Week 7 brings NFL fans one great game – the Jets at Patriots pits the league’s best defense versus the NFL’s best offense – and besides that a whole lot of mediocrity. Unfortunately for football fans this early game is the one and only matchup between two teams with winning records. Some of that can be attributed to three unbeaten teams – Cincinnati, Denver and Green Bay – all having a bye this week. Beyond that though, the NFL’s never-ending quest for parity has exposed an ugly under belly as a side effect. Only nine of the 32 NFL teams have winning records and two entire divisions do not have a single winning team.
Five teams: the Patriots, Packers, Bengals, Broncos and Panthers – account for a whopping 31% of all of the NFL’s victories thus far, and zero percent of the losses. Add in 5-1 Atlanta to that group, and now you have six clubs responsible for 37% of all NFL wins. Right now there is just too much mediocre to just plain bad football being played, as witnessed by the last two NFL prime time games: San Francisco’s awful performance at home in the 20-3 loss to Seattle on Thursday, and last Monday’s unwatchable wreck between the Giants and Eagles. Unfortunately I have zero faith in those in charge at 345 Park Avenue to even recognize this situation, much less do something to improve the product for our consumption.
The Patriots-Jets game will receive extensive television distribution on Sunday. Besides being broadcast in New England and New York, the game will also air throughout the southeast (except in Florida, Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans) as well as in Chicago, Wisconsin and Oklahoma; the game will also be available most everywhere west of Texas with the exception of California, southern Oregon, Utah and Reno. To see a view of what games will be broadcast in your area please check out this week’s NFL maps at 506 Sports.
On a side note, happy 41st birthday to Corey Dillon. Fifteen years ago almost to the day Dillon broke Walter Payton‘s single-game NFL rushing when he ran for 278 yards against Denver. In his first season with the Patriots Dillon rushed for a franchise record 1,635 yards and averaged 4.7 yards per carry, helping the Pats win their third Super Bowl. Dillon was a big upgrade over Antowain Smith, and at the age of 30 he earned his fourth Pro Bowl honor – and his first and only championship ring. Though he was with the Patriots for only three seasons, Dillon ranks 8th all-time in team history with 3,180 rushing yards; he is 19th in the NFL all-time with 11,241 yards. At the time some questioned the wisdom of giving up a second-round pick for Dillon, but it turned out to be yet another great decision by Bill Belichick.
3-3 Buffalo Bills vs 1-5 Jacksonville Jaguars in London, 9:30 am ET on yahoo.com; Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Bills -4½ (opened at -3½); over/under 41; Bills -220, Jaguars +180
Before the season began I bought into the ‘Jags aren’t there yet, but they are improving’ train of thought, but right now they are still the same old train wreck known as the NFL’s worst team. 3oth in points scored and 30th in points allowed is no way to go through life son. Even without their starting quarterback, receivers and running back, the Bills should still win against this team.
Prediction: Bills 27, Jaguars 17
Pick: Bills -4½; over 41; Bills -220
2-4 Cleveland Browns at 2-3 St. Louis Rams; early game on CBS; Brian Anderson, Adam Archuleta
Rams -6½ (opened at -4½); over/under 42; Browns +230, Rams -270
Remember in the off season when the Rams were being hyped as being ready to make the step up to becoming a playoff team? That noise became louder after an opening week victory over Seattle, but the reality is that right now the only NFL team scoring fewer points is San Francisco; consider yourself lucky if you didn’t see them play on Sunday.
Prediction: Browns 24, Rams 20
Pick: Browns +6½ (one unit); over 42; Browns +230
4-2 Pittsburgh Steelers at 1-5 Kansas City Chiefs, early game on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green
Chiefs -3 (opened w/Steelers -3½); over/under 43; Steelers +130, Chiefs -150
The swing in the betting line baffles me. Pittsburgh’s offense is better off with Landry Jones rather than Michael Vick; the Steelers don’t need Ben Roethlisberger to beat a KC team that has Charcandrick West rather than Jamaal Charles at running back.
Prediction: Steelers 24, Chiefs 17
Pick: Steelers +3; under 43; Steelers +130
2-4 Houston Texans at 2-3 Miami Dolphins, early game on CBS; Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots
Dolphins -4½ (opened at -1½); over/under 44½; Texans +180, Dolphins -220
In their first game under new defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo the Fins were far more productive, attacking in a one-gap style; the players on the roster did not fit former DC Kevin Coyle‘s scheme. Perhaps more importantly Miami stuck with the running game, which placed less of a burden on Ryan Tannehill. However, that was the Titans; the Dolphins were bad enough early that I need more than a single victory over a one-win team before I alter my viewpoint.
Prediction: Dolphins 24, Texans 20
Pick: Texans +4½; under 44½; Dolphins -220
4-1 New York Jets at 5-0 New England Patriots, early game on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Patriots -7½ (opened at -9½); over/under 48½; Jets +300, Patriots -360
After a two-game road trip and an emotional (despite the team’s lack of admitting so) victory over the Colts, this would normally be a setup for a trap game. Since this is the Jets that won’t happen, but the reality is that gang green matches up very well against the Pats on both sides of the ball. At 9½ points I was all over the Jets; at 7½ I’ll still take the road dog plus the points, though with a bit less conviction. A turnover or special teams play may be the slight difference needed for another victory by New England.
Prediction: Patriots 24, Jets 20
Pick: Jets +7½; under 48½; Jets +300
3-2 Minnesota Vikings at 1-5 Detroit Lions, early game on FOX; Chris Myers, Ronde Barber
Pick’em (opened w/Vikings -3); over/under 44½; Vikings -120, Lions +100
Running back Adrian Peterson has been downgraded from probable to questionable with a finger injury. To me it is not so much whether Peterson can play, but how much his potential absence could play havoc with Minnesota’s game plan. The problem for Detroit though is that if Peterson is out and the Vikings throw the ball more often, that is not necessarily a good thing: the Lions are allowing 9.1 yards per pass attempt, dead last in the NFL.
