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Week 7 Predictions

Posted Oct 20, 2017

Who are you picking to win the week 7 games?

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Kansas City (5-1) at Oakland (2-4): The Steelers handed the Chiefs their first loss of the season, though if William Gaines had managed to use his hand, arm and head to do something more than just hold up ball for Antonio Brown, it might have been a different story. Looking at the game, you'd say the Raiders, who've lost four in a row, would unleash Marshawn Lynch right at the KC offense, but they run a different kind of system to the Steelers, more zone and stretch, and the Chiefs have played that well lately. Andy Reid took over the Chiefs at the same time the NFL went to mucho Thursday action, and he's 2-2 with short weeks to prepare, but overall you just think he's got the better team, and his D played pretty well even though LeVeon Bell chewed them up and spit them out. Is Carr still going to be rusty, especially with a short week to recover? I always hate road teams on Thursday, and as you may notice, nothing seems to go to plan this season, but pick (posted Thursday @carlsonsports): Chiefs

FRIDAY MORNING DOG'S BREAKFAST: Last season I was 15-3 picking Thursday games (including the three on Thanksgiving). I've been wrong on four of the seven already this season. I was wrong about Oakland's running the ball too, though had Marshawn Lynch not gone beast mode on a zebra that might have been different. And note the ending of the game: TD (reversed on replay), OPI, D holding, D holding, TD. Tony Romo said it succinctly: 'I don't know, we see this all the time'. On Cook's great catch for the reversed TD I thought Seth Roberts would get done for OPI and game over. On the Patterson catch, I thought it was one hold too many. But my point is if you allow the contact and call only on perceived severity, calls can go on forever if you want them to. And we might have been there all night until Oakland scored. When you had to keep your hands in, it was easy to call a foul. Now it's like the NBA out there. But, hey, remember Amari Cooper? He's back. And so was Navorro Bowman, who didn't look the step slow he had for the Niners. And how did he learn the Raiders' playbook in what, two days? He was outstanding.

LONDON SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Arizona (3-3) 'at' LA Rams (4-2): The Rams beat the Jags last week with two special teams TDs, otherwise they, like the Jags, ran the ball but had trouble passing. Arizona is suddenly another team that can run the ball, with Adrian Peterson one of nine backs over 100 yards last week in a league where running backs are not supposed to matter. He took some pressure off Carson Palmer, and the Brown Bros contributed a few deep plays, while Larry Fitz, like Palmer, seemed rejuvenated, catching 10/138 with a TD. Running will be tougher against Wade Phillips' D but the Rams still seem to be soft up the middle. Meanwhile can the Cards generate enough pressure to force a mistake or two from Jared Goff? Can Todd Gurley control the game? Will Johnny Hekker throw a TD pass? Pick: Rams

SUNDAY ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE POND

Tampa Bay (2-3) at Buffalo (3-2): Ryan Fitzpatrick Bowl! I would not be surprised if there were some powerful juju that Fitz exerts over the teams who've released him, and juju, not logic has been the theme of this NFL season so far. Juju is killing me this year, but rested and ready, I think Sean McDermott will be prepared for an offense he knows well from his days in Carolina. Pick: Bills

Carolina (4-2) at Chicago (2-4): John Fox Bowl! It's too bad this wasn't being played in Carolina so it could be a Mitch Trubisky Homecoming event. The Bears ran Baltimore into the ground, but running at the Panthers might not be so easy, depending on whether Luke Kuechley plays. He was at practice but will likely be a game-day decision, which doesn't make a Friday decision any easier. The Panthers probably miss AJ Klein more than they thought they would, but it's hard to keep a quality backup these days. Of course it always has been if he gets the offer to start somewhere else. Trubisky may find the Panthers secondary a harder nut to crack than Baltimore's, and he didn't quite get to the meat against the Ravens either. Pick: Panthers

Tennessee (3-3) at Cleveland (0-6): Well, if there were ever a trap game for the Titans this might be it. Cleveland have what might be called a QB controversy going on, with rookie DeShawn Kizer the apparent pick. There is too much Kevin Hogan, for all his gamey qualities can't do, while Cody Kessler is the forgotten flinger. Meanwhile, Marcus Mariota at 2/3 efficiency is a better bet, and if they can get Murray and Henry to have big days at the same time, watch out. Pick: Titans

New Orleans (3-2) at Green Bay (4-2): John Kuhn Bowl! If there's one thing Brett Hundley learned playing at UCLA was how to run from the pocket and how to absorb a beating when he didn't, or got caught. It's hard to rate the Packers without Rodgers because so much of their offense is predicated on his uncanny ability to keep plays alive and to run the scramble drill while he's running for his life. I've listened to the arguments from the Fox COMMAND CENTER!!! about whether Barr's hit was legal or not, but it seems simple enough to declare that once a QB breaking the pocket has thrown the ball, he's unprotected like a runner going out of bounds or a receiver who hasn't caught a pass. It will happen, mark my words, when the 'competition' committee meets again. Meanwhile, the Saints' 52 points last week included a 0 yards interception TD and a 0 yards fumble TD as well as Lattimore's pick six, so that was 'only' 31 offensive points against the Lions. With Green Bay's secondary weakened to the point of being a tertiary, and their O line like an episode of MASH, it's hard to pick the Pack, unless you believe in the Lambeau juju. I do, but I've just gotta pick: Saints

