Welcome to week seven in the NFL. We think by now that we know what is going on, but in fact, nobody knows a thing. Who saw the Cowboys going into Seattle and beating the Seahawks? The Patriots were left for dead 2 ½ weeks ago, now they are 5-2 and running away with the AFC East. Everything you think today, will be ridiculous to think about in three weeks – except the Redskins and Jaguars will still stink.
Home team in CAPS
COLTS (-3) over Bengals: A battle of division leaders. The Colts are the hottest team in the NFL, winners of four straight. Andrew Luck has quickly entered the circle of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He should have little trouble against the Bengals this Sunday. I expect a touchdown victory for the Colts over a Cincinnati team that isn’t the same on the road.
Titans (+5 ½) over REDSKINS: This is an Anti-Kirk Cousins pick more than anything. Cousins started out hot in a relief effort vs Jacksonville and his first start vs Philadelphia. Since then, when teams had some film on him, he’s 0-3 with five touchdowns and eight turnovers. Washington coach Jay Gruden kept Cousins on a short leash in Arizona last week, only to have Captain Kirk throw three interceptions in the fourth quarter. I can’t in good faith lay points with him at quarterback.
Dolphins (+3) over Bears: Both of these teams are enigmas to me. I’m waiting for Ryan Tannehill to take the next step. I’m waiting for the Bears to develop some consistency. The Bears looked great against Atlanta last week, and I expect them to be fired up for next week’s tilt with the Patriots. That leaves the Dolphins as the perfect “trap game.” Miami might not win, but this game will be close.
Browns (- 5 ½) over JAGUARS: I have to admit, I like that the Browns are good. Cleveland hasn’t been remotely decent since the return of football in 1999. Brian Hoyer is playing like he wants to keep this job over Johnny Football. The defense is wreaking havoc. This week, they get rewarded with the worst team in the NFL. The Browns won’t overlook this game, mainly because they haven’t had a game to overlook in ages.
Seahawks (-7) over RAMS: I originally had St. Louis in this game, but after seeing Seattle OC Darrell Bevell’s comments this week, I changed my mind. Bevell said this week he was going to get Marshawn Lynch more involved in the offense, after Lynch only had ten carries in last week’s loss to the Cowboys. Russell Wilson is a great quarterback, and he can do things that many quarterbacks cannot. But he is infinitely better with a lead. The Seahawks will lean on Lynch early and often, and cruise to victory.
PACKERS (-7) over Panthers: The shootout of the week. Cam Newton seems to be over his ankle and rib injuries that slowed him down early in the season. When he can be a two way threat, he is very difficult to stop. Also difficult to stop? Aaron Rodgers. The Packers offense is one of the best in the league, and the porous Panther defense will have a tough task slowing them down.
Falcons (+7) over RAVENS: It’s time to officially admit that Stephen Jackson doesn’t have it anymore. Michael Turner wasn’t a superstar, but he did enough to keep defenses honest. This year, teams can ignore the Falcon running game and force Matt Ryan to beat them by air. Julio Jones and Roddy White are excellent, but are drawing constant double teams. Atlanta’s best move would be placing Antone Smith in the starting lineup. He leads the team with five touchdowns and is averaging fifteen yards per touch. Giving Smith more touches could really boost this offense.
BILLS (- 5 ½) over Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater is bad. In three games he has yet to throw a touchdown pass. Minnesota’s offense is all about running the ball and controlling the clock. If Buffalo can force Bridgewater into mistakes, this could be a blowout.
Saints (+3) over LIONS: I’m not ready to write the Saints off yet. It’s definitely not smart to take them on the road, but this game is in a dome. While all the talk is on how the Saints window has closed, nobody has mentioned that the Lions haven’t played well on offense since week one. Since the opening night rout of the Giants, Detroit is averaging a pedestrian 16.2 points per game. No Calvin Johnson, no chance I’m taking the Lions.
Chiefs (+4) over CHARGERS: I like the Chargers, but this spot screams letdown. Phillip Rivers was on at halftime of the game last night, to hype next weeks’ Thursday matchup between San Diego and Denver. This could be the classic look ahead game. I also haven’t forgotten that last year, all the Chargers had to do to make the playoffs was to win at home against the Chiefs backups. They won that game in overtime after the Chiefs missed a field goal at the end of regulation. Andy Reid will have the Chiefs ready to play in this one.
GIANTS (+6 ½) over Cowboys: Dallas had an impressive win in Seattle Sunday. The Giants looked horrible against the Eagles Sunday. So obviously the Cowboys will win this game in a walk. I don’t buy it. The NFL is the ultimate week to week league. The Giants have some pride and will make a strong showing. They also are 4-1 all time at Cowboys Stadium. All of those wins are by a combined 16 points, or four points per game. This will be a battle. A close battle. Take the points
RAIDERS (+ 3 ½) over Cardinals: The Raiders were feisty last week under new coach Tony Sparano. All of the Cardinal’s games this year have been close until late in the fourth quarter. Even with the return of Carson Palmer, Arizona didn’t put Washington away last week until a pick six in the final two minutes. I might get burned here, because it hinges on the Raiders giving an effort. But I think they will.
49ers (+ 6 ½) over BRONCOS: Just a hunch that Jim Harbaugh has a gameplan ready. It involves Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore chewing the clock and keeping the ball out of Peyton Manning’s hands. On defense, blitz the Broncos from all sides and make Manning nervous. Once he’s comfortable, the game is all over. Should be an entertaining Sunday night tilt.
Texans (+ 3 ½) over STEELERS: This game is my lock of the week. I was shocked when I saw this line. Pittsburgh and the bettors must be leaning on their past, because this team has not looked good at all this season. Their last three weeks were a loss to Tampa Bay, a squeaker win at Jacksonville, and a beating at the hands of the Browns. Houston didn’t look great in their last game against the Indianapolis, but the Colts are miles better than any team that Pittsburgh has played this season. This game will be low scoring and sloppy, but here’s to Ryan Fitzpatrick limiting his mistakes and helping the Texans to an upset victory.
Best Bet: Houston