Thursday, October 18, 2012

NFL Week 7 Picks

I apologize for my abomination of a job picking last week. If I don't do better this week, you can riot.

Last Week: 6-8
Year to Date: 53-37

Seattle Seahawks vs San Francisco 49ers
If you like defensive struggles, then this one will be right down your ally. Seattle has arguably the best defense in the league. They gave up some yards last week to Tom Brady, but they did not break in their victory over New England. We also saw Russell Wilson come of age and lead a game winning drive right down the field. Wilson had his best performance as a starter and silenced any critics he had coming into the game. Wilson's reward for having such a good game? Going to San Francisco on short rest to face an angry 49ers team. The 49ers were schooled in every aspect of the game last week against the Giants. You know it has to be getting under everyone's skin in San Francisco. That is how this team thinks mentally with Jim Harbaugh at the helm. The 49ers gave Colin Kapernick the chance to play a bit more last week, and you wonder if he will get more time as the weeks go on. Especially if Alex Smith struggles again. This game gives the winner the early lead in the NFC West. The 49ers rebounded nicely after their loss to Minnesota, and I think they do that again here.

San Francisco 20  Seattle 16

Tennessee Titans vs Buffalo Bills
Both of these teams are coming off much needed wins last week. The Titans upset the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night football. The defense stepped up and the offense did just enough with Matt Hasselbeck under center to win. Hasselbeck will get the start again this week. But the Titans should lean on Chris Johnson in this one. The Bills have an abysmal run defense and Johnson should be able to have his best game of the season. Buffalo almost blew a late lead against Arizona thanks to some questionable play calling. Then they got lucky with Jay Feely missing a 38 yard field goal after making a 61 yard one. The defensive front four finally put some heavy pressure on the QB and should be able to do it again with an immobile Matt Hasselbeck under center. On offense, Buffalo will lean on the duel threat of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. The Bills need this one to get over .500 heading into their bye week, with two tough games at Houston and New England to follow. Bills win here.

Buffalo 31  Tennessee 20

Washington Redskins vs New York Giants
I always say never bet against Eli Manning with his back against the wall. Well, Eli was the underdog going into last week and him and the Giants soundly defeated the 49ers in San Francisco. Eli didn't have his best game but he didn't screw anything up either. The Giants got Ahmad Bradshaw going against a good 49ers run defense. The Giants are now sitting pretty a top the NFC East, but they have yet to win a game in the division yet. They get an opportunity to do so here against a rising Washington Redskins team. They fell behind early to Minnesota but came roaring back thanks to another strong performance from Robert Griffin. Griffin sealed the game late with his 75 yard TD run and showed no effects from his concussion suffered a week earlier. It will be a tall task for the Giants to keep RG3 contained. This seems like a game the Giants might slip up in, but I refuse to bet against Eli and the Giants until they show me they are really struggling.

NY Giants 30  Washington 26

New Orleans Saints vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Saints are coming off a bye week and there first win. Maybe the defense finally got it together after getting torched the first five weeks of the season. If the Saints had a better defense, then they wouldn't be in the position that they are in right now. Drew Brees and his offense is doing their job, but the defense has yet to carry their end of the bargain. Tampa Bay is coming off a feel good win over the lowly Kansas City Chiefs. It was a good confidence builder but that is about it. The Bucs have been in almost every game this year, and it is tough to put my finger on them. At times the offense looks good, but then they sputter in other games. It is a real crapshoot with them. I like the Saints here to pick up their second win here.