Jacksonville (3-3) at Indianapolis (2-4): If there were ever an early-season must win for the Jags, this one's it. The good news for the Jags is the Colts have terrible trouble stopping the run, and they don't run the ball much themselves, which means Jacoby Brissett is going to be throwing into the faces of one of the best secondaries in the league. This is a chance for the Jags to do more than just stay in the thick of it. Pick: Jags

New York Jets (3-3) at Miami (3-2): The Jets played well against the Pats while the Dolphins who looked so awful in London won their second straight, and this one on the road in Atlanta. It's not like there was any sort of miracle renaissance by Jay Cutler in the second half against the Falcons, and look for the Jets to be daring Miami to pass, but I'm still waiting for Adam Gase to unleash the Cut! Pick: Dolphins

Baltimore (3-3) at Minnesota (4-2): The Vikes may well have a QB Controversy (TM) brewing, with Teddy Bridgewater back at practice after his horrendous injury two years ago, and Case Keenum proving he is a 'winner' last week against the Rodgers-less Pack.What's most to like in this one is the battle of the defenses, and with Brandon Williams back this week and Willie Henry really playing well, the Ravens will be better than they've been, though depth remains an issue. So does Joe Flacco, who would be in a QB controversy were there anyone besides Ryan Mallet backing him up. This remains, girlfriend's comments notwithstanding, the best spot for a Keapernick sighting. But it ain't gonna happen. Pick: Vikes

Cincinnati (2-3) at Pittsburgh (4-2): The Bengals are coming off a bye, though they hardly needed extra time to prepare for their old rivals. Although Antonio Brown remains a marvel, producing 100 yard games at an unprecedented rate, and making an unbelievable catch to save the game in KC, it was LeVeon Bell's running that was the key to the Steelers' win in KC. The Bengals know you have to stuff the line of scrimmage, not let those holes develop, and trap Bell before he can find daylight. And with Vontaze Burfict back, the Bengal D has looked able to do just that. But if the Steeler D can scramble to the ball the way they did against the Chiefs, they should be able to control this game and give their home fans the kind of game they produced on the road. Pick: Steelers

Dallas (2-3) at San Francisco (0-6): The Cowboys also coming off the bye, while the Niners are coming off the debut of CJ Beathard. Ezekiel Elliott will play, unless a lawer from Park Avenue parachutes on to the field during pre-game and delivers a subpoena to the referee to get him off the field. Next thing the lawyers will be appealing holding calls on untimed downs at the end of games. The Niners have made a habit of losing close one thus far this year, and it's very hard to argue anything but the same result this time. Pick: Cowboys

Denver (3-2) at Carson Chargers (2-4): Suddenly this is a tough one, because the Broncos crumbled like feta cheese against the Giants, and the Chargers, while managing a second road win in a row, still didn't really convince offensively. The guys to watch are Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, to see if they can bedevil the Primate Passer, Trevor Siemian, the way the Giants did: but in the Chargers 3-4 there may be more space for Denver to run the ball, and look for a lot of draws and screens. The famed Dominguez Hills Home Field effect will probably be there for Denver too, although there's the possibility the stands will be filled with fans of the Cal State soccer team who've shown up on the wrong day. This is a really interesting matchup of two rookie head coaches both chosen not for their tactical nous but for the character they would bring to the teams. Denver's offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy will know what Ken Whisenhunt's offense will try to do, but the question is more whether he can stop Siemian from turning the ball over under pressure. Pick: Broncos

Seattle (3-2) at New Jersey Giants (1-5): The win in Denver wasn't the biggest upset last week in terms of point spread, but it was in terms of total unlikelihood, and it's made this one fascinating. Coming off the bye week should minimize the west-east travel dislocation for the Seahawks, and this is traditionally the point in the season where their defense starts to jell. But their O line remains a mess, and JPP and Co is a bad way to test if whatever repairs the Cable Guy has done during the bye week actually will work. It's a risk, but the big thing is Russell Wilson's ability to help negate the crapitude of his line. Pick: Seahawks

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Atlanta (3-2) at New England (4-2): The Super Bowl Rematch isn't quite as sparkly as the sked-makers might have thought when the gave it to NBC for prime time, but it's no less fascinating. Matt Ryana returns to the scene of his college days against the first team in NFL history to allow a 300 yard passer in six straight games. In case you didn't notice, that's every game this season. The Pats D could turn Johnny Manziel into Johnny Unitas. With Sanu back Atlanta's options increase, and the Pats will likely be starting career special teamer Johnson Bademosi at corner, with Gilmore and Rowe both still injured. Where's Logan Ryan? Miami stymied the Falcons in the second half last week, but you wonder if those points they left on the board might well decide to show up in Foxboro this week. In the Super Bowl the Pats' D held Atlanta to 21 points, and just barely won. I can't see less than that this time. Pick: Falcons

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Washington (3-2) at Phildelphia (5-1): Since the Eagles won the away end of the rubber in week one, this one is another must-win for the Skins, and it's a real test, as last week was, to see if the Eagles are for real or just a flash in the pan. Which boils down to whether Carson Wentz's ability to pull some big plays off remains enough to power their offense. The Skins will test their defense, which has been great up front in Jim Schwartz's aggressive schemes, which get the most out of some quick linebackers as well as the edge rushers, but it needs the secondary to hold up. Rookie Rasul Douglas is the one to watch, though this would be more interesting if it were a DeSean Jackson Bowl. Pick: Eagles

BYE WEEKS: Detroit (3-3), Houston (3-3)

LAST WEEK: 6-8 SEASON 50-41


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