Tuesday, October 18, 2016

NFL Week 7 Preview

Thursday Night Football - Chicago at Green Bay - The Packers have been struggling, while the Bears have been playing much better in recent weeks. So far during the Aaron Rodgers era, the Packers have basically had their way against the Bears, particularly at Lambeau Field. Granted, Rodgers has not exactly played up to par with his normal level of play, although Green Bay has nonetheless managed to win most of their games to this point. Also, despite the greater effort and level of play that Chicago has shown as of late, they only have one win to show for it, and it is difficult (although definitely not impossible) to imagine them beating the Pack at Lambeau. I have to give Green Bay the nod in this one. My pick: Green Bay

NY Giants versus Los Angeles Rams in London, UK - The fact that this game is in the United Kingdom, and not in Los Angeles, might actually help the G-Men bring this win home. The Rams are a solid team, but are reeling, having suffered two losses in a row. The Giants, in the meantime, barely escaped the game against Baltimore with a win, but already, they need to follow that up with a win here to keep their hopes alive in a suddenly incredibly tough NFC East division. As for the Rams, they were in a first place tie with the Seahawks just two weeks ago, but after two consecutive losses, are now tied with the Cardinals for second place, and obviously, they want to keep pace before they lose what hope they once had to win the division title. The Giants offense has not overwhelmed many people just yet, even if Beckham had a hell of a game this past weekend. If the Giants offense plays efficiently, and if their defense does not show the same number of lapses that they did last week against Baltimore, then the Giants have a chance. My pick: NY Giants

New Orleans at Kansas City - The Chiefs just pulled out one of the most solid wins so far for them this season, managing a road win at division rivals Oakland. Despite some setbacks, that puts the Chiefs in a strong position, and they are especially tough to beat at their home, Arrowhead Stadium. The Saints, in the meantime, are also coming off a huge win, knocking off the Panthers. Their offense seems to have found itself in recent weeks, although KC will provide that offense a very tough test this coming weekend. New Orleans has improved since the beginning of the season, although a game in hostile Kansas City will likely be a bit too much for them. My pick: Kansas City

Buffalo at Miami - The Buffalo Bills are one of the hottest teams in the league right now. Their defense suddenly is playing with an edge, and their offense suddenly has found efficiency. They enter this game with a four game winning streak, and look like they are serious about breaking the league's longest drought for qualifying for the playoffs, which Buffalo has not done since all the way back in the 1999 season. As for the Miami Dolphins, their season was looking like a huge disappointment early on, although they turned that around for at least one game last weekend, convincingly beating the Steelers. The Dolphins have home field advantage for this one, although the Bills have rendered that obsolete during this recent winning streak.  Miami has not shown any consistency, while Buffalo looks like a team on a mission. My pick: Buffalo

Cleveland at Cincinnati - Cleveland already is on the verge of looking to rebuild for next season. They keep trying to find ways to win a game, but so far, they have not managed to seal the deal. As close as they get, they fall just short. Sooner or later, you figure that they are bound to win a game one of these Sundays, although it is doubtful that they will manage this coming weekend, as they visit Cincinnati, a team that has suffered through a disappointing season to this point, but is generally better than their 2-4 record would indicate. Cincy has the level of efficiency that usually makes them very tough to beat, particularly at home, and they should have no problems putting it all together to earn a victory this week against the Browns. My pick: Cincinnati

Indianapolis at Tennessee - Remember a couple of seasons ago, when the Colts shocked the Broncos in Denver in the divisional round of the playoffs, and earned a spot in the AFC title game? Granted, they got destroyed in New England once there, but many people figured that this team was the next emerging superpower of the AFC, if not the NFL. Well, things have changed drastically, as the Colts struggled all of last season, and wound up missing the playoffs. So far this season, they have not managed to right the ship. Tennessee, in the meantime, have started to really turn things on quite a bit, and with home field advantage, should prove to give the Colts a serious challenge, at the very least. My pick: Tennessee

Baltimore at NY Jets - This is the season for the Jets. Whatever slim chance they have for salvaging anything is down to this. Win, and they stop the bleeding, and finally at least get their second win of the season. Lose, and it's lights out. Might as well position themselves for a high draft pick, and rebuild with an eye towards next season. But the Jets need to win if they have any hopes of doing anything this season, of making something, even a respectable run. The Ravens are vulnerable, having lost three straight games, and putting themselves in a position where they absolutely need this win, as well. Losing a fourth straight could prove disastrous, and they need to keep within striking distance of the Steelers, as well as a game ahead of the Bengals - both playoff teams last season. New York is much better than their record indicates, and sooner or later, they should be able to have a solid enough game to show that there is still something of the 10-6 team that they were last season - a team that only narrowly missed the postseason. My pick: NY Jets 