New Orleans 34  Tampa Bay 28

Dallas Cowboys vs Carolina Panthers
This is a match-up between two of the more disappointing teams this season. Some people had high hopes for the Panthers and even considered them a possible Playoff team. But Cam Newton has struggled mightily this year, and the defense hasn't taken the steps forward many wanted them too. The Panthers potential three headed running monster is going nowhere. And Cam Newton is having his maturity questioned by even his own teammates. The Cowboys are 2-3 and had every opportunity to win last week at Baltimore. Dallas has been very inconsistent the last two years. You have to question whether or not this team as it currently is put together can win a Championship. Is Tony Romo the answer? DeMarco Murray is now out for a couple of weeks, which means once again, Dallas has to deal with the inconsistent Felix Jones at RB. It is hard to pick the Panthers here. Dallas has more talent overall and Carolina seems like a mess waiting to blow up.

Dallas 27  Carolina 21

Baltimore Ravens vs Houston Texans
Both of these teams are 5-1 and the winner of this game takes the early lead for home field in the AFC. The Ravens won a close one last week against Dallas, but it didn't come without a price. The Ravens lost two key starters on defense. Cornerback Ladarius Webb was lost for the year with a torn ACL. Webb is one of the best cover corners in the league. But that wasn't their biggest loss. Baltimore also lost their heart and soul, LB Ray Lewis, to torn triceps. Lewis motivated this team like you wouldn't imagine. Now his career may be over. Baltimore's defense wasn't as good as it has been in recent years, and these two losses hurt even more. That puts more pressure on Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense. Houston was whipped by the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. The once dominant Texans defense was torn apart by Aaron Rodgers. Did Houston just look dominant because they played weaker teams? Or are they still that good. This week will go a long way in discovering that. I would expect Houston to try and establish Arian Foster early. Is the Ravens season done? No. But I think the Texans offense is too much for an injury ravaged Ravens team.

Houston 24  Baltimore 23

Cleveland Browns vs Indianapolis Colts
Congrats to the Browns for picking up their first win last week. They had been knocking on the door the last few games and they finally closed one out against Cincinnati. Brandon Weeden continues to improve under center and may turn out to be a quality starting QB after all. It has helped that he has had WR Josh Gordon to throw too. Gordon is showing he may be worth the 2nd round pick Cleveland spent on him in the supplemental Draft. But if Trent Richardson is out this week for Cleveland, the Browns offense becomes a bit one dimensional with out him. Indianapolis was beat soundly by the Jets last week. You might have expected some let down from them (I picked them to win, so not me) but I don't think may expected the whooping they received. Andrew Luck should have more success against a weak Browns secondary. But just like Cleveland, the Colts lose a piece of their offense with Donald Brown out. So it really depends on which rookie QB you trust more. I'm going with Luck and Indianapolis here.

Indianapolis 35  Cleveland 31

Green Bay Packers vs St. Louis Rams
So, have the real Green Bay Packers finally arrived this season? The team that showed up against Houston last Sunday looked very much like the team that almost went undefeated last year. Aaron Rodgers silenced any critics he had and the defense was able to shut down a pretty good Texans defense. But can Green Bay keep it up for the rest of the season? The Packers suffered some injuries on defense last week but it should not be a problem playing the Rams this week. The Rams defense is good but I don't know if their offense can score enough points to keep pace with the Packers. Sam Bradford has very little to throw to and the Rams running game isn't what it used to be. Green Bay has too many weapons on offense for St. Louis to contain. Packers win here.

Green Bay 38  St. Louis 24

Arizona Cardinals vs Minnesota Vikings
Arizona may have started 4-0, but they are facing a downward spiral fast. They've lost their top two running backs and now will be without Kevin Kolb for a couple weeks with a rib injury. Arizona fought back against Buffalo last week but couldn't pull it out in the end. Part of that was because John Skelton just couldn't move the ball for Arizona once he came in the game. He had one good pass due to some blown coverage. But Skelton is even less immobile than Kolb. The Cardinals defense will have to play perfect for Arizona to stay in games. Similarly, Minnesota tried to comeback last week against Washington but failed. They were up early, but their first four scores came on field goals due to their failure to convert those attempts into TDs. The offense finally got moving in the second half, but they will need to get going from the start if they want to beat a very good Cardinals defense. The Bills got the game going with their running game last week, so look for the Vikings to lean on Adrian Peterson. After watching them play last week, I can't pick a tam with John Skelton at QB. Vikings win here.