Prediction: Vikings 27, Lions 17
Pick: Vikings +0 (one unit); under 44½; Vikings -120 (one unit)
5-1 Atlanta Falcons at 1-4 Tennessee Titans, early game on FOX; Justin Kutcher, Charles Davis
Falcons -6 (opened at -3); over/under 47; Falcons -260, Titans +220
The Falcons come into this game well rested, with ten days to prepare. Devonta Freeman (2nd in the NFL with 505 yards rushing) faces a defense that is allowing 130 yards per game (28th) and 4.7 yards per carry (26th). Stack the box to stop the run, and there goes Julio Jones, Leonard Hankerson and Roddy White. Since their week one victory at Tampa the Titans have lost four in a row, being outscored 115-70 in that span.
Prediction: Falcons 31, Titans 17
Pick: Falcons -6 (two units); over 47; Falcons -260
2-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 2-4 Washington Redskins, early game on FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston
Skins -3 (opened at -5); over/under 42½; Bucs +145, Skins -165
Uggh. Similar to the Browns-Rams, this is a game that you can’t pay me to watch. To rub salt in the wound this is the only early game on local television here in the Tampa area, so it looks like Finley’s or the WingHouse will get my business on Sunday. As for the game itself, Washington’s pass defense looks bad; Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson should have big games and make Jameis Winston look decent for at least one week. I liked this much better when it was Tampa Bay plus-5, but I’ll still take the Bucs on the road even though it is down to three.
Prediction: Bucs 27, Skins 20
Pick: Bucs +3 (two units); over 42½ (one unit); Bucs +145 (one unit)
2-4 New Orleans Saints at 3-3 Indianapolis Colts, early game on FOX; Sam Rosen, John Lynch
Colts -4 (opened at -6½); over/under 52; Saints +175, Colts -210
Over the last several seasons many teams have underwhelmed in the week following a game against the Patriots; I have a strong feeling that will be the case here with the Colts. I liked the Saints a lot more when the line was 6½, but even at four points I’ll still go with New Orleans – despite all their struggles (such as an NFL-worst 6.4 yards per play on defense) this year.
Prediction: Saints 27, Colts 24
Pick: Saints +4 (two units); under 51; Saints +175 (one unit)
2-3 Oakland Raiders at 2-4 San Diego Chargers, late game on CBS; Andrew Catalon, Steve Tasker
Chargers -3½ (opened at -4½); over/under 47; Raiders +170, Chargers -200
Philip Rivers (353 passing yards per game, 70% completion rate) may be a fantasy football superstar right now, but because of San Diego’s deficiency in the running game the Chargers just don’t score enough. San Diego owns the NFL’s best ‘official’ offense (first in yardage), but rank only 15th in scoring (22.7 ppg). At 19.1 yards per point San Diego ranks 31st in offensive efficiency (ahead of only San Francisco), and to make matters worse their defense is 28th at 13.2 yards per point allowed. The Raiders are a middle of the pack team, but the Chargers keep finding new ways to lose.
Prediction: Raiders 24, Chargers 20
Pick: Raiders +3½ (two units); under 47; Raiders +170 (one unit)
2-3 Dallas Cowboys at 3-3 New York Giants, late game on FOX; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
Giants -3½ (opened at -5½); over/under 45½; Cowboys +150, Giants -170
Wow, imagine that: Fox is broadcasting the Giants and Cowboys to every single television market (except San Diego). Yeah, keep jamming those mediocre NFC East teams down our collective throats year after year guys. The Giants are coming off a bad loss on a short week, while Dallas has had two weeks to prepare new starting quarterback Matt Cassel – and possibly new starting running back Christine Michael. The Cowboy pass defense has not looked good at all this year, but you have to disregard a game any team has to go against Tom Brady and the Patriots; with Greg Hardy in the lineup their D is much improved. This is another game where I liked the underdog early in the week, but not so much now that the line has shifted.
Prediction: Giants 24, Cowboys 20
Pick: Giants -3½; under 45½; Cowboys +150
3-3 Philadelphia Eagles at 5-0 Carolina Panthers, Sunday night on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth
Panthers -3 (opened at -2½); over/under 45½; Eagles +135, Panthers -155
I see this as a trap game for Carolina, with a bit of a letdown after their big win last week at Seattle. A year ago Philly sacked Cam Newton nine times and forced four turnovers; though that can’t be expected to happen again, I do like the Eagles chances in this game; they have played a lot better after a rough start to the season, winning three of their last four games.
Eagles 23, Panthers 20
Pick: Eagles +3 (one unit); under 45½; Eagles +135
1-5 Baltimore Ravens at 4-2 Arizona Cardinals, Monday night on ESPN; Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden
Cardinals -8½ (opened at -6½); over/under 49; Ravens +330, Cardinals -400
Want to hear something funny? Remember just a few weeks ago, before the season began, when many national media members were predicting that the Ravens would represent the AFC in the Super Bowl? Baltimore has no pass rush, making their average secondary look bad in coverage. This is exactly what Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona offense needs after losing their last two games. Yet another game where the line looked much better early – but it hasn’t shifted enough for me to back off.
Prediction: Cardinals 31, Ravens 20
Pick: Cardinals -8½; over 49; Cardinals -400
Bye Week: 6-0 Cincinnati Bengals; 6-0 Denver Broncos; 6-0 Green Bay Packers; 2-4 Chicago Bears
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Tags: 2015 NFL Season against the spread betting line New England Patriots New York Jets NFL odds Patriots Pats picks predictions Week 7