Oakland at Jacksonville - The Jaguars have been playing quite well these last few weeks, while Oakland, one of the surprise teams so far this year, just suffered a tremendously disappointing loss against KC. Jax has home field advantage, and the Raiders have traditionally struggled when playing on the East Coast. Still, this is a different Raiders team, and coming off a loss, the Raiders want to keep pace with Denver and ahead of Kansas City. Plus, they just have a lot of weapons, and so they might prove a bit too much for Jacksonville. My pick: Oakland

Washington at Detroit - Detroit seems to have rejuvenated what was threatening to be a lost season. Of course, Washington also knows a little something about that, having overcome an 0-2 start to post four straight wins. The Lions have beaten some quality teams, and one of the biggest factors in this game is how much they will be able to use home field to their advantage. That is the biggest thing that they have going in this match-up. Washington is very tough, and overall, I do believe that they are the better team. But Detroit is a tough place to play, at least this season, and that could prove to play a big factor. My pick: Detroit

Minnesota at Philadelphia - Following a bye week that allowed them to rest up, the Minnesota Vikings, the league's only remaining unbeaten team, return to action to take on another team that has taken some people by surprise in Philadelphia. The Eagles, too, pulled off some big wins and started off undefeated, although they have now dropped their last two games, and are in need of a win. However, the Vikings have a crushing defense, and an efficient offense that Philly will have a difficult time stopping. The Eagles have some weapons as well, but likely not enough to seriously challenge the Vikings, or to hand them their first loss of the season. My pick: Minnesota

Tampa Bay at San Francisco - A meeting between two struggling teams in the NFC. The Buccaneers have surprised on occasion this season, while the 49ers got that one really big win against the Rams to open up the season, but have since dropped five straight. Yet, despite these teams struggles,  it stands to reason that somebody has to win this one, right? The Bucs have shown signs, but with Kapernick back at the helm, and returning home to San Francisco, the 49ers should be able to take this game. My pick: San Francisco

San Diego at Atlanta - Atlanta has proven to be one of the biggest surprises so far this season, and are in a position where they can almost lock the division up with another win or two, the way that division has been going. San Diego, in the meantime, finally earned themselves a win, and only really flirted with a fourth quarter collapse, rather than committing to it, as they had several times earlier this season. The Chargers should be happy with that win, although this game is a much tougher challenge. They do not have the familiarity with their opponents this week like they did last week against Denver, and they also do not have home field advantage. The Falcons offense looks very sharp, and the way that they have been playing thus far this season, they should be able to take this one. My pick: Atlanta

New England at Pittsburgh - Here is another feature match, as the 5-1 Patriots visit the Steel City to take on 4-2 Pittsburgh. Both teams have dangerous, potentially explosive offenses. New England has put up some incredible numbers since the return of Tom Brady. For now, nobody has been able to stop them, particularly in the second half. They have not, however, played a team as good as the Steelers during that time, so this is their first huge test with Brady back. New England's defense is surely better than Pittsburgh's, although they will be seriously tested this coming week. The Steelers lost last weekend, and will want to avoid dropping a second in a row, while the Patriots have to try and stay ahead of surging Buffalo. That makes this a very good contest, with a lot at stake, and most likely, this will feel a bit like a playoff game, or will at least have that kind of atmosphere. My pick: Pittsburgh

(SNF) Seattle at Arizona - This is one of the better games for this coming week. Playing within the comfortable confines of home again, where they just dismantled the Jets on Monday Night Football, the Cardinals host the Seahawks. Seattle is coming off a huge victory in a showdown against Atlanta, and had to get a very late field goal to secure the win there. Now, they go on the road to take on their division rivals, the Cardinals. Arizona seems to have recovered nice and quickly from that miserable and surprising 1-3 start, and with two straight wins, are 3-3 and right back in this thing. If they manage to knock off the Seahawks, they will be only one game out of first, and will have collected a solid divisional win, to boot. Seattle, meanwhile, have played very well, having compiled a strong 5-1 mark. This game could essentially allow them to lock up the division before mid-season, which would have seemed a very unlikely scenario before this season started. Still, the Cardinals have shown that they still have some fight in them, and are in a must-win situation. Look for the Cardinals to contain, if not exactly shut down, Seattle's offense. In the meantime, the Seahawks defense will be tested, and it will be a very physical contest between two tough and determined teams. Somebody has to win, right? My pick: Arizona

(MNF) Houston at Denver - Two division leaders (at least entering this week) square off. The Texans are coming off what is probably their biggest win so far this season, while the Broncos are reeling following two straight defeats. Still, the Broncos are at home, and home field advantage has to count for something. Also, the Texans may be in good position to take the AFC South again this season, but that is a weak division, and Houston has not really shown much of a capacity to be able to beat the better teams in the league. That makes it hard to believe that they can actually come into the thin altitude of Mile High and find some way to win. My pick: Denver

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