Minnesota 20  Arizona 13

New York Jets vs New England Patriots
Once again, the Jets showed that they can have a good offense against the right opponent. They beat an average at best Colts team at home. Mark Sanchez relegated Tim Tebow to special teams duty and made people forget at least for a week that he isn't a franchise QB. I still don't believe in Sanchez. Every QB has a good game here and there. Shonn Greene even showed up and had his best game of the year. But the Jets were also playing a Colts team without their coach and coming off a huge emotional win at home the week before. The Jets get another real test this week with divisional rival the Patriots coming to town. You know the Patriots have to be fuming after they lead Seattle come back from down 11 in the 4th quarter to win. The Patriots defense couldn't come up with some key stops and the offense couldn't run the clock out. Losing in Seattle is no shame, but the way they lost has to be disappointing. And I don't like going up against Tom Brady when he is angry. I don't think the Jets can stop all of the Patriots weapons for the entire game. I like New England here at home.

New England 34  NY Jets 23

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Oakland Raiders
A match-up between two of the worst teams in the NFL? Just smell the intrigue here. Blaine Gabbert has not impressed very much this year. They've failed to score more than 23 points all year. They were blown out by Chicago two weeks ago. One has to wonder how much longer Maurice Jones-Drew will want to tolerate it. Oakland almost pulled off a big upset last week in Atlanta, but Carson Palmer made a bad throw that allowed Atlanta to take the lead. Oakland fought back but weren't able to grab the lead in the end. Oakland has more weapons on offense and they win here.

Oakland 27  Jacksonville 19

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals
Two teams that had high hopes coming into the year. Pittsburgh is 2-3 and coming off a loss to Tennessee on Thursday night. The Titans had problems moving the ball on offense so it had to be disappointing for the Steelers to see the Titans have success. They were without Troy Polamalu, who's had problems staying healthy the last couple years. The same can be said for the Steelers offensive line. Pittsburgh is an aging team that may just fall apart before the end of the year. Cincinnati started off 3-1, but have lost two winnable games against Cleveland and Miami. The schedule doesn't get any easier. After their bye next week they get the Broncos and Giants. The Bengals defense does not look good this year. Many of the same people returned for Cincinnati, so I don't know what has happened. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green still look good, but the Bengals defense still needs to do something to show that last year wasn't a fluke. I actually think they step up here and take down Pittsburgh in a defensive struggle.

Cincinnati 17  Pittsburgh 16

Detroit Lions vs Chicago Bears
Chicago is coming off their bye well rested and looking to take control of the NFC North. The good news is that they are facing a bad Lions defense. That should give Jay Cutler a pretty good opportunity to throw the ball and find Brandon Marshall. Chicago's offense has been more consistent this year, and their defense has come up huge in recent weeks. They scored twice against the Jags two weeks ago and helped bust that game open. Chicago may be the most complete team in the NFC North. If Jay Cutler can keep his head straight for the entire year I like their chances. Detroit came back late last week against Philadelphia and it may be exactly what they need to turn their season around. The offense had a good game. Of course, they also benefited from some of the mistakes Philadelphia made. But the Lions still look like a team that has some mental stumbling blocks they need to get over. Detroit has the talent, but are they mentally tough enough to win the NFC North? I like Chicago here coming off a bye.

Chicago 30  Detroit 24

My Vegas $$$ Picks
Last Week: 1-3
Year to Date: 13-11
Buffao -3 vs Tennessee: Bills should shut down aging Hasselbeck
Cincinnati +1.5 vs Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh is an injury or two away from a lost season
Baltimore +6.5 at Houston: Even with injuries, Ravens aren't a TD underdog
Green Bay -5.5 at St. Louis: Rams don't have weapons to hang.

Until Next Time,
Justin C
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka

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