs are 4-2 after coming off a thrilling win over division rival New Orleans. Josh Freeman is having a great season and last week was his best game. Freeman threw for 303 yards against the Saints as he calmly led the Bucs to victory. The question mark for Tampa is will running back LeGarrette Blount play? Blount missed last week’s game but Earnest Graham filled in nicely by rushing for 109 yards. I think the distractions are catching up to the Bears and playing a good young team won’t help them. Tampa Bay wins a close one.
Houston at Tennessee.
Huge game in the AFC South. The Titans lead the division with a 3-2 mark while the Texans sit a half game back at 3-3. This also pits the old Houston Oilers vs the Houston Texans so maybe the rivalry will come to life. The Texans though are battling injury woes. Mario Williams is out for the season and Andre Johnson will miss his second straight game with a hamstring problem. Arian Foster will have to carry the offensive load for the Texans while Matt Schaub must avoid mistakes against an opportunistic Titans defence. Tennessee is relatively healthy and have been a surprise so far this season. If running back Chris Johnson can regain last season’s form, the Titans will be tough to beat. Tennessee wins this one.
Pittsburgh at Arizona.
A rematch of Super Bowl XLIII. The Steelers are 4-2 but I’m not sold on them yet. Yes they have many solid pieces and they are still in contention in the AFC North. But something doesn’t seem right in the Steel City and I just can’t place it on where it is. The Cardinals have looked awful so far starting 1-4 this season. However they do remember the heartbreaking loss in the Super Bowl a couple of years ago and coach Ken Whisenhunt has reminded his veteran players of that moment. Call it a hunch but this is my upset special of the week. Arizona wins.
Kansas City at Oakland.
The Raiders are making more headlines than Moammar Gadhafi in the last couple of weeks. Or so it seems. After the passing of legendary owner Al Davis the Raiders have won their last two games but lost quarterback Jason Campbell for the season with a shoulder injury. The Raiders then made a bold move by acquiring Carson Palmer from Cincinnati for a first round and a conditional second round picks in the 2012 NFL draft. Clearly the Raiders think they have a shot in the AFC West and by picking up Palmer, the Raiders made their move. Palmer probably won’t start but don’t be surprised if he does see some playing time against the Chiefs. Kansas City have won their last two games and would love nothing more than to stop the Raiders momentum. Don’t see it happening. Oakland wins.
St. Louis at Dallas.
I must admit, I thought the Rams would be better than this. And why not? Sam Bradford is a future star at quarterback. Steven Jackson, when healthy, is an elite running back. The team is young and loaded with potential. So far though, the Rams have been a major disappointment, going 0-5 to start the season. The Cowboys always end up playing close games as every game tests their fans heart rates. Right now they are on life support at 2-3 and until I see more consistency out of Tony Romo and co. I don’t think they will blow anyone out in the near future. I think the Rams will beat the spread, but the Cowboys will find a way to win it at the gun.
Green Bay at Minnesota.
Bitter rivals going in opposite directions. The Packers are the only perfect team in the NFL right now, going 6-0 and looking like the defending Super Bowl Champions. Aaron Rodgers is the clear-cut favourite for MVP and is looking unstoppable at this time. The Vikings are 1-5 coming off an embarrassing loss to Chicago and are now looking to the future. First round draft pick Christian Ponder will make his first NFL start at quarterback in hopes of giving the Vikings a lift. While this will help the Vikings a little bit, it won’t be enough to stop the Packers express. Green Bay wins.
Indianapolis at New Orleans.
A rematch of Super Bowl XLIV. However there is no chance of the Colts heading to the Super Bowl this year despite the fact the big game is in Indianapolis. The Colts are 0-6 and still won’t have Peyton Manning in the lineup. It is clear to everyone that Manning means so much to this franchise and the Colts can’t function at all without their all-world QB. The Saints are coming off a tough loss to Tampa Bay and should come out very angry and motivated in this game. I smell blowout. New Orleans wins.
Baltimore at Jacksonville.
A Monday Night mismatch. The Ravens lead the AFC North with a 4-1 record and are looking like legitimate Super Bowl contenders. The Jaguars are 1-5 and if it wasn’t for the Colts, the Jags would be at the bottom of the AFC South standings. I don’t see Jacksonville having any chance in this game. Ray Lewis loves the Monday Night spotlight and the Ravens are poised to make a run. Baltimore wins.
Last week: 9-4.
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